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About TFG's Exclusive Game and Character Reviews & Ratings!

 

 
 As you may know, all reviews on FightersGeneration.com are written by yours truly, Frank Yagami, TFG's Webmaster. If you're reading a TFG review, you're reading an opinion of someone who grew up playing fighting games in dark, intimate, sometimes smoke-filled arcades of the late 80's and early 90's. I never stopped playing fighting games since then. With that said, know that there's a deep-rooted reasoning for any strong opinion that I have about a specific game or character. Someone who jumped into the fighting game scene much later than I did would likely have different opinions.

As a competitive fighting game player since the dawn of fighting games, an artwork enthusiast, and also a martial arts practitioner for 20+ years; I have an elaborate and experienced perspective on the genre. As a kid, when I first put my hands on the controls of a Street Fighter (1) arcade cabinet, I was hooked for life. I practically lived at arcades during the rise of the fighting genre in the 90's, and I'm proud to be part of The Fighters Generation... the original generation of fighting game players who found their love of fighting games in arcades. Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with my reviews on games & characters, I hope you find my perspective on fighting games & characters interesting and entertaining at the very least. For additional details about myself and TFG, see the About page.

When writing fighting game reviews, I try keep in mind that both beginner and experienced fighting game players alike are reading them. No matter what level of fighting game player you are, I also hope you find TFG's reviews to be clear, informative, and fun to read. I try my best to cover literally all aspects of a fighting game, which is something that very few "mainstream" reviewers will ever do.

Since there might be some judgmental people here in internet-land, I'd like to clarify that I'm not some egomaniac who thinks his opinion is the only one that matters. In fact, I have openly taken critiques and feedback from many readers, and even incorporated these into my reviews. To give you a better understanding of the TFG reviews & ratings process, here are the basic guidelines that I use:
   

