Birdie is a character that hasn't graced the Street Fighter universe is quite some time. He was first introduced in the Final Fight series, but has since been seen in the Street Fighter Alpha series. He makes a triumphant return in Street Fighter 5, but he's not the same Birdie you may remember from the Alpha series. This Birdie has gained some weight and almost feels like the Rufus of Street Fighter 5. Despite his weight gain, he's fast when he needs to be and packs a huge punch that can end a match quickly with the right combo.
He's a grappler character, but he also has some of the best normal attacks in the game and can be difficult to approach from the ground or the air. For many people, Birdie is the best character in Street Fighter 5 at the moment, but the game is still early and anything can change between now and the presumed early 2016 release date.
Birdie retains some special moves from his Street Fighter Alpha appearance and gains a few new ones for Street Fighter 5. The Bull Head from the Alpha series is a charging attack in which Birdie lunges across the screen toward the opponent. You should generally use this to end combos. Bull Horn is another returning special move from the Alpha series that has several hits of armor. You can use this to blow through an opponent's attack.
Killing Head is Birdie's command grab, but it's not a full 360 degree input as most Street Fighter players have come to expect. Instead it's simply a half-circle back, which should make grappler fans very happy. Birdie also has the Hanging Chain, which can be thrown forward or angle up into the air as a pre-emptive anti-air attack.
Finally, Birdie has the Bull Revenger, which is great for jumping over projectiles. Birdie jumps forward and grabs the opponent. The attack cannot be blocked, but it's not overly difficult to jump out of it on-reaction. However, if you anticipate the opponent will throw a projectile, you can use the Bull Revenger to punish the attack and score some damage for Birdie.
Birdie has three different ways he can build is V-Trigger meter. By pressing Medium Punch (MP) and Medium Kick (MK) together he eats a donut that gives him a small amount of V-Trigger meter. If you press Back and MP+MK Birdie eats a banana to gain V-Trigger meter, then tosses the banana peel on the ground in front of him. While the peel is on the ground an opponent can slip on it resulting in a hard knockdown.
Finally, Down and MP+MK sees Birdie finishing off a can of soda or some other drink, then tossing the can on the ground. The can then rolls toward the opponent forcing them to block or jump over it. This is an easy way for Birdie to setup the Hanging Chain anti-air attack or just use it to give him a way to approach the opponent.
Once Birdie has a full V-Trigger meter he can activate it by eating a pepper. While his V-Trigger is active Birdie inflicts considerably more damage and some of his attacks gain new properties such as additional armor or speed. Suffice to say, if you get caught in a Birdie combo while his V-Trigger is active, chances are you're going to eat 40-70 percent damage depending on how much super meter he has available.
Speaking of super moves, Birdie's Critical Art, Skip to My Chain, see's the Final Fight character wrap his opponent in a chain and use them like a jump rope until he finally slams them to the ground. You can easily combo into the attack for huge damage, especially if V-Trigger is active. In fact, if anything gets changed about Birdie between now and the initial release of Street Fighter 5, it will probably be the damage or how easy it is to hit-confirm a combo into the Critical Art. Of course we're happy with how it is right now, but we can see some people feeling the damage output is a bit too high.
We'll just have to wait and see, but in the meantime you can check out our continuing coverage of Street Fighter 5 with articles on Ryu and more coming later this week!