I’m gonna take you for a ride

The EVO 2020, the event for fighting game tournaments, lineup was rather surprising in few ways; Under Night In-Birth stayed in with its latest iterations, Guilty Gear was kicked out in favour of Granblue Fantasu Versus (which also has all the telltale signs how ArcSys really wants their fighting games to be, to put it less diplomatically, more retarded), no Mortal Kombat anywhere to be seen and as a surprise to everyone Marvel VS Capcom 2 is in as a special invitation-only tournament.

MvC2 is in due to its twenty year anniversary, and considering it has been a major part of EVO and its predecessor, Battle by the Bay, there’s not really any other game that might have as much historical hype behind. MvC2 in many ways is a historical cornerstone in video game history overall, being a kind of peak of Capcom fighting game history, where the era of classic era ends. Sure there was Capcom VS SNK 2 and some stragglers afterwards, yet none of them managed to reach the same peak in both popularity and in sheer quality. The Marvel series of games for Capcom is significant part of the company’s history, and still stand out as one of the best, if not outright the best games based on Marvel properties. However, licensing each character must be a mess, and with Disney at the helm and priorities being what they are, games like Marvel vs Capcom Infinite gets made. The VS games have always been about the play, never about the story. MvCI sadly tried to explain and explore what wasn’t needed or required, but due to Disney and Marvel limiting the licenses 20th Century Fox had at the time, the game’s cast was gimped and it seemed like a weak vehicle for the Marvel movie characters.

MvC2 is a kind of game that hasn’t aged. Like said in previous post, well made games don’t age. They may show their age, like how Pong constitutes of two white bars and a square for a ball, but the play and design is still perfect. The same can’t be said for most Pong clone consoles and their games, and the same applies to loads of games even up to this day. I’ve talked about how Breakout evolved with time and with new iterations (I do recommend reading that post, it’s one of the few entries I personally like) but the core play never demanded revisions. Tweaks and additions for sure, but the day it came out, it was about as perfect as it could be. Games well up to the Fourth Generation of consoles, Super Nintendo and such, had to balance between what the systems could do and what the game design was. For each game that had great design and realisation there were dozen that were much less in quality. Super Mario Bros. 3 isn’t just a great NES game, it’s overall a great game with excellent design both in play and how the graphics are depicted. While modern systems allow any level of depiction when it comes to graphics, you still have games that use the most mundane look and design. You can have the most high fidelity models and highest possible 8K+ resolution, but in comparison they’ll beat MSB3 if the design is lacking.

Games like Solaris might look crude and maybe even sound terrible, and for 1986 there were serious competition on the NES already, but put into proper context, Solaris is an absolute marvel on the Atari 2600. It wasn’t an arcade port for one, and second it pushed the system to its absolute limits with fast, colourful graphics, relatively complex play for the system that involved both navigation next to its shooting game elements. You of course had older titles like Pitfall! already had explored and expanded what the Atari 2600 could do. These consoles were limited beasts that didn’t offer lots of options for the developers. Limitations are your friend and push creativity and innovation forwards. The same can’t be said of modern systems, where space is wasted, everyone is recycling the same game engines, and you are effectively able to do whatever you want. Similar technical limitations don’t exist any more, polygons don’t limit you to square shape and systems can show more than four colours on screen at a time. Hell, you can use colour. The original Breakout didn’t have a colour screen, but a black and white monitor that had a celluloid overlay that coloured the white graphics on the screen. I’d like to say such analogue practices would be impractical nowadays, but seeing how people are convincing themselves on VR despite it still lingering at the lower echelons of success, I’m not so sure. Sticking a film on your screen for extra graphics sounds about as easy solution as a VR headset.

While it’d be easy to say that a game looks too old to be played, that age has made its visual fall behind, is not exactly the case. Well designed and applied graphics will always stand out from the dredge. MvC2 might be old compared the rest of the games, it might have a weird mix of sprites, some almost a decade old when the game was released, with 3D backgrounds, yet how colourful it is, how expressive the characters and stages are combined with the sheer explosion of colours combined with the furiously fast and almost uncontrollable play made the game not only popular, but also timeless. Yes, it looks like a game from 2000’s, but in the same manner we can say that we’re happy it doesn’t look like a game from 2007 with all the brown and bloom of the time.

