VGIYS #8: Capcom’s Next Fighter
It's not what you expect, but by the time I'm done explaining, it'll be something you hope for...I hope.
Recently, Capcom announced that 2014 is going to be a big year for the company. One of these announcements was that Capcom was going to “reaffirm its presence in the fighting game genre”. Many took this to mean that a brand new fighting game will be released alongside Ultra Street Fighter IV and started to go crazy with their guesses on what it might be. Most predicted it to be a new installment in Darkstalkers, finally giving the franchise a proper resurrection, while others hoped it would be Street Fighter Alpha IV, mostly just so that they can perhaps have the chance to play as Karin once again. Well for those hoping the new game is Darkstalkers, Power Stone 3, Rival Schools 3, or even Street Fighter V Hyper Combo Edition v.2017, to put it bluntly, YOU ARE ALL WRONG! For you see, if this assumption proves to be true, there’s only one logical project that Capcom would/should be working on:
Aw yeah that’s right! Saturday Night Slam Masters, the old series of wrestling games from back in the 90’s. For those of you who didn’t even know these games existed, allow me to explain. Saturday Night Slam Masters is a 1993 wrestling-arcade game made by Capcom with a three-button scheme: Attack, Grab, Jump. You know what, how about I just show you what it’s about:
The game would get a sequel the next year, but afterwards the wrestling game practically disappeared from relevance. In short, this series deserves some sort of comeback in the modern era, and I’m here to explain why this decision makes sense, even if I have to prove it to Capcom itself!
The Potential Roster is Bigger than Ever!
Let’s start off with the (hopefully) obvious. The Slam Masters (or Muscle Bomber- The Body Explosion in Japan) series made its grand debut for 16-bit consoles in 1993, with a sequel following it the year after. Now can you try to name the characters that were featured in those games..without searching them on Google?
We can stop trying. I doubt most of you will make any progress. I think even those who played the games might have some trouble recalling the cast. However, I don’t really blame you. The latest games from that side of Capcom to come out were Street Fighter II and Final Fight. Thanks to the popularity of Final Fight, Haggar became a recognizable character almost instantly, but the rest of the wrestlers, well, I’m not saying they had the charisma and ring presence of Snitsky or Raja Lion, but they certainly weren’t as memorable of characters as the likes of Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, or even E.Honda (no offense, but who honestly thought E. Honda was their favorite SFII character back in 1993? Very few). But the Street Fighter/Final Fight universe has expanded tenfold since then, with a crap ton of games in between the gap. And each iteration of Street Fighter guaranteed at least one grappler in the game, leaving the designers with plenty more characters to add to the CWA. Alex, Poison and Hugo from Street Fighter III can get back into the ring. Birdie, from Street Fighter Alpha, can go back to tag-teaming with Titanic Tim. Rainbow Mika, a fan-favorite of gamers (like me) for multiple reasons, can finally join the fray with her fighting spirit. Even Hakan and El Fuerte from Street Fighter IV can join the fray. Yeah, El Fuerte may be voted as the third most hated character in his respective series, but he’s a more fleshed out luchador character-wise than El Stingray, who doesn’t even have a backstory other than “I’m a luchador, let’s wrestle.” Speaking of Stingray, even the original characters can come back, with updates to their character of course. I admit, as the main antagonist, Scorpion fit the bill quite nicely as the vicious silent masked assassin. He was like the Akuma of the wrestling ring, and perhaps a makeover of his character would make him even more menacing of an opponent. The roster will be so magnificent, that even Darun Mister will break free from his licensing contract with Arika in order to fulfill his dream of wrestling with the best in the world!
There’s also the inclusion of one person in particular that just about the entire world is anticipating to see back in the ring, bringing me to my next topic:
The Intense Rivalries!
Oh ho! You thought I forgot about the Red Cyclone? Such foolishness you speak of, foolishness that would be punishable via handicap steel cage match with bears. For over a quarter of a century now, these two grappling legends have talked smack about each other on the mic, stole/”borrowed” each other’s signature moves, swapped undergarments with each other on a regular basis, and yet the only thing that resembles any sort of physical contact between the two out there is a bunch of saucy fan-fiction and an episode of ScrewAttack’s DEATHBATTLE.
Now like most things on the internet, some people are satisfied with that video’s results, but the other half range from being unhappy to downright pissed that their champion of choice didn’t gain the victory. So why not give those people the opportunity to ignore reality and play out their own version of this slobberknocker of a fight? I mean who needs science to simulate and display only one result, when players can have a blast coming up with different endings each time? As for their movesets, yes their arsenal of grapples and holds are near identical to each other, with only a few differences in between them, but I doubt that fans will care much about this anyway and just be excited to play as the two in the same game. It’s not like it’s stopped Capcom before <cough *shotos* cough>.
The worldwide feud between Zangief and Mike Haggar isn’t the only rivalry that can take place in the squared circle of Slam Masters 3. Alex and Hugo still have beef with each other to settle a la Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. El Fuerte can finally gain the chance to springboard off the ropes against his longtime idol, R. Mika, and Biff and Gunloc still need to decide who the better apprentice of Haggar is. All this and more can even be wrapped up into a single storyline:
Remember this particular ending from Street Fighter III: Third Strike?
