No­body bet­ter


It’s June 2017 and I’m writ­ing this dur­ing what seems to be some­thing of a cross­roads mo­ment for fight­ing games. Ris­ing Thun­der was bought by Riot a year ago. We haven’t heard any­thing since then. Fantasy Strike’s al­pha, by David Sir­lin, is hardly get­ting any hype. Mean­while, Street Fighter V is get­ting slack for be­ing ‘too easy’.

Now I’ve won my fair share of fight­inggame tour­na­ments, so this is not me com­plain­ing that they’re too hard. I am in­stead sim­ply point­ing out that there has al­ways been a lack of fight­ing games that fo­cus less on tech­ni­cal skill and more on strate­gic ac­u­men. I’ve been play­ing Clash Royale for a year, and this has proven what I (and Seth Kil­lian and David Sir­lin) have been say­ing for years: com­pet­i­tive games are just as ex­cit­ing when there’s no bar­rier to en­try. Ris­ing Thun­der let you do spe­cial moves with­out the typ­i­cal in­puts, and com­bos were a cinch. It was ev­ery bit as ex­cit­ing as SFIV while it lasted. Fantasy Strike is even eas­ier, and con­sid­er­ing the excellence of Yomi, Puz­zle Strike, and Chess 2, I have com­plete faith in Sir­lin’s next prod­uct. But I fear it won’t even make it to Evo’s lineup.

That is, un­less peo­ple un­der­stand that many com­pet­i­tive games aren’t only a test of skill, but can also be a test of be­ing able to out-read your op­po­nent. In fact, I would ar­gue that the mind games that go back and forth be­tween play­ers are the best part of com­pe­ti­tion. I’m not say­ing that Guilty Gear or Street Fighter have to change. But I am ask­ing for folks to change their no­tion of what a fight­ing game can be like. Robert Au­gust de Mei­jer While this sounds per­fectly rea­son­able in the­ory, we were sur­prised at how quickly we tired of Ris­ing Thun­der. And see­ing a top player pull off a 30-hit combo in a high-

pres­sure sit­u­a­tion is a de­light. Per­haps the genre’s com­plex­ity is a big­ger part of the draw than we thought. In any case, we hope

Arms will prove that the two ends of the spec­trum needn’t be mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

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