I've heard gamers tell me they don't like fighting games. And I look at them with this face that says "They still make you?". (I say in jest, even the most hardcore among us have genre's games that we have a hard time appreciating.) But to the fans of the genre, there is something about a good fighting game isn't there? It's the thrill of battle, taking down an opponent with skill, and knowing that no matter how good you are, you can always be beaten. Some of my fondest gaming memories revolve around when I would play fighting games with my friends on a couch.
Almost a required accessory for Dreamcast
I've always been a fan of Capcom fighters in particular. Their quirky Japanese games have a great feel to them. And I think they were at their best on the PS1 Saturn and Dreamcast. For whatever reason, they were on fire back then. So many great series came from such a short period of time. We have Street Fighter Alpha 1-3, Street Fighter III, Rival Schools, Project Justice, Darksalkers 1-3, Marvel/Marvel Vs. Games, Capcom vs. SNK 1-2 and Power Stone 1-2. In my my mind this was a golden era for fighters and If you've never got to check out some of these games I strongly suggest you do.
But it wasn't just Capcom who was putting out great games, there was a 3D revolution going on, and fighters were no exception. The Tekken and Virtua fighter games also were born out of this era. The fierece competition between these two back in the day made for a better series of games. And while they started out somwhat similar, both series have evolved in their own ways, and have plenty to offer those who are willing to invest the time to learn them.
There were other successful franchises born in the late 90's like the Soul series. But there's also some forgotten ones too. People tend to forget about games like Battle Arena Toshinden, Last Bronx, Fighters Megamix, and Fightin Vipers. And unlike a lot of games of that era, they have aged rather gracefully.
A great fighter that time has forgotten...
I also want to talk about my fighting game philosophy. I feel like back in the day developers took the time to put in a single player experience into fighting games, and today online has basically replaced that. While I think online is great, and is now a staple of the genre (unless you're making a PC port of Dead or Alive, zing!) I don't feel I should have to sacrifice a single player component in order to get that.
Single player is still very important because it teaches you how to play the game, it gives you content to unlock and can even give you the backstory of the characters. One of the best examples of a single player experience is Soul Calibur II. By the time you finished the mission mode, you were proficient, with at least half the roster of fighters. You learned things like how to force the ring out, evade unblockables, use all the different types of weapons, and beat enemies when the odds were stacked against you. If you can clear 100% mission mode, you can hang with anyone, online or off.
I also have a philosophy on non traditional fighters, that is to say, they're great. Not all fighters have to be about draining the other persons heath the fastest. Smash Bros, for instance is about as non traditional as it gets. I love all the little nuances the game has. There's lots of strategies you can learn, and even if you know how to play, there's plenty of little tricks that seperate the average player from the expert. Learning how to use the items, things like edge guarding, and smash attacks make this a fighter that is deceptivley deep. I do wish that the new Smash would bring back some of the more advanced techniques found in Melee, but it's still a great game for noobs and experts. And that is the mark of a great fighter.
Finally, I feel like a fighter, should have options/modes. That's something that makes Smash all that more appealing is being able to play how you want. Don't like a certain item? Turn it off. Don't like time battle? Go for stock battle. I loved being able to earn costumes and accessories for my fighter in Viruta Fighter, or being able to level up my character in Street Figher Alpha 3. Even though I didn't like paying for the extra content, the extra characters and content added to Street Fighter IV over the years made it a compelling fighter througout the generation.
My body is ready...
In a nutshell, that's why I love fighters. At their core they may seem like straightforward affairs, but when made right, they can be a game you will always have in your rotation. Hell I still go back and play Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Street Fighter II to this day. That's staying power.
So what do you guys think? What's your favorite fighter? Are you stoked for the new Mortal Kombat coming out? Are you still playing Killer Instinct or DoA 5? Sound off in the comments below.