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Entries in fighting (6)

Tuesday
Dec042012

Better late than never review: SoulCalibur V

The once venerable SoulCalibur series has lost its way. The series that swept into prominance on Sega’s ill-fated white box, gloriously representing the downfall of arcades with its stunning presentation and packed feature set, has struggled to find its way in the modern era. After a sophomore success that many fans still see as its pinnacle, Namco produced two sequels that each failed to live up to their predecessors in their own unique way.

SoulCalibur V is evidence of a series continuing to struggle with a serious identity crisis, the roots of which were planted as far back as the beloved SoulCalibur II. The zenith of SoulCalibur’s popularity also saw the introduction of guest characters that, while seemingly innocuous at the time, signaled a marketing-driven tone that hinted at the difficulty Namco would face balancing its desire to sell more copies with the necessity of keeping the game relevant among the passionate niche of fighting game players that make up the tournament community. The clash between the hardcore zealots and the casual button mashers has long been at the core of the series’ problems. 

SoulCalibur V wrestles these inner demons better than either of its two troubled predecessors. The obligatory guest character, Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio Auditore, fits SoulCalibur’s aesthetic and tone better than Namco’s own two bizarre newcomers, magic orb wielding Viola and pseudo werewolf Zwei. The gameplay is solid, with a well-balanced cast fighting with renewed enthusiasm thanks to the speed boost the combat has received. Solid ideas have been borrowed from other modern fighting games in the form of super moves and meter management. These won’t win points for originality, but they do more to change up the strategies and tactics of fights than anything in the series’ history since Soul Edge became SoulCalibur. SoulCalibur V feels fresh again.

But trouble lurks in the periphery.

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Saturday
Dec182010

Best of the Decade: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Platform: Wii

Release Date: March 8, 2008

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo, Game Arts, Monolith Soft

Like many gamers of my generation who grew up on the NES, I have a soft spot for Nintendo. I’ve had plenty of criticisms of the company over the years, but no matter how many times they screw up, I can’t help be drawn back in by their charming titles. Nintendo seems to have a knack for delivering pure, unadulterated fun more consistently than just about any other studio.

That fun comes at a cost however, and that hasn’t ever been more evident than this latest generation of consoles. Nintendo has still managed to produce a steady string of quality games, but thanks to the success of the Wii, those games are now buried in minigame collections and cheap third party swill. Not only that, but Nintendo’s increased focus on the casual market means that the games true Nintendo fans crave are farther apart than ever before. 

But, if you’re willing to persevere and hold out for the occasional gem Nintendo throws your way amongst the Wii Sports sequels and crappy party games, they’ve still got some fantastic stuff up their sleeves. 

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a celebration of all those good things Nintendo has managed to produce over the years. For a gamer like me, there is no other game that can produce the sheer amount of nostalgia and child-hearted glee that a Smash Bros. game can. After Melee I wondered how they could possibly top themselves and do it again. With Brawl I found out. 

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Tuesday
May042010

Street Fighter IV iPhone Review

Street Fighter on the iPhone is something that by all rights should not even exist, much less in any form that actually resembles what a normal human being would consider a playable game. It should be a cheap cash in. It should be an abomination. It should have no redeeming value whatsoever.

I mean, come on. It's Street Fighter! On the iPhone! We are talking about a fighting game that represents the ultimate in precision controls, precise timing, and skillful input. Slapping a game like that onto a portable device with no physical buttons should be nothing short of blasphemous.

But yet, here we are. Street Fighter has been released for Apple's touchscreen device, and it doesn't suck. Color me surprised.

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Tuesday
Jan052010

Best of 2009 - Street Fighter IV

Some games have gotten recognition from me on this rather insignificant list because of how individually spectacular they are. There was something amazing or addictive or original about many of the games discussed so far that put them on a level above other products released this year.

Street Fighter IV gets the nod for another reason. Sure it’s a terrifically crafted, well-polished game, but the real reason it stood out to me in 2009 is because it marked the first time any fighting game other than my beloved Soulcalibur series had ever managed to truly hook me.

That’s quite an accomplishment.

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Tuesday
Dec082009

Virtual Fighting - Surprisingly Accessible

 

I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it or anything, but I think Virtua Fighter 5 might have one of the best difficulty curves of any fighting game I’ve ever played.

And this coming from a game I was expecting to be massively complicated and extremely difficult.

Weird, right? I know.

To be clear, it certainly is massively complicated, but the game seems to acknowledge this fact. It doesn’t hammer me over the head with difficulty right from the start and just expect me to catch up like most do. It gives me plenty of room to be a total n00b at first. It gives me the time to build both skill and confidence without being stupidly frustrated by a game that seems impatient for me to be much better than I actually am.

What a freaking concept!

 

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