An Ode to the Fighting Game Genre

If you were to pick one word to describe your experiences with the fighting game genre, what would you choose? I would choose ‘thrilling’.

Imagine yourself in the loser’s bracket at a local tournament, in the final round of a three-set match where both you and your opponent are  tied. It’s sudden death, and only one winner can emerge while the loser walks away empty-handed. Your heart’s beating faster than a drum, your entire body covered in a cold, nervous sweat; the room only gets hotter with what feels like a million people packed into a single conference hall and dozens of machines running simultaneously. But none of this matters, you are entirely focused on the match, on winning. Your mind races as you try to find the best strategy to take down the foe, but you come up blank. You’ve made it this far, all that’s left is to take a deep breath and do your best.

Round 3, Fight!

But wait, that’s not the end. The fight itself has only just begun. You have now entered a battle of wits and reflexes with the other player. You must choose your actions carefully as any mistake can lead to significantly dire consequences. Risky moves that prove successful are followed by a sigh of relief while a poor choice can prove devastating, infuriating and saddening all at the same time. The match is an emotional roller coaster, and there’s no stopping until one of you dies, or the time runs out.

The round ends, did you win? It matters not. Whether you’re excited or disappointed, your hands continue to tremble. You reach over and congratulate your opponent with a simple, “Good Game”. Only then, can you finally put your mind and body to ease; at least until the next challenger approaches.

That was an example of an experience of mine at a local Super Street Fighter IV tournament. It is one of many high energy, dopamine-boosting moments that I’ve had with the fighting genre, and I’m sure that other fighting game fans have felt the same way at one point or another. Nothing beats the nerve-wracking adrenaline rush that comes with a hype match; and best of all? These occurrences are frequent and plentiful.

Image via Pixel Enemy

“What is your favorite genre?” is a question that I’ve been receiving quite frequently. I adore all genres, but fighters shine brightly amongst them. No other type of game has been able to elicit the same sense of emotion, tension, and reward to me. I’ve sunk countless hours into other competitive genres such as the FPS, MOBA, and RTS games, but in my experience, none of them could live up to the same level of excitement and hype that surrounds the fighting genre and its community.This is all a subjective matter though, and I’m quite sure that nostalgia is a huge contributing factor to my bias towards fighting games.

Of course, you can’t talk about hype without EVO Moment 37:

My brother was born in the 80’s and grew up around arcades. He was particularly fond of the Street Fighter II World Warrior cabinets and would spend countless hours during and after school glued to the machine with friends and other random kids. He knew the game’s in’s and out’s, including various glitches and easter eggs (i.e. handcuffs, invisible throw, shut down). It didn’t help that he played Guile, one of the glitchiest characters of all!

I was born much later, in 1990. Many of the arcades went out of business in my hometown by the time I was old enough to play Street Fighter. That didn’t stop my brother though, he had borrowed a friend’s Super Nintendo and had me playing Super Street Fighter II Turbo at the tender age of 7. I didn’t care much for it though. Once the Dreamcast released in 1999, my brother jumped right on it and picked one up at launch. He bought Third Strike, Alpha 3, Soul Caliber, Power Stone, Dead or Alive, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and many other games as they were released and I was hooked! The bright and colorful visual effects of each game instilled a sense of awe in me. Mix the pleasant aesthetics with my obsession to win at everything and you have a formula for fighting game addiction. The Dreamcast only lasted so long though, and a fighting game drought began and dragged on until the release of Street Fighter IV in 2008. I was ecstatic. The game looked fantastic and closely resembled the Street Fighter II games that were dear to my heart. My nostalgia was acting up and I couldn’t resist making the purchase instantly! Street Fighter IV was a fantastic game that lead to the rekindling of my love for fighting games once again; I began binge-playing them. I picked up any fighting game that I could get my dirty hands on, including franchise favorites such as Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat, Blazblue, Guilty Gear, etc.

Where it all began:

image via The Pixel Empire

And here I am now, a fighting game enthusiast with a refreshed view of the genre, looking to play and review any and all up-and-coming fighters.

So in short…

Q: “What’s your favorite game genre?”

A: “Fighting games, mainly because I’m nostalgic, but also due to the genre’s ability to generate excitement and create memorable moments. It doesn’t hurt that the community is incredible.”

Q: “What’s your fighting game of choice?”

A: “Usually the latest iteration of Street Fighter, currently Ultra Street Fighter IV.”

What’s your genre of choice any why?

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4 thoughts on “An Ode to the Fighting Game Genre”

  1. RPG 4 lyfe. Seriously, though, that’s that genre for me. Being able to dive into a fantasy world, unlike any other, and just lose myself to it for days. I immersed myself into the culture, the characters, the ways of life. They’ve even shaped the way I live my life.

  2. Great article. Fighting games seem to have such a core fanbase that won’t ever go away, even if the games do dip in and out of popularity. Tekken was always my go-to fighting game, the combinations of King were delightfully impossible to master!

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