For example I've always been a bit of a fan of Street Fighter 2. The series as a whole has been something I've always wanted to get back into as I love the lore and the aesthetics of the modern games. In a recent sale on PSN I saw the Vita version of ‘Street Fighter X Tekken’ for £13. I wrestled with the fact it wouldn't have a box, would probably be free on PS+ in a month but still thought for that price I'd give it a go. I also liked Tekken and understood that this was built around the Street Fighter IV engine so it would be a perfect little game to fill a few minutes on the train I thought. Starting it up and you're quickly thrust into a training mode, with series ‘figure of fun’ Dan Hibiki teaching you "the basics". By "basics" I clearly mean: Launches, Cross Rushes, Super Moves, Super Charges, Cross Cancels, Switch Cancels, Super Arts, Cross Arts, Charge Assaults, Gem boosting, Pandora, Guard Damage, Tag defense, Combination Parings and Throw Reversals. It was an experience that I can best compare to opening up a door and walking straight
into a wall. Even though I completed this training stage, by the time I got past the equally intimidating character select screen I'd forgotten it all, reverting back to just the kicks, punches and quarter circle specials I'd known in my youth. Though I enjoyed playing SFxT, it was all a bit much. I really felt like I wasn't getting the most out of the game as I simply didn’t understand everything that had been added to the series since I last played it. I needed to go back to basics and the best way to do this was to return to the game where it all began; Street Fighter 2.
I'd never played the first in the series (who has let’s be honest) and somehow the third passed me by. But the second Street Fighter game, that was something special. I remember first seeing it in an arcade in a Holiday camp in the south of France. Every day I would just go in there and watch the demo on repeat. It was at the same time as the game was about to be released on the SNES, as I remember the Total! Magazine I took with me on holiday having a huge review on the game. (That very same issue also had a free pair on sunglasses, that I insisted on wearing even though they were an adult size and looked ridiculous.) I remember how thrilled I was when I got it for Christmas, having convinced myself that it was globally out of stock and impossible to buy. My Mums reaction to the game I had so desperately wanted was less enthusiastic than I'd hoped "Is all you do fight?" she asked. Yes Mum, the clue is in the title, but that was the brilliance of it.
What my Mum had failed to predict in her 5 word review was the change this game would cause. She’s right Street Fighter 2 does look like a simple fighting game which has you fighting one on one with opponents. But what lies beneath that is a lot more complex and significant. The game was one of the absolute defining titles of the 90s, and did more to influence the fighting genre than any other release before or since.
|I love that this is meant to be England.|
It feels like there is the assumption that anyone interested in playing a modern fighting series would have already spent countless hours getting to know the previous iteration intimately. Consequently, there is a need for developers to inject a new mechanic or gimmick with each release to keep the established audience on their toes. This of course makes sense, but it also prevents anyone unfamiliar with every series entry from being able to join or rejoin the franchise.
Maybe the best thing for me would be to watch the cut-scenes from modern games on YouTube and stick with the simpler older but equally attractive sibling. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to progress to the next game in the series, and the next until I reach the latest game. It'll take years of course, but that's ok. It's not as if they release yearly updates or anything.