Monday, October 12, 2009

Fighting Games...The Genre Arcades Left Behind



It's the summer, you're twelve years old, and you have a pocket full of change you bummed off of your parents. You step into your local arcade and are instantly dazzled; lights are flashing, 8-bit sounds are beeping and blooping in your ears, people are laughing, crying, and cheering in every direction. You're here for fun and laughs, for friends and camaraderie, but mostly, you're here for what everyone else is here for: recognition. And the best way to get recognition in the inclusive fast-paced world of arcades? Fighting games.
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Before fighting games were relegated completely to consoles, the true allure of the genre came from besting a physical opponent you've only just met in front of dozens of your peers, perhaps most of them strangers as well. It was the closest thing a geeky suburban kid could get to street cred, and the respect one gained from these competitive bouts were just as real as any sports hero would get. It was a great pasttime, one that required a great deal of time and effort, and skill, to be a champ. I had many great summers in such places.



But the fighting genre has taken a serious back seat, and competitive gaming is now mostly done online to virtual opponents half the world away. It's still fun, but a lot of the passion is gone. And as the world becomes more casual, the gaming pool wider, and production costs increased, fighting games simply don't hold sway in the gaming community as much as it once did. Arcades left them behind and the young ones don't seem to care for it.

Thankfully, in recent years, a few titles are still garnishing praise. Street Fighter IV, released in the States this year, has enjoyed tremendous success. Soul Calibur IV, released last year, was also a commercial success. And Tekken 6 is poised to storm the fighting scene in just a few weeks. Although their popularity has diminished, the competitive fighting game is still going strong, and this video from the EVO tournament shows just how intense these battles can be: