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Where have all the Fatalities gone?

Where have all the Fatalities gone?

Author: Mathew Tschirgi
Editing: Cecil Casey, Matt Barton, Bill Logiduce
Online Layout: Cecil Casey, David Torre
Screenshots: Cecil Casey, David Torre

Mortal Kombat 2 - Fatality
Fatality from Mortal Kombat 2 (Arcade)
©1993 Midway
Fighting games are still a fairly popular video game genre. Mortal Kombat: Deception managed to become Midway's fastest selling games selling over a million units. Despite their popularity, fighting games are a genre that has shown little innovation over time. Sure, they have moved from 2-D to 3-D, but basic game play mechanics have remained virtually unchanged. We're going to examine the lack of innovation in the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat franchises, then take a closer look at a trio of fighting games that tend to innovate instead of merely replicate what has come before: One Must Fall: 2097, Bushido Blade, and Super Smash Bros.

Before we begin, I'd like to give my definition of a fighting game. Fighting games are so varied that they should be classified into three different sub-genres. 2-D Fighters, like Capcom's Street Fighter franchise, are games in which your avatar has to fight against computer/human avatars one-on-one in an arena in a 2-D environment. 3-D Fighters, like Namco's Soul Calibur franchise, are games in which your avatar has to fight against computer/human opponents one-on-one in an arena within a 3-D environment. Beat-em-Ups, like Capcom's Final Fight franchise, are games in which your avatar has to fight against multiple avatars in a series of levels in either a 2-D or 3-D environment.

This article is going to focus on 2-D and 3-D Fighters. Try not to be too upset if your favorite game isn't covered-if you want to suggest a good game that I might have glanced over, please do so with the instant feedback option at the end of the article or send me an e-mail.

Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition
Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition (Arcade)
©1992 Capcom
Although it is not the most popular 2-D Fighter anymore, one of the more important ones is Capcom's Street Fighter franchise. The first game in the series isn't as well known as its sequel. While you can only choose from two avatars, the Japanese Ryu and the American Ken, it did let you fight against a variety of opponents who had special moves in a variety of international locations. Pulling off special moves in Street Fighter was a bit tricky, but you could kill your opponent in one or two hits!

While most 2-D and 3-D Fighters have a variety of standard punches and kicks at their disposal (one button might make your avatar throw a Weak Punch while another button might make your Avatar throw a Strong Kick), special moves were secret attacks that knocked off a lot more damage than regular attacks. To perform one, a player had to memorize a combination of joystick movements and button presses; to have Ken or Ryu toss a Hadoken (a blue fireball) at another avatar, the player had to roll the joystick a quarter circle clockwise towards the opposing avatar (moving the joystick in a fluid motion from down, to down-towards, to towards), then press one of the Punch buttons.

Such special moves sound simple when written out, but often took several tries to nail them down. Before the Internet made it easy for any stumped gamer to grab a FAQ, gamers had a few different options to track down the latest special move. A few arcade machines had basic special moves printed on the case itself. Clever gamers could try out random moves while playing a game, hoping to stumble upon a winning combination (though Street Fighter pioneered the Hadoken special move, nearly every other 2-D Fighter released afterwards used the same button combinations [quarter circle forward, then punch] for fireball special moves). Those wanting the quick and easy way out would purchase an issue of Game Pro or Electronic Gaming Monthly to see if they had the latest special moves printed in the newest issue.

Karate Champ
Karate Champ (Arcade)
©1984 Data East (source: Wikipedia)
This is not to say that Street Fighter was the first 2-D Fighter to feature a lot of these options, but it was arguably the first one to do it well. Data East's Karate Champ featured your avatar fighting against a computer opponent in some varied locations, although there were no special moves. Konami's Yie-Ar Kung Fu had much more varied opponents with a cartoony quality that undoubtedly influenced Capcom's muscular yet stylized look in their Street Fighter franchise.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was the first game in the series that most people are familiar with. Allowing players to select from a whopping eight different avatars of different nationalities (ranging from the hulking Russian Zangief to the demure Chinese Chun Li), the game play was a bit more involved than Street Fighter. Each character now had several different special moves, some of which were more difficult to pull off than others. It was a huge hit in arcades around the world.

