The State of the Game Industry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 30, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

To me, the least enjoyable topic involving any piece of media is analyzing the medium’s distribution practices. I could not care less about the gaming industry. The topics that dominate most articles about gaming and the multitudes of discussion boards dedicated to simply video games are almost always never about the art itself and almost always about the industry. Console wars, audience demographics, sales are always used in giant arguments which serve nothing except grand masturbatory exercises emphasizing empty virtues such as “hardcore,” “casual,” or even the ever ubiquitous “non-gamer.” It leads to fervent discussions where illogical statements, unproven biases, and even outright childish hatred run rampant. More or less, serious discussions of games are destroyed as long as there is focus on the industry.

Many critics comment on the state of the industry, wishing to point which agent is responsible for the degradation of video games. throw out many suspects. It is the giant companies at fault, they say! The multi-million dollar companies play it safe by throwing out rehashes of the same game, with no thought to other than profit! Its the consumers, they say! Consumers wish to only have non-challenging games, because anything harder than a simple push button would turn off the game, leading to a demand for such dribble! It is Nintendo! Microsoft! Sony! It does not matter who is the witch in discussion circles, all that matters is that there IS a witch to burn!

The circle of show witch trials is exactly that: a show staged in order to create demand for a console, not the games. This is how the companies create interest, press, marketing, and advertising for free: Create discussion where consensus cannot be reached, perpetuate a never ending marketing machine that ensures only one of the console makers will be on the top of sales. The ceaseless bickering that goes on in game journalist articles, game journalist reviews, and the multitudes of discussion boards ultimately translate into nothing else except profits for a company.

However, there are some issues within the industry which will not go away at any time as long as consumers continue to accept these problems as the standards of video games in general:

1. The “Hardcore” and “Casual” divide is nonexistent.

This divide is an issue that only recently has risen after Nintendo’s Wii stormed the console market. The ethos of this debate is based in the belief that there is a gaming culture, and the companies are more or less selling out to create a larger market share and higher profits, creating games for the casual market and leaving behind the core gaming culture. Setting aside the concept of a gaming culture, these terms are as vapid and meaningless as the charges the come alongside these epithets. The dichotomy between these two labels can be applied to any game, any console, any company. Critics charge Nintendo and its console with pandering to the “casual” gamer, leaving nothing for the “hardcore” gamer. Critics charge Microsoft with simplifying PC gaming, marking it as the “casual” gamer’s PC, with computer gaming being the real “hardcore” system. Critics even deride the perceived lack of difficulty in recent games, arguing that this entire generation of video games is “casual,” with the previous generations being the “hardcore” generations.

I am lead to believe that the flexibility of such labels are inherently meaningless, and the charges themselves are nothing more than buzzwords made to mobilize zealots in order to sway people toward one system of the other. Thus, I can only accept that “hardcore” and “casual” are at their basis marketing words. When applied to a game, these insults allow anyone to deride any game, without giving real critical analysis to the game. If the divide between “hardcore” and “casual” cannot be defined and is used haphazardly, then at the base the divide this rift refers to must not exist. In order for discussion on the topic of games to move forward, this imaginary divide must be abolished. We cannot truly comment on the artistry of video games if we are consumed with divisive, destructive, and most despicable of all, completely vapid arguments of supremacy.

2. The Game Industry is inherently profit minded.

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are inherently based on profits. They follow marketing strategies and struggle to keep the the industry buzzed with short sighted discussions in order to make free advertising. The fact that all three companies during their E3 2009 conferences addressed issues such as “core gamers” and the “casual crowd” only serves to confirm this observation. Both Sony and Microsoft are multimedia giants. Sony has holdings in not only creation and distribution of films and music, they also have holdings in distribution and creation of games. Microsoft has a holding in the distribution and creation of PC games, and is now extending this hand over to the game console market, which was previously dominated by the game oriented Nintendo and Sega, with the X-Box 360 has become nothing more than a glorified money box with its pay to play internet and unprecedented allowance of corporate advertising. Even Nintendo is consumed with controlling the distribution and creation of games, and even more so with gaining a wider share of the audience. The whole strategy behind the Nintendo Wii was to gain a larger market audience that was seemingly cornered by Sony and Microsoft in the early 2000s. The industry is ruled not by gamers, but by a small few concerned with profit. In the industry, it is the console that must be sold, as games need no buzz to be bought.

3. As long as these are perceived as the standard of the video game industry, the video game medium will never evolve beyond trend buzzwords and shortsighted decisions.

