A chunky single player offering in my fighting game?
Now there’s a few gripes about World Tour that I need to get off my chest first, so I’ve made a list of them for your convenience. Number one: opponents that are several levels below you can do (and take) more damage than your sad excuse for a fighter can manage for some reason. Number two: you can only level up one playstyle at a time, which is just restrictive in an anti-fun kind of way. Number three: having to constantly return to Masters gets tiring quickly, especially when the payoff is just Blanka shouting “this technique will surely give your opponents a shock, UWWAHGG!”. Number four: plane tickets are a resource so plentiful that I struggle to think why they are included in the first place. Number five: the mission design can entail such riveting escapades as you running into a guy and him telling you to fuck off until nighttime, which you do only for a new guy to tell you to fuck off until daytime. And finally number six: the overall arcing story suffers from the usual fighting game issue of having to juggle an oversized cast, so you end up with a supposedly emotional scene with a character that you’ve spent maybe an hour with at max.
So despite all of its irritating quirks, I actually ended up really liking World Tour. I know the scene of fighting game single player modes isn’t exactly popping off these days, but I would rate World Tour as one of the best. I would even put it above NetherRealm’s work, because while the stories of Injustice and Mortal Kombat do their best to be epic, cinematic and all that, I do have to roll my eyes when all of the fights just so happen to take place in the exact same handful of locations. While the world in World Tour isn’t exactly a world (more like a city and a half), it’s still big enough that you could be throwing down anywhere, from alleyways, to rooftops, to trains, to parks and beyond.
It all feels so animated and alive, bursting full of people that are exercising, resting, fighting, mediating, waiting to fight, juggling, watching you do a Spinning Bird Kick and getting really hyped about it. It kind of reminds me a little of New Donk City from Mario Odyssey, just with a lot more graffiti, gang violence and introspective speeches about the “meaning of strength”. The transition from exploration to fights is also a technical marvel, with the amount of work that had to be done in order to avoid the camera getting stuck in geometry or making sure that there’s enough space to fight being extremely impressive. Of course, the fighting in World Tour is Street Fighter 6 fighting, which is pretty damn good, so I can’t be that upset when a random punk decides to sucker punch me in the back, because then I get the opportunity to put in some practice. The ability to switch playstyles and moves also opens up the floodgates for some real depraved shit, like linking Kimberly’s izuna drop into Marisa’s superman punch and then into Manon’s grab.
But what really surprised me about World Tour is how it teaches you to be better at fighting games. Those bastard roombas aren’t just there to be a whacky enemy to fight, they also teach you the importance of low attacks. The flying drones show you what attacks are good anti-airs and the fridges (yes you read that right) test your ability to punish from a distance. Even your less rectangular-shaped opponents will do things like spam projectiles from a distance, or constantly try to grab you, or jump all the goddamn time. While playing against other people is still the best way to improve your skills, this is the closest to actual human behaviour I’ve ever seen a fighting game AI get to.
The greatest praise I can give World Tour, however, is the fact that you can play this mode exclusively and still feel like you’ve gotten the Street Fighter 6 experience. World Tour isn’t some throwaway option that the developer chucked in just to meet some requirement, it has real effort and passion behind it. And for me personally, having a mode where I can cool off after some intense ranked matches is very welcomed indeed. Too many modern fighters these days depend on the online multiplayer being the main draw, so it is refreshing to see a refocusing on this kind of stuff.
I can’t believe this ended up being my takeaway from Street Fighter 6, but what has got me the most excited about the future of the series, is the thought of where a mode like World Tour goes to next!