Has it ever crossed your mind how games can make a name for themselves in a genre that feels so simple like fighting games? After all, the premise and gameplay beats of every game in the genre are the same, right? One player on the left and another on the right. They are then put into a struggle and only one should come out as the winner. For some, that is basically it. That is how they see fighting games and, to be honest, they aren’t necessarily wrong. It’s just that fighting games offer more than just that.
The Characters are What Makes Them Unique and Ultimately Memorable
The characters fighting game developers choose to include in their cast are their main weapons to stand out from the rest. They are arguably the most crucial element of any fighting game. So much so that it could be the determining factor in whether a game succeeds or not. Look no further than the Street Fighter and Tekken series. Their cast of fighters is so diverse and memorable, they are practically the series’ main selling point. Their characters are so excellent they managed to penetrate other forms of media as well!
That said, coming up with an original, creative, and truly noteworthy set of characters is no easy task. Each of them should have its own quirk and outstanding traits. Not to mention, they also all need to be fun to play!
Some fighting games bypass this by getting already-established characters from other games or forms of media. For instance, the Marvel vs Capcom games. On one hand, Marvel already has a colorful and iconic cast that you only need to handpick who you want to be in your game. On the other hand, Capcom already has a wide catalog of excellent games you also just need to pick your favorites. Doing this practically guarantees an audience for the game, they just need to integrate said characters well. This is also the bread and butter of crossover fighting games.
Fighting game developers need to juggle these and more just to come up with a memorable set of characters. And you know what, that is just the beginning of it.
Fighting Games Should Feel Fresh and Stand Out
On top of having an excellent cast of fighters, such games, of course, also need to be fun to play. Or at the very least, have an approach so unique, that they practically stand out from the pack.
Although the main concept of fighting games will forever be just that, fighting, developers can integrate brand-new takes on how their titles play to make them unlike any other. Take, for example, the Soul Calibur franchise. Instead of going the same route as Tekken and Street Fighter with their predominant hand-to-hand combat, Soul Calibur focused more on weapons. Furthermore, developers can also introduce unique mechanics to further drive in that their title is different.
If not altering the core gameplay itself, developers may also want to take an unconventional approach to make a name for themselves. Look no further than the Dead or Alive (DoA) franchise. Whereas other fighting games take themselves too seriously, the DoA franchise became iconic because it went an entirely different route. DoA emphasized sexuality more than other fighting games out there, and that is what made it stand out. While some may see this as distasteful, you have to do what you got to do. That is the nature of the industry.
Well, that are just a few factors of how fighting games can make a name for themselves in the genre. Looking at it from a much broader perspective, it is just so interesting how developers of fighting games never seem to run out of ideas.