Fighting games have been around for as long as anyone can remember it. Launching into the mainstream with the original Street Fighter (or Street Fighter 2 depending on who you ask), the genre became one of the cornerstones of gaming history featuring iconic characters that have been ingrained into pop culture.
From Ryu and his iconic “SHORYUKEN!” to Scorpion’s legendary “Get Over Here!”, fighting games have been a mainstay of both pop culture and gaming for decades now. Which makes it all the more surprising that the genre is as niche as it is today.
Let me preface this by saying, fighting games rock, fighting games are f***ing awesome, so it’s all the more disheartening to see how niche the genre feels nowadays. Casual players see these games and they feel intimidated to try them out.
The vast number of options they have coupled with the other factors don’t help out much either. Factors such as good net code, DLCs, and multiple editions make even the simple act of picking a game and starting with it a confusing mess for some players. On that note, a good general rule of thumb is to pick the game that speaks to you the most. Whether it be through aesthetics, character designs, or even just plain accessibility.
Blocking the Entry
What a huge number of fighting games fail to achieve, however, is showing off lasting appeal to casual gamers. The most recent example of this is Guilty Gear STRIVE and I have to mention, I love Guilty Gear STRIVE but the game is extremely thin on content aside from an Arcade mode and online battle along with a story mode that’s just a 3–4-hour long anime movie that a majority of new players will barely understand.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing per se. Fighting games can last a long amount of time even when they’re relatively thin with content. I have over 100 hours in Guilty Gear STRIVE, but this is usually true for only a fraction of the player base as the majority of casual players will leave the game within a few weeks to a month.
This coupled with another hurdle, that most of these games cost full price for a fraction of “content” that a normal player would typically find in any other games makes the barrier of entry for most fighting games even more intimidating.
And then we have the upcoming Street Fighter 6…
More Than a Return to Form
The Street Fighter franchise needs little introduction, you know what it is. You’ve seen what a Shoryuken is and what a Hadouken is. It’s one of the most fundamental and “pure” fighting game franchises out there even if there have been…numerous missteps along the way.
Based on what has been shown of Street Fighter 6 so far, it’s easy to guess that it’s looking to be the most ambitious game in the series’ history.
Taking notes from other successful fighting game franchises like Mortal Kombat and Injustice and then taking that a step further with an open world to explore where players can explore and traverse using classic SF moves such as the Shoryuken or the Spinning Bird Kick.
For what feels like ages we’re finally getting a fighting game that feels like it truly justifies its full price not only for the narrow audience of fighting game fans but the broader audience in general. It feels great to see CAPCOM treat their fighting game franchises with the respect they have always deserved.
The journey to this point has not been easy though. Street Fighter V had one of the most disastrous launches of any recent fighting game, asking full price for a game that to many felt borderline unfinished.
While the game is in a much better state today than it has ever been, to most players Street Fighter V made an extremely bad first impression which made a huge number of players just put it aside at first glance.
This also explains why CAPCOM is making sure that Street Fighter 6 is a very beefy experience. With a story mode that seemingly offers unique gameplay scenarios like 2-D Beat-em-up levels, fighting multiple fighters at once, and other both unique and wacky content that we’re sure to see later on.
On top of just substance, Street Fighter 6 oozes style from every frame. The unique animated intros for each character before every match, the ability to change expressions during the match loading screen, and the beautifully animated supers. These are all touches that make Street Fighter VI feel like a passion project that the developers have always wanted to craft.
Throw in a good rollback netcode and it becomes even easier to claim that Street Fighter 6 is shaping up to be a genuine renaissance for the fighting game genre. Hopefully not only popularize Rollback Netcode in more fighting games (Harada please…) but once again bring fighting games towards a more mainstream light.
But don’t forget the old adage, never pre-order.
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