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 Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis

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BigDarsh

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PostSubject: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:34 am

Important: This topic will be updated by adding new post for each chapter for easy read. It will be very much appreciated to not post on this thread before the end of the Analysis to permit futur readers a better reading. Please, don't make me lock this thread between each chapter. Wink

Prologue - A Book about the BTU Medium

BTU and Fighting Games represent a huge part of my life. Playing them (casualy or in tournament), studying them, participating to organise IRL event, handling online community, writing faqs for BTU or tutorials for Fighting games, teaching what I learned to new generation of competitive players, and working a bit with professional reporters. Korea released tons of MMO BTU for more than 6 years, but are affraid to released them in western part of the world, and there is a good reason for that.


It's one of them.

There are misunderstandings about the Brawlers medium in our countries which is not the case of plateformers, shooters, and others action games. I need to write a book. Where to publish that book? DinTheAbary suggested me to publish the final version here, on his board dedicated to Brawlers. And here we are.

Chapter 0: The Modern Brawler

Streets of Rage is one of the most famous and popular 2D beat em up franchise with quite a lot of Fanmade games. This is one of the reason I chose this series as a central thread for my book. Sega took decisions to make the series moves on both in the gameplay and lore clusters. Somes of these decisions splited the fanbase a bit, notably in the 3rd installement which is maybe, the less popular overall. We gonna try to understand Sega's decisions with this analysis and let's start with the begining : the genre.


The very first modern beat em up is Renegade (1986) which is a kind of Battle System Prototype for the very famous Double Dragon (1987). Technos Japan (the developers of these games) created a battle system which allows the player to stun opponent, to knock him down and to lock him into a grapple. Those basic elements are the core of beat em up gameplay. Even modern games such as Devil May Cry 4, Bayonetta, or God of War provide special effects to moves/attacks to help the player to deal with the crowd.


Aside from the new battle sytem, Technos Japan created a moveset to allocate these properties : this is Billy's moveset. In Double Dragon Arcade, the kick stuns and repels projectile, the jump kick and rear attack knocks down, the grapple lock and enable the option to land a flurry of knee and/or a toss to throw the enemy away.

This battle system and this moveset will be refined in Double Dragon II Arcade (1988) which will be one of the main inspiration for Yoshiki Okamoto to develop Final Fight (1989) and his very famous battle system :

  • walk into the opponent to lock him into a grapple without needing to stun him prior.

  • a target combo chain system which triggers more and more devastating moves.

  • a toss which can be used as a projectile.



Final Fight is the most influent beat em up model. Every famous studios will create at least one entry using the Capcom's battle system. Jaleco will make the Rushing Beat series, Irem will make Undercovercops, Hook and Ninja Baseball Batman, Konami will make Batman Returns, Metamorphic Force and Violent Storm, Data East will make Night Slashers, WinkySoft will make the Denjin Makaï series and Sega will make the famous Streets of Rage series.


Don Vecta's custom FF3's layers.

The other thing Final Fight is famous for is its archetype's system (balanced type, fast type, and grappler). Once again most studios will use archetypes. Fighting games still do the same nowdays but modern Brawlers (DMC, God of War etc) take the easy path : "one character with several movesets". It's easier to tell story with one character and you don't break the fanbase when the series moves on. When Tekken tried to evolve gameplay wise, they started to get rid of characters such as Kazuya, to make the lore fits the gameplay (video - game).

When Streets of Rage tried to evolve, they started to get rid of characters such as Adam and Max for the same reason (we'll go in depth with that in this article Wink ). Tekken was forced to bring back Kazuya after T3 (because of the empathy created by the lore toward the audience) and even has to bring back Tekken 3 Jin's moveset in the form of Devil Jin in T5 (because of the empathy created by the gameplay toward the audience).


With the modern beat em up formula, if Dante needs to evolve, he just needs to change his weapons and people woudn't take this evolution as bad as "why the fuck do they get rid of Adam and Max?!!". And here is the whole point of this analysis. Handling gameplay and lore is something very difficult for a game designer. Some people play for the gameplay (but the audiovisual mythology is still the most important interface for them, even if they don't notice it) and some people are more into the lore (but the gameplay is still very important for them, even if they don't notice it).

That was one hell of a big introduction but...


1 picture = 10000 words

See you in my next post !

================================================
Gifs made by myself using Sprites ripped by the Mugen's community.
Other visual sources for futur chapters:
TheFighterGeneration.com / scrollboss.illmosis.net / SoRonline.net


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:30 am

Chapter 1 : Technos Japan's Moral Kombat

Renegade is the western name of Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun, the very first modern beat em up. Not only the developer changed the name, but also the visual mythology. Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun is all about bad guys and gangs rivalry in japanese high schools. This mythology makes no sense for the western audience back in 1986. Characters like Great Teacher Onizuka does'nt exist. As a game developer you're stucked because video game is like mayonese. Mayonese is not "egg + oil". Mayonese is a tasty sauce. Video game is not "visual + gameplay", video game is... you get the idea. So using a visual mythology that nobody knows just make your video game bad. The game in itself can be good, but as a video game, it is just an epic fail. So Technos Japan used illegaly a western mythology which was established by The Warriors movie allowing them to export it in the process.


Kunio (japan) a.k.a Mr. K (Western) is the hero

Renegade is a game where you (the payer) can use a toss as a projectile (like Final Fight will do), so Kunio (the hero) is someone who doesn't hesitate over using his opponent as a fighting tool. This is bad from a moral kombat point of view. The Warriors movie is great to support that mechanics. Renegade is a game where you (the player) can pin your opponent into the ground and then pummel him (like Craig Marduk in Tekken), so Kunio (the hero) is someone who doesn't hesitate over fighting defenseless people. This is bad from a moral kombat point of view.


Should I comment?

As stated previously, the battle system of Renegade has some flaws, (since it is the first), so Yoshikishi Kishimoto changed some mechanics to make Double Dragon. First, he removed the run and running attack because he may have thought it was too powerful (high damage, knock down on hit, great range). Then he removed the wall bounce kick because he changed the level design (Double Dragon is sidescroll while Renegade is free roaming arena). On a sidenote, this is one of Final Fight's flaw, they gave the wall bounce kick to Guy, but forgot to put many walls in the game (fixed in later CPS Games). The last thing he did was removing the pin and pummel mechanics. Maybe because he thought that it was too much affordance to perform, but I have another point of view.

Kunio-Kun games (it's a series) will almost all feature a pin mechanics and/or a stomp mechanics. On the other hand, Double Dragon original series will never. The only Double Dragon games exceptions are not developed by Technos Japan.


Billy & Jimmy's Official Artwork for Atlus/Million's DD Advance.

There are levels of evil. The guy who kills people < the guy who kills his henchman < The guy who rapes girl. I know, it seems weird, but yet, there is an evilness scale meter, and it is very important for the audience (even if they don't notice it). It is the same for fighting mechanics. Ground game/fight mechanics (OTG, stomp, pin etc) cannot be placed in a video game without impacting its mythology.

Billy, the hero of TJ's Double Dragon is a guy who doesn't benefit from a toss projectile mechanics. He does not use his opponent as a fighting tool. Billy does not pin people into the ground to pummel them while they are defenseless, he waits for them to get up before fighting them again. Billy cannot stun Linda and this mechanics alone involves a lot for Billy both in the game cluster and in lore cluster. Billy cannot use his uppercut on Linda (stun required), cannot use his roundhouse kick on Linda (stun required), cannot even lock her into a grapple (stun required) and so cannot use his signature move which is:


Let's foreshadow a bit:
Streets of Rage 1 will try to emulate (loosely) the feeling for Linda by giving an invincible crying stance to Nora but we can't say this is as refined as Technos Japan's work. They can't refined this because they used Final Fight's Battle System (which has no stun mechanics) and so they tried to make up something (micro-wave cooking!).

The 3D Beat em up which managed to reproduce this is God Hand since God Hand used a stun system and stun requirement for specific attacks exactly like Technos Japan used to do. A small selection of God Hand's awesomeness : flurry of knees against fatties, suplex against basic mooks, cobra twist against skinny mooks, and spank against girls!


God Hand's Hero : Gene.

Back to Technos Japan's Moral Kombat:
So Billy is a western guy (great for exporting it!) who learned asian martial arts, who will fight very hard to rescue his beloved sexy woman (panty shot...) even using whip, and metal bat but he nonetheless has some kind of honour. He is a "good guy". Technos Japan, the founder of the genre, not only created the first battle system, but defined the two basic beat em up mythologies : Kunio Kun and Double Dragon. The first one is "evil kombat" (lore + game) and the last one is "moral kombat" (lore + game).



Conclusion:
Ground game/fight mechanics (OTG, stomp, pin etc) cannot be placed in a video game without impacting its mythology. You doubt about that? Just play Tekken and feel the wrath of your casual gamer opponent trashing you for daring beating him up while he's on the ground! Street Fighter removes the hurtbox of your character while he is lying on the ground or waking up from the floor, to force the opponent to not beat him up while he's defenseless. This is Moral Kombat. Tekken is Evil Kombat, strong OTG mechanics, and bad guys all over the place!


Kazuya, Heihachi, Nina, Anna, Bryan, etc, etc...

See you in my next post!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:48 am

Chapter 2: Black or White?
What is important to keep in mind are the released dates. In 1986-1987, BTU's game designers are limited to deliver their speech. They have something like 2 very short cutscenes and a very basic plot. This means all mechanics will be perceived on their basic levels by the audience. Exactly like playing a Fighting game in versus in 2015. All you have (to understand the game designer speech) is the audiovisual lore, the characters, the life gauges and of course: the fighting mechanics. A good way to shade your speech as a game designer is to buy a licence, like Batman. A mythology born in 1944 in comics and relayed by cartoon and movies for more than 50 years! Another way is what we are use to see nowdays. An in-depth plot written by professional writers, with in-depth characters developements, and cutscenes directed by professional workers of the movie entertainement industry.


Beat em up evloved a lot and game designers have more tools to create what I like to call "50 shades of Grey Kombat Mechanics". I'm pretty sure the first stories written were very "black or white stories" (Holy Bible?). Batman Arkham is that kind of 50 shades of grey BTU regarding both plot, audiovisual lore and mechanics. Thanks to all the in-depth context of Batman Arkham series, people understand easily that Batman is neither Jesus nor Satan. To make it short, people understand that the very concept of "evil or moral" is just irrelevant when they play Batman Arkham, both regarding the way he fights, the way he thinks, the way he speaks.


The audiovisual department and the marketing guys seem to agree with me.

Batman is a complex character and Batman Arkham series is a complex video game but is very easy to understand as a game. Kunio and Billy are very basic characters and Technos Japan's products are simple video games (black or white) but are hard to understand as a game : Technos Japan's stun mechanics is not well understood, even by professional game testers.

Konami's Work:
The ground game mechanics evolved a lot thanks to the Konami's work on the beat em up medium (1989-1993). A big parts of their games features ground mechanics and most of the time they used humorous audiovisual lore to not make the player feels bad about using them. God Hand did exactly the same (the stomp animation is humorous). I won't treat Konami's games in-depth because we focus on Streets of Rage which used "serious audiovisual lore" + "Final Fight's battle system" but we will look quickly at the three serious Konami games to foreshadow and flesh out stuff for both Final Fight (next chapters) and Streets of Rage (the rest of the analysis).

Metamorphic Force (Konami 1993):
While characters are in their humans forms, they can't grapple, they can't pummel, they can't use their opponents as a projectile, they can't stomp their opponents. They are stuck with their rear attack, jump kick and target combo. Once turned into beast, the wild kombat mechanics come into play with all that evil stuff (stomping, use opponent as a fighting tool, bite them) plus you gain a very useful dive attack (Konami's BTU trademark move). It's pretty basic, but very meaningful.


