A.B.I.torial: Why Do Fighting Game Stories Suck?
SugarPunch Design Works
Fighting games are a beloved piece of video game history and culture. But why are their stories so awful?
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Will take umbrage with saying Nu-13 and Lambda-11 were the same as its an actually interesting bit of design/narrative integration. Nu was the boss of the first game and so was pretty damn powerful not just story-wise but gameplay-wise, to the point of pretty much invalidating certain characters with near unwinnable match-ups. So the next game needed to square the character being dead AND rebalance her to be more fair. So they made Lambda an earlier version of the same kind of thing Nu was with a different, less effective fighting style (Nu's fast, combo-ing projectiles and weak melee combos were reversed into Lambda's decent but more traditional zoning projectiles and a stronger, if awkward, melee combo game), with the latter making sense because of the former.
Honestly, fairly elegant.
HEY rival schools has a great story mode!
Personally I respect that arcsys said "fuck it" in guilty gear and just made a movie, no one is engaging in the story mode for the fighting anyway.
* Really, the whole point of Dragon Ball is showing that power levels DON’T matter, which is why Goku, despite having a lower power level than most villains early on, he still wins anyway because THEY take power levels as facts, and Goku doesn’t give too shits
I think mortal Kombat deception did a story better than anybody gives it credit for. Instead of putting you in the shoes of any specific main character, the game gives you control a fairly boring protagonist Shujinko. He's so boring his name is the literal Japanese word for protagonist. However, because of his lack of personality they're allowed to do a lot of stuff with that character. Since the game takes place in the past for the most part, he can impact the storyline in a meaningful way while also giving the player the ability to explore the open world, including every realm in the mortal Kombat universe while learning brand new lore. Then when he inevitably has to appear on the roster in versus, they can just let you play as his older version who is much more learned in the ways of combat than the young version you play throughout most of the story. You see this character grow and age through the campaign, and when it's time to jump into verses you get to play as him the way he is now. I think that's really cool. You get to play as this character, boring though he may be, and see the backstory of a crucial event in the timeline that was already set in stone in the previous game, that being the resurrection of the dragon king.
Another fighting game critique of fighting game story, another failure to mention Power Rangers for Game Gear. What did this game do to everyone to make them ignore it, release on Game Gear?…. wait, yeah that's probably it
What you said at 12:00, made my day. Can't stand how overglorified that series is. So many better fighting anime and games. Even by modern standards.
So if you somehow got Jin’s sword away from him. He’s basically jobber then.
I wonder if a Pokemon style narrative can work for fighting games. Instead of Pokemon Battles it'll be fights of course. Just have to figure out how to do it for multiple characters.
Only kof has better story
In fighting games
Every character on that game has its own unique story
And kof has the best fanbase
Than other's fighting games
Worth noting that 1/3 of players finishing a story mode really isn't that bad. I think there's a certain contingent of fighting gamers who would only play it for the multiplayer no matter how compelling the story actually is, but also, if you look at the stats for a lot of games on steam, you'll often find games where only 2/3 of players who own the game have even completed the tutorial. Some of this of course has to do with the game's inclusion in bundles, but the point is that drop-off rates can be very high even for good games.
I’m pretty sure Injustice was called The Last Of Us somehow,
This video falls apart about three minutes in. Bringing up how only 1/3rd of the people who own MK11 finished the story seems like a good starting point, until you realise that that's the case for ALL types of games. It's a well documented fact that the majority of people don't finish games, across every genre with a story mode. It's just a fact. It's entirely pointless to base any speculation specific to fighting games over the MK data because it's just consistent with all data from all games.
What about subspace emissary?
You know, I’d really love to see a Hades style story progression in a fighting game. Trash story mode all together, tell the story before, during, and after vs mode fights, and let that story come out gradually as players fight in certain matchups. Maybe even throw in those story based modifiers as this story progresses to keep the player on their toes. Then all you’d have to do is pad out inessential fights with some filler dialogue, sprinkle in some conditional systems to make the game feel more organic, and have the story branch into a few separate paths just so the player isn’t constantly shoehorned into only playing characters they might not like as much.
I really like how Blazblue has the characters give a little personalized speech to the loser after winning. Though, I think they could have done with fewer boob jokes(?) in them. Maybe I have a bad sample from playing Taokaka.
Mk11 is sold because of gore and cinematics, the gameplay sucks ass
At least fighting game stories hit harder then nier automata lmao
What about Smash's story mode, or does it not count because it's not a fighting game?
