Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fighting Game Camps: Introduction

You’ve seen it before: that point in your favorite action game where it’s just you and your enemy.  Your party is gone, there are no monsters around to fight, and you and the villain are on equal ground.  The resulting clash is nothing short of epic as both characters block, parry, dodge, and duel each other to the death in an awesome display of finesse and spectacle.

What's with the sparks?  Are those things made of titanium?

Now imagine if they made a game solely out of that.  Fighting games are built around those moments, having a variety of colorful characters fight evil and each other in mano-a-mano bouts of spectacular physics-shattering awesomeness.

Every major fighting game franchise has the same game objectives and even similar mechanics to each other, but the finer details in the way the games are played and presented all combine to form very distinctive styles that appeal to very specific kinds of gamers.  They all have their own heroes, villains, stories, art style, and game flow each one builds their games around.  And when so many of these games vary, the fans they pick up are some of the most dedicated you will ever meet.

Those gamers make up what I like to call the fighting game camps.  Every fighting game franchise has one: a community of dedicated fans that have played every game in the franchise to death, memorized every special move, can recite the entire decade-long story by memory, mimic characters in synch with them on the screen, and will probably roar in your face when you challenge them to their game of choice (except for the Mortal Kombat fans, who instead scream “MORTAAAL KOMBAAAT!”).  They’ll play other fighting games and enjoy them, sure, but they have their one franchise that they play three times more than any other.  They are the reason crossover fighting games are made: because that lets fans prove that theirs is better in the most surefire way they can think of.

You can probably single out some members of these camps.  Noah Antweiler is in the Tekken Camp, where nobody lets their opponent hit the ground.  Craig Skitsmas is in the Street Fighter camp, where everyone paces each other, make sure they strike at the right time and think ahead.  Patrick “Debaser” Breeden is in the Mortal Kombat kamp, where hospital trips are frequent, and I myself am in the King of Fighters camp, where everyone thrusts into each other and regularly combust.

They even have their own theme songs.

For this series of articles, join me as I explore each of these duel-centric camps by analyzing each franchise’s aspects and the appeal that comes with them: The story, heroes, villains, visual style, and gameplay, among other things.  For those of you who would like to get involved with one of these franchises, I will also point out which titles in each one I deem to be the best.  Finally, I will point out my characters of choice, as it’s always them that keep the story and play interesting as well as emotionally investing.  I never specialize in a character just because I play well with them; when I play, my opponent should be fighting ME on the screen.

Like looking into a mirror.
Keep in mind that while much of it will serve as a factual introduction to each franchise, Opinions as well as personal observations will be expressed.  I like all these fighting game franchises (they have their camps for a reason), but there are some I favor over others.  Do not let that deter you from loving the ones you do.

There’s a lot to cover, so to start out I’ll be looking at the granddaddy of all fighting game camps: Street Fighter.

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