The Fighting Genre Needs an Overhaul

I’m not a complete stranger to fighting games; Super Smash Bros. on the N64 has always been my favorite. I’ve also dabbled around the likes of Soul Calibur and Mortal Kombat. While they are fun to mess around in, I have never gone too deep into one. I am curious as to why I have never acquired a huge interest for the genre, as I tend to enjoy a wide variety of games. In my naivety, I decided that jumping into Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom for the Vita was a wise decision. On the brink of almost chucking my Vita through a window, I remembered why I tried to stay far away from this genre: it has to have one of the most absurdly difficult learning curves available and is in need of a definite overhaul to bring in new players.

The first thing I did: find a tutorial mode to help me learn how to press buttons in a certain order at the speed of light. I noticed a “training” mode and  hoped it would help. While I can’t say it lies, it would be more akin to a Gym that says, “Boxing Training Here,” and just has a punching bag with a book that tells you all the different moves you can do. While that, technically, is still training, teaching yourself how to play without any outside guidance is off-putting and quite frankly a terrible way to learn.

After not learning a thing from the training mode, I scoured the menu some more and found a “missions” area that consisted of a list of 10 different missions for each one of the characters. I picked Wolverine because, c’mon, it’s fricken Wolverine. Why shouldn’t I pick him? The mission began, and I got a bit of deja vu. It looked exactly like the training room, albeit with one small change: a list of attacks in the upper left hand corner of the screen. There was just one slight problem: no button combinations whatsoever. Those were hidden away in the menu.

So, let me get this straight, in order to learn what I need to do, I have to pause the game, go into options in the menu, memorize the button combination, unpause the game and input it from memory (hoping that I executed it perfectly)? That sentence was quite awkward to type, yet it’s exactly how I felt fiddling between the menu and trying out the combos. My frustration finally hit the ceiling, when, after for what felt like the 100th time, I managed to fail the last step of a 5-combo attack. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, and the game provided no assistance as to what I doing wrong. There was an option to display each input on screen, but that offered more frustration, as I was hitting the correct combination with no result.

I wish that fighting games would take a page out of Rock Band‘s book. Imagine if those games didn’t have a tutorial, the only difficulty was expert and the notes had to be memorized before playing. Sounds like a terrible experience, right? That’s exactly how fighting games feel to me. I would like to feel that I’m actually progressing instead of being thrown into a pool full of sharks when I don’t even know how to swim. Would it be that difficult to have a tier that started the combos on easy, letting the player learn learn how to fight properly, and then slowly adding in more difficult commands? For that matter, add a feature that has scrolling input, just like Rock Band. I guarantee that would invite more new players to try out the game.

Then again, if the genre slowly shrunk, I guess I wouldn’t care.

What do you think?

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  1. I experienced exactly the same feeling playing UMvC 3 on the Vita. Glad to see that I wasn’t alone. What would really improve it, and would only really be possible on the Vita, would be to have links to helpful strategy guides on the game’s Live Screen. These could be from the devs at Capcom or a qualified fan site (there are plenty for this game), and could be categorized and filed under each character’s profile. I learned A LOT about how to play this game by scouring YouTube and I think Capcom is missing a major opportunity to improve the game and expand its community by helping people into it in this way.

  2. This is the exact reason that I tend to only rent fighting games. I keep really wanting to play them, especially UMvC which I’ve had out multiple times, but after a few hours I end up getting frustrated with it to the point of saying “I NEVER WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME AGAIN!” Of course in this case I have been playing the game again but that’s besides the point.

    My understanding is that Skullgirls will have a tutorial mode, so here’s hoping that game does stupidly well so that the idea of implementing a DECENT tutorial into fighting games sticks.

  3. Stuart

    The latest mortal kombat had a tutorial mode that was better than most fighting games have, but that’s not saying much

  4. JaffaKira

    Speaking as a fighting game fanatic I learnt a lot from watching pros play and picking up how to do it from them. Practise makes perfect. On the side of good fighting game tutorials, Skullgirls seems to be doing great things with theirs:

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