One of my lowkey favorite fighting game tropes is the doppelganger. This is the special boss or character who uses mimicry in their move set. It isn’t always a 1:1 copy kit; often there’s a twist or two to make these characters stand out and keep the concept novel. A classic example is Tekken’s Mokujin, who does just copy moves, but swaps styles at random between rounds. Street Fighter’s recent example is Seth, a boss character from Street Fighter IV who used their doppelganger powers to be an overpowered, final boss cheatyface.
But while Seth’s gimmick was great for a challenge against the AI, they could be pretty crummy as a playable fighter. Now Seth has returned via Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and is drastically different in many ways. This new Seth is almost a fully original character now, but includes a nod to their doppelganger origin with a tool that adds a little kick to their moveset, instead of being the central theme.
In Street Fighter IV, Seth was an excellent measuring stick. A huge influx of newcomers appeared at this time, and that was exactly Capcom’s goal. From input shortcuts to comeback mechanics, this series’ fourth entry was all about onboarding. Seth was a big part of that, as they were just as beatable as they were imposing. A big part of that was Seth’s moveset, comprising a few original moves and a ton of modified tech stolen from the world warriors. Seth’s versions broke the game’s rules, such as a “Rekka” Shoryuken and a quarter-circle Sonic Boom. That stuff could be devastating when fighting Seth in arcade mode, but playing as Seth was another story. It could be fun, but Seth’s damage output and life pool had to be truncated for their moveset to be in the neighborhood of fair.
For Seth’s return, Capcom’s Street Fighter V team opted to give Seth more of a distinct gameplay identity. I’m not just talking about the new hair and cleavage, either. Seth’s new moveset is almost entirely original, even ditching some of the previous game’s normals. Now Seth has a flurry of punches, a pirouette kick with projectile-avoiding properties, and a ton of command normals, to name a few. It’s a whole new Seth, unless you choose their default V-Skill. That gives you access to Tanden Engine, a familiar move for Street Fighter IV fans.
Tanden Engine sees Seth draw their opponent in through their magic, evil torso yin yang, just like before. But now, Seth can follow it up with Tanden Install, a guaranteed hit that temporarily saps fighter data the way Seth used to have it stored. Using V-Skill after that will launch a specific move per character, such as Ryu’s Hadouken or Rashid’s Eagle Strike. In most cases there’s not much follow-up you can do from those, but they serve as great combo-ending flourishes. It’s like when wrestlers steal each other’s moves in a big match to dramatically throw off the crowd, and in the story catch their opponent off-guard in the most disrespectful way possible.
You can certainly go for Seth’s second V-Skill instead, and never bother with Tanden Engine at all. But that’s part of what’s cool here. Seth started out as an awesome boss with impossible powers, but the limitations there as a playable skill set were immediately apparent. For Seth’s sophomore appearance, Capcom went all out and changed Seth’s whole kit on top of giving them a new look. But with Tanden Engine, there’s still a cool nod to what Seth was before, and the fighter trope that isn’t really in Street Fighter V otherwise. A doppleganger isn’t appropriate for every fighter, but it’s cool that Street Fighter V: Champion Edition’s new Seth doesn’t abandon it entirely.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is available now for the PlayStation 4 and the PC via Steam.