As part of last night Capcom Cup finals, Street Fighter V‘s producer Yoshinori Ono took the stage to reveal the first character of the game’s Season 3 roster—as well as, to the surprise of the crowd, every other member of said season.
First up was the dedicated trailer, which introduces us to a Sakura that’s finally received a long overdue outfit change. Yes, Ryu’s biggest fan dons her old Japanese school uniform no more, instead wearing her work uniform from the part-time arcade attendant job she currently holds.
A lot of Sakura’s classic moves remain intact, but one interesting twist is that she can now perform a Tengyo Hadoken—aka a fireback that is launched into the air diagonally to be used as for anti-air (or more). This isn’t exactly a totally new move for Sakura, of course, as she’s had a very similar ability in her appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Her V-Skill is a Haru Kaze, a leaping attack that resembles her older Sakura Otoshi move (first seen in Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold) beefed up with new options for what follow-ups it can perform.
Sakura’s V-Triggers, meanwhile, both follow the same line of thinking, just with different results. Her V-Trigger I is Haru Arashi, which powers up her hadokens while also giving them the ability to juggle opponents. On the other hand, Sakura Senpu, her V-Trigger II, powers up her shouokens and shunpukyakus, with the added benefit of knocking her foes into the air.
In one final interesting twist, Sakura’s Critical Art—Sakura Rain—actually performs two different moves depending on her distance from her opponent. At long range, it’ll unleash a super-powerful hadoken; from closer up, she’ll instead let fly an intense melee attack.
I can’t mention Sakura’s addition to the game without pointing out that she’s bringing along with her one of my favorite stages from the entire Street Fighter series: Kasugano Residence (which made its debut in Street Fighter Alpha 2). Here, battles take place in the back yard of Sakura’s home—and, yes, her little brother is still sitting inside playing video games while his sister throws down outside.
Sakura’s arrival is a bittersweet one for me. She’s been my main since her arrival in Alpha 2, but her absence from Street Fighter V lead to me taking a chance on—and coming to love—her rival Karin Kanzuki. Now, I’ll have a choice to make: keep my focus on Karin, switch over to Sakura, or try to juggle both at once as best I can.
Unsurprisingly, at the end of Sakura’s trailer, we were once again treated to a series of silhouettes teasing the coming year’s new DLC characters. However, Ono then asked the crowd “is that not enough,” and his solution was showing those in attendance—and us at home—a second video. It turned out to be the full intro cinematic from the upcoming Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition release—which just so happens to feature every single member of Season 3.
So, in addition to Sakura, the next twelve months will also be bringing us the return of Blanka (to mixed reactions and my despair), a second Bison protege in the staff-wielding Falke, a handcuff-forgoing and now-quite-dapperly-dressed Cody, a mysterious newcomer G (who one might mistake for Abraham Lincoln), and the long-awaited arrival of the original Street Fighter‘s end boss and eternal Ryu rival Sagat.
Now, opinions on Capcom showing their entire hand this early were slightly mixed, but most fans of the game overall seemed happy to not go through yet another round of wondering and waiting. Honestly, I’ll miss the surprise—I loved those days when a new SFV character trailer would hit YouTube and I’d finally get to see who was showing up next. At the same time, I understand why Capcom went this route: while the mystery can be fun, announcing the full Season 3 to go along with their relaunching of the game via Arcade Edition will no doubt help entice more new players to finally jump in.
Both Sakura and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition hit worldwide on January 16th.