I Suck At Fighting Games: Tekken 7

If you want to learn Tekken 7, I hope you have a phone or computer nearby.

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3D fighting games are not as popular or numerous as 2D fighting games. There are likely several fighting game players who haven't touched a Tekken game since the early 2000s, and other series like Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive are stagnant because they haven't released a new game in years.

If there's one 3D game that has the ability to cross over and pull in 2D players, it's Tekken 7. Although it has technically been out for a few years, the official worldwide console/PC release has been successful so far, with tournament registration and sales numbers to back it up.

The increased interest in Tekken makes it even more frustrating that the game has no tutorial to help new players learn the game. The closest Tekken 7 gets to a tutorial is in the Mishima Saga story mode. Some fights will display one or two tips on the bottom left corner of the screen. “Hold back to block”. “Hold down to crouch”.

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But these tips disappear shortly into the story mode, and many concepts are left unexplained. Tips will occasionally appear in loading screens, but there is no database to revisit them. Keep a notepad handy.

The next step is to look at your movelist in Training Mode. Scrolling through this, you can quickly see which moves are screw attacks, which moves hit sidestepping opponents, and your armored Power Crush attack.

But you're still just looking at the move's effect on a dummy, not what makes it useful. You have a Rage Drive and a Rage Art, but aren't given the context as to why you would ever use the Drive instead. From the perspective of a new player, Rage Art is stronger because it does more damage, right?

In a game where most tournament commentary consists of people constantly telling us the frame data, why is there no frame data accessible in the game?

The option to display your movelist in game is flawed. In Dead or Alive 5 and Guilty Gear Xrd's Command Training, an indicator flashes on screen to let you know you executed a move properly. You can also set an option to automatically move to the next attack, or repeat the current one until you feel comfortable. Smaller games got it right, and the premier 3D fighting game should be able to do the same.

In Tekken 7, you can watch a demo of the move. You have to compare your attack to the demo to see if you did it properly. There is no confirmation that you did it, and no automatic progression to the next move.

The training mode is robust, but some things are confusing compared to other fighting games. Many games have a “1 hit guard/guard after 1st attack” setting to test combos: the first hit will count but the opponent will block everything else if it didn't naturally combo.

In Tekken 7, you must do this:

CPU Opponent Action 1: Stand

CPU Opponent Action 2: Guard All

To get a “guard after 1st attack” setting. I didn't even understand how that worked until I looked up a guide online. There's also no easy option to see how to break throws, leaving players to experiment or research online when it comes to escaping command throws or chain throws.

Tekken 7 has multiple ways to get up off the ground after being knocked down, but with no tutorial it's difficult to know how to do any of them. If you ground tech, you can hit a punch button to roll into the background or a kick button to roll into the foreground. But if you're already lying down, you press Left Punch to roll into the background and Down+Left Punch to roll into the foreground. Kicks do different things now.

Again, I had no idea how that worked until watching a tutorial. And this is deadly for new players, because if you aren't waking up properly you can basically get stomped to death before you can stand up and reset the situation to neutral.

It's not a complete lost cause for new players, however. Despite the lack of a true Tutorial mode, I believe Tekken 7 is easier to pick up and play than any 2D fighting game.

There is a fair amount of single player content, including character customization, Treasure Battle for earning customization gear, arcade mode, and miniature story modes for each character. If you can't play locally, there online connectivity is very good and online tournaments are a nice feature.

Remember, single player content matters when engaging new players. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't!

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Having combo strings makes it easy for new players to pick someone who looks cool, mash 1, 2, 3 or 2,3 or roll your face on the pad (if you're Eddy/Lucky Chloe) and maybe even pick up some wins online. The combo system feels natural and intuitive from the start, while deep enough to allow players to build if they seek outside resources.

But the issue is requiring outside resources. The game won't explain to you how Rage mode works, the difference between Rage Drive and Rage Art, when you should sidestep, the numerous wakeup options when you're knocked down, how to use certain training mode features, how to break throws, how to break command throws, or when to block low vs. high.

I am enjoying Tekken 7 a lot and got 9th place at a local tournament recently(there's proof, don't @ me: http://challonge.com/cfgTekken7_01/) (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRSuhxXhTziYR2IGVam4AFz_8u2c-9-p6) I'm looking forward to playing more and improving. I'm just frustrated that the game has no way to teach new players because Tekken 7 is excellent and I want everyone to try it.

If you're interested in learning Tekken 7, bookmark these pages for tips and system mechanics.

Basic How To Play Guide at Tekken.com:

http://tk7.tekken.com/guides

Video Tutorials for Beginners and Intermediates by AvoidingThePuddle:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMCyLSAjLlQ0YEDmZ-Esbnzd4gcstVOC5

Video Tutorials by KingJae:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSCxY9aJNnYohfANVI4hSPT00AZsP7wOu

A Street Fighter Player's Guide to Tekken by jmcrofts:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2N8qJGW36fx_gu6lKkjF_GmEzHl7gj-D

The Top 15 Moves for Tekken 7 Characters by Drunkard Shade:

https://drunkardshade.com/2017/05/27/tekken-7-top-15-moves-for-all-characters/

Combo Guides from LegendaryMihawk:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeEk_GDSnydYwPax0IATKf_x5WXYKTwBc

Every Character's Strengths and Weaknesses by Fergus:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yqgxbES6su4clpQou2hzlZN40rpPBtwmMRKWfexbj3g/preview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbewxse8DlI

Tekken Terminology:

http://www.tekkenzaibatsu.com/wiki/Glossary

http://www.tekkenzaibatsu.com/wiki/Tekken_Jargon

TekkenChicken Frame Data App:

http://tekkengamer.com/2017/06/03/tekken-7-frame-data-app-tekken-chicken-now-available-android-powered-tekkengamer/

Tekken Zaibatsu Discord:

https://discord.gg/H4Y9mMN

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I Suck At Fighting Games: Skullgirls 2nd Encore+

In 2012, I decided to stop being a spectator in the fighting game community. I bought an expensive arcade stick, found my local fighting game meetups, and started playing every fighting game I could get my hands on.

It has been nearly five years since I picked up Skullgirls for the first time, but after playing it for a while I learned that it wasn't the game for me.

However, the game has improved dramatically since 2012. And while I may not keep up with Skullgirls, I will fully recommend it to new fighting game players, veterans, and pretty much anyone looking for a fantastic game.

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Skullgirls 2nd Encore+ is allegedly the final version of the game, as the team at Lab Zero are moving on to new projects. While no fighting game experience can be perfect and include all of the user interface/quality of life elements that you want, Skullgirls gets closer than any fighting game has.

Training Mode

I am astonished by how many options are in this game's training mode. There are things that I never thought I needed until I saw them in this game. Slow motion, hitboxes, a grid overlay so you can tell exactly how far your attacks reach, hitstun bars, even two types of input display.

Basically, the only thing it's missing is straight up frame data in the command list. If you are a new player and want to just sit in the training room until you figure out Skullgirls, they provide more than enough tools to do so.

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Quick Loading Times

Long load times are the norm in modern games. In Skullgirls, I almost never sat through a load time of more than 5 seconds. Even if you're frequently changing stages and characters in Versus, the load times are short. It's very refreshing to play this game after every other fighting game is making load times longer and longer.

