Gentleman, ladies, I am a fighting game fan. I wasn't always; I remember, as a child, trying to play street fighter 2 on my genesis and not being able to make heads or tails of how to perform a dragon punch or a quarter-circle forward. Many of the more complex ideas that are now commonplace in every fighting game made me feel dumb or slow, as if the response between my fingers and my head were just inherently slower than other people's. But I have fond memories of being in the ski lodge at the mountain local to my hometown, a group of 8 - 11 year olds huddled around street fighter 2 machine, popping in quarters, switching off with the oldest of the group once Guile came up because he was super cheap and rumors of handcuffs were being tossed around. Though I was bad at them, even then, I loved the idea of fighting games.
I remember Guilty Gear XX getting me back into these games. I dabbled in a few fighting games here and there, Powerstone and MvsC2 on the Dreamcast, Bushido Blade on the PS1, but nothing courted me so entirely like Guilty Gear did. The style, the music, the relative ease of accessibility, it did a lot to teach how you to play the game instead of throwing you into the deep end of a pool and saying, "there, sink or swim." I fell in love with that game completely, so much so that it launched my cosplay career. It is the game I have spent the most online time with to date (seconded only by PGR2) and while I am not the best player in the world, I take pride in my skills with my top three (which are Faust, Baiken and Zappa respectively). That game rekindled my flame and my love for the fighting genre, urging me to go back to past games, which landed me square in the house of Capcom. Replaying Darkstalkers 3 on my PSP, getting back into Street Fighter Alpha 3 on my Dreamcast (The best version), buying a stick to try and get good at CvsS:Chaos because Zero and Dimitri were in it. I had begun to put in time, to shape my brain and my muscle memory to help me win. It was fun, but it was becoming second nature.
And I find myself here today, reading GAF threads about the possibility of a Super Marvel Vs Capcom 3 coming out either late this year or early next year, and my heart sinks. Marvel 3, or rather, Dat Mahval, was easily my most anticipated game of 2011. I can't remember the last time I was so eager for a game to be released. I still don't know why, maybe it was the nostalgia I felt from playing MVSC2 while waiting for DDR to free up in my high school days, maybe it was the rumors of the Darkstalkers triumphant return to form (which turned out to be true), maybe it was the possibility that it would fill the void left by the lack of a guilty gear title; it's almost been 8 years since the last true iteration. It reminded me what it was like to be a kid having no money, waiting with a bated breath at any little information that trickled into my hands. The leaks were a massively successful way of grabbing me and keeping me interested, whether the character announced was someone I didn't want at all (X23) or someone I literally jumped for joy for (Hsien-ko). It was fantastic.
And the game came out, and the fighting was excellent if not a little flawed (Tron flame assist is the most broken thing in the game), but it was ultimately a bit of a disappointment. Fighting games had evolved. Blazblue had a plethora or options, story modes, trainers, challenges, things to keep people learning, evolving as a player. Even SF4 had trainers that, although were still fairly inept at teaching anything, at least got people to learn the muscle memory on how to do complex moves like FADC chains. Marvel 3 had none of it. Oh sure, there was a mode that showed you how to do fairly unreasonable combos that you'd never actually execute in a match, but that's simply not enough. And we all swallowed and bit our lips at no spectator mode, and we all knew the DLC was coming, and when we first learned that shadow mode wasn't going to be free but was so dumb, we dug our toes into the dirt and tried not feel that we were simply being shafted. And when we learned that Jill and Shuma were on the disc, we held our heads, even though many of us knew we were getting them for free. We tried to ignore it, or give them the benefit of the doubt, or assume that it would all be made fine down the road.
But it wasn't made fine, and it won't be.
And yeah, I'm not stranger to how Capcom works. I mean, really...I remember all this from my days as a kid. The gamepro jokes that Capcom didn't know how to count to three; the crying out each time Capcom released a new iteration of the same game with minimal changes often for more money than the last version.
I should have seen it coming, but I wanted to believe. I wanted to feel like Capcom got it right this time. And the game is fun to play. And even though the Xbox controller is terrible and I can't use a stick, I play almost every night. And I see the problems and throw a fit and yell at my television about Wesker running away with teleports or that damn sentinel combo, or lament about why I can't use Tron even though she is one of my favorite Capcom characters or literally throw my controller every time I drop a Hsien-ko combo.
But I keep coming back. the game just looks up at me with those doe eyes, flashes Morrigan's breasts at me one more time, shows me Hsien-ko's entirely too cute ending (even though the endings are bullshit), and I calm down, and I play another game, and win or lose, I'm in it for another night. Marvel 3 is the most manipulative relationship I've ever been in.
And I go to NEOGAF and I read the threads, and Lupinko gives pretty resounding evidence that a super version will be out next year and I bite my lip and dig my toes in the dirt and clutch my head, and scroll to the end of the thread where everyone says, "as bad as this is, and as much as it killed the fighting game industry in the 90's, we will all buy this with open arms," and I sigh, and rest my head on a cruxed arm, and know that poster is right.
Capcom, your games are consistently unfinished, often broken, generally disappointing...but a riot to play. I wish I could quit you and stop pre-ordering your games and listen to the rest of the gaming community and not put up with your shit, but you know just what to say and just what to do to keep me from kicking you out the door.
There's a Marlena Shaw song entitled, ”Yuma – Go Away Little Boy”, where Marlena is talking with her boyfriend who has just quit his job and spent the last of his money on assorted afro maintenance products, and every question she asks it met with a disdainful response. Eventually she tells him to get out, and he slips behind her and convinces with sweet words and tender kisses to ignore all the problems he has. Capcom does this to me every time. I shouldn’t be buying their games because I know they will be broken until the 3 iteration, but I do every time, openly, willingly, under duress and scowling all the way. But they know just how to press my buttons to keep me buying what they put out, even if I know it’s going to be flawed.