“Arcade Perfect”

A few months ago, I decided to pick up an Arcade Archives title, Garou: Mark of the Wolves. I was feeling that fighting game itch, and eight bucks didn’t seem like that much scratch. Moreover, I’d never indulged in any of SNK’s classic fighting catalog, so I figured—if nothing else—it’d be an educational experience. So how is it? Arcade Perfect!

And that’s the problem.

For those of you who’re too young to remember when arcades were a big deal—which, come to think of it, largely applies to me as well—”arcade perfect” was a marketing buzzword used to describe home-console ports of arcade games. It meant that nothing was compromised (graphics, music, sound, and so on) when porting the game to consoles. See, arcade machines tended to be a bit beefier than home-consoles, as they weren’t just entertainment but also a business investment for store owners. As to be expected, the term has largely fallen out of use due to the declining relevance of arcades, but still gets thrown around from time to time, especially in arcade compilations like the upcoming Street Fighter collection.

“Arcade perfect” was a marketing buzzword that meant that nothing was compromised when porting the game to consoles.

Ultimately, my biggest gripe with Garou: Mark of the Wolves isn’t a design issue, it’s that the version on the eShop is literally just the arcade version running on an emulator. While there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, it does mean it’s missing many of the features that have been standard in home-ports since before the arcade version was even released. Honestly, it makes me question whether “arcade perfect” is really that good of a benchmark.

First of all, the game doesn’t have a training mode. The only single player content is arcade mode, meaning you have to learn the ins and outs of this game’s mechanics as the computer is mugging you for your (virtual) quarters. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game was a simple, straightforward one-on-one fighting game like Street Fighter 2, but that’s not the case. Garou was released in 1999, meaning it subscribes to the Street Fighter 3 school of design: master the incredibly precise timing of the parries and cancels or be content seeing your opponent’s win quote for the seventeenth time.

The game doesn’t have a training mode: you have to learn the game’s mechanics as the computer is mugging you for your virtual quarters.

Along the same lines is the lack of a proper move list. Granted, the emulator’s menu has a move list for each character, but each combatant only gets a limited amount of space, meaning that isn’t enough space for every move. If you want to know all of a character’s techniques, you’ll need to look up the commands online.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Of course, I’m looking at this from a modern perspective; what were home-ports like back in 1999? Well, while arcade versions usually had better hardware, the home version gave the developers the opportunity to fine-tune the game and add additional content. New characters weren’t uncommon, and it was standard practice to remix/remaster the soundtrack for the home version: Virtua Fighter 2, the Tekken series, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves itself all had superior sounding music in their respective home-console versions.

I haven't played it, so I can't say whether there's an "insert quarter" button in this version.
More fleshed out versions of the game exist.

Maybe I’m taking the term a bit too literally, but the more I think about, the more I think “arcade perfect” is a pretty flimsy accomplishment. I by no means regret buying Garou: Mark of the Wolves, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Arcade Archive series, but no matter how good the games or their emulation is, staying 100% true to the originals can leave a game lacking. Ultimately, what’s perfect for the arcades isn’t perfect for the home experience.

Why Smash Bros. Is Awesome

Two months ago I wrote about why Smash Bros. is stupid. While I stand by what I said, I think it is time to balance out the conversation. There are so many problems with the Smash Bros. series, but there are so many things to love as well. These are just a few reasons to love these games.

