Review : Street Fighter 6 : Hit the Streets

Street Fighter II ruled all. This is often talked about in the realm of fighting games, but it goes beyond what many gamers these days might realize. There was no other game, regardless of genre, that everyone else was playing. It was all about Street Fighter II. Sure, there were other games that gamers might play to waste some time with between play sessions, but then they went right back to Street Fighter II.

Thirty years have passed since then, and the landscape of video games has changed a bit. Shooters and looters became the new grounds on which to wage battle, and fighters fell into obscurity until the recent resurgence. While not ascended to their previous heights, we are still in the midst of a fighting game renaissance that was spearheaded by none other than Street Fighter IV. Although Street Fighter V didn’t have the impact of others, the movement was still on, and Capcom was warming up. Still, even though I greatly anticipated the sixth entry, I was not prepared for the absolute sensation that is Street Fighter 6.

…she knows how to use them.

Enter the Hadoken

Entering the game for the first time (after a minor annoyance of needing to create a Capcom ID outside of the actual game), I was promptly kicked out of the set-up screen. Normally, this would be a negative, but since the Diablo IV servers were being taxed at that exact same time, it actually made me smile to see this happen. It means that the servers for Street Fighter 6 were also being taxed. Although it just released, Street Fighter 6 is already a relatively popular game! But before seeing anything else, I dove straight into the menus. I wanted to see all of the bells and whistles afforded all of us Street Fighters, new and experienced.

Capcom touted some of the accessibility options before the game’s release, but seeing the entire list of sound options is astounding. There are no color blindness options, sadly, but the sound options give a new perspective toward visual accessibility. Also, being a fighting game, I love how many control options are provided to ensure everyone can play, even given the depth of the systems in Street Fighter 6.

Various Accessibility Options

After checking out the accessibility, I wanted to see how many different modes of play are in this package. The main screen gives three definitive options, namely “World Tour,” “Battle Hub,” and “Fighting Ground,” with each having a plethora of options within. Let’s tackle each before diving into the meat and potatoes found in the fighting systems, characters, balancing, and the depth therein.

Tour of the Worlds

First, we have World Tour mode. World Tour is a single player quest mode that plays in a loosely similar fashion to the Yakuza games. You create a character at the start, and you guide your character through an open-world story on an initial quest for “strength.” On your journey, which finally makes the title “Street Fighter” apropos, you will meet some or all of the characters found in the base game (not all are required to meet), and each can act as a trainer to you, teaching you their style and moves. You can level up your bond with each of them, allowing for more moves to learn, artwork and customization options to unlock, and even an assist mode where your trainer can temporarily join you in battles.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Speaking of leveling up, you will be doing a lot of that yourself as you explore the world and take on main and side quests. Though the main roster of Street Fighter 6 exists as trainers to help you form your fighting style, the bulk of the characters you will interact with regarding the actual story are characters outside of the roster. There are some characters which are Easter eggs from other games, but most of the important characters are brand new for the story in World Tour, with the main fighting roster giving a sort of Disney Dreamlight Valley feel as you encounter your favorite characters from the past and present relegated as trainers to appease with gifts and quest completions. Honestly, I wish a couple of the new story characters were in the actual roster because they seem so cool and visually appealing, especially given that you can fight nearly every single person you see, whether they be an important character to the story or a simple bystander on their way to the market.

Every character you choose to fight, which is an encouraged part of life in the Street Fighter universe, will have either a generic move set, or they will have a move set stylized after one of the main roster characters. If you defeat an opponent who is using a specific style, you will earn style points toward that trainer’s mastery. You will also earn style points for your chosen trainer as you win in general, and although you can only choose one trainer to follow at a time, you can change trainer styles as easily as you can change your shoes.

Air Kicks

Shoes are just one form of gear that you will find, and each piece of gear has several rarities because gear gives stat increases to your character. In order to make sure you love the way you look, you can also choose which pieces of your current gear that you want to take the appearance of. So if you have a bikini top that yields better stats than your hoodie (go figure), but the vampire character you created has skin that sparkles in the sunlight, you can wear your hoodie no problem and still get the better stats.

Something that surprised me, especially given the relatively small amount of playtime from the demo, is just how large this World Tour is. The main story will take around a dozen or more hours to beat if you just sprint through the main story, but there are an incredible amount of side quests to tackle as well. Plus, mini-games abound all over, along with hidden secrets in the environment where you will find the most epic (or Ultra) of gear and items.

