Akuma May Be Better Than Ever In Street Fighter 6

Akuma May Be Better Than Ever In Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 was one of my favorite games of last year, and I’m so convinced I’ll get back to its sublime, best-in-its-class fighting that I still haven’t uninstalled it from my PS5 despite months away. Every time I so much as see a clip of Street Fighter 6, I’m reminded that Capcom’s hallmark fighting series is so back, and I wish I had the time to stay on that ride for the long run. But I recently got a chance to play Akuma, the classic antagonist who mirrors series mainstays Ryu and Ken’s Shoto archetype, and he made me appreciate how well this entry managed to fill out old characters’ arsenals to create one of the most robust fighting games in the space.

As a Shoto character, Akuma has a lot of staple Street Fighter abilities like the Hadoken fireball and Tatsumaki spinning kick (albeit with a handy, anti-air variation) that is the bread and butter of the archetype. But as a Ryu main, playing a different Shoto always feels like getting behind the wheel of a car I’m not used to driving. The fundamentals are the same, but it’s just different enough to throw me off. Akuma’s whole deal is that he gets more options at the expense of health. He’s a glass cannon, but in exchange he gets even more versatility in an already flexible fighting style.

While playing Akuma, I initially fell into the muscle memory of my hundreds of hours playing Ryu, but those slight variations would send my mind racing to new strategies. His air-based fireball and upward Tatsumaki kept me going high where I would normally have gone low, though I was swiftly punished for this in the right matchups. Facing Cammy was a particular pain point, as she could easily counter my air-based plays.

Capcom

Watching Capcom’s character breakdown for Akuma demonstrates all the little nuances of his moveset I couldn’t pick up in just an hour of play, and that’s the kind of sicko shit that makes fighting games, and Street Fighter 6 especially, so rewarding to dive into. Button-mashing through a character you’ve never played can be fun, but mastering a character makes the game so gratifying. SF6’s strength was in how it filled out its roster’s movesets and gave them universal tools like the Drive abilities that handled basic utilities like parrying. This freed up development space for each character’s unique abilities and gimmicks to shine through. Akuma is thriving under that design philosophy, and even if I don’t end up dropping my main for him, I want to learn his every move to best him online.

How many times can I tell myself “it’s time to go back to Street Fighter 6” before I finally do it? Maybe not too many more, as Akuma is launching as DLC on May 22.


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