If there's one topic that's encouraged more bile and hatred from the 'core' gaming community, then it somehow managed to escape me. For better or worse, motion control seems to be a sore subject: a throbbing cock at a christening - spoiling the mood and making us all feel very, very wrong. OK, so perhaps motion control isn't quite that offensive, but with some of the reactions I've witnessed from self-proclaimed 'hardcore' gamers since its mainstream introduction, you'd swear that the likes of Nintendo and Microsoft had just dangled their erect members in the faces of gaming's first-born.
The problem with the villainous motion controlled games is that they so rarely get it right. The public wouldn't hate them half as much and they'd receive half the amount of disgust if they weren't so bloody rotten the majority of the time. I'm an optimistic guy: I like to think of motion control's success stories - Dance Central, Killzone 3, Super Mario Galaxy. Try telling me that motion controls ruined Galaxy: they were perfectly-implemented in a game that is at the very height of classic design. Well done, villains: you're on the way to winning the public's hearts & minds. But wait, what's this? Kinect Carnival Adventures? Heroes on the Move? Oh, oh dear God, not.....Wii Big Family Game Party.
Even villains can redeem themselves with enough hard work and enough dedication, but it seems that for every success story, there's another ten or so train wrecks constructed for the sole purposes of roping in fuck-witted parents desperately trying to find a way to identify with their kids. I want to come out of this as Mr. Positive, trying to make everyone see the brighter side, but then my mind wanders and I start thinking about Let's Dance with Mel B.
Since the Wii, Nintendo have made Motion control standard on both he 3DS and the up-coming Wii U. Like or not, It's definitely here to stay. Even half of our blockbusters now boast Kinect/Move integration. There's no stopping the tide, as they say. We can rant until we're blue in the face about it, but our villains have taken up residency in our fair city, the question is whether or not they'll develop into a hellish ghetto, or a delightful picket-fenced wonderland.
If we are more willing to celebrate successful implementation, I'm positive in my belief that we can change the climate and all embrace a brighter, multi-interface future. Let's take motion-controlled games out of that box I so willingly crammed them into and allow them to run free. Smack the legs of the bad ones and shower praise and cookies onto the good ones.
Sooner or later, motion controls will be as regular as any other input method and it's up to us whether or not we want to embrace that future. We can fight it, become bitter and jaded, or embrace it: offer constructive criticism and continue to lambaste only shitty, evil cash-ins (after all, they deserve it, right?).
As a consumer, I don't want to 'buy into' motion controls. I don't want to buy a motion camera, re-organise my gaming space or make decisions on whether or not to buy the triple-A regular controlled blockbuster or the motion controlled bit of fluff. I want it homogenised, levelled-off and equal. It's coming, but not until the next generation. Right now, you have to pick a side, defend your purchase and protect your investment. When a new hardware generation rolls around, assuming that they have motion controls out of the box, we'll all be friends again. A handful of high quality titles and no need for extra investment is all that our villains need.
On the whole, it seems that us gamers fear change. I don't think anyone one of us could honestly claim not to be weary of new ideas and the prospect that motion controls could amount to little more than a brief affair: an amusing novelty that we all have to endure before normality is restored.
You know how some fools still search for that ever-illusive 'Citizen Kane of Games'? Well, the mentality rings true for this debate. What motion controls need; what the Kinect and the Playstation Move need, to be exact, is their Mario Galaxy. When the pretenders to the throne prove their commitment and give gamers a good enough reason to open up their minds, then we'll be ready for a brighter future.
It's been suggested around my household, from time-to-time, that as a child I may have been considered to have ADHD. It's always played for laughs, but there's enough evidence to suggest it: my lack of any real, definable 'skills' or one overbearing interest (videogames aside). So that's why my favourite bit of Akira is when Tetsuo's guts fall out on the floor in his mind. I don't know why, It just looks rad. Wait, freedom. Yeah, I dig rules. I love borders, boundaries and finality. I love having a structured rota, a discernible task. I need rails.