Better served cold

Those mini-games are a blast to play, and every one of them will have you wanting to try them over and over to best your high score. From cooking meals DDR style, parrying basketballs and smashing vehicles like in Street Fighter games of the past, or showing off your chopping skills in a manner that would make Daniel LaRusso proud, there are plenty of addictive activities to stumble upon. You can make a nice bit of spending money this way, too, so get your mini-games on ’til the break of dawn!

There are some truly challenging battles toward the end of World Tour, but in true RPG fashion, if you grind up enough levels, you’ll be just fine. Plus, as long as you explore a few nooks and crannies here and there, you should have plenty of items to assist you in completing your quest. The ending will likely have you talking, and you can still play after the ending to complete the rest of the side quests and discover even more things in the world.

Kung Fu Kid

The Hub of Battle

The character you create doesn’t exist only in World Tour, oh no. They have business with the Battle Hub as well! The Battle Hub is basically an online arcade where you interact with other players and their characters. Not only can you battle each other, but you can participate in a number of other amusing activities, such as a virtual arcade filled with machines from Capcom’s past (which really work; you can play Final Fight all the way through in there) and testing your rhythm by being a DJ. Different cosmetics are available for purchase at the counter, too. And then there are Avatar Battles, where you can fight other players’ avatars with your own.

The Battle Hub makes me feel like I did as a kid, running around an arcade and seeing all of the commotion going on all over the place. It’s a wide open space filled with things to see and do, and although you can match up with others for Ranked and Casual matches in the Fighting Ground without all of the trimmings offered through the Battle Hub, I still highly suggest it for the social aspects provided as well as for some extra Kudos and Drive Tickets!

Day at the Arcade

Kudos are points that you will earn by completing various challenges for each character throughout the game, and they lead to different customizations for your profile. Drive Tickets, on the other hand, are spent on premium items. While you can use real world money to purchase “Fighter Coins” to purchase these premium items, Drive Tickets can be earned in game via challenges that are offered daily, weekly, and monthly. Even though Drive Tickets are a bit too rare in my opinion, you can still earn enough to purchase the premium items you really want.

Ok, so you’ve toured the world and ran around the Battle Hub for a few laps to take in the sites. Now it is time to dive into the nit and gritty of what makes or breaks a fighting game in the first place. Enter the Fighting Ground.


Five For Fighting

There are five sub-menus in the Fighting Ground, namely: Arcade, Practice, Versus, Special Match, and Online. Let’s quickly explain the features of each, and then get into the heart of the fighting experience.

Arcade is exactly what you think it is: you pick a character, and you fight several opponents until the conclusion of that character’s “Story.” You may choose either 5 Stages or 12 Stages, for a quicker or more classic experience, and you will earn art work depending on your character and feats throughout.

Juri’s a real piece of work.

Practice gives options for Training, Tutorials, Character Guides, and Combo Trials. The training is very impressive, allowing you to set up a ridiculous amount of specific situations. The tutorials are some of the best I’ve seen in a fighting game, and the explanations here stand well alongside Guilty Gear and the ever-surprising wonder that is Them’s Fightin’ Herds. The character guides explain specific match-up strengths and weaknesses for each fighter, put as simply and easily to understand as possible. And the Combo Trials offer bread and butter combos, along with feats of ridiculous accomplishment that grandchildren will likely hear about if completed.

The Versus mode is meant for rumbles in the household. This is the mode we played in fighting games as kids, inviting friends and strangers into our homes for digital beat downs well into the night. You may play One on One battles in classic fashion, or you can change it up with Team Battle mode, where you can choose a number of team format matches.

They’re working as a team!

Under Special Match is one choice at the moment: Extreme Battle. This is basically a versus match with crazy modifiers, such as needing to accomplish random goals that flash on the screen, only being able to be knocked down five times, or bulls running across the stage, knocking players down in the process. Skill is optional in this mode, and zany fun is guaranteed!

And then there is Online. As mentioned before, you do not have to play in the Battle Hub to engage in online battles, but it is quite a social experience! However, if you simply want to throw down with random combatants from around the globe without all of the pomp and circumstance, this is where you want to be. You’ll find Ranked Match, Casual Match, and Custom Room options, each delivering the expected fixin’s for their category.

