By King9999 23 Comments
Fighting games have been around for decades. We all know that the genre's popularity surged after the release of Street Fighter II, and we also know that a hugely successful game usually results in a flood of clones riding on said game's success. After a somewhat dry period, fighting games returned in a big way with the release of Street Fighter IV, and other fighting games soon followed.
OK, so you know all this, right? Yet, for some reason, I can't shake this feeling I have towards the genre and the community that I love so much. There's always something exciting happening in the fighting game community (FGC) around the world, yet I can't just walk up to a random gamer and talk about strategies because chances are they haven't played the game I'm talking about. Basically, I want more people to play fighting games and enjoy them for what they are. Many people are just content to mash buttons (or use the dreaded “play for fun” excuse—more on that later), and that's sad.
What follows next is just some rants I wanted to get off my chest.
This is Why Fighting Games Are So Hard To Commit To
Like any competitive game, you must put in a considerable amount of time in fighting games to be decent at them against human opponents. Fighting games are supposed to epitomize “easy to learn, hard to master,” yet the “easy to learn” part still evades most developers. To me, the solution always seemed straightforward: just teach the player how to play and how to utilize the combat mechanics. However, most developers are still content to give you the standard fend-for-yourself training mode and maybe a mission mode where you must perform strict, difficult combos that might not really be efficient in real matches. Even worse, there might be special control settings that don't do anything except insult the player's intelligence or limit the player's options.
So that's one of the reasons why I think some people don't really play fighting games for a long period of time. Another reason is that some people play the games for single player content, but I really think that's not a good enough reason to play a fighting game, and I'll explain why. The main component of a fighting game is the combat, and nothing else. For that reason, good developers focus on player retention, and won't sacrifice versus play to satisfy those who aren't going to stick around long enough to appreciate the combat system to its fullest. That's why most fighting games based on popular manga aren't very good; they're made for fans of the property before they're made for fans of fighting games. While that makes sense on paper, in the end such developers are only doing themselves a disservice by making a substandard game (this could also be the result of executive meddling, but that's another issue). There are some exceptions, such as Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3, and Bleach: Dark Souls. Good fighting games are built to be played potentially for years; very few are played for decades. I love good single-player content, but I don't want it to come at the expense of solid combat mechanics, especially in a genre where the whole point is competitive play.
“Playing For Fun,” and “Fighting With Honour”
I have some advice for those of you who like to use that “I play for fun” excuse when they lose to a better player: don't. You want to know an undeniable truth? Those guys you keep losing to? They're playing for fun too! I'm not sure how many people have realized this, but we are often unwilling competitors in the game called life. We must compete at everything, against an opponent that's always changing. When you're job-hunting, you're competing against invisible people who want the same job as you. When you're catching a train, you're competing against the clock. I like to view fighting games as a less harsh version of life, where a loss doesn't result in something terrible. Maybe missing that train would result in you losing your job, thus being unable to pay your rent or feed your family. Fighting games don't have such consequences, which is one of the reasons why they're fun to play. Knowing that, I don't understand the attitudes of some online players (and only online players, it should be noted), and how they use “I play for fun” both as an excuse and as a way to insult the player they lost to. That kind defeatist attitude is often used when a player can't overcome an obstacle. I also like those players who claim that the winner has no “honour.” Well, did the winner cheat? The moment you start making up excuses, the opponent is no longer the guy who beat you, but yourself.
I'll be honest here. As a Virtua Fighter player, I hate Jacky players who abuse his somersault. It does huge damage on a counterhit and it's easy to perform. Although I hate the move, it's also easy to defeat since it's very unsafe, allowing a free combo. See the difference in attitude? You might dislike a strategy that's often used, but it's on you to find a way to beat it, not for the opponent to stop using it because you keep losing to it. The player's objective in a competitive game is to win. The time you take to complain about a strategy could be better spent looking up how to defeat it.
These Kids Are Playing, So We Must Be Doing Something Right
The players who complain about “unbeatable” tactics look even more foolish when you consider that the FGC has young kids competing in tournaments. You might have heard about Noah, the eight-year-old player who quickly gained popularity at Evolution 2011 for competing in Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 at an early age. Noah competed in NorCal Regionals 2013 that took place this past weekend. One of his opponents was someone who was a similar age. Over in Europe, there's a player named Wawa, a 10-year old who defeated several players in King of Fighters XIII. There are probably even more up-and-coming young players that we don't know about. We probably played—and lost to--some of them online.
I love the FGC, and hope that it continues to grow despite the grievances I and many other people have about the community or the games. The online players and the “stream monsters” are by no means indicative of the community as a whole, and becoming a member is extremely easy. Simply show up to local events, or contribute something like combo videos or guides. That's all there is to it. It's so easy, even a kid can do it! In fact, they have...so what's your excuse?