This TAS shows how Jill’s sprite is made, how you can discern each kick and punch clearly from each other. You’d think something like this would be sensible, but so many fighting games flub their characters’ moves and animations for whatever reasons

The game’s also a terrific spectator’s game because all the above. Despite it being absolutely insane on what’s happening on the screen at times, it doesn’t blow its load too early and keeps the screen relatively clean. The easy-to-read sprites and timing for characters’ Super moves and such have just a long enough pause to have an effect on both the players and audience that something big is about hit. Modern fighting games have lost the touch to make impactful moves and effects with the whole cinematic supers, where the whole game has to be paused. Fighting games have, effectively, become slower and have more emphasize on elements that make the games slower, wasting players’ time.

While market and PR are the reasons events like EVO mostly run current games and not any of the old classics, there are no proper reasons why any of these events should have one or two classic entries in their lineup. It’s understandable why some companies wouldn’t want their long line-up available for modern systems outside licensing issues, because a lot of the more celebrated games can beat their latest titles. The relationship with Nintendo and VC titles is probably one of the best examples of this. It’s not uncommon to see and hear developers to do something new and forget what’s already done, but you can’t really ignore history, especially if you’ve made some of the games in short history of electronic gaming. Best you can do is ignore it, or if you dare, tackle it head-on and aim to obsolete it.

Inspirational changes, Dead or Alive

Seems like every time we get a new Dead or Alive, something about it gets a rise from people to whatever direction.  For better or worse, DoA gets decent amount of press whenever a new entry gets announced, but mostly always for the wrong reasons. DoA Extreme 3 got marred in the press for both having cheesecake and for not being published in the Western regions, making it the best selling title Play-Asia ever had.

With the announcement of DoA6, you’d think things would’e been gone as usual. Well, in a way they did, with part of the consumers wondering what the hell was going on, and part celebrating titillation getting toned down significantly.  Because of eSports, of course.

Yohei Shimbori of Tecmo had an interview, where he states that the new DoA was inspired by American comics and movies. He wants people who play the game feel proud, as he puts it, while playing the game. Sidestepping the issue why should people feel proud while playing a game, the reason why things are changing in the first place is because during EVO tournament 2017 some of the DoA fans felt embarrassed. Whether or not these fans were the players or not is not mentioned.

The issue, of course, is how sexy the characters are. These fans they interviewed wanted the game to be cooler. The problem of course is, the game already looks cool.

Shimbori’s logic and source is sound. American mainstream cape comics certainly have moved away from showcasing the human physique in demigod form in favour of more realistic depictions and detailed suits, though at the same time the sales of these comics have tanked thanks to low quality of the comics themselves in general. Shimbori wanting to take inspiration from these comics, following similar path seems to be the right way, emphasizing on the suit fashion. While Shimbori emphasises on female characters, this is true across the board, especially with Marvel comics.

A major attraction for Dead or Alive has been its visuals and fun factor not found anywhere else. Taking that visual side away and replacing, for example, Kasumi’s now iconic outfit with an extremely generic blue-black full-body outfit looks lazy, detracts from her unique look in the gaming market and clashes with her intended original design. The cherry blossom petals and other moves don’t fit the character anymore, now that she’s wearing a supposedly more combat-sensible suit.  Let’s make a look at her DoA5 and DoA6 versions.

Wait, they gave DoA6 outfit high heeled sandals? While I may be talking about her iconic outfit, it was not her initial default outfit. It’s from completely different design perspective from the DoA6 design, and a direct comparison would be like apples and oranges. The iconic design doesn’t exactly render well in the modern style DoA is going for, as its intention originally was to be semi-cartoony to begin with. It clashes with the semi-realistic take. It would have been better to update that design rather than going completely away with it, as now we’re getting what’s supposed to be cool. Funny enough, if DoA6 is supposed to be less about the curvatures of a woman’s body shape, they failed. With skintight leather, it’s all about the curves. It may not be as sexy, but you might as well have her fight in black and blue body paint. It’s not exactly cool either in the sense Shimbori’s intention are.

