The fifth numbered entry in Capcom’s Street Fighter series has had a history of peaks and valleys almost as high and low as the franchise itself, but with the recently concluded third season of character releases, fans seem to have warmed up to the game as well as its expanded roster.
With a total of 28 characters, almost every player will be able to find at least one that they enjoy taking into the game’s explosive, dynamic battles. So, to celebrate the end of season 3, let’s celebrate the most explosive and dynamic aspects of these characters’ movesets: their critical arts.
Critical arts are just Street Fighter V’s lingo for super moves, but the title is appropriate, since the greater freedom these moves allow with regards to animation, and camera work make these moves critical to not only winning a match but also to the characterization of those who use them. So, without further ado, let’s look at the ten best.
10. Ryu’s Denjin Hadoken
This is a move of historical significance, not just because of its in-universe history as an ancient attack passed down through the Ansatsuken school of martial arts, but because this massive projectile super move has been used by multiple characters in plenty of games ever since its introduction in Street Fighter III: New Generation.
It’s just a shame Street Fighter V only allows this move to be used by Ryu since Capcom appears determined to nerf the franchise poster boy into the ground and believe it or not, that isn’t even the only disadvantage the Denjin Hadoken has received. While previous iterations allowed players to charge the fireball, making it unblockable after a short period of time, in Street Fighter V it's launched as soon as it's activated. The good news is that if the opponent does block it they will receive a guard crush, leaving them open to big follow-ups.
It may not be what it once was, but this series staple is a useful asset for a character who has so few.
9. Zangief’s Bolshoi Russian Suplex
Suplexing an enemy is always satisfying and that’s essentially the entire reason to play as Zangief in any Street Fighter game, but Zangief doesn’t just hit his opponents with any old suplex, his critical art suplexes foes so hard that almost their entire bodies are buried into the ground. They don’t just make a little hole in the pavement either, half their body is embedded into the earth. It’s especially brutal if the move is used to KO the opponent, where they stay buried, their legs limply hanging out from the huge crater made with their presumably lifeless corpse.
The move is also a very strong tool in matches, with frame-1 activation and good range. It’s a cinch to combo into as well, making it a very practical attack to capitalize off of the Russian wrestler’s tremendous power.
8. Ed’s Psycho Barrage
Ed is a pretty confusing character. Is he a hero, villain or anti-hero? Why is his gameplay model so much bulkier than his story mode cutscene model? What was the point of connecting him to M.Bison? What exactly does he want to do with his Neo-Shadaloo organization? If this new organization is such a big deal in Street Fighter V's story and V is chronologically set before III, then why does the plot to Street Fighter III have nothing to do with Neo-Shadaloo?
All these questions and more are raised in the game but never answered, leaving his gameplay as the only thing of note to happen as a result of his story. Ed was an experiment to potentially be used as a new body for M.Bison, but after the defeat of the S.I.N. organization in Street Fighter IV, he was abandoned until world-famous boxer Balrog took him under his wing. As a result, Ed's fighting style is a combination between the series' supernatural energy known as psycho power as well as more traditional boxing. It's an interesting combination and it's arguably at its coolest during his critical art.
Ed begins by throwing a quick flurry of punches but soon starts using his psycho power to quickly move around his opponent, targeting openings and hitting weak spots like real boxers can only dream of before landing a devastating uppercut that sends the target flying. It merges realistic combat with fantasy to make one of the game's most satisfying super moves to watch. And while it sadly loses some points for being fairly plain in terms of actual gameplay and falling victim to a lot of damage scaling, it still does a great job of elevating this otherwise forgettable character.
7. Guile’s Sonic Tempest
Guile is already a pretty buff guy, even by Street Fighter standards, so when a critical art temporarily makes him even bulkier, it’s pretty difficult not to love it. It may seem strange then, that the sonic tempest is only a projectile and doesn’t involve Guile hitting the opponent directly with any of his extra muscle, but we’ll be damned if it doesn’t make said projectile look much cooler, not that it needs the help with how it takes up most of the screen.
If a regular fireball won’t do, you just need an even bigger fireball. And that’s exactly why we love the Sonic Tempest.
6. Abigail’s Abigail Special
Every fighting game has its own tongue-in-cheek moments, but you would probably not expect that to come from someone like Abigail. However, it’s hard to deny that the beastly bruiser’s critical art uses his incredible physique just as much for a chuckle as it does for a showcase of his incredible strength.
