Another year, another plethora of juggle combos, game of footsies and throwing turtles (not literally, unless of course they’re of the anthromorphic kind). When it came to fighting games, 2011 offered sequels, updates to classic titles and, of course, updated versions of Capcom titles.
What’s in store for 2012? We take a look at some of the new titles to hit this year in Fighting Forecast - Round 1.
Gimme Some Soul!
Game: Soul Calibur V
For: PS3, Xbox 360
Release: Jan. 31, 2012 U.S.; JP
Random Fact Select: Title will mark series return to EVO this year since Soul Calibur IV in 2009.
Soul Calibur IV wasn’t a bad game.
Sure, Vader and Fatlities Critical Finishes were nice touches, but while playing the title some were probably wondering if Project Soul had reached their innovative limit. One asked, “What else can they do?”
Voldo answered with gutteral incohenrent sounds and pelvic thrusts, which somehow translated into the word: change.
It became suddenly clear that not only did Voldo previously vote for Obama, but also seemed to echo Project Soul’s answer with Soul Calibur V. The title is coming with a few shake-ups to the series that could give it quite the “edge” (shameless double decker taco pun) this year as a top fighter contender.
For one, the series takes place 17 years after IV, containing a roster of new combatants and older mainstays. Yet the gameplay may really be what to keep an eye on. Producer Hisaharu Tago has noted that his aim with the title is to bring “quicker and sharper gameplay” and for battles to be “much lighter, sharper and more elegant.”
Crititcal finishes have been eschewed for Brave Edge and the return of Critical Edge attacks, which are stylish damage dealing flashbangs derived from a super meter similar to other modern day virtual slugfests.
Guard Impact is being downplayed—command input for the action is a bit more complex this time around (link)—for the new “Just Guard” feature, where perfect guard timing against an attack will result in shorter time to counter. And perhaps taking a page from the Dead or Alive series, Ring Outs will no longer end in throwing your controller during a rage-induced state or telling friends how cheap they are in 50 different ways. Instead, fights will continue outside of the ring. Throw in a deeper character creation mode and Assassin Creed’s Ezio and you’ve got an old series with new tricks.
Still, while some things have changed, some…
…have stayed the same.
And From Overseas
Game: Phantom Breaker
For: Xbox 360
Release: Febraury 28, 2012
Random Fact Select: The game features two guest chracters from visual novels Chaos:Head Noah and Steins:Gate
For those whose quota of straight anime-inspired action hasn’t been fulfilled, you may want to look into 5pb’s Phantom Breaker, a cult title released last summer in Japan. 7Sixy is bringing the title over.
The game’s story revolves around a mysterious organization holding a mysterious fighting tournament in mysterious Tokyo where the winner gets a mysterious single wish. Plotwise, you’ve probably traveled this not so mysterious road before.
Hard and fast action is what this title will offer. Or should that be hard or fast?
Phantom’s gameplay is basically broken down into two factors: quick style and hard style. Quick will basically grant players a focus on speedy attacks and combos, while hard style is all about the defense. So whether you’re the type who likes to go buttons-a-blazing or you prefer to turtle, this big-eyed brawler has got you covered.
In addition, those attacks clashing against each other aren’t just for dramatic show. Timing you attack just right can cancel out your opponents and raise your Tension Gauge because you know, when I cancel my opponents attacks with my own, I get a little Tense—enough so that even the soothing seahorse calls of Ke$ha can’t calm me down. But unlike me, where that tension bubbles into me passive aggressively pointing out that I’m playing with the busted controller that has the duct-tapped D-pad even though I made queso dip, Phantom’s tension system involves a well-timed boost in attack power.
While Phantom Breaker isn’t exactly breaking any new ground with its gameplay, story or characters, it can still provide a pretty fun break from all those marathon sessions of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Of Dante’s Awakening Night Warriors Commando Evolution.
Opening Pandora’s Box
Game: Street Fighter X Tekken
For: PS3, Xbox 360
Release: March 6, 2012
Random Fact Select: The two companies actually came together before for Namco X Capcom, a Japan-only RPG.
The idea that Capcom would create some type of crossover title isn’t what surprises fans; it’s who they choose to get in bed with that floors us. This was no different during the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, where doing a special Capcom panel, Street Fighter producer Yoshinoro Ono and Tekken series producer Katsushiro Harada revealed the project. Since then, fans have been eagerly couting down the days while singing merrily in the Blanka boxers.
Oh, what, just me then?
Yes yes, Ha-No-Ken on me then.
While the project as a whole will actually involve two games to be developed by both companies, Capcom is serving as Player One for the first release. Instead of jumping bean gameplay of their usual Vs. series, Capcom is instead relying on a similar system used during Street Fighter IV, employing the likes of EX Attacks and Super Combos, mixed in with some tag-team combat.
However, there are a few new tricks to the table, including a new gem system that will grant a variety of abilities to players, ranging from increased strength to speed. The gems have already caused a bit of controversy on the fighting game circuit with defendants merely arguing to forgo the use of them in gameplay.
And then there’s the Pandora factor, which is actually rooted in the game’s story. In the chance that one of your characters has 25 percent health left, you can completely sacrifice him or her to receive a significant boost in attack power and speed for your other character. But beware as the time counts down, as its expiration will mean certain death if your opponent isn’t defeated in time.
Also, check out the Tron like purple your characters receive. Perfect for hitting the clubs.
Here Comes A New Challanger!
For: PSN, XBLA
Release: June 2012
Random Fact Select: Michiru Yamane, who will work on the game’s soundtrack is mostly known for her work on the Castlevania series
‘Coincidence’ is the word when describing the origins of Skullgirls from newcomers Reverge Labs. Fighting game tournament gamer Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont started working on his own project, a fighting game engine, while artist, Alex Ahad was working on characters, story and a world for his own fighting game. After mutual friends introduced the two merged like a Reese’s Peanut Butter to create Skullgirls.
Since then, the project has emerged into what could potentially become one of the biggest surprise or sleeper hits in the fighting game community.
The 2D title involves fighters going for the opportunity to control the Skull Heart, a magical artifact that can grant wishes, but in some Twilight Zone twist, with a cost.
Wait, a cost?
If this title can pull off what it’s attempting it can have my Chun-Li thunder thigh pillow. The left one.
Zaimont and company are bringing a slew of gameplay mechanics to help this 2D title stand above others. Skullgirls will feature custom attack assists, easier inputs for complex commands for unexperienced players, tightly calculated command input windows, and ratio tag system I haven’t seen utilized since Capcom Vs. SNK 2.
If all that technical jargon isn’t enough to get you interested, then maybe Ahab’s designs, online gameplay thanks to GGPO, and a soundtrack from Castlevania’s Michiru Yamane might just do the trick.
The only drawback so far are the current single digit number of characters, but it’s pretty much assumed that more will be revealed before the game’s launch.
Think that’s it for the fighting games of this year? Think again. Charge up the meter as we go for broke in Round Two of our Fighting Game Forecast.