This makes settling in for a quick First to 50 set even easier, because once you both hit Rematch it's on in seconds.

Also, both players have a small menu of options post-match. So you don't have to give thumbs up to confirm you're ready to go.

Legacy Controller Support

You can plug in a PlayStation 3 stick into the PlayStation 4 version of Skullgirls and it just works.

Seriously.

You don't have to hook up a PS4 controller to USB and worry about it powering off, killing the connection. You don't have to go through menus. It just works. No other fighting game has gotten this right besides Skullgirls yet.

Tournament Mode

In this local versus mode, the button configuration option automatically pops up every time you select characters. So there's no worry about starting a match without a button check, potentially stalling a tournament bracket. It's another brilliant feature that somehow hasn't been implemented by every other fighting game.

Now, I'd like to look at exactly why this is an excellent fighting game for beginners.

Lots of Single Player Content

Pro players downplay how important single player content is in a fighting game, but it absolutely matters. This content draws in new players to games, who may become interested in what's beneath the surface and become more invested in the competitive side of the game.

You should want more people to buy and play your game. And having lots of single player content helps that along. Skullgirls has plenty.

  • A fully voice-acted story mode for every character, with cutscenes and boss encounters.

  • Arcade mode that pits you against random opponents and teams.

  • A quick match mode against the CPU if you don't feel like doing an entire Arcade ladder.

  • Survival mode.

  • Challenge mode, full of gimmick battles with conditions you won't see in a regular match. My personal favorite locks your attacks, forcing you to win by surviving until time runs out.

  • Trials to teach you combos for every character

I don't compete in Skullgirls, but I keep coming back to it because there's so much to do.

The Tutorial Mode

This is what sold me on Skullgirls the first time. The tutorial is long, comprehensive and excellent for learning how to play fighting games.

It does teach the game's numerous mechanics down to the minutia that you won't truly understand for weeks. The thing that puts it above and beyond is how the game teaches concepts that can be applied to any other 2D fighting game.

There are drills on how to use tick throws, how to use and block mixups, explanations of blockstun & hitstun, and punish combos. That's stuff that applies to nearly every fighting game, and understanding the concepts of these tutorials will help you level up your game in any fighting game.

If you want to get into fighting games, the Skullgirls tutorial is a great place to jump in. It's up there with tutorials like Dead or Alive 5 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

It's not without faults, however. There are times when the characters can overlap the text on the screen, especially as your tasks get more elaborate.

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There's no option on the pause menu to review the larger text boxes, so you'll have to start the lesson again to read them.

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Also, the longer tutorial sections could be broken up better, as there's no easy way to rewind and review a concept you missed. You have to start from the very beginning to see a text passage again.

It's Fun To Mash

Some fighting games have complicated, finger-breaking inputs to do combos and supers. Some fighting games have advanced movement techniques that you must learn in order to compete, making walking around the stage an advanced skill. Some fighting games simply feel clunky until you learn how to work within their systems.

In Skullgirls, you can jump into a match and hit a lot of buttons and it feels great. It's incredibly responsive, even in online matches. The inputs are simple, with most attacks being quarter-circle motions. The majority of the cast shares the same input for Level 3 super combos, so you can do a cool move with any character you pick up.

Most characters have a consistent light-medium-heavy-launch combo that you can rely on.

In the long term, getting good at this game is difficult. But the time from “picking up the game” to “doing cool moves” is considerably shorter than other games. Fighting games are too hard to play if you're not already a fighting game player, and lots of casual players just want to jump in and mash special moves and supers without reading the manual.

By making move inputs simple and very responsive, Skullgirls encourages new players to choose someone who looks cool and start doing basic combos with them immediately. And if they want to move up to that next level, there's plenty of tutorial content there to enable them to do so.

I've bounced off many 2D fighting games as a newbie because they don't feel good to pick up and play immediately. Anime fighters with highly specialized characters and loads of meters on the screen turned me away because I had no idea how to even do special moves or supers.

With the simple inputs, extremely low input lag and accessible basic combos, it feels good to pick up any character in Skullgirls and play, even if you aren't familiar with them. I think it does a better job of being inviting to new players than most other games.

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I tried getting good at Skullgirls years ago, but after entering a few tournaments I realized that I was nowhere near as skilled as I thought. It's a common issue with games that have smaller player numbers. There are few new players at your level, just a scene of dedicated veterans. You'll get crushed before having a chance to react in most matches, which is an unsatisfying loss because you can't learn anything from it. Try jumping into a ranked match and you'll see this in action.

Being a team fighting game also makes it immediately more complex than 1v1 games. You have to consider your assist attacks, and change them based on what your opponent is using. In the match, you should be using your assist often, but using it at the wrong time will get it knocked out quickly.

Despite having a very lengthy tutorial on how it works, the Infinite Protection System and Undizzy meter are very difficult to understand. I didn't actually know how it worked until someone explained it to me in plain terms, and burst baiting is something new players won't know how to utilize but may get frustrated when it's consistently used against them.

The variable team system is nice but picking a solo character is almost never recommended. Lacking an assist makes you much more vulnerable to larger teams, as you can't tag out to regain health or just take a break to plan a strategy with one character. Skullgirls should give the option of a team of 2 or 3, but not solo.

I still recommend this game to new players just because the tutorial is so great and how easy it is to jump in and play because of the intuitive combo system. But even after building my skills over five years, I just can't hang with assist-centered team fighting games.

That's just me though. I think Skullgirls gets everything right in terms of user interface, menus, visuals, online play, and legacy controller support. Just because I don't prefer team games doesn't mean you should drop the game immediately. You should try this game out because it's fantastic, and great for new players to fighting games.

Returning to Skullgirls has been a nostalgic experience. In 2012, I picked up this game on my Xbox 360 and bought an Eightarc Fusion arcade stick that I still use today. I was committed to learning fighting games so I could play Persona 4 Arena.

Since 2012, I've played nearly every new fighting game. I've met new people in different FGC scenes, managed a gaming club in university, and traveled across the country to participate in tournaments/ sleep in outrageously comfortable hotel beds.

I've somehow convinced my place of employment to give me Tuesday nights off so I can go to a weekly fighting game meetup in Ohio. There, I've made new friends, played even more obscure fighting games, and even started doing commentary and learned how to run my own tournaments.

Fighting games helped improve my patience in games and in real life. They've taught me how to stay calm under pressure as well. And all of the traveling I've done and people I've met makes me excited to try new things in my everyday life. I'd say I'm in a much better place today than I was in 2012.

So, try new things as much as you can. See as much of the world as you can, and your life will be enriched for it. I'm gonna keep playing every fighting game I can get my hands on, even if I suck, because taking the step from spectator to player was an unexpected turning point in my life.

If you're interested in any fighting game I've talked about or one that's coming out, try it out! You'll likely see the fun of reading your opponents if you put effort into learning the game. You might suck at it for a while...or forever if you're like me...but you will learn something about yourself through the experience.

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Perfidious Sinn's Top 10 Games of 2016

Honorable Mentions here.

