Street Fighter V's newest character is also one of Capcom's oldest
Come explore the retro roots of Abigail, the "superhuman hot rodder."
On Sunday, Capcom announced that the man-mountain Abigail as the latest addition to Street Fighter V, due to go out for download on July 25. Aside from fan favorite Akuma, the Season 2 roster so far has consisted of supporting characters from previous Street Fighter games making their playable debut: Kolin served as Gill's secretary in Street Fighter III (set chronologically after SFV), and Ed was a mystery child who ended up in the care of Balrog (of all people) at the end of Street Fighter IV. Abigail is following the same track, except this makes his first appearance in any Street Fighter game at all. He originally appeared as a stage boss way back in Final Fight, Capcom's seminal beat-'em-up from 1989.
The connection between Street Fighter and Final Fight is nothing new, going all the way back to before the latter was released, when it made location tests under the title "Street Fighter '89." Street Fighter II, released a couple years later, then carried over several elements from Final Fight, such as the distinct yellow-and-red life bars and the bonus stage where you demolish some poor schmuck's car with nothing but your hands and feet. Several of Zangief's moves, such as his jumping piledriver and the iconic Double Lariat, were also swiped wholesale from Mike Haggar, Final Fight's pro wrestler turned civil servant.
Other than that, the relationship between the two series remained fairly low-key until the Street Fighter Alpha series, where Capcom began folding more Final Fight characters into the cast with each new game. Zangief's home field advantage has kept Haggar out of the running to this day, but fellow heroes Cody and Guy crossed over without issue, as did stage bosses Sodom and Rolento. Andore, Final Fight's heaviest-hitting normal enemy, arrived in Street Fighter III after a name change to "Hugo" (the better to disavow his being patterned after Andre the Giant), and fan favorite Poison finally made the jump right at the end of Street Fighter IV's life cycle.
Now it's Abigail's turn at bat, although he's not really a character anyone's been clamoring for. In his original appearance, he was easily the least distinctive of all Final Fight's bosses; as a head-swap of Andore, he didn't even have a unique sprite. However, this isn't the first time Capcom has taken special care to give a Final Fight alum a new lease on life. For Cody, who was also fairly nondescript, they explored the logical end of the mania for fighting he hinted at in Final Fight's ending by reframing him as a jumpsuit-clad jailbird. With Sodom, they revealed the American inexplicably wearing a full samurai helmet was in fact a clueless Japanophile, who emblazoned a misdrawn kanji on his chest and set out to rebuild the Mad Gear gang in the image of glorious Nippon.
In Abigail's case, Capcom have leaned hard on his sheer size, with an even higher profile than Hugo and the most inflated and misshapen muscles I've seen since Bane on the cover of Batman #497. He's so big he wears tires for arm bands, which ties into his new personality quirk: He's now a gearhead, sputtering car noises and miming a steering wheel and pedals as he prances into the ring. It fits as well as anything, with the bonus of incirectly paying homage to Mad Gear, Capcom's arcade racing game (titled LED Storm outside Japan) that provided the name for Final Fight's army of thugs in the first place.
Although Abigail showcases a repertoire of all-new moves in the trailer, his toolbox is hardly lacking in calls back to Final Fight. His dashing punch remains intact, along with the burning red glow that preceded it, which now appears to serve as his V-Trigger buff. What really caught my eye, though, is that move where he picks up his opponent with both hands and just...tosses them into the air, which does a shocking amount of damage for how unimpressive the animation is. With nearly thirty years of hindsight, Capcom could have easily replaced this with a move as visually impactful as it is painful, but I'm glad they kept it as-is. Along with his white pants and King Crimson face paint, that bit of incongruity is one of few things Abigail can call his own. (For better or worse, though, he does not appear to lay mid-grapple smooches on people as he did in Mighty Final Fight.)
Abigail's SFV debut coincides with a new stage that faithfully recreates his scene at the end of Final Fight's fifth round. Despite how many Final Fight characters have already made it to Street Fighter, this is the first stage of theirs to evoke a specific environment from Metro City, and Capcom has got the details just right, down to the cobblestone patterns and eye-catching view of the Statue of Liberty. The stage is initially set at night, but the time of day reportedly advances over the course of a match, culminating in the familiar sunrise from Final Fight if the battle continues for long enough. Rounding out the fan service is the music, which is of course a new arrangement of Final Fight's Round 5 track. About all that's missing is that dog who appeared several times throughout the stage.
With so much care lavished upon one of Final Fight's more obscure characters, we can only imagine who else might pop up in Street Fighter V down the line. Perhaps one of the second-stringers from Final Fight 2 and 3? Or could Haggar get his due at long last? Does Abigail's inclusion rule out the return of Hugo, or does it make more likely since Capcom could recycle some assets? If Capcom wants alternate characters to share in the spotlight, should we expect Poison to sit this one out in favor of her palette-swap Roxy? It's truly an exciting time to be a fan of Street Fighter's expanded universe.