As you may suspect, I love fighting games. I always have. Since Super Street Fighter II, it’s been an ongoing love affair. In addition to this, I love comics. Specifically Marvel comics. So, of course I loved all of the Marvel vs series. However, sometimes love goes sour. And it went so sour for me on Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, that I bought it on release day, took it out of the package a week later, and then traded it in (towards SCV) about a month later, having never played my copy.
So what the hell happened? A fine question. One I asked myself quite a few times. If you’d like the TL;DR version, my fiancee puts it best. “Too much, too soon”.
However, for the stream of consciousness version, let’s go back to MvC3 (Vanilla) to see the base of the issue.
I was so incredibly excited about the idea of MvC3 – that I closely followed all news and rumors. My friends and I would talk about it all the time, what it could be, how the engine would come together, all these things. And after following development for about a year, it finally came out. I got the Collector’s Edition. This was probably the first mistake. My pre-order bonus consisted of an “art book”, a metal case for the game and the download codes for Shuma Gorrath and Jill Valentine. To call these bonuses was a bit of a stretch, frankly. The art book was tiny and full of promo art we’d all seen a million times before, the metal case, while cool, was lackluster. And the characters were locked for a month before you could get to them. Even getting these guys was a process, you got a code to get another code to get your character code. Ridiculous. It was not worth the extra ten dollars. The characters were not as strong as the rest of the cast and generally went unplayed, with the exception of an unlucky draw when choosing random.
So aside from the unfullfilling extras, I sunk myself deep into learning about the game, the system and specific characters. I read every article I had time to read and when I couldn’t play (my play time is severely limited) I would watch videos, and when I couldn’t watch videos, I read the game guide. It’s 400 pages, with very small print, and lots of data that I just could not parse. (I have problems understanding frame data and very long combo inputs) When I just had down time at work, I would go over team combinations in my head. I could not let it go. I wanted so desperately to be just a little better than casual. I wanted to understand the “why” behind a lot of it. I had varying amounts of success with this crash course in Marvel.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a character specialist. Some would call this a “mistake”. Often times I pick characters that don’t fit with my play style, like She Hulk. But I was committed to learning her, as I had done with Rogue, in MvC. I grew up as a Chun Li player. I excel at rush down. She Hulk is not a rush down character. She’s this wacky grappler with decent mobility. Honestly, she’s a bit of an anomaly in your general fighting game character “type”. But I love Jen Walters. I love her so much I went against my gaming style and put her as my battery character (first in line of 3) I got okay with her and could pull off some combos but never as good as I was with someone like Akuma, who actually frustrated a couple of my friends when I picked him. (VANILLA TATSU BEATS ALL!) So my character choice could have been better.
And perhaps the biggest nail was the online play. The lack of a spectator mode was frustrating, but I spent the down time reading comics or drawing. The big problem was that even with all the time I put in and all the brain space I gave this game, I did very poorly online. I’d have probably a 20% win ratio. People online weren’t character specialists for the most part, they didn’t care WHO they had, but could they mash one button for maximum damage? I saw so many Ameterasus, Dantes and worst of all Zeros. It was a party of mashing LMHHHHHHHHHHS. Terribly, terribly frustrating to have to plan around and lose to these guys. It was very much like losing to the “flowchart” Ken in SSF4. You can SEE what’s happening, but do nothing about it. I know, a lot of people will say that I quit because I’m bad at this game, but that really wasn’t the case. Sure I was bad, but there were larger issues.
So let’s get back to Ultimate. It finally comes out, I go pick it up, AND the guide. And every time I think about playing, I remember all the changes (many necessary) that have been made to the characters and the system and I’d just inhale deeply and go do something else. I didn’t want to climb the hill again. I was having enough trouble with She Hulk before, and now she was a “heavy” character, which made her entirely unplayable to me. The changes to She Hulk specifically were irritating because it really seems as though Capcom watched the top 8 players use her and then nerf the hell out of her because of their play. The rest of us are not Justin Wong or Combofiend or PR Balrog. She Hulk was not that good, but in their hands, of course she was. Give a regular old hamburger to Anthony Bourdain to cook and it’ll taste amazing, but the rest of us shmucks are more like a McDonald’s burger.