10. The King of Fighters XIV

There's some games you can immediately tell will be good, just from the main menu. Saints Row: The Third starts with one of the best title themes of all time, and turns out to be an incredible game. Hotline Miami does the same.

When I booted up The King of Fighters XIV and heard “Follow Me”, I knew great things would follow.

Even though I feel like an intermediate fighting game player, KOFXIV kicked my ass so hard that I felt like a beginner. I couldn't do supers consistently without botching inputs, and I couldn't remember important universal mechanics in time before my opponents stomped me into the dust.

But I didn't quit. I sat in training mode until I could do every super input by memory without dropping them. I did the Trials for my characters until I could go through them without a single restart.

The King of Fighters XIV's difficult timing and special commands brought me back to lab even though I claimed to not need it. And though I still suck at fighting games, every little improvement I made in this game felt like I was getting better at them. It was a fulfilling, enlightening experience all the way.

And “Follow Me” is the best song.

9. Final Fantasy XV

You guys are the best.

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Parts of this game are terrible. The story is so poorly told that Square Enix created an anime series and CGI movie to explain what happens. There are major, unexpected gameplay shifts that play like they only got 50 percent of the polish the main game got. The majority of the quests are generic MMO-like “go kill 3 crabs” or “bring me 7 bear asses” chores that are completely forgettable.

And yet, I can't stop thinking about Final Fantasy XV. Squeenix failed many other things, but they nailed the main cast. Noctis, Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus are the most likable leads Final Fantasy has seen in a while. The writing of this game shines brightest in sidequests and travel times, because there is an absolutely massive amount of dialogue. These guys seem to have a unique response to every possible situation they get into.

Even in this bizarre timeframe where there are both flying cars and royal knights who wield swords, the cast of FFXV are regular dudes, motivated by ambitions and fears that we can all relate to.

I didn't love much of the gameplay, but the story of Noctis losing everything he loves and finding the strength to go on through his friends kept this game on my mind after the tearjerking post-credits scene.

8. Pony Island

Insert YOUR SOUL to continue.

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Pony Island is not a colourful endless runner where you're a pony hopping over fences. Except when it is. It's not really a horror game, but it has plenty of unsettling moments where it appears your own computer is out to kill you.

So what is Pony Island? It's a series of progressively difficult timed puzzles that make you think critically. It's a mystery game where learning who you are and who the villain is changes your entire perception. It's a look at the anxiety and frustration game development can cause to even the most confident people.

By the time I got to the last major puzzle of Pony Island, I was amazed at how it took my natural response to stuff that happens in any game, and turned it into my weakness. I don't want to ruin it because this game has to be played to see just how clever it is.

Try to not shoot Jesus though. You'll get a game over.

7. Overwatch

CATCH PHRASE!

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When this game was released, I was playing it nightly and certain it was a lock for my #1 Game of the Year spot.

Oops! Competitive Mode brought unparalleled levels of toxic players to every mode. The Summer Games event showed just how bad the “blind box” system for cosmetic unlockables can get. And even today, I despise the lottery system for loot boxes and how it consistently tempts you to spend money for lottery tickets.

Still, I cannot deny how enjoyable the core game is. I spend most of my time now in Arcade mode messing with the newly-added modes like Elimination, which is AWESOME for introducing a whole new meta, as 3v3 with no respawns requires very different compositions to 6v6. But even regular Quick Play is great. The game itself is full of positive reinforcement, rewarding you with medals and bonus XP for playing well even if you lose. It's easy and fast to pick up and play, and most matches still feel close close even when you're getting blown out.

I've got plenty of complaints about Overwatch, but I probably won't ever stop playing it. And even when I'm not playing it, I'll probably keep flicking through the massive amount of Overwatch memes I've got saved on my phone for a while. It's a powerful game. For memes.

6. Inside

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I loved seeing the praise for Inside when it released this year. It was mostly “10/10, perfect game, I refuse to tell you anything about it”. And well...it's true. Playdead made a nearly perfect puzzle-platformer. It fixes the few problems Limbo had and even has a few “why has no one done this before?” moments.

You know when you pull a box to an edge, but you have to climb back up on that ledge to progress? No need to reset the room; the boy will just shift into the foreground and walk around it.

The game is confident in itself and the player when it comes to puzzles; there are no hint boxes or cheap deaths. If you think clearly, you can get through everything with minimal resets, but somehow the challenge is on the perfect level to keep your mind constantly working.

Talking about the visual setpieces also ruins some of the best parts of the game. But after the empowering, nauseating and oddly comical ending, I didn't want to play anything else for the rest of the night. All I could do is sit there and wonder about the bizarre sights in the world of Inside and what they represented in the game's world. I'm still thinking about it now, and I think that's the highest praise I can give to Inside. You won't forget it.

5. Teeny Titans

Evil Laugh: +4 Health. Heals the entire team. But it's an EVIL heal.

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Teeny Titans was my go-to mobile game when I had a few minutes to kill. Like waiting in line at a bank, or during load screens for Final Fantasy XV.

This game plays like a mashup of Pokemon and Paper Mario, developed by a team who recognizes what made both of those games great.

The massive amount of figurines to collect inspired the “catch em all” fever I used to have with Pokemon, and the turn-based combat was consistently challenging as you have to manage your attacks based on a strict timer and elemental weaknesses.

This is one of the best licensed games I've played, full of the self-referential humor of Teen Titans GO! Including my favorite part: making fun of people who hate GO! and wish the old Teen Titans show would come back.

4. Firewatch

“What happens when a controlled burn gets out of control?”

“Someone gets fired.”

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This game has the best acting I've ever heard, and it's all through two people speaking through a walkie talkie. Henry and Delilah don't speak like most video game characters: they're not immune to stammering, putting emphasis on the wrong syllables or dropping cluster F-bombs when frustrated. I enjoyed taking walks through the forest just to find new items so these two could chat about it more, building up their relationship and my perception of them at the same time.

The game's pacing is excellent, organically building sympathy for two flawed characters before the real plot kicks in and you see how they react under duress. Firewatch doesn't point the player toward any clear message or moral to learn.

Firewatch understands that people mess up and make poor choices, even if they have the best intentions in mind. It doesn't frame the protagonist as totally wrong for the choices he made. It has a level of nuance rarely seen in game stories, and encourages you to take your time and absorb everything in a huge, gorgeous environment. It's one of the few games I'd describe as “serene”, even when the world literally burns around you.

3. DOOM

Demonic presence at unsafe levels.

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I have no reference point for the DOOM series, having played none of the previous titles and sleeping through the live-action movie.

But I know a great shooter when I play one, and the DOOM campaign is one of the greatest. When you're locked in a room full of demons, it's arena combat at its finest. Manage dodging projectiles and swapping to the most effective tool to most effectively blow something's face off. You are ALWAYS RUNNING in fights because standing still is death. Every combat scenario is exciting no matter how often I replay it.

Then, there's quieter sections where you explore some of the best-designed levels in a shooter. They're filled to the brim with secret levels, bonus items to pick up, and grimly hilarious Codex entries that enrich the world with self-aware humor. The combat is great, but exploring the levels for secrets is what kept me booting up DOOM long after I finished the story.

