Capcom announced the newest addition to Street Fighter V‘s library today: female wrestler R. Mika, who previously had only ever been featured in a single game (Alpha 3). Even if you haven’t seen her SFV character model yet, if you know what her outfit looked like in Alpha 3, you’ve probably already got a pretty good idea at the kind of flesh that is going to be on display. And in that respect, Capcom certainly didn’t “disappoint”:
Only I am disappointed. I really thought Street Fighter was better than this. They certainly used to be. I know it’s a little silly to complain about a female in a fighting game having an outfit that barely contains her large boobs or ass. Even as much of the video game industry – though still not enough – has moved towards females that are still plenty hot and curvy, but in a slightly less in-your-face, overly pervy way, fighting games have gone right on carrying the torch for a digital female’s right to wear outfits that would be better suited for a burlesque show than a hand-to-hand battle. To find a fighting game that doesn’t have copious amounts of flesh, fetish-inspired outfits, and jiggle animations is a rare feat indeed. Fine, whatever, it is what it is. I’m not here to come down on the sexualization of video game women and their associated impossible bodies. We’ve all heard enough of that, especially in the past couple of years. What bothers me is Street Fighter gradually giving into that despite avoiding it for so long.
Yes, in Street Fighter II Chun-Li showed her legs, as did Cammy who took it a step further by wearing a one-piece outfit that resembled a child’s onesie only cut in the back as a thong. But that was as sexual as the entire female roster of Street Fighter II got. Meanwhile, it was becoming something of a tradition amongst SF‘s peers that each game had to have its token “sexy girl(s)” with talented pixel artists spending hours getting their boobs to jiggle just right and have them kick in such a way as to get plenty of upskirt and booty shots. Of course, Tecmo took this to a whole new level when they unleashed Dead or Alive on the world, and while it certainly wasn’t the first game to have “breast physics” it was definitely the first to make it a commonly used term. Even Capcom was guilty of it in their other games, like Darkstalkers‘ sultry succubus Morrigan and naked-except-for-strategically-placed-strips of fur cat girl Felicia, or in Rival Schools where a scantily-clad, big-breasted high schooler named Tiffany had a special move where she’d lunge at her opponent bosom-first and plant a kiss right on their face – after her smashed boobs slid down said face.
And all the while, Street Fighter games managed to stay relatively modest with its character designs and more respectable with its treatment of women. I’m certainly not saying that there weren’t any SF women with big boobs or cleavage or short schoolgirl skirts prone to give peeks of panties, but it never got out of hand and it never became the focal point of the games or their advertising. For a fighting game series in the 90’s – or a video game series in general in the 90’s – Street Fighter‘s portrayal of women was downright modest. Yes, R.Mika, with her heart-covered boobs, was in a Street Fighter game in the 90’s, but she was still the vast exception, and in the grand scheme of things she was seen as more of a jokey bonus character than a front-and-center, story-focused character, and given her physique she still featured a distinct lack of over-the-top bounce.
Then Street Fighter took some time off. Sure, there were ports of the older games to newer systems and whatnot, but essentially, the SF series lay dormant until Street Fighter IV, and with it, a noticeable change in the way females were portrayed. Chun-Li’s “muscular” thighs began to seem a bit more like “thick” thighs, Cammy’s ass was frequently the target of camera pans and zooms, and new characters were introduced with a more direct and obvious amount of sex appeal. Sure, the jiggliest thing in the game was a male character’s bulbous belly, but there still seemed to be a decidedly more sexual nature to the women of Street Fighter than there had been in previous games. See C. Viper, who’s outfit consists of a man’s tie suggestively lying between her breasts, or Juri, with basically just a bandanna for a top – or in her alternate costume where she has DOA-level cleavage – and who was designed with adjectives like “bad,” “sultry,” even “sex-crazed” in mind by her designers. The addition to the Street Fighter universe of the new version of R.Mika and her special move where her and a female wrestling partner sandwich her opponent’s head between their essentially naked – and substantially-sized – asses seems to be the final blow to whatever was left of Street Fighter taking a different and less juvenile tact than its peers. A sad statement for the franchise that used to set the trends rather than follow them.