The animation begins with Abigail lifting the opponent and slamming their head through the top of the screen, despite the almost constant lack of any sort of ceiling in Street Fighter V’s stages. A nonsensically over-the-top display such as that would already be enough for a noteworthy super, but he then proceeds to beat their torso as they hang from the neck as if they were a speed bag. However, the cherry on top comes right after, as Abigail smacks the enemy so hard he breaks the fourth wall and sends the opponent flying towards the camera, shattering its lens instantly. This move is, of course, no slouch in terms of practicality either, but even if it was, such a great animation would still make it easily worth mentioning.
5. Ibuki’s Kachofugetsu
Ninjas are cool, that’s just a fact. With that in mind, it seems only natural that Street Fighter has several shinobi representatives, not the least of which is Ibuki. This feisty young girl is technically only a ninja in training, but in our mind, she's the real deal, partially because of her ability to hold her own against ninja masters like Guy and Zeku and partially because of her great critical art.
The Kachofugetsu has everything one would want from a ninja super move. Martial arts, teleporting, hand signs and a blast of powerful magic are all lined up together in a single smooth, beautifully animated sequence and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
4. Zeku’s Batsuzan Gaisei
Speaking of ninjas, here we have the 38th grandmaster of the bushinyu school of ninjutsu who, through unexplained means, can change from an old man to a young one at will. One might think that game developers would make a time traveling aspect of such a character as the centerpiece of their super move, but thankfully Capcom knew that ninjas are much cooler and focused on that aspect of Zeku’s character for his critical art.
When you get down to it, there’s not much going on here aside from Zeku simply jumping and striking at the enemy, but the presentation is what really sells it. It’s the only super move in the game that shifts the scene to a unique stylized background and Zeku himself moves with thick calligraphy lines completing his swift moves. The Batsuzan Gaisei also features a unique functionality as unlike most critical arts in the game which almost all favor use at the end of a combo over all else, it’s actually a useful defensive anti-air, able to snuff out jump-ins and cross-ups. It’s hard to think another ninja could take a spot above Ibuki, but Zeku isn’t a grandmaster for nothing.
3. Alex’s Heavy Hammer
This is yet another critical art that goes all out with its presentation. Dynamic camera angles, slick choreography, heavy impacts, it’s all there. Alex's background as a pro-wrestler is put on full display as he delivers a heavy chop to the opponent before grabbing them for a huge powerbomb and then immediately one-upping himself by leaping several dozens of feet into the air with the enemy still in his arms and then dropping to the ground via another powerbomb, this time partially burying his opponent into the ground. It’s an attack that’s more than flashy enough to cap off any great combo and a great way to leave opponents down for the count.
2. Nash’s Judgement Saber
Practicality hasn't really been a huge part of our judgment for this list so far, mostly because the majority of critical arts in Street Fighter V are little more than combo finishers, but Charlie Nash makes his triumphant return to the Street Fighter franchise by flipping that trend on its head.
Judgement Saber is fast enough to punish even certain normal attacks on block. Coupled with the fact that the initial dash goes through fireballs and reaches incredibly far, the move can also be used for counter zoning and bait punishing.
Of course, the animation is perfect too. After shrouding the stage in shadows, Nash appears behind the enemy before vertically slicing the opponent with a huge Sonic Scythe like a slick assassin. Fast, sweet and to the point, this is an all-around great super move, but it’s not the best one.
1. Akuma’s Shun Goku Satsu
And here it is, the most critical of arts, the raging demon, the death by one thousand deaths, the Shun Goku Satsu. This incredibly dangerous attack has been embedded into the minds of players since its introduction in Super Street Fighter II: Turbo for its striking imagery as well as the mystery behind what actually happens when the technique is used.
In prior games, all that was known was that the move ostensibly dealt damage in proportion to the sins of the target, which was really only a lore element and not reflected in the gameplay. However, Street Fighter V shines some light on what Akuma actually does with this move, teleporting around the enemy and targeting vital areas, while not showing too much of what happens in order to preserve the mysticism that makes this classic super move so great.
The Shun Goku Satsu is not only a well-animated attack, however, as its status as a 0-frame grab coupled with how far Akuma travels forward when initiating it makes it an incredibly valuable asset to his moveset. And that’s only before you get to the fact that it can move through projectiles. When used at optimal range, the Shun Goku Satsu is completely unavoidable on reaction, forcing opponents to try and predict when the attack will be used if they want to avoid it, making the already threatening Akuma even more dangerous and making the raging demon without a doubt the best critical art in Street Fighter V.
Through all the highs and lows, it’s been wonderful following Street Fighter V through its 3 seasons so far and hopefully, the next ones will be just as great. We still don't know what the future holds for this game, but we hope it will continue to uphold the stylishness and satisfaction exemplified by the critical arts covered here.
Be sure to let us know what your favorite critical arts are in the comments section and stay posted to Honey’ Anime for more on Street Fighter V.