In most games, input can be a make-or-break factor. Sluggish movement, unintuitive UI, and strange camera controls can all contribute to a low review score. Anyone remember Warcraft 1? You couldn’t even select multiple units without holding down the shift key. The genre was new, and essentially, nobody knew any better. No RTS game has made that mistake since the mid-90’s. What seems odd to me is that in the fighting game community, difficult or frustrating controls seem to be embraced.
I’m a PC gamer, so I don’t play a whole lot of fighting games. Capcom boldly released Street Fighter IV for the PC, so I decided to pick it up and see what enjoyment I could garner out of it. It’s a really fun game with tremendous replay value, provided you’re willing to play online.
Certain moves in the game require difficult-to-pull-off inputs. The character Gen’s most important combo requires the player to press a punch button 5 times within 3 frames of animation (or roughly .12 seconds). There’s even a tutorial at Shoryuken.com on how to do this maneuver which suggests the use of a pool glove so that you can slide your fingers back and forth across the punch buttons on an arcade stick to pull this off. I actually injured my wrist attempting to do this (I woke up the next day after an intense “training session,” and I could barely move my wrist without a jolt of pain. Took a week to recover). Using the “turbo” feature included on many game controllers will get you branded a cheater (it’s an unfair advantage, of course).
I’m not sure what the appeal of this is. If I made a fighting game, I’d make sure all attacks could be easily executed. I enjoy the strategy and mindgames of a match — not measuring up the speed at which I can move my fingers. Outside of rhythm games, purposefully complex controls only add to frustration. At tournament-level play, everyone has close enough to 100% execution that it’s no longer a factor. It’s a gameplay mechanic that, in my view, simply makes it more frustrating to be a low-to-mid level player.
But don’t tell anyone I said this, or they’ll call me a noob.