Pin on Fighting Games and Buddy Fics

Why do we choose to write fanfics for fighting games? There are other mediums already rife with built-in characterization and intricate plotlines. There’s anime, film, comics, and even inside the video game realm, RPGs and adventure games have stories that are richer than fighters. But thinking about it, that’s probably why we prefer to write stories for fighting games more than any other genre for fanfics: fighting games leave just enough open to interpretation.

I remember reading this theory on video games about sprites. You see, back when we played RPGs on the Super Nintendo, we were exposed to overhead perspectives, with characters standing next to each other and talking. The theory goes that what we see in 2D graphics is a representation of what is actually happening: like in literature, how we interpret what’s going on with images in our own heads? The same holds true with the old games we played. Look at Pac-Man: do you really think Pac-Man was a featureless yellow mouth that gobbled rainbow colored ghosts in symmetrical black mazes? Or Donkey Kong: do you really think Mario persued Pauline in a New York City that lacked any sort of visible horizon?

Video games back then were acinematic; you were presented a representation of the events that occured, and you were compelled to reimagine them with your own images that were possibly even more legitimate than the action on screen. This graphic minimalism leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Now, think back to fighting games. True, the graphics for Street Fighter II were state of the art at the time, but we’re still given an abstraction in the form of its narrative. Through in-game quotes and endings, we can piece together a storyline that we interpret on our own. You almost never see any of the background story that goes behind a game; instead, those scenes have their blanks filled in by you, the gamer and the viewer.

How does this affect fan fic writers? Well… you can make fighting game characters your own. You can’t pin down a fighting game character from his or her canon source; what you can do is interpret the personality of the character through his quotes, his intro animations, his attacks, his endings… and finally, and this is the most important part, the way the character plays. Because fighting game engines are inherently complex, there’s usually a variety of ways a character can be played, which holds that two seperate players can leave with two totally different impressions of that character. (Unless it’s Marvel. Then you’re either trying to play like Buktooth or SooMighty.)

The fighting game encourages you to have a unique experience, and come back with your own interpretation of it. It wants you to be yourself, to fight only as you would fight.

That’s why writing a fighting game fanfic is a unique experience to the fanfic writer. My interpretation of, say, Akuma, is completely different from yours. And they’re both legitimate, because there is no correct interpretation of Akuma or any other fighting game character out there. To me, a fighting game shares much more in common with the spirit of a traditional role playing game, than modern RPGs today.

With that said, I’d like to move on to the dynamics of dual-character interaction, or what I’d like to call the “buddy fic.”

Buddy stories work because they revolve around two characters who depend on each other, despite being near-polar opposites. There’s an instant conflict when working with, say, Batman and Superman: Batman is the introvert, Superman the extrovert. One dwells in darkness, the other in the light of day. One is feared, the other is loved. They aren’t always on the same level, but they know they have to cooperate with each other.

More in tune with the spirit of the “buddy flick,” let’s look at Lost in Translation. We have Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansen. Bill is an old, disconnected male American celebrity who finds Japan rather silly, but he’s just quiet about it. Scarlet is a young female photographer’s girlfriend who kind of finds Japan silly too, but she’s a bit more integrated into it. They pair up and they go on a listless, unremarkable journey about isolation that’s strangely more about peace than lonliness.

Now, this is a story about a male and female buddy. This type of buddy relationship can only be platonic if the two characters have significant differences between them. Otherwise, it’ll be Bill Murray trying to sleep with Scarlet Johansen. In this case, and in most cases, it’s their age that is the barrier.

With this in mind, I’d like to say that I’m much more fond of buddy flicks than romance. In romance, the two principal characters are in a conflict of control in their relationship. While the man tries to woo the woman, or the woman tries to win the man, they hardly ever get the chance to see the other character for who they really are. It’s superficial in my eyes. But the buddy flick? The characters are on the same level; one doesn’t control the other, even if the relationship has a de facto hierarchy, like student and teacher. Both learn, and both teach.

