The Fighting Game Diaries: This Will (Not) Happen

On this blog there have been two previous posts about playing fighting games. One was about buying Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator and never playing it. The other post was me talking myself out of buying Dragon Ball Fighter Z. Not the best record. Which is a little weird now that I think about it. A lot of my early gaming that I can remember was with fighting games. One of my first memories is accidentally pulling off Sub Zero’s fatality on Mortal Kombat – the first one (I’m old – hell, I remember Dynasty Warriors being a fighting game – there was a guy with a Glaive I liked). Many teenage hours were spent playing the Tekken’s – I mained Yoshimitsu after watching some Japanese dude on Games Master beat 100 dudes in a row. I buttoned mashed through a version of Street Fighter 3 (Gen was cool, and I never managed to beat Sagat with Adon – curse him). At some point though I fell off, and never got back on.

The closest I got to getting back into them was with Dark Souls III. In Dark Souls III I got really into PVP, particularly invasions. I invaded people to fight them and allowed myself to get invaded to fight people. I enjoyed it. There was a thrill that fighting actual people that an AI cannot provide. Whether a person is good or bad at the game, they will do things that a computer is not capable of. They don’t operate on the lines of code – they operate on emotions, whims and plans that aren’t clear right away but a minute from now make you go “oh, that’s what you were going for”. I used to get a kick out of this. But after playing Sekiro (Sekiro will be returning in this post) and realising I did not need PVP to enjoy these games I lost the urge to engage with it. I’ve only invaded twice after playing Sekiro. I did let other people invade me, but I lost the urge to actively seek out fighting other people. I have not done any PVP in Elden Ring. I have no urge to.

Lately though something has been stirring. Not with Elden Ring PVP. That’s not happening. I’ve been watching videos on YouTube. Mainly videos of Maximillian Dude playing fighting games. Samurai Shodown, Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter 3rd Strike. And Patrick Gill’s excellent video on getting into fighting games. It’s fun to watch. It’s easy to see why people like playing fighting game. You can do a lot of cool stuff in fighting games. Quite possibly the coolest stuff you can do in any game. At least to me. Because all of that cool stuff comes from player skill. And as much as I do love a good power fantasy that comes from levelling up, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from getting better that cannot be beat.

Fighting games are the epitome of that. Well, aside from playing Ikaruga. Ikaruga requires an extreme amount of player skill (God damn Ikaruga’s a special game). So why the hesitation? I know getting into a fighting game will normally involve a lot of losing. I can deal with that. I’ve taken a beating from Isshin for 3 hours, 8 hours from Malenia and lost countless invasions. I know fighting games require a lot of work. I can deal with that. I’m trying to learn Japanese and that involves working through textbooks and keeping at it. That means I’m also cool with slow progress. Fighting games require competing against other people. That…I’ve not done for a long time. The urge to do that has long since cooled. I don’t know how to get that back. I guess that only thing I can do is try. See if I can get it back.

Ikraruga is just wonderful.

The closest thing I have to compare this to is Sekiro. Going back to the game that took this away might be the game that brings it back. Sekiro plays different to From Software’s other titles. The other From games (Souls games, Bloodborne and Elden Ring) while requiring some skill, can be beaten by simply levelling up, getting some powerful weapons, finding a good summon and trucking right on through. Sekiro took all of that away. The only way to beat Sekiro is to learn how to play Sekiro. And because Sekiro works a lot with player skill, my journey with Sekiro feels more rewarding, and has always felt more rewarding than other From titles. Hell, most games I’ve played. I’m mentioning it again but getting better through skill rather than power is something special.

Rough start.

Later on, Sekiro got a boss rush mode. With boss rush mode players were finally able to refight bosses whenever they wanted to. I could, and did fight Isshin the Sword Saint over, and over and over again. I wanted to do Isshin without taking damage. And I managed that by fighting Isshin constantly. Which is what I would have to do in a fighting game. I will have to fight people over, and over and over, take the losses, learn from those losses and fight them again, trying to do better. Now, I know Sekiro is not completely like a fighting game. It’s a lot simpler – Sekiro’s combat is essentially two buttons – attacking and deflecting. Yes, you can use prosthetics but at its core attack and deflect rule the day. Sekiro is fighting against an AI, so eventually I learned everything Isshin could do, and he will never stray outside of those parameters. But, I have a reference point. It’s something. I know that I have done something similar.

Progress is nice.

I still have that copy of Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. I finally installed it. This is not going to be a long-term thing. There is a plan to graduate to Guilty Gear Strive. But it does give me a chance to press buttons, get a feel for playing a fighting game without spending 60 pounds blind and see if a fighting game is for me. I know price should not dictate how good a game is – but 60 quid is a lot. At that point the game kind of has to work. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s a big commitment. I’ve mainly been playing around with practice mode and the AI. It’s been fun. Not enough for me to run off and instantly buy Strive but fun enough that I can see something come of this.

Why Guilty Gear though (aside from the fact I had the copy of Revelator lying around)? Going back to Patrick’s video. I have to follow my heart. You would think with my love of Sekiro, I’d go for Samurai Shodown. The aesthetic is there, the weapons that characters wield are similar (one character has a Nagamaki, and I wish for more Nagamaki’s in games) – I should be on board with Samurai Shodown. Yet, when I watch people play Strive – there is a feeling I cannot deny. Seeing it in motion, seeing all the cool shit the characters can do – Strive is something else. Third Strike does that too – but playing Third Strike on a PS4 is bit of hassle. I have to buy a collection of Street Fighter games just to play it – and it’s old, meaning everyone playing it will be much, much better than me. At least with Strive there will be some new folks there.

I’m playing with Ramlethal Valentine. I like big swords. Ramlethal has two of them. They float around and she flings them around. That’s pretty great. Those swords can also fire off a massive laser. That’s neat. Going for a cheaper game would be good – but those games don’t have Ramlethal. I’ve run through her basic combo list on practice. Some stuff was easy to pull off, other stuff less so. I do wonder how I am meant to process all of this in a match – but I guess I have to play, figure out how and when things work from experience, and build on that.

I know the gifs here are of supers, but I did do a lot of basic combos and moves as well – punch chains and the like. But I forgot to record those. So that’s why there not here.

There is one thing I want to talk about. While messing around in training with Ramlethal, I figured out I could flip someone with a sword. I then figured out if I flipped then in the corner, I could maybe use this a chance to get more hits in. So, I flipped with a sword and then I got some extra hits in, and it worked (sometimes). Whether this would work in a match, I don’t know. Things are a little simpler when the opponent doesn’t move. But I figured something out in my head, put it into practice and pulled it off.

I dig that. I dig that a lot.   

Notes and asides

I have also done all the basic combos with Sol Badguy (I love that name) and Zato. That’s pretty cool.

Talking about fighting games and their difficulty. Xrd Revelator has a tutorial. It’s a good tutorial, and not that hard to get past. It has a 27% completion rate. Most games have a 27% completion rate for the entire game. Managing to complete 100 basic combos in practice has an achievement rate of around 15%. Huh, that’s how niche this genre is.

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