TFG Feedback - Q2 2014

Bless You And Your Ultra SF4 Review . . . 

I have probably said this before, but your site is what got me into fighting games.  My brother played Guilty Gear XX at a friend's house when we were 12, he told me about it, and then we found your site.  It lead to us heading out later that week and buying Capcom vs SNK 2, and now outside of some Nintendo mainstays and the odd sandbox adventure like Skyrim, fighting games are all we own. Your site gave us the push to dive right into the deep end.  Thank you for that!

That in mind, I just read your USF4 review and I found myself agreeing with you pretty strongly.  This statement: 

"Of course, all the "ultra hardcore SF4 tournament FGC bros" would be fine fighting on the SF4 Training Stage for the rest of their lives... but... some of us have higher standards."

spoke to me on a deeply personal level.  It encapsulates pretty succinctly what I've felt the fighting game community has become in recent years.  It's gotten to the point where I think a game featuring virtually no art and a bunch of identical mannequins with deeply technical fighting styles is all the people want anymore.  It really depresses me too, because characters I've loved and followed for years are being treated like accessories to their own stats and command lists.  Like you said, no one cares about the style anymore, it's just who got "buffed" vs. who got "nerfed", or how so-and-so matches up with whoever-the-fuck.  

I'm so devoted to the fighting genre that it's like a piece of my soul has been put on display for the whole world, and all they want to do is figure out what it can do for THEM.  I used to be able to meet fighting game people in droves at conventions, but now if I meet someone who's into fighting games, that's usually the last thing I want to talk to them about.  This one guy I was hanging out with up here in Atlanta at the last Momocon told me that he hated Rose from Street Fighter, so I asked why because I think she's a pretty great character.  Literally his only reason was "she doesn't have a three-frame start up".  When pressed, he said he liked the design and all that, but he couldn't bring himself to try her out because of some stupid technical bullshit.  And I'm seeing more and more of that.  It's really wearing on me.  Thank god Guilty Gear XX and Soul Calibur 4 are my big games; the Street Fighter crowd is definitely the worst about this stuff, though I've seen shades of the same level of dickery among Blazblue players.

So yeah, thanks again for giving a voice to the people who also believe that fighting games equal art.  I've noticed more and more of your reviews and news feature a casual dig or two at the FGC's snottiest elitists.  Rest assured, I'll be in Fighter's Generation's corner as long as the site lives and beyond.

Also, do you still go to conventions?  If you're ever at one up in Atlanta (you're in Florida, right?) my brother and I would absolutely love to shake your hand.

-Victor Delacroix (Atlanta, Georgia)

Frank replies:  Hi Victor. Your email was a pleasure to read... so thank YOU for that. Usually, I only express my gripes about the fighting game community with my closest friends, as it's not exactly "good for business" to talk crap in general about fighting games and the uhh... "mainstream" fighting game community. Since I run a fighting game website, I try to remain generally "positive" by default... but as you can see, I take casual jabs here or there when possible. I could probably write a short book about my gripes with the direction of today's most popular fighting games and the "Super Friends Club" of the fighting game community. It wouldn't all be negative, but it certainly wouldn't all be positive either.

I've also noticed over the years that many in the FGC have made fighting games about themselves. Even some of our beloved fighting game news resources seem to put the PLAYERS first, not the games. Also putting the "importance" of WINNING TOURNAMENTS long before appreciating / evaluating the artistic direction or "quality" of content that a fighting game offers. Well hey, I guess that's what TFG is for after all. No disrespect to the other fighting game sites, but personally I was never interested in what Mike Ross had for lunch, or that  "so-and-so" is no longer part of team "whatever-don't-care". If one wants to follow the players of fighting games as if they were players of a sports team, that's their prerogative and there's nothing wrong with that. Personally, I don't follow most sports... so it doesn't come natural to me to take interest in the "drama" of fighting game players' careers. I think many fighting game fans out there would agree that it's nice to have a fighting game news page without 15 updates every day pertaining mostly to PLAYERS of fighting games (and the pointless drama that comes along with them sometimes). Hence, I try to keep TFG News straight forward by actually POSTING FIGHTING GAME NEWS!

I see more and more players posting videos of themselves commentating (or mostly talking trash) for an hour straight on their fighting game stream or video. Or they're uploading 15-minute videos of themselves talking into their camera about fighting games or any "sliver of news" that comes out (usually dramatically overreacting if it's potential bad news). To each his own, I suppose. Some people just want  to be heard and the internet gives them that freedom, as it does for me. We all do different things with that freedom... but I've always put the games, the characters, and the "art" of fighting games FIRST... as you can see. 

