Fun-loving, bombastic, and musically gifted, the character of Dee Jay is one of the Street Fighter series’ hidden gems that’s far too often outshined by the likes of Ken, Ryu, and Chun-Li. His announced appearance and redesign in Street Fighter 6 has excited the die-hard fans of the gaming franchise who are happy to see the return of the series’ most happy-go-lucky character that lives his best life, only focused on two things he loves the most: music and fighting.
Though not instantly recognizable as one of the game’s more prominent characters, Dee Jay, the Jamaican kickboxer introduced in 1993’s Super Street Fighter II, is a character that always stood out among the roster of fighters. In fact, he was conceived for the game by an American designer James Goddard, and he was the first character in the Street Fighter series to be designed by an American at all. The character concept, however, significantly differs from the newest iteration of the character.
The concept for the character came from Goddard’s interpretation of Billy Blanks’ performance in the King of the Kickboxers. But instead of mirroring Billy’s antagonistic role from the film, Goddard wanted a really kick-ass Black character with a more cheerful disposition. He designed the character and sent the sketch to the Japanese team working on the game, along with a copy of a VHS tape of the King of the Kickboxers. Motion-capture performance wasn’t a thing when the game was developed, and dev and animators had to watch hundreds of hours of footage to actually animate character movement.
Regardless, Dee Jay was designed as a positive, fun character with additional elements that would support his thin backstory. He’s a fun-loving guy who’s trying to jump-start his musical career while fighting. And the fans loved the character in the initial game, not just as a fighter, but due to his great personality too. He’s a laid-back and cool character who exudes confidence and charisma, always with a smile on his face while sporting a positive attitude. His unique Jamaican accent and catchphrases, such as “Feelin’ so good!” and “Let’s make it nice!” adds to his charm and makes him stand out among the other characters in the series.
However, the critics didn’t like Dee Jay’s initial design, which resulted in the character getting somewhat of a mixed reception. Dr. Kishonna Grey suggested that Dee Jay is depicted as the “monstrous other” by his character design, as opposed to more heroic features associated with the Japanese and American characters. Admittedly, a chiseled physique, an ear-to-ear grin, and a braided mohawk given to him by Capcom did very little to improve the critics’ initial impression of the character, with some criticizing the original character design as the most offensive stereotype.
And yet, Dee Jay’s unique fighting style, cool attitude, and iconic moves made him a fan-favorite character among Street Fighter players. He’s a well-rounded character that can be played in a variety of ways, as he combines traditional kickboxing techniques with his own unique Jamaican flair. His projectiles and normal attacks control the space effectively; he’s fast and high-pressured, which makes him very effective as a rush-down character, and his high health and anti-air attack options make him a great defensive character — perfect for both beginners and advanced players.
While Street Fighter 6 hasn’t been released yet; the game is expected to drop on June 2, 2023, and fans are excited about a whole new range of features being implemented into the game. Capcom, on the other hand, decided to give Dee Jay a much-needed makeover since the character hasn’t changed much from his outdated 1993 design.
The new design is now Dee Jay’s best standout feature since it brings a lot of flavor to the game. His unique Jamaican style is heavily influenced by reggae and dancehall culture, with his brightly colored clothing and Rastafarian-inspired hairstyle. This gives him a unique look that sets him apart from the other characters in the series. His design is not only visually striking but also reflects his personality and fighting style perfectly. The only aspect of the character in which Capcom failed yet again is character development.
Dee Jay received very little in terms of character development. He’s presented as a smooth talker and a ladies’ man who enters the Street Fighter tournament to prove he’s the best fighter in the world and to promote his music in his debut game. But that’s about it. Though his fighting capabilities have been expanded with each subsequent release, the course of his musical career remains vague. Admittedly, it’s really not a central aspect of a character in a fighting game, but it would be nice for his backstory to receive an expansion, even if it’s a minor one.
In the end, Dee Jay is a fantastic character to play in the Street Fighter series, and the newest iteration of the character seems even more entertaining. Anyone looking to pick up the upcoming Street Fighter 6 should know that Capcom really did its homework this time; it’s possible that the company has considered hiring a sensitivity coach to address rampant claims of misrepresentation — and outright racism — which ensured that the redesigned Dee Jay expresses as more of a “real world” actual representation of an Afro-Jamaican person.
Hopefully, they did the same with Kimberly, an 80s-loving genius newcomer who wants to be a ninja.