Thursday, August 7, 2014

The harsh reality of being old.

When you're really young, it's not that important to get it 100% right - just the idea that you're trying to do things and putting yourself out there is enough

When you're still young but not brand new, it's easy to be brash and outspoken, and perhaps people don't criticize what you do all the time because they can say, "Oh, they're still young. It's OK, they'll grow out of it." You can establish yourself as you develop your identity, and people will flock to you initially out of novelty, and then stay with you out of a sense of familiarity.

Everybody understands that things change, and perhaps the four year old and the ten year old look at the same things and have a completely different approach - to the point where the four year old couldn't even imagine what the choices of the ten year old would be, and the ten year old can't imagine the choices of the twenty-one year old. Once you've matured that much, perhaps the path forward becomes more intuitive, and sometimes when you can step back and look at all the changes, it's easier to see how you got from point A to point B. That doesn't stop the temptation of doing something brash just to get attention, or maybe just sticking by your guns and hoping that you find the right people to appreciate you.

Of course, I'm talking about Street Fighter. While it's Capcom's second biggest franchise (Resident Evil is their biggest) it's not experiencing the sort of mainstream popularity that it used to. While arcades were starting to dwindle at the end of the 80's, the strength of the Street Fighter II series games made arcades relevant again and paved the way for the character versus character fighting game to become the dominant paradigm of the arcade, instead of all of the shooting games that followed in the footsteps of Space Invaders and Defender.

In its middle age, the Street Fighter III series tried to abandon all of the old characters except Ryu and Ken, and had many problems retaining an audience due to its extreme difficulty and unfamiliarity. Later versions of the game brought back some favorite characters, but it was too late and still too difficult a game for mainstream audiences.

As a mature game, the Street Fighter IV series which is currently on its fourth home release over the course of  six years has tried to straddle the line between innovating and keeping the fan base satisfied. While it's selling more copies than it did during the Street Fighter III era, Street Fighter's overall cultural relevance has waned a little. More people are familiar with the cheesy "Street Fighter" movie with Raul Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme than are familiar with the newer "Street Fighter:The Legend of Chun Li" starring Kristin Kreuk. It really hit home for me on Tuesday this week when I picked up my copy of Ultra Street Fighter IV. I had been to Target at lunch earlier in the day and had walked through the game section. If they had the new game, I didn't notice. Even when I got to my local Gamestop after work to pick my copy up one the way home, it's not like they had a big cardboard standup in the store or a bunch of copies on the shelf. I handed them my preorder receipt, and they had to look for it. It took them just long enough to find it that I had a moment where I started to worry that CAPCOM had delayed the release date and didn't tell anyone. Maybe now that the game is this old, they don't worry about the marketing so much because they figure they're not going to get any better audience that what they already have?

I like the new characters, although they're not entirely new. Hugo, Elena, Rolento, and Poison were all available characters in other games, and Decapre is visually similar to Cammy. Despite my concerns, Decapre plays like a completely new character. For that matter, the other four new characters have all had some adjustments to them that make them play a little differently than their previous incarnations.

The challenge mode in the game that gives you a set of specific objectives for each character in an attempt to teach you the moveset of each character had gone unfinished in the previous edition of the game, and at the moment is still unfinished. A future patch has been promised, and I will be looking forward to it. I found that I had never really learned Yun and Yang properly from the previous version without the challenge mode. Sure, you can go in training and mess around, and it's not like you can't look up the moves. but I found the challenges a good foundation for learning the other characters. Another feature of the game that I hadn't quite expected is that it pulls in your data from other games, so it knows that I played SFxTekken, and it knows what my scores and character usage from Street Fighter IV:Arcade Edition are.

I'm pretty happy with the game, even if I'm not the most awesome player of Fei Long or Vega or Dan on the internet. I'm looking forward to a lot of games against my older son and my friends. (My older son plays as T. Hawk, and I heard that they made some improvements to his moves. I guess I better watch out.)

The only thing that seems to bug me about the game is one of the the reasons that I waited to get the full retail version of the game on disk was so I could have all the costumes in one shot and get that over and done with. As soon as the game came out a new set of costumes was announced. I know, it's the new thing to monetize add-on content to every game, and it just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe it's because I'm old.

No comments: