5 months ago
In most games the word "beautiful" would usually be used to describe, graphics, gameplay, soundtrack, visual effects or maybe even story and it's common in reviews to hear about these aspects of any videogame. A quality you never get to hear about however, is the "meta-game"; what the players do outside the sphere of the game's mechanics to boost their chances of winning, and this unsung yet crucial part of gaming is the sole reason fighting games achieve their ubiquitous reputation as a synergy between the players' skills and their mind games. This is the beauty of fighting games
It's odd how far fighting games have gone considering their foundation, combos, was basically an accident; Back when Street Fighter 2 first released, dedicated players noticed that hitting their opponent's character would cause a temporary window of in-action, now dubbed hit stun, where you have the opportunity to hit them again before they recover which forms what is now known as a combo. When the creator of Street Fighter was informed of what was then considered an overlooked error, he entertained the idea and decided to purposefully put it and account for it in future titles, creating the first ever "true" fighting game. It's almost unrecognizable as a game genre; Street Fighter 2 is an undeniable classic but its baffling how far this genre has come in terms of depth and player engagement.
Fighting games have enjoyed this much success because they deliver an experience unlike any other; they are tailor made to simulate the experience of a real fight, where you feel time slowing down as you and your opponent engage in this exchange of fists, without any loss in the wacky aspect of the video game industry, where developers are given free reign to go as over the top as they can to simulate both an engaging bout of combat and deliver a genuinely entertaining experience. But now that we know how fighting games operate physically at its most basic level, how does it operate mentally?
This is what the meta game is; using the tools you have to trick your opponent into losing. The meta game is not an actual "mechanic" per se; it's an artificial
aspect of the game created only by the 2 players facing off. The players are given a set of game mechanics (think of them as weapons), a location where neither player is at a significant disadvantage, a count to 3 and then the freedom to use whatever weapon they have in whatever way to defeat their opponent by any means possible. The thing is when using your weapons as they were intended, treating them with a surface level demeanor, your options shrink, the game gets stale and loses that exciting unpredictability
that defines a fighting game. When the players' only focus is bettering his ability to use these tools given to him, a ceiling will inevitably be hit where that player has completely mastered the character when it comes to his usage of their tools. Here's the catch though, when 2 equally skilled, master level players face off that have complete and whole knowledge of their characters; how will a victor be decided? What attribute do they need to beat the other? Meta game
; the art of tricking your opponent using your movement, your attacks and your weapons. You lure them into a trap with your mind games, you catch them when they trip then slam them to the ground, the opponent adapts and catches you stumbling as well but you won't be hit by that attack next time; the game flows in such a robust and structured yet at the same time completely unpredictable manner where the 2 fighters keep trying to trip their opponent and make the most out of that brief advantageous moment.
It's an art that requires dedication, and perseverance and sometimes almost years of training to get to the highest level of play, and this strong, consistent mental game is what makes fighting games have such a dedicated, passionate fan-base; they WORKED
for this level of skill and they worked hard. It's also why so many new players are afraid to pick up fighting games out of fear of losing to seasoned veterans but, for all fighting game beginners out there, that IS
the fun. The fun is in getting destroyed by a better player, then training yourself to outdo them some day and the promise of victory will always beat the bitter loss when you dedicate yourself to playing these kinds of games. Never give up when playing a fighting game, and use your most valuable tool, your brain, to win, because that is the beauty of fighting games.