Freedom in gaming may be a revelation for those with greater attention spans than my own, or at least those who possess the ability to focus their ideas into something tangible. For me, character creation tools are a nightmare, open quest structures become a swirling mass of confusion and my Littlebigplanet pod looks like my cat ate the 90's, then shit it back out, then ate that shit and puked. Do you remember Dino-Riders? They were amazing. I wish I'd put more of my pocket money into them as a kid. It's not even as if I have anything to show as an alternative, I bet I spent it on shiny stickers. That's what freedom is to me. No. Crap. I'm not finished yet. Bare with me.
Character creation, in particular, is a real point of contention for me. Largely because I'm so bad at it. I look at some of Capcom's flawless character design over the years and I wonder why anyone would want to do it themselves. I couldn't create a Chun-Li, a Mike Haggar or a Mega Man. Mike Haggar picking up chickens from dustbins. Hahaha. He's so crazy. And cool. Do you guys know the story in Final Fight? Cody's girlfriend and Haggar's daughter (same chick) gets captured and then they go around beating up the Mad Gear gang to find her.......so. As I was saying, I'm no good at character design. All of my created characters are exactly the same: slightly overweight, muscle-bound punks with tattoos and mohawks. Basically, I have been endlessly recreating one of the titular two crude dudes from Two Crude Dudes/Crude Buster.
There is, however, one instance in which I appreciate freedom. In games. Not reality. I'm a big fan of real freedom. Fallout 3's open-ended quest structure and ability to bypass a boring story about water or something has made that very game one of my all-time favourites. I loved telling my old man to shove his revolution up his bum so I could go off decapitating super mutants and stealing from vampires. Hah! They didn't even see me coming! Chinese Stealth Armour! I can be as much of a directionless, amoral jerk as I want in this game and I'll still, eventually, find some sort of guidance in the form of a quest - probably given to me by an NPC just before I could steal their stuff. This sits perfectly with my supposed condition: allowing me the freedom I need to 'express myself' and giving me enough structure so as to avoid me going totally 'off the deep end'.
So, in summary: a few spoonfuls of spreadable cheese mixed with some herbs and filled pasta is a quick and nutritious dinner.
Sorry, back to the freedom. I'm a fan of it in small doses, or if I barely see my character and I'm glad that it seems to be a continually evolving trend. However, nine times out of ten, I would rather pick from one of three stone-cold badasses and get down to smashing up some street punks who made bad life choices. If they ever want to take my freedom in exchange for sublime character design and diverse mission structure, then they can have it.
The World Warriors: The Everlasting aesthetic quality of the original Street Fighters
In an age before FMV sequences and dialogue heavy cut-scenes, game designers faced greater challenges in order to express the personalities of their characters. The visual design was paramount in order to tell gamers who or what they were playing as. A character’s design had to speak volumes in order to engage the player, or at least captivate their imaginations beyond the duration of a play session. Without exposition and cut-scenes, designers would have to strive to create memorable images that would remain firm in the minds of the players and fans. A costume or a haircut had to speak a thousand words. It was an age of overcoming limitations with unmatched creativity and simple, effective design.
Proof of this simple, effective character design can be seen in the lasting, almost iconic images of Pac-Man, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. These designs have retained their aesthetic basics for decades and have proven to be both memorable and endearing enough to warrant sustained success for their respective games. Admittedly Pac Man and Sonic may not enjoy the same successes as Mario, but the strength of their images despite commercial failures in more recent years only reinforces the quality of their design. Such classic characters needed strong, likeable designs in order to keep the player interested and more importantly, give the games a unique and identifiable mascot. After all, being forced to play as a character you hated the sight of for the duration of a game is not likely to sustain your enjoyment. So, what happens then, when the player is given a choice of characters? How do you create images for a selection of characters; images that are so strong, that a player will be able to identify with them and enjoy playing as them for the duration? I think Capcom has the answer to that one.
