tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Music to kick ass to

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, so here it is!

Sometimes when you play a particularly well-put-together game, there are moments when everything just comes together – you enter an awesome looking area ready to engage in an epic battle…and then the incredible background music kicks in. More often than not the music helps set the tone and the atmosphere for the upcoming part of the game, and there are some games that just knock it out of the park in this respect.

This has happened to way more times than I can count, so I thought I should chronicle some of the tracks I’ve encountered in video games that make me feel like going forth and laying waste to my enemies (in the video game, of course). I’ve also provided links to go buy these awesome soundtracks wherever possible because you should support the creative people who compose these tracks, and not be a filthy pirate.

So, in no particular order!

Rules of Nature – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

brb SLICING A METAL GEAR IN HALF

MGR:R was my personal Game of the Year for 2013, and it starts on one hell of a high note. Really, the entire soundtrack from that game could conceivably show up on this list but I’m going to put Rules of Nature here because it hits you hard from the get go with an awesome boss fight against a Metal Gear, and the game makes full use of dynamic mixing to play the best parts of the track at crucial moments in the fight.

Buy it here: Amazon.com

Storm – Serious Sam 3: BFE

WAAAARR

This is the BGM for a boss fight that pretty much comes out of nowhere. You’ve spent the last thirty minutes or so fighting hordes of aliens in the ruins of Cairo when you emerge into a somewhat more open area with harpies everywhere. You take potshots at them for a while, wondering what’s coming next – and then a giant warship teleports into the sky above you, and an angry man screams “WAAAR!”

If that’s not a perfect setup to an ass-kicking, I don’t know what is.

Buy it here: Steam (you get it as a bonus with the game, which you should play anyway because it’s brilliant)

The Time Has Come – Devil May Cry 4

Party’s gettin’ crazy

DMC4 is a game I feel rather conflicted about, since it has strong points but it does a lot of things I find irritating as well. That said, Nero’s battle theme is definitely one of the strong points. Somehow it never really gets old even after playing the game for hours on end, and considering how much fighting you do in that game that’s a huge deal.

Buy it here: Amazon

Give Me a Break – Guilty Gear Xrd

GURLFRIEND

This game isn’t even out yet (although I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, based on what I played at Evo), but Sol’s new theme kind of rocks. The opening chords really just set the tone really well for running in and Dust Looping the crap out of your opponent.

Buy it here: You can’t actually buy the OST yet, but here’s the opening theme which is pretty awesome too

KDD-0075 – The King of Fighters XI

I love this track, but Kula is annoying

I think this was the first track from KOF XI that I heard in a match video, and it’s probably my favourite track on the whole OST. The aggressive backbeat and bass suit K’s team perfectly, which is nice because you got to hear this track a lot while playing KOF XI because of how many people picked Kula as their leader (did she really need an invincible DP, SNKP?)

Buy it here: I actually can’t find this for sale anywhere, and it doesn’t seem to be available on any digital music sites either.

This list is by no means exhaustive and there are probably a ton of tracks I missed, but here are the few that popped into my head most readily.

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So, King of Fighters XIII…

…actually surprised me a little.

I wasn’t expecting the tag system to be resurrected, and indeed it looks like it’s hasn’t been. However, they’ve done something else, and resurrected a subsystem that was last seen in KOF2002 and KOF NeoWave – free cancelling (now called drive cancelling). Both implementations of the mechanic are at play here, which is a nice option to have, especially given that they have different risk/reward ratios – drive cancelling without bursting stock is easy but can only be done a limited number of times, while bursting stock in mid-combo is harder but lets you do as many cancels as you want until the bar ends.

EX moves are a decent addition too – the ability to spend a stock to do a version of your move that has different properties is something KOF hasn’t had before and I welcome its arrival. So far it looks like EX DMs will be a decent substitute for SDMs as well, although I have yet to see any videos where they’re used.

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They also seem to have restored most characters’ movelists, to varying extents. For instance Mature doesn’t have only two special moves any more, and Elisabeth’s movelist resembles her XI incarnation more than her weird XII outing. On the other hand Kyo is still based on his boring ‘95 incarnation (with the addition of an aerial version of his Orochinagi for some reason) and there are some strange movelist omissions (for instance, Yuri got back most of her moves…except her uppercut which was the linchpin of her combos).