Finally, Mick Gordon is a genius and every soundtrack he touches turns to gold.

2. Titanfall 2

The human concept of love requires admiration, attraction, devotion, and respect. Conclusion: I am 50% in love.

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I want to play Titanfall 2 right now. Even after the finishing the campaign and spending several weekends doing nothing but, I wish I was playing Titanfall 2 right now.

The feeling of bounding between wall runs, diving into open windows to avoid fire, and sliding on your knees at 50 MPH is comparable only to Vanquish, the OTHER best shooter of all time. Titanfall 2 is the Vanquish 2 we deserved but never got.

The campaign is full of action movie cliches and a bizarre ending that tries to get a nostalgic pop from characters you barely remember. And it's one of the best first-person shooter campaigns around. They introduce game-changing mechanics to use IN ONE LEVEL and throw them away.

It brought us the best “press button to do thing” prompt this year, and that's not even the coolest moment in the game.

The kits you can build online can drastically change your gameplay, but even without them the core of dashing along buildings and sliding is so fun that I wish I was playing it right now.

Oh, and the developers are so confident in how good their game is that they just give away new maps and weapons for free. They're pretty cool.

I'd go play this game right now if I could. But I have one more game to mention.

1. Furi

Hundreds of them, against you. Was that fair?

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It is not fair to develop a game specifically targeted to me in hopes of getting on the top of my Game of the Year list. But The Game Bakers did it, and here we are. Furi is the best game I played in 2016.

I love the unique challenge of character action games. You can usually progress through the game just by using the base mechanics. But the real fun and challenge is when you optimize what you are given to complete the game with style and speed. Furi seems simplistic compared to Platinum's games at first, but just like those games they give you every tool you need to win fights with style and speed.

All you have to do it get good enough to use the tools.

There are rarely any low-level grunts to fight, just a series of wildly-different boss battles with long walks between them. And all of the battles are fantastic. It's a desperate struggle between avoiding waves of bullets and nimble slashes, while trying to find any opening to counterattack.

While it's possible to mash away at square to take what damage you can, the game gives you the tools to optimize your damage and challenges you to be skillful enough to execute. You could shoot 10 small bullets or time one powerful charge shot. You could get 2-3 slashes during a damage phase, or perfectly time a charged slash that will leave you completely vulnerable if you miss.

The bosses are a level in themselves, constantly adding new attacks, altering the environment and seeing if you remember how to counter moves they did earlier. It's the world's fastest and deadliest pop quiz.

And like every great character action game, there is a parry. You can gain health if you block properly, or you can take a ton of damage that you could have just stepped away from.

In another blatant attempt to pander to me, Furi also has the best soundtrack of the year, and each boss track transitions to an intense crescendo as the boss loses health and switches tactics. This is a game that is incomplete if you do not have the speakers up to at least 50 percent.

They knew my all of my weaknesses: great character action, excellent combat design, and fantastic music. They mercilessly perfected all of them into one game package.

So congratulations to Furi for being “The Game PerfidiousSinn Would Obviously Choose For Game Of The Year”.

And also, the best game of 2016. You earned it.

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Game of the Year 2016: Honorable Mentions

Currently, I have a document on my phone that is a list of over 100 games. In mid-March I thought I would be able to play through the list and get an idea of what could end up my Game of the Year list in December.

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I didn't even make it through half of that list.

2016 was crammed full of incredible games, and some of them even released before September!

Besides working through my list and reviewing the titles I felt strongest about, I got deeper into the fighting game community than ever. Street Fighter V led a resurgence of activity in my local fighting game community. I channeled that into vigorous training in my favorite fighting game Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, and turned that effort into a top 8 medal at the fantastic Combo Breaker tournament in May.

Not bad for a guy who sucks at fighting games.

I managed to work through a good portion of the massive 100+ game list, and narrowed it down because I am not Buzzfeed and cannot create a "Best 100 Games of 2016" feature article.

So here are six honorable mentions in no order, and later, my ten favorite games of 2016 in a very particular order.

Honorable Mentions

LET IT DIE- Damn, I missed Grasshopper Manufacture. They've been quietly developing titles all along, but nothing really grabbed me since 2012's Lollipop Chainsaw, which wrapped a subtle critique of exploitation in a crunchy horror/comedy shell.

LET IT DIE brings back the feelings I get when booting up No More Heroes. Incredible music, bizarre enemy design, and humor that seems to be written by a Japanese team who were raised on American television...or vice versa. It's not the most mechanically deep Souls-like game, but mixing that familiar gameplay with the Grasshopper Style makes it my favorite of this sub-genre.

Virginia- A silent film that you can interact with. No words are spoken, but the characters' actions and body language communicate a story of growing friendship, betrayal, reconciliation and frustration at the glass ceiling. This game is the embodiment of “less is more” and I hope more story-driven games take hints from it.

Anatomy- While I enjoy the visceral thrill of a good jumpscare, Anatomy got under my skin like no other horror game. Initially, there's nothing wrong with the house you're in besides poor lighting. But the brilliance of Anatomy is when it uses game “glitches” as scares, making busted textures and misplaced audio cues scarier than any monster you may run into. I'm still a bit scared to open a certain door in my own home after playing Anatomy. While it's only about an hour long, the sense of creeping dread stuck with me for weeks.

Destiny: Rise of Iron- The annual “Destiny Is Still Great” slot. While not as substantial as 2015's Taken King expansion, Destiny: Rise of Iron smooths out the few wrinkles that were left in the game. Destiny's combat is still the most satisfying out of any first-person shooter around, but Bungie does not coast on this. They changed artifacts from bland equips to drastic character overhauls, made nearly every activity in the game a viable path to empower your character, and added the most balanced and fun Raid the game has seen. Despite having a massive 2016 backlog of over 100 games, Destiny was my most played title in 2016. Now see me in Sparrow Racing.

Thumper- Since I was forced to stop my Rock Band addiction (4000 songs and counting!), I have searched for a rhythm game that will engage me and not drain my wallet of thousands of dollars.

Despite lacking my required quota of Madonna songs for a rhythm game, I kept picking up Thumper in a futile attempt to see an ending. It's a harsh, physical rhythm racer where the beats of each track seemingly speed up to match your heart rate as you try not to screw up. I lacked the skills to see this through to the credits, but I'm still absolutely captivated by the hard electronic soundtrack and cosmic horror visuals. Even if you don't think you like that type of music, this is a must-play for rhythm game fans. And if you do like the music, it's heaven. Brutal, wall-slamming, beetle-exploding heaven.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round- I have played Dead or Alive 5 on a consistent basis since its release in 2012. Aside from a few online tournaments, I never had the time or money to play it locally. I took the plunge in 2016, entering a tournament at Combo Breaker and driving to Chicago to participate.

This was the first time I've gotten REALLY SERIOUS about a fighting game tournament. I studied frame data, went into training mode for hours at a time and asked other players for help. I watched match videos. I even found a few local players to teach me about specific matchups. And in the end, I got my first top 8 at at major tournament. I got my ass kicked on stream. And I got a medal.

