I was, like most people, initially unconvinced. Horrified, even. The announcement video, which Capcom unleashed during the Evo fighting tournament, revealed a character as hideous as he was gargantuan. He looked so big, so outrageously proportioned, one wondered whether he could even jump. Could other characters jump over him? Could he be thrown? And then the mind wandered... how ridiculous would Cammy's air throw look performed on this monstrosity? How about R. Mika's double butt slam to the face super? In short, Abigail looked dumb as hell. Have you lost your mind, Capcom? What is this abomination? What is Abigail?
Now, though, I'm warming up to Street Fighter 5's next DLC character. Actually, that's not strong enough. I think I'm falling in love with him.
For the uninitiated, Abigail is the fourth new character to join season two of Street Fighter 5. He's a former boss of the Mad Gear gang from Final Fight, Capcom's late 80s beat 'em up. While he was huge in that game, in Street Fighter 5 he's enormous, talking up the entire screen. In fact, standing at eight feet tall, Abigail is the biggest character in Street Fighter history. He makes even Zangief look like a plaything.
Earlier this week Capcom released its Abigail character introduction video, and that sparked the beginning of my about-turn. This video, produced by Capcom UK's fighting game expert (and ex-video game journalist) Matt Edwards, gave us our first proper look at Abigail in action. We saw his normal attacks, combos, his V-Trigger, which, by the way, makes him even bigger, and his parry. All of a sudden, Abigail looked a little useful. No-one was saying he was going to win a Capcom Pro Tour tournament, but it looked like he could be - could be - fun.
And last night Capcom UK hosted its regular Winner Stays On live stream, during which is showcased Abigail, warts and all. And it was this live stream that pushed me over the edge into, actually I think Abigail is awesome territory.
The guy is just jam-packed with over-the-top, make you smile personality. Abigail corrects the announcer's pronunciation of his name on the character select screen, for example.
Me: "I choose you Abigail!"— HiFight(??????) (@HiFightTH) July 19, 2017
Abigail: "A BI GAILLLLL" pic.twitter.com/jwbwDtY6wE
Here's his lovely idle animation.
Abigail Idle Animation pic.twitter.com/Ugpbs03yq4— HiFight(??????) (@HiFightTH) July 20, 2017
When in V-Trigger he can reflect projectiles - his arms are that ripped with muscle.
Abigail got so much muscle he reflect fireball with bare hand ? pic.twitter.com/41R1IFJh6u— HiFight(??????) (@HiFightTH) July 19, 2017
And from a functional, get things done point of view, Abigail looks relatively accessible. The clip below shows how much damage Abigail can do from a crush counter, which can lead pretty seamlessly into a Critical Art finish. That's almost half Ken's life gone in one combo.
But best of all is Abigail's backdash, which is perhaps the best backdash in the entire game. Not from a competitive point of view, of course - it looks horrendously slow. But from a character design point of view.
Abigail Backdash pic.twitter.com/jEkNGMAcHC— HiFight(??????) (@HiFightTH) July 19, 2017
My main character in Street Fighter 5 is Birdie, and as a Birdie fan there's a lot about Abigail that appeals to me. Birdie is big and he's loads of fun to play. He picks his nose and flicks snot for his idle animation. He drops cans and bananas and eats a chilli to power up. And he uses his chains as a skipping rope. Yep, I think I'll give Abigail a shot.
Abigail won't be for everyone, of course. Fans of Ryu and other po-faced world warrior characters like him might dismiss Abigail as a joke. That's fine. But what's worth noting is Abigail's existence demonstrates the developers are willing to try new things, to have a bit of fun, to experiment. I think that's great.
Capcom ballsed-up Street Fighter 5 pretty badly at launch. No-one would argue with that. But I maintain my feeling that Street Fighter 5 is, fundamentally, a superb fighting game with a balanced and diverse roster of characters who all feel different to play. The fact the Evo 2017 top eight players all picked different characters for the tournament is a testament to Capcom's superb character design.
Abigail, then, is in keeping with all that is good about Street Fighter 5. He won't save Street Fighter 5 overnight, but he's definitely got me counting my Fight Money. And after a rocky reveal, Abigail could become a crowd favourite.