I just wasn’t willing to spend the time re-learning all the new stuff all over again, just to see the same guys online, but now with buffed Weskers. It was too much. Then, King of Fighters XIII came out, and it caters to those who prefer rushdown (me), doesn’t rely on comeback gimmicks (X-Factor), and every character has the same amount of health. (Akuma is made of glass now) Finally, Soul Calibur 5′s release date was nearing, Marvel was collecting dust and I was 20 bucks away from paying off my Collector’s Edition. (some times, I just don’t learn my lesson with these CEs) I knew what I had to do.
So that’s my incredibly long winded tale of a love gone horribly wrong. Don’t be the obsessive girlfriend with your games. Play them, love them, but let’s face it – 90% of us aren’t going to be pros. Casual and fun don’t have to be dirty words. Love it, learn it, but leave the grinding to the guys that end up at EVO. The rest of us can sit at home and armchair quarterback it.
I do have some thought about games, comics and anime. However, I couldn’t pass up re-posting this performance. Amazing.
Well, I suppose I should post about the one game that’s taking over giant chunks of my brain’s processing “power”. Dungeons of Dredmor. Indy developer Gaslamp Games has dabbled in one of my favorite (and most frustrating) genres, the Rogue-like (aka a Dungeon Crawler). To steal directly from the wiki,
The game is a single-player RPG in which players traverse procedurally-generated dungeons, while killing monsters and collecting items to improve their character.
However, when you die, you are DEAD. Your character is gone, your money is gone, your stuff is gone, your save file is GONE. Do better next time, wussy. Roguelikes are not for the easily frustrated. If you can’t laugh off your death, this is not the game for you. I stopped thinking up new names for my characters since I kill them so fast. I now name them “Gnat” (as that’s the life span) and the Roman numeral of which Gnat they are. I’m at XIII now. (VII and XII were standout Gnats…;_;)
While playing through it, I realized how much hand holding the (awesome) DS game Izuna has. It’s in the same genre, but has a lot of creative ways to make your death less painful. Dredmor has none of the coddling, but lots of humor. It’s harder to get mad when your armor consists of a traffic cone on your head, flip flops on your feet and a cheap plastic ring on your finger. The entirety of the game descriptions are amusing and that goes a long way when the game decides you’ve done well enough and throws 50 monsters at you at once (not exaggerating, it’s called a Monster Zoo).
While this game is strict in what it is, you can build your hero any way you want. I’ve run a high damage berzerker, a crafting heavy character and even a warrior mage (still don’t know how that worked out as well as it did) There’s a large set of skills to pick from and they all have trees to expand outward. Three people can end up with three entirely different builds and still have levels of success. You can even roll a random set of skills. (there’s an achievement for beating the game with a random set called “I can’t believe that worked!”)
Dredmor does a few good things for me: it brings back that “Nintendo Hard” feeling. I find friends with this game and discuss strategy with them, and share my latest horrible death. (Seriously, the Bolt of Squid will kill you, be careful) I keep the wiki bookmarked so I can always refer back to it, I make character builds in my head when I’m doing something mindless. I always try to figure out why I died, and how I can tweak my build to be better. It’s always floating around in the old brain case.
It’s also good for busy gamers. In my 34th year, I find I just don’t have time to devote to games that I used to. However, Dredmor is busy gamer friendly. You can save at any point and play for as long as you survive. (this may be much longer or shorter than you had intended). You can turn off perma-death so you can load your saves, and there’s an option to turn on smaller dungeons for a quicker game with the same experience.