Gameplay Engine No doubt the most important part of a fighting game. How responsive and smooth are the controls? (Taking into consideration the year it was released). How effective are the new gameplay elements introduced? How technical, deep, and intuitive are the core fighting mechanics & character movesets, and how rewarding is the game for skilled players who put the time in?
Story / Theme  Fighting games certainly aren't known for their fleshed-out storylines... so a game doesn't require an "epic" story to get a good score here. As long as the "theme" is vivid, unique, moody, and at least some noticeable thought and effort went into the storyline... the game should score well in this category. Character development & storylines are also taken into consideration here.
Overall Graphics No respectable gamer would play a fighting game for graphics alone, but graphics are an important aspect of any video game. Simply put, how visually impressive was the game at the time of its debut? (Especially when compared to other fighting games at the time). All games are judged using optimal graphical settings.
Animation "A fighting game is only as good as its animation." Do characters have smooth, fluid movements? or are they stiff? When it comes to certain fighting techniques, there is in fact a "correct" way to perform them (and more ways than one). Since the genre's beginning, many characters' fighting styles have been heavily based on real life martial arts, and some developers have beautifully represented these authentic martial arts in their games (where others have failed). As someone with 20+ years of real life martial arts experience and knowledge, I'm able to judge the "authenticity" of many of these moves. If a fighting game "suggests" that it features real martial arts, how authentic and accurate are the styles are represented? How "well-executed" are the techniques when performed? This is very similar to how an observant pro-wrestling fan can tell when a wrestling move is "well-executed" and when it isn't. (By the way, I'm also a pro-wrestling fan.)
Music / Sound Possibly the most underrated aspect of fighting games... that music. Many fighting games have intricate, well-designed, and downright catchy tunes. Is the soundtrack of the game something I'd want to rock out to in my car from time or time, or do I want to mute the damn thing? Character voice acting quality / emotion, in addition the effectiveness of in-game sound effects, are also included in the final Music / Sound rating.
Innovation  A fighting game doesn't need to "revolutionize" the genre to get a good score here. In fact, some fighting games have tried to change the format too much, and failed miserably! However, does the game bring something "new" to the table in terms of gameplay, characters or presentation? If the game is a sequel, has it evolved well and added new mechanics that work? Or does it seem like it borrowed most of its ideas from its most recent competition...
Art Direction The inspiring artwork of fighting games is a large part of the reason why this website came into existence. The Art Direction grade refers to character artwork (and/or renders), promotional posters, backgrounds, and any other "artistry" that the game portrays. Also note that just because a game has a defined "art style" doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to receive a good score. This is actually one of the few scores on the rating scale that is strongly effected by my personal preference. I've been an art enthusiast & connoisseur for most of my life, and I'm sure my taste may differ from others, so once again... this rating is just my humble opinion.
Customization In the "next-gen" of fighting games, character customization has become a staple. How deep, creative, and satisfying are the customization options? Classic fighting games didn't have many customize options; so for the those titles, this score pertains to whether or not you had to ability to change your character's "color" (and how many different color options were available per character). Also taken into consideration are "gameplay customizations", which allow players to alter their character's abilities in the game.
Options / Extras Self-explanatory. How deep is that options menu? Has this game introduced any options or modes never before seen in a fighting game? If so, are they worthwhile options? In addition, alternate gameplay modes and any "bonus" features that the game presents are judged accordingly. Even "Easter eggs" or secrets that a game contains can contribute positively to this rating.
Intro / Presentation  The intro of a game is the all-important first impression, setting the mood before the action starts. How mesmerizing and suiting is the opening cinematic? In addition, the menu design, character selection screen and versus screen also count towards the "overall presentation" grade. Basically, does the game have a stylish presentation from start to finish, or was the presentation more of an afterthought?
Replayability / Fun This rating in particular is subject to change, sometimes after years of playing. Some fighting games bore me within the first week or two, but other games I've been playing for over 15 years and still love playing them. Usually, if the gameplay is top notch, and the character roster is solid, this score will follow suit. However, at the end of the day... some fighting games really are more "fun to play" than others.
"Ouch" Factor  Also an essential part of every fighting game, how much "oomph" is behind the attacks in the game overall? Do those punches, kicks, and throws look powerful, initiating a satisfying inner "ouch" in your mind when they connect? And... do characters on the receiving end react accordingly when they're hit? If the moves in a fighting game don't look like they sting when there's a collision, something is missing. "Violence is a beautiful thing!"
Characters Characters within the fighting game realm are among the most memorable video game character designs in existence. How fleshed out are the fighters in any given game? Not only their visual designs & storylines, but more-so their actual in-game abilities and movesets (compared to other fighting game characters at the time). Are their moves interesting and intuitive? or are they too simple for their own good? Also, how well-rounded is the character roster from a design standpoint. Lastly, if they're are returning characters, have they evolved in a good and significant way?
BOTTOM LINE And that's the bottom line, 'cause I said so. Behold... the final score of the game: 1 to 10! Keep in mind this score is NOT AN AVERAGE, as the above categories are not of perfectly equal importance. (Obviously, certain aspects of a fighting game are more important than others.) Also carefully taken into consideration is the date of the game's original release and how it compared to other fighting games at the time. That means: Just because SF2 scored a 10 and MVC3 scored a 8.9 doesn't necessarily mean SF2 is a "better" game in every way. Also, with each passing year, there's usually a fighting game or two that "raise the bar"... so standards are always going up!

Side note: Games on portable systems and some early console games are given a slight curve in some categories, since old school consoles & handhelds had graphical (and other) limitations.





 
TFG's character ratings are "just for fun" and have always been a unique and fan-appreciated trademark of The Fighters Generation since the very beginning. As the lone webmaster (whom has spent 1000's upon 1000's of hours editing the awesome character profiles you see here on TFG), my "character reviews" manage to keep me sane and having fun when working on the site. So I've taken the liberty to share my personal (and usually elaborate) thoughts on fighting game character designs, and once again, these are subject to change from time to time. I judge each character in the following categories:
 
Fighting  Style  /  Moveset My opinion of a character's overall fighting style. How innovative and interesting is their moveset design? Also, if the character's fighting style claims to be an authentic martial art, is it well-represented through the animation? Fighting styles evolve and change when characters return in sequels, which means this score is also subject to change. This rating should reflect a character's latest rendition of their moveset, but their previous movesets from earlier games will also play a part in the final rating.
Personality  /  Charisma How charismatic is the fighter? Is their personality clearly represented in the game? Pre-fight intros, taunts, win quotes and win animations go a long way for a fighting game character. The personality of a character can also be vividly illustrated through official character artwork, which the artists themselves bring out of the character!
Outfit(s)  /  Appearance My personal opinion of a character's threads, or lack thereof. Does the character make a statement with their look, or do they just come off as boring? ...or even worse, are they potentially a "rip-off" of another design? For characters that have more than one in-game outfit, their primary alt. outfits are also taken into consideration in the final rating.
Effectiveness in  series "Effectiveness" as in what a character brings to their particular series from a design standpoint (not how useful they are in the game). Does their fighting style and personality stand out in the series? Do they manage to fit in with the rest of the cast and effectively stand out on their own? Finally, would the series be just fine without this character, or is he/she  a "staple" in the franchise?
Overall Score The final score of the character, judged by Akuma's ten symbol of course!

 
  the absolute worst.

