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VICE vs Video games

‘Street Fighter V’ Looks Amazing, But What the Hell Is Happening in Its London Stage?

We just saw more of the game at E3, but that's beside the point when trying to understand what's going on here.

Screen detail via YouTube

Look at this. Look at this video – the video below. Look at Ryu and M. Bison having a set-to, from the forthcoming Street Fighter V (which just yesterday we saw more of at E3, which was nice). No: look at it properly. Ignore the bit where Ryu gets supremely KO'd through a bin. Ignore that move where Bison does a sort of three-stage overhead kick then heels Ryu in the head so hard his head ignites briefly with a powerful purple thunder. You're watching Street Fighter wrong. Look, just look, and then I'll explain.


I suppose my main question here is: what in the blue and infinite fuck is going on in the background of this video? The only way we can attempt to understand it is by trying to describe it, so let's start with that:

i) I mean, first up we gotta talk about the Royal Guard who is there violently playing the trombone, because that does not seem like it is part of the Royal Guard remit. I do not think this is Queen-approved. Is this just him chilling while he waits for a train? Like he spent the entire day guarding Buckingham Palace, stoically unemotional even when American tourists get right in his face, saying such as "GEE SHEREEN," – the American tourist's wife's name is Shereen – "GEE, THIS SUCKER SURE DOES HATE MOVING HIS FACE, HUH? GET MY CAMERA OUT OF MY FANNY PACK AND LET'S TAKE US A PICTURE." Only to then, on his commute home – the indication from Street Fighter V is that the Palace Guard commute home in full uniform, much like the staff at Sainsbury's, and do not take a backpack with some civvies to get changed into – to let off American tourist-based steam, he likes to play trombone while watching a fight.

ii) Only because then, if you look a little to the left, you will see two more Palace Guardsmen, this time locked in what seems to be – and it's hard to tell, because the only sound is Ryu screaming in agony – a sort of rap battle, only instead of rapping offensively at each other they are instead just playing a small drum, in what might be called a "drum off". I don't know.


iii) Actually, there seems to be a musical theme to this generic Victorian-style nameless London train station, because for whatever reason there is also a sort of monstrously proportioned glam rocker, there playing an electric guitar. Like, are M. Bison and Ryu actually fighting backstage ahead of the semi-final of an especially uninspiring Britain's Got Talent season? Did they accidentally start fighting during an open mic night?

iv) Thing is, the whole fighting in the middle of a tube station setup is actually very "kicking out time at Yates's", isn't it? Now look to one side: look at the dude in the top hat and with the umbrella who is extremely unpsyched by the massive repetitive violence being wrought in front of him. Theory: this man is also drunk, and has been watching Ryu and M. Bison slowly escalate from squabbling over Raheem Sterling's Liverpool contributions this year in the pub (pints 1–3) through full-on kicking each other through bins in the tube station (pints 5–8), and is really into it, because his life is fundamentally empty; and…

v) The janitor. The janitor is the one who spooks me out the most. The janitor is the one who unnerves me. Because look at him, far left: eyes sleepy, leaning gently on his own mop, just watching every enormous thump and every heavy kick of the fight. Is he there to clean up the blood? To put Ryu's ruined body in a couple of big recycling bags and wheel him around to the skip out back? Why does the janitor not care about the damage being wreaked upon his domain? Truly: there is no freer man alive than a janitor who doesn't give a shit if the building he is in charge of might be rendered down to dust by a flying man with dictator boots on who, in traditional Street Fighter lore, is the true incarnation of evil.

I guess what I am asking is: are video games realistic, anymore? Because this is not an accurate rendition of the London I live in, and now I'm starting to doubt what else I think I have learned about the geography of various cities across the world. Example: is Tokyo really just an open fish market where all the men – the men wear coarse tunics with rope for belts; the men are bald and have large beards – assemble politely behind a series of barrels while two fighters pummel the living shit out of each other in front of them? I've always assumed many American cities are sort of hellish futuro-skyscapes, floating green metal discs that are incredibly easy to fall to your death off while being punched in the trunk by Eddy Gordo. Is that true? Is that correct? Or are video games lying to me?

Does eating mushrooms really make you double in size and make your jump more athletic? Does collecting hundreds upon hundreds of extremely boring hidden packages and UFO parts actually grant us special bonuses? Do our Gamerscores even matter? With the background characters in this London level of Street Fighter V, Capcom are saying: nothing is real. With the dancing saxophone trombone man, they are saying: gaming is pointless. With the creepy janitor dude, they are saying: reality is a myth. Thank you, Capcom. Your curious meta-commentary is exactly what gaming needs.