Capcom milked this franchise for all it was worth, but ultimately not improving the game play by much. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition allowed players to play as the four boss characters while Super Street Fighter II introduced four new avatars to the mix, including the Bruce Lee-inspired Fei Long. Regardless of the extra avatars players got to choose from, the game play didn't change a whole lot-there might have been a few new special moves, but ultimately you had to move around, block, punch, kick, or complete special moves until you bested your opponent.

Later on Capcom introduced the Street Fighter Alpha series (known as Street Fighter Zero in Japan), which was a prequel to the first Street Fighter game. It introduced more complex combo systems, meaning players could link their attacks in proper succession to score more damage on their opponents, but game play was the same song, just a slightly difference dance.

As Street Fighter II was gaining in popularity, several other companies came out with competing 2-D Fighters. Without a doubt the most influential of these was Midway's Mortal Kombat series. Visually what set this one apart from the crowd was that the graphics for the avatars were captured frame by frame from prerecorded full-motion video sequences, giving the characters a more realistic look. This technique was pioneered in Midway's abominable Pit Fighter, a 2-D Fighter with cheap AI where one could win through button-mashing (pressing random buttons in order to win a match) as opposed to actual skill.

Along with photo-realistic graphics, designers Ed Boon and John Tobias brought plenty of blood and gore to the table. Practically every punch or kick delivered a cheesy flow of red blood from the opposing avatar which splattered onto the ground. When you won two rounds against your opponent, you had a chance to finish them off with a Fatality, an ultra-violent special move which often dismembered or annihilated the opposing avatar in a memorable way.

Despite public outcry aimed at the level of blood and gore in the game, game play was straight from the Street Fighter II mold. Controls were noticeably stiffer, with special moves relying more on tapping the joystick than the smooth rolls required for Street Fighter II. Fatalities in particular were a pain to pull off, requiring your avatar to stand at a specific position on the screen while punching in the different key combinations.

Mortal Kombat 2 - Friendship.
Friendship from Mortal Kombat 2 (Arcade)
©1993 Midway
Mortal Kombat did very well in the arcades, spawning several sequels. Unfortunately, much as Capcom did with their Street Fighter series, Midway went for more cookie-cutter game play instead of trying something truly unique for their sequels. Mortal Kombat II offered a wider selection of avatars to choose from, as well as a satirical take on the Fatality known as a Friendship (the most memorable of which had the Jean Claude Van Damme inspired Johnny Cage whip out a photograph and autograph it to his "biggest fan"). Mortal Kombat 3 offered an option to charge towards your opponent and Animalities (finishing moves which turned your avatar into an animal which would attack your opponent; these stemmed from the false rumors that you could do Animalities in the original Mortal Kombat), but it brought nothing terribly new to the table.

Mortal Kombat 4 took the series to 3-D, with rather simplistic polygonal graphics and sloppy controls. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance upped the ante with better graphics, giving the game more of a darker feel than Mortal Kombat 4, but also introduced a host of new avatars to pick from. The marketing for the latest game in the series, Mortal Kombat: Deception, was rather odd since it focused more on the various side game play modes (including one which was a blatant rip-off of Capcom's Street Fighter 2 spin-off, Puzzle Fighter).

So we've taken a brief look at how the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat franchises managed to grow in popularity while failing in advancing the game play mechanics to any noticeable degree. Why did Capcom and Midway keep things so similar in their games over time? Probably because it's the safest thing to do-if you change the game play of a sequel too much, it just pisses off the new fans while alienating newcomers to the franchise.

Just take a look at Shigeru Miyamoto's The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link. The second game in the Zelda franchise is not a fan favorite because it changes the overhead exploration game play into a side-scrolling action title with RPG elements. Where the original game focused on solving puzzles in dungeons with light action elements, the sequel was almost pure action. Though the game still sold well, it's not what most gamers would rank as their favorite Zelda game.