Furthermore, majority of the DoA fans like the series’ aesthetics. DoA5 had a slight backlash against its style and take, but the dev team took this to their heart and tweaked things a little. Character models have been an issue with fighting games recently anyway, from banana hair and punched face Ken in Street Fighter V to pretty much everyone in Marvel VS Capcom Infinite, especially potato faced Chun-Li. However, DoA has always aimed follow the Virtua Fighter route with simple yet striking design, with their own flavour of fan service and certain level of risque that’s unique to it. In essence, one of DoA‘s winning elements has been its visual design that gives just enough glimpses with rather anything more. The sheer amount of outfits in previous titles has kept the players busy unlocking stuff as well.

The end problem of course is that DoA‘s fame and money has been made with Japanese influences, something the fans and core audience are attracted towards to. The loss of Soft Engine, an element that was part of the visual nature of Dead or Alive, feels cheap at best. Dev team’s emphasize on trying to make sweat and damage to be more a thing sounds more what you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat title. The audience that is there doesn’t want the game to look brutal, but to look beautiful. I doubt many Japanese fans want to see Kasumi’s face pummeled into mush, outside ryona fans.

There’s also the magical words of making the game more accessible, as mentioned in this IGN Live E3, with one-button combos to be a thing. DoA and VF controls have been the simplest out of all mainline fighting games, and simplifying them to this point seems like gimping it. Devs can claim that it simply adds a layer to the game, but that’s never been the case. It’s just to make one or two combos a constant.

This seems like a major step away from the series roots and nature. All this is ultimately to attract the expanded audience, or the audiene that considers the series problematic, sexist or otherwise offensive in content. The idea of expanding market is all good and fine, but not at the expense of the brand and franchise itself. At this rate, they should’ve rebranded the franchise altogether, or even better, start another fighting game franchise to run along Dead or Alive, much like how Tekken has Soul Calibur.

In the end, the devs are going to do whatever they want, eSports interviews and all. Perhaps the end battle of DoA5, where tacticafully black clad Kasumi fights her iconically clothed clone was a prelude to come. Forget exciting and interesting new design, we’re in an age of homogeneous coolness.

They could do better, but in the end, they’re bucking on already past trends.

Complexity is the appeal of Guilty Gear

In a recent interview, ArcSys’ Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori were discussing the company’s different fighting games and what they’ve learned from them. What they see is that the less complex and easier to master mechanics of their two other big titles, Dragon Ball Fighters Z and BlazBlue, are selling more than Guilty Gear, and the next title will have less complex mechanics. Because, y’know, everyone is supposedly having hard time with them and everything.

Which isn’t the case.

Guilty Gear as a series found its place with the X and XX titles, something Ishawatari has historically being rather against, first trying to remove these games from his beloved story with Guilty Gear 2 Overture and then reinstating them back as side-stories due to fanbacklash. Let’s not forget him telling the fans that they’re too old for games, essentially doing a Shattner bit where he told Trekkies to get a life. Considering how BlazBlue helped him to regain Guilty Gear‘s license and was considered the fighting game franchise during the time when Capcom’s fighters were absent, Ishiwatari & co. really should reconsider their approach to the series if their first realisation is downgrading the game.

This lesson of theirs isn’t anything spectacularly special, both Mori and Ishiwatari have grown into businessmen first and businessmen tend to be reactionaries instead of trailblazers. They see certain kind of aspects selling well, wagering their bets and materials, and then changing existing products with an aim to cater for larger audiences. After all, once you’ve achieved a popularity within a niche, it’s much easier to expand outwards. The niche’s positive view on a product often travels outside this smaller section, and can catch on if the marketing and product meet with larger audience’s expectations.

