Process Of Reviewing Thirty Fighting Games
In an upcoming review, I waste a good portion of my free time reviewing about thirty fighting games across history. It takes freaking forever to review that many games, so I thought it fun to talk about the process. Published on Thu, Dec 12, 2019. Written by Michael Bassili.
“Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to do the work. I live by that. You grind hard so you can play hard. At the end of the day, you put all the work in, and eventually it’ll pay off. It could be in a year, it could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.” —Kevin Hart
Probably partly to gain some kind of public notoriety. However, I’m more so doing this because lately, I’ve been playing a lot of fighting games and I’m sick of not being productive. Despite this being finals season, I decided to try to review thirty fighting games on the internet. It has also been quite some time since I’ve reviewed anything. I wanted to review Ultra Street Fighter 4 (2008), but there’s not a lot to say about a single fighter. BUT, there’s a lot to say about thirty fighters! Plus, this means I won’t have to review another game for years, if we’re going off the existing frequency of reviews.
This blog post is meant to be a primer for a much larger review entitled: “Fighting Game Mega Mix Vol.1”. It is taking a lot of time to write—far longer than my other reviews and articles, so I hope this will satisfy until that gets published. One of the hardest parts of doing this was hunting down older fighting games that released exclusively in arcades, or on dead consoles. If nothing else, I hope this upcoming review shows that I’m taking Mike’s Gaming Trove somewhat seriously.
“There are many museums dedicated to technology, artistic endeavors, music, and that sort of thing. From that perspective, I think games really do have a place as a kind of collaborative art or a synthesis of all these various aspects into a whole, and that, in itself, can be perceived as art.” —Hideo Kojima
The tricky part about batching reviews is finding a common set of metrics with which to speak about the population. One game might feature components none of the others do, and vice versa. Step one was to create a list of metrics, reducing it as metrics become incompatible. The set of metrics I finally landed on were the following:
- Gameplay Fluidity: Does the game feel good to control, are the inputs responsive and visually indicated, and are actions on screen easy to follow (from both a player and a spectator’s perspective).
- Roster Diversity: Is there a good variety of different players, ranging from ones that play keep-away to more aggressive pushers. Is there sufficient variety in the appearances and personalities of characters.
- Content Variety: What are the single-player and multi-player offerings. Can someone without an internet connection enjoy the game. Does the online system rank players, etcetera.
- Presentation: Does the game look nice. Do the graphics and sound work together to form a coherent, pleasant aesthetic experience for both the player and the spectator. Are the tutorials, in-game training, and extraneous mechanics expressed to the player clearly.
- Perceived Balance: Are there any characters that are obviously too powerful. Do all characters have some sort of counter strategy. Can a reasonable player get themselves out of a precarious situation regardless of their character choice.
This is a working set of metrics, but I suspect I won’t be adding any more. These are the most common variable that span all games. Technical details like PC performance and controller support are important, but they don’t serve to inform the overarching conversation. I believe those sorts of evaluations are best left to the professionals.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” —Hunter S. Thompson
I’m aiming to have this review series written, edited, and published by the end of the year. I’ll try to publish a few smaller articles throughout the month so that there isn’t a content drought. I don’t want to half-ass this thing, but I also can’t let myself write indefinitely. I’m also trying to improve the overall presentation of these pieces (hopefully that will get people to take me seriously). Other than that, I guess I’m back off to work.
If all goes well, I’ll be able to rest easy in January knowing that I don’t have to play any more damn fighting games. Maybe I’ll take up knitting or something like that. I’ve also decided that a good release schedule includes a few smaller pieces along with one large piece every month. This is instead of several medium-sized articles, which is what I was initially trying to do.