Foreword (had to add this recently to explain the context of the following content, people dont check the tags)
The following article is basically me, listing my thoughts on stuff. As such, take it with a grain of salt. All this crap came from my head. I have played each of the games I mention in the first paragraph, as well as Tekken. I have NOT played MVC3, which is mentioned later. Everything I wrote about these games has been opinion, so dont feel offended by it, rather try and convince me otherwise if you feel your favorite game has been misrepresented. I also only brought to light the aspects in the game that i felt were done very well, or deserve merit. This does not make a game good. I just think the ideas are. At the the bottom i have added a few appendixes (and if the replies are any to go by, there will be more appendixes to come). These explain some of my views. I have also amended various other parts in the article… its getting even longer.
Since the dawn of time men have been kicking each other?s asses. It?s what we do. Therefore, since the advent of video games, we have been continuing that grand tradition in digital form. The only problem is that the genre has not really changed much since then. Note that I refer here to the entire Fighting Game genre, and no particular game. I will, however, use quite a few series as reference. These include, in no relevant order, Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Dead or Alive, Marvel vs Capcom and a very special mention to Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and 4.
Now, my problem with fighting games is that the battle structure is still exactly the same. The basic components of a fight are attacking, defending and movement. Up to this point attacking has received the most attention, which is understandable when considering development limitations. The ?Game? has evolved though, and today we need some change.
What is new?
Now, when I say that the genre has yet to fully evolve, I don?t mean that the genre is still in a primal state. Over the years many changes have been made and today we are left with quite a few gems, most notably (in terms of pure innovation) BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, Dead or Alive (hate it or love it), Marvel vs Capcom and Naruto UNS. These games have all brought something new to the table and, regardless of public reception, deserve praise. Dead or Alive has a special place in my heart as it is the first game (IMO) to have successfully implemented counter-attacks into a fighting game. This should have been a HUGE step for the genre as a whole, seeing as it added a whole new element to the defence component, but only DOA fans seemed to appreciate the idea. Other games, both before and after DOA, have had counter-attacks (the earliest I can think of is the King of Fighters series) and most of the newer games include some sort of counter-ability. These are usually done while guarding so they do, in essence add depth to the guarding system. And although none of them will ever be able to compete with what DOA has accomplished (in terms of innovation), it IS a step in the right direction.
Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, DBZ and Naruto UNS have progressed, in leaps and bounds, the final component of battle. Movement. Good motion is also the main reason I like the King of Fighters series so much. Being able to run, do long jumps and evade rolls may not seem like too big a whoop, but it opened up a whole new world of strategy for skilled players (like I assume myself to be) to explore. Guilty Gear and BlazBlue had wonderful movement options allowing long and high jumps, double-jumps, aerial dashing and blocking, jump cancels, dashing and most notably a free-form combo system. Naruto and DBZ received special mention on this same topic, even though they are in a different category of fighting games, being that battle is done in three dimensions. The movement system in Naruto UNS is very fluid, albeit severely underused (actually its overshadowed by the noob-friendly attacks). DBZ Budokai had by far the best example of free-form motion in any fighting game I have seen. Your character could fly in any direction, dash anywhere and super-dash as well. You could even jump, pointless as that may seem. DBZ also went one further with this, allowing you to attack while doing the above mentioned coolness. There were various attacks for all your various dashes and even the useless jump had its own, unique attack? that?s pretty detailed. That is where Naruto UNS missed a few opportunities, their dashes are very restrictive, but they are still useful. Another game that may need honourable mention here would be Dissidia (have not played so idk lol).
Looking to the Future
You may have noticed that throughout the article I have neglected the mention of Marvel vs Capcom. That is because (once again IMO) it is the game which exhibits the future of fighting games the best.
Firstly, the attacking component has been done very well. The combo system is fairly easy to use, leaves enough room for quite a lot of innovation AND is fun. Stacked onto this the Hyper moves are all pretty well done, with lots of variation in type, range and effect. A further step is the addition of the tag team component, opening up lots of options for strategy as well as more combos. This gives the player quite a lot to work with. Strategies can be developed using certain combinations of characters, or you could just choose your favourite bad-asses and kick up a storm, MVC leaves this up to you.
Secondly, the motion system is quite well developed. Characters (most of them) can run forward as well as back-step. You have access to a wide range of aerial manoeuvres, some of which are combo-related, most of which are free-form.
The final component, defence, has always been the most neglected (save for DOA) and it does not fare any better in MVC. There are slight innovations implemented in MVC, the advancing guard in MVC3 being one of them (loved MVC1, never got to play MVC2). What could have been useful would be the emergency evade implemented in the King of Fighters series, where you could cancel your guard by roll-evading backwards or forwards (granted invincibility, negated block damage you would have taken, cost half a power gauge if I remember correctly). Small touches like these can make a huge difference to a skilled player who wants to improve above and beyond what the noob-spammers could ever be capable of.
What all this eventually boils down to is simple. If we can get people to accept the structure of games like MVC, Guilty Gear and Blazblue (to name only a few) as a norm, then things like aerial-dashing and free-form combos will stop being innovative. This means that developers will HAVE to think up newer, fresher and ultimately BETTER ways of keeping us, the fans, entertained. A lot of games may not need these changes, but the genre does need CHANGE. Viewed in this light I am sure that most of you can agree (in part or completely) with my vision. Things need to change… 'nuff said.
The final bits
Ok, in the entire article there was NO mention of either Tekken or Mortal combat. This is a personal preference thing, and if you are a fan of either of those two games read the next paragraph and NOTHING else!
Tekken is a great game, it has such a wide variety of characters and fighting styles. Mortal combat is the ish! Best kills ever, I love that game! Do NOT read the next paragraph.
Lol, the above was a lie. Now, my opinions on both of those games are based on my personal experiences with both. I HAVE played the games so I DO know what I am talking about. Tekken IS a great game, no arguments there. And I suppose most of my dislike of Tekken stems from the fact that it is more popular than both Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter. This has lead some people (idiots, fools, fudgeballs, wat?evs) to believe that Tekken is ?better? than those games. It is not, it is different.That is all.
Appendix a: My views on Tekken and Street Fighter
I got a crapload of flack about this so here are my views. I have a lot of respect for both these games, even though I do not like playing them. These two games are imo the core of their respective sub-genres (2D and 3D fighters). They are the pioneers that paved the way for every other title to reach this platform and they deserve all the fame they have. But I must stress the point that this article is about innovation in fighting games, not on the stable aspects that currently define the genre. That is why I have put the above-mentioned games in the spotlight, they each exhibit certain traits that have CHANGED the way we play. These changes are not always welcomed, but they are needed. We need to keep making mistakes so we can learn how to truly improve the genre.
On the point of DOA vs Virtua Fighter vs Tekken… I removed that whole sentence as it just invites trouble. Im a DOA fan and that has influenced me a lot, to the detriment of this article. I am sorry for this.
Appendix b: Pacing
The above article handles concepts used in games such as MVC3 (most notably) that are very fast paced. It has been brought to my attention that many people prefer a more technical approach to Fighters. A great example of this would be SF4, as far as I can tell. I think another section to discuss Tech Fighters is in order, so gimme some feedback and I will try to incorporate one in here, or just start a different thread about that topic alltogether. Alternatively, if some of you who are more knowledgeable on this topic started a Thread on the topic then that would be better all-in-all
Latest update - Added Appendix b