Why isn’t there a Street Fighter RPG? – Reader’s Feature | Gaming
A reader asks why fighting games don’t use their characters in other genres, and demands a Mortal Kombat survival horror and a Tekken shooter.
I am what I would call a fan of fighting games. Not a hardcore fan, not a casual fan, just… a fan. I’m not especially good at them but I’m not terrible. I don’t buy all of them, but I do buy most of the big names – and try to at least sample most of the more obscure ones.
Fighting games have a strange history, after being revolutionised by Street Fighter II they’ve barely changed at all and prior to Street Fighter IV I would’ve assumed they were an essentially dead genre that would never regain their former popularity. They never did do quite that, but Street Fighter IV was a big enough hit that it inspired a renaissance in other franchises – that died down once they’d all had a go at a reboot.
Things are quieter now, as you can see from how well Street Fighter V did, but the genre is still ticking along and fairly viable. The reason it’s not as healthy as it was though is, I think, because its lack of innovation has caught up with it. The games are all still more or less the same and that’s not even because developers are lazy or unimaginative, it’s just because there isn’t much else in the idea to do.
So what I propose is… do something else.
I’ve seen this idea pop up a few times in relation to various franchises, but why don’t fighting games experiment with other genres? You think of what kind of game has the biggest roster of memorable characters and it’s always fighters. The average game may have a handful (although probably less than that) of characters you remember but everyone in a fighting game has to be at least somewhat memorable or they shouldn’t even be there.
So with all these ready-made characters why not put them in a more traditional action adventure? Or a scrolling beat ‘em-up, or a platform game, shooter, or whatever suits their nature. It’s like a reverse Overwatch, where Blizzard looked at how fighting games rely on their roster to make the characters unique and to inspire unique abilities for them in the actual game. So why not use that same approach with fighting game rosters that already exist?
I can think of only a few examples where this has happened. There was Tekken spin-off Death By Degrees, which was an action adventure starring Nina Williams. I thought this was an excellent idea, the gameplay fit her character as we knew it and the only problem was that the game was absolutely terrible. The idea though was great, but Namco never tried again.
There was something on the GameCube called Virtua Quest, which was vaguely meant to be a Virtua Fighter role-playing game. And of course Shenmue started off as a Virtual Fighter spin-off, and still has combat that plays a lot like it, but none of it is official or has the same characters. And yet something as simple as Puzzle Fighter is really good, just from using its little cute version of characters in a way you don’t usually see.
The only series that’s come close to doing it right though is Mortal Kombat, which has dabbled in a few different genres but most successfully with Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. This was essentially a scrolling beat ‘em-up and one of the few attempts to update the concept for the modern age. Fans seemed to love it, I know I did, but that was back in 2005 and we’ve seen nothing similar since.
But why? Why isn’t there a Street Fighter role-playing game? A Mortal Kombat survival horror? A Tekken third person shooter? A SoulCalibur open world game? I mean, when the most famous example of branching out into other genres is the Dead Or Alive Xtreme perv ‘em-ups you know that something is going wrong.
The thing is I just don’t see any of it happening, and I don’t know why. Did Capcom not see Overwatch and recognise their style of characters and presentation was basically being updated for them and used, to enormous success, in a completely different way? Why didn’t they want to do something similar or at least inspired by it?
Maybe, if we’re lucky, one day we’ll get a sequel to Shaolin Monks but even that seems doubtful. Modern video game characters just tend to be ‘a guy’ or ‘a woman’. Which may or may not work in terms of story but is always boring to look at and a world away from the iconic designs of most fighting games. I just wish companies realised they don’t have to stay fighting all their lives.
By reader Skippy
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