You might know him as the scourge of the fighting-game circuit. You might know him as Capcom's senior manager of community. If you're really in the know, you might know him as a special advisor to Street Fighter IV. Right about now you're thinking, "Well who the hell is he?!?" The answer to that, my friends, would be Seth Killian.
I caught up with the man during Capcom's recent Street Fighter Club San Francisco event to chat about various aspects of Street Fighter IV. We chatted about the game's new features and new characters, but like any great Street Fighter conversation, the talk centered around Dan and R. Mika. (Okay, that may or may not be true. Read the interview to find out!)
Raymond Padilla: Okay Seth, first thing's first. Ken's from California. How do Ken and Ryu feel about Prop. 8?
Seth Killian: I don't know what Ryu's feelings about the rainbow flag might be, but I gotta think that Ken's a California guy -- he's down for whatever. Let 'em get married! Why not?!? Let them be like everybody else. They're in love!
R.Pad: Okay, that's out of the way. So! Street Fighter IV is one of the hottest games of the year, certainly one of the hottest of Q1. How has fan reaction been so far?
SK: The reaction has been huge. We've been working really hard to not just talk about the game, but to actually put it in people's hands. That's what events like Street Fighter Club have been all about. We're big believers in the game, but we also realize that it's a ten-year reboot for the series and there's a lot of skeptics. We want to turn people into believers. When they see the game, everyone comes out with a big smile on their face and lots of nasty ideas of what they can do to their friends when they get Street Fighter IV at home.
R.Piddy: Like you said, this is a ten-year reboot. What have some of the challenges been in bringing back the series?
SK: Internally at Capcom, it was a real challenge. I have to credit Ono-san -- he really believes in the 2D fighting mechanic, because that's where it's at, as far as Street Fighter goes. To really bring it to the next gen, we had to have 3D graphics, but we wanted to keep the 2D mechanics. So we brought in a 3D graphical style and introduced a lot of great flourishes, but the game still has that great, precision 2D feel of Street Fighter. So you're not alienating any of the longtime fans with this game.
R 2 the Izzo: Oh absolutely! It's a gorgeous game and fans are going to be thrilled that Ono-san stuck to his guns with the 2D fighting mechanics.
SK: As a big Street Fighter fan, when I first heard about project, I was a bit skeptical myself. After speaking to Ono-san and seeing the game, I became a true believer. And I think the end product will speak for itself.
R 2 the Izzay: So for old-school Street Fighter fans, will they be able to pick up a lot of the classic characters with ease? Do they play the same? Or similarly?
SK: They play very similarly. For anybody that's ever played Street Fighter II, playing Street Fighter IV is like putting on an old pair of comfortable shoes. You can play the game like you would Street Fighter II and you can get away with that, but you'll eventually get skunked by somebody that plays it like Street Fighter IV. There are some new mechanics here and they're very powerful. Mastering them is definitely important to the game, but what's nice about them is that they're simple and easy to learn. Ultimately, you're left with what Street Fighter is really all about -- the strategy, when to use the move and how to use it creatively, and how to outthink the other guy.
R-Pad: Let's talk about some of the new characters. C. Viper seems like she's getting a big push, being part of the collector's edition and all.
SK: C. Viper has been kind of a dark horse. I think initially, people just didn't have the hang of C. Viper, but now that they've seen some other people playing her and have had the chance to play with her a little more, they really see some of the possibilities. Seeing footage of guys in Japanese arcades tear it up with C. Viper, you really see the potential for the character. She's a powerhouse!
R-Truth: Out of the new guys, who stands out for you?
SK: Well, I really like Rufus. He's a big boy and he's definitely clownish in a lot of ways. He learned his martial arts through correspondence school [laughs] and he has a very inflated ego. He's super fast and he's really dangerous. There are a lot of ways to set up his ultra combo, and his dive kick is just super fast. He can generate pressure like almost no other character.
It's a Shame About Ray: Luchador [masked wrestlers] fans have a character they can really look forward to, right?
SK: I gotta say, El Fuerte is a ton of fun. You have to work a bit harder with El Fuerte, but when it all comes together, it really pays off. And he looks beautiful. So when you watch a really masterful El Fuerte player, it's just a beautiful thing to see. Or even when you first start getting the hang of him -- you might lose a few matches in the beginning, but you're having twice as much fun as the other guy.
R-Pazzle: I'm a big Dan fan. What's Dan going to be all about in Street Fighter IV?
SK: Dan is beautiful! He's actually one of my favorites. Though I have to admit, when we first talked internally and he was mentioned as being added to the roster, I was like, "Uh-oh. We're losing a slot to a joke character." But the team really put a lot of love into making Dan for Street Fighter IV. His animations are just funny. I think this is really the best embodiment of Dan we've ever seen. He actually has some really good moves, in particular his focus attack has great range. You'll actually be able to win a few matches with Dan, but at the same time, even if you don't, you're laughing all the way. He's just hilarious with a lot of great touches.
R-Man: So the reaction to training mode has been a bit of a surprise for you, hey?
SK: Yeah, definitely! As a guy that's been playing Street Fighter his whole life, I never really thought a lot about training mode, but the team has put a lot of effort into Street Fighter IV's. What we've done is to start the player with the basics so that they can learn the normal moves, but it goes on from there into special moves and how to cancel the special moves, ultra combos, and more. So if you spend some time in training mode, you're going to come out of it as a serious player with some legitimate techniques and abilities.
Anybody that hasn't played the game before is going to get a lot out of training mode. People that have played the game before have an opportunity to challenge themselves and tighten up their technique. So there's something for everybody and it also unlocks a bunch of little features, specials. So if you're a tweaker like that, there's great incentive.
RP: So it sounds like training mode is great for longtime Street Fighter players that enjoyed the game, but were never that good, like TheFeed's Brian Leahy. [laughs]
SK: Yeah, totally. That's what's great about Street Fighter IV. It's a really great chance for somebody that remembers Street Fighter or people [like Brian] that were intimidated by the game because there are so many great players out there. It gives people the chance to really get into the game on the ground floor. That was a problem with games like Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike -- they were both great games, but they were really hard. So you had to be a lifelong Street Fighter player to really even be on the ground floor with those games. With Street Fighter IV, the door is wide open for everyone. Come on in!
R.Pad: Last question! If you could be any Street Fighter from any game, who would you be and why?
SK: Ohhh, that's tough. I'm gonna go with a dark horse. I'm gonna go with R. Mika from the Alpha series. She has huge knockers and cute hair. I imagine life is easy for her. [laughs] She's a tough chick, so she can take care of herself and at the same time, she's on easy street because everybody loves a pretty girl.
RP: With huge knockers.
SK: [laughs] It's the truth!