Please note that this review focuses only on the newly-released Arcade Edition content, and does not review Street Fighter V itself.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is Capcom’s latest attempt to reinvigorate Street Fighter V following its disappointing initial release in 2016. Having been marred for the past two years by a lacklustre roster (which is still missing fan favourites), a barebones offering of modes, virtually no tutorial for newcomers to break into the game and content only vaguely promised for later in the game’s life cycle, Street Fighter V has definitely been in dire need of a shake-up – and Arcade Edition, as a free update to the game for existing Street Fighter V owners, promises to do just that.

With all the post-launch DLC characters from the past two years included as part of this new Street Fighter V package, as well as numerous fan-requested extras, Arcade Edition is intended to rectify many of the aforementioned issues and breathe new life into the two-year-old fighting game. As stated above, it is a free update for those who already own Street Fighter V, but a physical edition of Arcade Edition has also been released containing Street Fighter V and all of the new content. But the real question is, does this package come out swinging, or is it too little too late?

The first thing most players will notice when loading up Arcade Edition is the inclusion of not one, but six different Arcade modes themed around the past Street Fighter games. Capcom clearly took fans’ criticisms about the lack of an Arcade mode in the original release to heart, and have gone the extra mile to put things right with their offerings here. Street Fighter I, Alpha, II, III, IV and (of course) V are all recreated with remixed music, replacing the music on offer from the original game, and it is a small but welcome touch to be able to listen to the classic versus theme from Street Fighter II or the pounding hard rock remix of Street Fighter IV’s character select theme at will.

It is not just musically that these titles are recreated; the visuals of each game have been remastered in the style of Street Fighter V, and the automatic use of Nostalgia Costumes for CPU opponents and the inclusion of bonus stages serve to give the feel of the old games, too. For example, if you tackle Street Fighter II‘s Arcade ladder and end up fighting Balrog, the game will automatically utilise his previously-released Nostalgia Costume – his original boxer attire – to echo games past. Each Arcade mode can only be tackled using characters that originally made an appearance in that game, too, so you won’t be seeing (or using) characters like Necalli in the Street Fighter I Arcade ladder, for instance.

Ryu in Street Fighter I's Arcade mode in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Capcom have done a fantastic job of paying homage to the previous Street Fighter titles, however once the novelty of playing through the themed modes wears off, the incentives to play them are relatively slim. Additionally, you start to see how Capcom could have improved the modes even by implementing a few small changes.

For starters, the Arcade endings are bad. A one-page piece of artwork with one line of text per character? What the fuck? So much more could have been done with the characters and their personal stories – like in previous instalments in the series, where upon defeating a rival or an arch-enemy, a full-on text conversation would play out. Obviously, Street Fighter IV took this one step further with the introduction of extended rival cutscenes, and an attempt at this – or indeed anything beyond a static piece of artwork in the vein of the classics – would have helped make the Arcade modes’ fights feel more dynamic and less like mere strings of run-up fights preceding their final bosses.

Alex's character ending in Street Fighter III's Arcade mode in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

What is interesting in Arcade Edition is its Extra Battle mode. This mode sees you pay Fight Money to take on certain time-restricted tasks with a view to earn in-game rewards such as costumes, titles, character experience and more. At the time of writing this review, for instance, the tasks are to take on Rashid dressed as Viewtiful Joe in a series of battles which culminates in the outfit being unlocked permanently, and to take on Shin Akuma, the super-powered Master of the Fist.

The challenges range from easy to hilariously broken, and would be a lot more enjoyable if the barrier of Fight Money was removed as the amount of ways through which you can earn Fight Money have also been reduced. That being said, the mode is certainly good fun and Capcom promise to update it regularly with new challenges and rewards.

Extra Battle mode in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Thankfully, Street Fighter V‘s gameplay has also seen some tweaks with the release of Arcade Edition. As well as implementing balance changes across the entire cast, Capcom have introduced a second V-Trigger for every character, giving them greater flexibility and improved utility. V-Triggers form part of Street Fighter V’s V-System – a mechanic exclusive to Street Fighter V which gives players the opportunity to make comebacks from the brink of defeat. Each character has their own unique V-Skill – a special move which, when used, builds up their V-Gauge – and the use of these eventually allows for the use of V-Triggers when the V-Gauge is full. V-Triggers can lead to some of the most satisfying moments in matches, especially when you use your powered-up state to land an extended combo or claim a slim victory after being on the brink of death.