Each character have a white mode|black mode ----- Chivalry mode off motherfucker!!

X-Men (Konami 1992):
TMNT Arcade series (1989-1991) doesn't feature ground game (because Turtles are good guys?). Gameplay wise, X-Men is a watered down Konami's TMNT battle system but with an additional ground game mechanics (because X-Men are complex characters, like Batman?). This is the formula they came up with. Storm is a girl with high level of morality in the comics so she has a very slow and unsafe ground attack. This feature forces the player to use it only when it is really necessary which fits perfectly Ororo's personality. On the other hand they give to Wolverine a very fast and effective ground strike because, well, you know Logan's mentality (thanks to the comics).


We all know that it is Capcom's Wolvy's Throw, put your cool face! ^^

Ground Mechanics in SoR?
To be honest, if I had to add ground mechanics in SoR, I would follow that scheme. Give cheap/long range/easy to use and effective ground attacks to "heel characters" (Mr X's machine guns, Elle's whip and some fancy ninjitsu tricks to Rudra and Shiva), very fast but almost useless ground attacks to characters like Adam or Axel (this is what Capcom did to the Chivalrous Heroes of The D&D series), and hard to use/unsafe but powerful ground attacks to character like Max (because he's a good guy but a submission specialist) and Blaze (because she's such a technician! something like the Blue Mary's armbar).


By the way, do you remember that funny stomp animation God Hand used? It is very unsafe, and not very effective. By doing this, Shinji Mikami tells us that Gene is "The Billy Type Character". Western, learned asian martial arts, very slippery, does not use throw against girls, etc, etc. So the funny stomp mechanics is a love letter to Konami's work (humour + ground game) but with an aftereffect/Boomerang effect. Konami cheers us up to use stomp in most of their games because they are not serious (like the Crime Fighters Series) but God Hand is both serious and funny in the same time. Shinji Mikami used visual to tell us to put our coolface, but he used mechanics to tell us that kind of things too.


Assessement:
You can tell a lots of stuff with a game mechanics if you treat video game as "mayonese" and not as a movie or a game. This is why you have to think seriously your mechanics and treat them with as much attention as your cutscenes, layers, sprites and dialogues to make everything (game + lore) support everything (game <=> lore). The BTU is a very interesting genre if you look at it from a video game angle and this analysis will focus on that perspective.

Batman Returns (Konami 1992-1993):
They used Final Fight's battle system and no ground mechanics. Why? They love ground mechanics. Maybe they did this for the same reason they didn't use ground mechanics in their TMNT games but I have another point of view on this.

Final Fight's battle system is what I like to call "very matt grey kombat" (vs 50 shades of grey kombat). You can use your opponent as a fighting tool, you can stab people (which is way more evil than throwing a knife : refer to the slasher movie mythology), you can use your grapple moves on anyone (girl, gay, transexual, dogs or wathever) but you can't beat them while they are on the ground. Yoshiki Okamoto developed both Final Fight (BTU) and Street Fighter II (Fighting Game) and he really seems against the very concept of Ground Game.

Conclusion:
In this era, you are pretty limited to deliver your speech and this is why I think Konami took the decision to not put the ground mechanics they love so much and used a "very matt grey" Battle System for Batman Returns. Because Batman is neither black (kunio) nor white (billy) and it is a home system game (SNES, other ones are Arcade) which targets a wider and younger audience.


See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:51 am

Chapter 3 : Yoshiki Okamoto, The Teacher

We've seen that this battle system is way more evil than Double Dragon. Basicly, all the "poison's affair" (censorship etc) is the result of this "evilness". If you want to know more about the Poison's gendra, there is a lenghty video on youtube very well informed and I don't want to cover this here. Let's start this "Final Fight: game vs lore analysis" because reviewing Final Fight is required for diving into SoR.

Okamoto wanted to make Double Dragon easier to play/learn, but without losing too much depth. So he created/included that intuitive grapple mechanics (walk into the opponent) which brought -in the same time- a new attack pattern for the player. A pattern who does not exist in Technos Japan's games. The vertical approach (illustrated loosely).

Billy was all slippery because he needed to attack very slippery opponents with ducking abilities. Final Fight's heroes will be all slippery because there will be more opponents on the board, and Axl will be the only mook who will benefit from a defensive feature (the block ability). This is also why he brought back that evil Kunio's shoulder throw (the Seoi Nage) and permited to cancel our chain into it (illustrated with "Evil Guy"!) to give us more control (space control & crowd contol). He fused DDII Billy's hurricane kick with DDI Billy's rear attack to create the "Mega Crash" (SoR2 Defense Special), the most famous come back mechanics of the genre.


---- Oh yeah, that throw is invincible and unblockable. ------ and that move is invincible!

On top of that he redefined the jumping curves, added a rear jump, gave specific movesets for each jump, added a cancel mechanics for air attacks, and improved the air game with the jump-in attack. It's a jumping move which does not make our opponent fall down, and so so we can start a combo from the air. This feature brought another new attack pattern (absent from DD) in the metagame : "from the air". Actually, only Guy and Cody inherited from this new air attack so let's talk about them first.


Fun fact from a story point of view. I (Jessica) know a guy (my boyfriend, Cody) who knows a guy (his "homeboy") and that guy, is called Guy. It's a pretty epic name for a side-kick role. And if we remember that old DD game. I (Marian) know a guy (my boyfriend, Billy) who knows a guy (his brother) and that guy, is called Jimmy. Basically, Guy and Cody are the new Billy and Jimmy : one is very involved in the plot, the other one a bit less.

Chapter 4 : Capcom's Double Dragon

From a gameplay point of view, Billy and Jimmy, in almost every DD games, have the same moveset. Okay, they are brothers from the same master and all, but it's still a bit lame (not for 1987). The second character is just a "2 players mode's clone" and arcade games like Metal Slug used that "scheme" up to 2006. Final Fight will make this common practice looks lame and the Fighting game genre will pretty much appear thanks to that.


Okamoto has a high esteem of the medium and to him, gameplay is a big part of characters identity since, in this era : you have roughly 5% of cutscenes for 95% of gaming time. It's pretty amazing game designers realized that, this late. 1989 is the "OMG time" for the genre. Konami's TMNT put some small differences to distinguish each Turtle, and Sega did a pretty good job on Golden Axe regarding both Tyris and Gilius.


Billy/Jimmy used to have that famous grapple moveset with knee bash and seoi nage and so Cody/Guy too. The brothers also have two critical moves (knockdown property), the uppercut and the roundhouse kick. Okamoto gave the uppercut to Cody and the roundhouse kick to Guy. This change permited to give gaming identity to characters and make the chain system way easier to learn (one character = one chain). They have some other differences such as the walking speed, the range of their jab/backfist, the number of hits to knock down, or Guy's wall jump kick, but let's speak about their weapons speciality.


Guy is a Katana master, an uncommon weapon. A blade which provides range to the character who have the least range (interesting concept don't you think?). Cody is a knife staber, a common weapon thanks to the HollyWood mook who drops them. So Guy can throw knife and use long range melee weapon (which is very Double Dragon) while Cody is really new regarding weapons. The stab mechanics gives a lot of identity to Cody in diverting him from Billy & Jimmy both from a moral point of view (lore) and from the gameplay point of view (he needs a peculiar distance to stab people).

While the plot and lore seems to spot Cody as Billy (blue pants, white shirt, western dude who learned asian martial arts, the lover of the "princess") and Guy as Jimmy (red wears, good friend of the "knight"), lots of gameplay elements tweak this a bit. Guy can be perceived as the "Eastern part of Billy" both in game and lore (Roundhouse kick, katana). It makes a lot of sense since this universe is very western (Metro City, Mike Haggar, Cody, Andore) and so the asian (part of Billy) guy is less involved in the plot. Cody on the other hand is the "western part of Billy" both in gameplay (uppercut is very western, slasher too) and lore (mah girl !!) and so it makes sense that he is more determined/angry (stab) than his counterpart.

Conclusion:
Indeed, if Haggar would not exist, Final Fight would be nothing more than an upgraded DD easier to learn and easier to play. A DD with more western mythology (Streets of Fire, Andre The Giant, Metro City), more attack patterns, more gaming identity for the characters -for both solo and coop- and a bit more violence/evilness... But Haggar does exist...



... and Final Fight is a "bit more" than that!

See you in my next post!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:14 am

Chapter 5: Here Comes A New Challenger!

Okamoto had way more ambition than upgrading Double Dragon. As he pretty much understood Final Fight's battle system (since he created it), he devised a new kind of fighter for the genre. Final Fight battle's system emphasised on two teaching, instructive and educational principles :

  • making the grappling mechanics easier to use for the player.
  • making throwing mechanics easier to perform.

From an audiovisual lore angle, it is obvious that martial artists cannot highlight those gaming points in comparison to a wrestler. Picking a famous wrestler like Jesse Ventura which is also an action movie star is just perfect to personify this concept (game/lore - sport/movie). Regarding the story, he tweaked the Double Dragon's plot to support the gameplay. The princess (Marian/Jessica) will not only benefit from her knight (Billy/Cody) and his fellow companion (Jimmy/Guy) to rescue her, but from her own father (Mike Haggar) too.


Mythology Breakdown : The Knight, the Companion, The Father, The Princess and The Big Bad

The father-daughter's relationship is percieved (on its basic level) as pure love by the audience. It's opposed to adult love which involved "evil things" like sex, according to the slasher mythology or, most obviously : the Holy Bible. The knight has been downgraded a bit in this opus (sex+stab, it's a bit much!!). So the DD's in-game rendered panty shot will be raise to a brand new level in the form of a polished cutscene introducing Jessica's lovely boobies to the player.


1987 coin magnet prototype / 1989 upgraded version / oh yeah, sex is evil

This very cutscene will give the most screen time to Mike Haggar and will bring another awesome tweak in the DD's plot. The rescue the princess's affair is an aftermath of a blackmail on the Town's Mayor which is also the father. The Big Bad (Willy/Belger) just doesn't care about Billy and Jimmy. The knight is a supporting actor in this new video game, and the companion is a bit less than that. Okamoto refers to the Double Dragon's mythology to "pet" the audience, but boils it down to a background/easter egg scale in order to not overshadow his creation.

From a plot point of view, Metro City is the target of the Mad Gears and Haggar personifies it. From a cutscene point of view, Haggar and Metro City have the most screen time. From a gameplay point of view, Haggar is already highlighted by the battle system's very concept... But Okamoto is a perfectionist, he knows that this is not enough to build a strong identity/mythology to his project and to push Double Dragon's fame in the archive of the past. So let's dive into haggar's moveset to see how this game designer tried to make the audience understand that this title is not Capcom's Double Dragon but...


Chapter 6: Capcom's Final Fight

From a gameplay perspective, Haggar's moveset is new. Haggar's air moves are pretty effective thanks to the hitboxes of the Body Press and the Dropkick, but his high jumping curve is short. His rear jump (the longest jump of each character) is reasonable. His air game is not on par with the others since he has no jump-in attack. His air game is the first point which diverts him.



Haggar's walking speed is ugly. It's not only new for a genre based on slippery characters, but in a game with a battle design based on the high number of mooks on screen, it provides a lot of gaming identity to Haggar. His new ability to walk with an opponent locked into a grapple (walking grapple) is something fairly useful for a character so slow, but is also pretty handy for a character without any toss! Kunio's evil shoulder throw is not in Daddy Haggar's moveset. To make up for that, he has 2 new throws.



The first one is the back drop, the very first slam of the genre (opposed to toss). A throw which deals great damage but with a bad space control property, which can leave the player in risky situation if not used wisely. The other one is the pile driver, the very first jumping throw of the genre. A throw which deals great damage and gives more control since the player can direct it. However, it requires peculiar setup since it is not invincible before the pile driver starts at the peak of the jump.