For some reason they also ditched the only subsystems from XII that I liked – the guard attack and chargeable CD attacks, replacing them with the traditional guard cancel knockdown attack. The former was good since it made counterattacks anticipatory rather than reactionary, and the latter was a nice option to have while on the offense, although the removal of the ability to cancel into CD attacks might diminish its usefulness somewhat.

On an aesthetic note, the music, as heard on the official site, is much better than XII’s. It still doesn’t quite beat KOF2002 Unlimited Match for me, but it’s solid background music, and the motifs for the individual teams (sax in Iori’s theme, fast-paced synth-laden rock for Ash, upbeat, jazzy tunes for the Ladies’ team) seem to be intact. I look forward to having some epic battles with these tunes in the background.

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As far as graphics go, they’ve removed the zooming that was present in XII, so the sprites are now displayed at a smaller size. Given that the sprites are upscaled from 480p to begin with, I regard this as a good thing as it makes the sprites appear less pixelated compared to the backgrounds. However, they’ve also gone ahead and applied some sort of smoothing filter to the sprites that make them appear out of focus compared to the backgrounds. This was a big personal gripe with KOFXI and NGBC– the first thing I did after buying both games for the PS2 was to go into the options and turn off the filter. Why would you produce some great pixel artwork (upscaled, yes, but still really good) and then ruin it with a shitty blur filter? I hope the home ports retain the ability to disable it.

As far as roster goes, it’s known (thanks to some now-removed hidden files on the official KOFXII website) that three of the remaining characters to be revealed will be the K’ team, although no-one knows yet who will feature on the team alongside K’ himself. The other slots are on the Kim team, AOF team and Yagami team, and based on some missing character data found on the KOFXII disc, are probably going to be Hwa Jai (from Fatal Fury 1), Takuma and Vice – although SNKP may go ahead and decide to toss us a curveball yet.

Overall, though, so far KOFXIII has generated far more interest from me than KOFXII ever managed to, so I find myself anticipating the weekly SNKP site updates quite eagerly. I suppose that’s a nice change.

(Pictures from Impress Game Watch’s KOFXIII writeup)

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Oh, who would ever want to be king

c20100225_kof_01_cs1w1_640x395

Looks like King of Fighters XIII is en route.

(logo yoinked from Dengeki Online)

To be clear, I didn’t like KOF XII at all. I did pay $60 for the game, but in retrospect, my money would have probably been better spent on something else. And no, my complaints have little to do with the lacklustre console port – they all centre around what was done to the game system itself. General dumbing down, removal of anything that might be potential interesting and highly stripped-down movelists that made even my usual go-to KOF characters boring as hell to play. Oh yeah, and the stuff about the sprites being upscaled didn’t really help either.

To be honest, the fact that everyone’s complaint about the game seems to be ‘the game plays fine, but the port sucks’ just astounds me. I have to conclude that these people never really played the games that came before XII (the great KOF XI and KOF’98 Ultimate Match) and what came after it (the equally great KOF2002 Unlimited Match). I regard all of those games as superior to KOF XII in every way, simply because their systems were far more interesting. They may not have fancy fake-HD sprites with tons of frames, but they make up for it by actually being fun to play. XI took 2003’s incomplete tag system, fleshed it out and made it awesome; ‘98UM added new twists to a classic formula without breaking it (I actually have a reason to try and use the Extra mode meter and dodging now) and 2002UM addressed my only problems with the original game (crappy aesthetics and stripped-down movelists) while making enough system tweaks to be interesting.

Out of the new stuff KOF XII added, I only regard the Guard Attack and guard crush CDs as interesting, and the latter already made an appearance in KOF NeoWave (albeit in a slightly different form). Critical counters and deadlocks are too rare and too difficult to get to be of any consequence, and the changes they made to how close and far attacks work is just off-putting. Why the hell would I want Shen Woo’s close C from a full character length away?

Anyway, what does all of this have to do with KOF XIII?

