There's a vociferous debate ongoing within the fighting game community right now over what some have called "censorship" of Street Fighter 5.
Capcom recently updated the Street Fighter 5 beta to add a new tutorial, but players noticed some characters' moves had also been tweaked.
R.Mika, for example, used to slap her bum before working with tag team partner Nadeshiko to slam into their foe - butt first - while making their opponent do the splits.
Post beta update, R.Mika's butt slap has been shunted off screen, and her opponent no longer does the splits. Here's a comparison:
Another example: Cammy's arena entrance used to zoom in on her crotch area. Post beta update, her crotch at this moment is off screen.
Previously, Street Fighter 5 had what had been dubbed "boob jiggle" - women characters' breasts bounced around on character select. Here's a video showing the way it used to look.
Capcom had said the boob jiggle was a bug. And at Paris Games Week, we had a chance to ask Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono whether Chun-Li had managed to get a bra yet.
"She's at a Marks & Spencer as we speak, picking one up that fits her," he replied. "By the time the game comes out, she'll be comporting herself. Yeah, she'll be sorted out by the time you see her."
It seems the updated beta has removed the boob jiggle.
So, what's going on? Capcom declined to comment on the issue directly when we asked, but the company did point out that as Street Fighter 5 was still in development, gameplay changes are to be expected.
The ESRB, the organisation that rates games in North America, had had its say on Street Fighter 5, and mentioned the design of the women characters as well as the boob jiggle.
Here's the summary that accompanies Street Fighter 5's T for Teen rating (Street Fighter 4 also received a T for Teen rating):
This is a fighting game in which players engage in one-on-one combat with a large cast of human characters. Players mostly punch, kick, and use special attacks (e.g., fireballs, flying attacks, electrical strikes) to deplete opponents' life meters. Some characters use weapons such as claws and chains; some special moves are depicted in brief cutscenes with slow-motion, dramatic close-ups and opponent reaction shots. Combat is highlighted by cries of pain and frequent impact sounds.
Several female characters are depicted in low-cut, form-fitting outfits that display large amounts of cleavage and/or buttocks. Female characters' breasts sometimes jiggle during character selection. The words "a*s" and "bastard" appear in the dialogue.
As you'd expect, the recent changes have sparked a debate among the fighting game community. Some accuse Capcom of "censorship". The changes made to R.Mika's Critical Art in particular have disappointed many, who say the butt slap is in keeping with the pro-wrestler's flamboyant personality.
Others, however, have welcomed the changes, saying the design of Street Fighter 5's women characters is archaic. In fact, some say the changes don't go far enough. Recently announced character Laura raised eyebrows for her provocative design. It will be interesting to see whether Capcom tweaks her when she's playable.
And what of Hot Ryu, the name given to Ryu for when he wears an alternative, topless costume and a beard? Capcom will no doubt point to his design as evidence that Street Fighter 5 is treating its characters fairly.
Here's Redditor Mnwka92's take:
It doesn't really bother me too much but Mika slapping her ass was pretty cool. She's a wrestler she's supposed to do stuff like that to hype up the crowd. They also changed how it ended which sucks now. Making the changes they did is similar to making Hulk Hogan keep his shirt on or Stone Cold chug Pepsi instead of beer its not as hype as it could be.
And here's andrilza on EventHubs:
I think it's a good thing, but I just wish they'd give the shots different angles instead of just moving the frame. It looks kinda awkward.
It's worth noting that Street Fighter 5, with its various beta tests, offers players a closer look at its development than previous games in the series. And as a result we see changes made to moves, balance and design we perhaps wouldn't otherwise.
Capcom is yet to comment directly on the changes players have spotted, but it seems clear it's sensitive to the reaction from some quarters when it comes to character design.