One Must Fall: 2097
One Must Fall: 2097
©1994 Epic MegaGames
One of the more innovative 2-D Fighters was Epic Megagames' One Must Fall: 2097. Having a sci-fi setting in which players had robot avatars which fought each other to the death, the single player mode was rather interesting for a couple of reasons. One of these was the RPG elements added to the game-depending on how many points your avatar scored, your avatar earned different amounts of money. This money could be spent on upgrades to the statistics of your robot, adding an element of strategy to the game-having the chance to work on balancing the various statistics for your fighter made the game that much more interesting. Another novel element of the game occurred between rounds. Commentators gave a play-by-play on your match with stills from your fight, making the illusion that your robotic avatar was fighting in a TV show that much more convincing.

Bushido Blade
Bushido Blade (PSX)
©1997 Squaresoft
Squaresoft pulled off a more realistic take on 3-D Fighters with their Bushido Blade series. Set in medieval Japan, players controlled their mostly Japanese avatars armed with various Japanese weapons. Unlike most fighting games that gave players a life bar, Bushido Blade took a more realistic turn. Your avatar could die by the sword (or spear, or gun) after only a few hits. One well placed hit could knock your avatar out in a single blow. This really put a new sort of energy into the fighting, making a match between two skilled players look more like a ballet than a bloodbath. Katanas would clash as one avatar fought the other, and knowing that one wrong move could doom the other player made matches that much more invigorating.

Super Smash Brothers
Super Smash Brothers (N64)
©1999 Nintendo
Nintendo took an arguably more simplistic take on the 2-D Fighter that made the genre more accessible to non-gamers with their Super Smash Bros. franchise. Limiting attacks and special moves to a few simplistic button presses injected a healthy dose of fun into the genre. Anyone from a toddler to a stoned college student could pick up a controller and master the moves in a matter of minutes, which was a refreshing antidote to the increasingly complicated special moves, combos, and fatalities found in other 2-D Fighters. Having Super Scopes, Pokéballs, and Hammers randomly drop on the playing field also helped mix things up a bit, making a fighting match less predictable than usual.

While fighting games overall have lacked in the innovation department, a few have stood out from the crowd. Unless a genre truly continues to reinvent itself it will die, or at least hobble along supported by die-hard fans. Just take a look at the graphic adventure, a genre that flourished in the late 1980's and early 1990's (including such great titles as LucasArts' Day of the Tentacle and Sierra Online's The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery) until a glut of bad titles and lack of innovation (most of them copycats of the overrated, yet best-selling, Myst) delivered the genre a shotgun blow to the face. The real question is can fighting games be creative in a contemporary environment where the bottom line matters more than creativity? If gaming history has proved anything, it's that no genre stays consistently popular for long.

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This article has been rated:  7.3 - 3 votes
Comments ...
bullet Molloy | 10 Jan : 15:04
Comments: 10

Registered: 30 Mar : 13:50
The Vs fighter genre is more healthy than it has ever been. Virtua Fighter 4 became the most successful arcade game ever released back in 2001, eclipsing Street Fighters taking in less than a year. It's since gone on to make billions of dollars for Sega.

VF has a very sophisticated system but its also a very accessable one. There are only 3 buttons and very little emphasis on complicated combos. It's more about using the correct move in the correct situation, and timing them properly. There are consistant rules for what works across the character roster. Contrast this with Dead or Alive, Tekken, Soul Calibur and Mortal Kombat series where every move connects differently and has different priorities. To play those games at a high level takes incredible time and practice.