The last major jump in the change of mechanics was the generation exchange between the 2D generation to the 3D generation of video games, the generation of the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation 1. This generation had a problem to assess: what new games can be created with the new technology bestowed onto them? How will video games change as a medium? While the bridge between 16 and 32 bit consoles only meant a better defined video game experience, this jump from 32 to 64 bits created new technology to explore. while PC developers had been struggling with this shift longer than any of the console companies had been, this was the first shift with the traditional gamepad used from the 3rd generation. By the end of the 5th generation, and with the shift into the next generation of greater defined presentation, the 3D game had already been explored to the brim in countless PC games ports to the consoles in order to bring a larger audience to already well held genres in PC. Game companies such as Nintendo set new bounds for 3D platforming, a genre which prior to had been a laughable foray into grand excessive graphics without well thoughtful mechanics.

This shift in innovation in the present has only happened on one console: The Nintendo Wii. While Microsoft and Sony try to emulate and artificially create PC-like machines, Nintendo created a console that sought to redefine how gamers controlled their games, not how games looked or sounded. However, the Wii is not being fully utilized as a innovative exploratory system unlike the PS1 and N64 were. As long as the industry institutionalizes its consumers with empty words that create false dichotomies, instead of creating content to be consumed, the industry will become a vapid institution, and the consumers will lose the most in the end, all to the fault of a few executive people who were simply maximizing profits.

In order to break free of this, we must reject the industry’s demand that this is the standard of our medium. We must reject the petty marketing strategies and award truly great experiences when it is due. We must remove ourselves from the destructive practices in what is a very nuanced creative medium, lest the medium dies in a flurry of noise and marketing.

Advertisements

Metal Gear Solid 4: After the hype

Posted in Video Game Reviews on July 23, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

When Metal Gear Solid 4 first came out, the hype surrounding the game was even larger than the game itself. Long awaited by most that had the misfortune/blessing (take your pick whether or not you believe $599 was a waste or a just price) of owning the PS3, all looked to Kojima to see what game he was going to put out. Would he make the game that would save the Playstation 3 that was slumping in sales? Would the game be filled with cutscene after cutscene, hiding a poor lackluster game under whatever narrative cinematic mockery Hideo Kojima decided to attach to the game? Or would it be further proof that the Playstation 3 is Sony’s grand failed experiment, whose high definition graphics gambit was the entire reason for the Playstation 3, not to mention the Blueray disc player. When I first played Metal Gear Solid 4, I tried not to think of the hype. I tried not to think of the consumption of this game as a simple way to sell a console. I tried not to think of Hideo’s storyline. I tried to force out the trivialities of the gaming business, because ultimately the industry servers to make money, not make games. What matters ultimately is the game itself, whether the game creates an enjoyable experience, as the experience is quite honestly the only thing video games have to separate itself as a medium of its own. What I took away is an experience that I did not expect, and for all the criticisms levied against Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima’s stylistic decisions (save for the choice of a more “cinematic” experience) are not only justified, but the sheer reason Metal Gear Solid 4 is much more than just a sequel.

solid snake ololololol

Firstly, I cannot sing the praises I saw in Metal Gear Solid 4 until I criticize the shameless use of cinematic techniques in what is first and foremost a game. We as the player of a game are almost masochistic in how we play our games. We are willing to break through shocking difficulty curves that most would walk away from. We are willing to suspend disbelief, even if it works against our favor. We are willing to wait for bounds of exposition, simply so we can again dictate the actions of our hero. However, there are some sections which are ridiculous, and cannot even be justified in the sense of a reward for completing sections of the game. I am talking about cinematic sequences lasting longer than 20 or 30 minutes in a game. Even if one is riveted to the seat by the narrative, as I was at these parts, they are completely superfluous to games, except possibly in the concept as a reward for proper completion. While Visual Novels and Point and Click games have very similar constructions in terms of narrative, Point and Click games are very complex in the problems they present, and Visual Novels, while mostly dictated in narrative at least have the complexity of foresight in various decisions. Metal Gear Solid 4, while the main game is a completely finely tuned experience, the cutscenes are a vestige from cinema that can be discarded in video games. There are better ways to tell stories in games. 30 minute cutscenes are, least to say, not one of them.

