|Street Fighter III: as pretty a 2D fighter as you will see.|
Today's fighting games for example are very rarely animated by hand, usually due to the cost and time factors in an industry that has become increasingly corporate and fixated on release dates as well as maximum profits. Even Capcom themselves - once the masters of exquisite 2D - have preferred to adopt a 2.5D approach (3D characters made to resemble 2D) with the likes of SFIV, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Tatsunoko Vs Capcom. Others such as SNK (King of Fighters XIII) or Arc System works (Guilty Gear Xrd) have cleverly manipulated polygon-based models to make them appear as 2D sprites when the truth is entirely the opposite. Here is just one reason that the games from the period I am championing simply cannot be beaten. Take a look at the sprites from the likes of Street Fighter III and Capcom Vs SNK for example to see Capcom at the peak of their powers. These characters are bursting with life and the knowledge that it was all painstakingly created by hand lends a sense of immortality - a sort of love that is missing from their modern equivalents.
|Capcom Vs SNK: another true highlight.|
Some of the backdrops for the KOF series as well as Garou, Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade are truly staggering when you consider that they were created by hand. Obviously there's little time to truly admire them in the heat of battle but if you take a look at them on the internet with the characters and HUD's removed then you can pick out an amazing number of details and really start to appreciate the work involved. This page for instance has 50 animated gifs of some 2D fighting's greatest stages and believe me when I say there are countless more. Between these and the indulgent sprite work, we can get the sense that these games were created in an era where developers were producing art and not just a game. There is a definite sense that a lot of what went into developing these games was done for the love of fighting games and not just to get another sequel shoved out of the office door. I must reiterate that I am a big fan of modern fighting games and I play them as much as the classics but rarely will I stumble upon that same sensation of a fighting game being made for the fans by fans.
|The Guilty Gear series was also highly impressive.|
So that's my case. I will always be buying fighting games above other genres first and foremost but I'll never be far from my collection of classic brawlers. Where else can a gamer become absorbed in a fascinating tapestry of sumptuous locations, captivating sprites and music made to fit a specific stage or character like a well worn-in glove? As I have said, it all comes back to knowing that love went into making these titles and recognising that they are works of art in their own right. Those kinds of values are irreplaceable in my mind.