How accessible should fighting games be?
Where do you draw the line?
Fighting games are definitely among the top most competitive video games out there. The competitive fighting game scene has been going on since the 90s with the emergence of Street Fighter, Tekken, and other popular fighting game franchises. A key issue that has been discussed quite a lot recently is accessibility in fighting games. In recent years, with the emergence of newer fighting games such as Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 developers started implementing more “newbie” friendly approaches. Things like the revenge meter in Street Fighter and X-Factor in MvC3 were mechanics that give the losing side the ability to make a comeback. On the other hand older games of the generation were a lot less forgiving. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike for example was a very technically heavy game, it required the player to put a lot of time and dedication into playing it if wanted to improve in the game. While people who love to challenge themselves adored how complex the game is, other less inclined people might get turned off by how hard it is to get good at the game. So the question then arises: where do you draw the line between giving tools that make the game too easy and simply making the game more accessible to newer players?
In recent times, with the emergence of games such as Street Fighter 4, SoulCalibur 5, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we have seen a huge emphasis on accessibility put on by the developers of these games. Their argument is that the more accessible a game is at first, the more attraction it will receive from the majority of people who play video games. People who were intimidated by how complex fighting games were are now more inclined to play a game simply because there are a variety of tools to ease their way through. While mixed opinions were made on these tools , the discussion about this issue reached a new heights as the new fighting game developed by Capcom is about to come out. Street Fighter X Tekken, the new collaboration project between Capcom and Namco, is trying to be the most accessible entry yet while still holding up the depth and complexity of Capcom’s fighting games. Some people think that these new tools that Capcom has implemented in the game will cause the game to become broken, and thus destroying its competitive potential. Others argue that these tools are mere methods to ease new player to fighting games and improve the community as a whole.
The truth is, accessibility is not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s the level and type of accessibility that makes or breaks a game. For example, the revenge gauge in SF4 which allowed you to do Ultra combos was an entirely new mechanics that gave the losing side some kind of advantage to make a comeback. However, even though it was a comeback mechanics the stronger side almost always won. That is because the mechanic was built well enough in that it didn’t break the game entirely, but in fact made it more accessible and entertaining at the same time. When you look at SFxT’s gem system you are looking at something quite unusual in fighting games. It gives the players the ability to customize the character they are using. There are different types of gems to choose from and they vary from easier input executions to power-ups such as increases in speed and attack power. As long as Capcom doesn’t make the gems extremely overpowered and balance them properly their potential can actually cause fighting games to reach new heights. But since the system itself carries so many different variables, it can prove to be quite a hefty task for Capcom to be able to give the game the balance it needs.
Street Fighter X Tekken is arriving in just a couple of weeks’ time, and people can’t really judge Capcom’s approach to the game until they have actually spent enough time with it. Will these new mechanics such as the gem system kill the game competitively? That’s hard to say, but from people who actually tested the game so far it seems that Capcom is looking to be on the right track. Either ways, the final game is where the real test lies, and only after several months of play time will the community realize if Capcom knew what they were doing all along or that they were right in stating that Capcom essentially screwed the competitiveness out of the game.