Everyone has a lesson to teach.

System Works

We have finally discussed all of the options available to you out of the box, and they are plentiful! But none of that matters if the fighting system itself isn’t fun or balanced. So is it? The rest of the review will get into the depth of it all, but suffice it to say that if you read nothing that follows from here, all you need to know is: yes. Street Fighter 6 has one of the most engaging and balanced fighting systems I’ve seen from a fighter, and with the rebirth of the fighting genre giving us some fantastic entries as of late, that is saying something!

What makes it so great? It’s all about balance, here. All of the usual flows from a fighting system are done fantastically well, from the neutral game to creative combos, along with an expert utilization of systems, new and refined, that makes every match exciting from start to finish. No matter how poorly a round is going, a complete comeback is always possible when the options in your repertoire are understood. And what makes it all possible is the meters and what they represent.


Fighting games often find their depth in various meters sprinkled about the UI, but what sets Street Fighter 6 apart is that every character finds their base in these same meters and systems, though the tricks they pull from them are unique to each. Coming from previous Street Fighter games, especially before Street Fighter IV, these new systems can be daunting at first. They fundamentally change the way you think about every approach, and a mastered understanding of how to use and abuse the meters in these systems makes all the difference.

Let’s explain what all of this means. Underneath everything, you still have your normal attacks, specials, and throws, but beyond that, everything else will consume one of two distinct meters. So far, pretty normal stuff, right? Your special moves have “Overdrive Art” versions that deliver powered-up specials at the expense of Drive Gauge (meter). You also have three different tiers of Super Arts, and they expend one, two, or three bars of Super Art meter depending on the tier used. But then we have Drive Impacts, Drive Reversals, Drive Parries, Perfect Parries, Drive Rushes, and Burnout to consider, and they change everything.

An Artistic Approach

Those are a lot of fancy-sounding words, so let’s simplify with quick explanations. Drive Impact is a new move that is used to counter moves in a similar fashion to Street Fighter IV’s Focus Attack. Drive Impacts have armor, and they can withstand attacks and crush an opponent against the wall, leaving them defenseless even if blocked. But otherwise, Drive Impacts can be blocked when away from a wall, and they can be countered with the opponent’s Drive Impact if used immediately afterward.

Street Fighter was always about head games (or mind games, if you prefer), and Drive Impacts add this in spades. Drive Reversals are a way of blocking and immediately using a Drive Impact, creating some space between the fighters and adding yet another layer to these head games. Drive Parries can parry any striking move, making throws have more weight in this game than ever before. Perfect Parries are Drive Parries that are performed exactly as an attack connects, allowing the player to recover much more quickly and not be driven back by a projectile or strike. And as noted before, Drive Impacts can be parried with Drive Parries, yielding more mind games in the process.

Make faces to really get in their head!

Drive Rushes are another thing entirely, essentially being a dash cancel out of a connecting move. They allow more offensive ability in the form of otherwise-impossible combos, along with 50-50 set ups and other possibilities. They use a lot of the Drive Gauge, but creative use can yield some massive results. Because they use so much meter, however, Burnout is a huge risk.

When you run out of Drive Gauge, you enter a negative state called “Burnout.” While in this state, your Drive Gauge slowly replenishes, but you cannot use any of the abilities that require its use until the meter fully recharges. That means no Drive Impacts, no Drive Parries…basically none of the fancy names I listed a couple of paragraphs ago are available. None of that is possible while you recover, yet your opponent can use all of these things against you, provided they’re not also in Burnout. Plus, in Street Fighter 6, there is no chip damage for blocking special moves. Instead, blocking drains your Drive Gauge…unless there is no Drive Gauge. Then, there IS chip damage, which is another negative trait inherited from Burnout.

Clash of Characters

In short, you never want to be in a state of Burnout. As such, there is a constant risk/reward going on with the Drive Gauge usage, especially since blocking drains this meter. And a perk I didn’t mention about Drive Parries: a successful Drive Parry adds to your Drive Gauge, making a strategic use of Drive Parries something to watch when a player’s Drive Gauge is low.

