There’s an article forthcoming on my full thoughts on Street Fighter IV, but I think it’s a summary enough to say for now that I’m no longer playing or following the game very much at all. However as long pre-supposed here on agoners, the main reason for the excitement around SF4 was not SF4 itself, but its position as a flagbearer for the return of the 2d fighting game scene in general. And what a return it has been! 🙂
The years of having nothing fighting game wise to play, and/or no-one to play against have ended, and now the pendulum has swung the other way with veritable a glut of good fighting games, and XBox Live and other competition generally always available. And not to mention the excellent joysticks and controllers now available, neatly solving all my joystick issues, are also mainly thanks to SF4.
The trouble now is finding the time to play them all, and deciding which to play and which to dedicate my real ‘serious’ gaming time to as well. Perhaps the advice dog can help?
This past few weeks have been especially mad with both Garou: Mark of the Wolves & The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match being released to XBox Live Arcade.
I’d never had the chance to play Garou at all before, but it seems to be a really great engine and really fun to play so far. It appears to be pretty much the ‘Street Fighter 3’ of the Fatal Fury series, set after the other games, with only a single returning (much older) character, with vastly improved graphics & animation and even technical additions to the game engine centering around just-defense, a kind of parry. I’m intrigued to actually find out more about where some of these characters come from too, although many are of pretty obvious parentage/heritage. This game on it’s own just a couple of years ago would’ve had me immensely excited & playing it night after night. Now it’s practically lost in the sea of fighting games.
The King of Fighters 98 Ulitimate Match, as well as being an appropriately long-winded title, actually lives up to it’s billing. Another game I’d never got to play, I was really shocked at how amazing it is. I really lost touch with KOF beyond 97 & one of the contributing factors was constantly having my favourite characters removed or having their moves changed beyond all recognition. But KOF98UM is a glorious return to form for me!
Virtually every one of my favourite characters or moves are back & in the form I used and loved them – it’s almost like meeting old friends again. 🙂
The only huge let-down with both SNK games is that the netcode & Live interface is almost tragically poor. The input lag is worse than even SF4, and at times even worse than older XBox titles like 3rd Strike. This is such a terrible shame really, as it will really put a shelf-life on both of these titles as it will hamper any attempts at “serious play” for me, because I don’t have any similarly passionate local competition. The one saving grace for them is that, like SF4, it is possible to cancel out of fighting high-ping opponents altogether. But the odd awful game still seems to occur.
Still, it’s such a pity that something much better wasn’t done with these great games that would’ve had so much potential online. It still absolutely astounds me that no fighting game has ever managed to “get it all right” in terms of its online interface, given how many years systems like XBox Live & GGPO have been around.
The next couple of months will also bring us Marvel Vs Capcom 2 to Live Arcade, and hopefully a PAL release of King of Fighters 12, both of which will hopefully involve further attempts by the same companies to better their online fighting experiences, so there is some hope at least. Oh and I’m certainly not forgetting SSF2T HD Remix! Taken as a whole package, including the netcode, HD Remix is still the best fighting game around, and one I cannot ever foresee leaving behind.
There are also yet more games that are leaving a bitter taste of absence for me though. Both Virtual On Oratorio Tangram and BlazBlue are games I’d love to be playing and would be hugely excited about. However VOOT is awaiting a decent twin stick controller to be available to me – in the UK – before it actually becomes worth playing! But at least Hori are planning to manufacture one in Japan, so I have some hopes I’ll be able to pick up one and get a chance to play this game online (although it apparently suffers from the same netcode failings as the SNK games.. *sigh*). BlazBlue is incredibly frustrating for me, thanks to my old enemies: Region lock-out disks, and No PAL release whatsoever. Now this situation has occured before – for one of my potential favourite XBox 360 games, All-Pro Football 2k8, which was why I’d originally purchased an NTSC American 360 Elite… however when it RROD’d on me, I was left with a fixed PAL UK model instead, so I’m now unable to play 2k8. The same has happened with a few other games, notably Japan-only ones though (like Super Robot Wars XO), and now its the case with BlazBlue too. This is always a pretty irritating state of affairs, but it causes RAGE GAUGE levels of annoyance when you can actually ‘see’ your friends on your XBox Live friends list playing it!
It just brings home how utterly retarded and ass-backwards region lock-outs for non-global release games are – they are literally just refusing to take my money, pointlessly. As long as it gets released at some point though, I won’t be too upset, as I do have plenty enough other games to be playing. 🙂 So in some ways this is a good time for it not to be released. But the problem is that when it does eventually come out in the UK, I’ll be hopelessly behind the learning curve compared to the top players (not that it’s at all certain I’d ever be competitive at it anyway!), and I’ll be really upset if we don’t get an equivalent collectors edition set as the USA and Asia got, because the idea of a tutorial DVD included with the game is one of the things that particularly drew me into potentially getting into this game much more seriously than I otherwise would. I’m also irritated by the total lack of information on this, because I’d be quite tempted to try and get ahold of another NTSC 360 if this game isn’t going to receive a PAL release sometime soon.
Anyway, I don’t want to grumble too much, because the main point of this post was just to say “yay, I was right!” when it comes to the rejuvenation of the 2d fighting game scene – there’s never been so many great reasons NOT to play SF4!