Next-gen Fighters and the Flow of Combat pt.1
Monday, August 11, 2008 at 10:45PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Fighter, Genre, Super Smash Brothers

Soul Calibur 4. Street Fighter 4. Virtual Fighter 5. Mortal Kombat 8. GuiltyGearXX Accent Core. All of these games have a few things in common. They're all fighters that have iterated on core gameplay of their series that was established in the last few generations of video gaming. The fighting game genre supports some of the most devoted, skilled, and competitive players around. "Playing to win" is a popular mindset for such players. Unlike traditional single player games where players are given advantages and superior abilities over computer controlled enemies that could never substitute for intelligent opponents, in a fighting game players are pitted against players each

I believe this same "do anything to win" attitude has created vocal groups of supporters that have essentially held back many fighting games from truly evolving. I understand where this resistant to change attitude comes from. For most fighters, becoming competent requires digesting an encyclopedia worth of data. If a sequel to a beloved fighting game completely changed things up, players would have to absorb another encyclopedia worth of data. Unfortunately, by making small changes to to the sequels of these fighting games, old design choices and philosophies are carried over and cemented into newer and newer generations.

While many think it's cool to finally be able to play Soul Calibur 4 online via their next-gen console (Xbox360/PS3), I couldn't help but feel like I was playing an updated Dreamcast game. Some would argue that it's the little changes that have a big impact on the way the game is actually played on a detailed level. But I'm not arguing about changes in the metagame across sequels. My point is the design decisions and mechanics at the core of such fighters could be designed better to create a cleaner playing experience for all types of players. Adhering to the tenet of form fits function, tightening mechanics, increasing depth while reducing unnecessary complexities, and reducing clutter are always ways to improve upon any game series.

A true next-gen fighting game wouldn't simply add more features to a previous game or like so many games, try and copy street fighter. A true next-gen fighting game would look at fighting in a new way inspired by the breakthroughs, trends, and new technologies of the times. Last generation (GameCube, PS2, Dreamcast, Xbox) we gained the experience, and technology to to render detailed 3D graphics in real time. Along with these graphics, combined physics interactions so that models can interact accurately and realistically. It's a shame that Street Fighter 4 changed their hit detection system from using the 3D models to using invisible 2D hit boxes.

I didn't have to look far for the game that I consider the most next-gen fighter. Super Smash Brothers. The first entrant into this series on the N64 simply set the foundation. For an N64 era fighter, Super Smash Brothers was still unlike any other. But, the two sequels together make up the core of what I consider to be the Super Smash Brothers fighting engine. And it is this engine that I will refer two for the remainder of this article.


The following is a collection of the next-gen design features that make up up the core of the Super Smash Brothers engine. While some games have implemented some of these features, none come close to the number that Smash Brothers holds.




What it Means to Fight


MISC. Design Elements



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