I enjoy fighter games. As I slowly creep into adulthood, I find that they're one of a few styles of game that I play somewhat consistently. Mortal Kombat
, you name it. I love it all. But when I started to think about it...I couldn't really explain why. If I were a gambling man, I would bet that several other fighter lovers out there would be caught in the same predicament. What is it that makes fighter games so easy to love? I can't put my finger on it. To be perfectly honest, these arcade style games shouldn't be loved at all.
What are the qualities of video games that most gamers crave? An interesting, captivating story line. Very few of the fighters that I've seen have this on their resume. While Tekken
has some good plot points, the overarching zaibatsu can actually get a tad redundant. The storylines in Mortal Kombat
don't go in depth as much as I would like them too, and they certainly are not bragging points of the series. Marvel vs. Capcom 3
doesn't even have a story mode. Just jump in and beat people up, there ya go. In a similar vein, gamers generally crave intriguing characters and rich character development. I think it's fairly obvious that this isn't on the list. I know that certain characters can be deep and dynamic, but most often they aren't examined closely enough to bring out that deepness. Mostly they remain as almost androids, built-in with a few taglines that most people skip anyway to get to the fighting.
Most gamers also nit-pick about game play: Mainly this breaks down to how intricate/simplistic it is. Now don't get me wrong with this one. I KNOW how complex that controls of fighters can be. Learning combos can get ridiculous and take hours to perfect. However, there's only so much that you can do when the environment is 2D and fixed within the parameters of an enclosed space. With more open environments, the possibilities could be absolutely endless. Again, quick disclaimer, do not take this as me bashing fighters. As I previously stated (in case you somehow, and Lord I hope you didn't or else I would judge you, forgot), I love fighter games. I really do. I'm simply looking at some of the common critiques of other styles of video games, and applying them here.
So what is it then? What makes fighter games so damn appealing to us fans? I have a few theories. For one thing, it allows us to test our skills and prove our superiority. This one is more of an observation than a theory, I suppose. People naturally have a competitive drive. It's built into our systems. For the person not physically fit enough for sporting events, fighter games let us vent this competitive instinct into characters that can kick your face in and shoot energy beams, but not without catch phrases (HAAAAAADOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUKEN). It's always a satisfying feeling when you kick the CPU's ass, or your friend's ass. Honing your skills and beating things up always adds to the fun. It probably makes up for all of the things it lacks I mentioned above.
Something else that I feel could participate is that fighter games can act as their own sort of social network. Think about it. One of the complaints about fighter games is that since they mainly have one static game mode, they get boring, and collect dust until your friends come over and play them. Now that games have better online capabilities, I think it's fair to assume that the majority of usage for these games is online combat. It's human interaction through the modem of badass characters kicking the crap out of each other.
To be fair, I may be biased with this assumption. I met one of my good friends through him kicking my ass at MVC 3
. Additionally, although it is an alternative style of fighter, the social life of me and my college suitemates essentially breaks down to Super Smash Bros. Melee
. Our lives are literally playing rounds of 3 stock Smash with each other until we need to go do work or sleep or whatever. It has been one of the main sources of my social interaction for a while now. I think it could be a contributing factor. Or maybe I'm just looking too deep into this.
Whatever the case, one thing is true: People like fighter games. I cannot say for sure what makes them memorable, but they are definitely memorable. And that's all I got ta say about that. Special thanks to Forrest Gump for that last line. And thanks to you for reading. To sign off, as will now be tradition, here is your reward picture, courtesy of Mr Bill Murray.