Japan > North America when it comes to playing fighting games.
We don't suck... Japan has a strong arcade culture, and quite frankly they fight so many different players that are seriously dedicated in the game.
Online is a more casual space for fighting game fans, and they prefer arcades even in America,
A lot of high ranking American players are indeed from arcades, and that isn't a coincidence.
Only problem is, the land mass of the US is too big for the big name players to meet up often. For example, There's a strong SF4 presence in California and New York, with a lot of tournaments happening every year. It's not easy for anyone living far away from these concentrated areas to get good at the game. But even these players lament the fact that they just don't have a diverse range of advanced players to play with.
Since Japan is smaller than California, imagine the concentration of players in the nation. Japanese players know a lot of different match-ups and play styles than American players just for that reason alone.
And yes, "Online is Casual". Advanced players do play it, but you get maybe 1 out of 10 on a good day as your opponent. You don't get the coin-op arcade filter that removes the casuals while leaving only the dedicated.
Also, Blazblue has been out for quite a while in the Arcades in Japan, I'm sure most of the arcade players bought a console copy as well.
I'm a Taokaka player so you know, and I think I'm pretty ahright. I don't seem to play NEARLY as many Jins and Noels as I used to, and the Jins that are left are actually pretty damn good. Noels I can never tell if their good because all of her combos look like button mashy nonsense. I seem to find a mixed bag of fights at pretty much any time of day. I've actually seen a huge Jin backlash since people think having him on your Drive Code Card is the lamest thing since Kens came to SFIV.
Even in SFIV all the Ken's just stayed in Ranked Match and Championship Mode is pretty diverse all day long.
is there a country that is stereotypically better at sandbox games?
Tournanment players in America are better
Seriously people love to say how awesome Asian gamers are, and they might be better, but only in an average-per player type ratio
Pros from the West are generally better than pros from the East, in fighters, in shooters, and yes, even in Starcraft.
North America > Japan when it comes to nuclear warheads.
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