Gameplay innovation isn't always immediatedly apparent. The subtle changes can have the most profound effect on gameplay. Street Fighter 3's parrys completely subverts Street Fighter 2 gameplay. No longer can you sit at one end of the screen throwing fireballs and launching a dragon punch when the opponent gets near. He can just bat away the attack and launch his own. These sort of innovations give you oodles of possabilities as a player. A chance to be learn the system, take it apart and make it your own.

bullet Matt Barton | 10 Jan : 15:58

Comments: 169

Heck, probably my favorite fighting game of all time was Death Sword for the Amiga (also known as Barbarian). Great game, and *very* strategic. Once a friend and I battled for over an hour and then I took his head off with one clean swipe when he wasn't expecting it. Ah, what a moment!

bullet davyK | 11 Jan : 05:04

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
I have VF3tb for Dreamcast - I liked the arenas that featured slopes which can effect gameplay quite a bit. The gameplay is more considered in VF (I have VF2 for Saturn as well) and more accessible than than the Capcom Vs style of game.

Some may argue that they are more accessible but that's only because you can get somewhere by button mashing those games which quickly loses its appeal - those games are more enjoyable after a period of learning the moves.

bullet finkelmana | 11 Jan : 11:31
Comments: 3

Registered: 11 Jan : 11:21
Although I am not heavy into fighting games, they are great for passing some time as well as when people come over. I have played many over the years on a variety of platforms.

Although they are fun, they are never exceptional. Yes, graphics get better with time, and some have good stories, but they never can seem to truly integrate them into one amazing peice.

The biggest drawback to fighting games is the fighting systems IMHO. I have no desire to memorize 100 different combos per character, per game. And of course, button mashers are no fu either. Also, take the orignal One Must Fall, which came out in... 1994(?) You could perform the same move over and over and win the entire game without ever getting hit.

In the end, they have yet to develop that perfect balance and integration of the fighting gameplay and a compelling/fresh story.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 11 Jan : 14:18

Comments: 307

One of my favorite side-scrolling fighting games was Karateka (many classic systems) by Jordan Mechner (who would later do Prince of Persia) at the old Broderbund. Some criticize the slow pace, but it's precisely that pace that attracted me to the game. You had to think about each punch, kick and "dodge". There was no way to button-mash and the controls were as simple as punching or kicking high medium or low and moving left or right, but it created some GREAT fights. The closest a more modern fighting game came to that style was Bushido Blade from Square for the PS1, which was mentioned in the article.

bullet Fighter17 | 11 Jan : 18:24

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
Virtra Fighter 4, I can't remember 100 combos, same as Tekken games. I'm still old school with Street Fighters games and King of Fighters.

bullet Monkey_Man | 12 Jan : 07:41

Comments: 4

Registered: 05 Jan : 08:03
So where do you think you can take the genre, would it be to add more elements from other genres or incorporate the elements of this genre into other games?
For Example you had some sort of Zelda type game that allowed you to fight in the way you so in a fighting game.

bullet Joebun | 12 Jan : 13:52

Comments: 4

Registered: 11 Jan : 14:58
Here's my 2 cents.

The problem with trying to innovate fighting games is not so much finding something new to do, but to get the public to accept it. Take Tobal on PS1 for instance. In my opinion, it utilized a pretty innovative fighting system and offered the most control of a fighting character in a 3d environment that I've ever seen. But for some reason no one else seemed to like it. In response to Monkey Man's comments, Tobal even incorporated rpg and dungeon (admittedly basic) elements into it that combined Zelda-esque exploration with the a fighting game. Now, I loved Tobal so much that I imported the sequel. But it definitely didn't seem to catch on here or in Japan despite it's creative gameplay.

It really seems like the average gamer who plays fighting games would rather stick with a pre-established standard than try something new. Look at Tekken 4. People panned it because it deviated from the original formula by what seemed to me like a miniscule amount. And now Tekken 5, from what I hear, is regressing back to Tekken 3 style gameplay.

Sure, I'd like to see a fighting game that's totally new and different from everything else out there, but I think my opinion is in the minority.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 12 Jan : 14:18

Comments: 307

Well that is probably indicative of the industry and the mainstream buying public at large these days, Joebun. Certainly there IS a clamor for the innovative and unique, but the innovative and unique often don't sell nearly as well as the formulaic and comfortable (same is usually true in other forms of media, so it's not just games). It's why we see so many "franchises" and incremental sequels.

What's sad -- and one of the best parts of the 8- and 16-bit computer and console era of the early- to mid-1980's -- was the fact that innovative product was being released all the time with few sequels, partially because the industry was so new (so there was little to copy off of) and partially because even blockbuster titles didn't sell much more than "niche" titles, so why not go for something different? 10,000 copies sold, you had a hit. There really was not a significant difference in sales between "blockbusters" and very targeted product that tried something new. Today, you need hundreds of thousands of copies sold to even have a chance to break even most of the time, and even with the massively increased buying population, it's MUCH safer to play it safe and guarantee x number of sales versus going for the big score and possibly having very dissapointing sales comparitively.

So long answer made short, today's environment has to change before we'll start seeing consistent REAL innovation in our games, particularly in specific niches, like fighting games. And as has also been hinted at, people in general seem adverse to change, so it will take something really special to get people to take notice and go against their natural instincts.

The only hope that I see for real and consistent innovation are in the independent developers, no matter the system they create for. Even new developments for systems like the Atari 2600 are as innovative (if not more) than anything else either before or after. Even these are more sporadic than they should be though. What we need though is for these independent/hobby developers everywhere to STOP "wasting" their energies on remaking the same games over and again, and put their obvious talents behing NEW ideas. After all, we only need Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids and any number of other classic games re-done only so many times...

bullet Matt Barton | 12 Jan : 14:29

Comments: 169

Those 2 cents are worth 2 dollars, joebun. I think you've discovered something that we don't much think about; it's not just the developers who are to blame for the lack of innovation, but also (and maybe even especially) the buying public, who tend to resist change and stick with the old and familiar.

A classic example is Star Trek. The first movie was a disaster, mostly because people felt it differed too wildly from the TV series. The second movie was a hit because it returned to the TV formula. The third bombed again because it was too "philosophical." Basically, anytime they tried to do anything new, the public booed it.

What are people saying about George Lucas' attempts to "finish properly" the old Star Wars movies? I saw the CGI Jabba in the first movie and felt sick. It looked TERRIBLE, and totally disrupted my immersion in the film. From that point on, it was "spot-the-CGI," which was too easy to do. I didn't enjoy the film at all. Now, maybe if the first movies were just now being released, I probably wouldn't notice, particularly if all the other creatures were CGI as well.

I love innovation, but there seems to be a difference between a change for the sake of change and change for the better. If I heard that Baldur's Gate III was going to be a FPS or RTS instead of an RPG, I'd be upset. What do I want in the sequel? I want the same basic game, but with a new story and better graphics. On the other hand, if I heard it had a totally redesigned and innovative magic, combat, or experience point system, I'd get curious and definitely wouldn't be close-minded about it.

bullet Joebun | 12 Jan : 22:38

Comments: 4

Registered: 11 Jan : 14:58
Well, despite how the videogame industry has become somewhat rooted in established genres and game types, I think it should be said that there is probably more variety now than ever before. Admittedly we have established fighting games styles. But look at the number of styles there are. From Streetfighter 2 to Virtua Fighter 4, and whatever else I didn't mention, there's quite a lot of fighting games to choose from. It seems unlikely that a fighting game fan wouldn't be able to find one that suited his/her particular interests.

Plus there's always the mod community. Eventually we'll start to see more fighting game mods out there. That's exciting.

I know I lamented the loss of Tobal in my last post, but I should also say that I'm a longtime Paul Phoenix player and that any major tampering with the Tekken formula should be avoided at all costs! I need my Phoenix Smasher!

bullet Bill Loguidice | 13 Jan : 00:40

Comments: 307

But see, Joebun, that's where I think the problem is. If you're not already a fighting game fan, there's little to draw you into the current batch of fighting games. You know what you're going to get, sadly, and you either already like it or you don't. There are games out there that can transcend their game types--for instance Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow got me into squad-based FPS shooters despite my previous distate for them. I'm NOT a fighting game fan, but I did get Mortal Kombat Deception Kollector's Edition for Christmas. Why? Because I wanted it for Chess and Puzzle Kombat. The fighting game portion was just a bonus for me, sadly, not the draw.

bullet Molloy | 13 Jan : 05:29
Comments: 10

Registered: 30 Mar : 13:50
People panned Tekken 4 because it was shite. The gameplay system was broken so it was pretty useless for competitive play (same situation with SNK vs Capcom, Killer Instinct 1/2, Mortal Kombat series..) and the environment system was rubbish; characters just bounced off the obstacles in the clunkiest way possible and with no freedom of movement system like, say, Powerstone there was little way to avoid it.

VF3 tried to have sloped areas as well. Problem was this meant moves connected differently depending on wether you were fighting up or downhill. They were also different if you were fighting the heavier Sumo character. This added a whole other level of complication to the simple play balance and people just couldn't deal with it. Everybody chose flat arenas in competition.

With VF4 they returned to flat arenas and removed the dodge button. You could interpret this as a step back but they introduced all sorts of other changes. Virtua Fighter 4 plays completely differently from Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned. It's practically the same cosmetically but under the surface everything is different.

Don't know what Fighter17 is on about. King of the Fighters or SF Alpha is a hell of alot more combo heavy than either of those two.

bullet Joebun | 13 Jan : 13:19

Comments: 4

Registered: 11 Jan : 14:58
Well, Bill, I don't really see what the problem is concerning drawing new comers into fighting games. If you take Streetfighter 2 (for example) and mess around with it, add puzzle elements, rpg statistics, real time strategy, or whatnot, then it ceases to be a fighting game. If a gamer doesn't enjoy going head to head with another character in a violent match of pummeling each other into submission, then I'm afraid that that fighting games are just not for that person.

In regards to MK Deception, sure, it's nice to have little extra additions like chess and Puzzle Combat, but why buy MK Deception for those tacked on extras when you could instead get Puzzle Fighter Turbo and Chessmaster? How are these minigames going to get new comers to want to play the fighting aspect of MK? Do you find yourself playing more and more of the minigames or the fighting portion?

Sure, like I said before, I'm all for innovation. But in the end, fighting games are about 2 (or more) guys duking it out in an environment; the real innovation lies in modifying and tweaking aspects of this mechanic, and tacking on pale versions of other types of games is just a gimmick.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 13 Jan : 13:29

Comments: 307

My point is, a truly great fighting game WILL bring in those that don't like fighting games. Great games CAN do that. What I'm saying is that there has yet to be that game. Nearly every fighting game to date recycles the same mechanics essentially pioneered by games like Karate Champ and Street Fighter, just with a slightly different setting or gimmick or two. Of course it's also been extremely difficult to even get a good boxing game, which should technically be easier than a fighting game, so there's probably little hope for the fighting game genre in its current state under the current conditions.

bullet Matt Barton | 13 Jan : 14:13

Comments: 169

What's always bothered me was the lack of realism in these fighting games. They don't resemble real pugilism in the least! They boast about how great the graphics are, but they certainly haven't made many improvements in terms of wounds, fractures, or even puffiness/skin discoloration so common in real fighting.

What's amazing to me is that FPS have managed to create a fairly realistic animation of a guy getting shot and killed, but not punched in the nose (and have it look believable). Furthermore, these "fighters" fight just as well when they are nearly dead than when they are fresh in the ring? Please.

There is sooooo much innovation left in fighting games.

bullet Joebun | 13 Jan : 15:04

Comments: 4

Registered: 11 Jan : 14:58
Yes, I agree that innovation in fighting games is still low and untried, but I think that tacking on extra gametypes on top of a fighting game release doesn't attract gamers to the fighting game itself.

In regards to Matt's comments. A lack of realism could also be applied to FPS shooters. When was the last time you took 10 slugs to the chest and never broke your stride running? On the other hand, I've never jumped 10 ft into the air and thrown fireballs from my bare hands. And who's to say that realism is the right direction to go in terms of innovation? My enjoyment of fighting games stems from wanting to be able to perform (classic) Jackie Chan and Jet Li moves as they are presented in their movies; which are certainly not realistic. Although I should mention that if you want a realistic fighter, EA's Fight Night (I think that's th right title) will give you all the contusions and lacerations you desire in a fighting game.

