Games: Street Fighter 6 is the hardest hitting fisticuff arcade masterpiece yet

Neil McGreevy

Neil McGreevy

Neil, a contributor to The Irish News, is a gaming guru.

Street Fighter 6
Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 (Multi)

By: Capcom

GAMING’S most enduring series is back, meaning I can get beaten to an online pulp by kids who were nary a glint in their father’s eye when I first pumped shillings into Street Fighter II – the game that taught us the Orient is populated entirely by Caucasians and that Brazilians are green.

The Super Nintendo version became one of Capcom's best-selling games, though follow-ups struggled to retain its magic.

The barebones Street Fighter V didn’t even launch with an arcade mode – a mistake Capcom aren’t making twice with this fully-loaded masterpiece that punches well above its weight.

Just as Rocky had to find the Eye of the Tiger, Capcom has focused on the giddy arcade thrills of Street Fighter’s joystick abusing heyday as you take your fists to Indian rubber men, bear-wrestling lugs from Mother Russia and whatever the hell Blanka is.

Its launch roster is a cocktail of returning stalwarts and all-new warriors, including Kimberly, an ‘80s obsessed ninja, jacked Italian Marisa, the Gaga-esque Manon and Native Mexican Lily.

Old favourites such as Ryu and Ken – which translates as "fist" in Japanese, though over here means the less hard "Kenneth" – are pumped with glow-ups, though Cammy and Chun Li's Christmas ham-like thighs are now covered by leggings, which is sure to disappoint certain fans.

Best of all, purists can rejoice at the return of E Honda in his nappy after a 15-year absence.

Battle Hub is essentially an arena where players chat and either gawk or fight at cabinets, replicating the sticky, sweaty buzz of a real arcade.

It may be virtual, but Street Fighter has finally come home. And this is just half the battle... World Tour is Street Fighter meets Yakuza – a 20-hour single-player adventure set in Final Fight’s Metro City.

Like a Belfast park post-sundown, everyone's up for a scrap, while there are masters to learn from and plenty of daft side quests – from starring in a ‘70s chop-socky movie to helping drones find love.

Street Fighter 6
Street Fighter 6

But the fighting is where it’s at, and while the hardcore will rely on their decades-honed muscle-memory for flashier moves, modern control options let series virgins bring the pain with simplified button presses until they’re ready to remove the stabilisers. The new Drive Meter is as elegant as it is genius, fuelling Street Fighter’s assortment of parries, rushes and reversals, letting players absorb attacks before turning the tables.

Street Fighter 6 is arguably the best the fisticuff phenomenon has ever been. If you haven't performed a spinning bird kick since its 90s heyday - and even then just to pause the SNES for a glimpse at Chun-Li’s skimpies – now’s the time. With Street Fighter's heavyweight rival Mortal Kombat set for a reboot in September, not to mention Cobra Kai encouraging kids to pull on their karate slacks, the glory days of bare-fisted brawling are back.