Complexity and difficulty do not deter sales

Continuing from last week’s ex tempore Guilty Gear post, the concept of making something more accessible in video games should be looked at a bit closer. The myth is very clear cut; make a game’s play less demanding in order to attract consumers. For long running franchises, there already exists an installed consumer base, changing a series’ latest entry to be less whole than its predecessor usually isn’t met with the most positive reception. Fighting games are interesting in this regard, because they exhibit series-within-series mentality. All five mainline Street Fighter games series have their own unique approach to the core mechanics introduced in Street Fighter. Street Fighter II expanded on the cast and introduced combos by accident. Later Street Fighter II games would introduce speed modification, new input methods and the industry standard Super moves. Street Fighter III revamped the whole pace of the game and made Parrying an essential part of the game. Third Strike landed Ex Moves into the series, which have become more or less franchise standard. Street Fighter IV modified Super concept a bit more with Revenge Gauge as well as introducing Focus Attacks and Red Focus Attack would be introduced later. Street Fighter V is a platform for each and every update for the game. This sort of tweaking applies to Guilty Gear as well, where most of the sub-titled game outside the first game have iterative versions. X has X+, XX has its fair share of update to the point of some arguing Accent Core should be considered a sub-series on its own rights. Xrd of course had Sign first before Revelator, and then Rev.2 came around. With New Guilty Gear, we should expect them to take a step back toward the original game, as that’s the standard procedure with both Capcom and ArcSys, and build up from there. However, every time a developer announced they want their game to attract new customers, or that they want certain customer crowd, red flags are raised. However, not for the reason you’d think.

Games have always been complex and stupidly hard. Dark Souls is not any exception to the rule, but it the series is perhaps the best example of a game that mainstream has taken under its wing despite it being brutally difficult, requiring relatively high execution due to its relatively complex mechanics. Dark Souls is just modern equivalent of the NES era Castlevania anyhow. Both are based on Western horror and both are deemed brutally hard games. Both are very successful franchises. The NES era is very good example of games becoming more complex and the same time gaining more popularity and seeing increase sales. Castlevania is of course example of this, but so would Super Mario Bros. By modern standards the first game is archaic, extremely basic. When it first rolled out, it was one of the most technologically advanced game on consoles, the game to define cartridge games before Nintendo rolled out Disk System. We know how that went down. Super Mario Bros. 2 made more characters available with different properties, much longer stages with numerous tricks to them, and more demanding game overall. It may not be Lost Levels, but Lost Levels is just an update for the first game with new enemies and no mechanical changes. Super Mario Bros. 3 on the other hand wiped the slate clean with more demanding stages, more complexity with flying, more mechanics to play with new suits and options, stage gimmicks and so on. If complexity and difficulty would deter the customer, none of these aforementioned series would’ve been successful.

Modern video and computer game developers should look at the arcades’ success to learn a thing or two. Arcade games were often butt puckeringly difficult in order to make their earnings, but with that they also were required to deliver excellent burst of gameplay. Cabinets that didn’t were quickly empty, with customers slotting their quarters into something more worthwhile. The games needed to attract the customers first, and that’s why the cabinet design had to be excellent, eye-catching and sometimes extremely wild. The attract mode was integral to this, which either was pretty damn good or rather terrible. There was no real in-between. The standard was to start with some sort of video sequence that sets up the setting for the game, showcasing some of the characters before the title screen hits, often with a bang. After that it would move to gameplay, which would be either AI playing the game either via game’s own instructions or prerecorded inputs, or just have the player character being dumb and taking hits before dying. Show some scores from other players, maybe splash the title screen once more than then loop the whole thing, until a player throws a coin in. Later in the 1990’s, these attract modes would find themselves very sophisticated, like how Choukou Senki Kikaioh presented itself as an opening animation for a Saturday morning cartoon.

I’d also recommend checking out Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade gamesattract modes.

Presentation is all-important with games still. That is the first thing the consumer will see, from advertisement to in-game graphics. Graphical fidelity in itself is not as important as how those graphics are represented. ArcSys has always been able to pull this off, devising visual flavour that pulls in the audience. The main reason original Guilty Gear is a footnote in the series, and in fighting game history overall, is that it was just another game among others in a time when 2D fighting games were pushed away in favour of 3D. It didn’t make its mark because of being difficult or too complex, Tekken had more on it than Guilty Gear. Third Strike: Street Fighter III hit the scene years later, and you can guess which one of the two are is more complex and more played nowadays. Of course, SFIII wasn’t exactly a mass hit during that time either, but that was the era when arcades were dying. That, and SFIII a totally new cast that rubbed SFII fans the wrong way. Very few companies would be willing to completely replace their game’s cast nowadays, though SFIII‘s unique cast has been accepted retroactively as worthy successors and the initial reaction is seen rather overly drastic. Visuals is what the player will be looking at all the time, and if they’re up to par in terms of design and sheer quality of ’em, the game has to pull double duty on making the entry worthwhile.

That is only the start though, an ever-important one. Once you’ve gotten the customer’s attention, the best way is to engage the him to full possible extent with well designed and coded play. The answer to rope in new players is not in making game easier to play, that is the wrong way to make a game more accessible. Easy to learn, hard to master is the mantra of every great game out there, not just electronic. The best card games are easy to understand and learn, but stupidly hard to master due to other elements. Poker, for example, is simple enough to teach to a three-years old, but everything else calculating odds to reading other players takes time and effort. This isn’t an argument for people to get good at a game, but rather that by allowing the player to naturally learn what does what should be the priority rather than automate things. Automation and cutscenes take away control from the player, and though it helps early on and may give a cinematic effect, it should always be an option to remove automation once the player has learned enough. Autocombos as an element try to alleviate the execution barrier in fighting games, and while they do work as a first step helper, it should always be optional and the game should make an effort to encourage the player to abandon it rather than give them a safe tool they can roll with all the time. Its not a rare mindset to use the tool that’s the easiest and safest because it just works. Repeat it again and again until desired result is gained. The incentive of more damage with better combos doesn’t really sound appealing to general player if such tool exists.