Because there's a million different stories by a million different people all leading to the same destination.
But if you gave me the choice to have a fully fleshed story mode that you'd probably only play once , or an extra 2-4 characters on the roster to add to competitive play , the choice is simple.
Huge fighting game fan , but story never matter . (Especially in the days when I used to import a lot of Japanese games in 90s, which I couldn't read … lol ..)
The character expressing themselves during the in game fighting game is much more important to get the message of who they are across.
God bless you for the Baccano music, brother.
KoF XIV has the worst plot. You're telling me that this person was erased from time and his friend still remembers him because of psychological reasons?
That's a really high % for completing mk11 story mode. On steam, 35.8% of players have the most common achievement for Disco Elysium, a story based game that has fantastic writing and that achievement isn't even anything too difficult. 7% of Hades players have reached the epilogue. Not to mention neither of those games have a hardcore audience who is only in it for pvp.
Well, what you said about Dragon Ball isn't entirely true. Sure it has some precedence with Videl, but not with lots of other characters. Most of the fights in Dragon Ball, Early Z, and late Super require strategens. For example, when Goku and Piccollo are fighting Raditz they are cannonically too weak to beat him with pure strength. Even when they team up, Goku and Piccolo are too weak to beat Raditz without a super telegraphed, super focused Special Beam Cannon (Makankosappo). So the strategy is to distract Raditz to get him in a suplex until Piccolo kills both Goku and Raditz with the SBC. But that's with the main protagonist, on the other hand you have fights like Frieza and Gohan vs Dyspo. Dyspo is too fast for either of them to hit and can easily dodge all of their moves. To beat him, Frieza creates a laser field that constricts Dyspo's movement to tight spaces, nullifying his speed advantage while Gohan advances on him for attacks and such. So while you are right about more human characters, stategy based fights are still very common in Dragon Ball. Side note, power levels have not been used since half-way through the Frieza saga with very fee exceptions, and even those are not concrete.
Actually I think one-third is quite a lot, even compared to other games that focused on single player experience.
For a genre that has games with so many important characters, giving each character their own mini story is the way to go. If you mixed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's classic mode (every character facing a small, specific group of opponents in a specific order) with the ideas you mention in this video, that would be the perfect fighting game story mode. You can even make each character's individual story interweave with the other stories. Once you've done them all, you unlock a final route that's more difficult than the others, where you can play as multiple characters (maybe as a tag team) and end with the final boss.
Kinda sounds pompous at some points
I'm suprised you didn't talk much about many of Snk fighting games like KOF or didn't mention games like power rangers battle for the grid both which do some really cool and interesting stuff with its story modes KOF 13 for example having all the unique dialogues with all the roster and individuals story for the teams before and during the tournament and KOF 14 (and also 13) endings all of them being canon
1:51 (labels Injustice as The Last of Us 2)
Me: "what? I don't get it, why are you calling this game The last o-1:57-oohhhh okay"
This was a fun video clearly made with passion. It gave me greater appreciation for fighting game quips, interactions and Tekken 7.
It was also entirely a cop out. You don't seem interested in story mode nor fixing/improving it.
You complained about movie-like cutscenes, and go on to say that VS fights are stories of their own and basically they're perfect already.
Very disappointing. I wanted to see a better, third middle ground beyond tiny little details specific to a joke character or OP one, which would solve the problem of the overarching story.
I think fighting games could use a technique from the game Kid Icarus Uprising.
While the player is playing the game, characters will be talking and having conversations. Sometimes they respond to the players current actions or circumstances but their conversations also make up most of the story. Most of the games story is shared through the dialogue characters share during gameplay, way more than the game's cutscenes, which are usually very short anyways. The dialogue also fleshes out the characters, highlights their personalities, and is generally pleasant to listen too.
I think some well written and well timed voice lines playing during a fight could create a more diagetic story without requiring a huge amount of work.
Now that platform fighters are becoming more main stream I can finally say this.
Brawl is the bare minimum for the possibilities of a story mode in a platform fighter.
Ina platform fighter you don't need cinematic cutscenes becuase you can tell the story through the game play since ur not restricted to 1v1 matches.
A good example of this would be the adventure mod for rivals of aether. You can talk to npc and find clues that reveal more of the story. You can actually feel how a character feels through gameplay changes like if some character is about to die from an army, let you take control and fight this unwinnable fight with maybe a cutscene in the background of flashbacks to sell the sorrow of the situation (kinda like the death scene of Zack from final fantasy). It's the perfect sub-genre of fighting games for this and noones is doing it ;-;. Maybe rival of aether 2 will do this when that comes out.
