Something that seems ever present in the gaming world now is trying to get value for money. Game prices are steadily rising as we jump onto new consoles with new packs and DLC’s and specials etc. Matching the game prices we had in the early years of gaming, despite the enormously inflated budgets of games since then. Many debates online are over the soaring prices and whether they’re really worth the money, which is certainly fair for any game enthusiast trying to maximise his gaming time for their hard earned money. Much of the discussion for games will circle around the amount of hours of gameplay you get for your €60-80 title first, with to the quality sometimes coming second, as we want our game to stretch on for as long as possible.
However, for Fighting games this has always been much less of a problem. The beauty of fighting games comes from the endless amount of hours you can derive from participating in breath taking duels to the death (or knock-out as most announcers will shout.) It is largely dependent on various factors, from mechanics of said fighters and it’s stage count, but more importantly the characters and community. No matter how well polished your gameplay is, if you don’t have the roster and the community to back it up, your fighter will lack a certain soul pertinent to making it worth playing.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the Tekken franchise and Super Smash Bros. Franchise, as they’re both series I have a personal affinity for and am most familiar with. Both are immensely popular in their own right, now more than ever with many people in my position eagerly awaiting the release of the upcoming Tekken 7 and the Smash community is alive and well thanks to the ballot where fans cast their votes to whatever character they want to see appear and amiibo figures helping to reign in plenty of interest. Regardless of how intensely you play such games, even playing them in a casual manner, it is refreshingly uplifting to see such a healthy competitive scene in both cases as it makes the community around it that much stronger and lively.
For me personally though, I adore the meta game within them of mastering each and every character. I’ve clocked countless hours into the many iterations of Tekken always hammering away in arcade modes and in the later releases, ghost data mode as they offered literally an endless amount of fights that you can play until you wish to quit. However, for years I always stuck to playing the same few characters, Law, Paul, Lee, Jin and Lars. This made learning their moves easier and always having an easy choice to go for when having some gaming sessions with friends. I was an unstoppable force. It was out of curiosity that I one day stopped and thought, “I’ve been playing these games from day one, have I really gotten all I can out of them?”
I had always tried every new and returning character atleast once every time a new version came out. But I hadn’t mastered any of them. It seem obvious now in retrospect, but I was limiting myself from the full potential of experiencing all the moves and distinctions of everyone, how each differed in their styles of fighting and how they would resonate with me through being a quick fighter with some powerful moves or a heavy slow hitter etc. Once I decided on learning the nuances of the roster, suddenly a game I had already known and loved really opened itself up before me.
It’s one of those experiences only pertinent to gaming that really shows off it’s uniqueness as an entertainment medium. Akin to the thrill of digging into a movie and finding hidden easter eggs in the background, opening up a command list of possible combos fills me with excitement. Seeing all the possibilities of learning new ways of being a reigning champ in my circle of friends, taking in powerful moves with quick executions, they all add to the pleasure of dedicating yourself to a fighting franchise. In the case of Smash, it offers up another type of accomplishment. The mechanics of this game take on a simpler form, in having a smaller about of moves in order to keep it easily accessible, but allows for a similar enjoyment of mastering it’s setup and using it to your advantage.
While there are many facets to dig into and appreciate in the fighting genre, it’s this meta game of mastery that intrigues and much more recently, delights me in it’s way of breathing more life into an already bustling to the brim title. It’s something the competitive scene are surely well familiar with, but for those unfamiliar with this process, it really allows for a whole other appreciation of good design and well implemented polish and is one of the many reasons I love gaming.