The fifth character will be female. She'll come from the Street Fighter comics. And Ultra Street Fighter IV will be her fighting game debut. These hints and others were all we had to go on as to the identity of Ultra Street Fighter IV's mysterious fifth character, who was first teased in the game's announcement trailer. After several months of rampant speculation--including such contenders as Ibuki's friend and Ken's wife--Capcom finally put the rumors to rest at Final Round 17 in Atlanta, Georgia, with the reveal of Decapre, the next world warrior.
If our coverage is any indication, the response to this announcement was mixed at best. Since Decapre lacks the nostalgia Hugo, Poison, Elena, and Rolento enjoy, as well as the novelty of being a completely original character, the odds were already against her. Her status as just another one of M. Bison's assassins--dubbed The Dolls--felt underwhelming to some given the series' strong lineup of memorable characters and outrageous personalities. It also didn't help that she looks almost exactly like Cammy with a mask. Earlier this week, I spoke with developer Capcom about why Decapre made the cut, and what went into designing this brand-new fighter for the series.
A lot of attention was paid to the design of Decapre's scar. The fact that it crosses right between her eyebrows makes her look angry by default no matter what sort of expression she wears. Interestingly, donning her mask allows her to cover the scar and therefore makes her emotional state easier to read. It's quite rare to come across a design like this, where masking a large portion of the face actually makes it easier to read a character's emotions rather than more difficult. --Capcom's Art Team
According to the game's assistant producer, Tomoyaki Ayano, Decapre's status as a Doll was one of the main reasons why she was chosen as the fifth character--to help fix a missing link in the game's roster. "The Street Fighter IV series is basically a compilation of popular characters from the franchise. However, it doesn't speak much about The Dolls, which fan favorites such as Juli and Juni also belong to. We selected the final character from The Dolls so we can further explore the Street Fighter IV universe. We believe that Decapre helps us to understand the aspect of her causal link with Cammy and Shadaloo."
"Rolento, Poison, Hugo, and Elena have all appeared in Street Fighter X Tekken, so we made sure to stay true to their original design," Ayano continued. "As for Decapre, she's never appeared in a game as a playable character. Although she is Cammy's clone in the setting, we wanted to create a distinctive character in terms of her fighting style. Therefore, a lot of elements unique to her character, such as new special moves and charges, have been implemented."
"She's very trick-heavy, with lots of left and right mix-ups to keep up her offense," added senior online and community specialist Peter Rosas. When Rosas first laid eyes on Decapre, she was nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet filled with frame data--the numerical values that represent her attacks. That was last year, and since then he has been hard at work helping mold Decapre into a balanced fighter. "Decapre is not like Cammy at all; she's actually more like E. Honda in that she's a charge-based character who can still be played very offensively. She can excel without relying too heavily on charge-based attacks, but when she's able to get in close and use her charge attacks in conjunction with some pretty great normal attacks, things can get pretty nasty pretty fast."
Unlike some of the other world warriors, Decapre has a fighting style that isn't based on an existing martial art, so it was up to the development team to invent one. As Ayano described it, "Decapre attacks with the daggers equipped to her hands. Unfortunately, there's no real-life analogue for her fighting style, but we've referred to jamadhar, also known as katar, to design her weapon. Her fighting style is distinctive, as she utilizes a powerful claw combined with its hack-and-slash functionality. She's a charge-based character in nature, so some people might imagine that her fighting style might be defensive awaiting the opponent's moves. However, that is actually not the case."
This collection of facial expressions is meant to show the extremes of her emotional states as a way to sort of flesh out the character behind the scenes. However, you don't really see her get this emotional in the game, so these images are rare in that sense. --Capcom's Art Team
In the months following Decapre's spreadsheet origins, Rosas has tested and consulted on three different versions of this fighter. His job is to help ensure she's not "too obnoxious" and is balanced against the rest of the roster. This means she has undergone a lot of changes. "Her second ultra, the DCM or defensive combat maneuver, used to have a three-frame startup, so you could land it off of basically any attack. It also had three different variations: hitting straight across, at a 45-degree angle, or a 90-degree angle. This was too much. You basically couldn't get away from her. You couldn't jump back, you couldn't back dash--she had an option for everything. It was too obnoxious."
It was important for the team to nail the DCM ultra since it is an enhanced version of her signature attack, the scramble, a short-range teleport. Ayano and Rosas agree that Decapre's scramble attacks are her most important asset, and the linchpin of her fighting style. "[Scramble] is a charge-based command attack, but with ultra-fast migration and three different paths: low, medium, and high," explained Ayano. "It is not just a migration, but also comes with a lot of [follow-up] moves, such as blake (sudden stop of migration) and cannon strike (assault from the air). By utilizing these scramble attacks, players are more likely to be ahead of the game."
"I'd say her scramble into ground pound is something you're going to see a lot," said Rosas. "When Decapre knocks her opponent down, she can choose which side she wants to attack from, sort of like what C. Viper does when she flame kicks over some guy's head. If the kick hits, she'll combo accordingly, and the same thing is true for Decapre. When she does a scramble into ground pound, she can hit either the front or back of her opponent, and they have to figure out which one it's going to be. All you see is her dash into the air and vanish, and then wham, she's on the ground. You're going to see that a lot in her mix-up game."
Of course, just like with the DCM, it's important that this attack not be too powerful. "There was actually one version of Decapre where her scramble just ended instantly; like bam she was right in front of you," Rosas added. "It was basically an infinite as she could just teleport nonstop all over the screen. And while it looked really cool, it was just way too obnoxious."
As Capcom has stated, Decapre is around 80 percent complete. However, that last 20 percent is a tightrope of minute tweaks and attack rebalancing. "I want to see the public's reaction to her," said Rosas. "She's a far cry from her previous, overpowered versions and is definitely more in line with the rest of the cast. But at the same time, due to her pretty good moveset, I want to see what other people can do. I can only do what I can do, I can't account for what people like Desk--that combo guru--or others might come up with. I just really want to see how the public fights against her, how they use her. Do they focus on her charge attacks or on her normals? What will be the most efficient play style for her?"
Rosas is confident that Capcom, with the community's support, will find these answers ahead of Ultra Street Fighter IV's June release date, just a few short weeks before their game is put to the ultimate test at this year's Evolution Championship Series.