Monday, March 17, 2014

Decapre Joins Ultra Street Fighter IV

Well, after months of teasing and speculation, Capcom finally revealed the fifth and final new playable character for Ultra Street Fighter IV at this past weekend's Final Round 17 tournament in Atlanta, GA, the huge news even generating enough buzz to make it onto Yahoo's "Trending Now" list the morning after.


A lot of people, myself included, had already deduced that the character was going to be Decapre—Cammy's Russian "sister" with the face mask and claws—and a lot of people were becoming irritated at Capcom for drawing out the suspense for what was certain to be no more than a "clone" of an existing character. For me, the identity of the fifth character had become so obvious with the last clue given at December's Capcom Cup that, with enough time to brace myself with lowered expectations, I was able to come back around to being excited again, as I was sincerely interested to see what cool tricks Capcom would arm Decapre with to distinguish her from Cammy.

As it turns out, Decapre's design takes some cues from another Cammy clone—Juni from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Like Juni, Decapre is a charge character with teleports and a midair Cannon Drill. She has even more tricks than Juni, though, including a rapid-fire Hundred Hand Slap-style special move, and her own superior (pending further tuning) version of Dhalsim's Yoga Catastrophe Ultra Combo. I am a bit disappointed that they've deemphasized her Vega-esque attributes—her mask, originally a full face guard in her past unplayable appearances, is now more of a masquerade mask that only covers the top half of her face, and her claws are now retractables that only come out for a few specific attacks—but, overall, I think she looks cool, potentially strong, and sufficiently distinct from Cammy.

Even if Decapre herself was not the most amazing reveal, the way Capcom handled her debut was pretty hype. They chose to unveil her at a tournament, and they didn't just treat the crowd to a trailer but actually had Capcom USA's resident expert, Peter "ComboFiend" Rosas, throw down the gauntlet, challenging the tournament's winner, Ryan Hart of the UK, on the spot to try to defeat Decapre in a first-to-3. Capcom put $500 on the line to incentivize Hart to really try to win, and they even opened up the Edition Select option, allowing Hart to try such famously overpowered characters as Vanilla Sagat and AE Yun. Still, Hart was up against a character he had never faced before, who was armed with moves he would only be seeing for the first time mid-contest, and who was being controlled by a former top player, Rosas, who had been testing this character probably since her behind-the-scenes inception. The odds were stacked against Hart, and clearly the point was to "make a statement" by having the newcomer introduce herself by steamrolling the champ.

Not exactly a fair contest, but, in some ways, it's actually a really pure and romantic concept—the champion ever in search of new and greater challenges, ultimately seeking not to conquer or be conquered, but rather to be revelated by arts never before seen. It also harks back to a time, before YouTube and Wikis made it so easy for pros to share knowledge, when top players would develop secret techniques that they would keep to themselves, saving them to spring on their rivals from across the state or country, ideally during the finals of the one national tournament of the year.

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