Locking characters in fighting games needs to stop

I apologize in advance. I need to rant, and I’m likely to get incoherent.

So I bought Street Fighter IV today, like everyone else in the free world. I picked it up before work along with the strategy guide, which as a quick digression, is pretty incredible. It even has frame data and tier lists. An excellent application of twenty bucks, even taking into account that the info is already free on the internet. Strongly recommended.

End digression.

On lunch break, I flip through the guide and discover that three of the characters I’m interested in learning, Gouken, Gen, and Cammy, are unlocks. In order to unlock them, you need to play through arcade mode with various characters. They are not available for play until you’ve beaten the game. Repeatedly. They’re not available in training. Not online. Not in arcade, or Vs. And Seth, the final boss that you must beat repeatedly? I’m finding him guilty of SNK Boss Syndrome. Fuck Seth. Even on easy.

So you can probably guess my beef, here. In order to access characters, even to practice against them or play them in training, I have to beat the game. How many times? Let’s count!

To get Cammy, win with C. Viper. = 1
To get Fei Long, win with Abel. = 2
To get Gen, win with Chun Li. = 3
To get Rose, win with Bison. = 4
To get Sakura, win with Ryu = 5
To get Dan, win with Sakura = 6
To get Akuma, you win with every unlockable character except Gouken. = 10 (you’ve already won with Sakura to unlock Dan, which I’m pretty sure counts…)
To get Gouken, win with Akuma = 11
And, to get Seth, you need to win with everyone else = 22.

Twenty two times through the arcade mode to unlock characters that are already part and parcel of the scene. Assume ten minutes playing through the arcade mode each time on easy with the number of rounds set to one. Assume that Seth doesn’t whack you real good a few times, and that each time through you never lose a round. That’s two hundred and twenty minutes, or a little over three and a half hours to unlock the characters you’ve already bought with real earth money.

Soul Calibur 4 halfway admitted that locking characters is bullshit by rigging the system so that you could buy the characters that start off locked in an hour or so of minimal effort. Maybe Capcom should have paid attention to that, because after three hours of trying to unlock the characters I want to play, I’m a little less than halfway through the list. That means that if I want to play as Gen or even Dan, God help us, I have to invest all the free time I’m likely to get for a week or so. That’s bullshit. I have two jobs. I’m the legal guardian of my kid brother. I write for a couple gaming sites. I have a girlfriend. To unlock the whole fucking game I just paid sixty bucks for, I now have to grind for a week.

Lock up alternate costumes. Lock up the sound test. Lock up the fucking ending movies and challenge modes. Lock up mini-games. Lock up the copy-cat character, or the goofy alternate weapons. Do NOT lock up characters in fighting games. These characters you’re locking up? Someone out there mains them. And if you do? don’t make it a stone solid bitch to unlock them.


OK. I feel better. The flaming may begin now.

I remember when I had more than an hour to play games every day.

Yeah, I was just complaining about this to someone else earlier. This is just stupid. Why do we need Fighting Games with locked characters?

yeah fuck unlocking shit. what pathetic soul buys a fighting game for the single player.

Ah, those were the days I bet lol. Most people, in your opposite spectrum would feel that a game that’s quickly beaten can get boring very easily. Kind of like the old DoA’s where you spent hours getting all the costumes. If they were all unlocked already, most of the single player replay value would be gone.

Still, I do agree with you on this point though. Characters should be accessible from the get go, costumes and other bonuses (like the unlockable accessories in the VF games or the unlockable clothing for custom chars in Soul Calibur) are optional stuff. Characters are actual things we need to improve on to get going in arcade mode.

But Capcom went the lame route, made you unlock characters and PAY for silly things like ONE extra outfit per char. I remember DOA3 and the 8 different outfits I could get per character, inga

Are they still locked even when you go online?!

Oh well, some developers get it, some don’t… but that’s gaming today man. I’m actually surprised you still play games with such a tight schedule. Not many games out there very accommodating for that kind of thing. Not even shooters are that casual.

I like the notion that they have DLC that lets you unlock everything at once for some small fee. I’m lazy as hell and I’m OK with that. Put some big warning saying “YOU DO NOT NEED THIS. THIS WILL HAPPEN NATURALLY.” But then if you’re going to do that, you’d want them time-released after XXX time or people will bitch heartily. Not that they won’t bitch anyways. Call it the “Instant Tournament Readiness Pack” or something. =\

Bear in mind that this unlockable stuff is these days tons better than the hidden character designs in Alpha 3 or MSHvsSF or MvC1. Or even MvC2, where if you don’t have a save file or know the secret arcade code, your life sucks. This is definitely an area that can improve, but it’s better than it has been.

The timelock on MVC2 was a nightmare and the guy who invented it should be shot.

Seriously, did ANYONE actually “enjoy” that other than the random sadistic arcade operator?

If you think this is bad play your average racing game these days: You pay $60 for 3-5 cars and 2-3 tracks until you spend hours and hours jumping through stupid hoops and earning cash or points to unlock things.

