Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fightan Gaemz

So from time to time I may irritate, annoy, or piss off other gamers by talking shit about popular fighting games like Street Fighter.  I'm not going to go in-depth into what exactly I say, but I will go into why I talk shit about them.  Also, this isn't at all about 3D fighters, which I don't typically play.

Let me say first off: Street Fighter isn't a horrible fighting game.  It's been one of the biggest, most well known fighting games in the genre since the beginning of the genre and has seen a lot of playtime from a lot of people.  That alone proves that it deserves its place among the best fighting games.  Video games as a whole are an entertainment medium where the cream rises to the top.  If a game sucks, the first two or three people who buy it spread the word, nobody else buys it, and it fades into obscurity.  Street Fighter's been a popular enough game to have more sequels than any one person should ever care to count made of it.

I mainly talk shit about it because it's pretty much the most mainstream fighting game franchise in existence.  Talk to anyone who plays fighting games, you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't heard of it.  I always encourage branching out and expanding one's horizons.  There are so many good fighting games out there that just don't have the prestige of being named Street Fighter and having been around forever.  If you limit yourself to just that one game, sure, you're going to like it, but think of what you're missing out on.

Other popular mainstream fighters I've played include but are not limited to: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and the King of Fighters series.  I personally don't care for Marvel vs. Capcom's whole 3-on-3, assist attacks, etc. style of gameplay.  Sure, it leads to lots of crazy stuff happening on screen, but with that many team combinations it's impossible to achieve any sort of balance.  To me, a fighting game isn't really fun unless it's balanced.

I don't mean that all characters need to be the same.  I don't want a bland game.  What I mean is: strong attacks have downsides, projectiles have reasonable limits (such as only one on the screen at a time from a given character, only supers can ignore this), turtling is punished somehow, and infinite combos are scarce or nonexistent.

My first real branching out in fighting games was when I was introduced to Guilty Gear X.  Until then, fighting games had been slow and pixellated with choppy animation.  But here came a game with much higher resolution graphics, plenty of speed, and fluid animation.  It also helps that the engine itself is fairly technical, and with each iteration has gotten more technical.  I've played it as it's come out, and after getting used to the new ones, it's tough to go back.

I forget the exact order, but after that I found games like Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The Rumble Fish, and Melty Blood.  Garou is actually a more standard fighter, but it does contain the "Just Defend" mechanic that I was already aware of thanks to playing the Guilty Gear series, wherein you are rewarded for properly timing your blocks to more precisely coincide with your opponent's attacks.

The Rumble Fish has, aside from the strange name, a gauge system to which I've never seen anything remotely similar anywhere else.  You have two gauges essentially, one is your offense gauge and goes up as you perform offensive actions, and the other is the defense gauge and goes up when you perform defensive actions.  Maxing out either gauge opens up a super specific to that gauge.  Maxing both of them causes them to merge, and open up a special super.

Melty Blood is quite a fun franchise.  All sorts of off-the-top things happen like dropping molotov cocktails on your opponent while you ride a broom through the air.  You can build gauge easily, and start with enough for a super.  Supers in this series are simply powered up versions of your character's regular moves, and almost all moves have a super version.  However, you can hold out and max your gauge to access the more powerful Arc Drives.

Another I just found out about recently is Fate/Unlimited Codes.  It's based off of Fate/Stay Night.  While the graphics are 3D and characters can sidestep into the foreground/background, it uses entirely 2D-style move lists, and is actually pretty fun.  The 3D graphics get put to good use for cinematic effect during supers and at the end of some combos.

I'll throw a curveball here and mention Blood Storm and Time Killers.  Both were made by the same company and have similar gameplay.  You have attack buttons that correspond to your character's limbs, and everyone has a weapon.  Properly timed and placed attacks can cut off your opponent's arms, rendering that button useless.  Matches are typically very short.  Overall, it's an interesting idea that I've never seen anywhere else.

Essentially, my opinion of popular mainstream fighting games as a whole is similar to my opinion about yellow mustard.  "'s just that dijon mustard is so much better."  This strange analogy requires a slight change: Mainstream fighting games are good, but there's so much else out there to play that will give a completely different gameplay experience.  If you're fine with the gameplay experience you get, so be it, but when you get tired of it, there's plenty of other material to work with.

So, yeah.  Branch out, find good stuff you overlooked or never knew about, and live a richer and more enjoyment-filled life.

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