Street Fighter 6 World Tour Mode is everything I love about fighting games

Capcom /
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I am a long-time fighting game player. I played Street Fighter 2 and its various incarnations in my childhood bedroom when it first came out for the Genesis. I can’t think of Mortal Kombat without mentally recalling to press A, B, A, C, A, B, A to turn the blood back on in the Genesis version. People gathered around the first Marvel VS Capcom taught me the rules of putting tokens on the machine to call next. I had a legendary character at the arcade version of SoulCalibur2 that people were bragging about beating. I love fighting games.

It even got to the point where I fought in a few tournaments. My very last one was forever ago — a Capcom VS SNK 2 tourney at one of the first Ohayocon conventions, before they moved to Columbus taking my interest in that con with it (it’s a drive, okay?)

But fighting games changed have changed over time. ESports happened. The fighting game scene became filled with people trying to make a job out of fighting games. If that’s your thing, dope. I don’t hate that, you’re making a video game something that brings in income. It’s like a dream, and good on you.

But for me, it sucks. Fighting games used to be a fun thing to circulate around. Whether it was a bunch of my friends crammed into my first apartment passing the Dreamcast arcade stick, or a bunch of unruly kids in the arcade living out recreations of scenes younger people today only experience by watching “Hi-Score Girl” (if you haven’t seen it, watch it). There wasn’t a lot of toxicity or aggression, and the only time you saw people get upset was if the players weren’t respectful. To quote a phrase I remember hearing in the 90s, “Turtlers get shell-shocked,” meaning if you were a Guile user hiding in the corner, chances are you were gonna get shoved out of the way because you were just cheating someone else out of their tokens.

Fast forward to now though. Game companies realized the money that the desperation to become a “pro gamer” has resulted in and many fighting games have gone all in on catering to that demographic. Games that once featured interesting and zany stories and a wealth of unlockable content have become seas of online-only interaction, bizarre lobbies, and online stores filled with microtransactions.

Years ago, you could spend all year playing SoulCalibur3 at home and constantly unlocking items until you acquired the legendary Kos-Mos armor for the create-a-player mode. Now you buy season passes so the items just unlock according to whether or not you get a decent paycheck in the real world.

I fell out of the fighting game world. Couldn’t stand it anymore. The single player content I loved and longed for kept getting thrown to the way side and the online play sucked. Gone were the fun opponents who just played, here to stay were the opponents that studied frame counts and had one specific combo the studied that they try to do over and over and over again.

Is there a level of skill to it? Sure, not denying that. But when every opponent is picking the same three characters because they showed up at the top of the tier list, and all doing the same combo they watched someone perform on YouTube, someone like me — who just hits random and plays for fun — is pretty much done for. And even if I play to have fun, some guy is going to inevitably beat me and then either send a sea of slurs across voice chat or message me them. It stinks. It’s not fun.