I love to hear the MVC:2 soundtrack as background music
Not a critique, just a little perspective: "Only 31% of people have played the story mode to completion according achievement stats" Yes that is true TO ALL GAMES, not just fighting games. And in many games it dips so much more lower that 31% completion rate sounds high.
Kinda disagree that power levels alone is a reason to dislike all of dragon ball as a meta series.
Multiple times characters have managed to get the best out of someone they have no chance against, like Krillin incapacitating Gohan with the x100 Taiyoken/Solar Flare in Super.
One way to mix tutorial and story:
Story mode has a central young protagonist that is new to fighting, at the begining this character doesn´t have much of personality other than "wanna git gud". Early fights player only have access to the most basic movements and attacks. As story progress, character learn new moves. The character personality is molded by player skill. If player keep getting his ass beaten and trying again, protagonist has that shonen "never give up" personality. If player is highly skilled and wins with a "Perfect", he will have a smug "ha, too easy" personality. This also changes how other character react to player. If you get your ass beaten 10 times in a row, the a "good guy" adversary will go easy on next round, an asshole will not only stay hard, he will taunt you for being such a loser and when you finally kick his ass, protagonist be like "No, YOU suck". If you won with a perfect, he will demand a rematch and fight harder this time.
13:46 does the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing meme It's Watame and Rushia's Tambourine Club! lol
9:47 yes, bug fight from jojolion must be epic in fighting game
Story adventure mode.
Just to point that kof pre 2003 had a good story and it blended with the fights, not 100% but in a way, yes most of the characters were meaningless in the main story but each of them had a descent lore, and when a character dies in the previous game, it remains dead until a dream match is made, or resurrected (vice and mature)
Yeah the thing that characters have special interactions and different music was actually first introduced in early games like fatal Fury and art of fighting
The Neatherrealm percentage argument doesn't really work. The vast majority of games with actual story modes have pretty low completion rates in general, and many gamers simply might have the game sitting on their backlog. Your statistical estimates also have a strong chance of being wrong.
Though yes I do think there's a better way of telling a story in the context of a fighting game. Like having a story mode where you have to rank up in a certain area by fighting numerous enemies in a small hub world, gaining reputation and unlocking further boss fights. Kinda like the Yakuza mini bosses throughout certain sections of the map unlocking further fights deeper into the game. Something like that imo would be really cool.
Yeah cause fighting games stories ALL FOLOW THE SAME FORMATS. Imagine they made the fighting game story like a platformer like melees adventure mode… or quick time events. They just never try anything new.
Hold on, completition stats for video games is a pretty dodgy metric to go by. There are so many reasons people don't complete stories, lack of time, people getting 80% of the way through a game and not finishing, it doesn't mean people didn't enjoy the story. I've played over 500 games and only completed about 30 of them
Video game stories as a whole are pretty garbage, that’s why fighting games are no different.
Many modern fighting games really reuse animations, intros and outros which makes it feel like character interactions are not unique.
Like for example Miguel in Tekken 7 has the same charge animation like the Mishimas for some reasons, Jin and Kazuya have the same 1+3 throw and many characters have still Tekken tag 2 animations in which is mostly used for unique moves and item moves. Like I just think Tekken 7 sucks at the whole story telling via Vs mode. But the basic story mode is also much worse.
I also feel like fighting games can get away with bad story modes because. Street Fighter is so iconic that nobody truly cares anymore. Tekken story mode is a joke even bandai namco releases those comedic retelling videos monthly and mortal Kombat is essentially visuals over contents. Fucking Kronika that titan she was always there.
Dead or Alive is a terrible example of Story for sure.
Seems only Virtua Fighter is free from all the story ideas, mostly as story seems nonexistent. (Okay VF states it has but given its got VIRTUA in the title, I'll assume its just a myth of sorts.
I'll like to give skullgirls praise on how subtile they handle the matchup between the BOSS character Marie against Peacock, the Game's Zoner character. Marie is the usual classic fighting Game BOSS, which males it risky to attack her with regular attacks, but since Peacock has a variety of proyectiles and great mobility options, she's the easier pick to beat her. Lore wise, Peacock was psysicslly entiende to destroy the skullgirls, SO it makes sense on to why. Extra points for the fact that canonically Peacock and Marie were bffs