Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Pokken Tournament is my fighting game gateway drug!

When it comes to racing simulations or shooty games, i'm right up there at the pointy end of things. But my misspent youth barely grazed the surface of fighting games, leaving me languishing as a dirty, button mashing casual.

Ah what, he READ me?!

Street Fighter II Turbo was one of my handful of SNES games, but without the internet or capable friends, i probably only knew a handful of the moves, and certainly nothing about combos or frame whatsits. In hindsight, I'm not certain that mincing around with just the hadouken and yoga flame were worth the outrageous $120 investment (and that's 90's money!).

I also owned every Smash Bros. game since its inception, but spent the vast majority of my time learning how to throw items at people. It wasn't until the newest iteration, SSB 4, that i realised you could aim your shield, catch items, or that you could sidestep dodge. Understandably, I was always whomped by anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of the game.

I never got into Tekken. My friend owned one of the early ones, but the only moves i can remember are Yoshimitsu's harakiri and the one which makes him look like he's having a wank.

But deep down i always really wanted to get into the genre! However, there was always two road-blocks to that success:
  1. Before the internet you needed to have knowledgeable fighting game friends to teach you the ways, and to mould you into a warrior through endless smack-downs. Hitting buttons randomly, stumbling across moves, and only playing the AI severely limited my enjoyment and potential.
  2. Once the internet was a thing, fighting games had developed too far to join in. The rosters were mind bogglingly huge and varied, and the mechanics ever more complex. Starting fresh in SFIV meant learning how to fight with one character, and against 40 or so others! There's no way i'd remember my last fight against any one of those matchups.
AND there's moveset variation?!
What i needed was a game with a small roster, stripped-back mechanics, and no hyper-developed meta game. I never imagined it would be a mash up of Pokemon and Tekken which would ring that bell!

Now that i can handle.
I was incredibly thankful for the in-depth, and plentiful tutorials. They got me up to speed with the mechanics, which while simpler than other fighting games, still retain all of the core values. Within a few hours i was fairly confident with things like dash cancelling, counter attacks, anti air, and zoning.

It wasn't long before i was confident enough to take the fight online, in ranked mode, for the first time in my life. I lost my first several matches, but from fighting real people the flow of battle became more predictable than against the patchy AI, and it wasn't long before i started to learn from my mistakes, win matches, and start to rank up.

I finally feel like i'm in the thick of a community as it grows, and it's great! I'm in on the ground floor for a game in a genre i've been only looking in on for the last twenty years! I've even started to understand more of what i see in SF and MKX videos, and the intimidation factor surrounding those storied franchises is starting to dissipate.

Next up is a build project i'm getting pretty hyped for; a custom fight stick for the Wii U, one which will work with Pokken, Injustice, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, as well as the Virtual Console. It might not make me better at this game, but at least it's a fun excuse to cut up one of my CCP's!

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