That scenario you described about the player who "HATES Rose because of her lack of 3-frame start-up" totally resonates with me. I've overheard pro-gamer shit like that too at tournaments and online. Some players I've noticed put ALL of the importance on the technical stuff, as if nothing else about a game matters at all. Naturally, at a fighting game tournament, I guess some folks want to "show off" their knowledge of counting frames or other technical jazz. (It seems like the "go-to" thing to do for hipsters concerned with "looking / sounding cool" after being eliminated in a tournament.) Hey, if that floats you're boat, good for you. My generalized response: Good luck in your 230-man tournament... wow, I'm sure glad that I don't play the most popular fighting game in the world... I'm gonna go have dinner now, bye. I've had players come up to me that just start off talking about frame data... and for those encounters, I just nod and smile (or possibly just nod). On the flipside, I literally have hour-long conversations with my close friends about the direction of future (& past) fighting game designs, storylines, artwork, soundtracks, characters, etc...

To generalize all of this... it's sad that we live in a society where appreciation for "ART" and "MUSIC" (for example), is so often overshadowed by POPULARITY, EGOS and WINNING / LOSING. Not to go off on a total tangent, but this phenomenon actually translates almost perfectly to the world of real martial arts. Some people are in it for competition, winning and egos... and others... for the ART, science, physical self improvement, and/or becoming a better person. That said, I bet you can guess the reason I've been in martial arts for over 20 years. :)

And to answer your questions, lately I've been missing quite a few of my local conventions (and yes I'm in FL). I've heard from several people that Dragoncon in ATL is one of the best conventions in the country... so I'd definitely like to make it out there one of these times. 
TFG Webmaster

In Your Opinion, What Makes a Video Game Mainstream? . . . 

Hi again, Yagami-sama!

I have been pondering over this question for a really long time, and I really do not know whether it was necessary for me to ask this, but here goes:


I don't have anything against the mainstream, it's just that most, if not all of my friends, get hyped up over the next GTA-style title or a "new" action video game that features yet another buff white guy, and yet no one that I know of gives anything about the next Street Fighter title or any other fighting game, big or not, for that matter.

(And for the record I don't count Super Smash Bros. as a fighting game. Also, only the Shun Goku Satsu awaits those who even so much dares to bring up those "anime fighting games" and absurd cartoon characters on this purely dedicated website. I honestly don't get their motives sometimes.)

This just proves that you're right: FIGHTING GAMES ARE INDEED UNDERRATED. If anything, I think the "vast majority" of fighting game characters have, in my opinion, the most engaging personalities and stories to tell, and they can even transcend the fictional medium to affect us. And yet no one cares. Ryu, for example, has inspired me to never give up despite the difficulties along the way, and showed me that pride is a deadly sin (even though Ryu came way before my time. And yes I have put emphasis on "vast majority", because you know...) And yet all the mainstream ever gave us in terms of morals was basically this:

"If someone is a bad guy, KILL HIM! Also, you will encounter hot girls and explosions whenever you undertake a dangerous journey."

I'm truly sorry if this was too bothersome and/or wordy. But once again I say thank you and keep the fighting spirit alive! :)

-Sam Kim (Sydney, Australia)

Frank replies:  Hey Samuel,

A bothersome question, you say? . . . NOT AT ALL.  This is a GREAT question actually! It really made me think on my opinion of mainstream video games, because I do have strong opinions on the matter. Unlike yourself, I DO have something against the mainstream. It's a quirk I have, and it keeps me sane. Usually... when "crowds of all ages" seem to flock to something, or when something reaches a sickening level of popularity... I tend to steer clear of it (or at the most, casually watch from a distance), especially when it comes to gaming. Like any old school gamer, I can kinda tell "at a glance" when a particular mainstream game will suck or just be more of the same. 

Of course this isn't always the case... sometimes mainstream games (along with movies & TV shows) can actually be very good. For example, insanely successful shows such as Breaking Bad and Walking Dead are definitely "mainstream," yet their success is due to the excellent writing, character development, artistic cinematography, and (usually) unpredictable storytelling. I approached both of those shows with skepticism a few years back, since previously I really hadn't "gotten into" a mainstream TV show in a very very long time. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. On the flipside, 90% of today's high-budget Hollywood movies, created with "mass appeal" in mind, are almost always complete garbage because they're plagued with blatant cliches, narrow-minded plots, shallow characters... and yet they still manage to make millions using testosterone-driven male leads, explosions, laughably over-sexualized females, and crappy (yet mainstream acceptable) CGI.