Throw type: Jumping grapple slam. -- Throw type: slam.

Haggar benefits from a powerful and very efficient grapple game but it requires a bit more strategy than Guy/Cody. Haggar has a very sharpened gaming identity compared to them. The others have polished gaming identities, but they are totally overshadow by the outstanding one of Haggar. It makes a lot of sense since he's the hero.


Headbutts into Pile Driver.

From a visual perspective, Haggar's moveset is new. His target combo chain is new (gut punch, gut punch, double hammer punch), his grapple moveset is new (flurry of headbutts, pile driver, back drop), his walking grapple ability is new, his jumping grapple ability is new, his jump attacks are new (drop kick, body press) and his mega crash is new (spinning lariat). There is not a single reash from Double Dragon in Haggar's moveset animations which is something very important for impacting the audience instantly.


Haggar's moveset is just... new.

We could spend more time on analysing Final Fight. The arrival of tons of food pick-ups in different sizes while Golden Axe and TMNT stayed pretty basic on this cluster. The roster of mooks with iconic archetypes such as the fatties who randomly drop food, the slippery J, or the upgraded Abobo : Andore. Why not dive into Metro City, the other star of the show? No, we won't.  


Technos Japan's games instantly outdated all those early 80's action games like Irem's Spartan X (1984). Final Fight instantly outdated Technos Japan games. But there is another invisible bond which ties DD and FF together, the very one I wanted to show you before analysing Sega's Streets of Rage. As Technos Japan's Double Dragon did in 1987, Capcom's Final Fight created a huge mythology where everything (game+lore) supported everything (game <=> lore). Whatever the audience is more into (gameplay, lore, or both), Final Fight and Double Dragon delivered their speech to the audience without a single interference.

Conclusion:
I don't say that Final Fight and Double Dragon are good games or good beat em ups (even though I think they are). I state that Final Fight and Double Dragon are well made video games which used every single tiny clusters the medium offered them (audio, video, mechanics, moveset) to deliver their speech which is symphony to my ear, my finger on my pad, my eye on the screen. Like an orchestra where drums, guitar, piano and bass combined their peculiar sounds to create harmony and music.

If you don't do that, then you can create noise. Noise is nothing more than two beautiful sounds with a high level of interference between them. Even if you made one of the best game of 1991, people may not understand what your video game was about. And when you are a game designer, if you create noise instead of harmony in your first installment, then you will be forced to take decisions to deliver your speech in later games and it can backfire...


"Why the fuck do they get rid of Adam and Max???!!"

See you in my next post.


===========================================================
Appendix I - "Evil vs Censor vs Humour"
The 2 first DD Nes (1988 and 1989 respectively) managed to bring a bit more violence (Linda can be stun) without bringing any controversy. Maybe because DD games mechanics were not well understood even by game testers in this era. This said, this phenomenon keeps going on. Ninja Gaiden (2004) has been censored in occident (no head cut, too evil) but Ninja Gaiden Black (2005) was not. Another interesting case is Splatterhouse (2010). A video game which used humorous lore to permit the player to "anal fist fuck" monster (which is nothing more than rape, the last scale of the evil meter) without any censorship. This fact recalls us how Konami used this same trick (called humour) in the 90's to not make the player feels bad about using ground mechanics. Time sets what is reasonable or not, regarding the evil scale metter.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 3:27 am

Chapter 7: Cover Analysis I - Kunio Kun

Back in the 90's, one of the first contacts we had with a videogame was the cover. Nowdays pretty much everything is spoiled with teaser videos and advertisements disguised in articles or news by professional press to make sure everyone buy the game in the first weeks of its release (or before with pre order DLC) and make people buy more games than they have gaming time to playthrough (or dive into). Back in the 90's, the video game industry wasn't as McDonald as this, it was on par with the XXIth century movie industry regarding marketing. This is why reviewing Streets of Rage's cover seems a good starting point to me. Let's start by reviewing a Kunio Kun's cover so we have a basis to compare with.

Kunio Kun's Plot note:
Riki (the Renegade's first stage boss) team up with Kunio in several Kuino-kun games.

  • Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari / River City Ransom (1989 Technos Japan)
  • Shodai Nekketsu Koha Kunio-Kun (1992 Technos Japan)
  • Shin Nekketsu Koha Kunio-Kun (1994 Technos Japan)


Riki is next to the train's door waiting for Kunio to beat him up!

Kunio Kun's Game note:
Riki is a "2p clone" of Kunio without gaming identity up to Shodai Nekketsu. Technos Japan started to embrace the concept of "gaming identity" with Shin Nekketsu by bringing 4 characters with different movesets (better late than never!). This is why I picked this cover. This title uses a Technos Japan's battle system designed by Kishimoto (Renegade, Double Dragon) involving ground mechanics (evil kombat) and stun mechanics (for critical moves and grapple).

Shin Nekketsu Koha Kunio-Kun Tachi No Banka (Technos Japan, 1994)




God, look at this cover : the Kunio-Kun series's paragon in a nutshell! Even the schoolgirls (who refer to purity/innocence) look at us like we've made a serious mistake just by passing by! And we can trust them since they're Kunio's and Riki's girlfriends (the two new playable characters). This cover tells us pretty much everything from Kunio-Kun's mythology: bad guys and misogyny. If you believe this game is progressive since we can play girls, then let's make a bit of history.

  • First beat em up's playable girl is Tyris Flare, the sexy amazon with muscles (Sega 1989)
  • First fighting game's playable girl is Chun li, the warrior girl with muscles (Capcom 1991)


Oh yeah, I lost some muscles...

Note: FashGal (SEGA, 1985) and Lady Master of Kung Fu/Nunchakun (Taito, 1985) are Action Games (no critical moves) according to this analysis (more on that in chapter 33).

1993 is the year where Girls are common in both fighting games and beat em ups as playable characters. They are usually sexy warriors and not the girl to be rescue like it was (DD's Marian, TMNT's April, FF's Jessica). In this mythology, girls (despite being playable) are definded as Kunio's/Riki's princess more than warriors (quite conservative for 1994). First we need to join/rescue them in the first stages of the game before them being playable.


Do you believe Kyouko and Misako are successors of Tyris and Chun Li?

Then, Kyouko and Misako have watered down movesets (those poor little things can't grapple!) and nothing to make them shine. This is not the case of Capcom's Linn Kurosawa (1994) who cannot grapple but benefits from air slam, effective launchers, bounce kick, very efficient gun, OTG and much more.

Plus, I have fucking biceps!

As the girls movesets aren't polished and as we don't have any pick-ups to heal in this game, but a character switch system, we will pretty much use girls for easy fights, and will keep guys for tough fights. Welcome in the Kunio Kun's universe. Those chicks show us their pretty legs on the cover (wgich refer to sexual aspect of the woman) and this is pretty much what they are in the game. Assistants of their boyfriends. Look how badass Riki and Kunio are on the cover. You know they are bad guys who rocks, you know no one should mess with them, and they have the most complete and efficient movesets in the game.


The game starts with a jailbreak (convict outfits) and a swimming pool scene: sexy things.

Conclusion:
I'm neither racist, nor misogynist and I hate this kind of mythology. The thing is, Technos Japan tries to deliver that speech (in this series) with the videogame medium and not only the movesets and mechanics support the audiovisual lore and the plot, but the cover of one of their last Kunio-Kun's game too. This cover is just the most perfect I ever seen in a Technos's game. This said, Blaze Fielding played a major role in the rise of girls in the medium.


Blaze Fielding kicks ass since 1991 (-Bazzza, a SoR's fan)

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:54 am

Chapter 8: Cover analysis II - Bare Knuckle

Bare Knuckle is the victim of the western marketing division regarding both its title (Streets of Rage) and cover. This kind of things were very common in the 80's/90's. It reminds me of the 70's/80's italian's B Movie title/cover's adaptation. They changed lots of visual elements to make the product more appealing to the local audience, but without really reflecting what the product is about. Let's analyse what most of us discover several years after enjoying Streets of Rage : the cover of the very first Bare Knuckle.


As Technos Japan did with Shin Nekketsu's cover, this artwork tells us pretty much everything Sega wanted to tell about BK's mythology. A western dude, wearing Blue and White costume, who seems to master asian martial arts (Billy?) casts a determined gaze on us. He's threatening but that Kunio's bad guys aura doesn't glow around him. It sets the audience to perceive him as the Billy Type Character.


Shinji Mikami's Billy Type Character (God Hand, Clover, 2006)

However he has very big muscles which is a very western traits regarding mythology. Plus, as Final Fight is pretty famous at this time, the audience is much more inclined to see him as Cody (the western part of Billy). This character design is clearly there to "pet" us. To refer to the very consistent beat em up's mythology established by Technos Japan -Double Dragon- and relayed by Capcom -Final Fight-, but also to foreshadow the Final Fight battle system which is used in this game.


Yoshiki Okamoto's revolution (Final Fight, Capcom, 1989)

This is also supported by the very background (the town by night), which can be the star of the show (Metro City) and the very foreground. We see thughs getting beat down the hard way (very matt grey kombat?). Two mooks are highlighted, the first one is Nora the dominatrix (she refers to Poison/Linda) and the other one is a kung fu master : Hakuyo (he refers to DDII's Chin Tamei or such). Just behind this iconic "BTU dude", two astonishing characters take the whole middle ground. A hot girl and a badass black guy. This is Sega's progressive policy in a nutshell.


Technos Japan's The Combatribes (1990) | Sega's Bare Knuckle (late 1991)

A/ Adam
The playable black guy is something pretty rare up to 1990. There is an old action game called "DJ Boy" (Kaneko, 1989) which featured a young black guy on skate as a hero (main inspiration for BKII's Sammy "Skate" Hunter). The Combatribes (Technos Japan, 1990) might be the first BTU featuring a black guy (Bullova). 1991 is a very important year regarding black people. Konami's Crime Fighters 2 (1991) features a black guy called Blood and Sega's D.D Crew (1991) too with Buster. The two of them refer to Mike Tyson (according to a big part of the audience), and it is not a very good reputation/reflection for black people. Plus, Vendetta is only known by BTU players, and D.D Crew is only known by die hard (core?) passionate people like us. If you want to know the perception of Mike Tyson by the audience, just look at the most famous fighting game that everybody knows in this era: Street Fighter II's Mike Bison, a cruel killer (Capcom, 1991).

I'm black, I'm evil: you know that Nash, don't you?

Adam was born in the same year and gave a much more progressive vision of black people in beat em up. The banner signature of BadJab (a SoR's fan) is here to witness this fact on a tiny level, and Adam's Story mod (a polished fan made SoRR's mod) witnessed this fact on a glorious level. In 1993, Capcom will make his move with Mustapha in Cadillacs&Dinosaurs and Konami with Crime Fighters 3's Boris. Both are cool black guys but more loveable than badass (Skate 2/3?). Black guys are still very uncommon even after that in the BTU genre (Sega's Dynamite Cop, late 90's) but they are very common in Fighting games as funny guys (SSFII's Dee Jay, DoA's Zack) or bad guys (Tekken's Bruce, Virtua Fighter's Jeffry).

Borriiiss!!!

B/ Blaze
The very first playable girl of the genre is Tyris Flare (Sega, 1989). This was a huge move but not an efficient move despite she will come back in 1991 for the GAII MD sequel. Tyris was "an exception" in this "whole dude affair". The appearance of Blaze Fielding in BK is a massive strike for the BTU industry. Blaze is like "the second strike" to shove that policy down in the throat of the medium. Tyris is a girl who rescues princess, but Blaze is not (more on that in another chapter). Konami, Capcom, Technos Japan are the three most important BTU studios in 1991. They will all be forced to accept Sega's policy thanks to the Streets of Rage's success.


