Fighting games are, sadly, one of the few areas of gaming where I can still get worked up into a fanboy. Shameful, I know, but every gamer has their flaws. My problem is that I am a hopeless, shameful SNK fan. I buy their games when they treat the fanbase like crap. I buy the games that are crap. And every time I see gamers tear them a new one for a legitimate grievance, I can’t get myself to join in.
At the same time, I have never understood the appeal of the suite of fighters made by Arc System Works. I can tell you about some of the many things the studio does incredibly well, perhaps better than anyone else. But that is in addition to some of the many bad practices and decisions they make that, rather than being criticized, are praised by fans. The Guilty Gear series, as well as newcomer Blazblue, have the gaming equivalent of a Reality Distortion Field. When this causes the community to continuously fall over themselves in their love of Blazblue, while they trash the newly released King of Fighters XII before they have even played it, the fanboy in me starts to pout.
Let me get one thing straight. I have King of Fighters XII. It isn’t very good. I still enjoy it, being a hopeless fan and all, but I can still see and understand the glaring problems it has. Meanwhile, I can easily accept that Blazblue’s characters are probably as unique in their fighting styles as everyone claims, and that the combat system is interesting. I have no doubts that the netcode is as good as everyone claims. Technical proficiency is what Arc System Works has always excelled at. On this, you can get me to admit that their game is better than my game.
Be that as it may, I am still baffled at some of the shit ArcSys is able to get away with. Their games may not be broken, but they don’t know when to quit. Guilty Gear X had about four major revisions. Guilty Gear X2 had around 5 revisions, roughly the same as Street Fighter 2. But while this semi sequel nonsense was the subject of scorn when it came to Street Fighter, I saw Guilty Gear fans show nothing but interest and excitement for every new release. This in light of the fact that at least one revision ditched the story mode completely, only to bring it back for the true best version. Guess which one I’m stuck with? At least Capcom had the kindness to stop at adding features. ArcSys’ inability to leave their games alone makes me lose confidence that Blazblue is anything close to being finished. Yet I do not see anyone else echo this sentiment. I have a feeling that there’s an interview floating around wherein some developer claims that they won’t be doing revisions, but even then, I’d believe it when I see it.
I’m also tired of the praise heaped upon ArcSys games for their tone and style. Let’s not beat around the bush – Guilty Gear was pure, distilled animu, and Blazblue doesn’t look to be too far behind. You’ve got ridiculous heavy metal soundtracks, futuro-Victorian settings, and characters whose descriptions read like something you would generate with a book of Mad Libs, a few hours of pirated anime, and sleep deprivation. Penny Arcade’s Tycho describes a Blazblue character as follows:
“Vampire lolita Rachel Alucard consorts with a jolting, electrical amphibian known as “George XIII””.
I remember when such a description would have excited me. It was back when I couldn’t legally get addicted to smoking, and you couldn’t have convinced me that Dragonball Z wasn’t the greatest thing on television. I am amazed that wackiness for wackiness’ sake continues to be praised. Actually, maybe it isn’t too strange when you consider that the fans can’t tell that ArcSys is practically recycling Guilty Gear characters. There’s a good chance that some of these same people are cursing out King of Fighters XII for its lack of Mai Shiranui, one of the most depraved character designs in gaming.
Suddenly it all makes sense. Arc System Works cannot fail. Their games are too solidly built, and the fact that weeaboo have no taste takes care of the rest. And so they will continue to attract high review scores and a hearty competitive community, while I struggle to find people who are even interested in hearing about King of Fighters, while my gaming dollar goes to people who cannot get their act together.
But I won’t switch sides. I know I’m being stupid, but old habits die hard. And at least I’m not bitter or anything. I swear.