What Fighting Games Get Wrong

The tutorial. There, saved you an article to read.

JK, keep reading.

Now, understand where I’m coming from. If you don’t care, skip two paragraphs. I’m an 09’er- a guy who jumped headfirst into fighting games when Street Fighter 4 Vanilla released and brought back a spotlight to the genre. I had a little experience before then playing the 3D Mortal Kombats and Virtua Fighters on the PS3. And when I was a kid, my first two games were Mortal Kombat II and Shaq-Fu. Yes, that¬†Shaq-Fu- the first video game I ever played was considered one of the worst games in history- but back to the fighting games.

In SF4, I played C Viper and Rose, which means… I lost a lot- Viper was the epitome of a steep learning curve, and Rose just sucked- but I’m a sucker for picking characters based on breast size, so nevertheless, I kept playing and landed at where I am today: good enough to stomp chumps and commentate on the matches. I’m by no means the tournament winner, but I’ve played, won, lost, and learned enough to have an educated opinion.

Tutorials for other games essentially stop at the controls, and for the most part, this works. Players are introduced to threats in a slowly increasing fashion that lets them ease into the underlying mechanics of the game, layering and sequencing inputs as time goes on. Not fighting games. The first thing you fight is another you, with equal skills and opportunities- who could very well be layering and sequencing mechanics like Justin maw-fuggin Wong. See the problem?

Fighting games need to go through each mechanic like a full game can be made out of it. Teach each new piece with the same methods used to introduce a new gun: create an enemy/environment/constantly occurring situation that benefits from the use of this, and only this new tool. Then either introduce a new tool or let the player hone their latest one as they integrate it into their entire play.


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