Give a controller to a complete newcomer to fighting games and tell them what the buttons do, and then do things. They’ll be in complete awe what’s going on. There has been much discussion on mechanic complexity, but less so about inputs. Sure, methods of inputs is a big topic, pad vs stick and so on, but less so if there are too many single inputs. What I mean by this that, for example, Street Fighter has six buttons. Three for punches, three for kicks. King of Fighters has four, two punches and two kicks. Tekken has four, one for each limb. Melty Blood runs four as well, but with three attacks and a special. Virtua Fighter has three; punch, kick, guard. Which one of these would you say would make a newcomer most confident? Then consider which of these franchises has seen most revenue. Number of inputs is related to complex execution. More ways to input stuff, the more motor skills are required. Add the mechanics to this, and it becomes easy to see why some would argue lessening complexity is the way to go. Nothing keeps you from using all the buttons on the controller, but at the same time nothing says you should. All that said, the core fighting game design with the system starts with how many buttons there are. It might look intimidating to a complete novice who has never played a game, but this is something no game can really deal with. A player must start somewhere to work over the complex controllers, but a well designed game wins the player over with good design.

Not even kidding. Back when I was studying psychology and used games to run experiments, few of them were so completely bewildered by a SNES controller they might as well have used this

However, this design is hard to implement into a fighting game. The reason for this is that fighting games are pure one-screen games. There are no stages that the developer could design around for the player to intuitively learn controls and mechanics, like they can with Super Mario Bros. There are no attract modes anymore to show how the game flows. All you really can do is hit the Training mode and hope for the best. With the Internet, this shouldn’t be the case anymore. People learned how to play Street Fighter II by being there in the arcades, playing games with others and tradings tips and tricks. That wholesome interaction may be gone now, but online play could help. Have people play few matches against the CPU to measure how good they are and then throw them into online matches with equally ranked opponents. This doesn’t seem to be happening though. Often what seems to happen is that you just keep losing to people online and have to learn about things before you can match others.

The thing is that this happens with everything. You don’t get good at reading before you learn the alphabets and how language works. You don’t learn to drive right away. You don’t learn to draw a straight line until you’ve done it thousands of times. Playing soccer takes ages to get good. Building and painting model kits takes years to learn. Even something like Pokémon Go demands you to drag your ass out there to spin those stops and join the raids for the best Legendaries out there. This is not an issue of getting good at a game, though it does bloody sound like it. The issue is of genre. Fighting games, despite being one of the most readily accessible genre out there, is all about having that crazy shit happen on screen, but as always it should be the crazy shit the player is doing, not the game. Games are about user action, and the less user action there is, the less play a game has. While this post largely equates play with mechanics, the two are inseparable aspects. Fighting games are interesting in that everything is laid out right away in terms of mechanics and they’re easy to do. Making use of them, that’s something that can only come from repeated play. Call it a detriment of the genre or whatever else, but you can only really prepare for a match in a fighting game is to play the game. With RPGs you can get your noggin jogging and consider things in terms of elemental weaknesses and the like. While you can use this in fighting games with rock-paper-scissors elements, timing them right still takes some experience. With a game like Final Fantasy, the issue of getting good at the game is in understanding the mechanics, not really being able to execute them with some motor skill fidelity. Lowering the mechanics skill ceiling might sound attractive, yet it will lead with into more experienced players dominating over newcomers that much more. While Darkstalkers 3 is technically and mechanically very demanding game, it is an example of a game where you medium skill players are very rare. You’ll either be in less skilled floor, or someone who has spend years with the game and have broken through the ceiling. There really is no middle ground, and that probably will be the end result if a fighting game series decides to downgrade its play mechanics.

Holding on to your current consumer base is easier than making a new one. While as a creator it may seem dreadful to tweak an existing formula again and again, that is partially expected from a sequel. Street Fighter does break this mentality, but only if you go by number-by-number rather than iteration-by-iteration. Consumers expect a new numbered Street Fighter to mix things to some extend outside its core basics, but this is not the case with Guilty Gear. XX and Xrd set the expectation that while system tweaks and additions are to be expected, no major or drastic approach would be done in of themselves. The brand expectation for Guilty Gear is what it is, a high-speed fighting game with expansive and complex mechanics that support offensive play the most. Things like Burst, Instant Kills, Gatling Combos, Dust Attacks and the sheer way the games have played have become more or less as part of the core expectations because ArcSys has never given the series a significant system change after GGX. New Guilty Gear will most likely aim to cater with these ideas, but it as a game will have brand confusion. There have been different Guilty Gear experiences before, as Ishiwatari put it, with all the spin-off titles. It would serve the franchise better if the core fighting game line would continue as per standard, catering to both Red Ocean and shallow Blue Ocean customers, all the while the franchise would see a new spin-off that would give it a completely new spin. There is more room for Guilty Gear titles that do something different with the same core basics. From business perspective, you’d keep the interest of your current consumers with a new sub-title to the series all the while still catering to them with the core series, but also attracting newcomers with something they could get into.

Guilty Gear 2 is still a thing, and it changed the genre. ArcSys could do more things like this

It still bogs down to the content, not mechanics’ complexity. You have to have something to nab to consumer in with presentation, you have to have good play to keep the player interested and entertained so he is willing to spend more time, and what he spends his time on is content. When the player consumes a game’s content, he naturally learns the ropes. However, if the content is lacking doesn’t keep interest high. This is why Street Fighter V is a weird case study, as it discarded the idea of iteration in favour of constant content updates. Content for a fighting game would be characters and the various modes, though the main mean would always be the fighting itself. Xrd‘s movie story mode is an excellent example of utterly trash content for a game, whereas previous entries’ multiple paths storymode based on matches and player decisions in those matches is a great example. It keeps the player more engaged, and it gives him motivation to keep playing in order to see all the characters’ story paths. For 25 characters that would mean 50 different endings to unlock. Good online keeps all players along the ride too for some time, but there needs to be content. Marvel VS Capcom: Infinite failed at presentation the very moment trailers hit the scene. The mechanics were great and gameplay had autocombos too, but there was no content people were looking for. On the opposite, Marvel VS Capcom 3 had more complex controls than its predecessor, Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, but obviously had more content that interested general audiences more outside Japan. It should not surprise that it saw more play by all and higher sales.

Video games are stupidly large entertainment industry now, but the true and tested way to expand to the Blue Ocean market still applies; disrupt the market with a new quality product that hits the current paradigm. A revamped Guilty Gear might be this product for sure, but only if it truly is able to pull off everything right. In other words, it would need to be the same kind of title as Street Fighter II was to previous fighting games. Its branding alone drags it down. It would serve ArcSys better if they’d launch a new, high-caliber series with the same energy, with the same effort and the same enthusiasm. They are playing with a marketing grenade in their hands at the moment. ArcSys could pull it off, but chances are consumer expectations are against them harder than Ishiwatari thinks.

Got a hand and an eye?

The times I worked with product design for people with limited range of motion, like folding chair chair design for a person with arthritis, there was one thing a person with a serious hearing impairment told me face to face; Treat us like any other people, we’re none different. Since then, whenever I had my spoon in the pot of design for people with some sort of disability or the like, the only thing I cared about was how to serve them in the same manner as any other person. I’ve mentioned the increased weight of the Western population few times over and how that has impacted e.g. bed design and how cremation houses have to have added safety precautions due to possible grease fires, and the approach with those things have been largely the same. You serve the intent and purpose on the same level. However, people with disabilities can’t exactly be dropped into general fields of design, as they are an aberration from the standard. While it is possible to design a product to cater overall certain kinds of problems, like the lack of the other arm or inability to walk properly without the help of a cane. We can’t foresee all the kinds of disabilities that can come out with the human body. There are too many cases that we are required to approach case by case basis and see how we could improve the quality of living.

Of course, standard design doesn’t fit all. There are multiple sizes of clothes, though these sizes often are by standard in their own category. Even then, you most likely will find yourself thinking that you’d like the chest region to be wider or the sleeves bigger. Things like that are within standard deviation, which is why game controllers fit so many hands. Be it bit or small, a game controller fits a normal hand as long as it is not baby hands. Whatever the size is, the user is left to their own devices on the usage, as all it really takes is some time and effort to be able to use a game controller. That’s where all video game playing really starts, as you can’t get good at a game before you get comfortable at using a controller.

The first problem we come across here, which is the most significant, is what if you are not able to use standard controller for whatever reason?

Sekiro has brought the discussion of including Easy Mode or some sort of assist mode back into discussion, which never was really that relevant to begin with. You know how this blog views this sort of thing; if you regard games as a form of art, the original creators have no reason to jeopardise their vision for the game. If we want to view games as a product, adding a mode that would allow more players to get into the game without losing anything in the transition would be beneficial. There is always a golden path in the middle of course, but certain games are simply designed to punishingly difficult from the get go as a core tenant, e.g. Ghost and Goblins. If that game had an additional mode to make it easier or to add some sort of invisibility assist, the game’s design would effectively be ruined. GnG‘s difficulty is legendary, and extremely overstated throughout the years. Much like any other game, it simply requires the player to approach it by its own rhythm rather than allowing the player to just charge in. However, none of that really matters if you can’t handle the input device.

This is doubly pronounced in competitive gaming, where beating the core rules and playing the game bit by bit isn’t enough; your opponents will throw a monkey wrench into the standard gameplay. Street Fighter has few notable players with some sort of disability. Osataro is a wheelchair bound player, who can’t hold a controller. In fact, he has to control his wheelchair with his chin, and this applies to his gaming. Checking some of his videos, his controls mostly compose what looks like an arcade setup, and he’s pretty good overall speaking. He even had a rather even match Daigo in an online match. BrolyLegs, a nickname, is another SF player, but unlike Osataro, he uses a standard X360 controller and moves the stick with his mouth. His is a condition that most people can’t even imagine living with, and yet he’s making the best of it. Killer Instinct has high-tier player as well, Dayton Jones, nicknamed Wheels, who barely can hold a standard controller and yet is a wrecking machine in tournaments. All these three might benefit more if they were given a controller that was specifically designed for their condition. Nevertheless, to see any of these three to work an arcade stick or a pad just as well as any in their own way should remind anyone playing games that all it takes is some effort and patience. They don’t require the game itself to cater to them.

To use a more standard example, Sven is a blind Street Fighter V player, and while he can hold a controller just fine. His handicap in a fight really comes from the fact that games are three-tier medium; audio, visual and touch. Him lacking the ability to see what’s going on puts him in a bad situation, but he nevertheless has become a relatively notably ranked player as he plays the game by hearing. He does have the benefit of arguably having the better source of reaction, as humans react faster to sound than to visuals. While he would like to work with developers to have more games made for the blind, the best way to work with this really would be in a rich sound environment and how to use them. It’d be an enormous task, as simply designing games for the blind is far too easy to use as a starting point and effectively make a boring game overall, like Enemy Zero, an interesting game that was mostly designed around using stereo sound, but turned out to be rather lacklustre in pretty much every regard.

Saying that a person with less physical ability to handle a video game to the same extent as a healthy one is, in majority of the cases, talking down on a matter they know jack shit. All these are largely unique cases. The games overall don’t need to consider them as anything special, but their playing could be made easier and less cumbersome if there was some sort of improvement in how they input controls. Hell, look at the rig RockyNoHands has. All it takes practice and control of your movements, but a swell set-up helps too. Sometimes I don’t think even a rig could help all that much, though even limbless gamers probably put professionals to shame through sheer determination.

If this post comes through as if I had something personal in it, it is because I do. There are people who may find some use for extra help in-game for various reasons, and even then these can be build into the games themselves without separately making it obvious. Ultimately the input method matters more to accessibility than looking down on people and telling they can’t handle “a normal” kind of game, that things need to made easier via modes. Lift people up, don’t dumb down.

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.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary collection and then some

Ever since Street Fighter turned 20, I’ve been making some insignificant noise to see proper recognition for the original Street Fighter, as janky as the game is. It is one of those games that would deserve a complete remake. Capcom has been dropping bits and bobs about the first game here and in form of optional outfits and such, but a straight remake is still a pipe dream.

The 30th Anniversary Collection is a step towards right direction in many ways. Not only it makes titles like Street Fighter III New Generation and 2nd Impact accessible to those who don’t have a CPS3 or Dreamcast, but collects all the main titles under one umbrella title. It would be great if all the games had online to them, but companies can put only so much money and effort into celebratory collections like these. I don’t mind using my Dreamcast, but many don’t have access to a DC. Similarly, it would be perfect if there was online for all the titles, but that’s not really happening, is it? Online is important for modern games, without a doubt, despite yours truly still regarding couch coop the best form of multiplayer.

I’m not surprised that the EX games are missing from this collection. They never were mainline SF titles, but the first two did enjoy success on the PlayStation. Capcom would have to pay royalties for the original characters, as ARIKA owns their rights. Not that would be a bad idea overall, with ARIKA’s upcoming unnamed fighting game project  (which carries the title of Fighting EX Layer for now) coming along and making some buzz in the fighting game scene. It would have been good cross promotion for ARIKA as well, but I never held my breath for their re-release. Might as well pick up the original PlayStation discs if you’re interested, they don’t go for too much. If I’m honest, I’ve been following this one closely. Graphically and mechanically the game is sound, even at this early state, but ARIKA does need to rework the sound department at some point.

Of course, the collection is not limited to one system. Not many things are nowadays, but perhaps that’s OK for this sort of celebratory game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sales numbers for the Switch version go high, as Ultra Street Fighter II sold rather well. This collection makes a good addition. Shinkiro was employed to illustrate the key art for the game, and all in all it’s an improvement over the aforementioned USFII.

The additional goodies are a sprite viewer and a music player mode. Street Fighter sprites have always been popular on the ‘net, for better or worse, but having this sort of access does allow closer inspection without any hurries for those, who don’t want to resort to emulation or looking up sprite sheets. It may be a bit insignificant addition, but this sort of little things go add a lot. The music player is a neat addition, though the one that would’ve broken the bank would’ve been a colour edit mode.

Capcom’s going to the right direction with this. Street Fighter V has been a sales and success disappointment all around. With its Arcade Edition coming out, alongside its Season 3, Sakura and bunch of other characters are confirmed to join the final roster. However, these two titles are at odds with each other. SFV was developed with the eSports scene in mind, and that’s where it has seen its limited success. The assumption that Capcom will release further versions of the game is more or less based on the fact that ever since SFII  this has been the case. However, as we’ve seen examples with Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) publishers and developers are trying to make each title pay off more on the long run. DLC is a practice on itself, with Season passes essentially being planned additional content on the base title. Arcade Edition got some negative feedback from the users that got unto the ship from the start and have supported the base game, but from general audience, it’s been all but positive.

Street Fighter V is an example, where Capcom took its gold egg laying goose to a wrong direction. While some games can be fitted into a modern mould, Street Fighter V showcased that you can’t beat an arcade roots from an arcade game. The necessities must be met; a complete game from the start, Arcade mode, a full roster and (surprisingly to some) less emphasize on the tournament scene. SFV should have been a safe game for Capcom to publish, but just like Marvel VS Capcom Infinite, it’s full of decisive flaws in the core design and structure department. Capcom’s competitors are in a far better position nowadays, with all the big houses having at least two decades of experience under their belt and have been pushing out better fighting games than what Capcom has. ArcSys even has a popular license under their belt now with Dragon Ball Fighter Z, which probably sells more than SFV during its lifetime by name recognition alone.

Capcom is one of those companies with rather clear periods. 1980’s Capcom saw its first change with Resident Evil, and the company changed its direction around the mid-90’s. 2000’s Capcom saw a paradigm change around 2006, something that Capcom has been moving away now slowly, but surely. These changes are not immediate, but take slowly place until something significant is showcased. Capcom’s arcade essentially being ran down in favour of console development, classic titles all but missing and ignored, emphasize on Western games, the DLC tactics that consumers didn’t like, and now, nostalgia. While Mega Man Collection games should’ve been just one disc, collecting all the Classic-series games, including Rock Board, those and SF 30th Anniversary Collection are an indication that Capcom wants to serve their long time fans, albeit with pre-existing products most of them already own. With Mega Man X games coming to modern platforms, it would seem that Capcom is testing waters for resurrections, even with some of the newer franchises like Devil May Cry getting its HD collection ported to current systems. Of course, we can’t ignore the rumours for DMC 5 being in development, which became more plausible with the reveal of Mega Man 11.

All that said, Inafune separating himself from Capcom did leave the franchise in a hard place. Just like how he was the face of the franchise to the consumers, he was also responsible inside the company. Kazuhiro Tsuchiya does not necessarily need to become a new face to carry the franchise onward, but that might be inevitable.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s going on at Capcom currently. Keep an eye what’s reading between the lines, as all the interesting bits are there.

The Archetype maker

Before going into Mega Man’s 30th anniversary, let’s make this week a thematic one for Street Fighter. Let’s talk about the design now that I alluded to that possible topic last time.

To cut the chase, this will be a very truncated version what should be a series of posts concentrating on each of the original characters in Street Fighter II. Yes, we’re ignoring the original game, because it’s just background noise at this point. Unless Capcom decides to remake it, which they should have already done. Also note that I’m going to use Japanese naming scheme.

The core of Street Fighter II‘s character designs is that they come from the culture around. It’s not self-referential or tries to shove other games into itself. There was nothing to reference yet, outside Capcom’s use of Yasichi and few other smaller items, like Henry from Side Arms Hyper Dyne. All the characters also have certain spot in the roster both in terms of gameplay and design.

While the planet beneath there came out of nowhere, it really drives in the idea of a World Warrior

Ryu’s design at its core is a Japanese martial artist, specifically Masutatsu Oyama. While originally a South Korean, Oyama has been one of the most influential martial artists in Japanese culture for developing his one-hit kill techniques that could kill a bull. Not only are Ryu’s and Oyama’s training style similar, but his Hurricane Kick, or Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku, was inspired by Oyama’s match against a Muy Thai fighter in 1954, where Oyama defeated this Black Cobra with an elbow strike, followed by a swift aerial triple kick. Yoshiji Soeno, Oyama’s most senio pupil, would later repeat this aerial marvel against another Muy Thai fighter in 1974 in hopes to rise against Reiba, who also went under the title The Dark Lord of Muy Thai. The name was attached to him not only due to his presence in the ring, but also due to his dealings with the local mafia, who killed him before he had a chance to fight Soeno.

Street Fighter‘s core is in Oyama’s challenge to fight against skillful martial artists in the world to test himself and his skills. The bout between Kyokushin Karate and Muy Thai kickboxing was not to be underestimated and spread around the scene in stories and legends. You never really knew any of this, but your brains did because of popular culture you consume.

Sagat is an amalgamation of these Muy Thai fighters, though due to how much has been lost to time its hard to say how much in terms of visual flavour. His trunks are style for certain are direct visual cues at least. Understanding how Ryu and Sagat are essentially the core martial art theme in Street Fighter gives them more depth both in terms of characters and design. This sort of approach is what makes Street Fighter II unique, even among Street Fighter games.

It’s said Thai fighters are not interested in fighting the Japanese anymore due to them lacking the same drive as they used to. There is not contest anymore.

However, things need to be more fantastic, and the low, semi-realistic take Street Fighter used to have is all but gone. Despite having roots in anime too (Hadouken is supposedly inspired by Uchuu Senkan Yamato and its Wave Motion Gun), none of its fantasy elements were too exaggerated.

The rest of the cast follows similar suit. Mike Bison is modeled after Mike Tyson, who at the time was the boxer around. Even now his name resonates among boxing enthusiasts. He has weight in popular culture due to his career, and probably will stay there for a good time, until someone stands up to take his place.

Ken, while being just a pallet swap of Ryu, was based on Joe Lewis. Lewis isn’t a small time name either, as he has won large number tournaments and was voted twice at the greatest fighter in karate history. He was a strong fighter, but what set him apart was his explosive speed. Ken’s kicks were probably inspired Lewis’ left side kick.

E. Honda and Zangief are both easily recognisable from their looks. Whereas Zangief is your archetypical show wrestler, E. Honda an archetypical sumo wrestler. Zangief carries the name of one Victor Zangiev, a Russian amateur wrestler who was known for his spinning throws, The Carousel. After winning two titles in Soviet Russia, he entered the New Japan Pro Wrestling scene 1989, from which he probably was just directly adapted into Street Fighter. Capcom’s staff is filled with pop-culture hogging fans, as it should be evident whoever has played their games. E. Honda is probably based on a well-known sumo wrestler, but my knowledge on sumo history is lacking. Only as of late I’ve begun to appreciate the sport. However, seeing he is still a very unique character in the whole of the roster, E. Honda stands out on his own and counters Zangief in the heavy weight department.

Guile’s sources, while clear, are rather interesting. Combine with 1980’s American Action movies Schwarzenegger offered with a cyborg Nazi Rudolf von Stroheim from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and you get Guile. Stroheim’s influence comes in with Guile’s neat, flat cut, while the rest comes from Arnold’s physique and the American soldier image. Guile is a strong character, very limited in some sense, yet extremely explosive when used properly. Even without the JoJo reference, Guile’s appearance is very much to the point and shows one of the ways how Capcom’s staff didn’t stick just with Japanese popular culture. Well, Sagat and Mike Tyson already told you this, but the point still stands.

This playing with existing ideas and giving them form plays out in Dhalsim and Blanka as well. While neither has a strong real-world point of comparison per se, they both embody the idea of something that has spread across the world. Dhalsim as the Indian mystic who can contort his body into the most odd shapes and breathe fire isn’t exactly a stereotype. It’s more a mystical character and a perception the rest of the world has of some of India’s holier people. The skulls around his neck are a point of interest too, as you wouldn’t expect any other character carrying them around. Blanka is probably the strangest of the bunch due to him being a wild child, and is a good example of Japanese culture electrifying a something to an extreme degree. A green beast-man itself is nothing new, and out of all the more human kind of characters he stands out.

Balrog, the Spanish ninja, stands out for a different reason. The only globally accepted warrior-type characters Europe has are knights and Vikings. The rest don’t even scratch the surface. Nobody even knows Finland has an old martial arts of its own that is based on bear’s movements. Thus, Balrog fills the place of the exotic. A very lean, masked assassin with a claw might not be anything new, but putting flamenco into the mix allowed them to create something that reminds an archetype, but isn’t one. It could also be that Balrog gained his design cues from Japanese pop-culture, with him sharing similar history with JoJo‘s Dio and tends to hold a rose between his lips, a thing Japanese tend to repeat with certain kind of beautiful male characters.

Vega is Yasunori Kato of The Tale of the Imperial Capital. This in itself doesn’t matter much. the West only has passing familiarity with the character and story through the anime Doomed Megalopolis. What matters more is that the influence from Kato comes into play in his military uniform design. With a glance the player can see that Vega is something serious; while all other characters are martial artists, Vega is a military leader. Vega’s uniform however isn’t anything exceptional in itself, as it is more or less a suit from the Imperial Japan’s army. Vega is also the only character who still has a introduction before the fight, where he throws his cape away. That alone makes Vega seem a threat. These few simple things hammer in Vega’s influence.

Lastly, we have Chun-Li. Her design harkens back to a time when Japan had a boom for Chinese culture, hence such titles as Ranma½ and Gekisatsu! Uchuuken came to be. Her design takes the usual Chinese qipao and dons her hair into buns. Both of these are very traditional take on Chinese clothing, though her choice of military boots and wrist bands with spikes give a more lethal impression. Those wrist bands and Blanka are pretty much the only thing in the design department that hasn’t aged all that well, but have become iconic in the game scene. Chun-Li uses some open hand techniques that were inspired by Chinese kung-fu, but her very core point was her legs. Her design makes a clear colour difference between her qipao and lower body, and this comes clear through Hyakuretsukyaku, or Lighting Kicks. Certainly, she was designed with certain liking in mind, but this doesn’t demerit her at all; it gives her far more control in terms of visuals and how she controls the fight through speed from her legs as opposed to punches or projectiles.

That’s where come to an end. Street Fighter II didn’t just write the book how make a V.S. Fighter, but also what character styling to use. Almost all fighting games that followed used the same base formulae of character set-up and design to some extent. The simpler designs like Ryu and Sagat carry a long history before they were put into sprites, and often the reality is more fantastic than what we see on the screen.

Thirty years of Street Fighter

It’s not hard to see why Street Fighter matters to Capcom. While the first game was a bust all things considered, a mere curiosity that would set things into stone and where better entries in the franchise could be launched from, Street Fighter II was without a doubt their most widespread hit. A hit that didn’t just change what a V.S. fighting game was, but also the culture around it at a global scale. The original Super NES release of the game was Capcom’s best-selling title until Resident Evil 5 to boot. Without a doubt one of the cornerstone’s in Capcom’s arsenal of games.

You may scoff at my notion of Street Fighter II being a global phenomena, but that what it was. People in their thirties or older who spent any time in the arcades or had a Super NES probably spent some time with the game with their friends. Anecdote be damned, but I can testify knowing people from the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Germany, Scotland, Britain, France, Portugal, Hong Kong and Russia who played Street Fighter II in the mid-1990’s and to this day were able to throw a fireball or two without much reminder how to play the game. Or in the case of the guy from Britain, pick up Dhalsim and beat the crap out of anyone who challenged him.

Street Fighter’s characters and their nationalities used to be relatable and for those who didn’t care, there were characters that were interesting, colourful and full of wonder. They weren’t fantastic per se, but that was part of the charm. These characters that were able to dish out projectiles made of life energy or spinning sound waves ultimately had rather mundane design and look to them, but something that would stand the test of time. The original cast of Street Fighter II do not age, as their design is very much rooted to reality with enough push of that fantastic element to give them a slight edge. Some later Street Fighter characters would meet a lesser fate when it came to their design, and for good reasons. However, this isn’t really a post about the design philosophy of Street Fighter, though there would be enough material for this for sure.

A big hit, said to have re-written rules of a whole genre to the point of the franchise being considered de-facto title and large cultural impact across the world. No wonder Capcom wants to celebrate all the major Street Fighter anniversary with the second game.

And there lies to rub. Five years ago, when Street Fighter was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and even before that, when the 20th hit the corner, I’ve argued that Capcom should go back beyond and remake the original Street Fighter game. Instead, Capcom decided to release a celebratory 30th Anniversary Edition of the original Street Fighter II for the SNES. Nobody should be surprised that it has already sold out, because collectors are crazy like that. I’d rather pick up boxed copy for less, if I needed another copy of the game on my shelf. Furthermore, it’s a sort of middle finger to European players, as the game only runs in NTSC region machines. Let’s not forget the warning towards the bottom of the screen warns you that the cartridge may damage your system, cause it to overheat and catch fire. That’s not exactly what I’d look for in a game.

But I digress. Street Fighter would use a remake and serve as a very soft retelling of the origin of the franchise as well as put the emphasize back to Ryu’s and Sagat’s rivalry, and have a legit moment where Murderous Intent Ryu appears for a moment in the canon. None of that really matters. What matters that Street Fighter is really a terrible game to play. None of its home computer or console ports ever improved on it.

The joke is that the franchise began with its second title, and as much a joke that is, it’s pretty applicable. We could ignore the original Street Fighter and lost absolutely nothing. Yet something always nags behind me skull, reminding me that all the sequels in the franchise had few iterations to them in the arcades or otherwise. Even with Street Fighter V, the updates and added characters have made it a different game from what it was originally. The mode of updating just changed from separate releases to updating the game itself.

Return to the original Street Fighter could also allow the developers to flex themselves otherwise, if they choose to take notion of the progression the series has seen in its thirty years run. They could choose to treat it yet another new entry and do whatever they wished, like usual, or they could take into notice the lack of super moves and advanced functions and design the game with more to-the-core approach. Not necessarily simplifying the game design to the point of gimping it, but looking at what made Street Fighter  successful enough and then improve on that with the experience gained thus far. Granted, that game already exists and is called Street Fighter II, but the point still stands. With all the hubbub of fighting games being too hard to get into, and the furiously fanatic hobbyists being afraid anything with simpler mechanics that don’t require half a year of training ends up being terrible, there is a place for professional house like Capcom to create a game that stands between two extremes.

Maybe it’ll take another ten years before Capcom gives this a thought. Hopeful wishing at its best, as Capcom is infamous of just letting franchises and games fall into obscurity and be forgotten. Just like how Street Fighter as a franchise was put into ice for better part of a decade after Third Strike and EX 3. Nobody sheds a tear for the original Street Fighter, and it’ll stay as a minor curiosity with little interest towards it. Then again, perhaps that alone would create enough impact.

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.

CAPCOM just doesn’t get it… or is broke. Most likely both

At EVO 2013, CAPCOM announced the Ultra Street Fighter IV, and displays four new character entries to the Street Fighter IV series. However, these four characters are recycled from the now-infamous Street Fighter X Tekken with gameplay adjustments to the SFIV gameplay mechanics, both old and new. At the same time CAPCOM reveals that there will be one more character that will be concealed from the public for the time being.

After five months of speculation and CAPCOM raising hype, at Capcom Cup they teased fans with an announcement that the fifth character would be female. This hint along with the previous Appeared in the UDON comics and is very much related to the Street Fighter universe sparked high amounts of speculation.

After a month or so, CAPCOM reveals that only four people on the Internet have guessed the secret character correctly, leading everyone to believe the popular guesses of Sarai, Decapre, and Noembelu were wrong. Three months pass by without much of anything new, until it is time for CAPCOM to reveal the character. The trailer starts out with an unintentionally bad sketch where the most requested character R. Mika appears with Karin. Needless to say, this got some people’s hopes up for no good reason, as Bison goes and removes her from the scene as well as Retsu, and calls his dolls. At this moment, it would seem like the new character is multiple Dolls rolled into one slot, which opens all sorts of interesting possibilities and would be completely out of Street Fighters norm.

But no. The only Doll that has always been Cammy’s palletswap jumps out and pulls out a pose; it was Decapre after all.  The trailer continues with footage of Decapre fighting the rest of the cast, and to add further injury to the insult, showcases pretty much all the moves she shares with Cammy from normal to Cannon Spike.

Sometimes I have to give CAPCOM a thumbs up. They have pretty massive balls on the subject of crushing expectations and pissing off fans. Not that they make any money on it, seeing that they had to cut their profits fifty percent due to their internal restructuring. As far as we’re concerned, CAPCOM’s current venture into the mobile game market has failed miserably. They don’t even seem to recognize anything wrong in this.

The thing is, an unknown source stated that CAPCOM modelled their business structure according to EA, and every worker in EA simply hates the higher ups, who either have no idea what the industry needs or do not give a shit. My money would be on both. Ono got a damn heart attack while working on Street Fighter IV and this is just one incident that has come out. I have no doubts that interns and long-time workers simply hate how abused they are at CAPCOM Japan’s offices. We hear only drips and drops of the issue here and there, as this is Japan and their work culture is rather different.

But let’s return to Decapre. This isn’t a new character. Much like all the previous Newcomers in Ultra Street Fighter IV, Decapare uses a pre-existing character model and sets to modify it. While this isn’t really anything phenomenally new or offensive, they could’ve chosen amore interesting character than Cammy with claws. The hype and expectations CAPCOM had managed to garner from the Street Fighter fans were for absolutely nothing.

With decisions like these, I have to wonder if it would be best that CAPCOM would go under and their IPs would be sold to different companies rather than see a hero rising from their ranks and renewing the whole company back into the shining example of game developers they used to be… almost thirty years ago. Typing that down had me pour down some Famous Grouse and wonder what really happened in there. This is a question that would need some serious journalistic research through interviews of ex-employees of various rank. I’ve seen that a lot of ex-CAPCOM employees like Inafune have been somewhat dicks to work with, and I’m sure this has been due to the overall working environment CAPCOM as been encouraging.

The way I usually write down these posts is from a very detached view, where I disregard the human element of servicing people from the product suppliers’ side. In an ideal world, any customer service person would fill the needs of the customer first and disregard himself. I know this first hand and the idealistic way I usually type things down just doesn’t work in real life. With CAPCOM even taking intoaccount the human element just goes out of the window. I am very sure that they are not doing anything out of spite, but rather that they don’t have the money to do anything and that they simply don’t care.

No, CAPCOM does care about money and they really seem to do things that they seem to regard the next big bank money maker based on what the industry says and does.  Much like some other companies, CAPCOM has lost the touch with their past and the customers, the two things that they should never forget. CAPCOM went from agood arcade game developer to one of the bets best third party game developers during the 80’s. Their Disney games still are the best examples of licensed games done right. 90’s CAPCOM was colourful and fun with one-shot games everywhere next to numerous huge ass franchises running the show alongside them. To be brutally honest, the moment when CAPCOM started showing signs of going bad was during that time. I am having a hard time to deciding whether or not this would coincide with the early or late 90’s, but the absolutely last point of no-return was the moment they decided to follow EA’s model. There’s no denying that a lot of companies are envious of EA’s success in business level to rake in money, but their model doesn’t work in Japan. None of the companies outside Nintendo have franchises that they could abuse to extreme lengths, thou Nintendo has been feeling on this with their lack of quality products and awful marketing on Wii U. I still can’t get over how big misshot Wii U has been from thename onwards.

Saying that CAPCOM is beyond saving is hyperbole. To be idealistic once more, every company can turn their boat around and make the best money they can as long as they meet the expectations of the customers and are able to hit the Blue Ocean again, hitting the cultural nerve like in the 70’s and 80’s. That’s not going to happen with CAPCOM because of the human element. Perhaps we need machines to run CAPCOM whenever we get AI that’s good enough to make decisions.

Perhaps it is the fact that people are still riding on the past and create these new things on and based on old. Since the late 90’s the industries have started to remake old things rather than striving for something new. I wonder what it would take to make a new Pacman-level game. Perhaps it is impossible with how the industry is at the moment. Perhaps I am contradicting myself when I say that the entertainment industries need to see what used to sell and worked and proclaiming that they need to produce something new. No, learning from past and making use of those teachings is not the same as recycling things over and over.

25 years and this is how they celebrate it?

This is… This is shit. This is how it looks when people who don’t give a damn any more just do whatever they want to do without thinking anything properly through.

I mean, really? Mega Man crossing over with Street Fighter? This looks, feels and sounds like some fans Saturday project while completely drunk. Good God I’m happy that this is free. I wouldn’t pay a cent for this piece of crap.

Really CAPCOM? This is how little you think of your customers? It’s the 25 years of two of your most important franchises and what you do for them? A God forsaken 8-bit replica that crosses them both over? For crying out loud, get into your think skull that retro graphics do not sell Mega Man. Good level design, awesome music, tight controls and balances gameplay does. Mega Man 9 was interesting, but 10 was just bad decision all over. We do no need games like Mega Man X8 (which dear reader, is one of the most convoluted and pointless game in the franchise which doesn’t even respect where it comes from), but what we do need is more games like Mega Man 2 and Mega Man X. Not in how the play, but how they evolve the series.

They could’ve at least release a goddamn compilation again with slew of extras. I’m still holding a grudge over Mega Man Legends 3, even thou I completely understand the reasons for its cancellation. But this, this is an insult.

And Street Fighter. Dear Lord what the hell were they thinking while deciding to make Street Fighter characters into Robot Masters. I’m sure this was an idea that stemmed from somebody at CAPCOM making sprite hacks of Mega Man and some exec wanted to make a game out of it.

Imagine if CAPCOM had done a complete rehaul of the original Street Fighter and expanded the game from top to bottom? If they had gone back to basics and made a game called Street Fighter a complete game changer?

But Aalt, don’t take it so seriously, it’s a free game after all.
There is no such things as a free game. This game cost CAPCOM to develop. The sum might be smaller than any game they’ve made thus far, but it still took away money and manpower from actual game development. This takes away from making good games. This is a joke; a joke on both game franchises that have brought the most money to CAPCOM during their existence. No other franchise can even compare to this. They were not only good games to begin with, they were a phenomena that moulded pop-culture and left an impression that is still felt in the industry.

And to “celebrate” this we get a goddamn flash level crap?

I can’t even think straight. Having this and Rockman Xover is just- I want to punch a cow so hard that it explodes.

Just throw CAPCOM into the meat grinder already.

Takeru after seeing what Manami did to Takayuki

Why Capcom killed off Mega Man

Yoshinori Ono was the man behind resurrecting Street Fighter and bringing it back to the masses. However, his physical health was the cost of it all. His interview doesn’t only shed light on why Street Fighter X Tekken was such a massive failure, or why we most likely won’t ever see Street Fighter V, but also why CAPCOM won’t make another proper Mega Man game for the next ten years to come.

“So from the company’s point of view, if the team is stating that it cannot do any better combined with a lack of sales, it’s a complete story and it’s time to move on.”

All the most recent Mega Man games from Maverick Hunter X to Mega Man 10 sold decently, but not well enough to warrant sequels. Mega Man Legends 3 was fate of the same treatment.

“Until the day of release, Street Fighter 4 was an unwanted child,” Ono says, his tone at once sad and defiant. “Everyone in the company kept telling me: ‘Ono-san, seriously why are you persisting with this? You are using so much money, budget and resources. Why don’t we use it on something else, something that will make money?’ No-one had the intention of selling it, so I had virtually no help from other departments – they were all reluctant, right up to the day of release.”

I have no doubts CAPCOM felt the same way about Mega Man X8 and anything that came after it. The Battle Network series sold like hotcakes with its balance of real-time fights and collecting, as did Mega Man Zero with the high difficulty level and modern take on the series. Both of these had sequels and failed miserably.

Creating a Mega Man game should not be expensive, and yet developing the for the current consoles is expensive. Mega Man 9 was costly because the old games had to be reverse engineered and go against the current state of technology. Mega Man 10 was quickly thrown together after that, but only after the sales numbers came in. Developing for the GBA was cheap in comparison, whereas the DS fetched higher price, and the lack of sales that ZX series had doomed it. Same with the Starforce series, which shared the same weaknesses; they were lite versions of their predecessor series.

Mega Man Legends never had proper sales. People bought the first game because it was Mega Man in 3D, but even these people knew what they were getting into; completely different thing that main series were about. Legends 2 sold very little, and at this point CAPCOM had already started becoming the entity we have today.

Legends 3 was cancelled for one reason; it would not have sold well enough. This is the reason CAPCOM “killed” Mega Man; there was no money in it. CAPCOM’s obsession on HD gaming is what killed Mega Man.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s CAPCOM was all about making great games, as evident on Ono’s statement. Arcades was where CAPCOM ruled and made their money. When the arcades died, CAPCOM had to change. However, we all remember how Nintendo’s sales always plummet when they abandon their arcade roots. The same goes with CAPCOM. However, CAPCOM has nothing to make a comeback, as they’ve stopped producing their own arcade machines (the glorious CPS series) and barely produce worthwhile game there any more.

Would it be possible to reproduce the arcade feeling at home? If we take another look at Nintendo, the answer is Yes. Capcom has done it many times over, and the Disney license games they did back in the 80’s and early 90’s is a proof of this; these games were arcade games adopted for home consoles. These games have a hidden property as well, which is that they are generally rather cheap to produce as they do not need to be in HD at any point, but they do need a proper developer team who simply wish to make a good game. This team also needs to have limitations and a clear goal what they’re doing, and keep it simple. Very few arcade games were complex to begin with, and the most complex arcade games happen to be fighting games like Street Fighter III.

Why ZX series died out wasn’t just it’s watered down content, but because it wasn’t a Mega Man game. Zero series gave a proper way to roam free, but within strict limitations. If I wanted to play a 2D-exploration, I’d play Metroid. The Starforce series wasn’t just watered down, but also complicated certain matters that were supposed to be simple but abundant. The decision to make Starforce 3D was most likely an executive decision, or at least what the market department decided. Any good businessman could’ve seen that both ZX and Starforce would flop.

Does Mega Man have an audience out there? Yes, but the customer base has diminished in great numbers. People who got into Mega Man were at age five to fifteen when Mega Man 2 hit the scene. It was my first Nintendo game I ever remember playing and beating. It was the game that made me jump from Atari 520ST, from computers, to consoles. Now we’re all well over our twenties and thirties. People who played Street Fighter II have enjoyed Street Fighter IV, but I’ve seen that they will always regard II as the better game, for good reasons.

Up until Mega Man’s twentieth birthday we all could enjoy great amounts if insanely well made games, as well as bunch of mediocre and bad ones. When somebody like Ono does the same thing to Mega Man as he did to Street Fighter, we can expect Mega Man 11, or perhaps X9. If done correctly, they will use that era’s technology and not rely on nostalgia. They will put their heart’s tears and blood into it, crafting the same fun game have had since the first one.

CAPCOM isn’t toying with their customers. They’re not pissing them into their eyes or anything like that. To them it’s a cold truth that Mega Man does not sell any more. The golden days of their unofficial mascot has been long over and there’s nobody taking the lead. To us customers, to us fans who still wish to see a new Mega Man these times are sad. We can play over and over the past games only so many times. CAPCOM has not been loyal to anyone in the past ten years. The CAPCOM which developed Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Mega Man X, Captain Commando, Kikaioh and all other classics is no more. The CAPCOM we have nowadays is in financial trouble. It tries to survive in these times when macroeconomics are bad, but quite worse yet.

It’s wrong to say that Mega Man was killed off. Mega Man was not killed, but simply… stopped. It’s a dead franchise. Capcom didn’t kill off Mega Man, but in their eyes everything that Mega Man had is no longer alive. Perhaps they’re following the small sales the comics and books are making, but a new game seems to be out of question. CAPCOM’s not willing to invest into releasing the DASH games on PSN, as they would need to pay some money on the licensing issues in the game, like the songs, and they aren’t interested in removing them from the games… which only shows that they’ve lost the source codes.

It’s been a good run guys. The only thing we can really do is to keep asking CAPCOM for a new Mega Man game, and hope that they have someone who is willing to take the same burden Ono did with Street Fighter. Without a person like him inside, I’m afraid it all will be in vain otherwise.

Mega Man’s story is far from over; We never got to know what happens after Mega Man 10, how would Lumine’s rebellion affect X’s world, how the world became one of race of Carbons, and how the hell did Trigger get off Elysium. As far as CAPCOM stands, these are questions that are left open, never to be answered. And perhaps it is for the better….


…everliving life in memories…

…until someone awakes the hero anew.