If you were to consider the various kinds of genres in the world of video games, which one would you say would be the most niche of them all? You could argue various things like Visual Novels, Flight Simulators, or Roguelites. However, if we were taking the technicality and mechanics into consideration, the one that stands out in my humble opinion is the fighting game. Whether you are someone who enjoys watching fighting games tournaments like Tekken, the latest anime to get its very own fighting game, or even the recently released Street Fighter 6, fighting games always strike that sweet spot of enjoyment for those who play or watch them.

While watching fighting games are a delight, playing them can be a touch more complicated. How many buttons do you use? What kind of mechanics does the game use that you need to be aware of? Do you know the fundamental of Footsies? What about the cross-ups or the 50/50s? And why do people say “Happy Birthday?” So many fun little tidbits to keep tabs on and this is just scratching the surface. And to make matters worse, if a game feels too overwhelming, it can deter a player from continuing and move on to something else. How are you going to keep their attention to keep playing?

In the case of Street Fighter 6, they could have very well cracked the code.

How To Grow Your Fighting Game

So before we talk about what Street Fighter 6 did to win over the casual audience, we need to talk about the key question that goes into the release of a new fighting game: How to grow your audience? While my knowledge on the subject is lacking, there are plenty of influencers who did voice their concerns on this and just how important it is for a game to have a strong launch. You might be asking, “Why does the launch matter?” The answer is simple: The launch of a fighting game is usually the time when there will be the most amount of players playing your game.

After the launch, if players want to stick around for things like “upcoming new fighters,” they will be sure to do so. Otherwise, they will move on to the next game and not look back. This can be very important too since what casual players don’t realize is that they are the target audience the developers want. Yeah, you got your hardcore players who want in on the latest installment, but if you want a game to grow, the casual audience needs to stick around and toss money their way to help the game throughout its lifespan. But if the casual audience feels the intimidation of learning a new fighting game, they won’t stick around for long.

So as a Fighting Game Developer, the question becomes: How do we keep the casual audience invested? The answer that Capcom came to was simple: Make the controls more assessable.

Modern Controls

For those of you who are unaware of the control scheme of Street Fighter 6, it is fairly straightforward. You have six buttons that are designated as light/medium/heavy for punches and kicks. There are also commands for things like throws and the new commands introduced into Street Fighter 6 like Drive Parry and Drive Impact. As someone who may already be familiar with this control scheme, Capcom calls this “Classic” for their audience who have been with them for 25 years.

Source: Supercombo.gg

So let’s say you are someone who wants to play Street Fighter, but what I just said makes no sense whatsoever. You’re probably like someone in an infomercial shrugging to yourself saying, “There’s got to be a better way!” Well, say hello to Modern Controls and how the complex inputs of fighting games suddenly get simplified for the casual player on the go.

Rather than combining buttons, they are now regulated to a simple button press. too many punches and kicks? Well, now we have one button that covers light, medium, and heavy. Waggling the control stick to do special moves difficult? just hold a direction and press the special move (SP) and you are firing off moves without even trying. And do you want to do combos without trying? Hold down assist and the game will help out with an assisted combo.

Source: Supercombo.gg

The Progression from Modern to Classic

Alright, so say you spent some time learning the Modern controls and now you are having yourself a good time. Don’t you want to do… more? Certainly. While Modern Controls do help simplify things for the more casual player, it was not meant to be the replacement for Classic Controls. On the contrary, it is more of a “Bridging” between the two. You can certainly use Modern Controls all the time if you want, but if we were to compare the two, Modern Controls are still limiting what you can do. Yes, you can still do the hard inputs much easier, but you lack control over what moves you do.

Remember earlier when talking about the six buttons and the various levels of punches and kicks? Modern controls may pick the viable moves to throw out, but you lack the overall control over doing quick jabs or kicks that reach out further. And special moves especially where you can have some leeway in doing quick attacks or having the more impactful moves come out. This isn’t to say if you play Modern Controls, you lack options, but Classic Control gives you so many more options. Options that would be overwhelming if you chose to toss it all at the casual player all in one go.

And best of all, some of those classic inputs can still be done with modern controls. Almost as if to encourage you to make the migration to Classic Controls when you feel good and ready.

