I realized something this weekend regarding SFxT, about one of its major flaws which I overlooked: its accessibility is painfully low. By that, I mean it’s not a game which can be played properly without several pre-requisites: you need to have the ver. 2013 patch, you most likely need the DLC characters too. Heck, you might have to also disable quick combos depending on how you play. This…is a problem.
I visited Heart of Gaming in London, after a brief hiatus due to Evo and some other things. I was surprised to see a rather ridiculous amount of Smash players in the area I normally visit.
This was fine though. It was awesome to see that we had THAT MANY Smash players in the UK. Cool to see them coming out to support their scene. Meanwhile, I was looking around to see if any of the usual SFxT guys were around. No such luck.
I decided to practice some more Guilty Gear Xrd, since I don’t own a PS3 or the game. It was fun, except the PS3 pad I bought is small and it messes with my inputs. Which is funny, because playing Skullgirls on PC with that pad works just fine, but playing an actual PS3 with it makes the inputs very sensitive. Well, that’s a whole different story.
After attempting some trials with Ky Kiske and inevitably tackling the Arcade mode, I decided to try and play SFxT, at least to practice. To my dismay, none of the consoles there had the patch or the DLC. Which is no one’s fault, to be fair. It’s hardly the staff’s responsibility to chase up every silly nuance modern fighting games have in order to function.
Eventually, I settled for messing about with the USFIV arcade cab, both to have something to do and to practice playing arcade stick. I was then challenged to some games by a friendly passer-by, and I took his offer. Like the massive idiot that I am.
Ok fine, I’ll admit that it was fun at first. We played Omega mode and I cackled like a villain when I hit him with Juri’s overpowered super move. It was especially priceless since he had the health lead and thought he there was nothing I could do to win. That is, until I built enough meter to activate the super on reaction to his fireball. Poor guy didn’t see it coming.
This delight wasn’t meant to last, since we decided to switch back to regular USFIV. Which was a mistake. And I am an idiot for thinking I would enjoy that. I was instantly reminded why I don’t play that game. Alas, the situation is far too complex.
Y’see, I was at HoG (Heart of Gaming) for about 2.5 hours at that point. I’d only messed about with GGXrd and I was starting to feel some effect of the sunken cost fallacy. Basically, I had paid the entree fee (a good sum of £10, which is fair) and I felt like I had to do something or the 2 hour trip from South London to North Acton would’ve been wasted. Since SFxT was a no-go, I felt compelled to play the only game around. SFIV, in this case. Which, to re-iterate, was a mistake.
Call it a flashback, but I was immediately taken back to 4 years ago, when I visited a FGC venue in Birmingham during my University years. I went there hoping to play with people offline for the first time in ages, and I even took my copy of BlazBlue with me. To my dismay, none of the Xbox 360 consoles there had the Continuum Shift II patch for BlazBlue, so I was unable to play it. To top if off, the main consoles there were PS3s and everyone was playing…Marvel vs Capcom 3. Which I decided to play. Like the idiot I was then too.
This is the crux of the problem. It’s hard to maintain fandom for a niche fighting game when the game itself doesn’t make it easy. First of all, if your game doesn’t work straight off the disc, then chances are you’ll run into issues trying to play it at certain venues. Secondly, the prevalence of the main fighting games currently, i.e. SFIV, mean that you’ll either play that and feel like you haven’t wasted your time, or sit like a loser in the corner and play nothing. Either option is just sad really.
In the past, I forced myself to play SFIV and MVC3 because my friends did and I didn’t want to feel left out. I always had a crappy time and I was never happy with what went on, but they would all laugh and joke, so the atmosphere was infectious. The same problem is emulated even in offline scenes, where you want to play the game you like, but either there aren’t any players there, the game isn’t even up-to-date, or no one cares and is playing the big mainstream game. Or all of the above.
I love SFxT. Everyone knows this. And that’s not going to change. However, I can’t shake the feeling that I need to get into something else. Well, at least something other than what I play already. 3D games are big at the start, but fizzle out down the line. You’d be hard pressed to find someone playing Tekken Tag 2 or Soul Calibur V these days, especially in the UK. Anime games have ok followings, but without a PS3 you’re out of luck, particularly when the game wasn’t out on Xbox 360. Like BlazBlue Chrono phantasma for example *sigh*. And even if you have a game such as SFxT or maybe Skullgirls that’s cool and you have people to play with, when the console doesn’t even have the latest version then well damn.
I worry about SFxT. Because when the dedicated players like myself and the people at HoG aren’t there to set things up, what will keep the game going? People who buy the game new won’t have the DLC characters or the patch (without an internet connection). So it’s really not the kind of game you can easily play, and that’s really sad.
A fighting game’s longevity is more than stream hype, tournament numbers or big personality feuds. A game will stay alive as long as there are players to play it. But, this isn’t helped when it’s hard to even get the game going due to there not being a definitive version of the game with all the content. When I played USFIV, all I had to do was ask the HoG staff for the USFIV disc and we were good to go. All those Smash players who attended just brought their Gamecube controllers and sat down to play a game which didn’t require much set-up. But what was my choice? Playing GGXrd alone, or playing USFIV which (for the billionth time I’ll mention it) was a mistake.
Although, the 15 or so minutes I played Street Fighter Alpha 2 with SFxT player Jish was hilarious. So thanks to him for that.
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