'If [a] mechanic is too powerful, it naturally makes the characters' strengths less important' - Sugiyama on Street Fighter 5's V-System

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • January 6, 2016 at 6:50 p.m. PST

In a recent interview with Famitsu Capcom's Kouichi Sugiyama opened up about a collection of topics pertaining to Street Fighter 5.

Most Street Fighter players are all too familiar with the overly-dominant characters of games past, and how in some ways, those characters' dominance defined the titles they were in.

When it comes down to it, if you want a colorful cast of unique characters, you're not going to get a perfectly balanced fighting game. That said, Capcom is doing everything they can to ensure that tier scales in SF5 don't tip too far in any one direction.

One of the ways they plan to achieve this is through the V-System.

"This time, we didn't want to put in any common mechanic that's shared between all characters. For example, I think the parrying system is magnificent, but if said mechanic is too powerful, it naturally makes the characters' strength less important," says Sugiyama.

"So when you balance the game, everything needs to be centered around that one thing, and there's no regular way to counter strategize against it. With that in mind, we decided not to include any common mechanic between characters."

Hit the jump for more.
Famitsu: I see. So that's why each V-Skill and V-Trigger is tailored to the character, then?

Sugiyama: Yes. V-Skills and V-Triggers are a part of each character. This was born from a desire to make each character stand out more. A grappler like Zangief, who can now absorb attacks while moving in, now has extended purpose as a grappler and also scares the opponent even more.

We thought it would make the game more fun if we could emphasize aspects of each character like that.

Famitsu: Seeing character's individual traits go up against each other is indeed a fun idea.

Sugiyama: Speaking from a competitive eSports perspective, we're hoping that pro players have 2-3 characters ready to use. Rather than choosing a character that beats your opponent's character, we're hoping to see players pick characters that beat your opponent as a player.

Having a player think "Against this person, this kind of character should work well", and having character decisions being based on player match ups would be fun, I think. The game itself is simple, so using multiple characters should be comparatively simple as well.

Famitsu: You're very conscious about competitive play, huh?

Sugiyama: The goal is to have matches of player against player, after all. We don't want a character to be the main character, but the players themselves to be.

So to bring out player's individuality more, we've worked to make the characters' individual identities more pronounced. I believe different players will bring out different things from the same characters.
Make the game more balanced by making the characters more different? This is an interesting take on the matter, and we're certainly excited to see if it plays out in the manner Sugiyama and Capcom are hoping for.

It makes sense to say that the character(s) that utilize a game's central mechanic best would be the best, but was Chun-Li's dominance in Third Strike centered around her ability to utilize parry better than others?

Did Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition Yun win because he was best able to manipulate the Focus Attack mechanic? Perhaps this theory hinges on how central a game's mechanic is to the actual game play?

From our access to the beta, and from playing SF5 at various events, we do have to admit that no one character seems to have emerged as an untouchable top tier yet, so that's a bit of encouragement.

How do you feel about Capcom's approach this time around? Do you think the V-System will be a step towards keeping the game balanced, and all characters viable? Be sure to check back often as we translate more of this interesting interview on SF5.

Interview translated by Nicholas "MajinTenshinhan" Taylor.
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