The main problem with Guilty Gear being that the genre it is in itself has always been in the middle of being popular with the masses and being within a niche. As a franchise, Guilty Gear has a prestige spot of being recognised as damn good by most consumers into the genre and gained a small pop-culture status by the mid-2000’s.

In short, Guilty Gear as a franchise is a deluxe product. As a game it’s easy to get into despite its complex mechanics, but in the end they are hard to master. It may have generally lower consumer base as BlazBlue, which took GG‘s spot during its absence, yet neither series will never reach the popularity of Dragon Ball Fighters Z due to sheer amount of Dragon Ball fans out there.

Being a deluxe product with a limited consumer base isn’t anything bad, especially if the general view towards the product is highly regarded. ArcSys did a great job at building one of the best tutorial modes in fighting game history, but they can’t force consumers to get into said game. As mentioned, Guilty Gear‘s appeal is in its complexity, which really has been overstated. The sheer amount of options and unique methods to realize those options per character is rather unpresented in other fighting games, and by that extension does take a bit more time to learn. That goes for every fighting game, really. Games are, after all, all about learning the rules and trying to become the best you can. It has always been counter-intuitive for gaming for the games to hand-hold the player through them, as that’s essentially removing playing from the game. Some people just don’t want to play, they just want to spectate or walk around a house in search for a diary.

ArcSys would be doing damage to the franchise if they began to move against its established fame and history. Guilty Gear‘s complexity is not damaging the franchise, but as a businessman would rationalise it, it’s not for everyone. Naturally, the answer is to lessen those systems to make appeal the wider audience. Ishiwatari claims that it’s a difficult issue to balance with the controls and trying reduce the systems in the game, but in reality it isn’t. Keep Xrd as a series as it is, there’s no reason to muck around it. If they want capitalise on Guilty Gear while still appealing to the general audience, ArcSys should consider creating a sub-series. They actually have one they could re-use all the while poking fun at the fans and the franchise as a whole in good faith. Guilty Gear Petit is a thing.


You might want to turn the volume down, WonderSwan’s sound is rather spartan. The game looks better on a real screen, believe it or not

ArcSys won’t give two cents about this idea, because it is much easier just to recycle everything they have now rather than plan a new, more wider audience friendly entry in the franchise. Of course, a game like this would be considered a toned-down, dumbed down second rate entry by some, and because of this it would require a solid, well thought approach to make it competent. This being ArcSys, this will never happen in a million years, they’ll make more money on releasing most characters as DLC and concentrating on milking whatever they have left for now.

It’s a good idea to expand a company’s market, sure. However, it’s not a good idea to do this at the expense of your product. The market where most fighting games are, and all but one ArcSys games are in, is in the Red Ocean. You can’t expect to expand within this limited area, you’ll end up cannilibizing. The best option often is to offer more alternatives. A Metroid to Mario and Zelda, all three sharing different sections of the overall market, all offering different play. Expansion means you need to expand the lineup as well and maintain it, not take an existing piece and mangle it up for general markets that were not interested in it in the first place. Keeping your current consumers market is easier than trying to appeal to a new one, especially if you’re using the same damn product, just not even trying to keep it the same anymore.

20 out of 40

Sometimes I just have to sit down and look at my game library and think how many of these games I can play as they are without bothering with online connectivity, updating or needing to consider whether or not I want a character to have a five dollar add-on to power up. Most of my games are complete packages, sold as they were finished. No product is ever truly finished, there are always things that should be tweaked, fixed, added or so on. Perhaps it betrays my stance on how games should be sold as (or rather, anything) where options can be bolted on, but are not necessary as such.

A discussion with a younger friend noted that this line of thought is exactly what I should consider DLC as. The core software is purchased, and it can be enjoyed as is. If I want to get the nice bells and whistles, then I can throw some money at it to add those optional components on. Otherwise, I can always just ignore the content and concentrate on enjoying what is on the table in front of me.

