I recently downloaded Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition from PSN because, why not? It was free for PS+ subscribers. This would be my first fighting game besides Super Smash Bros. Brawl that I would try to play and get good at. Now, I went in fully knowing that it would be an uphill battle. I mean, the genre is certainly not known for it's accessibility. However, I didn't quite know just how uninterpretable it would end up being.
I've spent the past week putting an hour or so in every day trying to get to a level where I can get past the 3rd fight on Very Easy Arcade. 95% of that has been spent going over the trial for Ibuki over and over and practicing moves constantly. I still feel as if I haven't improved much since my second day. This can be blamed on a variety of things; my lack of an arcade stick, zero experience with the genre before, frustration, etc. However, I think there is a much bigger reason why it is the way it is. I think a lot of it can be pointed at the lack of an adequate tutorial.
Nowadays, tutorial is a dirty word. It carries with it a stigma of poor design and just weighing the player down when they first start playing. Why are you telling them what to do when you could cleverly show them? While that may be true for many games, I don't think it applies to the more technical games out there. Sadly though, those are the games that almost never have a tutorial. Starcraft, Dota, Street Fighter, the list goes on. This is not a good thing.
Now, to be fair, Street Fighter IV has a tutorial... kinda. It has a practice mode and a series of trials for each character that can teach you the various moves of a character. However, they do nothing to explain game concepts like EX moves, cancelling, and links. I didn't even know how to block an attack without consulting a YouTube tutorial series. I've since been informed that the manual explains all this, and it may well do so. At least, it would, if I had bought a physical copy instead of downloading it. This is where a tutorial can step in.
An in-game explanation of game concepts is almost a necessity for highly technical, system heavy games like Street FIghter. Even if I had the manual, I wouldn't know what a cancel or EX move looks like. This is where a tutorial steps in. Instead of just hoping what I'm doing is correct I can be told that I'm doing it right, Instead, I have nothing.
Why am I irritated by this? I don't really know. I mean, I could just stop playing, but that would only be closing me off from an entire style of games that have always fascinated me. Until then, I guess I'll just have to slowly truck along.
Oh, by the way, and this is a minor thing, but I find it really interesting that Skullgirls, a small indie downloadable fighting game has a functional and actually quite useful tutorial while the premier fighting games lack that. Oh well, if I weren't broke and was completely sure I might fully get into fighting games, I would buy it.