This past weekend I was down at a little gathering. Nothing huge, but there was a spat of stalls with sellers and artists all sat around rocking their wares to the eyes of the many passers by. There was also a PS3 set up in a corner with a chap offering a mock-arcade experience, the screen displaying the joys of fighting games as people stepped up to engage in a little winner-stays-on frivolity.
Naturally, like an under-energised working man to a caffeine rich beverage, I galloped up to the seat. Before you make assumptions this isn’t set to be a tale of overcoming some bully, or meeting an equal. In fact it was I who sat down and trounced a series of challengers without a drip of trouble, so I suppose I was the bully… So no, this is, instead, a cautionary realisation of the problems with the Super Bar.
Now, I’ve been playing fighting games for many years and, to me, the super bar is a tool to be used at the right time. The entire mechanical duty of these meters is that they build as a scruff goes on so that, later on in the fight, the players will have an expendable resource with which to generate a comeback or embellish an offence in unexpected ways. To me, a super meter is not something to be thrown away willy nilly because ‘it looks cool’.
But that – to the detriment of the game – was exactly the opinion of the crowd at this screen. When I sat down the game in play was Injustice, a scrapper that sees characters punched through the moon and other fighters run around the globe to punch you in the chops. Now, don’t get me wrong, the super moves look funky, but the activation and visual flair of these attacks took precedence over the core fisticuffs.
Here’s the difference – when I see someone launch a super when the other guy is clearly going to be able to block, I give a sort of concerned golf spectator breath intake and head shake. When these guys saw me block a super, they let out clear, audible disappointment.
The super didn’t hit, well that’s that game ruined.
It’s distracting. That’s my point, it’s an attention hog. Just like the fatalities in the original Mortal Kombat these overblown visual spectacles become the lure and focus of the game rather than the actual fighting. Who cares about investing in the combat mechanics when, in ten seconds, we’re going to see The Joker bazooka someone point blank in the face!? This is all the more annoying because, unlike those old Mortal Kombat cabinets, Injustice is actually a good fighting game!
Then Street Fighter IV went on. First question? ‘How do I do this guys super attack?’ I did try to explain the mechanics, I tried to break it down, but when you have to do more than just pull the triggers to see the funky auto-battering then it’s not as good, apparently.
This is just quite the insight. Are super meters really that complex, or am I just that prudish? Surely it’s good that people are enjoying a fighting game at all? But, honestly, could we ever expect these bleeting extravaganza junkies to really invest in the games properly? Shoryuken.com recently asked the question ‘what’s a good fighting game to introduce people to the genre’, and quite a few people mentioned classic Street Fighter II. Their reason? No super meter. I suppose, now, I’d have to agree…
Sony took the time on stage yesterday to show off a new trailer for Guilty Gear Xrd, with a lovely PS3 and PS4 logo showing beforehand. Now I’m not one to jump the gun (ok, I am), but if Guilty Gear Xrd is a Sony exclusive, then my next-gen purchase just become a whole lot more complicated.
The reason the Xbox One was so tempting was because Microsoft essentially came out and said ‘look, here’s a fighting game, we’re supporting fighting games’. That was a message straight to my heart, a bandage hastily wrapped around the cracks forming from other announcements at the time. Everything since has just been another plaster, but Killer Instinct did a good deal with the initial treatment. It was looking like Xbox One was the way to go to get the most fighting games.
If Guilty Gear Xrd is, indeed, a Sony exclusive (and don’t forget, BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma is launching exclusively on PS3), then that Sabre Wulf shaped bandage will become largely moot. Just look at Guilty Gear! It’s gorgeous! This is a full on, sumptuous sequel to X2 that seems to contain everything I loved about the series but with a glossy modern sheen. And I’d want to play it in full, sexy, next-gen-o-vision because, being a fighter, I want tip top performance. What’s more, it’s coming to PS3 as well, probably cross play, meaning the community could be bigger sooner.
Hell, JoJo’s sold well in its first week and that’s a similar looking fighter. Sure it’s got animé hype, but these sorts of fighters sell on PS3, so it’s less of a gamble than Killer Instinct.
This week we take Skullgirls PC online for a few rounds of high flying art deco kicks.