Street Fighter 6 already has a lot going for it as a return to form for Capcom’s marquee fighting game, but one of the best parts of the game has very little to do with fighting. Instead, one of the most memorable parts of the experience is the World Tour mode’s social elements that let you become besties with all your favorite and least favorite fighters. And y’all, I’ve had a crush on Ryu for years, all the while knowing he was not the brightest and hippest person in the cast, but this man is a himbo. Thanks to Street Fighter 6, my love for Ryu has skyrocketed past fictional character thirst into swinging my feet in my bed while reading his boneheaded texts.
Ryu is (was?) the face of Street Fighter, but he’s pretty uninvolved in the petty going-ons of World Tour’s main story which is mostly just you chasing after your anime rival who gets caught up in doing crime to get stronger and then gets very quickly in over his head as the stakes escalate. I had to leave the bustling noise of Street Fighter 6’s metropolis hub to find him training in Japan. When I first approached him in Genbu Temple, he was deep into his routine. He punched and kicked with the precision and intent of becoming a world-class fighter. He was so into it that he barely noticed me, but I was transfixed by his powerful movements. He summoned a dragon, at one point and also swept me off my feet with a gust of wind. It was magical. Then all of that mystique went away the second he opened his mouth.
To be clear, Ryu is an incredibly wise man of beekeeping age. He is worldly, and he tells plenty of stories about his years of travel, training, and meeting people around the world. But as I stood with him at Genbu Temple and listened to him tell me about his life, I knew I would have to leave and get back to my training elsewhere. So I asked him for his number, and when I said I would put it in my smartphone, he was confused.
“Er, I didn’t realize they gave IQ tests to phones these days,” he said in response.
Immediately, I was in love, and that love only grew stronger as he continuously struggled to text, learn text etiquette, and type properly with his big dumb hands. Between his signing every text with his name, consistent typos, and trying to learn how to use emojis, I tried to help bring him into the present day and show him the ropes of how to use a smartphone as he taught me to shoot a fireball from my hands. But perhaps his lack of texting expertise is why he didn’t quite catch on to the social cues of my flirting with him.
Ryu asked how my training was going and I was given the option to respond with an emoji, so I chose the one of the little guy with hearts over his head and a bouquet of flowers. To any Millenial or Gen Z texter, this would be a clear sign that someone is showing romantic interest. To Ryu, who is still trying to figure out how the touchscreen can tell where his fingers are, all he sees is a silly little guy that has appeared on his screen. Sure, he wants to know how to use those himself, but he’s not really catching on. Desperate to keep the conversation going, I tell him I will teach him how to use emojis when I see him next, and he says that, as far as technology goes, I’m effectively his master as he was mine in martial arts. Immediate smash cut to my Street Fighter 6 avatar giggling to himself in the middle of Metro City.
While the entire situation reads to me like I’m fighting for my life in this man’s inbox trying to get him to notice me, other Street Fighter 6 players have taken notice of Ryu’s lack of communication skills and have deemed him a street-fighting boomer. They’re not wrong, but it’s incredibly endearing, and an adorable microcosm of how World Tour does a lot for characterizing the roster in a way a lot of fighting games don’t get around to. Even if Ryu isn’t the star of the story mode, Street Fighter 6 makes these characters feel like real people, rather than just mechanics and tech grafted onto a character design.
Ryu’s arc in Street Fighter 6 is notably subdued compared to a lot of the weirdos in the roster, but you know what? Maybe my avatar wants something simple, something stupid, and something with big strong arms to throw me across the battlefield. Now I just have to keep sending him bouquet bearer emojis until he gets the message.