You won’t even get a real car that actually goes fast or a fun track until you’ve spent weeks playing the game on and off in your free time.

It’s complete BS.

Unlocking really sucks in an arcade style game – I was hoping the achievements would replace them for the people who like a carrot dangling in front of them, but I’m incredibly disappointed it hasn’t.

The only thing that should be locked is the ending movie and maybe an art gallery – THAT’S IT.

Ono said he didn’t want to make characters downloadable because then other people can’t play them. Well he should have known locking them was ALMOST just as bad.

Maybe if you guys start a thread over at capcom you can get enough support for to have everything unlocked at start and put them in training mode either in a patch or all future copies.

MvC2: You know that there’s a secret code to unlock it in four steps, right?

The story of the Cannons flipping the quarter switch several thousand times to unlock everybody as fast is possible is up there with my favorite “bad system design” stories ever. Anybody who’s done that trick (I did it too, before I got that doc from Capcom when I asked politely) has my sympathy. That sucked ass. :lol:

I like character locks personally, just one more thing to accomplish. Bit more of a sense of accomplishment to the game too. Can’t see how this a big deal personally, it just requires playing a game that’s fun in order to unlock them.

I totally agree, but in a fighting game, the single player isn’t all that important anyway. People, especially people such as the fine folk of SRK, play primarily against other people online.

It’s just gotten that bad recently, and won’t be as bad in a couple months. I have two articles overdue, my brother joined the crew team, and the girlfriend is sick. That’s why a few rounds of HD Remix or Guilty Gear or whatever is so perfect: it’s pick up and play.


The commenters here do.


It gives the more casually oriented players, generally the ones who know very little about SF and fighting games in general, incentive to keep playing the game.

Besides, its not like its going to take 20 hours to unlock everything, and once its done its done.

It is a headache for tournament purposes though.

Or for any casual play where your favorite character has to be unlocked before you can play them – ie, no pick up and play or taking it to your friend’s place.

The people who play games for the story will play the game just for the ending movies so there is nothing lost by not locking the characters.

At the very least they should only be locked in Story mode.

Actually,getting Akuma only takes 7 1P mode beatings.

6 with the right characters to unlock the first 6 console-exclusives, then clear a 7th with one you’re good enough with to achieve the conditions (Psst: Try Easiest level), those being two Perfects and two Ultras, with no continues. The CPU on Easiest dies for free to pure rushdown. Fighting and defeating Akuma unlocks him.

Gouken, though, takes 9 total. The Akuma unlock, another 1P romp with Akuma, and then meeting the conditions for facing Gouken (1P a second time with a cleared character, 2 Perfects and 3 Ultra Finishes, no continues). Defeat Gouken to unlock him.

Seth, unfortunately, really sucks to get to show. Best I can suggest is Easiest difficulty, one round matches, 30-second rounds, 'cause you’ll need to run through 1P mode with everyone else.

After getting SF4 at the local gathering, it only took a couple hours to get all but Seth.

It’s just a really stupid way of making people play arcade mode. For 3s, the only console-exclusive character was Gill and he was banned in tournaments. Beating arcade mode with every character to unlock him was such a boring chore for so little reward that I don’t know anyone who bothered. I wouldn’t mind if you had to do all this effort to unlock Shin Akuma or someone else who will clearly be banned from tournaments, CvS 2-style. But this is just adding replay value to a game that doesn’t need it because no one is buying it for the single-player, and even the people who are will probably get frustrated before they unlock everyone. Especially as regular Akuma is already unlocked on the consoles.

I agree. I don’t want to unlock anything. I don’t even want to play anything by myself except for maybe training. When I play a fighting game I want to play as any character in the game. It isn’t fun to unlock any character, ever. I just feel sngry at the excessive waste of time that isn’t fun at all. Boss characters make things even worse.

I think all games should just have debug menus that allow you to instantly unlock everything.

The developers could put in whatever unlocking or time releasing system they want in place for the people to go through and experience the first time they play the game or whatever, but players should also just have the option of just instantly unlocking everything. I think I have the willpower to not use that switch in single player games until I have gotten all the entertainment value I can out of it.

It’s like if you paid for a DVD and couldn’t use chapter select because you hadn’t watched the earlier scenes of the movie yet and hadn’t “earned” the right to see them.

i personally don’t mind having characters that are locked. Its having to play through the game with some character that I’ll never use again because I hate everything about them…and then having to fight some bull boss at the end that bugs me. In DOA4 I wasn’t willing to learn how to play with a lot of the characters (at least not at first) and all I was trying to do was unlock all the characters. But the designs decide that I have to fight some bogus boss with a character I don’t know??

Its one thing to make someone do something hard to get a character (i’ve never complained about having to beat a game on a harder mode to gain a character…just forces you to get good with one of the “early” characters)…its another to bash their brains into submission by having to play as 20+ characters who you hate just to unlock the character you might want.

In theory this sounds fine, but some games have really crappy menus and you don’t want to be digging through them just to be able to find the switch to unlock a certain character.

There is no point to locking a char in versus or training.

Why would you want to earn the right to play with other people or practice with the content that you bought?