I had to argue against this, of course. While my comparison did turn against me, I had to note to him that modern DLC is not just about trinkets that would serve as optional, like costumes in Dead or Alive  games or Oblivion‘s horse armour. No, modern DLC has changed from being additional content to the game and have become more like expansion packs that exist from the get-go. Even that comparison is rather weak, as expansion packs were new content that added to the game rather than being designed to be part of the main package. It’s like if you would need to buy Red Alert: Aftermath to gain access to the units and maps in the game proper. Or as it was in case of Mass Effect 3, the game’s real ending was part of DLC.

While it is true that the production costs have risen in the game industry, they have not risen the way the big names overall want to paint it as. It has been largely chosen by these developers to push technological and graphical elements to the limits while employing celebrities and writers to work on their games. This is weird, considering games with less emphasize on these things tend to succeed just as well, if not better in some cases. Look at the latest Super Mario game and consider its resource expends compared to whatever was EA’s latest big Tripple A title. While graphics do make an impact on the sales, the industry forgets that this is an element of computer game culture, much less part of console gaming, where visual design over graphical fidelity matters more.

Perhaps thanks to Capcom, fighting  games and their DLC are not in favourable light, overall. With Street Fighter X Tekken, all the DLC characters were found on-disc, and the purchase was just to unlock them from disc. Calling this DLC was a stretch at best. Similarly, Marvel VS Capcom Infinity had all of its most interesting cast members in the DLC section as well most work put into them. It didn’t help that these characters were present in the game otherwise, telling that pretty much the same deal had happened. Street Fighter V was made to be a platform that Capcom tweaked and expanded upon with Seasons, and they dropped new characters unto it as time went by. Maybe this was a way to keep the players interested on the long term without releasing a completely new title, but it hurt the sales quite a lot. It didn’t help that SFV wasn’t received all that well on the game play department either, which really just made people to wait Capcom to release further versions of the game, like they all always do. Well, Arcade Edition is coming out, but still has the seasonal bullshit welded to it,

Arc Systems Works have been more transparent with their practices to a point, where they’ve recently announced intentions to make additional characters for Dragon Ball Fighters Z DLC, as well as adding DLC characters into BlazBlue‘s and Guilty Gear Xrd‘s later iterations, making it largely unnecessary to purchase them, if you’re willing to wait.

However, ArcSys has dropped the ball with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, as they announced that half of the cast will be DLC. 20 characters out of 40 will be treated as additional content for you to download. Sure, buy the collector’s box the get download code for All-in-One pack, but if you’re a lowly peasant, be prepared to dish out the dough for twenty characters if you want a complete package. I am using the term “complete” here as it is clear that everything’s planned beforehand and intended as the core package. Certainly it is cheaper and easier to develop DLC as the game’s proper development goes toward the end, which betrays the mentality in which game development nowadays aims to maximise profits at the expense of the consumer. It’s like buying a chicken sandwich, and then hearing that the second half of the chicken needs to be purchased separately, though it is cut from the same piece of meat.

Despite the transparency, this sort of approach really drains the juices. There are consumers who have already stated that they will skip the Dragon Ball Fighters Z just to wait its second version, which will fix bugs, make balance better, add new characters and moves, because that’s how things seem to work. I am glad to see that no other fighting game has gone Street Fighter V‘s platform approach, where you purchase a very weak base, unto which everything else needs to buy bought for. Though free versions of full price games with limited characters and content have been a thing with DoA and Tekken.

The big question is, especially with fighting games, at which point we will cease from seeing complete, fully realised releases in favour of each element being sold as a separate, “optional” addition. At that point, we’re probably pretty screwed, and so would be the industry.

EVO censorship Round 2

Of course the weekend I’m away from the town and all the news happens to be the very weekend Evolution Championship Series, or just EVO, takes place. Not that I really am into the VS fighting game tournament scene anymore.  Mostly due to how retarded the whole thing has gone to with eSports and how Capcom has begun to cater this audience alone. Street Fighter V was an attempt to hit true with this audience, but most people will just tell you Capcom wanted the game to be a massive hit with the casuals. There’s a clear lack of self-awareness in this scene. It’s a post to its own rights, but I’m not going to spend any more time with SFV than I have to. Capcom would do if they would end this Season bullshit and release all the content as Super Street Fighter V.

