What to post on my Dtoid blog has been something I've been contemplating for awhile now. Should I rant about games I like? Should I talk about games I'm looking forward to? Should I explain why I don't like games that everyone else seems to like? Well, no offense to you people who do blog about those, but seeing as you guys all already do that, I don't really see a reason to throw my hat in the same exact ring. Instead I've decided on starting my own series of blogs: "Why I like The Genre", explaining, as a fan of these specific categories of games, why I seem to enjoy them for what they are and what makes them what they are.
First off, what exactly makes a video game a "Fighting Game"? Well, one thing you probably know already is that none of these category titles can be taken literally. Obviously, not every game in which you fight counts as a "Fighting Game". Fighting games, to me at least, are games where two opponents both control one character at a time (Though I'm sure I'm forgetting some indie Fighting game where you control two characters at once somehow), fight with set moves and with set health, and in an even (and often, but not always, unimportant to the gameplay) arena in real time. Sound vague? Well, it is, but that's not because anything can easily fit into the fighting game genre (you don't want to be in the middle of a "are Super Smash Bros games fighting games" debate), but because there's not much to them other than that combat.
I've been an avid fighting game fan since I bought Soul Calibur 2 for the GameCube, the day it came out (yes I'm one of those dirty non purists who believes that 3D fighting games are just as good as 2D ones). I knew nothing about the genre at the time, but I knew that all my friends were buying this game and that it had that dude from the Zelda games in it. In short, it sounded fun. It's been 6 years since that day, and Fighting Games have endeared themselves to me for much, much, more than for having that guy in Zelda in one of them.
Pro Tip: He actually sucks horribly in SC2
The first reason (or atleast, the first I was able to come up with) for why I love these games so much is a rather generic one- it's the competitive nature of the genre. The story modes, arcade modes, and most every other single player mode that the genre has had more or less exist for one reason: to sharpen your skill for player vs. player. Fighting Games are all about competition, they're all about being able to perfect that one move without messing up, giving your opponent an opening in order to tear yourself a new one. They're about knowing what to do against what character and when to do it. They're about all of that, and, of course, the bragging rights you earn after you beat your friends when you've all been training for way too long. Fighting Games, by nature, are all about the combat. The rest is just a side dish, an extra. They are competition at it's truest level- there are no random elements involved, just two players pitting their skills against one another.
The fact that the competition is the meat of the genre doesn't mean that nothing else is enjoyable about the games. Otherwise, I wouldn't have spent all that time on them when my friends weren't around, or when they had moved onto a new game. Now everyone knows that the Fighting Game genre has some of the absurd and ridiculous plots in all of video game history. It's just a fact that its fan have to deal with. While some of the more zealous fans will fight with everyone to the death about how if you read every piece of information ever given by the creators of the game, and every little note put into the special edition and the non canon comic books, you can put together an intriguing story and prove that the characters are fully dimensiona. I don't buy that. In fact, I revel in the comically bad stories that story modes this genre's games attempt to put together. It's kind of like those really badly dubbed old kung-fu movies, where you can laugh and enjoy just how nonsensical it is while being awed the over the top action, which is always prevalent.
Somewhere between the countless hours perfecting your strategy and the 10th playthrough of the short story mode for you main character you endure because you haven't gotten it quite perfect just yet, something magical happens- you start to actually like the cast. Okay, from an objective point of view- looking at what's in the games and nothing else (not counting the comics, animes, movies, and everything else that no normal person bothers to see)- there's hardly anything to the characters. Sure, they all tend to look really good, but that's just a cheap selling point of the genre, and doesn't make them good characters in any sense of the phrase. Despite that, if, in a room full of fighting game fans, you yell out "RYU!", most will instantly think "EPIC BAMF" (or "OMG BROKEN" if they were just beaten by a Ryu player). There might not be a whole lot to these people, but as you find out when you play a fighting game for a long time, their personalities are really shown by their fighting style. So, no matter how much it baffles people who don't get the genre, through the fierce competition that these games create, through all of the time spent practicing, and through the character's own unique styles that only become apparent as you spend more time on them, you really do end up liking them.
Fighting Games are a genre unlike the rest. They don't rely on epic stories or explosive action to rack up the sales, they have all they need- fantastic base combat. This is, in my opinion, the biggest pull for the fans. It's the hardest thing to overcome for those not already affiliated with the genre, and it's the reason Fighting Games will always hold a special place in my heart.