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Let's analyze Akira Kazama's different moves from Rival Schools and how they might translate to Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition

I put some time in to the original Rival Schools to see how Akira might shape up for her upcoming Street Fighter debut

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • September 4, 2020 at 7:38 p.m. PDT • Comments: 18

Like anyone who follows Street Fighter or fighting games in general is most likely aware, we got an unveiling of four new characters for Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition roughly a month ago. The characters are going to be Dan Hibiki and Rose from the Street Fighter Alpha games, Oro from the Street Fighter 3 series and the crossover character Akira Kazama from Rival Schools, a Capcom franchise which has been officially sharing a universe with Street Fighter since it came to be but hasn't yet bridged the gap both ways until now, with Akira's impending Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition debut.

As mentioned in a few of my previous pieces, I recently got my hands on the original Rival Schools via the Japanese PSN on PlayStation 3 and spent a few hours playing it to reacquaint myself with this charming series and its mechanics. I spent a previous article talking about what kind of unique gimmick Street Fighter 5's directors may have been talking about in relation to Akira, but in this one I'm going to focus more on the general moveset of her and how it might translate to Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition. As a Capcom-developed fighting game, she has some familiar things but also a few that could bring some unique flavor for her Street Fighter inclusion. Let's take a look at how Akira fights and what special moves she has in her arsenal.

In my previous article about Akira and what she'll bring to the table when she releases for Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition, I speculated that the most likely unique mechanic they'll try to bring over from Rival Schools to make fans feel at home is the launch system and air combos that follow from it.

This is a feature in Rival Schools where each character has a few moves which will launch their opponents very high in the air after which you can pursue them with a super jump and unleash an air combo on them, very similar to what you may be familiar with from the Marvel vs. Capcom series of games. Air combos in Rival Schools are not links, but entirely chained, and we'll get back to this part of the equation in a second.

There's more merit to this likely being a crossover mechanic because of Kyosuke Kagami having the very same thing carried over when he appeared in Capcom vs. SNK 2 almost 20 years ago, making it clear that this is one of the main trademarks of the series in Capcom's eyes. While Batsu Ichimonji also had this available to him in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom it doesn't mean much considering the entire game was built around such combos.

Another thing worth noting about Rival Schools ties in to the earlier mentioned fact that air combos are generally chained, because the same is true for grounded attacks. There aren't many links at all in Rival Schools, meaning that it's quite likely that Akira Kazama will be heavily based around Target Combos and canceling normals to each other.

It's not like chained normals or Target Combos are foreign concepts even to Street Fighter, despite being more common in many other fighting games, and even in Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition we already have several fighters who employ many different Target Combos, such as Ibuki. I do think it's quite likely that Akira will take this one step further, so if you're looking forward to trying her out when she comes you should prepare yourself for the high probability that this will be a key aspect of how Akira will play.

With the general Rival Schools mechanics and the influence they'll likely have on Akira out of the way, let's move over to her normals and general fighting style. Akira fights with a fairly standard Kung Fu styled moveset meaning that you've likely seen variations of most of her basic types of attacks in fighters like Chun-Li (or even Fei Long and Yun) already, with some of her supers even seeming quite reminiscent of the First Lady of Fighting Games herself.

As for her Special Moves, the first one which is likely to be in the game as something of a combo ender or forward moving tool is her Gate Elbow. Despite being called Gate Elbow, she doesn't actually always use her elbow to attack. In the first game this move has a slight variation depending on if you're playing as Powered Akira (which is Akira with her helmet on).

If you're using regular Akira, she'll do a rising fist attack which isn't quite an uppercut but not too far off, while Powered Akira will indeed do an elbow thrust against her opponent. This is probably her most straightforward move and is the easiest to transition to a Street Fighter style of play — simply have it as a regular damaging special move which you can end combos on or move forward with.

Next up we have her Dancing Cyclone Kick. This one actually works like a Rekka and given how we know Street Fighter 5 seems to absolutely despise Rekkas, it's entirely possible that they'll revamp how it works. This kick either goes high or low depending on which button you press (Rival Schools uses a four-button system so there are only two kicks available), and you can do it three times in succcession where you switch between the two versions or do the same three times in a row.

