Today my dad, after seeing me play a bit of Smash Bros Brawl, asked me why I don’t play any fighting games in which burly men fight other burly men.
First off, let’s shove aside the fact that there’s very little mainstream fighting games that’s all men duking it out. Because of what gaming culture was (still is sometimes), there’s plenty of scantily clad ladies in the fray as well. But as I said, let’s set that aside for now and instead focus on why I don’t play fighters more in the style of something like Street Fighter.
To illustrate my point, let’s look at the perceived differences. First off, the Smash Bros series are brawler games, whereas Street Fighter is a much more direct child of the original arcade fighting games. This has some impact on the way the two games generally play. Where Street Fighter’s almost always limited to a straight, flat piece of terrain, Smash Bros offers stages with different design. Some have platforms to make plays on or around, others feature terrain hazards, etc. More recent fighter games also have all these, except in a much more subdued way.
Smash Bros is set up as a casual game. You can play as a bunch of familiar characters from all your favorite franchises, crazy items can be introduced into the gameplay, and new players can pick it up and at least attempt to do things with relative ease. Why? Not because they’re playing with characters they know, but because the combat mechanics are way different. In Smash Bros you have a number of special attacks, which characterize your chosen hero. There’s also basic attacks, different for ground and aerial execution. Just push a button and the direction you want to attack in, and you’re good to go.
Traditional fighters, on the other hand, have you controlling kicks and punches separately, numerous ways to dodge, and in my eyes odd button sequence combos that make it really, really hard for a new player to just pick the game up. There’s a lot of mechanical knowledge to it (button mashing doesn’t count), whereas in Smash Bros you can just “oh this guy shoots lasers, let’s use that!”
It’s that very point, the difficulty for new players, which in my eyes makes traditional fighting games much less accessible than something developed with the casual audience in mind. Then again, I guess that’s the whole point.
Do note that I haven’t ever tried to play traditional fighters seriously, so I may be spreading some disinfo here. Whoops!