This does not make Metal Gear Solid 4 a bad game. In fact, even this is not enough to deter how GREAT some of the more well thought out sequences that had nothing to do with cutscenes are. Kojima tapped into something I had never expected a video game to tap into: My own experience and memory. Throughout the game there are various instances where Snake has flashbacks that are hailed by hitting the X button in various parts of cutscenes and in the game world. These are such subtle touch that impacts the game in such profound ways. For instance, the entire fourth stage of the game takes place in Shadow Moses, which brought back memories of Metal Gear Solid 1, my own experiences flooded my mind as I walked through the now decrepit halls of Shadow Moses. There were no enemies to avoid, mainly because there didn’t need to be any. The only enemies that needed to be there were my own actions in Metal Gear Solid 1, what I did and how I (And Solid Snake) came from those unknowing beginnings to this new world. The fact that the game had managed to actually come out and grab my own experiences took me by surprise, something I never expected.

Metal Gear Solid 4, while its cinematic excess must be criticized, must also be praised for playing with experiences and memories created by Kojima in the previous games. It is because the game creates experiences that this is possible in Metal Gear Solid 4, and not possible in any other medium available. If anything, Metal Gear Solid 4 is the pinnacle of things that can be done horribly wrong, and things that can be done disturbingly well, in a video game narrative.

Acceptance of the Avatar

Posted in Game Genre, Ontology, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 12, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

An interesting facet of video game genre is that many of the mainstream genres of video games follow a narrative that involves a premade protagonist. While some video games attempt to make the protagonist as much of a blank slate as possible (The Metroid series, The Halo series, the Half-Life series, etc), other video games have controllable protagonists with distinctive identities and personalities, such as Hiedo Kojima’s Metal Gear series, and the Grand Theft Auto series after GTA3. Yet, this still does not stop players from accepting these protagonists as themselves. After all, the “magic” from playing these videogames are not cheapened simply because the player’s agency is channeled through a separate entity. (Nor is it strengthened by a blank slate. While Half Life’s protagonist Gordon Freeman specifically lacks any sort of personality to further enhance the series’ immersion techniques, Resident Evil 4 and 5’s protagonists, Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield, respectively, can be interchanged without much difference in narrative writing style. While mainly cited as a joke, the ubiquitous use of brown short haired men with notable stubble show the industry’s need to make blank slate characters to apply to the broadest range of players.)

However, we still accept these characters actions, no matter how varied the actual character is, as our own actions. If the main draw of video games is their ability to create new experiences (and thusly, a new existence), then why complicate this illusion with a separate character identity? Why spend so much time developing a character if any avatar will satiate the experience?

This is because acceptance of an avatar has nothing to do with the character’s personality (or lack thereof) and everything to do with how we perceive our own existence. Our own existence can only be defined by the things we do, and the direct consequences we can see as a result of our actions. There is nothing to confirm existence other than events that are a direct result of our own actions. It is this facet of experience that allows players to in effect impose the experiences of the avatar as their own experiences.

When a player interacts with a video game, depending on the narrative of the video game (or the circumstances of a multiplayer game), the player controls an avatar through a set of objectives or waypoints. According to the narrative of a video game, it is the character who completes these objectives. However, the fact that it is the player who in effect brings the completion of the objective into fruition allows the player to transfer experience from the avatar onto the player. In effect, the existences of the completions of objectives only exist because of a player’s interaction. This is how players are ready to accept an avatar’s accomplishments as their own.

Then what does this say about video game narratives? Are they completely superfluous? If the experience provided by a video game is completely independent from its narrative, then why do we enjoy the complex storylines that rival multimillion dollar blockbuster Hollywood films? Have we been conditioned to have narrative out of necessity? Or is there something inherently attractive about a narrative? Is there something humanistic about narrative?

The other player

Posted in Multiplayer with tags , on March 21, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

It is my personal belief that video games can be works of art, since all video games are first and foremost works of creativity. Much like art, literature, and film require creativity, video games also require creativity, and can be used to make a point either about culture, society, or even video games themselves. One only needs to look at Beyond Good and Evil, the poster child for Underrated Game, to see what kind of themes video games are able to explore.

However, games are at their core games. They are games just like Chess, or a sport just like Football. Games, in their definition, have room for more interactions than the interaction between Creator and Player. In fact, they have room for multiple players. This is where the game diverges in terms of form, content, and style. The truth of the matter is, that while single player video games can be comparable to other forms of art, such as literature and film, the multiplayer video game, much more comparable to already existing physical sports, seem to avoid any sort of discussion of artistry.

