Sunday 22 October 2017

2D Fighter Kicks 3D Fighter's Ass!

One of the biggest revelations from my current revision of the Sega Saturn, is the brilliance of 2D fighting games. A genre which failed to excite me when the console was current, 2D fighters seemed cheesy, over the top, brash, outdated, cartoonish and comical. This was in comparison to what I perceived then, as 'realistic' 3D fighters, which I could not get enough of. For me, the characters of the Virtua Fighter series were far more interesting and strangely enough, believable (as if realism was an important factor in gaming!)  The ability to take on the persona and moves of a mysterious, yet understated combatant like Kage from Virtua Fighter--a character akin to the ninjas and martial arts masters I had admired in the kung fu movies of my youth--was loads more appealing than martialling the impossible theatrics of  Ryu, or the limb stretching slap-happiness of Dahlsim!

Now time has done a sneaky switcheroo on us, and the cartoon-like graphics of the 2D fighter have weathered the passage of the decades far more effectively than their 3D counterparts. Whilst the pointy and angular graphics of the Saturn's later software, --for example Sarah Bryant or Lion in 'Virtua Fighter 2'-- look undeniably dated by today's standards, the 'side on' two dimensional perspective of the  2D fighter-- for example 'Street Fighter Alpha'-- has emerged as more of a 'classic' look than an antiquated one. Whilst I'm talking about this genre, my only experience of these titles on the Saturn are those produced by Capcom. I'm hugely looking forward to exploring the SNK releases that so many Saturn fans hold dear, but I cannot speak about them from a position of knowledge at this time...

There are other factors at work in making the 2D fighter, particularly those from the Capcom stable so relevant in 2017-- and one of those factors is the longevity of Street Fighter as an IP. Whilst the 'Virtua Fighter' characters are fast becoming a faded memory in the mainstream gaming market, the assembled characters from Capcom's 2D biggest franchise, 'Street Fighter' still command big budget releases. They have a commercial relevance and familiarity today, that Akira Yuki, Lau Chan and Wolf Hawkfield cannot claim, however much we want them to. We've seen Ryu and Ken in recently successful iterations of Street Fighter, such as Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5. It's interesting to note that character models and the overall format of the games, were not altered much at all for the '2.5D' reboot, however... proof of the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.".  Capcom themselves knew that the 2D fighter was not a genre that needed much upgrading.

The updating of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, and it's subsequent commercial success, plus the critical acclaim of the Wii's "Tatsunuko vs. Capcom" is also proof of the enduring love for the 2D fighter.

Talking of character mash-ups, Capcom's willingness to bring the characters from anime, comics and even rival software publishers for their 2D fighting releases mean that we have some monumental titles, full of charm and individuality. The range of 2 D fighters available for the Saturn vastly outnumbers that of 3D fighters. The flirtation with Marvel has been a very lucrative one, both critically and commercially, as the original titles that they produced with the company proved to be big sellers. Stand alone 'Marvel' games such as 'Marvel Superheroes' and 'X Men Children Of The Atom' brought superheroes and super-humans into the arena. Who wouldn't want to fight as Hulk, Spider-Man or Wolverine?  A stroke of genius to then pit them against the cast of Street Fighter! We're all prone to those "I wonder who'd win in a fight between..." questions. Here was a chance to find out! An unforeseen factor has been how much the Marvel brand has exploded in the wider public consciousness over the last few years.
As Marvel's movie franchises continue to play to the tastes of the mainstream, it's cast of characters again command a relevance in the zeitgeist of 2017, the whispers of which, resonate through when playing either of the games mentioned above, or indeed the wonderful crossover 'X Men vs. Capcom'.

So playing the 2D Fighters in my own collection is taking up a lot of my time at the moment. I'm getting to the stage that I understand the repertoire of moves for many of the characters I fight as, so now I'm just trying to perfect the timing and combos. I'm unfortunately tempted to rotate each game regularly in my playlist, rather than sticking to one and perfecting my moves or honing my skills with a particular character. That's been a problem for me for some time. I suffer from FGS... Flighty Gamer Syndrome. I'm rarely able to focus on one game long enough to be able to play it to my full potential. And these are games that are made to be mastered!

So what games are rocking my world at the moment? Let's take a look!


1.) Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter Alpha 2 - Capcom's flagship 2D fighter and a game that is still able to generate interest a good thirty years after it first materialised. Wikipedia tells us:

Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams, titled Street Fighter Zero in Japan and Asia, is the next game in the series. The game uses the same art style Capcom previously employed in Darkstalkers and X-Men: Children of the Atom with settings and character designs heavily influenced by Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. Alpha expands on the Super Combo system from Super Turbo by extending Super Combo meter into three levels, allowing for super combos to be stored up, and introducing Alpha Counters and Chain Combos, also from Darkstalkers. The plot of Alpha is set between the first two Street Fighter games and fleshes out the backstories and grudges held by many of the classic SFII characters. It features a playable roster of ten immediately playable characters and three unlockable fighters, comprising not only younger versions of established Street Fighter II characters, but also characters from the original Street Fighter and Final Fight, such as Adon and Guy.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 features all-new stages, music, and endings for some characters, some of which overlap with those from the original Alpha. It also discards the Chain Combo system in favor of Custom Combos, which requires a portion of the Super Combo meter to be used. Alpha 2 retains all 13 characters from the original and adds five new characters to the roster along with hidden versions of returning characters. Alpha 2 is followed by a slightly enhanced arcade release titled Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha and was released in Japan and Brazil, ported to home consoles as Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold, and Zero 2′ Dash in Japan.

2.) X Men Children Of The Atom -  The first 2D fighter in my collection and one of my favourites as a result. This was actually a game that I played in the arcades, despite my suspicion of the genre. That proves the pull of Marvel! Obviously, as the X-Men you've got super-human powers, but as all of your opponents are also mutants, it's actually a fair contest. I'm going back to Wikipedia here...

X-Men: Children of the Atom is the first fighting game produced by Capcom using characters under license from Marvel Comics. Released around the time of the mid-1990s X-Men animated series, the game features voice actors from the series reprising their roles. The game's plot is based on the "Fatal Attractions" story from the comics - players control one of the X-Men or their enemies in their fight against the villain Magneto. They face each of the other characters in the game in best of three one-on-one fighting matches, before battling Juggernaut and then Magneto himself.

The gameplay has much in common with Capcom's previous fighting games, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Darkstalkers. Children of the Atom adds a combo system that features long combos that can even be performed in mid-air. Also featured in the game are various tactical manoeuvres, including the ability for characters to roll. Children of the Atom also introduced multi-tiered fighting environments in which the ground would crumble and characters would fall into lower parts of the level. These concepts and the fast pace of the game would provide the basis for Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom series, which started with the game's successor X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

3.) X Men vs. Street Fighter - A game I was hotly anticipating until I realised my Action Replay didn't provide the extra 4MB of RAM needed to play it! Fortunately that problem has now neen rectified and I've been playing it to death! With a  tag team system that allows you to play as two characters (both X Men, both Street Fighter or a mixture of the two) you can take on the rest of the characters and tag your partner whenever the going gets tough. You know the drill by now... Here's Wikipedia!
X-Men vs. Street Fighter is a crossover fighting video game developed and published by Capcom. It is Capcom's third fighting game to feature Marvel Comics characters, following X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, and the first installment in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. As the title suggests, the game includes characters from Marvel's X-Men franchise and the cast from Capcom's Street Fighter series. Originally released as a coin-operated arcade game in 1996, it was eventually ported to the Sega Saturn in 1997 and the PlayStation in 1998.

X-Men vs. Street Fighter features gameplay similar to Street Fighter, but incorporates dual-character selection and tag team-based combat. Each player selects two characters to compete in a one-on-one battle, attempting to defeat the opposing team. The players are given the ability to switch between their characters at any point during the match. The game also incorporates numerous elements from X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes.

4.) Street Fighter The Movie -  This is a bizarre one. Uses digitized images of the cast of the 1994 gaming spin off movie 'Street Fighter' (starring Kylie Minogue as Cammy!) The game has a bit of a 'Mortal Kombat feel to it and does not play as well as the other Street Fighter games. One for collectors only! But hey! Why should I explain to you when an online encyclopedia can do it so much better! We'll just consult Wikipedia once more...

Street Fighter: The Movie is a head-to-head fighting game released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1995.The game is based on the 1994 live-action Street Fighter movie, itself based on the Street Fighter series of fighting games, and uses digitized images of the film's cast as the characters. While it shares its title with the arcade game Street Fighter: The Movie, the home version is not a port but a similar game developed on the same premise. The home version was developed and published by Capcom in Japan and released in North America, Europe and Australia by Acclaim.

There are four game modes available. The primary single-player mode, "Movie Battle", is a story-based mode which follows the plot of the film. The player takes control of Guile, who is on a mission to infiltrate Bison's Lair in Shadaloo City. The player can choose between different branching points after certain matches, which determines the number of opponents that will be faced before the next branching point, until reaching the final matches against Sagat, Bison and Final Bison. After completing Movie Battle mode, a music video of the film's theme song "Something There" by Chage & Aska will be played.

The other modes include an arcade-style mode called "Street Battle", where the player can choose a character and then face a series of twelve computer-controlled characters, culminating with Zangief, Dee-Jay, Sagat and Bison; "Vs. Mode", a standard two-player mode like the ones in previous console versions of Street Fighter; and "Trial Mode", where the player fights against the entire roster in order to achieve a high-score or quick time record. During a battle, characters had new musical themes for this game.

5.) Marvel Super Heroes - As I said before, who wouldn't want to fight as Hulk? or Spider-Man? A chance to beat up your favourite superhero or villain as you fantasise about getting into a stretchy lycra bodice and leggings... Wikipedia says:

Marvel Super Heroes is a fighting game in which superheroes and villains from the Marvel Universe fight against each other. The aim of the game is to use attacks and special abilities to knock out the opponent, or possess more life than him/her at the end of the round. Throughout the match, players build up a super meter which can be used to perform powerful Infinity Combo attacks. A unique mechanic in the game are the Infinity Gems; Power, Time, Space, Reality, Soul and Mind. These gems can be earned by obtaining them from opponents during arcade mode, or by fulfilling certain criteria during versus mode, such as getting the first hit. By using these gems in battle, fighters receive enhanced effects for a short amount of time, such as increased power or defense, health recovery or additional attacks. Certain fighters will receive extra benefits whilst using certain gems. For example, if Spider-Man uses the Power Gem, he can create a doppelganger on the opposite side of his opponent for extra damage during his attacks.

Loosely based on "The Infinity Gauntlet" storyline, the game focuses on heroes and villains battling each other for the Infinity Gems. The main antagonist is Thanos, who plots to use the Infinity Gems to take over the universe.

And finally, we have Dark Saviour 3: But that gets a review of it's own next time...


Daniel Turner said...

awesome! love 2d all the way and definitely relate to FGS! xD

Unknown said...

Great article !

Father Krishna said...

Thanks guys!

Blondejon said...

Wonderful article and dans turn to supply you with games

Daniel Turner said...

they’re in the post :p

Ray V said...

Great post! im glad to see the site being routinely updated!