This zany pro wrestler hails from Street Fighter Alpha 3, where she instantly stood out from the pack with her ridiculously impractical attire and a grappling style fashioned after Zangief's piledrivers. Like SF3's Hugo, "Rainbow" Mika Nanakawa frequently utilizes her butt as a weapon, flinging herself into the opponent backside-first for devastating effect. It's all for her fans, and the Japanese wrestler's moxie comes through in her boisterous, crowd-pleasing personality.
That's the entire basis of R. Mika's V-Skill in SF5, called Zealous Mic Performance, which lets her amp up the damage on her next grapple attack by hyping up spectators with an impassioned speech. Mika's heavy-hitting command grabs make her the premier grappler of SF5's roster thus far, and her buttocks-based special moves look as harmful as they are hilarious. Hardcore wrestling fans will adore her referential throw animations, which include nods to the Frankensteiner, the Giant Swing, and the iconic Stone Cold Stunner. As a bonus, Mika's V-Trigger makes full use of her tag-team expertise, letting Mika call in her tag partner/rival Nadeshiko for a jaw-cracking dropkick.
Rashid's another newcomer for SF5, and has the distinction of being the series' first contender hailing from the Middle East. We're not sure what the deal is with the green, Saiyan-like scouter doohickey he wears over his left eye, but Rashid's nimble moveset is a powerful mix of agility and angled attacks, making for some incredibly tricky offense. He's a bit like the dapper version of Mega Man's famed Robot Master adversary Air Man, given that Rashid uses a variety of whirlwind projectiles and gale-force cyclones to toss around his opponents.
Mixing up the enemy seems to be Rashid's specialty, thanks to his dual-purpose V-Skill: it can either launch him into a front flip to set up for a hawk-like divekick, or do a quick forward roll into a rib-shattering kick if activated while crouching. Meanwhile, Rashid' V-Trigger, Ysaar, gives him the kind of space control that defined Dhalsim in USF4. It sends out a towering, slow-moving twister that damages your opponent and can even speed up some of your special moves, putting the pressure on in a big way.
Like R. Mika, Karin's making a comeback despite only appearing in Street Fighter Alpha 3, courtesy of her IRL fan following (especially in Japan, where she even beat Ryu in a ballot for players' favorite characters). Born into the rich Kanzuki family, Karin fancies herself to be Sakura's rival after Sakura trounced her in a scuffle. She may be something of a snobby rich girl, but Karin knows how to brawl with the best of 'em, thanks to her devastating spin-kicks and overhead smacks. And you can't help but love her haughty laugh after each victory.
Karin's V-Skill, Meioken, is a projectile-nullifying palm strike that helps her close in on any opponent who's desperately trying to play keep-away. That's simple and easy to understand - the polar opposite of her V-Trigger, which may require a flowchart when you're first learning how to utilize it. Called the Kanzuki-Ryu Guren No Kata, this special mode gives access to the Guren Ken attack, which itself has six different follow-ups to confuse the hell out of your opposition. Once you're able to grasp the full potential of this ability, you'll turn Karin into one of the most unpredictable fighters in the whole roster.
Should you find yourself alone in the Russian wilderness on a cloudless, starry night, they say you can hear the spirited grunts and cries of the Red Cyclone wrestling grizzlies for sport. Zangief - the hard-hitting, grab-happy wrestler who's been piledriving fools since 1991 - is back for another go-around in Street Fighter V. And as you can see from the screens, the man hasn't aged a day. He's a grappler through-and-through, with a few new tricks to help him close the gap between his opponents and his glorious muscles.
First out of the tool box is Iron Muscle, Zangief's V-Skill. With the push of a button, the Red Cyclone turns a deep shade of red and absorbs one attack - similar to Ryu's parry. The move recovers quickly, letting you follow up with another parry if needed or a grapple to surprise your opponent. Second is Cyclone Lariat, Zangief's V-Trigger. This spinning attack draws in your foe from a distance, at which point you can either continue the assault with multi-hitting strikes or stop spinning and throw out a pile driver. It's like Zangief always says, "Sooner or later, I piledrive everyone."
