Street Fighter 6 Demo
On Thursday, April 20th, 2023, a special broadcast for Street Fighter 6 was hosted by Capcom, and perhaps more infamously, Lil Wayne of all people. While it was a short broadcast, Capcom provided information about the future of Street Fighter 6 post-launch, including DLC characters. The newcomer A.K.I will join Street Fighter 5's Rashid and Ed, including the classic Akuma to top the roster off. To sweeten the news, Capcom announced an exclusive Street Fighter 6 demo that would release on PlayStation consoles that same evening, with other platforms having their demos next week.
Admittingly, this was out of laziness that I delayed covering the demo on the PlayStation at first, but I also considered the following. The player avatar that players can create in the Street Fighter 6 demo can be used on the platform they played the demo on. I'm going to own Street Fighter 6 on the PC as my main platform of choice, so I figured what're a few extra days to wait for the PC demo and to ensure my character stays. I realized I made the correct choice because the character creation editor in Street Fighter 6 is some of the most dynamic I've seen in any game I've played.
I've praised games like Wo Long Fallen Dynasty for giving the players tons of creative freedom in creating their characters. While the creation can be as simplistic as selecting presets, to begin with, the sheer range of sliders from various parts of the player's body helps bring out the creative genius in the most patient. If the player is going to be staring at their toon for the next several hours, it better be a creation that they can be satisfied with and change at a given notice. Because this is a demo, whatever character the player creates is the toon that they are stuck with. In the full release, players can edit their character's appearance.
After spending almost an hour creating my character, which spoiler alert was more time than I spent in the entire demo, I'm greeted by Luke, Street Fighter 6's protagonist. Apparently, I'm sent to Luke as he's going to train me to be the best fighter on the streets and this is where my first complaint comes in. In Street Fighter 6, there are two modes of play. Classic mode and Modern mode both utilize directional inputs from the previous games for the former, or a simplified variation for the latter. The demo forces the player into Modern mode, which felt "anti-Street Fighter" but it felt like an entirely new game altogether.
In classic Street Fighter, punches and kicks are separated by three different tiers of strength, six buttons in total. Modern does away with separating kicks and punches, instead going for "light medium, and heavy attacks." Pressing the same button enough times initiates an auto-combo. Pressing a certain combination ends the auto combo in a special move and the game unnecessarily turns it into a button masher. This also reminded me of a game I played and featured a few days ago Virtua Quest. Almost 20 years ago, another developer attempted to bridge the gap between their flagship fighting game and the meta world surrounding it.
I considered it a flop for a handful of reasons, although the annoyingly stiff combat and platform controls certainly did not help. I didn't feel there was much of a connection between Virtua Quest and Virtua Fighter despite the latter's "story" being referenced in-universe. Any reference to Virtua Fighter could have been removed and it wouldn't have affected Virtua Quest in any way. For Street Fighter 6, removing any reference to Street Fighter would affect the world created in Street Fighter 6. Its roster is a part of the storyline and isn't a mere "afterthought" or a "cameo." While Virtua Quest was ahead of its time, Street Fighter 6 is doing what Sega couldn't almost two decades later.
What was most humorous about the demo was how engrossed everyone was in fighting. In the 1980s, Final Fight painted Metro City as this dirty metro battle paradise. In Street Fighter 6, it is now a clean metro battle paradise. Everyone greets each other by just squaring up and it can be anyone. A street performer, a student, a mime, anyone. You can fight the store owner, deck him in the jaw, then buy from his shop as if nothing happened. You can even preemptively attack people by shoryuken-ing them and starting a fight that way. Luke says it best, in the world of Street Fighter, the Street fights YOU!
And after you lose to Luke shortly after, the demo ends there. In total, not counting the character creation process, the Street Fighter 6 demo took 10, maybe 15 minutes to clear. I hadn't had a chance to do much but I wanted to explore more of Metro City. I wanted to take in the cheesy fictional representation of Times Square and notice all of the references. I was bummed when I couldn't leave past the small area as it was outside of demo limits, but I was curious to see all of what Metro City had to offer.
It's very rare to see a fighting game tied with one location in mind, as most fighting games take the liberty of taking their combatants across the world. Games like Fatal Fury generally take place in South Town as its central location and Final Fight, alongside Street Fighter, takes place in Metro City. It's always nice to see backgrounds based on realism while also showing hints of each fighter representing a turf. The end of the demo teases Chun-Li who can be found in China Town. I'd like to see where each fighter is located in Metro City and beyond.
Unfortunately, that's all I can discuss about the Street Fighter 6 demo as there's not much else about the demo to discuss. There's a tutorial mode that shows off how the new Drive system works. There are also character breakdowns for the two sole demo characters, Luke and Ryu. There's also a local 1v1 mode, which means a vs CPU mode for the majority of demo players. Unfortunately, there isn't a training mode so the only way to emulate some sort of "training" is by setting up a training dummy with a second controller in a versus match. Bummer.
Honestly, the point of this demo was to show off the game's World Tour mode as well as the possibilities in the create a character mode. While the closed betas offered tons of more characters and content as they were live, this demo serves to show off a taste of the game's single-player content. I was surprised that even the attire the character wears matters. Shoes affect kick powers while clothing can improve defense. Players can invest in skill points as well as learn multiple moves from different trainers as well. I can tell in the full version, Street Fighter 6 will have a strong single-player mode foundation. Let's see if the game can pull through for the final stretch.
Street Fighter 6 releases on June 2, 2023, on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.