Friday, November 2, 2012

In Defense Of...The Most Underrated Fighting Series in History: Street Fighter EX


One of the most important things in due honesty I've ever written. I still read this article and the comments that accompany it and it reminds me that even though I don't agree with where the #FGC is and where it may be going that I believe somewhere deep that we can have all the success without losing what makes this community what it is and has always been. I still stand by everything you're about to read and I'm ready to defend it too. Street Fighter EX regardless of all that surrounds it deserves all the praise due for being innovative and Arika for being visionaries in making the attempt to do something new with the established norm. And on both fronts I can relate personally. So get those minds open and prepared to have them blown smooth off. Welcome to In Defense Of...The Most Underrated Fighting Series in History: Street Fighter EX!

I know when I said what I said about this game and the comparison to Street Fighter 4 that at some point I had to explain myself. But before I build my defenses for the oncoming storm maybe I should touch on something else. I think very few people understand the power of their words and the effect that it has on the things and those they touch. Because a large part of the community have taken their shots at EX and all that gets really said which I can condense into a statement is simply, "I don't quite understand EX and what it brings to the table." Whether that happens to be about the aesthetic values, gameplay or just plain this isn't the Street Fighter I know is just very unwarranted. The bad part about it is most of what is said is hive mind nonsense. This is all based on what I hear people say. And on that I have to assume that the most of the people saying these things have either only played the game in a passing fancy or their only experience is a YouTube video or 2 which does EX no justice at all. The thing that's crazy is the same things that EX did which people try to discredit it for SF4 does now in all its glory. However, I guess back in 1996 people weren't as open to a shift from Street Fighter's established norm. Just as right now that people aren't more open to something that isn't the force fed gospel from on high as it were. Furthermore, after EX dropped in '96 1997 would bring Street Fighter 3: New Generation and from what I've heard it kind of got a similar reception for similar reasons. But over two more iterations found its stride with 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike. So the SF3 series over time got into the hearts of people and found a place there. EX didn't get so lucky. The problem with this now is with the influx of new people introducing themselves to fighting games will only hear the negative on the subject because that voice happens to overpower the truth that EX is a wonderful game and is very, very, very eerily like the game that's responsible for the 2nd Coming in Street Fighter 4. And it is for that one reason that everyone introducing themselves to fighters now need to hear both sides of the story and those who've have been around for a while need to understand why the community as a whole needs to become a lot more open minded about these things. Because there are plenty of fighters that are special on their own merits that nobody sees or hears about because the same old thing is stuffed down everyone's throat. It's important that we learn what came first so that we can truly appreciate where we are now. Even though fighting games before SF4 wasn't as a barren wasteland as some like to portray that time to be, its just now that the community is getting the spotlight that it is truly worthy of. But my job is make sure that our storied history isn't lost to time. I think I've made my point here so let us dive right on in.

In 1996 the arcades were still at a high point everywhere and after the success of Virtua Fighter more fighters were taking the plunge into the 3rd Dimension in one way or another and of course the game that made the fighter what it was at that point did the same with Street Fighter EX. Now at this point I can't really speak on what happened here because I wasn't there but based on what the history tells us that it wasn't received too well by anybody. And it was for many of the reasons I listed earlier. But it begs the question of why? As far as I've experienced Street Fighter EX functions like Street Fighter in every way that I know of. From the classic motions to mind games and everything in between it all exists here. So what could be the hang up? I have to assume based on the evidence that a lot of it came from preconceived notions that because it was in 3D that it would lose itself in the transition. This experiment with Street Fighter in the 3rd Dimension however would actually happen years later with Capcom Fighting All-Stars. However, a very hive mind atmosphere combined with a close-minded attitude and a very cold reception all around was a major reason that never came to fruition. So it ended up that the lot of us never got to experience that at all. But if the world doesn't end on 12/21 then at some point Tekken X Street Fighter is supposed to drop and that'll be the series first real foray into the 3rd Dimension as a fighter if it proves to be similar to Tekken Tag 2 like the evidence points to. Tekken X Street Fighter will prove to be a true litmus test into "the question." Can Street Fighter function in the 3rd Dimension and not lose what makes Street Fighter, Street Fighter? However, the theory fighter isn't what you're here for either. So let us dive a bit deeper.

Street Fighter EX versus Street Fighter 4. How can I say this nicely. Dimps and Ono are SWAGGA JACKIN LEGENDS!! I do say that in jest but let me explain. You know those hard ass combos in Trial Mode. EX did that first and was a lot more original in execution. Not only were there combos but you also had to use moves in inventive ways to complete missions as well. It gave the game an extra layer of depth if you wanted to explore it as well. And some of the Expert Missions make some of 4's harder Trial Missions look like throwing a Hadoken. Let that marinate in your mind for a moment. Now think about that Focus Attack that you've grown so fond of and love so much. Know what they called that back in '96...THE GUARD BLOW!! The Guard Blow went through a lot of changes as the series went on but a lot of what it did is found in the Focus Attack now. In EX1, the Guard Blow cost 1 Meter and if it connected it put your opponent into an instant stun state. Starting to sound a bit familiar right? Now here's where things start to really come full circle. EX2 introduced an additional function for the Guard Blow called the Cancel Blow. Now the Cancel Blow worked similar to a basic Focus Attack Cancel except you're limited to canceling Special or Super Moves instead of anything like you would in that instance. The only time you can stun your opponent is when they're guarding your super or special. In any other situation your opponent is knocked down. EX3 however ditched this whole thing in exchange for the Surprise Blow. Surprise Blows only function the same as a Guard Blow only when hitting a crouching opponent. Other than that it works just like a normal attack but the reason that's the case is because of a new gameplay system in EX3 called the Momentary Combo. Momentary Combos allow you to transition from one special move to another just like if you could cancel one special into another. The activation for it is very similar to a Just Frame in which there's a certain time in which you can perform them. The cool thing about Momentary Combos are they don't cost meter but they do take a bit of time to learn the right timing to do them but it pays off in longer combos and are a must in high level play. In contrast though EX wasn't short of borrowing a feature or 2 from its brothers. EX2 introduced the Extra Cancel or Excel as it is more known by. It functions much the same as the Custom Combo from Alpha 2 & 3 except you can't be hit out of it. And like EX3's Momentary Combo is a must in your repertoire in high level play. EX3 also introduced a Tag System to the mix from the VS Series and that brought a whole new depth to combat with the insanity of Tag Combos and the Critical Parade. The Critical Parade is just like the Duo Team Attack from MvC1. And it's just as crazy in combat here as it was there. And it bears repeating that knowing the inner workings of how Tag System functions in EX3 are very important to high level play in that game as well. There are some advanced uses to the gameplay systems I talked about but I'll leave those to you to discover on your own. Now that I've explained that away let me change the way you think about things.