Simply put, I’m not super confident about it. Based on a comment from Falcoon back in 2006 (shortly after XI’s arcade release), they worked on KOF XII for 3 1/2 years before releasing it, and the end result of that was a game that felt stripped down in every single way. Given also that the first build of the game at AOU 2009 didn’t even have super meters and most of the subsystems implemented, I’d say that the bulk of the time was spent on drawing those fancy new sprites. They’ve had a year to work on the game since then, but given that these sprites take so long to draw (SNKP themselves said it’s 16 months per character in terms of man-hours), I’m not expecting a major shakeup in the game system. Maybe everyone gets a new move or two, and we get 2-3 new characters at most.

Hey, maybe they’ll add super cancels! Or a multiple-level power meter! That’d truly be revolutionary.

So yeah. I’m keeping an eye on it, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nice logo though.

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If this is what they mean by ‘re-birth’, screw reincarnation

Ever find your skepticism to be completely justified?

Everything about KOFXII’s game system feels weird. The game is definitely slower than XI, 98 and 2K2, no doubt about that. On top of that even stuff like jumping has had its timings changed. When I do what used to be a hyperhop in XI or ‘98UM my character flies across the screen to get an uppercut up his ass. On top of that timings for things as basic as Terry’s dB, dA, df+C, QCB+A combo have changed. The first KOF that comes to mind when I think of an equivalent in the games I’ve played is probably KOF2003, and considering how bad that game was I don’t think that’s a good sign.

I took a spin through single player mode, and immediately recalled KOF XI’s pretty good AI on normal difficulty – while not awesome, it at least tried to use human-like attack patterns on you. Iori would pressure you with hop Cs and Ds, Gato would regularly do his tap combo into punch super every time he got an opening, Kyo would try to stuff your pokes with his QCF+A autoguard, and so on. The reason I remembered this is because KOFXII’s normal difficulty AI is dumb as a brick. It jumps around randomly, spamming pokes and rolling out of the blue for no reason (making it perfect bait for a down B combo on recovery). Athena basically did her reflector something like five times in a row, only stopping after I smacked her with a DM. The only exception was Daimon who would use the bullshit autoguard on his HCF+P to blow through absolutely everything I did to him – even jump attacks.

Also if the AI somehow manages to land a critical counter on you it’s terrible of taking advantage of it. Andy tagged me with a counter close C so that he could do f+C….forward roll, nothing. And it doesn’t even get better as you get further in the game.

OK, fine, AI in fighting games isn’t typically known for being great, and the point of fighting games is versus mode anyway. But seriously, everything about this game screams ‘WE DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO FINISH THIS, BUT HERE IT IS ANYWAY.’ Practice mode doesn’t save your training settings (it did in previous KOF ports), there’s no way to go back to the character select menu from Practice mode, and there’s random slowdown all over the place in the front end, which looks like it was designed by some guy with a copy of Photoshop and a hard-on for Times New Roman.

The game also has some weird hitbox issues. I could swear my opponent and I passed through each other in mid-jump, and the hitboxes on ground attacks are messed up against opponents landing behind you. I managed to score a counter hit on someone who jumped over my Terry’s crouch C because he landed behind me and got smacked by the tail end of the hitbox while trying to poke me. Go figure.

And then of course there’s shit like this:

And on top of all that, I still think this game is a net loss in terms of depth from KOF XI.

I haven’t tried it online yet, mainly because I don’t know anyone else who has it on PS3 and because of the horror stories I’ve been hearing about people who have played it online. BlazBlue lets me play laglessly against my friend in Japan – I doubt KOF XII will give me anywhere near the same connection quality.

Oh, and regarding the sprite issue I brought up in an earlier post – I have a HDTV at home, and it is rather obvious that KOFXII’s sprites have been scaled up. While I can’t make out individual pixels on the BB sprites at about 5 feet away, it’s pretty easy in KOFXII.

On a happier note, I scored an S-video cable for my PS3 so I’m going to see if I can record some of the BlazBlue (and maybe KOFXII, if they ever fix the netcode) matches that I’ve been saving. In particular xephyris and myself had a great set of matches last weekend…I’ll be sure to post them up here once I’ve uploaded them somewhere.