It’s like A Better Tomorrow, that classic John Woo HK gunfest. The relationship between Ho and Mark is legitimate. Their brotherhood is real. The relationship between Ho’s younger brother Kit and Kit’s fiance isn’t. It’s almost a mockery set against the devotion between Ho and Mark. Woo specializes in this kind of male bond. It’s not homosexuality, of course: it’s true friendship. A relationship devoid of ulterior motives. That’s why I see friendship as more legitimate than romance in narrative work.

I’ll continue this later today with a write up on Akuma and B.B. Hood, and another fighting game relationship I adore, Makoto and Ibuki. In the meanwhile, just feel free to discuss the topics.

Very good analysis. That’s exactly the way I feel about writing fighting game fanfics. The Makoto and Ibuki relationship is interesting because in 3s there is no dialogue between the two, but it is canon-ly known that they are friends. And I think they are the classic buddy archetype of the hard-edge serious type and the goofy, playful type. Also, 48 Hrs. is the best buddy movie ever.

You’ve nailed most of it, Pin. I like writing Fan Fics on fighters, mainly versus games because of the crossover craziness and and I am an action junky. Writing a five page battle to me is fun, looking up game moves and adding combos, things of that nature are all great for me anyway. Well, I’m a big John Woo fan, looove non stop action and Dragon Ball Z style 20 episode fights, lol! And since it’s a fighter I feel I can get away with long drawn out battles, seems to work for me.

For versus games we usually get a blueprint of what happened if even that, seems like none of the companies involved want to reveal who won against who and leave it up to the fans. There’s plenty of room for you to play in unlike say, writing a fic for an RPG. So I try to take into account the storylines of both characters, however things change, and some of the ‘implied’ match ups games come up with are like… “What are you smoking? There’s no chance in Hell character A can win against character B without dying!” but I try to make it as believable as possible within the world of the story, and no matter how silly the fight is I don’t think anyone wants to read a 2 second fight, thinking these scenarios up, that in itself is hella fun! Figuring out how the heck Ryu can beat up Blackheart in a believable way (though you get a fan fic writing curve of course, but you can’t say he won with an LP and MP 2 hit blow I feel) just gets the ol’ brain working… And sometimes the characters used for the games are quite different than they really are. Like for example, Birdy (Sabertooth’s helper) seems to have a slight accent to me when she says, “Yeah boss!” where she’s never had that in the comics, but I decided to run with it for the fic, have her say ‘tryin’’ instead of ‘trying’ and stuff. And I’ve never seen Silver Samurai wield the elements like he does in the games, or people yell out stuff like “Berserker Barrage!” before they did said move so people change once they are in a vs. game a bit. So you have things to play around with, almost like ‘new ground’ not seen in any of the comics and things of that nature, so when/if you decide to have to do a fight with 2 Marvel characters facing off you can also do it a bit differently than Marvel has done (plus we don’t have to worry about censorship, so Wolvie can make people bleed bright red crimson blood unlike comics with that BS brown/black blood and American X-Men cartoons…)

With let’s say Capcom characters you don’t have to much to draw from, you can look at Animes, mangas, comics and games, storylines, etc. but at the end of the day it’s what the character represents to you I feel, and if you’re putting the fic here at SRK, you should try not to make the characters look too bad I would think. But there’s SF info out there, if your dealing with say, MVC1 or 2 and have to deal Hayato, Jin Saotome, Chariot, Michele Heart, it will get pretty tricky to get into their heads if that’s your goal… at best you can get a gist of what the characters are.

And their’s a balancing act I play, trying to make the heroes of both universes look good, because for example, if you just write something about Universe A kicking Universe B’s Ass up and down the street, it makes for a pretty boring story to me. And here, you’ve pissed off half of your audience. In the end though, you just can’t have every character win every battle and please everybody, so you make the best of it, try to show everyone in their best light. But you get a little curve here for example with Capcom characters, seems to me most people here want to see them do well, if you were writing on a Marvel forum you might swing the pendelum back to the Marvel side a bit. But it’s best you try to balance outcomes as best as you can.