The reason I bring up movies & TV shows is because these days, the same strategies are used for mainstream games. The vast majority of (what I like to call) "BRO GAMES" prioritizes GUNS, FEMALE SEXUALIZATION / OBJECTIFICATION and / or GRATUITOUS VIOLENCE as the main draw(s). The "better half" of us gamers know deep down that those games are usually SHIT at their core....... Pure shit. I don't care if a crowd of 60,000 people gather outside Gamestop at midnight to buy it... a pile of shit is a pile of shit. 

Like the old saying goes: Sex sells... Violence sells... and sadly... stupidity sells also. Developers also incorporate "stupidity" into their games in different ways (sometimes even cleverly). One of the most common ways is simplifying game mechanics so much that even a chimpanzee can mash a few buttons and do very well in the game. Mainstream games seem to be getting better and better at "looking cool" even when the player mashes 1 button repeatedly... basically, requiring less and less from the player. Is that really what GAMING is about? Well I can tell you that's not what gaming is to me.

I don't want to talk too much trash about any particular games... but I'll just call out 2 ultra-mainstream games off the top of my head: Assassin's Creed and Madden. (Assassin's Creed might've become the new Madden actually, releasing a new goddamn game every f*in'  year. Which makes me a little sick). I quit the series after AC2 because the gameplay and premise started to become repetitive and boring to me. Out of chance, I had the opportunity to give some of the newer ones a try, like Assassin's Creed III: Liberation on Vita (which was plagued with the same old boring mechanics / gimmicks, plus tons of glitches and horrible story direction - Worst Vita game I've ever played to date, actually). I don't mean to offend any Assassin's Creed fans, because I'm sure there's "something" to like about the series for returning players. I just don't see how "random shadowy person in white hood" can have so much lasting appeal... it just doesn't do it for me.

So what makes a game mainstream? Mainstream games are: Games with high-budget previews (often giving a false impression of what the game is actually like). Games that Gamestop wants to "give you a free DLC gun / skin / cupcake / bag-o-shit" with your pre-order. (General rule: If Gamestop is hyping it up, it's probably mainstream shit). Games that use the same old TV advertising tactics. Games made by companies that pay mainstream websites like IGN for positive reviews (it really does happen). Games that don't actually reward skill and just want your money this year (and next year, and the year after that). And as previously mentioned, games that bank on stupid (and sad) cliches like over-sexualized female characters and gratuitous violence.

To repeat myself, not all mainstream games are bad. Sometimes when a game has a high budget, it actually pays off (usually in the graphics / presentation department). I'll admit, I can be a sucker for those shiny next-gen graphics in a driving / sandbox game from time to time. Plus classic franchises like Grant Theft Auto can actually be a fun revisit when a new title comes out, especially when you're a fan of some of the older games. (Plus, GTA - for example - doesn't release a new game every damn year, or else it would definitely become stale). Hey, Super Mario World / Zelda / Donkey Kong / Pokemon games are all very mainstream  of course... but Nintendo usually delivers with their new games (besides arguably overcharging people a bit). Of course your mainstream shooters like Call of Duty & Halo will always sell well to the BRO-gamers and 11-12 year olds, because they're easy to get into (and everyone's playin' it, yo). I have mixed feelings about FPS games nowadays... but the good ones do reward skill and study for long-time players. I'll proudly admit that (along with fighting) I was among the first generation of online FPS gamers, too! Yep... Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem and especially Quake 1 & 2. Those were the days. I used to spend hours online owning noobs (and getting owned too). Fun times. However, I did "fall out of" serious FPS gaming many years ago for obvious reasons, unlike fighting games. ;) Keep in touch.

TFG Webmaster

With Regards From A Fellow Fighter + Tekken Question . . . 

Hey FYagami, I've written to you before (got posted on the feedback page even), and I'm a huge fan of yours.