Ok, all of this meter and Drive talk may seem exhausting, but the implementation of them is nothing but fun and exhilarating! This is especially true since the cast of playable fighters on offer is extremely appealing and balanced. I’ve played around with every character, and while time will tell exactly how balanced everything is (no doubt with future patches ensuring exactly this), I’ve genuinely enjoyed every single character. I cannot think of another fighting game where that is as true as it is in Street Fighter 6. No matter who you choose, you have unique options and a fun time ahead of you, and it’s because of all the aforementioned systems working intrinsically together with each fighter that it’s all as sublime as it is.

The touring business is Boom’ing!

Minor Details

Picking among the 18 launch characters, you will likely see some that appeal to you right away. One thing you’ll also likely notice is the extreme level of detail in the character models; this game looks good! No Street Fighter game has ever looked this good, and aside from Mortal Kombat 11 and the incredible anime look of Arc System Works’ modern slate of fighters, no fighting game has looked this good.

This doesn’t go only for the characters, of course. One thing I noticed when playing in World Tour mode is that the game will set up your character’s surrounding environment as a makeshift stage, and some of those “stages” had me thinking how great they would look as actual stages in any fighting game. But when you fight on the actual stages in Street Fighter 6, it’s a whole other level of detail, aesthetics…and music.

Wouldn’t this backdrop make a great actual stage?

Ahh, the music, the wonderful, quirky music! I cannot express how much I LOVE the music in this game! Granted, not every track hits it out of the park, but most absolutely do. I’m willing to bet that the music in Street Fighter 6 will be a bit divisive as to who likes it and who doesn’t, and I get it. Some of these tracks are artistic, to say the least, but a lot of work clearly went into them, with each song changing depending on if you’re on round 1, 2, or the final round, with other flourishes along the way. But I think the music is a triumph, along with sound design that makes all of the moves and effects sound exactly as you want them too.

Another aspect of the sound design is that there is a commentary track, should you want to turn it on. You can actually choose between different Play by Play and Color commentators, and it adds a tournament feel to each match that is something I now want from all fighters going forward.

Commentary can even be subtitled

An option that I wasn’t too keen on at first was the choice of controls. You may choose “Classic,” which is the standard 6-button control scheme that Street Fighter fans are used to. But there is also “Modern,” which turns it basically into a 4-button style, a la Guilty Gear, except it makes using special moves and combos much more accessible by turning one of the buttons into a dedicated special moves button while allowing combos to be created simply by continuously pressing attack buttons that connect.

I didn’t initially understand what Capcom was going for with the Modern scheme, but as I played with both, I began to see how this makes the game playable for everyone, which is the point! It must be stated that there is also a “Dynamic” option where the game basically picks moves for the player based on situational awareness, but it’s not available online for obvious reasons, so “Classic” and “Modern” are what you’ll want to be aware of.

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A True Street Fighter

Looking at the totality of the awesomeness out of the box, I cannot believe how much win is in this latest Street Fighter package. Capcom clearly learned from the debacle that was found in part V’s launch, as that thing was bare-boned and lacked direction (it did get better, though). Street Fighter 6 has direction, however, and it is straight up into the stars. Releasing on the same weekend as the mighty Diablo IV, I didn’t mind at all dedicating my time instead to Street Fighter 6. I haven’t been this pleased with a fighting game for some time, even with my overt love for others like Guilty Gear Strive and Killer Instinct.

Street Fighter 6 filled a hole that was empty for some time. With the new Mortal Kombat around the corner, I feel like a kid again. If we are living once more in a world where Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat will battle each other for supremacy, it seems like things are exactly as they should be. And even if every other fighting game on the planet was terrible, it wouldn’t matter. The old champ has claimed the belt once more, and Street Fighter 6 is taking on all comers. Here comes a new challenger, and this one stands above all others.

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By Patrick Shields

I love the outdoors as well as the indoors, and when I'm not gaming, writing, or being musical, you can find me outside, climbing trees and getting lost off the road less traveled. It is a known fact that I've been blessed with the greatest kids in the world and an incredible wife who is an awesome nurse and my superhero. I've played games on nearly every system ever made and regularly go back to the classic games that helped raise this fine fellow. When asked which system or computer I prefer, there's only one answer: yes.


  • God damn I hoped this game was gonna flop. 2D fighting games are a disease that have been plaguing my 3D fighters since SF IV came out in 2008. Bunch of weightless, endless combo, meter management, garbage. I hate you Street Fighter. I HATE YOU!

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