  • The Characters. While there are a few characters on everyone’s wishlist that have not made it to a game yet (I’m looking at you, real Geno), Nintendo has done a pretty awesome job bringing out the best fighters from their own games as well as characters from other companies. When they confirmed Sonic in Brawl, I completely lost my mind. The same thing happened again when they showed Mega Man in Smash 4. They even polled the players to ask what characters they wanted to see as DLC, and they listened! Even if you were not familiar with a character when they introduced them (like the Fire Emblem characters), it would be nearly impossible to think of playing these games without them.
  • The uniqueness of each game. Many people complain about Melee being too fast-paced, or Brawl being too janky, but, honestly, I do not think the series would be complete without every single (official) iteration. The original demonstrated that fighting games did not have to be put in a box. Melee showed just how serious a Nintendo fighter could be. Brawl showed how a fighting game’s story mode could be fun and interesting, and gave us the ability to customize it to no end. The 3DS version allowed us to take it on the go (also, one of the top players in our region used his 3DS as a controller on the Wii U version because he was more comfortable with it at the time). The Wii U offering gave us everything we want in a modern fighting game, including online play, balancing patches, and worthwhile DLC.
  • Custom combos. Any fighting game worth its salt has some sort of combo system; one attack leads into another to create a devastating string of hits. Smash Bros is like that, but there isn’t a set system. Any combo has to be “discovered”, and not only that, but almost all of them are situational and can be performed at certain damage percentages. This means that you have to be creative as time progresses; you cannot just use the same combo over and over without any chance of dropping it. Smash Bros. is exciting, dynamic, and will never be formulaic because of this custom combo system.
  • Killing people with Luigi’s down taunt. Hahahaha… Hahaha… HAHAHA! That is great.
  • Low tier heroes. Now, I know that this is nothing new to the fighting game scene, but there is always something exciting about seeing a player do well who plays a character you do not see played often, or a character often considered “bad”. Watching someone tear through the bracket with Ganondorf or seeing Nairo switch to Bowser for certain matchups gets everyone hype! One of my all time favorite memories was a thrown-together tournament in the Brawl days at my college. I made it to grand finals with Ike, and I was up against one of the top players in the region, playing Peach. I ended up winning the match, using my low-tier character. Years later, Scott had the chance to talk with him, and he still recalled the event, mentioning I had a great Ike. That victory meant so much to me, not just for who my opponent was, but for the obstacle I overcame as someone who played a “bad” character.
  • Jank. Yes, I know this was on my list of things that made Smash Bros. stupid, but who does not love to see a nice jank compilation? Things happen in Smash Bros. that would never happen in other fighting games, simply because of the variables involved. A hitbox that extends far past what it should? OK. Characters that randomly start glowing? Sure! Samus’s Up-B killing at 15% or less? Why not?! Part of the fun of Smash Bros. is wondering what unpredictable thing you’re going to see next…. and then raging about it.
  • The Subspace Emissary. I already mentioned this, but, did you know that Brawl had a story mode? It was even pretty good! In fact, probably the most common complaint I hear about Smash 4’s transition from Brawl is that it did not carry over a story mode. It felt like they put time and effort into the stages and the bosses, and might have made a complete game by itself (maybe at a discounted price). I have not played it in a long time, but I can still remember specific parts of the story and how epic the scale of it was.
  • D1. Who does not like D1? No one, that’s who. (He’s the guy that we get the DEEEESSSSSTTTRRRRRRUCTION meme from. If you’ve never heard of it, well, I can’t help you!)
  • A million ways to play. When I play Smash Bros. I typically play it one of two ways: tournament rules singles and tournament rules doubles. I enjoy that. But even if I did not, I would never run out of ways to play Smash Bros.! Break the targets, arcade mode, all items on, custom stages, events, eight players, amiibo, weird token-pushy-offy game, story, board the platforms, Crazy Orders (or whatever it is called), coins, All-Star, multi-man, handicaps, three-on-one, metal+stamina… the list goes on! You could play the different Smash modes forever and never see it all. There are things to collect, secrets to unlock, and styles to invent. Whatever way you play games, the Smash Bros. series has something to offer you.

There are so many things to love about the Smash Bros. series that I could never list them in a readable blog. Share in the comments below what you love about Smash Bros.

Smash Bros. Debate: Casual Vs. Competitive

There’s really only one way to determine the winner of this episode… SETTLE IT IN SMASH!

#564 – Crew member Glen makes his Two Button Crew Show debut! You’ve seen him in the comments, you’ve read his blogs, but today here’s here to make a case for casual Super Smash Bros. He’s got an uphill battle to fight in this debate as both Simeon and Scott are seasoned competitive players, and you know what that means… no items, no wonky stages, nothing like that. But Glen says that that goes against the spirit of the game. What do you think? Stick around for the argument and vote in the poll that will pop up at the end.

Footage credit: Kampfellas Smasha

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

ARMS Showdown – Single Joy-Con Controls!

Someone’s flexing…

#534 – ARMS is all the rage! Are you guys playing ARMS? Are you ARMed? We are so AMPed on ARMS! This is the first of many clashes between Simeon and Scott… who are you betting on?

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

What are the Coolest Arcade Sticks?

The coolest arcade stick is the arcade stick that you have with you.

#516 – Arcade sticks, fight sticks – whatever you call them, they’re a surefire way to up your game and strike fear in your opponents’ hearts. But they’re ALSO a great way to express your artistic creativity, and that’s what many creative gamers have chosen to do! In this episode, we’re showing off the handiwork of some very talented folks who have turned their fight sticks into pieces of art!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0