Konami used external licences and The Simpsons (1991) was their first move. In 1992, Konami will publish X-Men featuring two playable girls (Dazzle and Storm), Jaleco will publish Brawl Brothers featuring Wendy (a wrestling girl) and Irem will publish UCCops featuring Rosa (aka Flame). In 1993 Capcom will publish Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (Hannah), Final Fight 2 (Maki), followed by D&D Tower of Doom (Elf) and Alien vs Predator (Linn Kurosawa) in 1994. At last, Technos Japan will publish Shadow Force in 1992 and Shin Nekketsu in 1994. After the three big studios made their moves, pretty much every 2D BTU have to feature side-kick(s) girl(s) in their roster (and still going on with IGS's Knights of Valor series). There will be even "all girls affair BTU" (Battle Zeque Den in 1994, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon in 1995). And if you look at the last modern popular Brawler, it's not a guy with tons of moveset (Dante, Hayabusa, Kratos), but a girl with tons of moveset (Bayonetta).


Devil May Cry (Capcom/Kamiya, 2001) God of War (Santa Monica, 2005), Bayonetta (Platinum Games/Kamiya, 2009)

Conclusion:
The western dude badass guy, the hero of "the video game" is totally pushed in the "I just don't care about you dude" boundry by his sidekicks who overshadow him because they are very new to the genre (Sega's progressive attitude). That's not a good start to build a solid mythology and deliver a speech without interference. The thing is, as stated previously, lots of B movies have bad covers and they don't interfere with the overall experience. Plus western audience didn't benefit from that cover. Instead, they have this.


mooks with guns (No, that's Crime Fighters, The Punisher, not Bare Knuckle! Only "the big bad" fights with guns in that already established mythology).
no badass black guy (no, that's conservative, Bare Knuckle is progressive).
the hot chick is wearing white wear (no, that's Streets of Rage 3... ahem).
Red is the companion color since 1987 (DD's Jimmy, FF's Guy, Street Fighter's Ken),
Red is the color of hotness and warmth (and it fits the skirt she missed).
Last but not least, Axel is almost well made (SoR3 Color scheme?) and not really overshadow.

See you in my next post!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:54 am

Chapter 9:  The suspens ends now

Streets of Rage is the most beautiful frankenstein's monster video game I had seen/played in my entire life. Most of the time, Frankenstein's monsters are ugly, some are reasonable, but this one is gorgeous, awesome, revolutionary and really enjoyable to experience. Because of its Frankenstein's nature we can't directly surimpose the layers (battle system /moveset/enemy roster/audiovisual lore/plot) like we did with Technos Japan's games, Konami's games and Capcom's games. It will just bring more shadow and most importantly, it will not reflect how Sega thought this video game. They put together stuffs from Technos Japan and Capcom piece by piece without really understanding what they were doing, without farseeing what they were doing. Sega is like a mad scientist who tries to make "the girl of their dream" by picking the legs of Demi Moore, the boobs of Pamela Anderson, the cleverness of Marie Curie, etc.


SEEGGAAA!

However, this monster will be much cooler than it seems (huge success), and will make evolve not only the Beat em up genre, but also the rising Fighting game genre. The following chapters will focus only on one cluster of their work at time without caring about the interference/noise that each of them brings to the over all video game. In the end, we will put them together and analyze the seams which cover this "wonderfull girl" and it will help us to understand Sega's decisions for both SoR2 and SoR3.

Chapter 10: Beat em up vs Fighting game

1991 is huge year for the beat em up genre since lots of titles were produced this very year (both on arcade and home system) but it is also the birth of the fighting game genre (Capcom's Street Fighter II, SNK's Fatal Fury). Takashi Nishyiama is the game designer of both Street Fighter (Capcom, 1987) and Fatal Fury (SNK 1991). Yoshiki Okamoto created two sequels for Street Fighter. The first one is Final Fight (Capcom, 1989) and the other one is Street Fighter II (Capcom, 1991).


Fatal Fury Mini Review:
Fatal Fury used the Final Fight's archetype system (Terry, Andy, Joe) and level structure mythology.

Is this Metro City in the background?

Fatal Fury used the beat em up mythology

Terry: western dude, blonde hair, blue jeans, big muscles, learned asian martial arts... (Billy?)

Fatal Fury used Street Fighter's codes. Ken, the western part of Ryu is red (Terry?) while Andy is more eastern and use the Ryu's white color.

I will make rise flames from my punch like you Terry, I swear it!

I swear to do it one year before you Ken!

Actually, Fatal Fury is neither a Fighting game nor a Beat em up. Its level design is neither on 2 axis like 2D fighters nor on paralaxis like Double Dragon and Final Fight. You can play co-op (2 players vs 1 CPU), like in beat em up. You can play versus (only with the heroes, like in SoR2 and SFI). The roster of enemy is not designed to be used by humans (like in beat em up and SFI). The battle system uses the core gameplay elements of the beat em up:

  • Critical move in order to knock down (since Renegade)
  • Throw in order to open guard (since Final Fight).


Nishiyama didn't give me any throw -SFI-. Thank you for providing this awesome Seoi Nage Mr. Okamoto -SFII-.



Fatal Fury is the link between the two genres.

-There is Street Smart (SNK,1988) between SFI and Fatal Fury but let's not drag long.

Impact:
Technos Japan's experimental BTU Shadow Force (1992) used Street Fighter II's button layer, their last game is Double Dragon (1995) a fighting game. Gaia Crusaders, and its sequel Sengoku 3 (Noise Factory 1999-2001), Knights of Valor 2 (IGS 2001), God of War series (2005 +), Ninja Gaiden 3D series (2004+), Bayonetta (2009+) and pretty much all musou (aka warrior games) used Virtua Fighter's button layer and chain system (Sega 1993). It makes a lot of sense since the game designer of Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II (Team Ninja 2004-2008) is the game designer of the Dead or Alive series (Itagaki) which was designed as a casual friendly Virtua Fighter. Let's conclude by an intersting fact: the game designer of the  Rival School series (Capcom late 90's) and Capcom vs SNK2 (Capcom, 2001) worked on the Devil May Cry series.

=>
BTU, 1987 - Fighting Game, 1995

Capcom will pretty much split one game into two genres with Street Fighter II, like the FPS will do few years later. If the audience wants to play Half Life solo, then they play Half life, and if the audience wants to play Half life in versus, they play Counter Strike. If the audience wants to play a beat em up solo or coop they play Final Fight, if the audience wants to play in versus mode they play Street Fighter II. Some games will try to come across this path (SNK's Art of Fighting, Konami's Monster Maulers and even Capcom's Warzard/Red Earth) but in the long run...

Two games with one well polished/designed mode  > One game with two modes.

Just compare Streets of Rage 2 versus mode (BTU, Sega, 1992) to Fatal Fury 2 versus mode (Fighting game, SNK 1992). Interestingly, things evolved regarding this in the 21th century (not for Capcom), but lots of versus games try to deliver interesting single experience. With characters designed to be used by humans (from the pixels to the movesets), it always falls short somewhere, but without being boring when well made.


Lots of RPG elements had been added, following the path of SNK's Art of Fighting, and Capcom's Warzard...

Why fleshing out this very connection? First because I dream of a day where professional press like IGN will do their work of actual video game reporters, but most importantly because in 1991, two revolutionary beat em ups will make the fighting game genre rises. The first one is Knights of the Round (Capcom, november 1991) which used Capcom's King of Dragons's (summer 1991) "instant block" mechanics and introduced the very first dynamic defensive mechanics, the "emergency retreats".


The audiovisual lore tries to explain us that this game is all about defense (armors).

The instant block is present in a lots of Arc System's licence (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Hokuto no Ken Fighting), in the very famous last Fatal Fury called Garou Mark of The Wolf (Just Defend = instant block) and Capcom vs SNK2. It is pretty uncommon in BTU but Devil May Cry is one of them. The emergency retreat will become the evasive back jump/hop/dash in AvP (Capcom 1994) and the side roll in SoR3 (Sega 1994). The evasive displacement is a common mechanics in modern Brawlers (Hayabusa's tech roll, Bayonetta's dodge) but is pretty common in Fighting game too (Fatal Fury 2's backdash is the first, then KoF series's roll, Street Fighter 3.3/4's backdash and I stop here).


That's funny, we both are born in 1994 in our medium!

The other revolutionary game is Streets of Rage which brought the first throw escape mechanics in the beat em up genre. SEGA had more than likely drifted it from Hachoo!'s recovery roll (an obscur Jaleco's BTU released in 1989). Most beat em up will ignore this huge improvement, but Fighting games will not. SSFIIX (Capcom, 1994) will create the Tech Hit, the very first throw escape mechanics of this genre, which is nothing more than a refined SoR1's Safe Landing (tighter timing and damage greatly reduced instead of negated). The throw escape is a fundamental of Fighting game design since 1996, and Sega's Streets of Rage brought it to the eyes of Capcom, SNK, and Namco with the "wonderful frankenstein girl" that Bare Knuckle is.


See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:29 am

Chapter 11: Streets of Rage's weapons

Now we have established the relationship between Fighting game (mechanics / mythology) and BTU (mechanics / mythology) it will be easier to understand why SEGA didn't really understand what they were doing in this era. They ignore how some mechanics impact the lore, and how the lore supports mechanics, but they are filled with good intentions and the will to do well. In a word, they are willing noobies, sometime they do or say things that seems stupid, but we have to go across that, and see what they intended to do.

In 1991, Sega is very ambitious and very interested in battle mechanics. They made two pretty ambitious action games in the 80's (Altered Beast and Last Battle), both are drifted from Irem's Spartan X. Golden Axe is their own battle system drifted from Double Dragon and they will improve it this very year by turning the toss (Double Dragon) into a toss projectile (Renegade/Final Fight). Indeed, they studied Final Fight and notably Final Fight's weapons system for Streets of Rage.

They converted the Pipe and the Katana into the Bat and the Pipe (more western than Final Fight!) and gave the knife stab/throw mechanics to each character. They probably wanted every players can use that cool mechanics whatever the character they play or maybe they just wanted to  balance their roster -or both-. To them, this feature brought a bit of depth to the DD's knife throw so there is no reason that only one character benefits from this. By doing this, they make their characters a bit "darker" than those of prior BTU. Maybe that was what they intended to do because the others weapons are there to support that theory.


Sex+Stab : What else ?

They tried to go beyond the three Final Fight's weapons and they added the Bottle. This weapon is very interesting because it can break easily. It's the "glass canon" version of the knife, and is a very nice addition both in lore (very badass/determined) and gameplay. The last weapon they added is the most interesting of them all: the pepper shaker. First, this weapon is even more "nothing to lose" than the bottle. It gives a lot of identity to the video game, but let's look from a game design point of view.



They know that projectile is space control tool (Shinobi, Altered Beast). This is why the Street Fighter series revolves around projectile. In Street Fighter I, we have no throw. In 1987, throws are crowd control tools in beat em up (Renegade, 1986) and there is no use for throw in Street Fighter since you have no crowd to control, only space to control. In 1989 Okamoto provided a new property to the throw with Final Fight: it is unblockable. That's why Street Fighter II will implement throw, because it permits to open guard, and this is more than welcome since every opponents have a guard in Street Fighter.



Sega used the same process of thinking with Final Fight's weapons. In Streets of Rage we have no guard to open, but we have space to control (DD's knife throw) and crowd to control. Why not create a weapon which would bring both space control (pepper shaker throw) and crowd control (dizzy opponent) in the same time? And here is the pepper shaker. Capcom will get pretty much the same idea by creating the stun gun in the Final Fight's sequel : Captain Commando (September 1991).