In Capcom’s first Street Fighter game, the player took control of Ryu – the series’ long standing protagonist- as he fought colourful and varied opponents around the world. With Street Fighter II, they changed the template and gave the player a selection of eight different characters from which to choose. How is a gamer meant to cope with such unprecedented levels of choice? Back then, such diversity was unheard of and Capcom still had to ensure that everybody didn’t simply just pick Ryu, or Ken, to be more accurate. Capcom’s answer was to create eight unique fighters, all with images so memorable and emotive, that a player could make a heartfelt choice. Add to this a slew of unique fighting styles and choosing your world warrior became less about which was the best and more about which was the best fit for you. For me, personally, this is where the character’s aesthetics play the biggest role.
Each character’s appearance speaks volumes about their personalities and history and it is this that allows players to make the informed choices about who they prefer. No need to read a backstory, no need to research their strengths and weaknesses – just put your faith in how well-balanced the game is and pick whoever you think is the coolest.
If you want a safe bet, you’ll pick Ryu, after all he’s the protagonist from the series’ beginning and his design is the simplest of all. Like his fighting style, Ryu’s design is straight up, balanced and effective. His stoic gaze, his muted colour palette and his well-rounded repertoire of moves make Ryu a logical starting point. His white suit and red headband not only echoing the simplicity of his design, but also representing his home country of Japan. Simple and pure both in aesthetics and mechanics: Ryu is the all-rounder, the starting point.
Next, we come to Ken. To the untrained eye, he is effectively the same as Ryu, only displaying a few subtle, but massively important details. Ken is Ryu re-drawn with a grin, a red outfit and the blonde surfer hairdo that, in the 90’s, seemingly represented American males the world over. He is the Zach Morris of Street Fighting. If Ryu was American, he would be cocky, wear his hair long and not be seen dead in an understated white outfit. Ken, like his design, is Ryu’s louder, brash cousin.
By simply changing a hairdo and swapping some colours, Ryu’s character model is transformed into Ken and his personality along with it. The loud red suit and unkempt hair show us the polar opposite to Ryu’s serious warrior persona. Such minor changes transform the character and give us another design that speaks volumes about the personality it represents. Only a dick such as Ken would leave his hair down for a fight and you don’t have to read a back story to figure it out.
With such simple changes impacting characters to such an extent, Capcom could have adjusted Ryu’s colour scheme and hairdo with enough variety to fill out the whole roster. Thankfully, they instead set about creating another six varied fighters from all across the globe. Again, their aesthetics would serve to express their personalities; whether it was the wild-man Blanka throwing himself around the screen, electrocuting his enemies and sinking his teeth into their flesh, or Dahlsim using his spiritual powers to conjure fire and contort his limbs. Add to this mix Guile’s ‘brush-head’ hairdo, Zangief’s Mohican and scars, Chun Li’s hair buns and - to a lesser extent - Honda’s face paint and you have visual calling cards for each and every one of the warriors. These elements have been integral parts of each of the characters’ designs from their inception and have remained intact in their most recent iterations in Street Fighter IV. By reducing and simplifying each character to a bold, limited colour palette and giving them each one defining visual characteristic, Capcom is able to ensure the lasting impact of their character’s designs.
With so many iterations of the Street Fighter series over the years, you could be forgiven for thinking that such simplistic designs may become quickly outdated or at least lose their effectiveness in more recent years. Capcom seem to adhere to a set of well thought out, self-imposed rules. Street Fighter IV looks just as contemporary as any other game currently available, yet sacrifices nothing about design choices made nearly twenty years ago. They focus on simple, distinctive characteristics, allowing the characters to be given a visual makeover and still retain their personalities.
Logically, these rules would apply to just about any character design. If you think about Batman, Spiderman and their superhero fraternity, or the aforementioned Mario and Sonic, the same rules echo true. However, said rules are all the easier to follow when you have only one protagonist to focus upon. As I said before, Street Fighter II’s design team had to make eight individual characters work. The best validation for their efforts would be that the designs of the original eight world warriors still remain so strong and fully intact. You can still choose your character based upon how their visually expressed personality resonates with your own: something that is not easily achieved.