The Genius of World Tour

This brings us to the other aspect of Street Fighter 6 that many have praised: The single-player mode of World Tour. Up to now, Single Player content can be fairly lacking. Nowadays, games like Mortal Kombat did crack the code by having a Cinematic Story Mode where you get to watch a story play out in front of you while allowing the player to partake in fights in between cutscenes. Does it work? Certainly considering how many other companies have tried to copy the formula to various levels of success. And let’s just say Capcom’s recent attempts at a “Fighting Game Story Mode” has left a lot to be desired.

A lot.

So what do you do if perhaps the player might not want to have a story mode? The answer we got for Street Fighter 6 is World Tour which does two ingenious things. The first is to make the playable character… you. You get to make your own character and get to build them from the ground up. Now you have a personal connection to the character who is beating up random people on the streets. But that second thing is to make World Tour a glorified tutorial.

World Tour-torial?

Now obviously Street Fighter 6 has a tutorial mode in the game. When you go into the versus mode, you get a prompt that will walk you through how to play the game, learn how to do various moves and attacks and give you a rundown on the mechanics. And if you want to learn how to use specific characters, you can pick their tutorials, learn how they work, do some combos, and so on. But this is the classic way to learn how to fight. Nothing wrong with the classics (and I would still recommend them). But World Tour takes a fun and different approach to learning how to play.

As your character joins a new company that Street Fighter 6 poster boy Luke works with, he will give you the rundown of both how to play the mode and (for our purpose here), gives you a rundown on how to play the game. After learning how to do some attacks and special moves, he will toss you out into the streets to learn about “Strength” (or in this case, to beat up random people you come across, because that’s how Metro City works).

As you play through the mode, you get to enjoy some fun fights and come across the cast both in Metro City and around the world. And to make things better, when you find a Street Fighter 6 character, you can become their student and adapt their fighting style. You might not have full access to all special moves, but that is why you start using their fighting style to learn. You slowly find out what they can do, use their moves, and over time, they teach you how to use the moves of what they have (and give you a couple of sparring sessions).

Minigames that are teaching you how to fight

So while you are spending your time learning how to fight, enjoying the story mode and beating up thugs wearing boxes on their heads, you might want to do other things to build up some in-game currency. What can you do to pass the time? How about we made some food? However, as you play through the minigames, you start to realize that there is a purpose to everything that you do. Much like Mister Miyagi teaching Daniel the importance of waxing on and waxing off, the minigames are serving a purpose.

While many like to point towards the food-making minigame to teach players how to do inputs, I want to focus on the bottle-smashing minigame, “Ka★Ra★Te.” The important thing about Karate is to get the timing just right while you hold down a direction before pressing the stick in the other direction. If you mess up, the bottles will get smashed and go flying. If you get the timing a bit wrong, the tops get roughed up, but they stay on the table. But if you get it just right, you get a nice clean cut.

Street Fighter 6 teaches charge moves with Karate

So what is so important about this minigame? It is teaching players how to use charge moves. It is not only teaching players how to use them but also the timing of them as well. Usually for some players, they feel like they need to hold it down for ten whole seconds while hoping they don’t get go. But the minigame gives you the time to show that you only need to hold it for a second or so before you can let it rip. Suddenly, you don’t feel like you are wasting your time trying to do Sonic Booms or Flash Kicks without the moves coming out.

Conclusion

The most takeaway we can say about Street Fighter 6 is how one can hope all other fighting games will be taking notes. Not to say every fighting game needs to have an open-world adventure mode that teaches you how to fight, but rather to make the game feel welcome regardless of skill level.

Right now, it isn’t like we’ve seen any cases where pros are getting thrown off their high pedestals by the newcomers using simpler control schemes. Nor do we see situations where players spamming the same headbutt move ten times over aren’t just immediately getting punished for it. However, we could very well see this as a standard from here going forward where Capcom could rock two control schemes to ensure players of any skill can come in and enjoy themselves. To not feel immediately overwhelmed by the veteran players. To finally… Get Good.

Now we can argue one way or another about the ethics of using a simpler control scheme, but again if you are good at Street Fighter 6, Modern or Classic will matter very little. Just hit the streets learn the game, and in no time at all, you might be throwing hands with the best of them.

Are you playing Street Fighter 6 right now? Do you prefer Modern Controls or Classic? And what will the future hold for Fighting Games? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Strangely Awesome for more on fighting games and other things happening in the gaming world.

Street Fighter 6 is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S

Michael Solseth
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