Capcom intended for Street Fighter 5 to feature a roster devoid of copy/paste characters both in appearance and fight style, and I applaud them for their success in doing so. Abigail looks to play unlike any fighter in the game, and perhaps even the genre.
I wrote an article before we got F.A.N.G back in early 2016, essentially saying that characters that go too far in breaking the established mold usually go in one of two directions: they either rise straight to the top or sink straight to the bottom.
In the case of F.A.N.G, his unique poison mechanic would prove difficult to balance because it had so much potential to be overpowered. Turn this guy up just a little too much and you might have the absolute best character in the game, take the more cautious route and risk having him be extremely weak.
It’s very possible to have a possibly polarizing character integrate smoothly into an already established roster, and we’ve seen that happen before as Capcom builds its ever growing Street Fighter cast. Admittedly, I do fear that Abigail could be one of those characters that doesn’t play nice with everyone else.
Initial reactions to the trailer likely started with Abigail’s childlike intro as viewers watched the character “vroom” onto the scene via an imaginary car. Viewers then likely started contemplating developers’ decisions to go with the Lennie Small template of the big and strong, but not all that bright brawler.
We already had DreamKing breakdown Abby’s reveal, but I want to look a little closer at his gameplay potential inside of the Street Fighter 5 universe.
I preface this by stating that things could very much go well, and I hope they do, but I am wary of some pretty potentially perturbing pitfalls based on what we’ve seen of Abigial thus far.
We get a size comparison as Abigail faces off against Ed in the trailer, and realize that the latter fighter (who is of average stature relative to the SF5 cast) is roughly the size of one of the former’s arms.
I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to physical realities of Sakura facing off against Zangief or Cammy interacting with Hugo, but there comes a point where sheer physical size begins to have an effect on gameplay, and I don’t see how Abigail will get around that.
Think of the distance a standard jab from a character like Ryu goes in SF5. Abigail’s hands already sit considerably farther from his body than Ryu’s, add in the range that comes from him outstretching his arm at all and you can see how even making a simple jab animation for this character requires extra thought and attention, lest it quickly become an overpowered move.
Fans immediately started questioning whether or not other characters could throw or even jump over the Mad Gear enforcer. Those two questions were answered earlier today, both with a “yes” from Capcom’s Matt Edwards.
While this is a relief, Edwards did also leave a note saying “No special rules for him in that respect ?” as a postscript. That wink face could imply special rules or at least deviations from the norm for him in other avenues, and honestly, how could there not be?
Even slightly bigger than average characters bring gameplay nuances with them. Instant overheads become more prevalent, hurtboxes are such that jump in combos no longer work if your jumping attack connects from too high up off the ground and character specific combos begin to surface.
Those nuances have been widely deemed as digestible, but what about this eight foot fighter’s reach? Bigger brawlers traditionally have slower buttons, but seeing as Abigial’s arms are the size of other characters, how slow would devs have to make his normals in order to counter balance their range?
I look at Birdie, a relatively big body in SF5 who has relatively slow normals. He can actually go toe to toe with Karin (probably the game’s best footsie character) in part because of the reach and active frames of his normal attacks. Birdie’s footsies are exceptional despite their slow speed, and I’m having a very hard time picturing Abigail’s reach not being insanely far, and strong in a similar fashion.
Would it be bad if Abigail were a footsie character? Not inherently, but if he’s meant to be a brawler, (play strongest while in the opponent’s face) then giving him a super powered mid-range game could be an issue.
We’ll have more answers during the upcoming Winner Stays On character highlight broadcast, and we’ll get firsthand experience in just under one week’s time, but I do see Abigail as having some potential to disrupt the established flow of the game, forcing players to have to play in an entirely different style for a single match up, and possibly being very unbalanced in either direction.
If Capcom gets this right however, it will be a notable triumph and should go down as a very fondly remembered moment in Street Fighter 5’s life. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how the next week unfolds.
This is only my opinion, and I’d love to hear yours on the matter as well. Please chime in with your thoughts, agreements and disagreements in the comments below.
Written by: John ‘Velociraptor’ Guerrero