Yes there is lots of room for innovation in fighting games, but when you're talking about personal taste or preference, the same can be said of any genre.

PS - Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher's Bay does an excellent job of combining the FPS genre and fighting games in to a cohesive and well executed game.

bullet Molloy | 17 Jan : 05:10
Comments: 10

Registered: 30 Mar : 13:50
One few of the more popular Half Life mods have very good first person melee systems. In The Specialists you can use kung fu to take them out. You can kick the weapon out of your oponents hands, dive, grab it in mid air and shoot him before you hit the ground. Wonderful little mod that. Very John Woo.

There's another mod called The Battle Grounds that works very well too. You fight with crude single shot muskets with 12 or 15 second load times. Because the weapons are so innacurate using the bayonette is essentiel. Trying to kill someone with them takes lots of practice even though they're one or two hit kill weapons. You have to aim your swipes very carefully which makes for very tense duels.

I think you guys are dismissing games you haven't played as lacking innovation. Street Fighter 3 may look cosmetically similar to Street Fighter 2 but on a gameplay level it is fundamentally different. Realism (say, that Extreme Fighting game on the DC) and realtime damage (Ready to Rumble) have already been done. But the actual gameplay wasn't very balanced or sophisticated so they ultimately had limited appeal.

To an outsider something like Ikaruga and Psyvariar look the same. On a superficial level they look the same. But the actual gameplay is a world apart.

bullet tflynch | 17 Jan : 22:22
Comments: 1

Registered: 17 Jan : 22:09
I have to agree with Molloy. Although innovation is important in the fighting game genre, it's not as important as balance and the perfection of the overall concept in gameplay. Tekken 4 suffered as a game for a couple of main reasons - the first was that the character Jin was easy to learn and overpowered. The second was that the changes to the basic movement system (backdash neutered, sidestep strengthened but 'dumbed down') affective overall gameplay in a negative way.

The 'lack of innovation' in the genre is something that results from fan pressure to a certain extent. Relatively few fighting games that introduce sweeping system changes are successful ... look at VF3 and Tekken 4.

Fighting games are very finely tuned compared to most games of any sort. Most innovation is not on the surface but in the deeper aspects of gameplay. This article comments that the 'unpredictability' introduced by the random items in SSB is an advantage, but most hardcore fighting game fans would say it ruined the game. Playing a fighter with random items is somewhat akin to playing chess with someone randomly adding and removing pieces from the board.

bullet David Torre | 21 Mar : 19:19

Comments: 13

One thing that needs to be mentioned is a recent innovation in fighting games -- Soul Calibur 2's Conquest Mode. This mode didn't make it to the home version. Essentially, it's like the old game RISK. You pick a fighter to register, name him/her, and join one of four opposing armies. You then choose an opposing army to fight, and you fight eight random characters from that army. When you fight, you actually fight other characters registered on the machine. As you fight, your character becomes stronger and stronger, gaining levels and developing a unique fighting style. After you fight 8 characters, you then have a choice to fight against the character you've been playing. You then fight the AI representation of your character to see how well your character is doing. When you are away from the machine, your AI character will randomly fight other people's characters, and a win/loss record is kept. All in all, it is a very addictive gameplay premise and needs to be explored more, perhaps in a full-fledged RPG.

bullet deshrill | 25 Mar : 15:34

Comments: 72

Interesting... There was something sort of like it in the home version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 where you went around the world fighting in matches that were handicapped in various ways-- if you won, you got to improve the stats of your character and could bring him into mulitplayer matches.

bullet Raenydyne | 29 Jun : 05:18

Comments: 3

Registered: 29 Jun : 04:16
Best fighter of all time, IMO: Power Stone
It is in fact another style fighter not mentioned, interactive envoironment fighting. Some games do this a little, but not enough. Other games that touched on this that I liked:
Dead Or Alive 2 - falling through ice, jumping off waterfalls, off balconies, etc.
Eternal Champions Sega CD version - getting hit in front of meat grinding machines, getting burned at the stake, etc. And weren't the regular moves jsut the coolest. Unlockable characters were better than regular ones. Close second for best fighting game ever. I would like to see a 3D version of this. It would be huge.
But nobody has made the next Power Stone, not even Power Stone 2 was as good.