Is it because multiplayer games lack a narrative? This isn’t the case. Narrative is useless in the video game, mainly because its superfluous. A game certainly does not need narrative to a good game. In fact, for a work to be a game, narrative is not needed at all, save for some various operative symbols to allow basic understanding. For example, the line to represent a paddle, and the single dot pixel to represent the ball. One can even argue that technology has not made the core mechanics of a game better, but simply allowed us to represent symbols better. Regardless of the game, the narrative simply exists to facilitate relation to game mechanics. Thus, its not the narrative that makes a single player game artistic.

Is it because multiplayer games lack defined mechanics? Hardly. If anything, multiplayer games need more nuanced mechanics for the game to even basically work. Much more work goes into mapping all the possibilities two separate players can take, when compared to just one single player’s possibilities of action. If the mechanics are at any point biased toward or against any other player then the reason to play the game is nullified. However, this is distinctive from accepted biased mechanics, meaning possibilities that a player knowingly takes or the creator knowingly makes. I talk about mechanics that can be exploited to give one side or another “unfair” advantages that were not intended by the creator. Regardless, while we can judge mechanics in a game to whether it is a good work or a bad work, the artistry in single player games comes from a fusion of narrative and mechanics. However, one cannot deny the multitude of possibilities that exist in any interaction between just two players in one game. And, as we’ve seen, artistry does not lie in how deep a mechanic is. Rather, it lies in how the game mechanics contain meaning, or how it facilitates the narrative to create even deeper meaning. The mechanics come before the narrative, but it is in the synthesis and support of the narrative we see artistry in single player games.

Then why do we not judge multiplayer games as “artstic?” I would say because no one has tried to combine meaning and mechanics in a multiplayer video game. To this date, most single player games that offer a multiplayer option do so out of an almost industry standard, an afterthought or secondary addition rather than the main event. Though there are exceptions, even these exceptions, while containing much depth, come up shallow under closer inspection.

However, just because it does not exist, does not mean it cannot happen.

Two Different Pathways to Art

Posted in Video Game Reviews with tags on March 18, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

The word “art” is thrown around whenever any discussion concerning certain video games comes up. What confuses me when most people talk about art is the very fine, flimsy, and almost always breakable line between “art” and “entertainment.” For some (and I would venture to say most) people, any made work (Be it film, television, literature, or video games) either falls into two distinctive categories: entertainment and art. Works that fall into entertainment are generally thought of as fun, interesting, easy to understand or have nothing to understand. Most would describe entertainment as “accessible.” Art almost always is followed with qualifiers such as dignified, serious, somber, deep, analytical, but always considering a separation of being “inaccessible.”

I for one used to hold this very notion of the line between art and entertainment in the world of works. And while I never gave it any second thought, one thought did tug on my conscious as a person who thought critically of his consumption: Does this mean if I enjoy anything on a base level, is it simply entertainment? Does it cease to be art once I enjoy something? Does the moment one ceases to like (or simply does not like) a piece of work, can it be considered to be art? These notions are very ridiculous at its base, though it almost seems to be the logic that people impose on “art” and “entertainment.” Clearly rather than actually analyze something, we can rather call it a “deep work of art” and leave it at that, with nothing gained. Yet we can also walk away from the biggest blockbuster movie popular at the theaters and walk away from it with nothing gained, too, rationalizing it as, “nothing but pure entertainment.”

Affixing ridiculous notions to works can thus lead into a dangerous mode of thinking. We immediately disregard any meaning in movies that have been affixed with “entertainment,” even when it may perpetuate ideologies that when analyzed properly give insights to society as a whole. For example, John Ford made Stagecoach with the film simply being a “Western” in mind, yet Andre Bazin was able to extract meaning not only for the film and the Western genre but for the entire mythos surrounding the West. In contrast, Andy Warhol’s Empire, in which the audience is entertained to an 8 hour shot of the Empire State Building, when simply called an “artistic statement,” loses any sort of critical analysis, in the assumption that Warhol definitely has something to say, but rather than actually press the work to find the statement, the assumption is sufficient evidence to complexity.

Thus knowing this, I left the notion of “art” and ‘entertainment” behind. And rather than calling everything art (Firstly, there are certainly some works that should not be called art. Secondly, when discussing ideas its generally a good rule to avoid the term “art” all together), I now call everything made “works.” Thus, the idea that games cannot be art because they entertain to me is absurd: It would be like calling classical music a “pandering of excess to the masses” because it, first and foremost, entertains the ear with its masterful crescendos and powerful fortissimo.

Of course, this doesn’t mean people try to market games to those who want games, in their definition, to be art. Recently I played the demo of The Graveyard and around the same time Pathways, both which have similar mechanics and to me a similar message. These two games when compared show to me a good example of not only that games ARE art, but that the problem is not whether a game is or is not art, but if it is a GOOD work of art or a BAD work of art.