   PERFECT!!!

 
Final Words: Ratings CAN Change.

When it comes to fighting games, specifically, I believe that "reviewing" a brand new game after playing it "for a couple days or weeks," and then slapping on a final score, just isn't practical in this day and age. Sadly, that's exactly what most mainstream websites do for their fighting game reviews. They're in a rush to publish their review so that it's one of the first ones available to read on the internet. These undeservingly "popular" reviews almost always lack depth, and in many cases, it's clear that the reviewer didn't even scratch the surface of learning the game's deeper mechanics. And oftentimes, those IGNorant reviews usually become laughably outdated once any significant updates or patches for the game are released.

While it's clearly a flawed system, I also understand that "those types" of reviewers usually have a lot of different games to cover and can't spend "too much time" with any one particular game. Well... that doesn't mean they write good fighting game reviews. Me, on the other hand? I only have to review fighting games, so I take all the sweet time I need. I'm not on a time limit... I don't have a quota... I'm not on the clock. After reading some of my reviews, I think you'll find that I go into much greater detail than other gaming sites.



What makes TFG's review system unique is that reviews & rating scores will most likely evolve in some way, as time passes. There are several reasons for this: First and foremost, in this new era of fighting games, patches & updates are often created after a game's original release (which automatically download straight to an arcade cabinet or home console). Thus, characters & new modes can be added, gameplay mechanics can be tuned, story elements can be added, and glitches, infinite combos & balance issues can be remedied. These updates can make a WORLD of difference when it comes to enjoying a fighting game. In one example, a few months after Soul Calibur IV came out, a patch was released that enabled the ability to parry throws. This was a very significant (and positive) change effecting high level gameplay, and resulted in my changing SC4's gameplay score from
9 to 9.5 (also effecting the overall review score slightly).

After playing a fighting game consistently for several weeks (or months), it's possible you'll feel differently about it than you did the first few days you played it. Viewpoints may also change after experiencing more that the game has to offer by leveling up those skills. Learning and appreciating the pros and cons of a fighting game is dynamic. In simpler words, some fighting games "grow with you"... and some do not. With that said, if my personal opinion of a game sways in any direction over time, I will revise the review and/or rating accordingly. There's a big difference between playing an RPG or Action game which is arguably the same experience every time, and then playing a fighting game, where you can possibly experience something completely new, many years after the original release.



Also worth mentioning: To state the obvious, there are TONS of playable characters in fighting games. Fighting game characters, specifically, usually "differ" from one another more-so than those from other gaming genres. I always found it interesting that your overall enjoyment of a fighting game can depend on how many different characters you've learned how to use properly. In respect to the point I made in the first paragraph of this section, I'm 110% positive that some of those "mainstream" reviewers never came close to learning even ONE character in said game. (Y'know, that's actually pretty tough to do in under a week).
 
In closing... As a critic, I try to leave out as much bias as I can when reviewing, but I'm not afraid to be brutally honest. In every facet of life, people with confident opinions tend to "lean" in some direction. It's impossible to be 100% unbiased, all the time. It also shows no intelligence to "like everything". Anyone who is a "fan of everything" is really a fan of nothing at all. In the fighting game community, I've actually never met a single player who doesn't "lean in some direction" when it comes to games they prefer. On that note, I hope you can appreciate my angle on fighting games and characters... and when I don't like a game or character, you know I tell it like it is. I always appreciate feedback if you have any comments, suggestions, or critiques about any review published on this site. Constructive feedback is always welcome, but keep in mind I can't respond to every email. Thank you for reading, and please continue to enjoy TFG's exclusive Fighting Game Reviews.
 


 
                                   
                                            
                     Frank "Mr. Yagami"

                                                     
 
    "If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions..."
    "Either his opinions are no good, or he is no good.
"
 


"Since you took the time to read all this.... I'll let you in on a little "secret". Every game profile on TFG contains a link to this FAQ page located at the top of the rating table. All you need to do is hover your mouse over the image below, left click, and Voila! There are several other animated links like this on TFG. Can you find them all? Keep in mind the animation might not work properly in all browsers. Test it out below!"