UPDATE:

I tried playing online. The lag was so bad that the game was running at less than 1/2 speed, and some fuckwit who didn’t know how to play managed to beat me with his laggy Joe after I beat his other two characters with Kyo alone. RAGE

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SNKP does my work for me

For a while now, I’ve suspected something wasn’t quite right with the look of King of Fighters XII. Sure, I’ve ranted on and on about how the system they’ve put in place is less interesting to me than those of the other three most recent 2D KOF games, but what I’m talking about today is the actual look of the game – namely the sprites.

If you put screenshots from the two major high definition 2D fighters – BlazBlue and KOF XII – next to each other, one thing immediately becomes clear. The KOFXII sprites look incredibly pixelated compared to their BlazBlue brethren. If you don’t believe me, here are a couple of shots that you can tab between in your browser and verify for yourself:

BlazBlue shot

KOF XII shot

This was explained away in an earlier interview as SNKP preferring the ‘dot art’ look for their sprites. That didn’t really make sense to me, though – it’s possible to get the ‘KOF’ look for a high-resolution sprite without it looking incredibly pixelated. For instance, look at Akatsuki Blitzkampf, a game that runs at 640×480. At their native resolution, the sprites look sharp and don’t have the same problem KOF XII’s do.

My suspicions were only multiplied when I found out that the home port would have a filter option for the sprites. Why on earth would you need to apply a filter to sprites that were designed to be displayed at 720p? Sure, games like Guilty Gear XX have had soft filter options for whatever reason but they didn’t really need them.

As it turns out, I really should have just applied Occam’s razor and come to the obvious conclusion – the sprites were never drawn to be displayed at 720p to begin with.

SNKP launched a new site today lauding the awesomeness of the dot art approach they’re taking with KOF XII. One of the features is a dot art gallery that lets you see the new sprites in action. This gallery lets you view the sprites at 100%, 200% and 400% zoom.

This is the Kyo sprite on the website displayed at 100% zoom:

Kyo_XII 

Compare that to the Kyo sprite that we can see in the screenshot I linked above – it’s a lot smaller. In fact, the in-game sprite seems to line up more or less with the website sprite displayed at 200% zoom. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that the KOF XII sprites are in no way drawn at HD resolution (in this case 720p).

You might think this isn’t a really big deal to be making a fuss about, but honestly, from playing games like KOF XI, NeoGeo Battle Coliseum and Melty Blood that use low-res sprites on high-res backgrounds, the difference is honestly very visible and very jarring. If they weren’t going to draw these sprites with HD resolutions in mind, they should have just gone with a 480p game and made that look awesome.

Heck, that way they could probably have put it on a cheaper board, and might have even been able to put in all the stuff they had to cut. Like all the interesting mechanics and half the roster.

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Gaming odds and ends

This post might be a little disjointed – I’ve been playing a bunch of games recently and thought I’d just pen down my thoughts in one single post since I don’t really want to write five separate posts in one night.

Team Fortress 2

Valve has patched the game twice since the Scout update, yet the Sandman remains unfixed (although they did manage to break rocket jumping while trying to fix an exploit that made it harder for Snipers to get headshots, and they did break Natascha’s slowdown effect yet again). I’ve played in a few big games since the update, and I’d say the stun is overpowered even if you discount the fact that it affects ubercharges. I have not yet seen a single Scout that doesn’t try to tag me with the ball the moment I see them, and in a few circumstances they’ve managed to stun me for extended periods at close range, allowing them a free kill. One particular incident that comes to mind occurred on the second point of the second stage of Dustbowl – I was playing Soldier and standing on the point when a Scout ran out from the central tunnel, ran up to the point and threw his ball at me. I was stunned for a good 3 seconds or so, and this was from being tagged at close range.

The response from the competitive community has been very clear. CEVO has banned the Sandman, and from what I’ve heard a bunch of the other leagues like ETF2L have followed suit. Keep in mind that this is the first unlockable weapon that they’ve actually banned. If I recall correctly they didn’t even ban the Pyro’s Backburner back when it granted a ridiculous 50-point health bonus.

