So I was watching the Salty Cupcakes stream and listened to the conversation between Mike Z and Maximillian talking about the good old days of gaming. My first impression is that these guys are total dinosaurs, the fact that I understood everything they were talking about made me feel old myself.
The first thing that I find interesting about Mike Z’s personality, is that there is no off switch on his game designer brain. I never heard a person dislike a game based purely of the how the developers implemented their hit stun deterioration mechanics. And not surprisingly, Mike loves games that are extremely technical (MvC2, GGXX, 3rd Strike). He’s good at most games, and even talked about how he was winning tournaments with Zangief in SF4, but he wasn’t enjoying it. Even though SF4 is clearly one of the most popular fighting games, Mike Z seems to dislike it solely due to it’s design.
However, I disagree his conclusion that today’s fighting games are more “dumbed down” is due to the fact that the developers are lazy or don’t play their own games. The truth is that even though I agree that the time of MvC2, GGXX, and 3rd Strike were the golden years of gaming, these games will never return. The problem with making a fighting engine extremely deep and technical is that incidentally it’s also much more difficult to play! The designers of GGXX themselves said that their game was too complex, which is why they designed Blazblue to be much more simplified version of GGXX, and I know a lot of GG players (all?) hate BB.
Basically, these badly designed new generation of fighting games with mechanics that arbitrarily restrict player skill sound horrible from a game design perspective, but they are also incredibly popular and profitable with newer players. Now Skullgirl’s design makes a lot more sense to me. It’s not really simply a niche doujin fighter with marvel mechanics, it’s literally a homage (revival?) to old school fighting games.