I've been wondering what is your opinion regarding Tekken. Well, not the series itself, but the future of it. I've played every installment since Tekken 2, and absolutely love how the series is constantly evolving. However, I'm not sure about what I should expect from Tekken 7... The series, to me, has never been better than TTT2 (an absolutely PERFECT fighting game), and I really don't want the game play mechanics to be simplified/dumbed down/streamlined. On the other hand, the competitive scene (at least in the Americas...) is lacking interest in the game, complaining that it has become overly-complex (which might be truth, considering the endless possibilities and strategies with so many characters). Point is, I don't want Tekken to go the Soul Calibur route (I really liked SCV, but the move-lists keep getting smaller and smaller...). Tekken Revolution, while still a good game, is a step in that direction. Come to thing of it, Street Fighter also went the "Soul Calibur route" when transitioning from 3 to 4... maybe it is a natural thing. But, as much as I hate to admit it, I also do think the series has to do something to reach out a new audience of people that, in time, will properly dedicate themselves to learn the game.

I still don't really get how anyone can complain about a game being too deep. To each their own, I guess. What's your take on this whole situation? Should Tekken 7 aim to please beginners with simpler game play mechanics, or should it focus on making said mechanics even deeper/evolved (and thus rewarding those who really engage themselves to learn it)? What should be kept, and what should be reworked? I know it will be a beautiful game, but I fear Tag 2 has spoiled me game play-wise. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

Take care man, thanks in advance.

- Helder Iwamoto (Brazil-PA) / PSN: DeacoMiyashiro


Frank replies:  Interesting question and retrospective, Helder... I also love the evolution of Tekken as a series, in particular. Honestly I've never been "disappointed" by a single Tekken installment (in the main franchise)... and I actually can't say that about ANY other long-running fighting game series. 

I really enjoy Tekken Tag 2 still to this day, primarily for the open-ended combo possibilities, frantic and fun gameplay pace and customizations. Plus I use around 15 different characters, so I really get my money's worth. However, sometimes the insanely damaging combos and fighting against specific teams and arguably "over-powered" strategies can be a headache... even for me. There is that "randomness" element to TTT2 that makes a lot of situations dangerous and risky, especially for players like me who like to take risks and use arguably "fancy" strategies. After playing TTT2, and later returning to Tekken Revolution (or even going back to Tekken 6) reminds me why I love 1-VS-1 Tekken. There's a certain "magic" and "comfort zone" when it comes to using and fighting against one character at a time... and I find that taking risks is less risky and more rewarding. 

That said, I really wouldn't mind if Tekken 7 was slightly streamlined... Key word = Slightly. I know how you feel with "being spoiled" when it comes to Tag 2...  but TTT2 achieved what it set out be. I think Tekken 7 will take on its own unique character. I've come to love implementation of "longer combos" since 2004-2005 with Tekken 5, especially for the mix-up options provided by longer combo options. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually wouldn't mind shorter, more streamlined combos for Tekken 7. I think it might be time to go in that direction actually. Long combos scare off a lot of casual & beginner players (and make the loud ones cry and whine), even though the COMBO DAMAGE DECREASE is in their favor (whether they know it or not).

After nearly a decade of loving long, open-ended combos... I think I can have fun with shorter juggles, since I'm not a player that "relies only" on launchers & combos. I actually use a few short / quick combos in Tekken Revolution sometimes for mix-up. Some people think Tekken is all about the juggles, but as you know, I'm sure, there are so many other mindgames and "gameplay priorities" going on at a high level. I just hope Tekken 7 can enhance / exaggerate those "other" gameplay nuances if they do streamline the experience. Perhaps some tasteful in-game cinematics as a reward for successfully doing something "skillfull"... like low parrying, sidestepping, etc.  

As we all know, Street Fighter IV achieved a ton of success by "simplifying"... and that worked for Street Fighter (according to some fans, that is)... but I don't think it will work for Tekken. I have faith in Bandai Namco and Harada-sama that the integrity of Tekken's finer, more advanced mechanics will be kept alive. It's possible Tekken's combo system reached a sort of "peak" with TTT2... so if anything gets streamlined, I think it will be the combos. Who knows what other gameplay elements they'll add in Tekken 7. Every major installment has implemented a solid (yet safe) gameplay element or two, so I think they'll keep that trend going. I'm afraid to think of any "extreme" changes made to Tekken's gameplay, but after playing the series for the last 20 years... I'm pretty open minded at this point. Hell, I'd even be open-minded to some kind of meter management in Tekken (maybe). (I also might take back that statement in the future, lol). I thought I'd HATE  meter management in Soul Calibur 5, (and in some ways I do *cough* Guard Impacting *cough*)... but I can't say I didn't have fun with that game for a while. (And if TTT2 didn't come out when it did, I would've played SC5 for longer).

Anyway, thanks a lot for the question! See ya in Tekken 7! 

TFG Webmaster