Last year EVO showed their total lack of awareness both culturally and within the scene by bending over to ESPN’s demand to censor Rainbow Mika’s costume due to the televised nature of the action. At the time no reason was given. This happened against with this year’s EVO with Cammy’s standard costume, the one she has been wearing for some twenty years, was censored. However, this time ESPN gave a statement, and the supposed reason was broadcasting standards.

Broadcast standards are a bullshit reason. If ESPN would enforce their attitude towards all the programs, you wouldn’t see cheerleaders, women swimming or any other sport with female athletes in as tight outfits as possible. If you’re thinking I’m being some sort of pervert wanting to see skin-tight outfits, you’d be right, but in case of sports they have a functional basis. For example, in cycling you better have an outfit that does not create drag. Movement is also much easier in an outfit that conforms to you body, or has as little elements interfering with your motions as possible. Even Bruce Lee himself stated that going with suit that has as little separation from the body is the best for fighting, hence his iconic yellow suit.

So what about the cultural thing you mentioned, I hear you ask. Well, ESPN showcases wrestling as well. With Rainbow Mika being a joshipro wrestler, her outfit has been modeled after this scene. Not that the American outfits are any less revealing, but it has to be emphasized that Japanese wrestling scene has multiple key differences from American or European one. It’s treated more a fighting scene and outfits are far more flamboyant and cartoon inspired. Rainbow Mika’s blue outfit with the cuts it has, and her attitude, is a perfect representation of a over-the-top Joshipro wrestler. Hell, even Mika’s slightly coarse voice and hip attacks are straight from the ring. None if this is outside what ESPN already shows in their wrestling programs meant for all ages. Suddenly seeing something terrible in leotards and women fighting in them is duplicitous at best.

It’s almost like ESPN is all right showcasing real life flesh, but polygon models are too sexy to be showcased around.

If you’re in the mind that using your hips in an attack is a bad idea, there are multiple ways it can be utilised effectively. This is because the control of you hip can mean whether or not you stand or not, and using the centre in an attack means you can throw that mass into a concentrated attack. Works great in throws, where hip balance is most often used.

Does this have an effect on the scene and how enthusiastic it is about their game? If we are to believe the case Reaxxion has made for Dead or Alive 5, it indeed does. While some of the 25 costumes in there are a bit racy and questionable, the point of these costumes is to be silly. DoA as a franchise has always had this element to it, where the beauty and coolness of these characters have been celebrated, as well joked about. As Reaxxon says, censoring content in order to make some sort of safe space where women can contest with men is ridiculous. If any offense should be taken, it should be taken from the fact that people are being treated like babies through assumption that they can’t handle certain outfits and suits.

Character outfit selection also has the effect of changing the atmosphere and feeling of the game. While some may scoff at this, the very idea of changing outfits that fit a situation and appearance is valid within VS fighting games. The chosen outfit reflects on the character, both the player and the playable character, and this reflection carries into the style of play. Street Fighter V on the other hand throws this away, as there is just one style of play per character. What this essentially means that overall styles and choices that the player makes in visual terms that may not be conscious are now being censored and won’t have representation.

While this won’t hold any water with ESPN, it is nevertheless a valid concern. Furthermore, if broadcasting standards are used to explain why a character’s outfit must be banned (all the while the channel is showcasing equally amount of skin and breast physics on other all-family sports events they’re airing) it may lead into companies enforcing censoring changes to already realised content, or approach the task of game creation and character design with self-censorship in mind. Street Fighter V is again an example how Capcom has bent over the whole eSports scene in how much they have censored from the game both pre- and post release.

It is a sad business fact that if Capcom and other fighting game developers want to hit the big money with TV broadcasts and be as mainstream as eSports can be, they must make a choice between staying true to the vision they have or bending over and allowing changes made according to what other execs think is the best. Again, if we are to treat games as art, they must have the autonomy and must stay as intended. Reality shows that games are anything but art, and if business sensibilities tell a company to censor their content in an attempt to appease someone, they will. It’s money that’s on the line, and they’d rather make these short-sighted decisions that will affect franchise’s popularity and how much consumer value it.

How not to treat your customers; BlazBlue

Seeing that it took ArcSys a long time to notice that the Guilty Gear fandom didn’t really continue onwards to BlazBlue, they finally decided to port GG Accent Core Plus. However, they can just blame themselves, or Daisuke Ishiwatari, who said in an interview that Guilty Gear fans are too old for video games. Fighting words from a man who still tries to look like he still is twenty. So BlazBlue was created to be accessable to new players. What they meant with that was something less desireable.

Guilty Gear had a large fanbase. It came out and became a mainstay fighting game during the big name fighting games’ absence, mainly Street Fighters, or any CAPCOM’s fighting at that matter. Nobody really cared about the King of Fighters, as it had been stuck in a loop for some time and the 3D games didn’t do much to elevate it’s life. So Guilty Gear almost became the only proper choice for 2D fighting. It did not only offer something nice to look at, but good and fast fighting as well, with some of the best fighting game musics to date.


There’s exactly two people who are willing to play Guilty Gear with me, and even then we’ve agreed that I shouldn’t use Dizzy

When Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus was released, Guilty Gear went on a hiatus. Everybody expected the following version to bring something new to the story, to the characters and to the balance. Accent Core Plus was one of the most balanced, fun to play and well played game, so naturally ArcSys would finally bring us completely new Guilty Gear out of the XX series. Well, no. As in the staff mentions in the interview linked above, they wanted a whole new audience because they felt that the Guilty Gear fans were getting old.

Now, let me get few things out. It’s 60% harder to get new customers than keeping the old ones. Keeping the old customers is easy and cheap in comparison. Abandoning your current customers because you want new ones can lead to a business suicide. The company may have to invest more resources to a completely new and different product for the new audience, put loads of manpower for a new ad campaign and put high amounts of effort to showcase that this product is for YOU. After all this you’ll most likely fail, or will lose money rather than gain it.

ArcSys did this with BlazBlue. The biggest selling points they had was HD 2D sprites with 3D stages, dramatic story mode and lag free online fighting… and that it was made by the guys who crafted the Guilty Gear series.

Remember our agreement on references and alcohol?

The first BlazBlue hit the shelves and got a positive reaction. In every review it was compared to Guilty Gear, and the general agreement seemed to be that it was Guilty Gear’s little brother. It had a small character selection, the graphics were nice and the music was a disappointment. Some of the Guilty Gear fans didn’t move over to BlazBlue, but the newborn crowd that hadn’t stepped into the complex and large world of Guilty Gear gladly purchased a pretty 2D game for their brand new HD systems for some street credit (read as; for enlarging their e-penis.) Most of Guilty Gear fandom in general play multiple fighting games, and they naturally wanted their hands on this new game.

Personally, I’ve got nothing against BlazBlue. I’ve got a lot against ArcSys management for letting Guilty Gear to die out while they try to start a new phenomena. Guilty Gear grew complex with time, not that it wasn’t rather complex to begin with, but there’s a reason I can’t satisfy my hunger with BlazBlue. BlazBlue is Guilty Gear lite by all means, to put it simply. Every character had rather large movelist and thus options what to pull off. You could link high amounts of normal attacks together without thinking about the special moves that much. Four attack buttons and was enough; Punch, Kick, Slash and Heavy Slash. In BlazBlue most of the characters moves have options within themselves. The most clear example of this would be Noel with her Gunkata styled Drive combos. The amount of unique moves is rather limited, just like with the King of Fighters XIII. While every move gets used and the balance is kept, it feels rather empty. Restrictive.

Boring.


BlazBlue has pretty boring music as well. Where’s you usual flamboyancy, Ishiwatari?

I’m not calling BlazBlue itself boring. The decision of three attack buttons and one special Drive button is boring. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure used this same exact layout first, and did it better with the Stands. BlazBlue tries to be better and more different from Guilty Gear, but from the get go it can’t escape from comparisons, and the simple point that it doesn’t do anything new or on its own detracts a lot from it. It’s fun to take few battles here and there, but then you’ll sit back and wish you could play Jam Kuradoberi in HD. It’s not the same, and it wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t have the same high quality feel, even if it looks damn pretty and over-designed in a good way. Take a look at Nu-13’s Astral Finish for an example of over-the-top finishing move. Even then for every well made Astral Finish you get uninspiring one, like Noel’s or Tager’s.

And I didn’t even mention that some of the characters have clearly made so that their moves resemble Guilty Gear cast, and one Chinese lady even has extremely similar screen to another Chinese lady’s Instant Kill.

Most likely ArcSys managed to gain a new customer crowd with BlazBlue. I have hard time to believe that it grew as large as Guilty Gear, and that it managed to sell the same amounts. Seeing that they’re doing the traditional second-game-gets-shitloads-of-updates route that every game company has made since Street Fighter II, BlazBlue is here to stay. However, seeing that there still is a large crowd wishing for a new Guilty Gear (or even a port for the HD consoles) ArcSys has no right to ignore them. They’ve made a lot of bad decision with Guilty Gear and BlazBLue, and I hope that they’ll start apologizing soon. Otherwise we have to start using video game politics again to make a statement.

A service provider, in this case ArcSys, lives on as they make the customers satisfied. This brings them money. Ignoring the customers wants is stupid, and this stupidity won’t bring in money.

Street Fighter X Tekken just might be pretty good

Let’s throw the fanboyism out for minute here.

While I’m not really fond on SFxT at the moment, I have to say that the latest trailers and informative videos on various sites got me into a hype for a moment. The game has changed quite a lot from it’s initial iterations, adding mechanics and fixing broken ones. The new Gem System first looked like something from Marvel Super Heroes’ Infinity Gem system, where the gems power up certain characteristics. Here, Gems give boosts to Speed, Power, Fortitude etc when used. Depending on the Gem it gives a certain percent boost or similar. For example, a Gem might give your character 5% Boost on Speed.

The reason I’m not fond of the Gem System that SFxT is starting to have way too much stuff crammed in. There’s at least four different system mechanics active at all times in one match. For example, Tekken characters have their unique combo system to the normal gameplay and more evasive moves to avoid fireball moves and so on, and the Tag Team system, which is a combination of Tekken Tag’s and MvC series’. Somehow I can see the Gem System being taken down in competitive game, but in casual play it’ll give loads of options to new players… especially now that it has Gems that basically make the command inputting easier, like AutoGuarding, AutoTech throwing and so on.

The game’s pretty hard to watch if you’re not into the systems. There’s a lot to keep track of, and the gameplay is faster and more hectic than in either SFIV or Tekken. It doesn’t help that special effects are getting more and more elaborate to the point that they’re almost obscuring the player characters, but this game is meant to be fast and flashy. I’m sure that both players and non-players will enjoy watching this game, but for different reasons.

This will be a good party game as well, as it looks like SFxT will be having a four player mode both offline and online. It’ll be fun to play, but whether or not they can balance it with all the character differences and systems is another question. I enjoy playing Hokuto no Ken, but seeing that enough fighting games have already bogged down into two or three character use because of unbalanced gameplay, I’d want to see all characters properly balanced. They can’t take the Arcana Heart way with this game, even if the Gem System is an active character modifier.

There’s no doubt that I’m going to buy this game at some point, but not when it’s released. Most likely I’ll track down an used copy from anywhere I can. I’m still giving CAPCOM the finger in this regard.

But what I’d like to see (other than the name change) is to start hearing information on Tekken X Street Fighter. While NAMCO did say that they’d start their actual work on TxSF after CAPCOM has done their part, hearing or seeing any info would be a nice balance.


It’s hard to deny that this game will most likely be fun

This year’s pretty good for fighting games again. We’re getting SFxT, TxSF, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, BlazBle Continuum Shift Extended and most likely the likes of Chaos Code… and if it’s intended, rerelease of Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus or it’s follower.