The long-demanded arcade mode is exactly what players could not get from Street Fighter 5 at its rocky launch: a simple single-player series of fights against pushover computer-controlled opponents with plenty of unlocks and achievements to go after. With hundreds of unlocks, there is enough grind here for any completionist.
Each arcade course is based on a specific title in the mainline Street Fighter series, complete with nostalgic costumes and music from each game. If you choose the Street Fighter 2 path, for example, you can only choose — and will only fight against — characters who appeared in that game.
The reward for playing through arcade mode is not fight money or character experience, but artwork. There’s a distinct character ending illustration for every character on every route. For example, since Ryu and Ken appear in every Street Fighter, they have six different endings each, while Alex, who only appeared in Street Fighter 3 and 5, has two.
Additionally, clearing certain requirements unlocks guest art by various renowned Japanese illustrators and manga artists, along with Capcom’s legends like Kinu Nishimura and Bengus. These unlocks have more demanding requirements than simply finishing arcade mode, so check the in-game list to see exactly what you’ll need to do.
Be aware that the gulf between normal and hard mode is quite wide. Easy and normal opponents all but stand there and wait for you to hit them, but in hard mode the formerly hapless AI powers up to the level of a seasoned Street Fighter 5 player. (This explains the wild, random difficulty swings players experience in survival mode.)
You’ll need to be pretty good to unlock the hard mode illustrations, and especially those that call for finishing hard without continues. To become good at Street Fighter 5, see the rest of this guide.
There is no reward for score other than the online leaderboards, but setting a high score is essentially a matter of finishing fast and not getting hit. Don’t use your biggest combo or Critical Art, as the long, flashy animations will merely run up the clock. Finish with EX special moves for a tiny bonus. Characters who deal big damage quickly (in particular Abigail) might be good for high scoring in this mode.
The nostalgic bonus game from Street Fighter 2 makes a surprise return during arcade mode. Break the barrels while the Final Fight punk messes with you and tosses them back. At the time of this writing, you can only access this mode in the middle of an Arcade run.
Most barrels will break from a single hard attack, but as more and more barrels begin to overrun the stage, hard attacks quickly start to lead nowhere. Lean on faster medium and light attacks to take care of the barrels, and clean up with an invincible move if things get heavy.
Extra battle is a time-limited event in which players pay Fight Money (which is now even more scarce than before Arcade Edition) to scrap with a computer-controlled opponent in exchange for unlocks. Capcom planned to make costumes available via this mode. At the time of this writing, the costume up for grabs is an outfit for Rashid modeled after the bygone Capcom hero Viewtiful Joe. Players check in once a week for each step of the process, paying 2,500 FM. The four fights are pushovers, and by the end you’ve effectively paid 10,000 FM for the new costume. Miss one week, though, and you’re out of luck.
Other extra battles have included an unfair fight against a cheating computer-controlled Akuma and a moderately difficult fight with a golden Shadoloo soldier that pays off in Fight Money if you win.