The conclusions to major fighting game tournaments are usually prime opportunities for the genre’s biggest companies, like Capcom and Bandai Namco, to showcase upcoming content for their games. At CEO 2016 in Orlando, Florida last weekend, Capcom took this opportunity to announce one of two upcoming characters for Street Fighter V: the indomitable prize fighter, Balrog.
Balrog will be included in the same update that will contain Ibuki and Street Fighter V’s Story Mode. These two features were delayed for unstated development reasons, so Capcom’s Street Fighter team decided to include them in one mega update.
Check out Balrog in action below:
Before joining M. Bison’s crime syndicate, Shadaloo, Balrog was known as a ruthless boxer. He was eventually ejected from the sport due to his vicious (and illegal) fighting style, whereupon he was picked up by Bison to serve as Shadaloo’s enforcer. Now, Balrog fights with the goals of brutalizing Shadaloo’s enemies and attaining wealth.
Balrog made his first appearance in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior as one of M. Bison’s Four Kings of Shadaloo, alongside Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison himself. He was originally a boss character who gave many an arcade-goer a hefty wallop upon reaching the game’s boss circuit, but became a playable character in later installments of Street Fighter II. In competitive play, he was known for being a terrifying character to fight, one who could finish his opponents in mere seconds should he get the opportunity.
(Fun fact: in Japan, Balrog is known as M. Bison, while Vega is known as Balrog and M. Bison is known as Vega. The character known across both regions as Boxer had his name changed in overseas releases of Street Fighter II due to its association with a real-life boxer, whose surname rhymes with “Bison.”)
Historically, Balrog’s gameplan has been simple, yet high-maintenance: overwhelm your opponents with far-reaching and highly damaging moves, circumvent their fireballs, then bully them into the corner and ensure they never escape. Balrog’s objective in Street Fighter V seems to be the same, though he’s picked up a few new tricks to help him get the job done.
Balrog’s V-Skill is called KKB. We’re not entirely sure what the acronym stands for, but we are certain that it will play a vital role in Balrog’s approach game. It resembles his classic Turn Punch in that Balrog twists his body, then launches himself at his opponent fist-first. What’s unique about KKB, though, is that it will allow Balrog to bypass all attacks during certain frames of animation. This allows Balrog to act as a technical “inside fighter” who can bait his opponents with a KKB and close the gap between them.
In this way, KKB somewhat replaces Balrog’s traditional Buffalo Headbutt as his primary get-in tool. Buffalo Headbutt now acts as Balrog’s V-Reversal, which can be activated while blocking. Due to its upward hitbox, this V-Reversal might act as an effective deterrent against opponents who like to jump on top of Balrog, one of his major weaknesses.
Balrog’s V-Skill is known as Crazy Rush. When activated, Balrog’s body begins to vent steam. The now-enraged Balrog can freely string together his special moves for brutal damage.
Balrog’s Critical Art perfectly captures his fighting spirit. It’s a short, but devastating move called Gigaton Blow. Balrog simply winds up a massive punch, then unleashes it on his hapless opponent. As with other Critical Arts, it’s best used as a combo ender, though other properties and applications of the move (like invulnerability frames) are unknown at this time.
In addition to Story Mode, Ibuki and Balrog himself, several other new features will be arriving with Street Fighter V’s July 1 update. For starters, two alternate costumes for Balrog will be available for purchase in the in-game Shop, as will Balrog’s Las Vegas Stage.
Two other items centered on Karin will also be available. The first is a summertime swimsuit costume for Karin, and the second is a stage taking place on the Kanzuki family’s beach estate, titled Kanzuki Family Private Beach.
Two characters from another Capcom fighting game franchise, Rival Schools, also make an appearance in the Beach stage. Yes, that does indeed seem to be Tiffany Lords and Akira Kazama standing in the background. Might we see a Rival Schools crossover in the future?
At the end of the CEO trailer, Capcom teased the final two upcoming DLC fighters: Juri Han and Urien. Though we can only catch a glimpse their gameplay, it is apparent that Juri has retained her trademark kicks. Urien, meanwhile, seems to have brought back his infamous Aegis Reflector from Street Fighter 3.
While neither Urien nor Juri will be available for a full release just yet, players will be able to try them out in the upcoming cinematic Story Mode.
Street Fighter V’s next major patch is set to release July 1, and will include all of the material discussed above. We’ll get to see players from around the world test their Street Fighter mettle at EVO 2016, too, starting July 14. And yes, EVO organizer Joey Cuellar has announced that both Ibuki and Balrog will be legal for the Street Fighter V tournament:
Ibuki and Balrog will both be legal for Evo 2016! GET HYPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! #Evo2016
— Joey Cuellar (@EvilMrWizard) June 27, 2016