With Marvel characters or well-known characters for example there’s lots to base stuff on but lots of these characters are written by many different writers and are handled differently from person to person. So at best I try to take what I like about the character and leave out what I don’t like however it fits with the confines of the story. For example, US Agent went through a time period where he was bitching about everything, that aspect is more fun for me than the standard “I’ll just try to fit in and crap” approach to US Agent shown later on. And you have like characters like Gambit who have been portrayed both Godly and sucky… I try for a kind of in-between because heaven knows for vs. Capcom stories Marvel doesn’t need another God Tier character…

The research for me, looking up old comics and reading them and trying to dig up what I can on Capcom characters is fun. It’s 100% unnecesary since it’s a fan fic but I enjoy it, it helps me to get into the character’s heads a bit as you try to get a grasp of what the character can and can not do.

Ah, don’t think I’m a great writer or anything since I do it for fun above all else. And I don’t think our storyline threads are enough to keep this forum alive so we can always use more fan fics on just about anything I feel.

Haven’t contributed anything to Fighter X in a while… But I’ll get back to it eventually, working on other things and yeah still researching MSH vs. SF AKA reading/trackign down lots of back issues but I want to kick that off in August. Well if all goes…

Hmm, guess I sidetracked and went off into more ‘versus’ fics, ah well, it’s a slow Monday here at work…

Writing Fan Fics / stories on other stuff -

Me, I’m pretty much what I see in the game is what happens, except for kind of obvious stuff that doesn’t happen like people finding free lives, someone knocking over a garbage can and finding a hot dogs to power up, stuff like that. But especially for Fan Fics you lack visuals to describe everything that is going on, but you can try to get a feeling for what happens.

When mangas tell stories of video games that are not fighters, they take what they can and fit it into their world. I always see them as different from what happened in said games. Like, take the Megaman Battle Network manga. MM defeats the final boss with one critical blow. Okay, you can’t do it in the game. But I also don’t expect to see the manga redraw him shooting the guy with the same exact blow 20 times, though that’s how I imagine it happening. Course there are games where you are fighting a human being, in the game you have to shoot and stab him 100 times and then the FMV shows this person beaten yet alive/unharmed, but it’s part of that constant dance with gameplay and the game’s story.

Now whenever I see a Legend of Zelda manga, there’s a bunch of stuff that never happens in the games. Dungeon exploration is almost non existent, Link gets a bunch of friends to help him team up and beat the baddie, of course the game is not like that. It seems like a much harsher fit putting something as detailed and complex as Zelda into a manga, but the works in themselves seem to manage.

I suppose in the end for fan fics based on games you have to get a feeling for what’s going on and more importantly, a feeling for the characters and the games themselves. But I haven’t come across (nor have I looked really) for fan fics that deal with exactly what happened in a video game that’s not a fighter, we will usually get before, after, a snippet during, or something that’s really fan fictiony like a crossover, a romance, things like that. It seems to me for fighters it’s much easier to tell the story of a game, there’s a lot less to take into consideration. But if you’re writing say, Castlevania and depict the final battle as Simon just staking Dracula… there’s plenty of stuff he can do in the games that you can play around with. Of course there is no right or wrong when it comes to fan fics, but I think you have to try to make it true to what the gamer experiences. That’s why, at least to me… IDW’s Castlevania comic blew chunks.

I would love to attempt a Canon Spike fic, but I’m super anal, will include every bullet by every random thug shot in the game and balance it with back stories of how the characters met and stuff… and perhaps toss in more dialog like Cammy/Balrog discussions… well thank goodness for the game’s short stages… maybe that would be a future project.

Man, it’s a sloooow Monday at work…