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Out of My League

I make no apologies for the fact that I am a casual fighting game fan with decidedly average skills. I am not terrible, but I am not terrific either. I am constantly attracted to their depth, shiny graphics, and high replayability, however I simply do not have the time or inclination to spend the amount of time necessary to get to the higher levels of play.

Most of the time I am fine with this. It does produce more than the occasional frustration, as fighting games in general (to their detriment, I think) aren’t really built for a person like me. The casual player is an afterthought in the construction of most of these titles.

Still, when I find a fighting game’s mechanics to be fun enough, I will often fight through the punishing difficulty and fight through the complete lack of tutorials or any way to learn how to play the game within the game itself. I have fun with these games on the level that I like to have fun with them, and that’s fine for me. I wish I had more human competition and I wish I were less afraid to go online, lest I get torn to shreds by the type of players that actually like to go online with these games, but I still manage to have fun with them.

Spending the amount of time necessary to pull off some of the insane combos and techniques that the higher level players do would require a level of single-game dedication I don’t give to any genre. Sure I envy players that can do this, but it is a type of envy that is fully aware that my inferiority will be a permanent state of being. I do constantly strive to get better of course, but within the bounds of what is reasonable for someone with my abilities and relatively short attention span.

The more I play them, however, the more I continue to be frustrated with how much this genre seems not to be made for me. I yearn for a fighting game tailored more for a person like myself - with enough depth to satisfy, but with enough accessibility and friendliness that its difficulty is not punishing, its secrets not locked to all but those who put in huge amounts of time. Smash Bros. is one example of something that's at least in the right ballpark, but while that is certainly a fun title, it’s not exactly satisfying on the same level of depth as a true one-on-one fighting game.

These frustrations have only become more and more prominent recently as I have increased the number of fighting games I am spending a lot of time with. Previously, the only title that was able to hook me for long was Soulcalibur - about as close to the approachable fighting game nirvana as it currently gets. As I have written about previously, however, I have now managed to discover the joys of Street Fighter and have recently begun to become quite fond of BlazBlue as well.

Perhaps it is my inexperience talking, but the 2D fighting games seem to share a particular contempt for newcomers. It’s hard to blame them, really, as they must cater to a fan base more hardcore than just about anything else I can think of, but the problem remains.

As much as the genre frustrates me due to its stagnancy, I shall continue my search for those fighting games that manage to hook me. I have had tons of fun lately learning of the addictive qualities of Street Fighter IV and penetrating the weirdness that is every single aspect of BlazBlue.

This has indeed been a terrific period for fighting game fans and I am living proof that the genre’s newfound (and somewhat unexpected) resurgence has served to draw at least a few newcomers into the fray.

I can’t help but wonder, however, if the “member’s only” nature of the fighting game genre as it stands has turned many of those dabblers away. It nearly happened to me, were it not for my stubborn insistence to finally learn what the hell this Street Fighter thing was about.

I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has discovered the joy of fighting games in recent days (or in my case, at least the expanded joys of fighting games, as I’ve been a Soulcalibur addict for years). I hope that someday, sooner would be better than later, a developer realizes that there’s room for middle ground. I fully believe that someone could make a fighting game with enough depth to satisfy those that wished for it while maintaining enough fun (and reasonable difficulty levels) at a lower level of play to satisfy those that merely wish to make an entrance to the scene.

Meanwhile, I'll just continue my struggle to fit in while trying not to throw my controller at the wall too many times.

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