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The Fighting Game Formula, and why its broken.

Upon getting Tekken 6 today, my love for fighting games was rekindled, with its amazing animations, graphics and overall presentation really blowing me away. I'm more than happy with the game overall, and it has really made the series shine compared to previous instalments. However, it has more than anything made me realise how much I hate the fighting game formula, and has got me questioning why the rules of this formula are followed to this day. I'm going to try and describe what I feel the "fighting game formula" is, and the gripes I have with this somewhat dated and annoying system.

1. Easy first round, brutal second and third.

We all know the first few rounds and matches of a fighting games arcade mode are there to set you into the swing of things, and get a general overall feel for the game and its mechanics. It also gives the computer time to analyse your fighting style to make the later stages more challenging. When these later stages arrive however, a particular pattern can be recognised. The game is lenient with you in the first round allowing you to walk over the computer with a level of ease. This sets you in the mind frame that the fight will remain at this easy level for its entirety, and you will progress onto the next stage. WRONG. The computer then randomly becomes a master and serves your ass faster than you can swear in anger. Then the difficult seems to even out in the final round to the challenging difficulty the whole match should have been at. Now this annoys me, as this is universally done across all fighting games, including Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, Tekken and Soul Caliber. Don't get me wrong, I love a challenge and love the feeling of accomplishment when I finally get over a hurdle in a game, but leading the player on just to kick there ass later on is a little unfair. I'd much prefer it if the game stuck at one challenging difficult and handed my ass to me from the get go, rather than leading me on into thinking I have a chance.

2. The Large Impossible End Boss Battles

Why has this become a must in all fighting games? Every single one of them now feels that they have to have some overly powered boss character as the end battle to the arcade mode. SF4 has Seth, Tekken 6 has Azazel, Tekken 5 had Jinpachi, DOA 4 had that hovering overpowered clone of Kasumi that could teleport. Yes they may add a cinematic or climatic end to the game, but for me, they are just an annoyance to the end of what should have been a consistently challenging arcade mode. There is nothing more crushing than battling your way through the arcade mode of a thoroughly good fighting game, just to come up against an overpowered boss that can do attacks that it shouldn't be able to, and can waltz all over you. Yes I said I liked a challenge before, but something like this breaks out of what a fighting game "should be". I would much prefer a more difficult standard character to play against, rather than some mystical monster, or modified superhuman. This fact alone has killed the Arcade mode for me in Tekken 6, as it has basically 2 of these fights at the end of its arcade mode. 2!! It was bad enough with one in other games, but I guess they felt they needed to top the competition. Thatís not to say that Tekken 6 isn't a good game, but thatís another article.

3. I know what you are going to do, before you do it.

Fighting games are notorious for this, taking the users inputs and reacting to them before they can pull off the move onscreen. The computer will always have the advantage over you, as it is the device controlling what happens while the game is being played. If you do a particular move, the game will be able to recognise this, and set up the best counter attack faster than humanly possible. And it will do this randomly to make the game appear "harder". Now I've got no issues with this if the computer uses it to set up a counter strategies that still gives you a chance, but itís when current fighting games counter EVERY SINGLE MOVE you make perfectly, and comes back with the best attack possible. Take an experience I had earlier on Tekken 6. I was beating Xiayou 1 round to nothing, and halfway through the second round I have her down to half health. The computer then suddenly decides that it wants to beat on my ass, and not allow me to win, even though I currently am the better fighter. So Xiayou blocks everything I throw at her, and comes back with a massive combo followed by a comprehensive juggle to boot, flooring me in practically one motion. Unfair, to say the least, and really drains from the overall experience. All fighting games do this, and it needs to stop.

4. Large rosters of characters lead to inconsistency.

Getting a little off topic here, but itís a point I would like to raise. Fighting games do not need overly large rosters of characters. Simple as. I would much prefer a game with 8 characters that were all unique, rather than making duplicate characters with the same fighting style and move sets. Street Fighter is the worst for this, with characters such as Ken, Ryu, Sean and Dan all control in practically the same way, give or take a few moves here or there. Tekken also today has started making duplicates, if a little more subtly. For example, Anna and Nina are practically the same character, barring maybe their appearance and a couple of moves. Armour King and King are also very close in appearance and moves. Hell, at a push, Hwoarang and Baek could be seen as very similar characters. By knocking out these duplicates and refining the main characters, the game would overall feel like a more concise package. These similar characters only cause inconsistencies, with some being labelled as overpowered, and making it harder to keep all characters of a similar level or quality. Blazblue did a perfect job of making each character unique, while keeping them all very equal in quality and damage.

Again, I still love fighting games, but its this overall formula that crops up in every single title that keeps me from loving them fully. Just please, developers, take out the large boss battles, take out the unfair advantage, slim down the rosters of characters, and overall make a fair fighting game that all players can enjoy.

Sorry for ranting. (:
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About Xiofireone of us since 11:28 AM on 01.06.2008

Hi there.
My names Chris. I'm 16 and I live in jolly old England.
I like video games, much like yourself.
I also like chocolate brownies and digestives.
Lets be friends yeh?

Xbox LIVE:Xiofire
PSN ID:Xiofire
Steam ID:Xiofire


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