Street Fighter is full of instantly recognisable faces, but the story has always been unclear. Perhaps that’s because it’s many stories, overlaid, interlocking and obfuscated; or perhaps it’s because it doesn’t matter, as it’s just about flashy fireballs and punching people. Whatever the reason, Street Fighter V already looks like it’s booting the series in an unexpected direction.

This change can be attributed to a single character. Charlie Nash was recently reintroduced to proceedings and he represents the twistiest bits of series lore. He’s Guile’s superior officer, and the man who taught him to fight. He can do everything Guile can do, but better. Sonic booms are languidly thrown with a single hand, flash kicks are flowing and effortless. He’s also the only man in games who looks good in a yellow gilet.


There’s a problem, though. Strictly speaking, Charlie is dead. Complete Street Fighter II with Guile and you learn that M Bison is responsible for Charlie’s murder. In Street Fighter Alpha 3 which confusingly takes place before the second game it’s suggested he died to save Chun Li and Guile, his body shattered by a massive explosion. This may account for his grim appearance here. He retains the trademark glasses and flowing quiff, but his body is a fleshy tapestry of stitched skin and staples. There’s also explicit reference to him being ‘reborn’ in the titles. It’s a world away from the calm, astute fighter we’re used to, and his moveset has been tweaked to reflect this. He’s now rocking a suspicious teleport move; suspicious because Seth and M Bison teach us teleporting means you’re evil (sorry, Dhalsim). There’s also that uncharacteristically aggressive tackle, which leads us neatly onto the next point.
“we could see any character from the history of the series”
The new version of Charlie has a gem embedded in his skull. This is a throwback or more accurately, a throw-forward to Urien and Gill from Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, both of whom had the same sparkly forehead-furniture. They’re part of an organisation called the Illuminati, a not-very-secret secret group dedicated, rather unimaginatively, to world domination. What does this have to do with Charlie’s tackle? (Stop sniggering.) Well, Urien’s trademark move is a similarly-violent shoulder charge. This could mean that a rebuilt, brainwashed Charlie is now under the control of the Illuminati. But whatever it signifies, the moment that Guile is reunited with his missing, presumed-dead mentor will be a defining moment in Street Fighter history.

We also know that M Bison is back, even if his presence has only been hinted at so far not a huge surprise, given his propensity for miraculous resurrection. Some subtle tweaks, such as Ryu’s ragged appearance and his use of the denjin hadoken move, suggest that this will take place slightly after the events of Street Fighter 3. The remaining character lineup is a mystery, but given Street Fighter V’s place in the franchise timeline we could potentially see any character from the course of the series. Heck, even the dead ones are making an appearance.

On a mechanical level, things look pretty similar, but there are some neat additions. The whole environment is more gloriously interactive than ever before, and full of subtle touches. Lanterns gently swing in the background whenever a fighter hits the deck. We’ve seen Ryu get kicked through the open doors of a subway train before slumping into a seat. Most amusingly, one match spills over into a restaurant, and Chun Li is sent careening into the kitchen, where a bowl of noodles plops onto her head. She has to suffer the indignity of wearing it like a delicious hat in the following round.

Street Fighter V has been confirmed as a PC and PS4 exclusive. We also know that cross-platform play is in, so you’ll be able to batter your friends irrespective of what version they’re playing. And if you can’t wait until 2016, here’s some spiffy news: Capcom intends to run a public beta test that it claims will be the “largest and most ambitious online beta program in franchise history.” This means you’ll be able to grapple with Street Fighter V prior to release all you need to do is secure yourself a spot by pre-ordering the game.