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Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is my favorite fighting game. Because I love playing the game so much, I trained and put in the work to get that medal. The medal that says “I worked hard at something I love and earned this”. That medal, that four minutes of footage of me getting DESTROYED is motivation for me to improve. That's the beauty of fighting games: no matter how good you may be, there is always more to learn and therefore, room to better yourself. And I will keep learning.

Because I still suck at fighting games.

Next time, my 10 favorite games of 2016!

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I Suck At Fighting Games: The King of Fighters XIV

For a new player, The King of Fighters XIV is immediately overwhelming. There are 50 characters, multiple types of jumps, weird commands for supers and specials, and strict input leniency.

Also, you have to learn three characters instead of just one.

This is the document of my attempt to learn The King of Fighters XIV and see if new players can do the same.

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I am completely new to the King of Fighters franchise, and the tutorial quickly taught me one thing: everything you know about jumping is wrong. In other 2D fighters you can jump up, backwards, and forwards. Maybe an occasional superjump, but that's it. There usually aren't more “ways to jump” that aren't immediately obvious.

In KOF, you've got small jumps (hops), medium jumps (dashing or neutral start), and large jumps (dashing or neutral start). If you can't remember all of those and implement them correctly in matches, you can't play King of Fighters.

Each jump has different uses, and you need to change them up in order to approach properly. Hops are faster and harder to react to, but don't clear moves with large hitboxes or fireballs. Regular jumps are slower and easier to punish, but they can go over fireballs and those large hitbox moves.

Once I realized the “trick” to hopping is to just tap a direction and let the stick return to neutral, it became much easier. But I still spend time in the training room jumping around, making sure I can consistently get the jump I want.

I also had the aid of a great tutorial video on YouTube.

The King of Fighters XIV does provide ample tutorial material for new players. The basic tutorial is lengthy, giving text tips and making you try everything yourself. There's a story mode that lets you fight AI on a challenging but fair difficulty, and Trial mode that teaches five basic combos for every character in the game.

The single-player content like Story, Time Trials, Missions and Survival are important for getting new or casual players into a game. Its got nothing on games like Mortal Kombat X in terms of sheer number, but this is far from a barebones game. It's worth the price.

I noticed in the basic tutorial a hurdle that can trip up players attempting to learn the game. Super inputs are hard, and chaining multiple supers together is even harder. The most damaging combos in this game require you to cancel normals into MAX mode into multiple chained supers. If you don't want every match to Time Over, you'll likely need to implement some of those basic combos given to you in Trial Mode. But they are not easy.

Inputs for special moves are inputs that are simply not used in the majority of recent fighting games. Daimon's command throw is half-circle back, forward. Or as I like to call it, 632146. Even if you know number pad notation, that is not an input I've come across in any fighting game I've played.

Super cancel combos can require you to do things like Forward, Half-circle Forward into Quarter-Circle Forward, Quarter-Circle Back (641236 xx 2363214), shown in one of Yuri's Trials. This requires impeccable timing and speed or the combo will drop.

Then you have characters like Angel who are impossible to play if you haven't already been playing her for ten years.

I won some matches using basic fighting game skills like anti-airing consistently and confirming into short combos. But if you truly want to get good at KOF, you need clean, consistent inputs for chaining supers together. You need to realize and accept that the commands for your supers and special moves are generally more difficult than other fighting games.

If you have bad habits when inputting specials or sloppy inputs in general, the game will let you know. Your moves will not come out, and you need to really train and drill them down if you want to succeed.

I started playing fighting games in 2012, and none of the games I've played since have required the amount of precision for inputs as KOF. None have such complicated super inputs at all, and I'll admit that my skills were not up for the task without training. Nothing in this game came naturally or easily for me.

However, I would still recommend this game for newer players because of that reason. If you stick with it, this game will make you a better fighting game player in general. You'll sharpen up your inputs and execution, even if you just sit in training mode or Trials practicing. I noticed going from King of Fighters back to other games that combos felt easier to execute because they have more input leniency than this game does.

I have a few mechanical complaints about the game, where it gets too complex for its own good. There's both a guard gauge and a stun mechanic, so you're punished for being on defense for too long and for getting hit too much. I rarely ever see Stun in a match so I'm not sure why it's there. There's no visible Stun bar so you can't tell if you or the opponent is about to be stunned, which just seems like an oversight.

The throw system never felt natural to me. Forward throws are always Forward+Heavy Punch, back throws are always Forward+Heavy Kick. Outside of grabbing someone out of a roll, I would usually just get a normal attack when attempting a throw, and I'm admittedly biased toward throws being LP+LK or (Throw Button) for fighting games.

Even if you're as terrible at fighting games as I am, I would recommend getting The King of Fighters XIV. If you stick with it and continue practicing with your chosen characters, this game will kick you into shape and make you better at fighting games overall. There's enough tutorial material and training options to help ease you into the fight, but the ceiling is high enough that you'll constantly make new discoveries with your team to improve your play.

Check out the tutorial video I linked earlier and this guide to choosing a character. You can and should play who you like, but if you're lost this will give you some easier starting points.

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Dead Rising isn't for everyone, and that's fine.

Dead Rising 1 is the most average game that I spent over 80 hours on. Technically, it has plenty of issues: long loading times, muddy textures, and some pretty awkward controls. Its difficulty curve is absurd: you can stumble into the game's most difficult boss battles within minutes of starting the game, but you can also level grind to the point where nothing is a threat. Your first playthrough is almost assured to be a losing effort, and even if you finish it there's no guarantee you'll get a good ending.

The sequels improved the controls and smoothed out the difficulty curve a bit, but there's still plenty of things that hold the series back from mass appeal.

Simply put, the games aren't for everyone. And that's perfectly fine.

Aside from a few games, the series seems to actually discourage players who want to run around and kill zombies with fun weapons. It's possible to do that, but the timer is an constant reminder of what you should be doing. The real appeal of the game is completing the story under the strict time limit given to you. It's a constant balancing act between rescuing survivors, fighting off bosses, and managing your tiny inventory.

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The best Dead Rising moments happen because the time limit is there. I recall escorting a group of 3 survivors in Dead Rising 2. Without the time to return them to the safe zone, I decided to take them all with me to the next mission. This required cutting through a part of the casino that housed Snowflake, a tiger who was hellbent on killing me and all of my group.

I commanded the group to run to the nearest exit while I fought off the tiger. But fighting a tiger is much easier said than done, andand I was soon running low on healing items. I emptied out all of the steaks I hoarded in my inventory to draw the tiger away, making my way to the group who were near death after fighting off zombies with tennis rackets and golf clubs. We made it to the next waypoint, but with no healing items, the horde picked off two of us and only 1 survivor and I made it to the mission on barely any health.

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Moments like that are the highlights of Dead Rising games. Trying to balance rescuing survivors to get stronger and completing the main missions to progress the story. Dealing with a small inventory of breakable items, which force you to scavenge and pick up anything around so you have some form of defense.

The appeal of killing off zombies is only part of the Dead Rising equation. Individual zombies are not challenging to kill. But when there's a horde of zombies between your group of damaged survivors and a mission marker that's a mile away, they turn from an inoffensive threat into a major issue.