I would like to see another PS, OR a game similar to Tekken but with the following modifications:
-Voice commands (we do it anyway, why not make the "woo tas" into actions?)
-Unexpected events. Not just the one or two you will know are going to be there but like a dinosaur stepping on your leg as it runs by, criplling your movement. And so many events that they are unpredictable.
-Innocent bystanders. People watching that get too close. Use them as weapons or gain respect by simply pushing them out of the way.
-A comical appraoch to finishing moves (not like "friendships" or any of that crap). Like rock paper scizzors ending when it is a tie instead of another match. This could be turned on and off.
-Then of course up the notch in realism, sweat and blood. People that look like they are in pain, breathe harder, take a while to get up. A mercy setting so that you cannot just kick people when they are down (unless you select no mercy mode).
-Some cool camera angles that work. Like seeing the perspective of being thrown or taken down to the ground. DOA comes close to the cinema experience but for newer versions they need something really crazy that works.

bullet deshrill | 30 Jun : 13:30

Comments: 72

Never played Power Stone. When I wrote this article, I wasn't as familiar with this genre as I was with RPGs in my earlier article. Still, I stand by what I wrote.

It's interesting to consider the Interactive Environment as a subgenre within Fighting Games. Power Stone was a DC game, right?

Interesting fighting game suggestions. I've liked what I've seen of that recent urban fighting game, where you can save cash to increase your characters stats or "bling."

Primal Rage used innocent bystanders for energy.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 30 Jun : 20:42

Comments: 307

I enjoy Power Stone 1 and 2 on Dreamcast a great deal. Kung Fu Chaos on Xbox is sort of like it, but there definitely needs to be more in the actual Power Stone series.

bullet Fighter17 | 01 Jul : 21:01

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
I wasn't a fan of the Powre Stone series, don't ask me why.

bullet Blain | 10 Aug : 05:42
Comments: 3

Registered: 28 Sep : 16:04
I only played Power Stone 2, and the inability to see what was going on was my biggest problem with it. Then again, I seem to have a hard time following everything that's going on in real life as I get older.

I think the game Molloy was talking about earlier was Ultimate Fighting Championship. From my few hours spent with it, it had at least one novel, strategy adding, fun idea: fighting grapples. If you bull rushed a guy to the mat, you could sit on his chest and wail on him. But if he caught one of your punches, he could extricate himself or reverse the situation. And there were different types of holds including the "ride 'em cowboy" where a fighter on all fours generally got the back of his head caved in. I didn't play enough to find out whether the game had a dominant strategy or any other fatal flaws, but it at least had a good idea.

bullet Blain | 10 Aug : 05:56
Comments: 3

Registered: 28 Sep : 16:04
Oh, and maybe this is just because I never took Mortal Kombat seriously in the first place (What is this? Street Fighter with idiots in ninja suits and 10fps animations?), but I thought the Friendships and Babalities, where you turned your opponent into a baby version of themselves were great camp. Just take a look at this web page with baby Raiden at the bottom (and the great Friendship next to it, since you're already there).

bullet Blain | 10 Aug : 05:58
Comments: 3

Registered: 28 Sep : 16:04
Actually, that page is really huge. If you're on a slow connection here's a direct link to baby Raiden.

bullet deshrill | 12 Aug : 12:17

Comments: 72

Mortal Kombat was certainly tongue in cheek. The Street Fighter series is too, to a lesser extent. Both also had horrid US animated series that aired on the cable USA network in the mid 1990's.

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