Fighting Games: The Most Badly Named Genre

On Thursday I rented Virtua Fighter 5 for the 360, due to a combination of feeling cheated that the PS3 version didn’t have online multiplayer and wanting to beat the crap out of something without getting arrested. I’m going to be up front about this; I am not particularly good at fighting games. I’m not exactly terrible, though, I’m more in the group of people who beat other people of the same group but, when faced by either anyone who plays them a lot or a small child’s wild button mashing skills, will lose horribly.

Virtua Fighter 5 was a launch title for the European release of the PS3, which is pretty much the only reason why it doesn’t have online multiplayer, as it was left out in order to get the game ready in time (though why it wasn’t patched in is beyond me). I was not aware of this when I bought the PS3 version some time last year, so when I got home I was immediately whispering violent nothings into the game’s case. Online multiplayer was included in the 360 version of the game, though, as it release 6 months later, so they added it in without patching it into the PS3 version. In classic Gamoc fashion, when I finally got around to playing VF5 360 today, I ignored all memories of playing the PS3 version so long ago and immediately went for the ninja. Because ninjas are cool.

I then proceeded to have my arse handed to me over and over again. They hit me with some many body parts I’m pretty certain that only a cockslap was needed to get the full set. It’s astonishing that, in every fighting game known to man, there always seems to be an extremely noticeable ramp up in difficulty halfway through arcade mode. The first few fights are like punching candy from a baby, the fight following the last of those is much more difficult, as evidenced by the rain of punches being directed towards my face whilst I stand there like a deer in the headlights of a fist. It’s even more astonishing that the computer can turn the characters that I simply couldn’t use, such as Akira, who was way too slow for me, and turn them into super-speedy punching machines who barely leave me time to breath.

After an eternity in the form of 20 minutes of being beaten into a ninja-shaped stain on a variety of different floors, I quit and went back to the character select, wondering why I would want to play online when I have such trouble getting through Arcade mode on normal. Now I’d had sense beaten into me, I remembered my two favourite characters, Lei-Fei and Lau Chan, so I picked Lau Chan and played through Arcade mode. Just like that. Sure, there was some contention between using the analogue or the completely terrible d-pad, but once I settled on the d-pad (I simply can’t use an analogue for a fighting game) and I’d died a couple of times I had bested my ninja-oriented earlier attempt and actually finished Arcade mode.

Lei-Fei is my favourite character in Virtua Fighter 5. Every single move he makes is dripping with badassery. Even the way he falls over after being hit says ‘I’ve been hit, but I don’t care, because I’m badass‘. Other than this, though, his moves flow together like water with…well, with more water, and land like an avalanche, if said avalanche was on the end of an arm and powered by pure badassery.

Akira, however, is the king of douchebaggery (yes, I enjoy using made up words). He’s slow when I use him, but apparently dipped in oil when the computer uses him – and then set on fire. My first match as my favourite character against Akira went as follows: I punched him. He punched me, but then followed it with roughly 3 Hitlers worth of evil. I didn’t see a single useful response from any button I pressed simply due to the fact that Lei-Fei was either being juggled like a prostitute’s breasts or being kicked in the head as I was standing up. Needless to say, I lost the round. In the following round, everytime I tried to stand back up, I recieved the same three hits and what seems to be a shoulder barge. On the other hand, I did manage to land two whole punches. That’s progress.

And here I am, bitching about Akira on TSA because I’m pretty certain he can’t possibly beat me at typing, mostly due to him being a character in a game. I will take this as a moral victory for myself and hope he doesn’t come to life and get up to all sorts of zany antics, like some kind of 80s film.

Oh, and ‘fighting games’ is a horrible genre title. It’s so unimaginative. ‘What do we do in these games? Fight? Oh, fighting game it is!’ Everytime I say ‘fighting games’ I feel like an 80 year old woman who doesn’t know what technology means. Not that I know what that feels like. Uhoh, I think I’ve given myself away. Then again, what else could we call it? The only two ideas I have are ‘punchy games’ or ‘frustratingly difficult games in which you hit someone until you die somehow’, and the former is less imaginative than ‘fighting games’ is, whilst the latter is a little bit wordy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and cry into a pillow. Then I’ll turn my PS3 on and play Tekken 5, as Tekken is the only ‘frustratingly difficult game in why you hit someone until you die somehow’ that I’m any good at. My favourite character is either Hwoarang or Sergei Dragunov. The last guy shares a name with a sniper rifle, it’s practically mandatory to like him.