You have a man who wears the evidence of his bear-wrestling on his chest, another who has hair that defies gravity and reasonable logic, yet is somehow more believable, and memorable, than any of those Final Fantasy fops. Mix in a thunder-thighed Chinese police officer, a Brazilian wildman, a lunatic sumo and an Indian mystic along with our much-discussed martial arts experts and you have one of the most memorable and colourful casts ever assembled.
It’s probably apparent by now that I can wax lyrical about Street Fighter characters all day long but no matter how many big words I use and no matter how well I rationalise things and try to appear intellectual, my love for the World Warriors comes down to very simple emotions. Each and every one of them is cool: totally and utterly rad. As a boy I would draw them endlessly, dream of decent action figures and yet still put up with those horrible GI Joe style movie tie-in ones.
I still feel the same way about these characters as I did when I would obsess over the artwork covering my local arcade cabinet. They are the epitome of good character design and my desire to own decent action figures is one that still burns brightly even to this day.
Capcom’s flair for lasting, quality design goes way beyond their original eight street fighters. The four bosses retain the same iconic qualities of those that challenge them and throughout the series’ life span Capcom have continued to introduce a plethora of equally as impressive characters. However, as much as I may love the likes of Dudley, Gen and Ibuki, there is no-one quite like the original eight. Whilst Ryu and Ken, along with Gen, Adon and Sagat may have retained their images from the original Street Fighter, it was in Street Fighter II that we saw these images and personalities be forged.
It was Street Fighter II that captured my imagination unlike any other game before it and I will forever, stubbornly insist that it is the true, original Street Fighter game. That game cemented such strong and vibrant images and personalities into my consciousness and to have them awakened and sustained by Street Fighter IV is the greatest testament to the quality of their design. Like an old photograph, those characters evoke powerful emotions in me and without Capcom’s timeless design, such things would not be possible
Did you ever wonder what your particular choice of console said about you? Of course you did. Well, wonder no more as MSN's lifestyle channel is here with their unique brand of enforced self-evaluation. You thought you bought that PS3 because you wanted God of War 3? Think again, subconsciously you envy black men, assuming they all have massive johnsons and this is your form of over-compensation. Thought you bought that 360 because of Live and Left 4 Dead? Apparently not, you latent white supremacist, you. Don't even get me started on DS owners. Kiddie fiddlers.
MSN Dating claims that their guide to 'Boys and their toys' is an invaluable tool for the postmodern woman on the prowl. Why bother discovering your potential partner's personality for yourself, when the Internets is so kind to provide a simple guide to defining men through their purchases.
Ladies; want a loyal, early-adopter with a big bank balance, who demands nothing but the best from his technology, just as he does with his women? Then the PS3 owner is for you! He won't let you fuck around with his Littlebigplanet account though, because collaboration and creativity is for fags. He bought the biggest, blackest machine to serve as a metaphor for his personality, and his cock. He will fuck you roughly, and won't even ask before he puts it in your arse. You will enjoy this.
Ladies; want a fun, upbeat individual who likes it cheap and cheerful? Then the Wii owner is for you! The less he spends on his own hobbies means the more you can milk him for to fuel your own lust for commerce, right? Perhaps, or maybe he's just broke. You'd better get used to the sights and smells of Burger King. But that's OK, because he'll sweat all the filth out of his body by getting up off the sofa to play his waggle box!
Ladies; want a passionate, dedicated and socially active man? Then the XBOX360 owner is for you! His fascination with ultra-violent shooters and penchant for screaming threats of arse rape to his enemies are merely manifestations of his overwhelming passion. Let's not forget that such a passion will inevitably transfer to the bedroom! He enjoys the social aspect of gaming offered by XBOX Live. He just loves to be with friends, and in no way uses the service as a security blanket to curb his fear of genuine social interaction, or to escape from the fact that he thinks the rest of society comprises of around 90% filth and skunk pussy.
Read the real thing here, it's your funeral: