|Roundtable The Year of Fighting Games|
|Roundtable: The Year of Fighting Games - 2|
Ryan Clements, Associate Editor, IGN PlayStation: I'll start things off by agreeing that this year is indeed one of the best for fighting game fans. I can't remember the last time that so many high-quality titles were released in such close proximity, but its great to see that the genre is still alive and well.
I will admit that the one downside to this slew of fighters is that there's almost too much to learn. Mastering a fighting game takes ages and having so many launch together sucks up way too much practice time. If you're only a fan of one particular franchise, this won't be a problem, but for people with a wide range of interests -- like myself -- this whole year seems quite daunting.
And for the record: BlazBlue wins. ARC System Works' latest is a truly noble successor to the legendary Guilty Gear name and I can't sing enough praise for this beautiful 2D fighter. I love Street Fighter IV and I'm excited for some of the other contenders, but so far BlazBlue has my vote for the best of the best.
Mark Ryan Sallee, Editor-in-Chief, IGN Game Help: The last big year for fighting games was 2000, which saw the (original) releases of Guilty Gear X, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK.
And if you're counting downloadable games, I think last year saw far more than Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur. There were a lot of SNK fighters (which no one cared about), plus the excellent Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix.
I'm not convinced that this year marks a resurgence, just a crossing of the stars. But I'd love to be wrong.
It's certainly possible that fighting games will be revived by the proliferation (and significant improvement) of online gaming. The genre thrived and died with arcades in the '90s because for those games to make real sense, you need to play with someone else. Competition is the driving motivator to play a good fighting game, and as arcades became less populated and harder to find--both in the US and even in Japan--demand dropped. Not too long ago, Capcom significantly cut back arcade development in reaction to the waning arcade scene worldwide.
I think for the first time, HD Remix showed that commercial online fighters can work quite well and that opens the door for the fighting game community to re-flourish. Who knows if it will. This year's Evo tournament showed a lot of renewed interest in fighting games. Could be simply a reaction to a new, canon Street Fighter game, but it might also be a sign that the players (and their net connections) are ready to make fighting games a big deal again, even in online competition is still a sad substitute for real human interaction.
Clements brings up a good point, that by releasing all these games at once, publishers might overwhelm us with the prospect of learning to play everything. It's always been an issue, and usually the community gravitates to just one or two games, letting others languish. It's possible that fighting games are more like MMOs than other popular genres, in that you can't consume one after the other. They usually take a sort of dedication that precludes one from moving on to the next game, and because of this tendency it's hard for more than a small handful of fighting games to find success (whereas a zillion different FPS games can do well in any given year).
Maybe 2009 is a revival. My guess is it'll be more a reminder why everyone stopped making so many fighters. Cheers if I'm wrong.