Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
I was one of the few people willing to step up to Street Fighter V’s defense back when it came out nearly two years ago. Its problems were undeniable, especially when compared to the new fighting-game standards being set by companies like NetherRealm Studios, whose releases are so jam-packed with activities for the solo player that there’s hardly any pressure to wade into the soul-crushing, shark-infested waters of online multiplayer. Those waters were pretty much all Street Fighter V had, but I enjoyed the fundamental fighting at the heart of the game so much that I didn’t really mind the demoralizing grind—in fact, I kind of found myself thriving on it. That’s never going to be the case for everyone, though, and the game rightfully gained a reputation of being light on things to do and big on disappointment.
The most baffling exclusion from the original release is what most people would call an “arcade mode,” so named because it’s basically just the escalating gauntlet of fights against computer opponents you’d usually pay a few quarters to throw yourself into back in the arcade days. Seemingly shocked by how many people were demanding to see this mode included, Capcom promised over and over again that one would be coming, but it never did. It ended up taking two years and a slight refresh of the entire game, but now Street Fighter V has an arcade mode—available as a free download to previous owners, along with a smattering of other new modes, and as part of a $40 Arcade Edition that also gives you access to all the characters added to the game after release—and, well, it’s an arcade mode. There is one neat concept behind it: You can choose from multiple ladders inspired by the different Street Fighter games. The characters you can pick and fight against, as well as their costumes, change in accordance with the game you’ve chosen, as do some little presentation details, like the music at the character select screen. It’s a nice touch and helps add some much-needed pizzazz to a pretty standard mode.
And actually, the thing I’m liking most about Arcade Edition overall is the extra layer of shine and personality that’s slowly been accumulating on top of Street Fighter V’s relatively bland base game. Yes, the complexity of the game has grown tremendously with the addition of new abilities for every character, but I’m a sucker for the little things, like the giant golden “VS” on the match-up screen or the funkier edge to most of the newest music. (Zeku’s Shaft-esque ninja-disco theme is tremendous.) If only Capcom had given this much shine to Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite…