Street Fighter 6's A.K.I. is a tricky, poisonous, and wickedly delicious character

The upcoming snake martial artist A.K.I. fixes much of what was deficient with her master F.A.N.G. in Street Fighter 5.


A.K.I., the upcoming twentieth character for Street Fighter 6, fills in a gap that I didn’t notice before. If you haven’t seen the official trailer or character guide for her yet, she’s a slender martial artist that uses a version of snake-style kung fu that poisons foes and keeps them at a distance. As a student of F.A.N.G. from Street Fighter V, A.K.I. has a hit-and-run playstyle that is tricky to master but has many answers to enemy attacks, and she can easily frustrate opponents who are unaccustomed to her evasive techniques. Luckily, we had the opportunity to get a handle on her moveset for about a half an hour during a private Capcom media event.

Like fighting snakes

Street Fighter 6 A.K.I. Serpent Lash
A.K.I.'s Serpent Lash is mid-range attack that can interrupt moves from a distance.

SOURCE: Capcom

For an official comparison, A.K.I. is closest to Dhalsim in that she has a tricky fighting style that is effective at long-range but is hard to use for beginners. Standing at a slinky 5’8” and weighing a slight 126 pounds, she doesn’t inflict a lot of damage with each strike, but she can string many quick moves together for a lengthy combo. Her long nails extend her punch attacks, a bit like Vega’s claws, allowing her to hit opponents before slipping away. Not only is it difficult to pin her down, but she can inflict a unique poison effect that drains her opponent’s vitality over time for several seconds.

The trickiest parts of learning A.K.I. boil down to the fact that an enemy's poison status can change how her moves work and her techniques have very different properties depending on the input of the punch or kick strength. By hitting enemies with a Nightshade Pulse bubble projectile or forcing them to land in an unblockable pool of purple liquid called Orchid Spring, they will be affected by poison. If she then follows up with a move that triggers an effect called Toxic Blossom, the enemy will take a heavy hit backwards. This can lead to a string of juggle moves for additional damage, especially from her Tainted Talons super art that extends purple strings from her hands that cover almost the entirety of the screen. In some instances, a combo can also lead to her Level 3 super art, Claws of Ya Zi, which pricks her opponent's vital spots for high damage.

Pick your poison

Street Fighter 6 AKI A.K.I. Tainted Talons
The Tainted Talons super art, which uses two bars, can easily extend juggle combos.

SOURCE: Capcom

A.K.I. has plenty of counterattacks in her arsenal too. She can use a medium-strength Serpent Lash or a normal kick to knock opponents out of the air. If she gets cornered against the wall, she can use a Snake Step to slither past the opponent. In fact, the Overdrive version of Snake Step is a strong and relatively safe way to get out of a sticky situation as its only weakness is being countered by a throw. This move is something I might have my avatar in World Tour learn once she's available to be a master.

Against enemy projectiles, she has two answers: a leap called Cruel Fate that’s similar to Ibuki’s Hien and a Slither Step where she can slip beneath them. Since Cruel Fate has her lurch forward against an opponent, it’s a bit dangerous if you miss, but it’s still mostly safe even if it’s blocked and the heavy version of it allows you to follow up with attacks. Slither Step, on the other hand, can be finished with a strong strike, a pair of kicks, or a throw called Entrapment that can trick foes easily.

Get your claws in

While A.K.I. has a lot of mix-up potential and many cancellable moves, it looks like she may be vulnerable to combos that start off with a low attack. Her bubble projectiles only have one speed too, outside of the Overdrive version of it. An opponent like Marisa who has attacks with armor might be able to overpower her if she's not careful. But in the steady hands of an expert, A.K.I. has an incredible amount of potential with many attacks that can leave opponents guessing. Since F.A.N.G., I wasn't sure that we needed another poison-based fighter, but she has thoroughly changed my mind.

A.K.I. will be added to the Street Fighter 6 roster on September 27, 2023 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam. Those who own the Year 1 Character Pass, Deluxe Edition, or Ultimate Edition will receive the character as well as her Outfit 2. More characters, specifically Ed and Akuma, are expected to arrive this year as well.

This preview is based on a PS5 build provided by the publisher at a private media event.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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