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Early Fighting Games | The History and How to Play

Early Fighting Games | The History and How to Play

The Origins of Early Fighting Games

The world of video games has seen numerous genres, but fighting games hold a special place in the hearts of many. These games, characterized by one-on-one combat, have evolved significantly since their inception.

The fighting genre is still popular among many fans, including game studios and developers. We will look at the development of fighting games from the perspective of a game art studio and discuss how developers view the legacy and history of fighting games.

Fighting games tiger vs man.jpg

The 1970s marked the beginning of this genre, with titles like “Heavyweight Champ” paving the way. However, it was the 1990s that witnessed a surge in popularity, thanks to iconic games like “Street Fighter II.

The Evolution of Combat Mechanics

As the years passed, fighting games began to introduce more sophisticated combat mechanics. The initial games were straightforward, with players having limited moves. But as technology advanced, so did the complexity of these games.

Players now had a plethora of moves, combos, and strategies to master. This evolution made the games more engaging, challenging, and rewarding for those who invested time in mastering them.

Some examples of old-school fighting games:

  • 1.) Karate Champ: The Pioneer
Karate Champ example of old fighting game.jpg

1984 saw the emergence of “Karate Champ,” a game that many consider the true progenitor of the fighting game genre. This game introduced players to a traditional karate tournament setting.

With its twin-joystick controls, players can execute a variety of kicks and punches. It also introduced the concept of three-round fights, timers, and even quirky bonus rounds like punching a bull.

In “Karate Champ,” players could engage in a face-off, and the one who landed the first successful hit would score a point.

This simple yet engaging mechanic set the stage for more complex systems in future games.

  • 2.) Yie Ar Kung-Fu
Yie Ar Kung-Fu example of old fighting game.jpg

“Yie Ar Kung-Fu” by Konami, released a year after “Karate Champ,” (in 1985, although It first had a limited Japanese release in October 1984) diversified the fighting game landscape. Players faced a series of computer-controlled enemies, each equipped with unique weapons like throwing stars and chains.

This game introduced the idea of having fighters with distinct skill sets and was also the pioneer in using energy gauges.

  • 3.) The Street Fighter Revolution
Street fighter game example.jpg

The 1990s marked a significant shift in the fighting game mechanics with the release of “Street Fighter II” by Capcom. While its predecessor in 1987 was a modest release, “Street Fighter II” brought an international roster of fighters, each with unique fighting styles and special moves.

These moves were executed using specific patterns of button presses and joystick rotations.

Learning the Ropes

For newcomers, the world of fighting games can be daunting. The key to mastering them lies in understanding the basics. Start with learning the fundamental moves and gradually delve into advanced techniques.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Spend time in training modes, understand the game’s mechanics, and don’t be afraid to seek help from seasoned players or online communities.

Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate through the basics and advanced techniques of fighting games:

  • Rock-Paper-Scissors Analogy: At its core, fighting games can be likened to a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Strikes beat throws, throws beat blocks, and blocks beat strikes. This fundamental understanding can help you predict and counter your opponent’s moves.
  • Fundamentals: These are the building blocks of fighting games. They include:
    • Poking: Using quick, ranged attacks to control space.
    • Movement and Spacing: Positioning yourself advantageously on the screen.
    • Blocking: A core defensive tactic. Understand the properties of attacks (High, Low, Mid, Overhead) to block effectively.
    • Punishing: Capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes to inflict damage.
    • Anti-airing: Countering airborne opponents.

So what should you do to be better at fighting games?