The later games in the series added more options to appeal to more people, like Sandbox Mode in Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, and Dead Rising 3's "save anywhere" options and relaxed time limit.

Dead Rising 3 was a fine game, and received well. Capcom is responding to this by stripping away the rest of the game's identity for Dead Rising 4.

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According to early reports, Dead Rising 4 will have no timer, and Frank West will have regenerating health. I understand why Capcom wants to appeal to a larger audience. But these changes worry me, as they seem to take away the challenge and tension I enjoyed playing Dead Rising games.

With no timer, players can run around and slaughter zombies as much as they want. Is that appealing to a mainstream audience in 2016, who groan when yet another zombie game is shown on stage at E3? Now that The Walking Dead TV series has settled into a predictable groove, is there even a "zombie media" craze to capitalize on? The control of Dead Rising games is still somewhat awkward and outdated. If new players are drawn in, will they even stick around with these imperfect game mechanics?

Removing the timer also removes the core conflict of the series: balancing your need to level up and gear up with the simultaneous need to progress through the story and see new areas and enemies. Without a timer, escorting survivors becomes trivial, and zombies are even less of a threat because you have infinite time to clear a path.

Despite Capcom's backing, Dead Rising has always been a niche game that turned off mainstream players with high difficulty and imperfect controls. But getting over the initial thrill of killing hordes of zombies brought an even more rewarding feeling of completing difficult tasks under strict constraints, and overcoming a constant threat to be rewarded with satisfying boss battles and great ending sequences.

Dead Rising doesn't have to be for everyone. Many games that try to appeal to everyone end up appealing to no one. And if the changes to Dead Rising 4 do strip the game of its identity like I fear it will, I hope the remastered titles show a new generation of players how special a game can be when it refuses to compromise for mass appeal.

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I tried to buy the new Street Fighter V stages with Fight Money.

Street Fighter V has a Shop now. Thanks to the wonderful free-to-play-game-inspired system of "Fight Money", you can now buy all of the bonus content in the game without spending any more Real Money (except for the good costumes you really want)!

Just by playing the game, you'll earn enough "Fight Money" to buy anything you want from the shop. Downloadable characters, new outfits for the fighters (not the good ones), alternate colours, new stages, titles (why would you ever buy these?) and more!

I purchased the Season Pass at launch to ensure I had all the characters. I play this game regularly in tournaments, so I need an up-to-date setup where everyone could have their chosen character.

And to spice up tournaments and avoid The Grid forever because The Grid sucks, I tried to buy all of the new stages.

Emphasis on tried.

After completing the game's Story Mode, I got 30,000 Fight Money, bringing me to a total of 87,950.

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Before looking at the prices in the Shop, I was optimistic! Characters cost a whopping 100,000 each, but I already own them all thanks to the great deal I got from the Season Pass. That's a lot of extra FM that I didn't have to spend on characters!

So I bought a new stage, Balrog's casino. A brand new page would be great for spicing up local tournaments.

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Apparently, new stages cost 70,000 Fight Money. That...is more than I expected. But new content costs more, I guess that makes sense. The other stages are basically reskins, old stages with new lighting. I tried to buy one of these, hoping it would cost less.

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40,000 Fight Money. I was somewhat conservative with my Fight Money before 1.0, expecting some cool content to come later. The only thing I'd really purchased before Street Fighter V 1.0 was one character costume and two titles. 40,000 is still WAY out of my reach.

How do I get more Fight Money? I know that Survival, Demonstrations and Trials are all listed as easy ways to get some more. Unfortunately, I've already finished Demonstrations and I'm not good at the game, so Trials are too difficult for me to finish on multiple characters.

Survival it is!

I had already completed Survival on Easy for the entire cast, and beaten Survival on Normal with three characters.

After finishing the two new Survival courses on Easy, I had 24,000 Fight Money. Sorry, Balrog. We did not get any decent cash out of this.

And I'm not going through Survival on Normal because it's not fun at all. 30 Stages with no checkpoints, AI that can randomly decide to go God Mode and kick your ass, and getting screwed over when you need High health recovery and it keeps giving you Low? No thank you. It's a crappy mode. Also I'm not good enough with the entire cast to complete it even if there weren't RNG elements.

The only other option I could think of to get Fight Money was online matches. Winning in Casual or Ranked gives you some Fight Money. How much? Not enough.

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50 Fight Money per win would make this grind painfully slow. That's if you win, of course. What if you lose? What if the opponent disconnects?

What if you win, but they quit/the server messes up after your win? No Fight Money.

No Fight Money.
No Fight Money.

I was still 10,000 Fight Money short of buying a single stage. Then, I noticed that "Buy on PlayStation Store" button. Like any good free-to-play game, Street Fighter V offers the option to buy content with real money if you don't feel like grinding for their in-game currency. And the price is reasonable.

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These less-complex "reskin" stages are only $1.99 each. I could just spend $6 to buy these and have them for the tournament. But I don't want to do that.

Once I heard that the content in SFV could be earned by just playing the game, I decided that's how I want to unlock it. I'll play the game a lot thanks to local tournaments, and it'll be supported by Capcom for a while thanks to the Pro Tour. But you don't get currency from playing locally! That might stop you from spending real money, you see.

There are not enough ways to earn currency. Survival on Easy gives you a chunk, and so does Normal. But I don't think most players are going to complete Normal Survival on multiple characters because it's not fun and it can get very difficult, even for pros.

Trials have the same problem, as I don't have the versatile skills to complete some of the later challenges. I'm good enough to play R. Mika and not get completely destroyed against other players, so I finished her Trials. Everyone else, I'm about halfway through and I just don't have the skill to finish them.

Story Mode gives a chunk of Fight Money, and the "advanced difficulty" version gives more. But it has the same problem as Survival: it's not fun. It's a boring slog. At least you get to retry fights in that mode.

I only want to spend real money on stuff that I HAVE to, like Premium Costumes.

Fight Money is a limited resource that you don't get from playing local multiplayer in a local-multiplayer focused game. Even if I could complete Survival with every character on 4 difficulties AND all the Trials, I've burned out a non-renewable source of FM. Then I'd be stuck gaining the currency in intervals of 50 until the end of time. 50 currency at a time, for items that cost 40,000 currency each.

The system is heavily weighted toward getting you to spend real money. The ways to gain currency are either annoying, slow, or both.

They are designed to grind your soul to dust, until you cave and say "okay I'll just spend some cash on this". The idea that "you can buy everything in the game just by playing!" is currently laughable.

I tried to buy the new Street Fighter V stages with Fight Money. I gave up.

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Is Overwatch Killing the Street Fighter Community?

This year, two games where a multicultural cast fight each other for no good reason were released. February brought the newest game in the Street Fighter series, and May brought Blizzard's new shooter Overwatch.

With the former being a 1v1 fighting game and the latter being a team-based shooter, it's not likely that these games are in direct competition. But for some, Overwatch's release represents a big threat to Street Fighter V.

Street Fighter veteran Arturo “TS Sabin” Sanchez brought up this topic on his Twitter recently. Sanchez quickly made a name for himself in SFV, staying on top of the game's leaderboards for a long time and being the first person to reach to Diamond ranking in the game.

According to Sanchez and other players responding to him, Street Fighter V players are dropping off the game in favor of Overwatch. Former training partners are taking time off and skipping sessions to play Blizzard's shooter instead. This could be players getting fed up with Street Fighter V's issues and Capcom's seeming unwillingness to fix them.

Capcom Cup and EVO champion Yusuke Momochi has even started streaming Overwatch. That's just one big example, but there are plenty of prominent Street Fighter players who are either playing or streaming Overwatch regularly.

So is this a huge issue? Will Overwatch drain the last lifeblood out of the barely-living Street Fighter V corpse?

The short answer is “no”. The long answer is “no”, but with a few more words after that “no” describing what's happening.

Overwatch is huge. It has likely already outsold Street Fighter V. Lots of competitive Street Fighter V players are trying out Overwatch and having a lot of fun, which makes sense because the game is incredibly fun and dynamic. It's similar to a fighting game, being highly competitive games with unique characters. Compared to previous Blizzard games, Overwatch had a nearly perfect launch. The servers are fine, the gameplay is balanced and enjoyable, and any bugs were quickly fixed.

This costume would fit perfectly in a Street Fighter game.
This costume would fit perfectly in a Street Fighter game.

Meanwhile, Street Fighter V is in a rough spot. The game stumbled at launch and is still working on recovery. I've already spoken on the small issues that the game is full of, but some bigger things have happened more recently. Ibuki was announced and subsequently delayed, throwing off Capcom's one character per month schedule.

There was some other weirdness with this delay, including Capcom Japan blaming Capcom USA and the players getting rightfully upset about the lack of transparency. Why don't we know when a DLC character is coming out until a few days before? A delay would have been fine if they gave some notice or had one unifed source to get info on this.

There's also the growing issue of Street Fighter V's input delay, and top players feeling like the game is actively suffering because of it.

Despite all this, I think Street Fighter V will be fine. At Combo Breaker 2016, SFV had an entrant cap because the venue couldn't support the amount of people wanting to compete. That cap was raised and it still filled up.

Street Fighter V is currently the largest EVO tournament of all time with over 2,227 entrants.

Personally, I've seen more people coming to local fighting game gatherings to play Street Fighter V and other games. For the competitive community, it's a smash hit.

The excitement around SFV is also helping the fighting game community as a whole. New players are coming to see the new Street Fighter. And if it's not their cup of tea, they've been introduced to the genre at a time of huge diversity. Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, Skullgirls, King of Fighters, Tekken and a countless number of anime games I can't spell are all on the scene right now. If you're not enjoying Street Fighter V, there's another fighting game out there right now to pick up.

I'm currently on a break from playing Street Fighter V, because I was grinding hard for months to prepare for Combo Breaker. And I have been playing a lot of Overwatch instead of Street Fighter.

That's fine!

Fighting games like SFV are mentally and physically taxing. If you've been playing nothing but that since Februrary, taking a break is a great idea.

A break from fighting games has tons of benefits. If your matches feel like you're on autopilot, taking a break gives you time to think and build up valuable strategies for your return. If you're losing all the time and getting frustrated, it's actually not a good idea to train even harder. You should take a break, review your game plan and pick up new approaches, and come back to the game mentally refreshed.

Overwatch isn't even a month old, and Street Fighter V is a few months old. I believe both games will coexist, and Street Fighter fans will be drawn back in with the massive June update. I've already seen people who were burned out on SF getting excited for June.

If there's one benefit of staggered content releases, it's that a new character or mode will excite the community again. We'll see tech monsters creating setups for Ibuki in June, Third Strike fans coming to the game to play Urien at his release, and maybe an infusion of casual players thanks to the game's story expansion and the game finally going on sale.

I don't think the Street Fighter community has to worry about Overwatch taking all of its players away. If you're into Street Fighter or fighting games in general, nothing will keep you away from mashing buttons for too long. Fighting gamers are spoiled for choice in their genre right now, and Street Fighter players are just in the middle of a content lull right now. Once the June update hits, the excitement for Street Fighter will spike and we'll all be back in.

We shouldn't be worried about Street Fighter players leaving for Overwatch. Now we've got a second game to play with friends in addition to Street Fighter. They're not competition, they are complements, and the more great games to play, the better.

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I Suck At Fighting Games: Combo Breaker 2016

(All photo credit goes to Robert Paul because I forgot to take pictures and his are way better anyway

http://gallery.rmpaul.com/Esports/Combo-Breaker-2016/)

I haven't been to a major fighting game tournament in a few years. Thanks to its convenient price and location, I got to attend Combo Breaker 2016 in Illinois. I had high expectations for Combo Breaker as the successor to the excellent Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament series I attended before.

If you've read anything about Combo Breaker since it wrapped up, you already know that it lived up to those expectations. So I'll break down my experience as a spectator and mediocre competitor.

The Venue

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The Mega Center in Illinois is the largest venue I've ever been to for a fighting game tournament. It's basically one huge room that could fit any type of convention you'd ever need. The layout of the Center was perfectly crafted for a fighting game tournament.

Four giant screens were placed in the corner of each room, with the even-larger main screen against the back wall. This means that every game got stream time and had dedicated commentary areas. It's brilliant for spectators, the type of setup that is obviously crafted by people who go to and run a lot of tournaments. Even less popular games got finals on a stage, with expensive video cameras and dedicated commentary.

Although the venue was packed with game stations because of the massive 20 TOURNAMENTS being ran at once, it never felt overly crowded. I could navigate the floor easily and stop to have a conversation without blocking a path. And there were plenty of setups for casual games.

Speaking of casual games: you cannot be shy if you want to play against someone. Knowing when to interject with "I got next" or ask someone sitting down if you can play requires you to assert yourself. Because once people sit down to play, they're typically in there for the long haul.

I did have some trouble finding out if people were running casual matches or actual tournament matches, though. Most games have a marked table for Casual matches, but the "tournament" setups become casuals as time goes on. I didn't play as much Street Fighter V as I wanted to because I was a bit unclear which setups were for tournament, so I didn't interrupt.

Overall, The Mega Center is the perfect fit for a fighting game tournament and I'd be completely fine if the venue was used for next year's event.

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My Tournament Results

This year, I entered Street Fighter V, Mystery Game, and Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.

Street Fighter V- After rushing to the venue and barely registering on time, I made it for my first pool of the day. Shortly after checking in for my pool, a tournament organizer comes up and asks when the next match is.

It's mine!

It's going to be on the main stage. On stream.

Uh-oh.

I've never been to a tournament this large before. I've never been on stream before. I'm sweaty and agitated because I just arrived late at the tournament, and haven't even gotten a chance to warm up.

So after having a weirdly casual chat with my opponent while sitting in the front row in front of the GIANT SCREEN, I go up on stage. The setup has some very nice ASTRO headsets that block out the sound of the crowd and the live commentators behind me, which I needed to avoid freaking out any more.

So, predictably, after facing a much stronger opponent in a matchup that I'm quite unfamiliar with, I lost 2 games without taking a round. Ouch.

But I'm not embarrassed or pissed at my play. I got to be on stream for the first time! With Ultradavid on commentary! It's an experience I'll never forget.

