Today Street Fighter 5 gets a new character, Kolin.
Kolin, pronounced Kah-leen by the in-game announcer, first appeared in Street Fighter 3 as a non-playable character and personal assistant to Illuminati leader Gill. She plays a bigger role in the Street Fighter 5 story, bringing Charlie Nash back from the dead and pulling the strings while disguised as Helen.
Now she's playable as the second DLC character of Street Fighter 5's second season, following on from Akuma.
I recently had a chance to play around with Kolin at Capcom's London office, and had a lovely chat with the company's fighting game community manager Matt Edwards, himself a former freelance video game journalist and superb fighting game player, about the character and how she works.
It turns out, she's incredibly unique, and has a few really interesting abilities no other character has.
Kolin is the first character in the game, for example, to have a counter. Yes, Ryu has a parry that can deflect a hit and Zangief has armour that can absorb an attack, both of which give you the opportunity to punish your opponent, but Kolin's Frost Touch is different because it lets you punish the active frames of an attack. So, if you work out that your opponent likes to press a specific button from a specific range, you can counter it with Frost Touch - and deal significant damage alongside a hard knockdown.
Edwards compares Kolin to Gouken from Street Fighter 4. Like Gouken's counter, Frost Touch has three variations, and you have to make the correct read on whether the attack would strike low, mid or high. But unlike the EX version of Gouken's counter, you can't use Kolin's EX Frost Touch to cover all three simultaneously. All EX Frost Touch does is increase the damage dealt and reduces the recovery for a failed counter attempt, which is important because a whiffed Frost Touch can be Crush Countered.
Frost Touch doesn't work on Critical Arts. But Kolin's other counter, her V-Skill, does. This works like a normal attack that's unsafe on block, but can be linked into a crouching jab for a combo opportunity. If you land the timing, Kolin will send her opponent flying. Here's Edwards showing off how the V-Skill can be used to counter Balrog's Critical Art (skip to the 1 min 45 second mark).
Kolin has another unique ability never before seen in a mainline Street Fighter game: she can freeze her opponent's stun gauge. If you perform her V-Trigger she'll kick out a row of icicles on the ground. If they hit her opponent, their stun will stop recovering. Follow-up attacks will increase the stun, leading to a unique dizzy state where the opponent freezes in place. The only way the opponent can escape is by landing a hit on Kolin. The interesting thing is there's no cooldown for the stun lock. You have to get the hit to break it.
Edwards calls Kolin a technical character who can turn the tables quickly. She's certainly harder to get to grips with than other characters on the roster - one for Street Fighter veterans, perhaps, who are familiar with the game's systems. But in the right hands she'll be deadly. One solid read for a hard knockdown gives her the chance to apply a unique sort of pressure. At a high level, Edwards suggests, Kolin will rely heavily on setups, mix-ups and resets to get her damage. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what the pros do with her now she's out in the wild. For everyone else, it's a case of cool combos.