I wouldn't be all too surprised to see this move transferred over to a V-Skill where it'll go high if you input the V-Skill regularly and go low if you hold down while doing it and remove the Rekka aspect of it entirely, though I obviously hope they just keep the Rekka properties intact and let you chain several together.

It also has an extra functionality in Rival Schools due to the 3D movement plane where you can sort of sidestep while using it, though this seems extremely unlikely to be part of the 2D-planed Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition in any form.

She also has a Special Move called Leg Up which functions as a hit grab (though I wouldn't be surprised to see it converted to a command grab for Street Fighter) in which she doesn't do any damage but does launch her opponent high up in the air. This is another reason why it seems quite probable that they'll have the Rival Schools air juggle system with launchers intact for Akira. If they don't there's really no way to include this move without changing both its animation and function entirely.

Finally, the last Special Move available to Akira is her Reflex Stance. This is a stance she can change to which keeps her stationary but lets her unleash even more powerful chain combos on her opponents, though there are only four available from pre-determined strings of buttons.

Given that Street Fighter is a 6-button game, it's entirely possible that if they include her Reflex Stance in the game, they'll give her even more different button combinations to work with, but as it stands in Rival Schools she has Launch Pad, Bully Beater, Falter Bash and Air Feast (which is another move that launches the opponent) to choose from, each starting from one of the four different buttons available in the game.

It'll be interesting to see how they incorporate her Reflex Stance, if it indeed makes a return, because it could be a quite complex combo mechanic to cancel into and through which to continue with a string that's exclusive to the stance, or maybe even have something similar to the stance cancel that Poison has in the game to open up new routes through leaving the stance.

Another feature of Rival Schools which is not a part of Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition is the Vigor gauge, effectively a Super meter though you can stack up to nine meters. As I mentioned in the last Akira article I wrote, I highly doubt they're going to create a unique meter system for Akira, so I'd wager that she'll be working with the same single three-segmented bar that everyone else is.

However, something else that is part of Rival Schools as a result of these multiple meters is several different supers. This is something that Akira may very well have, especially if they want to pay homage to the team supers from Rival Schools where you bring in an ally to fight alongside you.

I mentioned in my Rival Schools mechanics piece that it wouldn't be farfetched to see Capcom implement some type of ally system where Akira brings in someone else from Rival Schools (most likely Daigo Kazama, her older brother), though I do think that the most likely instance of this is simply to include him (or others) in her Critical Art.

This is a factor in Rival Schools as well, though, where you always have a team-up Super where your partner comes in and does a move together with you (or gives you a stat buff by cheering you on, depending on who you're teaming with). This would be a great way of implementing a character with several Critical Arts and actually making it worth it.

I've been vocal in the past with my belief that adding a second round of Critical Arts to Street Fighter 5 wouldn't really do anything for the game since as it stands right now, basically every Critical Art has the same general function as a combo ender or reversal. However, if you design a character from the ground up with separate Critical Arts in mind, like what Capcom could do with Akira, I think it's a novel idea that could definitely work well.

As for what Supers are available to Akira in her home series, they're actually quite reminiscent of Chun-Li. Her Skull Aura functions similar to the Kikosho (though it can be used in the air as well, where Akira will aim it downwards at a 45-degree angle) while her Reflex Barrage reminds of Chun-Li's Senretsukyaku in that it's a barrage of kicks culminating in a big, final blow. Akira does also have a launcher variant of this Super called Aerial Barrage, which is effectively similar but ends up letting you juggle after if you super jump with it.

The easy way out here is for Capcom to simply give her one of her regular Supers from Rival Schools as a Critical Art and then having a secondary one which is special where she does the signature team-up attack, though there's definitely room to experiment quite freely with different options as well.

With almost a year left until Akira's proposed release date, there'll be a lot of time left to speculate on what Capcom have in store for us. Before that, we'll have the somewhat more straightforward additions of Dan Hibiki, Rose and Oro to look forward to, who will likely be a bit easier to predict how they'll work than Akira is.

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