SEGA even jumped the shark by adding the police support system in BKI. This mechanics is a watered down Golden Axe's magical support system. Golden Axe's magic system relies on ressources/economy, and while a bit more interesting than a SHMUP's bomb, it brings much less depth than a Mega Crash. Mega Crash is trading life (food pick-up) for an invincible attack or free of charge for an evasive move (if we don't hit anyone). SoR1's support mechanics is a huge love letter to RoboCop (and I love the Verhoeven's movie) but it is way shallower than Golden Axe's Magic System. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong in that decision, because this mechanics brings a lot to the lore.


Yes, you kick ass, your car too,
and nobody charged SEGA for using
the copyrighted lore you belong to!


Conclusion:
Why SEGA called Bare Knuckle a video game which reworked FF's weapons system in order to emphasis on it? "Bare Knuckle" has been translated "Streets of Rage" by the western division after playing it. This is not the case of "Samuraï Spirits" (SNK, 1993) which has been translated "Samuraï Showdown". There is definitly something out of place here, some kind of bush telegraph with SEGA's speech. Let's take a quick glance at some FF models weapon's systems for a better understanding.


See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:54 pm

Chapter 12: Why the beat em up is dead.

We've seen (in chapter 10) how Knights of the Round used its audiovisual lore to illustrate its defensive metagame (no throw, armor mode, instant block, evasive displacements). We've seen (in chapter 5-6) how Final Fight revolved around a wrestler (mechanics/lore). Let's look at few others Capcom's beat em ups so we can compare with SEGA's BKI.

Captain Commando is the second Capcom's video game which used the Final Fight's Battle system. In other words, it's the second Capcom's FF model. Captain Commando proposes several weapons including the rocket launcher, and the stun gun. Capcom changed their audiovisual lore to connect the beat em up mythology to the beat em up mechanics (they have no in-depth cutscenes, no in-depth dialogues and no comic licences to give a meaning to their mechanics).


Captain Commando: Blond hair, blue outfit, western dude, learned martial arts (Billy?).

Captain Commando is a bit more than Billy/Cody/Axel. He has a built-in flame thrower in his battle suit. With this outstanding flashy feature alone, he won't be overshadow by his sidekicks. More than that, it turns this "Billy Type Character" into a "walking weapon". What is better than that to illustrate the work Capcom provided to weapons pick-ups? By giving the shuriken throw ability to Sho the Ninja. Yes, they are perfectionists. This is how Capcom do beat-em-ups video games and fighting games. This said, Captain Commando is a video game I don't like that much compared to Streets of Rage (my opinion), but Captain Commando is much more planned and thought than SoRI (scientific), and we will understand how much it is before the end of this book.


The other Capcom's FF model beat em up which will break the scale regarding weapons is The Punisher (spring 1993). This opus offers tons of weapons pick-ups: from the flame thrower to the M-16, but also axes, boomerang and extinguisher. It features also grenade support mechanics and an experimental gun mode. The experimental gun mode will be improve in Capcom's Alien vs Predator to permit the player to use guns as combo's starter or combo's expander.


...

Who is The Punisher? A comic's character with only one super power : "using weapons better than any regular humans". For this one, they are supported by an in-depth external lore, but that's still the Capcom's way of thinking. Each beat em up has a consistent speech.


If we look at AvP (spring 1994). They get rid of pretty much every weapons pick-ups except guns: why? AvP refers to Cameron's Aliens movie (1986) which is famous for its smart gun, flame thrower and pulse rifle. A huge part of the game design revolves around ammunitions management (reload feature, keep weapons from scene to scene: Aliens in a nutshell). The other weapon AvP kept is the boomerang (smart disc). It refers to Predator II movie (1990) and is rewarded by high scoring per hit, 'honour points'. The knife is only thrown (Colonial marines are not slashers, they are soldiers), the pipe can only be used as a bashing tool by Schaefer (Haggar?).

green color, grappler: he refers to Haggar.

built-in machine gun: it refers to Captain Commando weapon's game design?

Once again, as for The Punisher, they are supported by an external licence, by in-game dialogues and cutscenes. Nonetheless, they used the same way of thinking, everything is in a game to deliver a consistent speech: "lore <=> game". Capcom's BTU are neither blands nor shallow, but many game testers won't tell you this, they will speak about "Final Fight clones" or whatever.


Final Fight?

Professional VG testers are pretty much able to make this kind of analysis.

Capcom 1989 => SEGA 1991 => Sega's last beat em up.

If we analyse/test FF and AvP from a pure game angle, we will notice that AvP is much closer to a modern 3D brawlers than to any early FF's models. A serious video game tester should be able to make bonds like this:


We both have very high mobility and benefits from evasive displacement, we do our crowd control and damage output through the way of Juggle and OTG, and not through the process of toss projectile and slam. We use guns to start or extend combos.

Dante is not born "out of nowhere" but from Capcom's Studios like Ryu, Haggar, Captain Commando and some others "BTU dudes" (fact). While many studios acted like "mad scientists" or "shameless uninspired hackers" toward the BTU medium during the 90's, Capcom makes it evolve into what we know today.

In the XXIth century, Capcom still builds their brawlers like they did in 1989 when they were limited (no licence, no dialogue, no cutscene). The huge difference between most XXIth's century brawlers (God of War is a nice example) and the 90's one is here. They use "the David Cage concept" (cutscenes everywhere, QTE everywhere) either because they are unable to deliver their speech with the medium (game <=> lore) or because this is their only way to sell their products to people who don't care about the brawler genre. This is one of the several reasons which killed the 2D BTU.


I'm famous for my artistic direction more than anything.

Conclusion:
What we are doing currently is a scientific test, not a critic, not a review and certainly not an advertisement for Capcom. I don't like Capcom Games that much (I recommend you Guardians, AvP, SoRR, Violent Storm and Sengoku 3: that is my opinion not test). The thing that SEGA understood way better than Capcom back in 1991, is that plateformers are well more understood video games than beat em up/fighting games. Capcom tried to turn Captain Commando into their Icon but they eventualy totally failed.  SEGA used Sonic which is a plateformer video game and eventually, they made him a huge icon. Sonic was never really treated as a "Mario clone". There were even some kind of rivalry between Mario's fans and Sonic's fans.

If you speak about the first Streets of Rage to people, you have a huge chance that they told you how awesome are the weapons in this game. The very fact that SEGA called their video game Bare Knuckle is one of the several proofs they don't understand what they are doing and when they will (just after SoRI actually), they will make huge changes in their sequels (SoRII and Golden Axe the Revenge of Death Adder) not only to improve their games but to deliver a consistent speech with their video games. And this will backfire since you can't undo what have been done.

Sociology > Game Design

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:57 am

Chapter 13: BKI Roster's Philosophy

Streets of Rage is a classic (fact), so let's try to understand why. On one hand, the game is really well made (we'll cover this soon) and used a very understood battle system (Final Fight). In other words, BKI is an FF model by SEGA. On the other hand, it builds its identity in relaying an already established mythology (BTU) to make up for the lack of cutscenes/dialogues. This identity is highlighted by an astonishing music composed by Yuzo Koshiro and by amazing layers for the city. On top of that, the character design (Mooks/Boss/Heroes) is very cool, and the roster gives a better reflection of girls and black people in the medium. A huge part of the decisions SEGA will took for the sequels (wether bad or good, I let you judge) comes from the fact the team in charge of the first opus overlooks sociology's aspect of the medium.

Note: Click to enlarge any pictures featuring a white frame.

They picked Final Fight's battle system but they chose The Combatribes for visuals (Interesting Frankenstein feature here). Same color scheme and almost the same title screen.


It was released in 1990 on the Arcade. This is SNES port screenshot.

We won't go in-depth with this Cartoony game but let's sum it up. It's Technos Japan's "evil kombat" paragon. We have no jump/no air game, an advanced grapple game (lift opponent on your shoulder, in the mood of Haggar's walking grapple) and the ground game is very advanced (giant swing, stomp) and very gory (bloody head bashing into the concrete). The gory was censored in the SNES port.


Interesting how Konami chose to refer to this very "evil game" to shade their speech in Batman Returns.

The three characters basic concept is a bit more polished than this (especially in the SNES port) but let's not drag too long. The three characters are grapplers. Berzerker (blue) has the default moveset. Blitz (red) moves faster, has a much better dash attack, but a watered down ground game. Bullova (yellow) moves slowers, has the worst dash attack, but an upgraded ground game.


I'm Black, I'm Evil.

Final Fight's roster and The Combatribes's roster use the "mini maxing philosophy". Both games used height and weight to help the player to understand the gameplay's idea behind each character.


The idea behind Streets of Rage roster is different, they used the one which will be used by many Fighting games : "the balance out philosophy". The idea is very progressive from a game design perspective, but from a social angle, it can backfire. Let's see the good intention.


SEGA explains us that each character has pros and cons (like Final Fight) but they explicit it by a ranking system. They tell us "in our game, Black people = Girl = White people. Whatever you are more into, feel free to chose, there is no mini maxing". The fact they indeed managed to balance it out or not isn't that important. The fact their ranking system is accurate or not isn't that important either. What is important is this: They tell us that Axel (the Hero) hasn't be designed to shine more than the others guys. Maybe he actually does and hardcore gamers will use him for speed run and casual gamers will use him to help them to beat the game. But the game designer doesn't incite us to create a connection/empathy with Axel in the first place since :

  • from a gameplay point of view: the ranking system tells us that he isn't broken.
  • from a visual point of view: we are used to see the Billy type character in that era.


Since 1987.

In other words, if they knew that video games revolve around sociology more than game design, they would realised that what they did was roughly this.


Conclusion:
We've seen that the cover and the title screen try to "sell us" a character, but the actual "marketing" is underthought. If you want to sell "water" (bland character), it has to be highlighted. Either by being your only product (like DD and SFI) or by making it "cheaper" (great ranking in the character select screen). Even if your water is the purest on the market, it will be hard to sell it if you expose it next to more appealing "drinks" like "beer" (Adam) or "fruit juice" (Blaze) without explaining why "it's worth the same price".


No SEGA, that very short flashy animation at the end is not enough...

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:44 am

Chapter 14: SoR tweaks the Air
We've seen that the cover and the title screen try to "sell us" a character, but the actual "marketing" is underthought. However, they have one last chance to make up for that with the actual moveset. If the customer is curious, he will "taste it" (he will pick him up just to see his gameplay) and if it is satisfying, then he will tell people to buy this product (free advertisement). Of course, we will review every movesets but it makes no sense to do it before approaching the modifications SEGA brought to the Final Fight's battle system first.

Air Game:
They boil Final Fight's air game down like many BTU will. It's important to keep in mind that SEGA will make up for that in laters episodes, which is a proof that SEGA is filled with good intention. Let's breakdown BKI's air game. One air attack avaible from any jumps. No cancel feature, no wall jump, no specific movesets per jump, no jump-in attacks. On top of that, there is a weird feature which permits us to change the side of an attack during a jump. Firstly, it's hard to say if that feature is a glitch or not since it looks awkward, but it makes the air game a bit less bland, so let's be positive!


We don't care, they forgot the jump-in atk.

And so the player loses a dynamic FF's attack pattern.

Secondly it's hard to say if they actually didn't really understand Final Fight at this time or if it was a real game design decision to nerf the air game this much. It's important to breakdown three things before making hypothesis:

  • Character moves = dynamic / Character doesn't move = static (just in case).
  • SEGA refers to The Combatribes with many visual elements.
  • The Combatribes has no air game (no jump button) and very few air attacks (Knee for Berzerker, Kick for Blitz, nothing for Bullova).





Like you Billy!


Like you Bill... Cod... ahem Berzerker?
What the F...

Let's try some hypothesis.

