Saturday, March 14, 2009

Easy Does It: Street Fighter IV, Final Round!

This will be my last entry (hopefully) in the Street Fighter IV vein, but there was one last thing I wanted to touch on - the ease of play.

In general, SF4 is very beginner friendly. There are lots of things to give you a rough idea on how to play the game, and an online mode that will pit you against your peers before you fight the big boys. Unfortunately, once you pass a certain point, it seems like there's a big execution barrier to pass before you can get serious at the game, and it may just be unnecessary. Let's find out!

Probably a big gripe among average players, if you've attempted most of the character's the hard trials, you've undoubtedly had to string together a couple normal moves with incredible timing. Understandably you want some things in a game to be difficult, because if not the gameplay devolves into something that's not fun or challenging. These, however, I feel have no place. I can see a Link being in the game by an accident of programming, but intentionally putting something this silly in the game? To string together a series of jabs followed by one actual hit? Honestly it seems, and looks silly.

They seem even more ludicrous when you realize that several characters have Target Combos, taken from 3rd Strike. Specific strings of normal attacks that chain together. This is what Links should have been. The Target Combo list for every character should have been much longer, and this Linking crap really should be tossed out the window, there's no need for an execution barrier that high.

Focus Attack Dash Cancels (FADC)
When executing almost any attack, you can do a Focus Attack and it will cancel into the Focus at the cost of half your Super meter. This is a great, neat, fun little thing, and is easy to do. I vastly approve of this concept. Unfortunately, a big part of the higher end game is cancelling into a Focus, and then another cancel into a dash to give you the ability to do an attack of your choosing, and this is a bit much for a player without perfect execution to land.

So, my proposal is that in addition to Focus Attacks, (and by extention FADC since I don't want to change that mechanic at all), we add an additional cancel, done possibly by hitting both Heavy attacks - we'll call it a Taunt Cancel! - that will cancel you out of your move in a similar way to the Focus Cancel, but with putting you in a neutral state.

Of course this is a very powerful mechanic, arguably more powerful than an FADC as it requires less execution expertise, so it may need to cost 3 bars instead of 2, but that's something that can be ironed out with a little bit of play testing.

In the end, the idea is to bring the super high execution-level stuff down a bit so that you don't have to spend hours in training mode master motions when you should be worrying about mastering opponents. This gives everyone the tools they need to be competitive, which I think ends up being a richer experience for all.

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