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.