Other Single-Player Modes
Here is a list of single-player modes that every fighting game should have: Story, Arcade, Training, Survival, and Time Trial. Tekken was doing this in the PSOne days, and there's no reason not to include them now. That being said, you shouldn't stop there. Minigames like "Break the Car," team battle options, tournament functionality, and just about anything else you can play by yourself are all awesome. Sure, the main course in a fighting game is vs. mode, but that doesn't mean we don't have room for appetizers.
If the single-player modes are appetizers, then the vault is the dessert. Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition and Mortal Kombat are two examples of some of the best vault modes in fighting games today. Third Strike Online rewards you with vault points for nearly anything you do. Online play, offline play, training, it all gives you vault points. It even specifically shows you challenges you are close to completing, and completing those gives you more vault points. This is a great way to get newbies to start using elements of the game system they wouldn't normally try out. Moral Kombat raises the bar for what you are able to unlock in the vault. Costumes, stages, music, art, online titles, taunts, and secret codes are all great things to include in the vault. As long as you keep earning vault points, there's no reason to stop playing the game.
It is sickening that most fighting games don't include tutorials these days. Virtua Fighter 5's tutorial was amazing! It walked you through combos, setups, blocking—the whole deal. Meanwhile, big name games like Marvel 3 and Street Fighter IV include half-assed challenge modes. That's it. In fact, Marvel's combo challenges wouldn't even tell you how to do your moves without going into a separate screen. That's inexcusable! At least BlazBlue: Continuum Shift taught you how to block, dash, burst, and even do some bread-and-butter combos. But real tutorials need more than that. We don't only need to know how to combo, but also why. We need to be taught mixups, character specific matchups, zoning and poking tactics, and more. Many fighting game fans say this is impossible because most strategies pros use are emergent. In other words, the development team won't know these strategies when making tutorials. So, I have a great idea that will make everyone happy:
A Make-Your-Own-Challenge Mode
This is a perfect way to increase replay value for your fighting game while also ensuring newbies are able to learn the game. Basically, you allow the users to create their own in-game challenges. These can be tutorial challenges like "execute ten fireballs in a row" or "block this mixup," or they can be hardcore challenges like "complete this 50-hit combo" or "beat this opponent without jumping." Just give gamers all the tools they need to make these challenges. This means they get to set characters, victory conditions, combo lists—the whole nine yards. They even get to write their own text pop-ups and challenge descriptions and titles. Then, they just categorize the challenge and upload it to a server, where people can play it and rate it like LittleBigPlanet. Voilà! We have a user-maintained in-game database of the latest strategies without any maintenance required on the part of the developers.
An Online Mode That Works
Thus far, GGPO is easily the best netcode available today, and it surprises me that more fighting games aren't using it. In fact, it surprises me that most game companies don't take their online modes more seriously. In the end, we're lucky if we just get casual and ranked matches. In reality, we should be able to hold online tournaments, create quarter-style queues, set up special event rooms, and more. Some fighting games don't even let you voice chat with your opponents. We should be able to filter opponents by rank, connection, and location, name our lobbies whatever we want, and set parameters like "voice chat only" or "no main characters." Online cannot be an afterthought; if your netcode doesn't work, start over from square one.
Well, there's my personal formula for the perfect fighting game. Is it your perfect formula? Probably not. Let us know what you think. What would make a perfect fighting game for you?
By Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*