There’s a tremendous amount of stuff to think about when playing Dredmor. And the awesome/ridiculous part of it is that the game is only 4.99. There’s an expansion available as well (I’d like to get past floor 2 before I tackle that, kthx)
with six new skill trees, five new dungeon levels, a dozen new monster types, over one hundred new items, and a host of new rooms, features, and traps…
You can have the entire game, with expansion for 7.50 on Steam. That’s less than a meal at a “flare” restaurant, and without the horrible gas from the cheese sauce they insist on putting on everything.
What I’m trying to tell you, is that I really like this game and you should give it a try. It’s really a wonderful, horrible puzzle wrapped in stinky, stinky lutefisk.
I don’t suppose I should
resurrect restart my blog with something that’s controversial, but I can only really talk about what’s going on in my internet circles and frankly, the Fighting Game Community (FGC because I am a lazy typist) has started 2012 with a fatal dose of sodium. (more on why this is fatal a little later in the post) The reason they’re so salty is that EVO has announced the games that will be featured at the 2012 tournament. My gawd, I’ve never seen so many different fighting game fans get mad. So here’s the official list:
EVO 2010 Lineup source: SRK
- Street Fighter X Tekken
- Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Version 2012
- Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3
- Soul Calibur 5
- King of Fighters 13
- Mortal Kombat 9
The main point of contention is the inclusion of Street Fighter x Tekken. It’s a new game, without an established community, with a controversial mechanic of ‘Gems’. The gem mechanic is mainly looked down upon by tournament organizers as a logistical nightmare, as a lot of the gems will be DLC, and possibly console or retailer exclusive. Seth Killian says a little about it here
Tekken and BlazBlue players are both super pissed about this about this perceived slight. BB players seem to be the most vocal though. However, for all their shouting, they don’t show up at tournaments. There’s a long (but good) response to the BB community here
The bottom line (to me) about the inclusion of SFxT is that it’s a political move. Capcom always has a strong presence at EVO and shows strong support for the FGC. (Ono’s trolling and all). In addition, since Tekken 6 is so old at this point, that having SFxT as a main game keeps the Tekken franchise and characters fresh in people’s minds. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harada starting to plug Tekken x Street Fighter at EVO. Since SFxT has a release date, it stands to reason that Namco would finally begin working on their version.
Now, everyone that got “their game” in at EVO is pleased, but the BB community is mad, Tekken community can’t be too terribly pleased and Capcom game players just continue to take huge dumps on Mortal Kombat 9. FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON. Now, stuff like this is why the FGC is going to continue to be very, very niche in the world of competitive gaming. There’s no cohesion in the community at all. Check just about any thread on a fighting game site and it takes all of about three posts till the comments degenerate into one or all of the following:
- You know what would make this game better? If it played like Street Fighter
- Anime games suck and are for weeaboos
- Why is this being posted at SRK? No one plays _____. (Right now MK is often in this spot)
and the like. I get it, you spend a lot of time getting good at “your” game. I understand it’s hard to put the necessary hours into a game that it requires to get decent at it. However, it doesn’t make the other game that you don’t play, bad. It’s just different. This is not a bad thing. IT’S OKAY FOR PEOPLE TO LIKE DIFFERENT THINGS. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? I was so happy when I saw some high level players give props to Dream Cancel and Orochinagi (KoF sites) for the inclusion of KoF XIII in the main games of EVO, but then almost immediately bitching started about what wasn’t being played. The venue is huge. Just because “your” game on the main stage, you can bet your ass it’ll be played as a side tournament somewhere in the building. There is no slight here. Shut up and give another game’s community a pat on the back, dammit.
Just last night I went into the local Gamestop to pick up a game and continue to pay down Soul Calibur V. I always chit chat about fighters with the guys there. There was one guy who plays pretty much everything, and the ASM was a HUGE MK9 fan. They were both really happy about the lineup. I mentioned the lack of BB and the subsequent complaints. Their response? “Fuck BB.” Therein lies the problem. It’s all finger pointing and “Fuck that guy.” There needs to be none of this. We need to come together and maybe that way the community can grow properly. Until then the FGC will never get far because we’re too busy tearing each other down.