K.O. the OP

I’ve never been a hardcore fan of fighting games. I do enjoy casual matches of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter now and then, but it’s definetely not my favorite genre. Until this day, I pretty much suck at them and don’t explore the full potential of combos and such. However, I do have certain interest from time to time to play them, just for fun.

I’ve played (or tried) at least Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, Guilty Gear and, lately, Skullgirls (and… Vanguard Princess, but it’s a shame of a game, don’t buy it). I detected a pattern that almost all of them share and this post is the result of such mental exercise.

Seth - SF4
Seth (Street Fighter 4)

Pick any fighting game and play through the story mode, at any difficulty. Chances are that the difficulty curve hits full throttle during the final boss. It goes like this:

_____________/\_

Some games do have a proper curve for the rest of the matches (usually, that curves grows or follows an up-and-down pattern) but, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume it goes like that.

Marie (Skullgirls)
Marie (Skullgirls)

Final bosses in fighting games are usually overpowered, via high stats or by cheating (unblockable attacks, immunity to special powers, cheap moves), and that kind of bothers me. The idea of a boss is to test the abilities that the player was supposed to learn and train during the rest of the game, but I often find that when fighting them, many of the ground rules don’t apply.

It feels like studying for a basic math exam and receive a calculus test. I mean, it kind of breaks the engagement.

I’ve come to three possible reasons for this phenomena:

  1. Developers think that OP bosses are part of the genre’s blueprint, just like you’d expect a Call of Duty game to feature shooting. Maybe it’s to make it more difficult and give it a sense of epicness (as it could be otherwise a pretty lame fight, if the player is skillful enough).
  2. It’s a way to frustrate the player, expecting it spends more time playing under the hope of finally beating the boss. A “Not so fast, try a lot harder.”
  3. Fighting games have their roots in the Arcade era, when the top priority was to keep people playing (and spending money).
Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat)
Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat)

Anyway, the thing here is that it stuck around, no matter the reason.

Again, I’m not a faithful fan of the genre so I don’t know if this is an exception rather than a rule. But as I see it, these games should test your ability of chaining combos and counter-attacking, instead of being survivalish.

A good game, even if it’s a fighting game, should follow an interest curve that makes sense. Just as you don’t present new mechanics just before the final boss, you don’t throw a very difficult challenge after a somewhat normal experience.

Is there any good fighting game around, not mentioned here, that I should play?

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