Hypothesis 1: SEGA did not understand that The Combatribes revolved around static ground game and static grapple game (like Renegade). This is the reason why air game is poor in those games, to force the player to crowd control or to damage deal. The toss projectile is a reward which provides both damage, space control and crowd control, but is much harder to perform than in Final Fight (stun required to grapple). The Combatribes incites us to fight opponents lying on the ground way more than Kunio-Kun (more evil) since you can perform Giant Swing on them. Giant Swing is nothing more than using a defenseless opponent as a Fighting tool (E-v-i-L Kombo!!  Twisted Evil ). Space control, crowd control, damage: all that sweetness.


Listen, i'm not evil. TJ just "forgot" to give me air attacks for crowd control, so I have to make a way around. As TJ gave me the best giant swing in the game, then I'm affraid I have to use it... Ok, you got me : I'm black, I'm...  Twisted Evil

In this era, Evil Kombat Lore = Static Kombat Game. However, it's important to keep in mind that Konami's Crime Fighters I and II (aka Vendetta) benefited from the same concept. They emphasised on ground fight and static mechanics (QTE Stomp is static, Grapple moveset is static) and did not feature air game (only air attacks for crowd control). The only difference they have with Kunio Kun is this: Konami used a humorous lore to not emit an "evil aura", and overall, is faster pace (no stun requirement for grapple and QTE stomp).


The Combatribes's Static Metagame. Bullova's static critical uppercut, Blitz's static ground headbash, Berzerker's static double grapple headbutts.

Assessment:
I'm pretty sure you got it by now, Final Fight's lore is very matt grey kombat and is semi-dynamic kombat game (air game is dynamic, grapple game is static, no ground game to slow the pace and a dynamic attack pattern for grappling: the vertical approach). In this hypothesis, SEGA mixed Final Fight's grapple system with The Combatribes's air attacks's set (Axel = knee, Adam/Blaze = kick) for the sake of fanboyism. Aside from nerfing Final Fight's metagame it brings nothing more than:

SEGA wrote:
"Hey Technos Japan and Capcom, I love you! Look at my game!!".

Hypothesis 2: They did understand The Combatribes's very concept and decided that Streets of Rage revolved around static grapple game and so air game is limited. In this hypothesis, they don't understand what they are doing either: they gave great jumps and great jump attacks to several characters (but not all...) which will seriously not help them to "sell" their "product" to the audience!


Are you kidding me? I'm the HERO!!!

Conclusion:
In anycase, they are mad scientists who don't really understand what they are doing.  affraid


Is that what you're looking for?

See you in my next post.
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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:04 am

Chapter15: Critical Point

There is a puzzle game which is called Sudoku (in my country). Its designs can force the player to do several hypothesis before being completed. The player makes simulations of what is possible and then picks what is more than likely to move on. The Minesweeper PC game revolves around the same concept. This is pretty much how I do video game analysis. Gathering datas, then make hypothesis and see what is more than likely. The more datas you have, the more sharpened are your hypothesis and that's why I studied the whole BTU genre, the whole Fighting game genre and even some action games stemmed from space invaders (1978?) or Spartan X (1984).


Time has come for me to pick an hypothesis to pursue the analysis (I already made my choice: this analysis is planned up to the end). You can reject the hypothesis I picked since I will give you the tools to reject it. That's scientific process and intellectual honesty. However, I will keep using it for the rest of the analysis.

Air game is not prevailing in SoR2 (just way more polished, planned and thought) and SEGA will only start to emphasis on air game in SoR3. This is a data I took into account. Another important data is that BK has reworked a lot the Final Fight's grapple game. The throw escape we broached in chapter 10, but other clever mechanics had been added/tweaked too and we'll broach them in next chapter. The last data I took into account is the fact that many SoR's elements and Golden Axe's elements (both from SEGA) reject sociology aspect of the medium up to 1991 (opposed to Konami, Technos Japan, and Capcom) to focus on game design (like Sudoku and Minesweeper).

This is why I picked hypothesis 2: They understood The Combatribes's Static Metagame, so they emphasis on static grapple game (which has been reworked) and static target combo (almost copy/paste from Final Fight). So their hero benefits from the worst air attack to refer to Technos Japan's Static Kombat game design and to explain the player that this game is not SEGA's Final Fight but SEGA's Bare Knuckle through the process of gameplay without caring about the aftermath on the mythology.

Chapter16: SoR's Grapple Game
SoR removed two Final Fight features. First, the walking grapple since there is no grappler in SoR. It makes a lot of sense from a game design angle, but this is, on a first look, another weird trait here.


..... Noob... definitely.

The Combatribes is all about grapplers and Final Fight's battle system has been created to introduce the wrestler archetype. Every Capcom FF models (list below) feature at least one Grappler and/or one Half-Breed (more on that concept in another chapter) for that (obvious?) reason.


  • 1991 Captain Commando
  • 1992 Warriors of Fate
  • 1993 Cadillacs&Dinosaurs
  • 1993 The Punisher (he has walking grapple, jumping throw, giant swing and more)
  • 1993 Final Fight 2
  • 1994 Alien vs Predator
  • 1995 Final Fight Tough
  • 1997 Battle Circuit (last Capcom arcade BTU)



Capcom's FF models (1989-1995).

The King of Dragons, Knights of the Round and the D&D series do not use Final Fight's grapple mechanics. I won't cover the Armored Warriors case since its lore is complex (robot you can customize) and has nothing to do here but we we'll broach The Punisher's case later in the analysis.


D&D Shadow over Mystara is a Capcom's BTU but is not a FF Model. AvP is a Capcom's BTU but also a FF model.

The other thing they removed is what is frequently called the "Grab n Throw mechanics". I prefer call it "chain into throw" (more consistent/scientific name). It's the ability to cancel the penultimate move of your chain by a throw. It is used by Irem's BTU which use the Final Fight's battle system (UCCops, Hook, Ninja Baseball Batman) and almost every Capcom's BTU in the list above.


It's even more handy with smaller chain and longer arms!
I'm indeed the companion, the sidekick.

ie: AvP does not use that mechanics since it does not emphasis on toss/slam but on juggle/otg (broached in chapter 12).

Are you suggesting I'm not the star of the show?

So SEGA took two pure game design's decisions which do not only make sense from a game design angle (static grapple game emphasis + no guard to open) but without any aftermath on the lore too. Sega tells us:

SEGA wrote:
"If you want to throw, you need to grapple first, and you don't have any jump-in attack to do so."

To trade for that nerf, we can now use both toss and slam with every characters. Like for the knife's throw/stab, Sega found the toss/slam concept very interesting (indeed they are), and there is no reason for them that only one character benefits from that mechanics (Sega + Lore = 2). This is also reinforced by the fact they want to balance their roster (game design, as always).


Genesis:
In 1986, Renegade permits some mooks to back grapple Kunio to drain his life.

foreshadow

In 1987, Double Dragon offered the ability to the player to back grapple mooks. It has no use in solo and difficult to perform but permits some co-op tactics (one hold the mook, the other one hit).


foreshadow

In 1990, East Technology released Double Dragon III. A game which offered us the possibility to slam a stun opponent if we approached him from behind. As it used a stun mechanics (Technos Japan's battle system) the damaging slam is not easy to use.


foreshadow

As Streets of Rage uses Final Fight's grapple pattern, it's way easier to use slam for two reasons. First, they add the ability to grapple from behind, so we can use the vertical approach to "cross down" (touching someone in the back while not being in the back) or to approach a mook from behind.


Now we can trigger back grapple too.

They also add a second mechanics to highlight back grapple, and here is Sega's most clever move (along with the throw escape mechanics). Haggar's throws are all about wrestling so they included the vault mechanics (which is a wrestling move). This feature permits us to change grapple if we have time to do so. I know SoR2/3/R's vault is invincible and permits us to dodge projectile (don't remember for SoR1) but anyway.



The connectivity brought by the "toss/slam/front grapple/back grapple/vault/throw escape" mechanics into the metagame is just amazing for 1991. What is just deppressing, is that pretty much no other FF model will understand that. Rushing beat series has back grapple mechanics (but no vault), Hook has throw escape mechanics for mook (but no back grapple/vault), and Final Fight Tough might be the only game with pretty much all (no throw escape, vulnerable vault).

On top of that, SoR used the same intuitive front/back grapple/vault mechanics for team attacks and to escape from a mook who back grapple us!



Last but not least, the throwing tactics are thought like in Technos Japan's games. We can only throw the enemy behind our character (opposed to lots of FF models where we can chose the side) and this feature alone forces us to take reckoned risk for pitting : positioning our character between the pit and the enemy. BK1 features pits (as Renegade/DD did), and SEGA understood why Final Fight changed the rule (no pit).


Conclusion:
SEGA learned a lot from Capcom's and Technos Japan's metagames (compared to Irem and Jaleco in that very year), and the "willing newbie" is already en route for overstepping all of them!


That's Tomoe Nage SEGA! Just sayin'...


See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:18 am

Chapter17: Ladies first

Now we have covered SoR's battle system, it's time to review the playable characters. As we are gentlemen, let's speak about Blaze first. Plus Ryu made the perfect transition to dive into her (no pun intended... Almost).

Important: easier to use =/= stronger/effecient (tiers list)

I'm very hard to use, but I'm very effecient in GGXX Reload. I'm quite easy to use, but I'm very efficient in GGXX Slash.

As stated in the Character Ranking, Blaze walks fast. This alone highlights two gaming points. Firstly, it permits her to dodge easily, secondly it helps her to grapple opponents with a faster approach. As the game emphasises on grapple game, it gives a very good game feel* to the player who picked Blaze for a first try.

good game feel: Its refers to the first action games's culture (shmup and plateformer are genres based on fast moving avatars). Those genres are way more understood than BTU, and lots of people are looking for that sensation/feeling while playing any "Action games" (BTU included). Actually, lots of modern 3D brawlers put pure plateform phases because of that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is clunky or plain out of place but what can you do when a genre based on fighting culture died prematurely in the 90's?


Somewhere, in a paralelle universe...

Blaze's grapple game is highlighted both in game and lore with several features. She benefits from a very unsafe -but flashy- flurry's finisher (flip kick) which incites the player to favour her throws to end a grapple phase/state. The first one is the generic slam (back drop / suplex, who knows?), but the other one is really unique.


Like you Haggar!!...??

Her throw/toss projectile is way more flashy than a shoulder throw. The Tomoe Nage brings a lot, not only to her own identity, but to the game's mythology. It is funny to note that Capcom provided that move to Sho the Ninja (Captain Commando's sidekick) this very year. The leg throw type will appears in quite few others BTU as a toss. Nonetheless, they are famous enough to show us how "strong" that move is in the BK's mythology, and will become in the BTU's mythology.



Selection: Sega's Golden Axe The Revenge of  Death Adder (Trix's moveset) Irem's UCCops (Zan's moveset), Jaleco's Brawl Brothers (Lord J.'s moveset), Konami's BTU parody : Violent Storm (Wade/Kyle's moveset).


Are you flattering me, you frenchie boy?...

Of course, Street Fighter II's Ryu/Ken participated to strenghten that status.

I wouldn't be so sure about that Blaze...

On the other hand, her target combo is very unsafe. That flashy flip kick is once again her finisher which, once again, forces the player to make a way around. That reccuring flip kick does not only give a lot of identity to Blaze (both in lore/game) but also turns her into a technical character gameplaywise. To make up for that, she benefits from a reverse back side kick. Not only it looks cool, but it's quite safe and efficient thanks to its knockdown property (critical move). The very first Double Dragon is famous for the over effectiveness of the rear elbow (critical too) and it's more than likely that SEGA wanted to balanced it out as Technos Japan got back to Renegade's Rear Kick for Double Dragon II (not critical) and Capcom got rid of it to create the Mega Crash.


