Over the past couple of weeks I have been discussing the games of 2009 that I’m looking forward to as well as the games that have already made it to market. More specifically the fighting games of 2009. With the release of the limited edition retail version of Marvel vs Capcom 2 hitting Gamestop this week, I thought it might be nice to take a look back at and offer my take on 2009’s fighting games.
Street Fighter IV
In February gamers witnessed the arrival of Street Fighter IV, a game that long time fans of the series had been asking for diligently. The game was well recieved by most including me. When I first played the game there were some new additions that I had to get used to. Initially there was something really amazing about SFIV that just hooked me. I would play online for hours on end. The imminent release of the championship mode only motivated me to continue playing and getting better. I played SFIV to the point where I got completely burnt out on the game. During my break from the game I found myself playing older fighting games for comparison purposes. While SFIV is a great game it was lacking something that those old fighters have. Even now I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Now it’s been 6 months since SFIV hit retail and what was once considered fighting-game-of-the-year, isn’t even in my top 5 fighting games of all-time. SFIV was an easy game to learn and just as easy to forget how to play at a semi-tournament level. A couple of weeks ago, after not touching SFIV in a month or so, I was surprised at how significant my skill level had dropped. I decided instead of playing in championship mode, I would play some ranked matches. In my mind I was going to brush up on my skills and return to championship mode, but I was sadly mistaken. I couldn’t believe how bad the people who were playing were. What’s worse is that so few people were even playing ranked matches. It became quite obvious that if I wanted any real competition it would have to come from my friends and/or playing in championship mode. At times I find myself preferring to watch Japanese tournament play more than actually playing SFIV.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
Roughly a month and a half ago fighting game fans were given the opportunity to take a chance on a new franchise called BlazBlue. The reward for early adopters was a limited edition that included the game’s soundtrack and a detailed turtorial DVD at no extra charge. BlazBlue bundled with those kind of extras, being the first true Hi-Def 2D fighter and coming from the creators of Guilty Gear were already great selling points. BlazBlue is the type of game that goes above and beyond and pretty much does everything right. The game features gorgeous graphics, stellar gameplay, tons of unlockables, very attainable trophies/achievments and the episodes of “Teach Me, Miss Litchi!” are entertaining. All of this sounds wonderful, but what’s more impressive is playing online. In BlazBlue you can save, upload and download online matches, are treated to six-player lobbies with several customizible options, ranked matches, the ability to sit back & watch live matches and are privy to some of the best net code in any game.
So what is BlazBlue like 6 weeks later? It’s stronger than ever in my opinion. Whenever I jump online there are always plenty of people to play with whether it be morning, noon or night. BlazBlue is a title that has garnered strong sales in part from word of mouth alone. There are a number of people looking to buy this game, but can’t due to lack of availability. BlazBlue is hands down the fighting game of the year and truly a must buy for fighting game fans.
“King” of Fighters XII
Late into July the eagerly anticpated debut of King of Fighter XII was upon us. Too bad it didn’t live up to the hype. With games like SFIV and BB on the market SNK Playmore shouldn’t have even released KOFXII. The KOF series has been notorious for not having character specific endings and a barely there story, but to take the story completely out of the game was a bad idea. The lack of modes, a really horrible online experience only adds to this game’s downfall. I have never seen a game with so much exposure before it’s release, be next to forgotten so fast afterward. When people first asked if this game was going to be a digital download I thought they were crazy, but in retrospect it appears they had the right idea. King of Fighters XII should have been released as a DD because most of it’s sales are going to come at bargain bin prices.
Marvel vs Capcom 2
Marvel vs Capcom 2 was another game released in late July. I was still on the fence about this game a few weeks ago. On one hand it was the Dreamcast version Marvel vs Capcom 2 minus a few glitches and on the other BlazBlue blows Marvel out of the water. Somewhere between then and now my mind changed. I used to play Marvel everyday at this local arcade I worked at. I learned a lot and got really good with Spider-Man, Cyclops and Captain America. It took some time, but I got good enough to beat Magneto, Psylocke, Storm, Sentinel and Cable players. I even knew how to do Cyclop’s infinite. The announcement of the limited edition retail version from GameStop which includes a product voucher code for the game along with another code that gets you a free one-month subscription to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited for the standard price of 14.99 combined with the curiousity of wanting to know how well what I learned years ago stacks up against the world, was enough to seal the deal for me.
2009 has seen just about all of the fighting games it’s going to with the exception of Tekken 6. Personally I am really excited for Tekken 6. There hasn’t been a completely new Tekken since 2005 and I’m ready for the next iteration in the series. The Tekken franchise has always been one that I’ve played with consistency. It’s a fighter that I always go back to and a great deal of that has to do with how deep of a fighter it is. The fact that Tekken 6 has a cast of 40+ fighters adds huge replayability. I can’t wait to see what improvements have been made to my favorite characters. While details are still trickling out I don’t see Tekken 6 disappointing me. My only hope is that the net code is better than it’s is Tekken 5 Dark Ressurection Online.
Retro Game of Week: Streets of Rage 2