Thursday, 24 December 2015

Reactions to recent fighting game news

The fighting game community knew there were some announcements due for Tekken 7 (with the console version not too far off) but what we might not have known was that said announcements would be a mix of the expected and HUGELY unexpected. Namco revealed that there would be new P1 default outfits for some returning characters but also some classics such as Paul's biker gear from Tekken 3 and Law's yellow Bruce Lee-style alternate costume. Moving on to a bigger announcement that was pretty much anticipated, the arcade update subtitled Fated Retribution was unveiled. Namco have a recent history of doing this (see also: Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection and Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion) and with console versions typically being based on the updated editions, everybody was expecting some form of expansion to break cover before long. But raise your hand if you expected Namco to reveal Street Fighter's Akuma as a guest character? This was big news in itself but it didn't stop there: a new trailer confirmed that Akuma is actually part of the Tekken 7 storyline and has existed in the shadows for at least 20 years since Kazumi Mishima asked him to kill Heihachi should she herself fail to stop him. This led to all kinds of speculation: Has Tekken been Street Fighter all along? Obviously this is a retro-fitted segment of Tekken's ongoing plot so none of this was actually planned in years past but even so, to have a guest character from a rival publisher's series properly installed into the storyline was mind-blowing news that I guarantee nobody saw coming...

The amazing thing is that Akuma has been realised in the highly detailed visual style of Tekken but seems to play like a 2D character. It shouldn't work but it looks like it does. Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on the home version (so that's a PS4 sold to me then!) and play as one of my favourite fighting game characters of all-time in a game that he simply shouldn't be in. More interestingly, this proves that Street Fighter characters can be implemented within the Tekken play style without being butchered so will the long delayed and closely-guarded Tekken X Street Fighter be like this? I can honestly see it being some form of major expansion pack or update to Tekken 7, exclusive to consoles. Either way, I'm hoping that Akuma in Tekken 7 is hint that the crossover is still on and will step out of the shadows in 2016!

After that salvo of bombshells, other upcoming fighting games couldn't hope to compete with their drip-feed of updates but that by no means undermines their progress. The King of Fighters XIV for example has shown a remarkable improvement since the initial and much resented reveal that had fans hanging their heads in disappointment. Yes, it still looks uglier than the previous game by being in 3D and the general presentation is still decidedly bland but it is becoming more desirable. Slowly.

My main issues are the extremely boring stage designs and the odd, wet/plasticky look to the character models but you can clearly see that the gameplay is as good as ever and that the visuals have gotten better. It now resembles something I'd happily buy straight away and that alone is a big statement considering my previous reaction to the game. More intriguingly, SNK are promising a sizeable 50 character roster which will include returning favourites that haven't been seen for a while such as Angel. I'm really pleased that KOF XIV is evolving in a positive way because I want to support this game in the hope that more classic SNK fighting games might be reborn. After all, a lot of people probably thought that SNK was finished when it's new Chinese owners took over but it looks like they are doing the job and focusing on proper games once more rather than pachinko machines or weird mobile spin-offs. Hats off where it's due.

In more minor news, SNK also announced that The Last Blade 2 would be coming to PS4 and Vita with online play included. This doesn't really interest me too much as I'm planning on buying the Japanese-exclusive PS2 collection of Last Blade games but it's definitely positive that one of the greatest (and most unsung) 2D fighting games is coming back for another round.

It's all about capitalising on the resurgence of fighting games and making sure that the West gets a better deal than it did in the past when too many interesting games remained exclusive to Japan. The digital STEAM service on PC is also doing it's bit by announcing that a treasure trove of 2D fighting games will be coming to the PC in 2016. These games are Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-, Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend, Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late and Melty Blood Actress Again CC. Again, I'm no PC gamer but it's nice to see some lesser-known (but still top drawer) 2D fighters being brought over here so it's a thumbs-up from me.

Lastly, there haven't been many big Street Fighter V updates of late but Capcom did show off a divisive new character called F.A.N.G who is Shadaloo's second-in-command and he looks...bloody weird. In addition to his bizarre appearance (which really doesn't correlate with him being No.2 to Bison), he will be able to inflict poison status effects on opponents similar to such ailments in RPG's. It's strange and I'm not entirely sure I want this guy but he's here and he probably ain't going anywhere!

He looks to me like the kind of freak that should be in Guilty Gear or Blazblue and calls to mind some of the ugly designs seen in KOF Maximum Impact 2 such as Jivatma and Hyena (it hurts to even remember those guys!). I can already tell that I won't want to play as F.A.N.G (what does that even stand for?) but I will enjoy beating his ass down with R.Mika and Cammy...Akuma too if he doesn't melt the gaming world down by being revealed as exclusive to Tekken 7! F.A.N.G just has that kind of face...

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