I didn't do much better in SFV later, losing to a Ken player to put my official SFV record to 0-2. That last match was closer, though. There's plenty of room for improvement, and I believe I can do better next time.

Mystery Game- I believe this tournament had a cap of 128 entrants, so I made sure to register for it ASAP. Mystery Game was one of my favorite parts of UFGTX and UFGT9, so there was no way I was missing this.

Mystery Game tournaments can be literally any competitive title, not just fighting games. I saw a game where boats fought each other at some point (I definitely could have won that)

They frequently switch out consoles and games throughout the bracket, and coaching is banned. It's pretty much the most fun tournament there.

In the first round, I played Xbox fighting game Kakuto Chojin. I have never heard of this game in my life. It looks like this:

The game wasn't bad, it just felt really clunky. And I've never handled an original Xbox controller in my life. I beat my opponent by playing defensively and countering their attacks a lot.

The second game was Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition on Super Nintendo. I was begging to go back to the less-clunky Kakuto Chojin during this game. I'm already unfamiliar with the SNES controller and the game just did not feel good to play. I lost once my opponent figured out his fireball input and shot me until I died.

The final game was Power Stone. I played this one a lot on Dreamcast, but it has been about 5 years since I've touched it or any Dreamcast controller in general. I lost decisively and was out of Mystery Game, 1 win 2 losses.

I'd enter again in a heartbeat.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round - I was both surprised and excited that this game was a full-fledged tournament at Combo Breaker. Despite a Capcom Pro Tour-esque tournament series (the DOA Battle Royale) offering big money for pro players, this game's competitive scene has gotten much smaller since launching in 2012. It was by far the least-entered game at Combo Breaker with 18 people, and had only two setups in the venue.

Still, I love Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. I've been playing it since 2012, improving my skills even though I have no local competition and can only play online. And guess what? Hard work pays off.

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My path to top 8 was three matches.

Match 1: faced against a Brad Wong player. I have no idea how to fight Brad Wong, and it showed! Lost, sent to Losers bracket.

Match 2: Faced an Ayane player. Ayane beats my character Rachel handily, but she's extremely popular online and I knew the matchup. Won, moved on.

Match 3: Faced a Lisa/La Mariposa player. They seemed unfamiliar with the matchup, so I took advantage and hit them with all types of silly stuff. Won, and the bracket runner tells me I'll be on stage in a bit for top 8.

Holy crap.

This is already the furthest I've been in a major fighting game tournament for ANY game. After having a brief celebration/freakout, I head over to a stage in the corner and sit in the audience for top 8. I have a small group of friends rooting for me in the audience, but I know it's gonna be tough. If I lose a game I'm out, and I've already seen how strong the other players are.

I lost. But I'm not upset at all. I have a medal for playing a game I love. I got on stream again. I got to be in a the medal ceremony, confirming forever that I got top 8 and no one can take that away from me.

Dead or Alive probably won't be at next year's CB, but I appreciate the Combo Breaker staff so much for giving the least-entered game there the same treatment as any other game. Medals for top 8, stream time, setups, bracket runners that gave a damn. I'll appreciate that forever, and I'll keep playing this game as long as there's someone else to play against.

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Everything Else

I've never been hit with post-tournament blues as hard as I have leaving Combo Breaker. As a spectator, there was plenty of things to do with 24 hour casual setups, arcade cabinets and vendors. The large screens displaying tournament streams and commentators being played over house audio meshed the watching streams at home and watching live tournaments experiences perfectly.

As a competitor, I appreciated the brackets being run accurately and quickly. And I'll always appreciate giving every game equal treatment with stream time and medals for top 8.

I'll be back next year. Can I register now? Because I'll do it. I need to make another top 8 and make damn sure they spell my name right next time.

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Seriously, no space? And there's no "A" in "Perfidious"!

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A Short List of Street Fighter V Nitpicks.

After downloading it on release night, I've played a fair amount of Street Fighter V this week. It's a great Street Fighter game, and I am enjoying it much more than the previous game in the series. Once the tutorial material launches, I'll be analyzing how well it engages new players and teaches them.

I do have a few, small complaints about the title. There are some negative aspects that I noticed during play that I have not seen in reviews.

This isn't a review. Just a short list of things that could have been improved. After all, Capcom can't fix the problems if they don't know what they are.

  • On release day, my Fighter ID was taken immediately. Apparently 1 minute after launch, "Perfidious", "PerfidiousSinn", "ThePerfidiousSinn" and "PerfidiousSin" were booked. I refuse to believe this for two reasons. 1: If you use Rival Search to look up those names, they don't exist. 2: No one else gets that reference but me. It must be a server issue that SAYS the names are gone when they really aren't.
  • You cannot change your Fighter ID ever. Not once? Even 1 freebie if you messed up the spelling? Maybe it'll be a microtransaction later.
  • Training mode does not allow you to view character hitboxes. See Skullgirls for examples of how to implement this.

  • Story mode doesn't allow you to set character voices individually. It's either all English or all Japanese. Good on them for allowing individual voice settings for other modes though.
  • Why is Chun-Li speaking Japanese anyway? She's Chinese. From China.
  • People who pick Cammy's Japanese voice are wrong. English accents are superior and must be protected.
  • Local matches will get cut off if the servers mess up. I am not unplugging my Ethernet cord just to play local matches.
  • Command List does not explain what your V-Skill or V-Trigger does.
What could it mean?
What could it mean?
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  • Survival Mode is the only way to unlock colours and it's not fun. I would prefer a Smash Bros style system: complete 50 matches to get a colour! Or do it like Street Fighter 4 did where you got 1 new colour after every online match.
  • Replays can be adjusted to go faster, but not slower. Also, there's no solid Rewind/timeline scrub for replays, you can just jump back or forward a few seconds.
  • Most of the time, Rival Search doesn't work. I've typed in friends' PS4 names AND Fighter IDs and it just says they don't exist.
  • Laura's hair clips through her body, and Birdie's chain clips through his chain in the loading screen. Looks absolutely terrible when the camera is zoomed so close to them.
  • Laura's Japanese and English voice acting are dreadful.
  • Laura's character theme is worse than her voice, somehow.
  • There are character themes in the game, but no clear way on how to turn them on. In Street Fighter IV you just beat Arcade mode once to unlock this option (called Arranged BGM in Sound Settings)
  • No option for 1v1 against the computer. Every other fighting game has it. And I needed it to capture videos for this blog.
  • Zangief's command throws don't have "360 input leniency" (?) "360 input prediction" (?)
    When you try to do an SPD you jump. See Skullgirls for how to fix this problem.
  • The frame data is not in the game, because they are selling an app with it.
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Meanwhile, games like Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat have frame data for every move, including normal moves built into the game.

Bad picture, but I promise all the other moves have the data.
Bad picture, but I promise all the other moves have the data.
  • No slow-motion option in Training Mode. See: Pocket Rumble, Skullgirls
  • Can't tag moves onto the screen like in Injustice or Mortal Kombat X. would be quite useful to learn characters with tons of moves, like Karin!
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Besides these few small complaints, it is a very good game and I would rate it a 4/5.

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