Last year was the first time I actually watched the Evolution fighting game tournament stream live. This weekend will be my first time after having acquired hardware that can easily run twitch on my television (Microsoft’s recent Xbox Live policy changes notwithstanding). For that and other reasons I’m taking this opportunity to dip back into fighting games for a bit.
For a while now I’ve kind of wrestled with the time commitment fighters, like other competitive games, require. I can be pretty decent at Soul Calibur depending on how much practice I’ve had. I can understand what goes on in Street Fighter because that game has been part of my lexicon since I was seven years old. With everything else at tournaments though, I’m probably dozens or hundreds of gameplay hours away from really being able to play. It’s not quite as steep as the DOTA 2 learning curve but it feels similar.
It’s really a testament to the sheer saturation of competitive games in today’s market when even one genre has an overwhelming amount of games to take in. The oversaturation of online shooters is common knowledge, people are starting to talk about how the MOBA bandwagon has filled up, and I’ve definitely written here before about how there are too many fighting games today. Out of all those, fighters feel the most personal to me, and the surprising part is the genre just keeps growing.
I would’ve spent more of this past week finally getting around to trying Ultra Street Fighter IV before Evo, but ArmA III put a serious hole in those plans. I also find myself drawn to King of Fighters XIII even though I have the barest minimum of experience with SNK fighting games. Perhaps it’s how straightforward the game feels combined with its appealing character designs, but having to skillfully use three characters in any given fight is a deterrent for me. I gave up on Marvel vs Capcom pretty early. That game just feels way too hectic. I choose not to mess with competitive Smash Bros. The only game at the indie showcase I’m really interested in this year is Yatagarasu.
Perhaps next year I’ll start watching all the tournaments leading up to Evo, but I’m not at the point yet where I actually start following major players.
Another reason I start practicing fighting games in late summer is Otakon usually happens near Evo, and though it’s an anime convention it hosts a fighting game area every year. I don’t ever expect to do extremely well, but I at least like to be in practice when I show up. That probably means some Soul Calibur V practice is in order since that’s the one game in which I’ve done relatively well at gatherings.
The hard part I guess is sticking with fighting games year-round when I’m trying to play so many other games. I like to think I have a more eclectic mix of video game preferences compared to most people (I’m talking about tactical shooters one post and fighting games the next) and that it allots me less time for more games. That wasn’t a problem when I was younger and had access to fewer games — Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Soul Calibur used to be staples of my free time. Maybe if the Soul Calibur scene was more visible I’d still play that game more. Maybe the scene is there and I should actually follow it. In any case, this is just one genre in the massive pool of multiplayer games I seem to dart between. I did after all just spend two posts trying to convince people to try out an online shooter.