While on the one hand it is responsible for some of the most well-recognised iconography this industry has ever produced, it's also the sort of franchise that can be debilitating and off-putting to newcomers and more casual gamers.
I suppose I fall somewhere between the two: I've never been very good at Street Fighter. The button combinations were not considered for the likes of someone whose hands have all the manual dexterity of a bunch of 'furts sellotaped to a ham.
Fortunately, few of my mates were ever very good either. Its subtleties were lost on us, and that meant that we were always fairly evenly matched. Although I tended to be slightly better than most of them, which is the really important thing here.
In short: I've very much enjoyed the series, while never quite being able to escape the sense that I'm not entirely welcome at the party, or avoid the furtive glances which suggest I'm dancing a bit too close to the buffet.
Suffice to say, if you're looking for an analysis of this game from a hardcore beat 'em up obsessive, I'm not your man.
IN FACT WHAT?
In fact, not being one of those hardcore beat 'em up obsessives - at one stage I thought it unlikely I'd even bother to review Street Fighter V - I failed to notice all that had been promised here. Consequently, I'm possibly less disappointed than some by the fact Capcom has failed to deliver on many of those promises at launch.
It's the first game in the series to launch as a console game before the arcades, and - as is the way now in an industry where full-price games regularly release half-finished - it's the first in the series to promise ongoing support and updates. All I can do, however, is review the game as it arrives.
And, at its most fundamental, it's the Street Fighter you know. Here it offers 16 fighters - doubtlessly, more are yet to be unveiled - with the usual mix between slow-moving heavy-hitters, and zippier fighters with all the strength of a wrong-winged bird.
Series regulars like Ken, Ryu and Chun Li have been joined by the likes of F.A.N.G. and Rashid - and those of you who enjoy the series' casual racial stereotyping won't be disappointed (Coldstream Guards dancing around red phone boxes... twirling Indian women balancing jugs on their heads... Russian dancing bears - as is the way of the series', it has all the authenticity of a tat shop-bought souvenir; a plastic Eiffel Tower with a bulb of cartoon, google-eyed, garlic stuck on the top).
Where it innovates is through cross-platform support between PS4 and PC players. A new attack system - activated when the player gets hit enough times, unlocking a new raft of skills (counter-attacks, damage boosts etc). As always, Street Fighter V is a balanced blend of overt button-mashing and subtle strategy, employing - at its most basic - the same sorts of controller combinations as ever.
It's rock-paper-scissors writ large, a pyrokinetic ballet of timing and counter-timing, a game model operating at the very pinnacle of its genre.
What's odd about Street Fighter V is how - in trying to cater for both casual and hardcore gamers - it does little for the likes of me, who are somewhere in the middle.
The story mode is absurdly easy - more an opportunity to impart a bunch of Street Fighter lore than any sort of actual challenge - but venturing online to take on other players is insufferably intimidating.
There's no real way to hone skills before entering the online arena - an open-ended training room and a survival mode don't exactly prepare you for the inevitable gauntlet of face-mashing.
Old hands will be right at home, but the likes of myself, whose Street Fighter skills are more than a little musty, will find it hard going. There's scarcely anything there for those who want to play solo, and hone their skills in private. Matron.
Also, whether it's issues arising from pairing PC gamers with PS4 gamers or not, I found that matches could often be stutter-y, or drop out; playing online just wasn't always as smooth as it needed to be for what is essentially an online-only game. Given that SFV is all about precision timing, even the slightest lag can kill a match. Ultimately, this would be at its best when it's played with a bunch of mates of similar skill level sat around a TV. As the series always was.
But... for all that I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed the game overall much more than I expected to. When simply engaging in matches, you can tell that this is a game that has been wrought from the DNA of a long-running series; it's evolution in action, survival of the fittest. It's an incredibly appealing and charismatic game.
The characters are as well-balanced and beautifully designed as always, and though I found some of the graphic design choices a bit jarring - there's virtually no continuity between the opening cinematic, the static cut-scenes, and the chunky, stylised, in-game visuals - there's no deny it's a good-looking game, running at a slick 60fps.
In conclusion, then... everything about the core of Street Fighter V has been considered - the gameplay is Best in Show good, but there's scarcely anything here for those of us who would've happily played through this as a single-player game. Venturing online can be unwelcoming for anyone who isn't already a skilled player. Supposedly more offline support is on its way, but why it wasn't there at launch is bewildering.
SUMMARY: As good as Street Fighter has ever been... but for anyone who isn't already brilliant enough to survive online - this might lack value.
SCORE: 4.1212435999 out of 5.5111000