Both of these games have the same mechanic: bring the character from point A to point B. In The Graveyard this means bringing an old woman through a graveyard to sit on a bench, and then bringing her back to the exit. The game ends after this. Pathways involves bringing a man from his starting point (in a house with a woman, who we assume is his wife) to 8 different situations. The man cannot go backward, he can only go forward, and once he goes down a divergent path, he must continue on the path. Both of these games are very short, and both of them seem to tug at larger implications than the narratives let on. The human condition, and more or less the nature of time passing, decisions, and the dreams never materialized, are all themes of these very short games. However, while Pathways beautifully integrates these themes within its mechanics, The Graveyard simply falls short, the mechanics being ultimately for nothing more than pure show, a “look me too” attitude to video games, that it too can challenge the form of video games, without having much function attached to it.

Pathways, in its brilliant design, does not allow its players to traverse back, a mechanic that is almost held as required for most video games. We see why as soon as we replay the game with each different ending: Much like in real life, it is impossible to go back on actions taken. We must continue with the decision we have made, as it ever continues affecting us in other versions of the present. Here, form melds harmoniously with function, style and substance come hand in hand. In The Graveyard, however, while we have control of the old woman, we ultimately have nothing else, other than her trip through the graveyard and entertaining herself with memories of the past (conveyed by a musical number accompanied by unnecessary cinematic superimpositions). The Graveyard is simply concerned with the form, breaking it in ways without ever giving a reason for its break with the norm. The Graveyard is, simply put, a bad work, a bad game. Good games (and works) break conventions with reason, mainly because there is something to be said within it.

And this is the point I want to drive at: That there is no such thing as a game so bad it cannot be considered art, or a game so good it is art. Any game is a work of art. The real question to be answered is if the game is a good work of art or a bad work.

Genre

Posted in Game Genre, Ontology with tags on March 17, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

For the cinema, genre theory exists as a way to explain the phenomenon of the tendency for the consuming public to organize and arrange films in a classification of similar identifications. As a consuming public (and I would even argue a globally consuming public) the idea of the Western immediately conjures ideas of the expanding late 19th Century frontier mentality, particularly tense shoot outs, affirmations (and condemnations) of masculinity, and cowboy hats. The same exists for video games, too. As a consuming public, video games are classified much in the same way, by grouping titles together based on how much they share in common with a pre-existing stereotype. For our game example, take the Shooter, in the Japanese sense of the word (Our “Western” shooter is a stereotype of the first person shooters pioneered on early computers, later making the jump to consoles and finally gaining worldwide notoriety with Bungie Studio’s Halo) invokes for most people, a ship speeding through the elements firing at massive amounts of enemies, dodging fire that fills the screen to the brim. While we might think of individual games that would fit our idea of the “shooter,” we as consumers have the ability to look at a game and exclaim whether or not it is a shooter or not. We do this to every game that comes out, even to those that try to bend or break genre conventions.

However, genre theory also leaves room for the 4 different types of works inside a genre, be it Affirmation of the conventions of the genre, a Reworking, a Parody, and the Deconstruction. We rarely see games run through these different types of works, rather than “Affirmation,” where the game reaffirms previous games of the same genre by reusing the same techniques common to the genre. A Reworking of the genre happens next, though rarely. Reworking of a video game genre happens whenever a new version of a game comes out, smoothing out certain aspects of a genre that may have fallen out of vogue. For example, using our shooting genre, a Reworking of that genre would involve a release of games where certain elements were either increased or phased out, such as the need for a coherent story or an increase in difficulty and amount of enemies on screen. While one could argue this is the natural progression of an advancement of a genre, one only needs to look at a game like Ikaruga to see what a reimagining of the shooters would be like. Next, though even rarer, would be the parody, the work that brings to light a genre’s flaw and satirizes it, such as the game The Bard’s Tale, satirizes the Western RPG format, from story to mechanics of Western RPGs. For our shooter, the parody would be something like the Cho Aniki series, though that series is more absurd than a parody. Never the less, it takes elements of the shooter and plays with our expectations, creating humor.

