Thursday, March 26, 2009

Making Fun Obsolete

You are old and slow, Pac Man

I've just read a glowing review of Street Fighter IV (SFIV), recently released on (I think) XBox360 and Playstation3. It struck me that a 2d fighting game can get a 9+ out of 10 rating in a landscape dominated by 3d games. I'm sure at least some of the execs and designers behind SFIV would have preferred they abandon their 2d roots and make a 3d fighting game like all the other top fighters in the 21st century. That would've, of course, been a horrible mistake. The Street Fighter franchise now stands alone as the last great 2d fighting franchise, and a seemingly profitable one at that. Well done, Capcom.

Will there be a Street Fighter V? Will it be 2d as well? My guess is yes and yes. It may be that Street Fighter carries the torch of A-List 2d Fighters to the end of the genre's line. My money's on it, actually. Will anyone try to duplicate their success? Probably, but now that Street Figher is *the* 2d fighter, I doubt the public has any need for another. I also doubt there is the will among developers to try and create a "Street Fighter" killer-type game, designed to knock it off it's 2d fighter throne. There's just easier targets to hit.

Is the 2d fighter, in the form of the Street Fighter franchise, the oldest viable gaming genre? Older game archtypes like the maze game (PacMan), shooters (194x, Galaga, Tempest), seem to have run their course. All that can be done within the framework of those games has been done, it seems. Unlike 2d fighters, driving games, and platform games, some old games didn't have a way to grow as computers became more powerful. I think 3d games, both exploration and shooters replace those older game-types rather than enhance them. The old games were fun, but new games are more fun. The "new and improved" treatment either failed (most new Sonic games), or transformed the game so completely that it no longer resembles the original (Metroid).

If you love the old games, as I do, they are still there. That's all that really matters.


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