I had written the fighting game genre off as something that I’d used to enjoy but no longer could.
Honestly, most of that is just because the games that I grew up with have gotten to be hopelessly complex. Looking at the move lists for characters in a modern Street Fighter, for example, leaves me boggled that there are actually people who learn these things.
In an effort to recapture some of what I’d felt I’d lost, I bought Skullgirls a couple of years ago. I’d heard good things about its tutorial mode, and I can report that the tutorial is in truth very approachable, but also very dry. For a second strike, the character designs left me unable to get into the game proper and trying to apply what I’d learned in another game (MvC2, if you’re curious) left me pummeled into the group by CPU fighters on the easiest difficulty level. That was three strikes and done for me.
Now, I did buy Soul Calibur 4 when it came out, which I was able to enjoy even as a scrub mashing random buttons, and had great fun playing around with its custom character modes and Mine Yoshizaki-designed fighter… but, well, I’m not a teenager with friends to come over and waste afternoons beating each other up anymore, so I never felt like I was getting any better and it kind of felt like a waste after a while. I figured I was just done.
Then I bought a 3DS, mostly for Kingdom Hearts, and figured I needed at least a couple of other games for it, so I bought Dead or Alive Dimensions, partially because I really enjoyed DoA2 back in the Dreamcast days but mostly because I am a boy-type person and let’s not even try to pretend that there isn’t a certain appeal to the concept of DoA in 3D.
In truth, the limited viewing angle of the 3D effect on the 3DS does not lend itself well to a fighting game where you are frantically mashing buttons, but I will give them an E-cup for Effort.
I’m going to hell for that. Also I think I’ve used that gag before, and it doesn’t even really apply because the famous DoA bounce was turned to almost zero when they ported it to a Nintendo system. I have shame.
Anyway, setting any further entendres aside, I had left DoA:Dimensions on the shelf until just a couple of days ago, when I figured that I’d been enjoying Titanfall a lot and that it might be worth trying another genre that had fallen outside of my comfort zone.
It turns out that, in addition to versus and arcade modes, DoA:D features a “Chronicle” mode, which both serves as a tutorial and takes you through the story of the first four games, and it turns out they actually DO have a plot behind them that has been carried forward from installment to installment since the first installment in 1996.
Not exactly the deepest of stories, mind you, but it’s a fighting game and they’re not exactly games you go to looking for narrative.
It was enough to keep me going through the chronicle mode, which in turn meant that I stuck with the tutorial, which turned out to be a very hand-holdy sort of affair that devotes a lot of time to explaining the different sorts of attacks and guards and throws and which take precedence in the event of a tie and often freezes the action mid-fight to force you to input moves.
It was exactly what I’d needed, and I came out of the thing feeling like I might actually be able to enjoy a fighting game for the first time in a very long while.
So anyway, kudos are seriously due to Koei Tecmo for taking a game that probably would have sold just fine if they’d done the bare minimum and going the extra mile to make it so dang approachable.