While parodies do bring attention inconsistencies and shortcomings in genres, they do not have the biting criticism as the Deconstruction works. In films, works that deconstruct the theory aim to destroy the very basis genres are built on. For the western, it would be to make a western that completely destroys the notion of the masculine man, much as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven did with the Western. However, video games do not have these kinds of works yet. While the video game is a young medium (It has been three decades to date since the first generation of video games consoles) this is a poor explanation for the lack of genre deconstructing games. Though imagine if such a game were to exist! If we had a deconstructionist shooting game, the idea of the lone hero, against thousands of ships that could destroy you at any minute, would be challenged at its core. The narrative wouldn’t matter, since the true deconstruction would begin at the core of the creator and how he decides his player to experience his game. No longer would we have our lone ship! We are now a part of a giant fleet! No longer is danger present, but now it is a silent unknown. Soon, our deconstructed shooter has been inverted! We are now the legion of ships that threaten the lone hero! Imagine if this were applied to other genres! First person shooters where shooting is forbidden! Platform games where there were no platforms! Simulations that replicate completely unreal topics! What a crazy selection of games we would have to play!

This is not to say genres have been deconstructed, before. Various games, now heralded as canonic entities in the history of works in video games, have broken convention to the point one could consider as deconstruction. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series broke from conventional action games such as Contra, where the very nature of the action genre’s traditional convention was called into question. No longer did we have the lone hero blasting his way through rounds of enemies. Now, we have the hero who must avoid enemies to survive, where the path of least resistance is rewarded instead of the path of destruction. Metal Gear deconstructed the action genre in such a way that it became its own game, and started its own genre: the stealth genre. Other well known released games have deconstructed their respective genres to their bare minimums. Ico and Shadows of the Colossus stripped down conventions established in the adventure genre (Treasure and item collecting, inventory and status, even such things as heads-up displays are gone in Ico) to the point where the only thing left was the sheer experience of the adventure.

Street Fighter IV

Posted in Game Genre, Video Game Reviews with tags , on March 16, 2009 by hadjidapinoy

It seems that a blog about video games should talk about video games. Recently I had the pleasure to be intimately involved with Capcom’s newest iteration to the Street Fighter series. Growing up on Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III, I was looking forward to see if Street Fighter IV would continue the memories and fun times that the previous versions gave me. Gladly, it did not disappoint.

Game reiterations are a funny thing. One of the fundamental differences between video games and the other medias is its willingness to play and its cognition of reiterations of the same thing. Arguably, except for some (very fundamental) differences, the basic goal of Street Fighter has largely remained the same: To destroy your opponent in several ways available to you. How one accomplishes this goal is entirely up to the player, and it seems that its the ways we as players can reach this goal is the main mechanical differentiations between the Street Fighters, and also the reason we are willing to buy the same game every 3 or 4 years, besides the obvious cosmetic changes to the series.

However, as a game, the fact that we have such varied ways to reach our goal is the reason why Street Fighter 4 still remains as the father series to the fighting game genre. One can tell Capcom has struggled to create a very balanced game between each character, to make sure each path taken to victory has a more or less equal chance to reach its goal (After all, if Capcom made an unbalanced game there would be less reason and incentive to keep playing the game once all options have been explored.) To even add to the amount of variety one can take to destroying opponents, the various ways as a character one can defeat his opponent is astounding. As someone who is familiar with Street Fighter for a good 3/4ths of his life, the game gives me various me as Sakura various ways to defeat any opponent, whether it requires my timing on executing linked combos or knowing when to be aggressive or when to employ defensive tactics, the game does not seek to punish one way or the other: Both have the potential to be punished equally, and it is in this variety Street Fighter IV still stands to be a very good game.

However, should reiteration be tolerated? Should I have to pay money to play, in its essence, the same game I’ve been playing for the past 15 years? Isn’t it very similar to paying money to watch the same movie every single time I want to watch a Western? To this question, I would first state that playing Street Fighter IV (And any other iteration of a game) is more like watching films of a different genre. More on this idea of genre at a different time, but it would be ridiculous to not watch another action movie just because it has the possibility of being “like every other action movie.” However, this is a legitimate charge. If a film is not varied enough, there is no reason to watch it, much like if a reiteration of a video game is not varied enough. For example, Resident Evil 5 seems to be much similar to Resident Evil 4, much to the point where I would probably not pay money to replay Resident Evil 4.

Street Fighter IV is different simply because it is not similar to Street Fighter III in the slightest. It is more akin to Street Fighter II, yet I wouldn’t call it a complete copy. There are substantial difference between all of these games, and I would say because of this it does not fall into the same trappings that other sequels and iterations of games are plagued with. Thus, not only is Street Fighter IV a good game, it is a good example of why reiteration is not going to destroy the industry for a long time soon. This is simply because the games still are good, and there is no threat yet of overall decrease in depth.

Yet.