One thing that has made Street Fighter such an enduring, legendary game series is its iconic characters. Players fondly remember their first time hitting an opponent with Ryu’s Shoryuken, sending out a Sonic Boom with Guile, or mashing out Chun-Li’s lightning kicks. Many of the series’ favorite characters return in Street Fighter 6, but with fresh designs that still convey the cast’s long-established personalities and skills. We sat down with Capcom to talk about giving old Street Fighters a new look.
Takayuki Nakayama is the game director of Street Fighter 6. He’s been with Capcom since 2012, starting his Street Fighter journey with work on Ultra Street Fighter IV. “Since we’re working on a new numbered series title, this was the chance to redesign all the characters,” he said. “We wanted to give all the legacy characters striking new designs as something of a challenge and make them look significantly different from the past designs of the characters that we’ve seen before.”
Some characters, like Chun Li, were especially challenging: “It took multiple years to land on her final design. Chun Li has been around for a long time as one of the key standout characters. And everyone’s ideal look for her is a little bit different. Because she is such a loved character, folks really have strong feelings about how Chun Li should look in a modern Street Fighter game.”
The RE Engine makes every character model pop on screen. But study them closer and you’ll note each of the 18-strong starting roster have distinct muscle tones. This is the result of experimentation, including 3D photo scanning of people, by a small team at the studio dedicated to more accurately portray muscle definitions factoring in age, gender and fighting style. For example, a sumo wrestler like E. Honda will have a completely different muscle definition to a pro wrestler like Zangief.
But the fighter from the Street Fighter II era whose redesign got a lot of buzz on social media was Cammy White, the blonde bombshell British brawler first introduced in Super Street Fighter II, and who has been a fan favorite for decades.
When Cammy first hit the streets, she was clad in a bright red beret and matching gloves, accenting a distinctive green leotard that showcased her legs–fitting for a femme fighter who could crush opponents with her mighty thighs. This has become her classic look, known as Delta Red, named after the elite special forces unit Cammy was part of in Street Fighter lore.
When X-Men vs. Street Fighter debuted in 1996, she sported a thicker, long-sleeved baby-blue onesie and cap but kept her big red gloves and, most strikingly, her thick pointed bangs, long blonde ponytails, and facial scar. This “Killer Bee” outfit represents the period when she was under the sway of supervillain M. Bison as one of his “dolls”–and, as was later revealed, a female clone bearing most of his DNA.
A lot has changed in the world of Street Fighter 6. Shadaloo is no more, and Cammy’s quest for vengeance against Bison seems to have reached its conclusion–but she’s still out there fighting and doing it with a new outfit. Gone is the slinky leotard, replaced with a bright sky-blue jacket and midriff-baring crop top. Her legs are covered with stretch-fabric workout pants: a sensible choice for an athletically-minded woman.
“Cammy feels that Shadaloo’s end is a new milestone that allows her to chart her own path and live a more normal life. This new look is her civilian outfit, while her old leotard is more of a battle-type outfit,” Nakayama-san explains. “When you first meet her in World Tour, she’s in London. We realized seeing her in her classic outfit might look weird in that context. So we tried to keep things like that in mind when designing the new costumes.”
The most striking change is Cammy’s hairstyle. Gone are the long braids that came with her other standard outfits, replaced with a sprightly new short trim. She’s still got those big sharp bangs, though, and they look surprisingly menacing as accents to her short haircut.
Nakayama-san described the thought process behind her drastic new ‘do. “We thought it would be an interesting challenge to give her a short hairstyle–she doesn’t have her classic braids, which seemed to be a defining point of her design. During the development of Street Fighter V, we had an opportunity to change it–we thought fans might react negatively, but the idea seemed to be positively received, so we decided to go for it in Street Fighter 6. Her hair may be short, but the straps from her jacket are intended to be reminiscent of her classic braids–that’s our creative callback touch.”
So how do you change something so big as an iconic hairstyle and keep a character recognizable?
“The silhouette of the character is very important,” says Nakayama-san. “As you may know, Cammy is rather petite compared to some of the other large-scale characters in the game. So we wanted to keep that essence of the character.”
The design team also kept some recognizable traits, like her gloves and boots, to remain faithful to previous designs and aid in gameplay. “It needs to be obvious when certain attacks hit the opponent. That’s why we maintained her gloves. When an attack connects, it’s easy to tell what happens. The rings on her boots are like an indicator of hit detection points. So it makes it visually more easily discernible when playing the game.”
But if you’re super-attached to the old look, don’t despair: many of the longtime legacy characters have classic costumes available in-game, Cammy included. Get a first look at the outfits below:
The team also took the opportunity to add many clever little touches. “Whenever a character uses up all their Drive Gauge, they go into Burnout mode. And then, while in that mode, their stance slightly changes. For Cammy, her pose changes to one reminiscent of an in-development sketch of her neutral pose from Super Street Fighter II.”
There’s a lot more deep-cut fanservice, too. “If you see her win pose after a match or in her Character Select Screen, you’ll notice a little cat that walks by her. That references the ending illustration from completing her arcade mode in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.”
Since Cammy has a new look, it’s only logical that she’s changed up her gameplay a little. “Cammy is historically a hard character to develop. It’s hard to give her new moves because she lacks supernatural powers. Giving Cammy a projectile kind of kills the essence of her character. One idea we toyed around with was using the Street Fighter II anime movie as a reference.” While eagle-eyed players will notice one particular move that plays homage to her appearance in that movie, the studio did deliberate on giving her a projectile attack that fitted with her background.
“We considered, ‘What if we gave her grenades she could throw?’ But that’s not really Cammy’s style, plus it would overlap with another SF series character, Rolento. Ultimately, we were able to make enhancements to her existing move set in Street Fighter V. We’ve continued that with Street Fighter 6, making it so that she “holds” her specials to apply different attributes to those moves.”
The love that’s gone into the characters of Street Fighter 6 is evident, not only from Nakayama’s words but also from what you see onscreen. Look forward to seeing all of your old favorites–and making your own legendary Street Fighter–when Street Fighter 6 enters the ring on June 2, 2023.