It’s become a regular occurrence for big news to leak onto the internet early nowadays. Only a few short weeks ago, the trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked a full week earlier than intended. It became so newsworthy, Marvel was forced to officially release the trailer themselves because there simply was no stopping the leak. Even more recently, Sony Pictures Entertainment has had their extremely private documents leaked online. Whether or not a leak was intentionally malicious or simply on accident is very rarely determined (okay, the SPE thing was totally meant to do harm), the common theme lately is that companies are slowly losing their control over what they can or can’t keep private from the public.
Case in point, Street Fighter V was announced yesterday as a PlayStation 4 and PC exclusive. It came with a nice trailer featuring a fight between series mainstays Ryu and Chun-Li, and even boasted a kick ass looking logo. Except none of this was supposed to come out yet. Capcom wanted to announced the news this weekend during their PlayStation Experience presentation. It’s easy to see why this news was being saved for then. Street Fighter is widely regarded as the most famous fighting franchise in history, and the fact that it has any exclusivity on the PS4 is huge news. Plus, this is a new numbered Street Fighter! Not another edition of the critically lauded Street Fighter IV. A brand, spanking new Street Fighter on a new generation. People have a right to be excited.
The Street Fighter franchise has developed such an immense pedigree over the years. As Capcom’s second best-selling franchise ever (behind Mega Man obviously), it’s easy to see why. When Street Fighter first premiered back in 1987, it took the burgeoning arcade industry by surprise. It wasn’t the first fighting game by a long shot but it did introduce the world to special attacks. Making protagonist Ryu or his rival Ken perform attacks like the world famous Hadouken was no easy feat. Back then, learning about this stuff required a lot of experimentation. Yet it’s the thought that there could have been more buried underneath the surface that kept the masses paying. Despite it kickstarting a globally recognized franchise though, Street Fighter was a surprisingly plain game. There were only two controllable fighters (Ryu and Ken) and the enemies you fought failed to make much of a splash, save for series staple Sagat. Many people remember it now because of what it started, not for its gameplay value.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is when the franchise defined what a fighting game should be. To this day, Street Fighter II is considered to be the pinnacle of fighting excellence. Exciting special attacks, innovative combos, a diverse roster of characters, the ability to play against each other competitively in tournaments. These are all things we expect from a fighting game now, and all of this began back in 1991 on arcades and later on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis with Street Fighter II. This is the game that gave us characters like Chun-Li, Zangief, M. Bison, and Guile, who boasts the single greatest fighting theme music ever. Later re-releases like Super Street Fighter II Turbo in 1994 introduced air combos and fan favorite Akuma. The influence of Street Fighter II and its many updates can still be felt today in every single fighting game created as everything that came after like Mortal Kombat and Tekken were considered Street Fighter II clones. The game’s are hardly ignored too. Street Fighter II Turbo was one of the few games at this year’s EVO tournament, 20 years after its release.
Despite the franchise’s popularity, Street Fighter has developed another reputation among gamers that is frequently the butt of many jokes. Ever since Street Fighter II, Capcom has made it a regular practice to keep re-releasing the games with more content. Take their most popular entry for example. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was followed later by Street Fighter II’: Champion Edition. Then after that, we got Street Fighter II’ Turbo: Hyper Fighting. And then after THAT was Super Street Fighter II: New Challengers. Keep in mind these weren’t expansion packs or anything. These were completely new games that you had to pay full price for to stay current. This has hardly changed too. 2008’s Street Fighter IV eventually became Super, then Arcade, and finally Ultra before Capcom decided that enough money was milked. If anything, the revelation that Street Fighter V is coming is news enough simply because it’s not another update. Though I cannot wait for Super Ultra Street Fighter V: Mega Combo Brawl Happy Meal to come several years after everyone is bored of the original release.
To be perfectly honest, I am not that great at fighting games. I do passable enough with Super Smash Bros. or Marvel vs. Capcom, but I’ve always been terrible at Street Fighter. The moment I’m stacked up against someone who has any familiarity with combos or special attacks, I collapse faster than a paper house in a hurricane. It’s tragic. Yet regardless of how bad I am, I still find myself wanting to play an entry whenever its available. I hold the franchise into very high regard just like anyone else who appreciates the fighting genre. Back when I had a Super Nintendo system, I actually owned the original copy of Street Fighter II. It was given to me in a literal sack by my mother who had a student that didn’t want these games anymore. Had I known that the game was essentially fighting royalty, I would have held onto it for much longer. I’m just happy I got to experience it in its original form though. That game truly was amazing.
Following this leak on Friday, Capcom officially confirmed at PlayStation Experience that Street Fighter V is both entirely real and will only come out on PlayStation. Of course, this leak wasn’t nearly as damaging as others we’ve seen as of late. Its premature nature definitely deflated what would have been an extremely exciting reveal for Capcom. In the end though, how the news broke is irrelevant. People are pumped for this because it’s a brand new Street Fighter game and the franchise has a reputation for its high quality. It’s a pretty safe assumption that this new installment will sell millions and become a featured title at all major competitive tournaments. The gameplay trailer also shows that the stages are destructible with Chun-Li knocking Ryu through a wall, a first for the series. More information will definitely come soon, but until then, the hype train has officially left the station.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.