Traditional 2D fighting games have always perplexed me. No matter how hard I try — workshopping in training mode, watching YouTube tutorials, getting coached by friends — I have never been more than average at games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter IV, and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Yet Street Fighter 6 might have offered a chance to turn things around, with its character tutorials.
The best times I’ve had with the fighting game genre were playing against similarly skilled roommates. I might not have won most of the matches, but if I felt like I had a chance, I could play Cammy against my friend’s Ken over and over again, or take on Arakune with Noel Vermillion for dozens of matches in a row. Yet without friends to play locally, 2D fighters are far too intimidating to play online with my perpetually average skill.
I skipped Dragon Ball FighterZ. I also neglected to give Guilty Gear Strive a shot, though I heard its online matchmaking provided a fair experience for the skillfully challenged. At the time these games were released, I lived in Japan, away from my usual gaming crowd, and I still do. Other than one semi-professional fighting game friend (hi, Matt) who could school me one-handed as he scrolled The Escapist on his phone with the other, I had no one of similar skill to play with, and thus I didn’t pick up either.
But I really, really want to invest in Street Fighter 6. I have so many memories of playing the series in arcades, on the SNES, on a homemade cabinet that we had at a place I worked. Thankfully, as a perk of my job here at The Escapist, I got to give it a go early. And after a handful of hours with the game, I can confidently say it’s one of the most middling-player-friendly fighting games I’ve played, albeit with a lingering caveat.
I jumped into training mode with my old faithful Cammy, though she was listed as a normal difficulty character and the newcomer Marisa enticed me a little with her easy ranking and Spartan helmet of a hairdo. As her close-range, rushdown style of gameplay requires less defensive forethought on my end, Cammy became my favorite character way back with Street Fighter II. I learned long ago that I don’t have much capacity to consider my opponents’ moves on the fly. Selecting the Classic control scheme — I’ve played enough Street Fighter that the Super Smash Bros.-like Modern controls feel off — I went through Cammy’s in-depth move tutorial.
The tutorial did an amazing job of refreshing my memories of her staples like Spiral Arrow and teaching me the nuances of moves returning from Street Fighter titles I’m not familiar with. What’s more, they provided detailed explanations on the strengths of each move, when to use them, and whether they’re invincible against certain counters. I loved this as I am nowhere near intuitive enough to know that Cannon Spike will cancel out almost all aerial attacks or that Killer Bee Spin can be canceled into from an Overdrive Cannon Strike.
The tutorial in Street Fighter 6 takes things a step further by explaining key fundamentals to her play style, much the same way a fighting game tutorial done by a professional player on YouTube would. The best moves to counter aerials come next, followed by some advanced techniques. All of this is way too much for me to take in, but the fact these in-depth tutorials are included gives me a solid foundation to return to as I continue to get better with the formerly indoctrinated spy.
Outside of Cammy’s character tutorial, there are in-depth guides to high-level concepts such as navigating the mid-range and neutral game. It’s all equal parts overwhelming and a godsend, as Capcom presents it in such a clean, simple manner that I can return to it at any time for a refresher if I keep getting my face kicked in online.
That said, I probably won’t pick up a copy of Street Fighter 6 for myself — at least, not at first. I like everything about the game: The new aesthetic and music taking the street in Street Fighter quite literally, the colorful new characters, and the remixed old characters (especially the equal parts scruffy and beefy Ken) all impressed. But the tutorials showed me how much I have to learn to compete at a decent level in Street Fighter 6. The ranked matches have different tiers, placement matches, and the like, but as someone with a competitive mindset, I always want to improve. And to do so, I’d have to invest hours upon hours into improving.
I simply don’t have the time to give what arguably might be one of the best fighting games ever the attention it deserves, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never come back and give it an honest try – maybe if I make some equally skilled friends to play with, or after I beat Tears of the Kingdom. Still, the beginner-to-intermediate-friendly tutorials are more than encouraging enough for me to consider picking up a decent fight stick and giving Street Fighter 6 a go someday soon.