That essentially comes true, to an extent. The H.W.A, founded and sponsored by the Mad Gear Gang, have invaded the CWA, NWO-style, with the goal of not just being the king of the ring, but king of the entire world! Mike Haggar becomes aware of this news and decides to put his years of public service on hold, put down the paperwork and string up his old wrestling boots, to return to the CWA and become champion to thwart the Mad Gear’s plans once again. Many new faces join the wrestling promotion as well to either assist in Haggar’s mission, or simply to rise to the championship themselves. Beware though, for it seems like the Mad Gear gang may not be the same group of street-hardened thugs they used to be. There may be another, more powerful force behind the H.W.A, who may be pulling the strings of this entire ordeal.
This story’s campy, goofy, and is just downright no threat to canon, but it’s this kind of silly writing that makes pro wrestling so magical in the first place. It’s this kind of magic that will make Saturday Night Slam Masters so fun to play.
That’s Great, But How Will It Play?
So we have the game’s story and its cast of characters. What’s left is the other primary component of a video game: The gameplay. This is where I have to admit something: As I was getting all giddy about the prospect of this game, thinking of the story behind it and all the cool potential little tidbits and Easter eggs it could include, I failed to think that much about how this game would be played. Oops. ^__^”
It’s time to make up for that with some more brainstorming.
While it would be nice if this wrestling game could be deep, balanced, and competitive enough for it to be deemed “tournament-legal”, the main goal of this game is to serve as a party game for 2-4 (or even 6) players; more focused on the fun and insanity this game can provide more than how strategic and innovative the combat mechanics could be. The other problem was finding out how to transfer the gameplay of the original Slam Masters into the new generation of fighting games. The first thing that came to mind, believe it or not, was to turn it into something like the mobile game WWE Wrestlefest.
The idea was a botch anyway because no matter how hard I tried to imagine it, I just couldn’t see it in a way that would fit Capcom’s desired standards graphically while using this kind of gameplay. It would’ve turned out cheap any way I looked at it, and the last thing I want is another Mega Man Xover hitting store shelves.
So I scratched the idea of a semi-top view, side-action fighter altogether. Maybe the traditions of Slam Masters could be used in another way. The sequel, Ring of Destruction uses a more traditional 2D view of the fight, but this suggestion was scrapped even faster than the Wrestlefest idea. Capcom has already released Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street x Tekken to modern consoles, and along with the plethora of other 2-2.5D-fighting games out there in the market, I think the world could take break from another traditional fighter. That’s when it hit me; right as I was glancing over SFxT’s title logo. I started to veer away from the Street Fighter side and stared more vigorously at the Tekken logo on the right. Perhaps it was the milk and cookies hitting me, overdosing me with dopamine, but that’s when one of the crazy, forbidden taboo thoughts concerning video games came into my brain:
…Maybe Capcom should make another 3D-fighting game.
Maybe it was time again for Capcom to give 3D brawls another shot and become competition for games like Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and Soul Calibur. I mean the last time the company tried to do this was 16 years ago, in an attempt to keep up with the latest gaming trend. The next attempt(s) couldn’t be as mediocre as the Street Fighter EX series, could it? Besides, there was also the near-perfect style of gameplay to take inspiration from. The next installment of Saturday Night Slam Masters could take great inspiration from JoJo’s Bizarre Advenure All Star Battle
If there’s anything that can be taken from JoJo All-Stars’ gameplay, it’s that Slam Masters 3 should be just as much of a theatric, muscle-bound brawl as that. The arenas would be smaller in Slam Masters 3, but without the abundance of projectile attacks to worry about, the game would be a close-combat based jamboree of a good time. Another difference would be in the mechanics of close quarters combat, implementing more wrestling into it, and thus more grabs. The best I can think of it is the game being a 6-button clash, two buttons for light & heavy punch, two buttons for light & heavy kick, one button for grappling, and the last one reserved for defensive maneuvers such as reversing grabs and even parrying attacks, with the directional sticks being used to vary up the attacks via various standard fighting-game motions. The other difference would be the victory conditions: the only way to win the match is either pin or submission. There would be other victory conditions players can set as well in the match settings, such as standard KO, being able to win only by connecting with your finishing maneuver(s) etc.
Other modes would exist such as tag-team and battle royal modes that will cater for 4-6 player fun as well. In the end, this is what I thought to be the best way to play the game, and if this project does come into reality, I hope that it’s handled properly so that consumers could enjoy it.
So that’s my pitch for Saturday Night Slam Masters 3. The game can be released for consoles, PC, and even mobile devices since Capcom seems to want to put more attention into that department these days, but no matter what platform it’s on, it should be a blast to play as you suplex and piledrive your peers to victory. The idea is laid out for the taking Capcom, so I hope you take it and take good care of it if you actually do.
..and if you don’t….then PLEASE for the love of all that’s merry at least put R. Mika into another game already!
SHOOTING PEACH FOR THE GOLD!
Comment Question: So what do you think of this, g1s? Do you think this is a good idea, or should the rumor be reserved for another title? Do you even think Capcom is planning a brand-new fighting game at all? Should they?