Badass, Sexy and Efficient: What else?

Let's conclude with her air game which is pretty good thanks to her jumping curve and her jump kick. This gives her a good crowd control against basic mooks and it helps a bit to balance out her overall gameplay.



All of those gaming features remind us of Guy's gaming identity but it's also supported by many audiovisual elements. Guy used to have a very flashy sound effect when finishing his target combo with his roundhouse kick (Blaze's flip kick?). Blaze uses red color, and if we look closely to the original cover, we'll notice that her stance is very different from Blitz (The Combatribes's red character) and from her partners.


Ninja pose? Kung Fu pose? Who knows...

Capcom turned Jimmy into the eastern part of Billy (katana, roundhouse kick): Guy, the technician warrior (wall jump, low range). SEGA turns Guy into a female technician warrior (reverse back side kick, unsafe flip kick).



By doing this, SEGA gives a lot of identy to that character, and probably thought that her "not that easy to use" gameplay will be enough to not overshadow the Hero who is a bit easier to use. They just totally missed the point that "flash" is always socialy rewarded and what happens is that a lots of people created a strong connection with Blaze Fielding.


You really don't get it Sega...

She's new to the genre (neither mook nor background character), she has an outstanding gaming identity (tomoe nage, flip kick, fast walk) which will appeal technician players (small part of the audience), but she's hot (lambada hobbyist, sexy legs and skirt) without being depicted as a submissive princess or a sexual object, since her warrior traits are very sharpened:

  • cover's fighting stance,
  • works as a cop,
  • fighting gloves,
  • leather jacket (like Mad Max/Kenshiro),
  • headband (like Street Fighter's Ryu).


What am I doing here?

This is also backed up by the fact her status in the system (game/society) is the same as the other characters (balanced roster philosophy/cop) and by the fact her purpose is not to rescue princess (selfish), but to fight crime (altruistic). All of this combined as mayonese permits teens players (including heterosexual boys and homosexual girls) to get attracted by her (big part of the audience) and to girl players (whatever their sexual orientations) to identify to her (the secondary target SEGA tries to involve with Golden Axe and SoR).

Aftermath:
BKI's Blaze is still quite popular in the SorR's community despite being in competition with sexyier girls like BKII Blaze or Elle, and easier to use girls, like Rudra or BKIII Blaze.

Mirror, am I the sexyiest of them all?

The very fact that SEGA will designed BKM's Blaze by mixing BKI Blaze's outfit with BKII Blaze's body (and panty) shows us how strong BKI Blaze is in the mythology. And look how popular BKM Blaze is.

Korewa Super Vegito!

Here is another step toward Bare Knuckle's "uncontrolled" mythology and SEGA's future decisions for SoR2 (1992).

Conclusion:
Sega's refined definition of the companion (Sexy Female Technician Warrior in Red) will set the status of future Capcom's FF models's companion (Final Fight 2's Maki, C&D's Hannah and AvP's Linn), which is not the case of pretty much every other Studios who will produced FF models.


Hmm... it lacks someone between those two... someone from SEGA!

This shows us that Capcom (the creator of that model) will study SEGA and will understand what SEGA brought to the FF model both in gameplay and lore (video game), and will show respect to their work on the medium, while lots of Studios will just keep copying Final Fight without really understanding it (both game and lore) and without caring about SEGA's amazing work. However, Capcom will not refer to SEGA's companion before 1993...


Before SEGA fixed their Mythology and deliver a consistent speech?...

See you in my next post.

------------------------------

Gloves, Armor, shoulder pad, katana, orange color, works as a soldier with altruistic purpose, female technician warrior...
Ok, just got it!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:09 am

Chapter 18: The Heavy Mob

We went in-depth with the Companion, It's time to introduce another very reccuring archetype of the BTU's mythology/genre: The Heavy Mob. The Heavy Mob exists in pretty much every BTU which feature an archetype system, Final Fight being a famous exception (Haggar being the Hero, the father, the leader). From a game design angle, the heavy mob can be either a grappler or a power type character depending on the context (roster/plot/hero/battle system's emphasis).  


Dahmnit!! Where are the back-ups?

I am the back-ups.

Interestingly, few titles - published before Blaze's advent (1993) - combined the Companion and the Heavy Mob into a single character, maybe to strenghten their status within their lores. Douglas Bild from Jaleco's Rushing Beat is the Heavy Mob (grappler) and the Companion (red color). Kassar* from Capcom's Warriors of Fate is the Heavy Mob (grappler) and the Companion (red color).


Kassar: Is one of the unofficial names gave by Capcom (no money to pay the copyright?!) to Zangh Fei (The Heavy Mob of the chinese's legends of three kingdoms). It seems to make sense since Guan Yu (Kan-U/Portor, Blue color) is depicted as the central character of Warriors of Fate.

Now let's make a global review of BTU's black guys before diving into Adam's in-depth analysis to set the context.

Konami's Crime Fighters (1989).
The game does not feature archetype, only a balanced type character and his clone. Some arcade cabinets featured a 4 players set and one of the palette swap is black (red color). I don't consider palette swap as character even though Jimmy is. The thing is, Jimmy is the BTU's first coop character (game) and participated to build a very strong mythology (lore) which provides to Jimmy tons of consitency as a video game character, which is not his case.


I'm that guy, I don't even have a name.

Technos Japan's The Combatribes (1990)
We already spoke about Bullova. Heavy mob - yellow color - grappler - spec : ground game.

SEGA's D.D. Crew (1991)
This game is really not polished on many different levels including battle design and battle system. Every characters share the same ground mechanics (Lift from the ground: River City Ransom, Technos Japan, 1989). There is a "Billy/Knight" as a Hero with a default moveset, an old Kung Fu master as a "technician wanabe" (moveset not that polished), a Schwartzy (Lungren?) guy as the grappler heavy mob (not polished at all), and Buster (Mike Tyson) as the power type heavy mob (wait a minute). They both have a giant swing as a throw and... Actually, the movesets and mechanics are so unpolished that we will have big trouble to figure out who is the grappler and who is the power type if we get rid of the very polished chara design. At least this game has good audiovisual materials.


Is that David Cage's concept ancestor?...

Konami's Crime Fighters 2 (1991)
Vendetta's Blood uses the Companion's color but it refers to the "CF1's 4P's palette swap" more than Jimmy. This said, it is quite ambigous. Let's understand why but first, keep in mind that CF series, while being a humorous BTU's parody, is also a BTU's satire.

The intro of the first game (0m:42s) is very meaningful.

This run is tool assisted.

Blood (red color?) has a vey good punch set and a descent kick set. His ground game is all about punching opponents on the floor. While refering to Mike Tyson and to "gory fight" (Blood), Konami shaded their speech a lot regarding him. First-of-all: he is the default cursor position on the character screen (Important character? Do they incite us to pick him up?)


Am I the hero??

Then, he benefits from a unique grapple game. He can chose the direction he wants to toss while other characters can't (it seems very handy for crowd control), but the curve of the "projectile" is really bad compared to his partners, making it harder for him to use people as fighting tools (Jimmy?). Last but not least: he has one of the least efficient ground game of the game (wow!).


Cobra Gang is here! (To rescue princess!).

Hawk (blue/grappler/who refers to Hulk Hogan) benefits from a powerful, but slow and unsafe ground attack. The two other dudes benefits from fast, safe and easy to use ground stomp. Blood is a really polished power type archetype (+hit | -throw) in terms of gameplay. Regarding the lore, he's a step in the nice direction for black people in BTU/fighting games. However this move is not that effective actually (Tyris Flare's syndrom?).

Interesting social facts:
Blood's custom sprite extrapolates the perception of a significant part of the fanbase (as any polished fanmade work).


People really see "Mike Tyson / Bison" in him (Bulky/Buffed). A lots of articles I read about Vendetta spoke about that boxer.

To me, Blood's physical shape (face / haircut / body) and gameplay (punch +. throw -. ground game -. evil -.) does not feel like Mike Tyson. More than Jimmy, I see "that guy" in Blood (but I might be totally wrong).


Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay.

Wikipedia wrote:
Muhammad Ali (/ɑːˈliː/; born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is now highly regarded for the skills he displayed in the ring plus the values he exemplified outside of it: religious freedom, racial justice and the triumph of principle over expedience. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali

Another interesting fact is that KoF's Vanessa's black palette swap is very popular/used (in fighting game communities) compared to her default skin (white girl). I skip the Karate Blazers's black character (1991 too) because I think we start to got the picture.


Boxer and Black people are strongly connected in the BTU/Fighting game's mythology.

Conclusion:
Blood, Buster and Bullova are very different but all of them share a game/lore feature: they pack a wicked punch. Even Bullova -who is a giant swing's specialist in a 100% grappler's roster- benefits from a massive critical uppercut.


Heavy Mob (lore) / Power type (game) is the path the BTU/Fighting games seems to take for black people. Let's see how Adam fits into this.


Mike Tyson's haircut but Cassius Clay's body?

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:43 am

Chapter 19: Adam's Fate part one: the little tree

Regarding the previous chapter, just take note that Konami never stated that Blood refers to any existing boxer. Let's review Adam Hunter without transition because this guy deserved/required two chapters.

Adam clearly refers to Bullova on a first look:


Color scheme, fighting stance and haircut.

Now if we look at Adam's profile, things start to differ. His official bio is very unclear/indistinct regarding his fighting technique:


ability: boxing

I think they chose on purpose the word "Boxing" (and not "Boxer"), to refer to the established BTU's mythology (Black Guy <=> Boxer) while shading their speech in the same time (Sega's progressive policy). Many visual elements refined this data.



Like you Bull... Mike T... but whom do I refer to?

That's a good question Adam. Indeed, Blood and Buster have no jump kick (only jump punch) but you might know that many countries created their own boxing, like England of course (also known as Western Boxing), but Thaïland's Muay Thai or France's Savate are also boxing. It's more than likely that he does not practice English Boxing (Mike Tyson, KoF's Vanessa, Tekken's Steve Fox) but something like Kickboxing or French Boxing.

Wikipedia wrote:
Kickboxing (in Japanese キックボクシング kikkubokushingu) is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate, Muay Thai, and Western boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a contact sport.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickboxing


Wikipedia wrote:
Savate (French pronunciation: ​[saˈvat]), also known as boxe française, French boxing, French kickboxing or French footfighting, is a French martial art which uses the hands and feet as weapons combining elements of western boxing with graceful kicking techniques. Only foot kicks are allowed unlike some systems such as Muay Thai, Silat and Yaw-Yan which allow the use of the knees or shins.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savate


French Boxing? Kickboxing? Who knows...

Another interesting bio's element is the fact that he is a "bonsaï's hobbyist". Actually, this data isn't understood by a significant part of the audience. I'm pretty sure the reason behind this misunderstanding is tightly connected to the fact that many people didn't perceive Cassius Clay in Blood. Mike Tyson's aura blurs the audience's perception of black people in the medium.


I'm cursed.

To be sure you get my point, I'll go the trash way. I know a girl who loves to do "blowjobs", but as "Sex is Evil" (according to many cultures), a big part of the audience will think that this girl is a slut if I put this info in her "video game profile". This is plain wrong, she is not a slut, and she has other hobbies, like Dancing or Watching movies. As I have no cutscene to create an in-depth context, I would pick one of those, to put in her bio. As she is lively and light-hearted, I would put "Hobby : Dance" to reflect these traits.


I'm not a slut, mind you!

So Sega went through the same process of thinking with Adam. They spent time to chose a Hobby to depict his personality. He may play basket ball, or listen to rap music, but it's maybe too cliché, and may just keep the "Mike Tyson's mythology" going on, making Adam falls in the "Blood's fate" in the process. So they chose to highlight one of his hobbies: the Bonsaï. It refers to the japanese zen's philosophy. SEGA tells us : "this guy is cool, this guy is patient, this guy has valors, this guy has nothing to do with a ruthless brutal philosophy". SEGA just didn't take into account that western's audience didn't even know what the Zen's philosophy is.