Laura's currently the closest thing we have to Blanka in SF5: this newcomer also hails from Brazil, and sports green as her primary color. At first glance, you might even mistake her for Killer Instinct's B. Orchid, given that both bruisers have the same taste in neon-green-and-yellow fashion. Laura practices Matsuda Jiu-Jitsu, her family's take on trusty Brazilian grappling techniques mixed with some static-shock projectiles reminiscent of Blanka's electrified attacks.
Laura's V-Skill, Linear Movement, is all about spacing, letting her get in or out of her opponent's reach almost at will (or simply kick them in the head if you choose to remain stationary). When you're ready to go full Blanka, you can activate her V-Trigger, Spark Show, to power up your projectiles, infuse your normal attacks with a stun-inducing current, and gain some extra distance on your Linear Movements to boot.
This not-so-non-violent pacifist is back in SF5, and like M. Bison, Dhalsim is starting to show his age. He now complements his three-skull-necklace with a turban and a long white beard, giving him the appearance of a village elder - appropriate, given that he's a time-honored veteran of the series. Dhalsim's still able to hover in midair, teleport, stretch his limbs, and breathe fire, so he's still the same elastic yogi you've known and loved since Street Fighter 2.
But SF5 supplies Dhalsim with some new tricks to maximize his keepaway tactics and zoning potential. For starters, his fireballs now travel in a large overhead arc instead of a straight line in front of him - perfect for tricky mix-ups and knockdown setups (especially when you factor in teleportation). His V-Skill, Yoga Float, immediately props Dhalsim into the air where he can unleash an attack. It seems useful for dodging projectiles and setting up a counterattack, in the same way as SF4's Yoga Tower. Dhalsim's V-Trigger, Yoga Burner, lays out a carpet of prolonged flame on the ground, letting you deny space and trap your opponent in a disadvantageous spot.
The final reveal for SF5's at-launch roster is another newcomer, and quite frankly, he's a big ol' weirdo. This assassin's look is nothing if not eye-catching, with flowing purple robes covering his incredibly lanky limbs and a gigantic hat atop his impossibly long face. In a bizarre switch, F.A.N.G (no word yet on what that acronym actually means) seems to have replaced Sagat as M. Bison's right-hand man in the evil Shadaloo regime.
F.A.N.G's moveset complements his devious nature, introducing poison mechanics to Street Fighter for the first time. By lobbing high-arcing orbs of purple goo, planting plumes of smoke on the ground, or encasing himself in a cloud of toxic vapor with his V-Trigger move Dokunomu, F.A.N.G can inflict a damage-over-time debuff that'll slowly chip away at the opponent's lifebar. He also seems to function a bit like a not-so-stretchy Dhalsim, given his long-range normal attacks and evasive movements, including a slide that can slip right underneath projectiles.
Incoming DLC characters
In addition to the 16-character roster at launch, Capcom will be adding a minimum of six characters after release day in the form of DLC. While they haven't been fully shown off in their SF5 forms, these six returning fighters have all proven to be fan-favorite contenders in previous games.
When it comes to purchasing the additional fighters, you've got a few options. Picking up the $29.99 / 24.99 Season Pass guarantees you'll get each new fighter when they're rolled out, but you can also buy them individually for $6 / 4.75 apiece, or unlock them for free if you've accrued enough Fight Money (the in-game currency awarded for simply playing the game). Pretty reasonable, as far as fighting game DLC goes!
It's strange to think about now, but when Street Fighter 3: New Generation debuted back in 1997, Alex was being positioned to replace Ryu as Street Fighter's frontman. This cocky American wrestler didn't end up being all that popular, but there's a captivating machismo to Alex's heavy-hitting, gut-thumping attacks. His Power Bomb grapple, head-smashing Air Stampede boot stomp, and quick Flash Chop all evoke real-world WWE moves - as real as those can be, anyway. And no other fighter has the admirable audacity to rip off their headband post-match and simply shout out "WEAK!"
Soldiers don't come more all-American than Guile, the Sonic Boom-flinging, shades-wearing family man with a pristine head of hair. Guile is one of the strongest defensive fighters in the whole series, and seeing how his old war buddy and functional clone Charlie has been reworked into an aggressive bruiser, Guile should feel much more distinct with his traditional, keepaway-oriented role. Between his incredibly powerful normals, constant stream of projectiles, and air-dominating Flash Kicks, playing against the impenetrable fortress that is a skilled Guile can break you down mentally as well as physically.