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Fighting Games: Not for Casual Players?

Fighting Games: Not for Casual Players?

Filed inside: Editorial

Modern games have a very different difficulty scale than their predecessors. As we move further into the future of gaming, we see more and more companies appealing to the casual player. Lengthy tutorials, auto-saves, and varying difficulty modes are just a few of the things that have helped to open gaming to a wider audience. There are even company’s dedicated to the creation of purely casual games. But one genre remains fairly hardcore.

Back in the early 90s, a variety of fighting games began to pop up on consoles. These types of titles offered a very different version of multiplayer competition. There was no turn taking and no mindless point gathering. It was mano-a-mano, two gamers pitting their talents against one another simultaneously. No high-score, just two health bars and two rounds. It was quick, it was entertaining, and it was much more competitive than putting up a series of numbers.

Then the internet came along, and shuffled all of that local competitiveness around. Shooters became a huge thing, online racers sped on scene, and MMORPGs showed gamers what it was like to experience a role playing game together. Fighters still continued to evolve, in fact, they got more competitive. You weren’t just limited to friends and family, there was no longer a circle, a radius around you. It was anyone, anywhere, at any time. Gamers from other countries, gamers with language barriers. There was no limit to who could challenge you, who you could pit your talents against.

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It made leaderboards all the more popular. Having your name near the top of the list wasn’t just an accomplishment among friends anymore. It was (and is) a symbol of global superiority. But as games evolve, so does the general makeup of the genre. Fighting games are incredibly “complex” compared to their predecessors. Gone are the days of combining simple movements, battling against your friends in a brutalized version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Combos reign supreme in the new age, forcing you to flex your brain muscle in order to remember long, complex strings of movements and strikes. It’s a hardcore, competitive gamers paradise, but one could argue that this new age of fighting has dampened the genre with its over abundance of unbalanced characters and difficult to perform combos.

Unfortunately, the introduction of the internet is a dual-edged sword. It has opened the door for global matchmaking, but varying internet speeds and connectivity can be a headache. Many of you out there who play a lot of fighting games online can attest to the dangers of having in inadequate internet connection. The tiniest bit of server lag can throw off your entire combo string.

But what is perhaps even more alarming, is the introduction of balancing issues. Back when Mortal Kombat first came out, the only thing that separated each fighter were some fancy super moves, each which could be defended against fairly easily once you learned how they operated. With some of the newest fighting games (Injustice for example), some characters are just so overpowered that they immediately have an affect on the battleground. It makes some characters that much more exciting to play and it can be a rewarding experience to win a match with a character that most consider to be underpowered. But for individuals who just casually dabble in the genre, and enjoy the design of a specific character, it’s probably very disappointing for them to find out that their favorite fighter is at a disadvantage.

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Some of the more popular gaming competitions have even gone as far as to ban the use of some characters, which they feel are too powerful. The EVO Championship Series is one example of old school fighting with a modernized twist. No online servers, no overpowered characters, just local one-on-one with approved rules and regulations. These people go as far as to discipline gamers who spam the same moves over and over, or use cheesy tactics to get an edge on the competition. We all had that one friend that would do this, that would spam that same low-kick over and over until you were too mentally scarred to carry on.

This begs the question, are fighting games simply too complex and frustrating for today’s average gamer? Individuals who simply play a game as a means of escape are most likely unaffected by these imbalances. But what about those of you that have been bitten by the competition bug? These aren’t the types of games that you can simply pick up and expect to be good at in a matter of hours. They take time and dedication, something that casual gamers don’t usually have. After all, the biggest line that separates the casual player from the hardcore is the amount of time spent playing games.

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Casual concerns aside, the genre is doing very well for itself lately. The Tekken Series, Soul Calibur, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Street Fighter, all of these titles see new developments on a regular basis, and they only seem to get better each year with all of the advancements in graphical quality and game engine design. It seems that even if casual gamers are turned off by the competitive fighting scene, the hardcore crowd is large enough to sustain this category. With all of the new games in development each year, it’s safe to assume that the genre is healthy.

Perhaps an overload of features is to blame. There is no arguing that the modern fighting game is a complex work of art compared to its ancestors. Maybe some individuals are just crabby at having to memorize all of those crazy long combos. There is also the fact that some fighting games allow combos that are capable of taking away 60 percent of a players health bar. It is perhaps these types of things that may turn casual gamers off to the world of competitive fighting.

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From those of you that have just picked up your first fighting title, to those that have been around since the classics. Do you feel “magical” when you load these types of games up? Do you find yourself frustrated by the complexity of some titles, or are you comfortable with the difficulty scale once you head online? Let us know in the comments section below, how you feel about the fighting genre.

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Written by Russ Boswell

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