The response from the rest of the TF2 community has been less distinct. While there are a few players who recognise that the weapon is clearly overpowered, the vast majority of the community’s response has been ‘LOL LERN2TEAMWORK.’ By this they’re implying that somehow Pyros need to have their entire team with them when they try to circle behind enemy lines to attempt an ambush, so that they can successfully fend off a class that they were previously on a reasonably even footing against. And of course, if your Medic successfully builds up an ubercharge by being a good healer and deploys it on a friendly Demoman in order to take out a Sentry farm, only to have his uber rendered useless by a flying baseball, that’s his fault for not being a team player.

Surely the absurdity is obvious.

I’m hoping that, like they did with the Backburner, Valve will realise what a terrible beast they’ve unleashed and make some sort of fix. A popular suggestion seems to be to change the stun effect to something akin to the effect of Team Fortress Classic’s concussion grenades, but honestly I think they need to go back to the drawing board with this unlock. Never mind that there are a few achievements that depend on it – go back to the design phase and get it right this time. And for God’s sake stop getting your unlock ideas from the Steam forums.

I’m starting to wonder if I should be playing Fortress Forever instead…

Lost Planet

This was recently on sale on Steam for the irresistable price of $5. I’d only ever played the demo previous to this, and I thought it was alright, so I decided to see what the full game was like (even though the superior Colonies Edition is out now). I’ve played the first few missions, and it’s not too bad. I can’t quite get 60fps out of it, but shooting up giant bugs in snowy wastelands is pretty fun. My main complaints so far are that the game is kind of easy (I haven’t died once yet) and that Wayne’s default movement speed is a little on the slow side, even when he’s piloting one of the giant VS mechs. I guess I’ll see if these continue to be problems as I progress through the game.

Still, this has me interested in the recently-announced sequel – I wonder what improvements Capcom will bring to the table.

King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match

I started playing KOF (and indeed, fighting games) with King of Fighters ‘99, but I respect KOF’98’s place in the order of things. Given that disclaimer, I rather like ‘98UM. It doesn’t have most of my favourite characters, but the (remarkably solid) system changes they’ve made to the original game make this a must-buy for any KOF fan, I’d say. Most of the changes they’ve made revolve around making Extra mode more interesting, and it seems to have worked. Extra mode users now benefit from the ability to cancel normals into dodges, and to cancel certain special attacks directly into MAX mode. On top of that they can choose when they want to break stock unlike vanilla ‘98 where the bar started draining as soon as it filled up.

In addition, the new Ultimate mode, which allows you to mix-and-match subsystems from both modes, poses some interesting possibilities. Do you want the mobility afforded by the roll, or will you trade that for the ability to dodge and quickly counterattack (and extend your combos using the quick dodge)? Do you want the ability to do SDMs at any life level, or would you rather have the ability to max out in mid-combo for the possibility of turning your otherwise staid B&B combo into a more damaging variant?

As for the quality of the port itself, fortunately the US version of the game seems to have turned out pretty well – progressive scan support is intact, and as far as I can tell the game has been brought over more or less unmolested, which should be a relief for anyone who was horrified by Ignition’s handling of the PAL versions of King of Fighters XI and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.

So yeah, if you don’t have the import version already, go out and get this one. It’s $20 – you really have no excuse if you claim to be a KOF fan.

Street Fighter IV

I’m still getting used to the physics and timings, but at the very least my win ratio seems to have improved a little (in that it is no longer zero). My MadCatz Tournament Edition FightStick arrived two weeks late, but I used the Amazon gift certificate I was given as compensation to buy a PS2->PS3 controller adapter so I could use my old Tekken 5 Hori stick with the game until it arrived (makes me wonder why I didn’t do it earlier, actually). So far I’ve mainly been sticking to Ryu and Abel, with some failed attempts at using Fei Long and Dhalsim (both of whom apparently have a pretty steep learning curve). I’ve played a few games online, mainly against Orochinagi members; I’ve played a few random strangers, although I haven’t run into any of the Ken players of legend. I suppose I should be thankful.

On a side note, the MadCatz stick doesn’t work for PS2 games. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, as this was also the case for the Sega Virtua Stick and the Hori PS3 sticks when they were released. The best I can hope for is for support to be added in the next PS3 firmware update, I guess.

