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PC Fight Club

Vol. 2, Issue 6
December 13, 1999 
 

Lack of a decent controller.

This was a recurring theme in the e-mails I received regarding a PC fighter. It slipped no one’s notice that Mortal Kombat 3 shipped with a gravis controller, since, lets face it, the keyboard sucks for playing these kinds of games. And even stuff like the current crop of joysticks aren’t that good for fighters. The current crop of joysticks are designed for flight and space sims, not bashing each other repeatedly. In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that analogue joysticks themselves aren’t as suited to the playing of most fighters out there. Fighters tend to be a very digital affair, either you’re kicking or you’re not; either you’re moving forward or you’re not. When you try and add varying degrees of motion or attacks into the soup, it doesn’t tend to work as well.

The tactile feedback of micro switch joysticks also needs to be added into the mix. When you are attempting a back-back-down-forward punch button combo, the feeling/hearing of the micro switch being thrown inside the stick helps you to know that you’ve got that part of the combo initiation correct. With an analogue stick, that response is simply not there, and judging the range of motion required to trip the initiators requirements becomes more luck than judgment. It’s a definite gap in the market for a decent Arcade style joystick setup for the PC – like the ones available for the Playstation and so on, with the wide heavy base - if only for playing all those wonderful MAME games out there. What I wouldn’t give for a dual micro switch joystick setup to play Robotron on...:)

Japanese influences.

A lot of the really cool fighting games do come out of Japan. They almost started the popularization of this genre with Street Fighter by Capcom. Most other games can trace their roots either to this, or those older games like Karateka, Karate Champion and so on. Hardly surprising that some of the best games come from Japan when it is a land that brought us the Ninja, Karate and Judo. Also hardly surprising when you consider that all of the major console makers are based there, and in Sega’s case, have the same team working on conversions of their major hits as do the original arcade pieces. It would appear that the Japanese people also have a yen for more conventional fighters than we do here. We, as the rest of the world, tend to prefer our fighters gritty, and as realistic as possible (Well, as realistic as is fun. You could drown a battle ship in the amount of blood you get out of some characters in these games, and most people don’t tend to get up after a fast spinning kick connects with their heads... and we won’t even start on the blocking techniques...). The Japanese prefer their fighters more anime styled, with cartoony characters, or hand drawn stuff. When Sega America released the Street Fighter game based on the movie, with digitized characters instead of drawn ones, Sega Japan ordered another version created that had conventionally drawn characters for release inside of Japan.

Anyway, all this is besides the point, which is with consoles being created in Japan, and the Japanese mania for fighters, it stands to reason that consoles would get all the Japanese attention rather than the dear old PC. The percentage of market penetration of consoles in Japan is so far greater than the PC penetration as to be laughable. And even then, the PC penetration is also Mac oriented to a much greater degree than here in the states. Given that, and the Mac’s reputation for gaming (at least up till now), its not surprising that the Japanese overlook the PC as a viable fighter platform.


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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Kevin 'Rorshach' Johnstone. This article is © 1999 Jake Simpson. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it, or we'll beat you to a bloody pulp.