Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Year of the Fighter: Part One

So it looks like Tuesday is going to be my set day to post things. I'd say it's because I play a lot of games on the weekend and use Monday to collect my thoughts in order to post a more well written article, but in all honesty I'm making this stuff up as I go. I'd like to get 2 post in a week, probably having the other on Friday (Notice I used like and probably), but we'll see how that works out with both my school and work.

This week I'd like to begin an ongoing series entitled "Year of the Fighter", which will chronicle both news and my thoughts on said news concerning the plethora of fighting games (one of my favorite genres) either in development or set to release in 2008. This post will be about what is probably the most anticipated new fighter of 2008:

So after years of waiting and speculation, the fourth part of the Street Fighter series (Although by no means the fourth Street Fighter game if that makes any sense at all) has been announced, shown off, and is currently being tested. Chronologically (For those people concerned with the "story" of their fighting games) the game is set between Street Fighter 2 and 3, which explains the influx of characters from Street Fighter 2. At this point, all the characters from the original SF2, including bosses, have been confirmed. From an interview he game at GDC, producer Yoshinori Ono talked about the roster and it can be inferred through his comments (they were concerning the need for the character select screen to be "balanced" and symmetrical with 8 fighters on top of the timer and 2 below it at the show) that there will be at least 16 characters, and at the current count we have exactly 16 confirmed characters.

Anyone who has seen the trailer or any videos of play will notice a dramatic change in style, with the game foregoing the traditional 2-D look for what people have dubbed "2.5-D", with 3-D character models fighting on a 2-D plane. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the shift. From a purely aesthetics viewpoint, I didn't like it at first, but recent tweaking with character designs in-game and the use of a calligraphy-like in both the design and in the game (Shown during certain attacks like the "Saving Move" or Super/Ultra Arts) have gotten me to warm up to it quite a bit (Examples can be seen here and here. From a game mechanic viewpoint I am somewhat weary about the use of polygonal models in a 2D game in terms of hit detection, but so far the tests in Japan have gone without incident. I'll get into my thoughts on specific character design and style next time I post.

The gameplay was said by Ono to be a "throwback" to SF2, which had me a little skeptical at first (To me it seemed to imply that no fighter since then, including the SF3 incarnations, brought anything mechanics-wise worth using) and while it is somewhat nostalgic, is looks to take what made SF2 good and actually expand upon it rather than just bank on solely emulating it. Like in SF2, successfully landing hits raises your Super Meter which when filled up enables you to perform a Super Arts, however there is much more to the game than that. A totally new addition is the "Revenge System." Fighter fans may liken it to "K Groove" from Capcom Vs SNK 2, or the system from the Saumrai Showdown series, but it has its differences. Basically when you take hits, your "Revenge Meter" increases. With this Revenge Meter you can do a number of things. You can use it to initiate a "Saving Attack" which is initiated by pressing both medium buttons (punch and kick). Depending on how long you hold it, it charges the move longer and the attack increases in power as well as the amount it drains from the Revenge Meter. If it is held long enough the attack can even become unblockable. Another use for the Revenge Meter is in the Ultra Arts, which are completly different and more powerful than the Super Arts. In a nice nod to Street Fighter 3, EX moves have made a comeback to the series. For those not in the know, EX moves are performed when a character has input a special move (Like a Hadouken or Shoryuken) and has pressed 2 buttons instead of one (Like Light Punch and Medium Punch together, or Medium Punch and Fierce Punch). The end result is a golden flash and a special move which is more powerful than (and sometimes has properties that differ from) it's non-EX counterpart, at the cost of some of your Super Meter. A very good example of using both EX Moves and Ultra Combos can be seen in the following video (Please note this is from a test build and certain aspects are subject to change, even since the release of this video, the amount of damage that Ultra Combos do has been toned down, since certain ones took as much as 3/4 of a life bar). That will close it out for this article, next time I will continue my "Year of the Fighter"entry on SF4 by talking about the characters.

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