BlazBlue

Now, I haven’t actually had a chance to play this game yet, but PS3 and 360 ports were announced recently. A lot of fighter fans are understandably excited about this, but a potential issue with the port has already been raised. The arcade version of BlazBlue runs at 1280×768/768p, while both current-generation consoles are locked to outputting at 1280×720/720p (and indeed, won’t let you play the game at its native resolution). The full extent of the problem is laid out pretty clearly over at the Insomnia forums.

In short, it looks like the great sprites and backgrounds are in danger of being butchered by scaling. If the blurry upscaled sprites in all of SNK Playmore’s Atomiswave releases bugged you, well, this is just as bad. Possibly worse, since it’s one of the first high-definition 2D fighters, and really deserves more respect.

At this point, given that ArcSys can’t go back in time and re-program the game to output 720p in the first place, the only real thing they can do is to crop 48 lines from the top and bottom of the display to avoid affecting the sprites. This is what they seem to have done, but the screenshots still lack the definition of the arcade version. A rep from Aksys (the company handling the US release) has gone on the record as saying that apparently the screenshots they released of the 360 and PS3 versions were smaller in size to make them ‘download friendly’. This just seems ridiculous to me, given that stuff like this is typically distributed through special press FTP servers where presumably bandwidth wouldn’t be a concern.

We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but I am rather worried that we’ll end up getting a butchered port of one of the first high-def 2D fighters.

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Ruminations on a revival

So, King of Fighters XII.

A lot has been said about the quality of the graphical makeover – I’ll say that based on the 720p screenshots and videos I’ve seen, I do like it a lot. It leaves just about everything else SNK has ever done in the dust; my only gripe is that Kyo’s flame effects still look pretty bad, particularly the ones for his uppercut and DM. You’d think they’d have noticed that by now.

In any case, while I do like the look of the game so far, I have less confident things to say about how the game seems to play at this point.

The clash/offset system seems to be an attempt at introducing something akin to parries into KOF. You cause a clash by performing an attack just as the opponent’s attack is about to hit you. In the process both sides take some damage and do an automatic backstep (or a backwards jump if one party is in midair). However both characters can also cancel the backstep animation into anything they want – a jump, a run or even another attack.

In its current form there’s clearly some risk involved with clashing – you take some damage in exchange for the chance to mount a counterattack. Unlike parries, however, a clash also resets the opponent to a neutral state, so at best you end up going from a disadvantageous position to a neutral position – high risk for a somewhat nebulous reward. On top of that you can apparently clash with fireballs, and there are already a few videos out there that show people stopping uppercuts by clashing with a jump attack (although given the backhop that results from a successful clash this might actually be a disadvantage for the player in the air). It’s definitely a major change, and I’m kind of nervous that it’ll end up breaking the game in some way.

I’m also concerned that the builds shown so far seem to lack super flashes. Just about all the DMs I’ve seen have ridiculously long startup, making them impossible to combo from anything. Since the game we’ve seen so far is so incomplete as to lack a power meter and a hit counter, and even one of the main subsystems (Critical Counter), my assumption is that DM flashes will be added in later, but given the ‘retro’ tone they’re trying to go for I have my doubts.

Speaking of said tone – I can’t say I’m a fan of it. Regressing in terms of looks is one thing, but some characters seem to have regressed in terms of movesets as well, which is…troubling. The most affected one seems to be Kyo, who’s basically gone back to his KOF’95 version. There are some glowing exceptions – Ralf and Iori seem to have gotten complete movelist makeovers, but characters like Terry apparently only have one DM, and Shen Woo seems to have lost some moves as well.  On top of that characters like Andy seem to channel their original Fatal Fury 2 incarnations rather than any recent KOF version. And needless to say, I’m still puzzled at their decision to drop the successful system they had developed for KOF XI to start from a blank slate.

I think we’ll only start to get a real sense for where KOF XII will be in terms of mechanical soundness when the game is complete and ready for beta testing. The game is slated for an April 2009 release in arcades, so that should be pretty soon.

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Looking backwards

I’ve mentioned before how SNKP dumping all the new things they introduced in KOF XII irritated me. Capcom has been doing something similar with Street Fighter IV, and needless to say that move has puzzled me as well. It’s not that I don’t understand the motivation behind the move – it’s that I think that it’s not going to help at all.

Ostensibly the idea behind returning these series to a time when they were less loaded with subsystems to master is fairly obvious – to make them more “accessible” to beginners. There’s nothing wrong with making games easy to learn – as long as they remain difficult to master. That is the key thing that keeps people playing these games for so long. And when you think about it, a game like Guilty Gear XX really is no more accessible than Street Fighter II, since at the lowest level, they are based off the same principles.

Anyway, back to Street Fighter IV. Capcom is trying to draw in the people who played Street Fighter II back in its heyday, yet who didn’t stick with the scene after that. I have to say, I’m highly skeptical that this will work, and the evidence on the Internet doesn’t really help to convince me otherwise.

For instance, take a look at this video on Youtube. It’s a video of a Ryu player in Street Fighter IV (the video uploader claims it’s Daigo Umehara, but that hasn’t been confirmed). Still, it’s pretty clear that the guy knows what he’s doing. However, the comments on this and other videos are rather revealing:

it’s not that hard to do fire ball over and over again then kick a few times . I hope D dark is on this game so I can show you a real beast.

How is this guy good? He constantly spams a load of Hadouken. The guy is aweful.

good?…all he does is spam hadouken.

These are the people Capcom is trying to sell this game to. Good luck with that.

If anything, they’ll think “omg, this is going to be just like Street Fighter II!”, hop on Live/PSN and get their asses kicked a bunch of times by players who stuck with the scene over the years (and have thus become really good), chalk it up to people being cheap or not “playing for fun” and quit the game for good. Which is probably why they stopped playing Street Fighter II, come to think of it. There will probably be a few who will attempt to learn the system and actually get better at the game, but I doubt they will be in the majority.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert at fighting games (anyone who has played against me knows what a pushover I am) but I do like to think that I know why people continue to play these games, and thus why trying to attract new players with misguided attempts to rekindle nostalgia isn’t going to work.

(I’ve been writing way too many negative posts lately, haven’t I? I’ll try to think of something more positive to write about next time)

5 comments

I’m not sure why I bought this

I got a Gamebridge off someone at work last week.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a device that plugs into your consoles’ regular composite/S-video cables and transmits the signal to your PC via USB, letting you either play your consoles on your PC monitor (which it does terribly, by the way) or capture screenshots and video from your console games (something for which it is far better suited). It doesn’t seem to do component, but I don’t own a PS3 or Xbox 360, so I have no problems with that limitation.

I hooked it up just now, and captured a sample video from King of Fighters XI.

Not a dazzling show of my combo skills, but it does prove that the device works pretty well.

Now I need to think of a way in which I can actually use this thing. I’ve got a few tentative ideas, but I need to figure out how feasible they are.

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One step forward, two steps back

SNK Playmore recently released some information on the upcoming King of Fighters XII in Famitsu magazine. Having been impressed by the initial trailer for the game from AOU 2008 last month, I read the developer interview near the end. One thing in particular jumped out at me.

–What kind of a matchup will KOFXII feature?
SNKP: Rather than the multishift system from KOFXI, this game (KOFXII) will adopt the traditional 3-on-3 elimination style battle system that’s been used since KOF94. By returning to the traditional format and revising the game system that’s gotten too complex, we’re aiming for a game balance that’s playable even for beginners. Instead of complicated combos that makes full use of the game’s system, we want to put emphasis on “reading the opponent’s mind”.

This has me more than a little irritated.

First off, I thought KOF XI’s tag system added a lot to the game. It was the first KOF game I had played in a long time that actually felt new and fresh without being bad, and I think the series was better for it. I was looking forward to seeing how the tag system evolved for the next instalment. And yet, they’ve gone and done away with it together, and gone back to the traditional 3 on 3 elimination format. This is particularly infuriating when you consider that they’ve just released a remake of what is probably the most-loved classic KOF game (KOF’98 Ultimate Match), which you think would satisfy most people’s needs for classic 3-on-3 KOF. Do we really need another game that apes it?

The graphical overhaul is stunning (if you don’t believe me, check out these direct-feed screenshots from Famitsu) but if it continues to keep alive the ghost of old games rather than try new things, I will be quite disappointed.

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