Now Street Fighter 4 is known for something called an...Ultra Combo. Which is one of the new gameplay elements found in fighters now to give people a chance to come back and win a match. You now might be asking how this figures into EX. In EX2 a move was introduced called the Meteo Combo. It's fancy talk for a Level 3. A really fancy Level 3. Whether you happen to knock your opponent into the Moon and back down to Earth. Or if you're wanting to shoot your opponent with a giant laser beam then we got that and everything in between. The point is that the flash of the Ultra Combo has been done. And it was done here first. But what about the comeback mechanic? That is something that EX can't take credit for. Now the comeback mechanic in some form as early as I can remember in a gauge form as a true parallel in my view was done by Power Instinct 2's Stress Meter. In PI2, the Stress Meter filled up when you got hit or when your attack was blocked. Hence why it was called a Stress Meter. Get it? However when I think about it the Stress Meter may be a parody of Samurai Shodown's POW Meter. As most things in the PI series happen to be parodies of the fighting game genre itself. The major difference between the two being you had a limited chance to act when you were in POW Mode but once you earned a full Stress bar it was yours until you invoked it. And even when I think about that I have to come to the originator of the "comeback mechanic" in the form of the Desperation Move in Art of Fighting 1. This was improved upon even further in Fatal Fury 2. *Insert Implied Sarcasm Here* SNK being the originator of something? Who would've thought. *End Sarcasm Here* But the comeback mechanic was around way before that. It's been around since...FOREVER!!!! Not in the form of a gauge. But inside the player who has the opportunity to make the comeback. And trust me if you're reading this that you've seen a comeback in some form at some point in your life no matter where it was you saw it. But it does beg the question of why emphasize that part of the fight? Now it's been said repeatedly that the comeback mechanics are built in to give someone who's down in a fight a chance to win. But who are they really for though? Personally I've gotten to the point where I understand the game for exactly what it is. Fighters now are made to make sure that everybody has a chance to win. Which secretly means everybody has a chance to spend money on said product. Even I understand that while the casual audience keeps the money flowing that the hardcore keep the game alive. And when you understand it like that it becomes a very symbiotic relationship. And it's how I've learned to accept things. I may not 100% agree with it but I do accept it. And I really think that's where we all need to get to so that as a whole we can be better.

To be honest, now of days when I think about Street Fighter 4 I think about that episode of South Park where Professor Chaos is trying to think of a new plan and General Disarray keeps telling him that "The Simpsons Did It." And all I've said proves that. That however doesn't make SF4 a great game or take away what it's done for the community. However, EX deserves to be showered with the praise and love that it is worthy of for pioneering what is a part of the everyday norm now. It's this reason that in my eyes makes Street Fighter EX the better of the two. What people enjoy about 4 now is what I and many others have loved about EX for years. EX is a deep fighter with so much explored by those who decided to give it a chance and with so much more potential if more do the same. I really hope you didn't show up to see me tear Street Fighter 4 a new one because I more than anyone is ecstatic that we have all these games to play now because of it. It will never mean that we should throw our history to the wayside because what fighting games have become because of SF4's influence. Or refuse to learn and respect the history of what fighting games were before SF4 because the games themselves are now ever changing what they are and mean. Now more than ever the adage rings true that "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it." In this case it means that appreciation of what the past was all about from Heavyweight and Karate Champ. The boom of Street Fighter 2. The release of Virtua Fighter. And yeah, even "The Dark Years." To where we are now with the fighter being in a well deserved high demand. And with true understanding of all those events that the fighting game will continue to have a prosperous future right now and for a long time to come.

And there you have it. I hope you've taken something from what you've read and may now be a lot more open to give the EX series a shot. It's worth the investment in doing so. Because trying to make EX converts isn't the aim. It's all about making sure we appreciate our history so we don't go back to "The Dark Years." The whole point will always be to get you guys to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. And TRY is the key word. Whether you love it, hate it or whatever after the fact. The point is you gave it a try. And all I can do is commend your efforts because you had your mind open enough to do that. And the more I challenge the community I love to step outside of what you've come to accept as the status quo the stronger we'll ultimately be. So get out there and try it. Do something new and open yourself to new experiences. It's the only way you'll grow as a player no matter what your ultimate aim happens to be.

-Triple Da God

And when you do try, please let me know what it was like. Because I'm curious how the world after SF4 takes to EX. This will be an interesting experiment to say the least. Good luck. You'll need it.

2 comments:

  1. yo mad respect for you I love the Street Fighter EX series. So underrated.

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  2. I was always a big fan of the EX series .. i found them having the best music, art direction and game-play. These games can easily get you more excited that the ones that we are playing currently.
    I wish one day they will do a remake or bring it back somehow.

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