Is There Room For Story In Fighting Games?

A popular belief today is that fighting games and story just don’t mix. Take a look at 2011’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and you will see a disturbing lack of narrative. Sure you get a comedic comic panel featuring crossover characters, but no real story for you to care about. It’s unfortunate considering the quality of characters the game has to work with. The reason is simple, the fighting game community that seems to think fighting games should only be enjoyed by hardcore enthusiasts. Though its a popular opinion it is far from the truth.

MvC3

Unfortunately, it seems that the fighting game community is a rather loud and unreasonable one. Their thought process sees any time spent on story, time wasted. Multiplayer is clearly the focus of any fighting game, as it should be, but that doesn’t mean that story should just be ignored. Not only does this concept neglect those gamers that play games alone, but it also waters down the personality of your characters.

Having played the first and second Soul Calibur titles, I went into the 4th with high hopes. After beating the single-player multiple times, I was greeted with a couple of lines of dialogue and not much else. It’s a real shame considering the first game gave each character a personal and deep back story to explain their quest for the Soul Edge. Between Astaroth killing Maxi’s crew and Kilik murdering his entire village, the stories gave each character personality. Instead of the story developing, it took a backseat to the gameplay(which also failed to develop much).

Soul Calibur siegfried

I know most of you are probably outraged at the idea of playing a fighting game alone, but its not as crazy as it seems. Whether you simply live too far from your friends or want to play the game when your friends aren’t around, playing alone is almost always an option for any gamer. Making your characters interesting is the main way to involve the players into your single player story, and the best way to do that is to give them a great back story and a good reason to fight.The only game in recent memory that has accomplished that is Mortal Kombat, which has created a believable and entertaining world with a plethora of characters and a fairly deep back story. The game is proof that fighting games can have an excellent story AND great gameplay.

Mortal Kombat Raiden

I`ve also noticed a lack of tutorial sections in the story mode of fighting games. Fighting games typically leave move lists in the start menu and disregard teaching mechanics during single player. By using early level to teach the mechanics, as well as include great characters and deep back stories, you could have a single player worth buying the game for. Many fighting games have a lack of a storyline which makes playing alone a chore, something games should never be. Giving writers time and resources to craft a great story after game mechanics are perfected should be encouraged. I just wish the fighting game community could see that crafting a great story does not mean sacrificing gameplay.
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What Makes a Video Game Story Great?

It may seem trivial but the success of a video game story can be broken down into a variety of factors. The focus and quality of these factors is what we gamers truly love about our favourite stories. You may wonder why I’ve dedicated one of the first GameYarn articles to this topic. Quite simply it’s a great way to explain how I’ll be rating games.

Lately the gaming industry has had increasing success when experimenting in narrative types. Typically the gaming industry had two kinds of stories, those that focused on characters and those that had plot-driven stories. These two types can be found in series like Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy respectively. Nowadays you have games like Limbo taking the idea of atmosphere and thematic style to a whole new level.

Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid plays out much like you`d expect an anime to. It introduces a protagonist that the game revolves around an insane story filed with plot twists, and characters crazy enough to give dragonball a run for its money. Despite all this, the game wholeheartedly embraces this level of insanity and it makes for an emotional and entertaining ride.

Having many great characters is great as it lets the player connect with a favourite. That being said, if a game can really nail one character perfectly, quantity won’t matter. Portal proved this with GlaDOS, one of the most beloved video game characters to grace our screens in ages. Quantity helps, but quality reigns supreme.

Portal

Bastion took the idea of a silent protagonist and used every trick in the book to create a fantastic story-driven game. By giving voice to the narrator, it kept players engaged even during the action-moments. The music was moving, the visual style unique, and the narrative enthralling.

A key part of a memorable story is emotion. If a game can make the player literally feel for characters or events, then it has won them over. The game To The Moon did just that last year, providing one of the years best stories. It made you actually feel for the characters and turned a decent story into a fantastic one.

To The Moon

Much like with Bastion, the music in a game can make all the difference. Whenever you look back fondly on some of your favourite story moments in games, you will undoubtedly remember the music that went with it. Music is the easiest and strongest way to evoke emotion. Whenever I hear certain songs from games I’ve played, I’m brought back to that key plot moment that made me sad, happy, or anything in between.

If you’ve been keeping track, that makes Atmosphere, Characters, Plot, Emotion, and Music. Visual style has also recently become quite important to a players immersion into an experience, though it is not universally true. While there are different elements to each of these factors, these stand out as the main characteristics that make up a fabulous storytelling experience.

tales of symphonia

That is why if you ever see a review on the site, we will be grading it according to these 6 factors:

Plot: (Thought-provoking/coherent)

Music: (Fitting/memorable)

Characters: (Likeable/memorable)

Emotional Attachment:

Visuals: (Atmosphere/Style)

Overall:

As I have always stated, a story can be incredible even if it lacks one or most of these factors. It is sometimes enough only to absolutely nail the atmosphere, in order to have players completely enthralled in the experience.

So the next time you make, or more likely play, a game, remember what it takes to make a great story.

GameYarn.com becomes a reality!

Welcome to GameYarn.com, a site born from the undying love of video game stories. As creator, I, Alex Bokan, hope to share any content I can with anyone willing to listen. This site will be constantly updated with videos, reviews, previews, and general discussion, all revolving around video game stories and emotions.

Remember, a game doesn’t have to have conventional narrative to have a powerful story or emotion running throughout.

I’m currently working on making this site look presentable, so if you’ve stumbled here prematurely, rest assured, it will, hopefully, look better soon.