An Analysis of Why Fighting Games are Fun to Watch

Posted on July 26, 2012 - 3:30pm by Agatio


  Title says it all really. I've given up trying to actually say something here a while ago, so here's a shameless plug to my remix of Ice Mountain Zone Act 1 from Sonic Advance:

Shameless promotion FTW!!!

oh, and btw UMvC3 = Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. SSFIV is Super street fighter 4. Dont feel like explaining any others. Ask me if you dont understand any other terms.

  Hey Screwattack!  Finally back and recovering from a severe addiction to Realm of the Mad God (flash MMORPG).   Most of you probably dont really know me, but i was fairly active in V4, not so much in V5.  Anyway enough with the  introduction/re-introduction, time to get down to buisness.  As most of us should know, EVO just happened.  As a fighting game fan, i really enjoyed watching this.  I've actually been keeping up with the professional UMvC3 for a long time, and this got me thinking.  What is it that makes professional level fighting games so fun to watch?  So let the Analysis commence!  Note: There will be several video clip examples.  Youtube will not let me embed at a specific time, so i'll post the time to go to.


1. The players

If you watch the professional scene for a good length of time, there are certain players that you become fans of similar to how most people have a favorite sports team.  Not really much more i can say about that, so i'll go into my examples.  (Appologies if this turns into fanboy worship.)  My personal two favorites are Combofiend and Marlinpie.  Combofiend was a fan favorite back in the original MvC3  but fell off the radar a bit in UMvC3 because he couldn't find a team that really suited him.  Marlinpie on the other hand, is not too good at the game.  He's learning, but he still has a lack of patience, and little knowledge on how to counter a lot of tactics.  But he's become one of the top players because he is one of, if not the most technical player in the buisness.  To quote Combofiend "That dude's a combo artist"  He's actually known for having a "Swag Dr. Doom" and this is most certainly true.  For example:

Go to 2:38.  This is one of the coolest Doom TAC (team arial combo) exchanges i've ever seen, and he preformed this no problem for the first time, in a tournament (very difficult with nerves).  He single handedly pioneered the use of Doom's air jabs in combo, and the Marlinpie Elevator special is now a staple for advanced Doom players. I was originally just going to post a link, but i found a slowed down video and it's kind of hilarious so.... WATCH IT!

Just to give you an idea, here's the original clip:

Although he does it more than most, there's a lot of players who are just plain fun to watch.   Reason 1.  The players. 'nuff said.

 2. The commentators

In my opinion, a commentator can make or break whether a match is entertaining or not.  There's many examples of bad commentators making a match boring, and just as many making a good match interesting.  But good commentary can make an otherwise boring match interesting.   A good example of this is the Curleh Mustache 2 grand finals with Marlinpie vs ChrisG.  (here's the clip if you want to watch:  ChrisG was doing his standard Morrigan Bullet Hell spam which is normally very boring (and somewhat painful) to watch.  But the  two commentators end up betting on who will win, and it become's hilarious as each is openly one sided.  

As far as good commentators, i can only speak to the Marvel side, so i appologize to any SSFIV people who feel left out.  The general consensus for best commentator (to the point he has actually earned the nickname "Mr. Marvel") is Yipes.  In fact, he's doing commentary for every clip i've posted so far.  Of the many people Yipes has done commentary with, easily the best are with either Chris Matrix (the two did that Marlinpie-ChrisG game for example) or with Combofiend (which was a recent pleasent surprise to discover when they did Curleh Mustache 4).  There is one other duo who i belive deserve mention: Mike Ross and Gootecks.  The pair have an unbelievable chemistry and although they've only commented on matches a couple times, thoser were some of my favorite matches ever.  The chemistry of these two is so good it actually spawned a whole web series of just playing SSFIV (and eventually other games) online.

3. The game itself

A big part of why we enjoy watching these games played at a professional level is we're fans of the game itself, and seeing other far more advanced players gives us both something to strive toward as well as an informative lesson about what certain characters can do.  The fact we enjoy seeing other people play stems from our own love of the game.

But aside from the love of the game, there's the actual playing of the game at it's highest level that is in and of itself entertaining.  You get to watch, with no pressure on you, as you see players try to get into each other's heads.  You get to see as combo's go from people mashing buttons to becomin almost an art form with one move smoothly translating into another and getting set-ups and resets that you didn't even know were possible and making it look easy.  Professional fighting games at their highest level are in effect a form of art.

The hype

Arguably the greatest yet least understood aspect of what makes watching fighting games fun is the hype.  There is no official word definition of hype, so i have sought a video clip that can properly convey exactly what hype is.  A lot of people are probably expecting the Daigo Vs Justin Wong fight in EVO 04, also known by it's nickname: "The most famous minute in fighting game history."  Although if you do have a spare minute, go read this as it's really interesting and kind of get's my point across of fighting games being an art form:

My definition of hype is actually a clip i found about 2 months ago by accident.  This is the last big high-stakes MvC2 money match with Clockwork vs Neo.  In all the other clips i've pointed to about 10 seconds and said "watch this"  10 seconds does not addequately get across what hype really is.  Find a day you can set aside an hour and a half and watch the entire thing.  You won't regret it.  



Thanks for reading this guys.  I hope you enjoyed it!    Here's an insperational video to send you off.  I'll make a Dan out of you!


P.S. Did you guys know there's a Mario Party After Dark facebook group?  Well there is!  Go join:

-edit- after reading it again i dont think this is as good as it sounded in my head (with the possible exception of some of part 3).  Opinions?

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