  • Practice in Training Modes:
    • Spend time in the game’s training or practice modes. This will help you get a feel for the controls, learn combos, and understand the mechanics of the game.
  • Seek Help and Community Engagement:
    • Join online forums or communities related to your game. Engage in discussions, watch tutorials, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Seasoned players often share valuable insights and strategies that can be beneficial for beginners.
  • Game Mechanics:
    • Each fighting game has its unique mechanics. For instance, “Rage” in Tekken or “V-skill” in Street Fighter 5. Familiarize yourself with these mechanics as they can drastically affect gameplay.
  • Rage game mechanics in Tekken fighting game.pngCombos:
    • Once you’re comfortable with the basics, start learning combos. These are sequences of moves that, when executed correctly, can deal significant damage to your opponent. Start with simple combos and gradually move to more complex ones.
  • Tactics and Strategies:
    • Implement tactics like shimmies, mix-ups, cross-ups, and frame traps into your gameplay. These can help you break through your opponent’s defense and land successful combos.
  • Decision Making:
    • This is crucial in fighting games. Understand the risk-reward of each move, manage your resources, and study your opponent’s habits. Making the right decisions at crucial moments can be the difference between winning and losing.
  • Mindset:
    • Embrace losses as learning opportunities. Analyze your mistakes, adapt, and evolve. Play against better players, learn from them, and even adopt their successful tactics.

The Significance of Community

The fighting game community plays a pivotal role in the genre’s success. This community, often referred to as FGC, is a melting pot of enthusiasts, professionals, and newcomers. They come together in tournaments, online forums, and local meet-ups, sharing strategies, discussing game mechanics, and fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Fighting games community live event.jpg

The Perspective of a Game Art Outsourcing Studio

From the lens of a game art outsourcing studio, fighting games have always presented a unique challenge and opportunity. The visual appeal of a fighting game is as crucial as its mechanics. Here’s how game art studios view the legacy of fighting games:

  • Character Design:
    • Evolution: Early fighting games had pixelated characters with limited animations. As technology advanced, the demand for detailed, lifelike characters grew. Game art studios had to evolve, adopting new techniques and tools to create intricate character designs.
    • Examples: Compare the pixelated characters of “Street Fighter II” to the detailed, 3D models of “Tekken 7” or “Mortal Kombat 11.”
  • Backgrounds and Arenas:
    • Dynamic Environments: Fighting games are known for their dynamic arenas, each with its unique theme and feel. Game art studios play a pivotal role in bringing these arenas to life, ensuring they resonate with the game’s overall theme and don’t distract from the combat.
    • Examples: The bustling streets of “Street Fighter” or the mystical realms of “Mortal Kombat.”
  • Animations:
    • Fluidity is Key: A punch or a kick needs to feel real. Game art studios spend countless hours perfecting the animations, ensuring each move is fluid and resonates with the player.
    • Examples: The fluid martial arts movements in “Tekken” or the dramatic special moves in “Street Fighter.”
  • Challenges:
    • Balancing Act: Game art studios often face the challenge of balancing visual appeal with game performance. High-resolution character models and backgrounds can strain the game’s performance, especially on older consoles or PCs.
    • Staying True to Legacy: While innovation is essential, game art studios also need to ensure they stay true to the legacy of iconic fighting games. Changing a beloved character’s design too much can lead to backlash from the community.
  • Collaboration with Developers:
    • Game art studios often work closely with game developers. This collaboration ensures that the game’s visual appeal complements its mechanics. Feedback loops are established, with game art studios tweaking designs based on gameplay requirements.
  • The Future:
    • With advancements in technology, game art studios are exploring new frontiers. Virtual Reality (VR) offers a new dimension, with players being “inside” the game. Augmented Reality (AR) can transform any space into a fighting arena. The possibilities are endless, and game art studios are at the forefront of this evolution.

The Legacy of Fighting Games

Fighting games have come a long way since their early days. From simple mechanics to intricate combat systems, they have continuously evolved, offering players a unique gaming experience.

Early fighting games had basic mechanics. Players had a limited set of moves, and the focus was on timing and strategy rather than intricate combos.

The legacy of fighting games is not just in the games themselves but also in the vibrant community that surrounds them.

As technology progressed, so did the mechanics of fighting games. Developers introduced more complex moves, combos, and counter-attacks. This added depth to the gameplay and allowed for a higher skill ceiling.