Luke and Ryu step into the arena. One bears his teeth, and the other responds with a cold gaze. Capcom showed off its latest Street Fighter 6 trailer in June’s PlayStation State of Play, with a trickle of more clips in the days since. Sure, we were already waiting to see what new or returning features would arrive in this latest Street Fighter installment. Taking inspiration from SoulCalibur was an unexpected twist, though. The Street Fighter 6 Game Face Feature seems like something straight out of SoulCalibur 2.
As explained in a June 6 tweet from the official Street Fighter 6 account, Game Face Feature uses the D-pad to choose the character’s facial expression in the versus banner just after the intro sequence but before the fight. In the preview, we see Luke and Ryu march into a neon-lit room with digitized profiles of their stats, including height, weight, interests, and dislikes. Then, the camera zooms in on the faces they make at each other, which range from fierce to disinterested.
Fighting games always have intros, banter, or taunts of some sort. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Guilty Gear are just a few franchises that occasionally feature pre-game exchanges between characters. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you can even assign text quotes to buttons on the D-pad for versus screens before and after a fight. Similarly, SoulCalibur 2 allows players to choose between voice lines and when to say them as a pre-game taunt.
“Single handedly the best vs loading screen of all time,” one Reddit user said of SoulCalibur 2’s screen taunts. “Everything about how they flow into facing each other, to how much freedom you had with the timing of the one liners / yells. My favorite among my friends was the mega delayed yell. Complete silence until half a second until the level loads then HAAAAAAA.”
This feature, which allowed players to choose the taunt and its timing on the versus screen, stayed unique to SoulCalibur 2 for the longest time. Years later, Street Fighter 6 is improvising the gimmick into one that chooses facial expressions instead of a callout. Honestly, it’s surprising that it took this long to incorporate such a beloved feature in another fighting game franchise.
Internet sleuths have a couple of guesses about the wait. James “Jchensor” Chen, a popular FGC commentator, approvingly quote tweeted the announcement of the Game Face Feature, asking, “How did it take so long for someone to come up with this idea?” After enough people replied, he followed up with another tweet about Bandai Namco patents possibly holding it back. This patent apparently expired since then, but none of the other companies took advantage of it until now.
“Apparently, it was in Soul Calibur II and because of the Bandai/Namco patent of not letting you do things during loading screens, it hasn’t been allowed until now without paying BN money,” Chen said in a follow-up tweet. “Thanks for everyone letting me know!”
This is wild, considering Bandai Namco didn’t event incorporate pre-game callouts in later installments of SoulCalibur. We have SoulCalibur 3 through SoulCalibur 6, and somehow no Game Face Feature. Others pointed out that Chen’s conclusion might not necessarily be the case, but it’s still a reasonable guess to go off of with how little we have to work with.
Capcom hasn’t revealed how customizable the Game Face Feature will be — like how many expressions each character will have and how they will vary between characters. Fans have already started with the memes, fan arts, and memes, though. The Game Face Feature preview also revealed that Luke is apparently a PC gamer who hates horror games, which started a lighthearted conversation in and of itself. We’ll have to see what other faces we have to look forward to.
Street Fighter 6 is currently in development for PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. It’s set to release sometime in 2023.