After two years the original V-Triggers had begun to feel slightly repetitive, so Capcom’s decision to provide every character with a secondary one is certainly fantastic. However, some of the secondary V-Triggers are nowhere near as effective as the originals and are, in some cases, much worse. The real disappointment about all of these Arcade Edition updates to gameplay, though, is the fact that Capcom did not add a second Critical Art for each character, too. This would have helped the game appear much more updated gameplay-wise, especially if there were new animations for every character, but this is once again a missed opportunity on their part. Thankfully, the fighting is still fun enough for this not to be a major gripe, but it is certainly something which could have made these great improvements into amazing ones. Personally, I’m just happy that Akuma’s Raging Demon made it into the original round of Critical Arts.

Akuma doing the Raging Demon in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

One of the best new changes to the game comes in the form of an update to its Training Mode. While Capcom have still not added a competent tutorial that explains more than where buttons are and what they do, or does more than rely heavily upon difficulty-progressive combo trials for each character, they did make one addition to the Training Mode which will benefit anyone looking to step up their game. This addition consists of  various colourful indicators which refer to something of critical importance to all serious fighting game players: input and frame data.

Input and frame data is no longer just numbers on a spreadsheet somewhere on the internet; now, the characters in Training Mode can be set to flash set colours to signify when an attack is active (blue in the image below), when a character is recovering, the status of your opponent if hit by an incoming attack (red in the image below), and their status when they block an incoming attack. This may not sound like a lot, but to someone who is serious about wanting to learn to play a character effectively, it is invaluable as it allows you to visually see what moves are effective and how long they are active on-screen.

Frame data colours in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Speaking of visual improvements, the game has seen an impressive overhaul in terms of its user interface – and it is all the better for it. Gone is the blue background and spinning Planet Earth on the versus screen; instead we have a vibrant, bold, white-and-gold ‘VS’ symbol with a seriously slick eSports-style display. This new versus screen appears like an advertisement for the fight you are about to take on, and is much more aesthetically-pleasing to look at on a regular basis. The in-game Super Meter and V-Gauge have also been slightly altered visually, looking much more accessible and smooth, with a number being assigned to the V-Gauge to inform both you and your opponent as to what V-Triggers you both are taking into battle. They are small changes, but ones that will prevent any unwanted and unfair surprises from cropping up mid-match.

Similarly, the various menu audio tracks have also seen an update, with a lot of the music from the original Street Fighter V release stripped away in favour of a new soundtrack. This is mostly good as the new songs are perfect for the purpose they serve, but I cannot deny that I do love the original versus and character select themes for the game. Thankfully I can always listen to them via the in-game jukebox or set them as my personal menu music if I wish, so it’s not as if they’ve disappeared from the game entirely.

Updated Street Fighter V UI
Image: Jack Gash / Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is most assuredly a step on the right path for Capcom going forward, and it is nice that the players who have lost interest in Street Fighter V in its original form due to the lack of modes have now been given a reason to return to the game. Even better is that all of the content I have mentioned in this review is free to all existing players, as stated previously, so there is no extra expense to the player to get in on all the fun.

As someone who has been playing Street Fighter V since day one, it is good to see Capcom learn from their mistakes and start to move toward a stronger future for the game. There are certainly missed opportunities in this update, but as anyone who has followed the game has seen, Capcom have always been dedicated to improving players’ gameplay experiences since release with the addition of more characters and modes. With even more content promised for the future, it is safe to say that this brilliant package is only going to get better as time goes on – and that perhaps some of these missed opportunities won’t be missing for very much longer.

Verdict: 8/10

Street Fighter V Arcade Edition is the package that many fans have been waiting for, with several modes, gameplay improvements and balance adjustments on top of all the previous characters released. It does sometimes feel that it stops just shy of greatness, but it is an undeniably solid fighter with a bright future of more characters and modes promised for the future.

You can purchase a copy of Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition from GAME or Amazon UK. Check out the official Arcade Edition trailer here as well, and be sure to let us know in the comments below whether you’ll be picking it up! Be sure to follow us here at PixelTome over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well to stay up-to-date with all our latest reviews, news, features and more.