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I really hope Street Fighter 6 doesn’t get any guest characters

Original characters, legacy faces, and even some surprises from the Street Fighter world are all fine. I just don't want to see Sub-Zero fighting Ken.

It is honestly a really good time to be a fan of fighting games. Guilty Gear is good, there’s a new Smash alternative in Multiversus, there’s probably a new Netherrealm game on the horizon, there’s definitely a new Tekken coming, and Street Fighter 6 is well and truly on the way, in the thick of what’ll presumably be a relentless promotion cycle over the next nine months or so.

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There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for Street Fighter 6 in particular, too. For starters, Capcom’s fighting game unit is under new management, and the core creatives in charge of SF6 are the same guys who dragged Street Fighter 5 out of the gutter and ultimately made it a high quality and shockingly well-balanced game in its final seasons. It also looks really nice – in my opinion the best-looking 3D Street Fighter to date – thanks to both shrewd art direction and Capcom’s brilliant RE Engine technology.

But one other thing I’m excited about based on what we know of the game so far is that it appears to be continuing a Street Fighter tradition - ducking the modern fighting game trend of guest characters.

Official Kimberly x Juri art from Street Fighter 6
Why ask for some B-list Capcom hero when you could have Kimberly instead?

I don’t hate guests. In fact, a lot of the time, I love a good, well-executed guest character. The Mortal Kombat crossovers into Injustice (and the reverse) just make sense. I mained Spartan Nicole in Dead or Alive 4. Bandai Namco is especially good at guest characters, too – Link in SoulCalibur 2 and Akuma in Tekken 7 slot firmly in at the top of any list of the most iconic and best fighting game guests ever. But… I don’t want that for Street Fighter.

I understand that it’s an easy way to generate hype, and for your game to reach new audiences. I also know the power of the crossover has been solidified in the minds of developers thanks to the monstrous success of games like Smash and, of course, Fortnite. I get all that. Sadly, for my sins, I am a Street Fighter lore person. Sorry, I’m sorry. I’ve tried to not be. But I can’t help it. That’s me. And that means I think Street Fighter has a richness in its cast of available characters, and in the directions it can go with new characters, that I’d rather not have character slots wasted on guests.

Capcom has plenty of outlets if it wants to make a crossover game. Even if the Marvel relationship is beyond repair after the woeful MVC Infinite (which it might be, or maybe not – given Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is finally getting re-released thanks to Arcade1Up), Capcom could easily do a ‘versus’ game with another publisher ala Capcom vs SNK, or even do a generic Versus fighter where it’s Capcom’s finest facing off against characters from a range of external companies signed up in individual deals, Smash Bros. style. If the desire is to see Ryu punch Ryo Hazuki, y’know, it can happen there. Or in Project X Zone. Or, indeed, in Fortnite. Put Ryo in Fortnite!

Let Ryu and Chun-Li go elsewhere, sure, just don't be inviting people in.

Part of why I like it, I suppose, is because every other major fighting game has begun to bow to this trend. SoulCalibur was the first to really embrace the concept (for better and worse), but it spread far and wide – to MK, Tekken, DOA, Samurai Shodown, and Killer Instinct. Street Fighter has remained ‘pure’, keeping its crossover ambitions in separate games. I really like that.

Imagine the world of Street Fighter 6 without its self-declared 'president of the world'.

I also really like the excitement of seeing the Street Fighter universe build. If you just follow these games tangentially you’re probably not aware or just don’t care – which is fair enough – but Street Fighter has a surprisingly rich storyline with fairly well-defined characters and a canon that generally makes sense. The sense of growth in the universe is at an unprecedented level with SF6, also, given that it’s finally a new game moving the series timeline forward – which means a confident, masterful Ryu and a Chun-Li that’s taken on a young apprentice, for instance. Everybody is over their Shadaloo-related traumas, and that’s great.

Because of how Street Fighter is moving on, seeing this month’s reveal of newcomer Kimberly is a feast for obsessives of move sets and storylines alike. From a gameplay perspective, Kimberly looks like an interesting mix of familiar moves with a new graffiti-tinged street twist. For those who care about the characters, it’s a thrill to see the lineage of classic characters like Guy and Maki pass to a cool new face.

I also like that Street Fighter 5 and 6 have both given deep thought to a lot of returning characters – meaning that rather than looking and playing identical, characters get mixed up and changed in interesting ways. Ryu, old faithful that he may be, has a couple of all-new techniques in SF6 that should significantly change how he plays. This is where I’d rather see development time and effort over recreating characters and mechanics from other games.

Far from going home and being a family man.

Obviously, all this could change. Capcom could announce that Sub-Zero is coming to SF6 tomorrow. It doesn’t look likely, though – an early leak that appeared to reveal the full cast of the game featured only Street Fighter veterans and all-new characters. I hope that’s how the game stays, even with DLC.

Guest characters are cool. I don’t want what I’ve said here to suggest otherwise. But in a world where every other fighting game feels like it has guests, and with entire genres built around hugely lucrative cross-over fighters like Smash and Multiversus, I’m sure glad Street Fighter appears to be playing it straight, and keeping its sandbox pure. Long may that continue.

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