Aftermath:
Some SoRR mods has been made depicting Adam as a hot-headed guy. Even S-o-R-online, which is depicted as the #1 SoR's Database, didn't understand the meaning of Adam's Hobby.

S-o-R-online wrote:
"Adam also must have the strangest hobby of any beat 'em up character - bonsai?!"

Nonetheless, a "not-that-small" part of the fans managed to understand what Adam's personality look alike. Every polished fanmade works extrapolate the perception of a significant part of the fanbase. Adam's Story is one of the most polished mod on the SoRR's board (fact). This shows us that SEGA's 1991 move with Adam was not as inefficient as Konami's 1991 trial with Blood.


In my opinion, Sega realized their progressive speech toward black people wasn't as clear as they intended (not-that-efficient Bonsaï) and so they went "the hard way" to make sure everybody (from the retarded guy, to the professional game tester) understand that "Black people in SoR has nothing to do with the ruthless Mike Tyson's mentality".

Bullova's concept (TC: 1990)

I'm black, I'm evil.

Blood's Trial (CF2: summer 1991)


I'm black, I'm not evil!!!


No, you're black, you're Mike Tyson.

Mike Bison (SF2 : summer 1991)

------GWARRGHHH!!!!

After the BTU death. (SF3.1 : early 1997)

Thou never dared to compare me to "Mike", didn't thou?

That's true Dudley. Do you want to know what happened for you to exist?

After the "Bonsaï-gate" (SoR2: Summer 1992)


I'm black, I'm not evil.
Is that clear enough for you people?

The year after SEGA managed to piledrive their speech in the audience's throat with Skate. Some cool and funny black guys started to appear in the BTU. C&D's Mustapha (spring 1993) is a cool black guy with very high mobility (Is that you Skate?...  Shocked ). Boris appears few monthes after. A bulky black guy who makes fun of Haggar in CF3.

I'm bulky, I refer to CF2's Blood, to FF's Haggar, and not to Tyson.
I want to thank you Skate. Really.

Between SFII's Mike Bison and SFIII's Dudley, another black guy was born in the Capcom's fighting game franchise. Dee Jay (summer 1993, Capcom's SSFII). Who is Dee Jay? A Kickboxing master who likes music and dancing as a hobby.


I want to thank you Adam and Skate. Really.


I thank you too Skate (Sean, SF3 series).

I skip some SNK and 3D Fighters characters like Mutation Nation's sidekick, Fatal Fury's Bob Wilson or DoA's Zack and jump to the conclusion.

Conclusion:
Streets of Rage is definitely revolutionary on many different levels. Period. Is replacing Adam by Skate was a bad move? As a die hard Streets of Rage fan, I used to think it was a very bad decision with no good reason.


Now, I ranked it in the "50 shades of grey decisions".

See you in my next post (for Adam's Fate part two).


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:35 am

Chapter 20: Adam's Fate (part two): the gettho super star?

We've seen that SEGA tried to have it both ways, to deliver their speech by embracing a double standard. On one hand they refer to the Technos Japan's evilest archetype (color scheme, fighting  stance and hair cut) and to the "Black guy's mythology" (Heavy Mob / Boxing). On the other hand they shaded their speech a lot with his bio (bonsaï) and his audiovisual materials (graceful kicks). That shaded speech backfired a bit. Less than Konami's Blood, but yet, still resulting in an "unconsitent speech" they will (have to?) fix in the next game. The first point which sealed Adam's Fate -to me- is this:


A f****** little tree.

This said, -to me- there is another point which will take an important role in Adam's Fate.


As stated in the character ranking, Adam walks slowly. As explained with Blaze, this feature handicaps him on several aspects:

  • social : "he feels sluggish" (shmup culture).
  • gameplay : "difficulty to dodge/grapple".

In the same time, it also provides a gaming identity to him which appeals some hardcore gamers (small part of the audience).


You won't overshadow me!

SoRR is brilliant:

A good example to illustrate those bullet points is on the SoRR Board. SORDave stated that "SoR2 Combo Type" (Final Fight's Static chain system) feels stiff compare to "SoR3 Combo Type" (Semi dynamic chain system stemmed from Captain Commando).


I'm neither a Final Fight's clone nor a "sluggish" grappler.
This game (CC) emphasises on dynamic attack patterns and I (CC) personify it.


This is why this FF's static mechanics is not in CC.
Why professional video game testers didn't get it?



Because they think I am Mike Tyson?

SoRDAVE would not feel Captain Commando as "sluggish" as FF. On the other hand, Don Vecta, who is a Final Fight's lover and a mania player, like to play SoRR's Max (Heavy Mob / Grappler) with "SoR2 Combo Type" (FF's Static chain system). SoRR does not reject sociology aspect of the medium, it's up to the user to set the option which fits his fighting philosophy.

http://www.sorrcommunity.com/t232p50-the-h-u-n-t-e-r-saga#9643

Back to Adam's Fate.

Adam benefits from a good jump and good air game which totally breaks with the black guy's established mythology (lore). Not only it helps him a bit to balance his cons by having a very good crowd control (game), but it will also help a bit the audience to get a better game feel with him (social).



"mario culture, jump kick around".

His target combo is very peculiar. The third attack is an uppercut with a bad recovery, but benefits from a launch property. The last hit is a powerful sidekick with a reasonable recovery and a knockdown property.

Small historic note: The first BTU with a "launcher => juggle" system is Mutation Nation (1991, SNK) which features a (almost) "2P Clone". It's a black guy (hip hop culture's outfit). It's pretty archaic, and SoR1 is nowhere near that. SEGA probably just wanted to refer to Bullova's uppercut and shows respect to Technos Japan in adding that flashy launch effect.


I use the companion's color (red) and refer to Bullova (yellow)?

They just didn't get that it is very flashy, and very new, in a side-kick's moveset. Let's try to figure out what happens in surimposing all the moderate gameplay's cons of Adam's chain with the outstanding visual effects:

hitstun into launch into knock away

A new kind of badassery is born...

Adam has a terrible rear attack, it has acceptable range and knockdown property, but a very slow start up. It's not this unsafe, it is just plain useless.


But even my useless moves are stylish.

SEGA seems to want to turn Bullova (heavy mob, crew cut, yellow, slow walk, uppercut) into something more progressive (good air game, no ground game, athletic body shape, bonsaï hobbyist) but they, once again, totally missed an important point, and created an outstandingly badass moveset. I would like to go further in Adam's moveset analysis, but I can't, because... to create Adam, SEGA took the decision to "jump the shark" with the Billy's dichotomy.


Mad Scientists in Action:
What is more western than a western dude who learned asian martial arts? A westen black guy who learned western martial arts (kickboxing/savate). So Adam is designed as the western part of Cody (boxing /Slower/Black guy) while Axel is the eastern part of Cody (martial arts/faster/white guy). If we follow SEGA's logic (split into two the half of something), it makes Axel and Adam a bit more similar than Cody and Guy were (eugenics!!!).


Yes, they splitted Cody's chain into two!

They share the same grapple moveset (knee bash/shoulder toss/slam), the same number of hits to knock down (4), the same knife's stab/throw ability and the same "no wall jump ability". I keep this part of Adam's moveset for BKI Axel's review. This said, as absurd the SEGA's decision seems, it helps to balance their roster and to tell the audience:

"Black people and white people are not this different in our game...".

However, and ironicly, lots of people believe that Adam is the best character in the game (for whatever reason).
S-o-R-online still keeps this "myth" going on.

S-o-R-online wrote:
This is Adam's only playable appearance in the series, which is a pity as he is a very good character to play

The fact that he is the best character, or not, isn't really important (tiers list), what is important is that Adam inherited of "the free advertisement" of the audience. The very one we approached in chapter 14, the very one our hero desperately needed and never got.


I'm doomed!!!!

Conclusion:
Quote :
—Ah, you were the one responsible for Adam’s disappearance?
Koshiro: Yes, that was me. (laughs) I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but of course I asked Sega for permission first.
—But you were the one who suggested it?
Koshiro: Hmm… I’m not sure. It might not have been me. It probably was more of a simultaneous thing, like, “we don’t really need Adam, do we?” “Nope!”
http://shmuplations.com/streetsofrage2/

Adam:

  • is good looking (cool if you fancy male),
  • is badass (cool for boys to identify),
  • represents black people (cool for black people to identify),
  • has a stylish moveset (cool for all casual gaming audience, and some hard core gamers too),
  • has a refined gaming identity: slow walk (appeals hard core gamers),
  • and the reputation that he has the most efficient moveset in the game (cool for everyone).


I'm pretty sure he even managed to get more popular than Blaze (but I wouldn't bet on it). If I have to put the % of audience Adam managed to seduce, it will be something like... well, you know.



I'm affraid we have highlighted another important point of the BK's 'uncontrolled' mythology which may have participated to seal Adam's Fate.

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:15 pm

Chapter 21: Who is Billy?

The previous chapter had several functions. Among them, broaching the "Fighting Philosophy" concept (game) and establishing that Adam is the western part of Cody, while BKI Axel is the eastern part of Cody (lore). Following this logic:

  • BKI Axel is much closer to Billy than both Adam and Cody (lore).
  • BKI Axel is tightly connected to Billy's fighting philosophy (game).

If  you read the whole analysis up to this chapter, you may noticed we never broached the subject of "who is Billy?". Of course, we know that he is "the good guy / the hero" but aside from that, we never took the time to understand what is his fighting philosophy and whom did he refers to.


You might encounter some people who will tell you that everybody knows that Billy refers to Bruce Lee. The problem comes from the fact lots of people have a biaised vision of Bruce Lee. They hear that name and they think to that:

Watah!!!

That's Bruce Lee, the movie star. The thing is, Bruce Lee didn't dedicated his life to turn martial arts into entertainement like Jesse Ventura (Haggar) did (Movie star, WWF star).
Bruce Lee learned the Wing Chun, which is a synthesis of several martial arts. He judged this martial art "not-this-efficient, too unsafe". Bruce Lee learned a lots of martial arts to improve his fighting technique, and tries to get rid of all the flashy stuffs to make them more efficient and easier to learn. He was banned and hated from his community because he dared getting rid of the chinese martial arts's "lore" (unsafe fighting stance, bad start up, bad recovery, etc) to focus on the "sport" (game?). It was perceived as an insult to the chinese culture.


This is how we do!


Not me.

When he went to the U.S.A to perfect his technique (and teached it to the western audience), the chinese community treated him as a "McDonald seller", and perceived his action as a "betrayal". Before dying, Bruce Lee learned a lot from fighting with western people and stated that his technique terribly lacks of ground fighting technique.


Blue Mary's armbar. Sambo (russian martial arts).

Technos Japan was founded in 1986 by developers from other studios with one objective: being the king of the BTU medium in creating a deep battle system inspired by real martial arts (opposed to all those action games stemmed from Spartan X). By summing up the Life of Bruce Lee, you might have understood who his Billy and how Kishimito (Technos Japan) thought his battle systems. Poor air game because opponents can duck: it's unsafe. Jump kicks were created to fight against cavalry (to make the knight fall from his horse), not against footsoldiers.


XXth Century's Cavalry/Horses?

No critical moves spamming. Favour fast and safe moves to cause pain (required few energy). This creates opening or stuns opponent. Then you can use a powerful critical move (required more energy) to deal damage and/or to knock down, or you can grapple him.


Fast move into stun move into critical move.
It's Technos Japan's chain system in a nutshell.
It's Bruce Lee's philosophy.

No ground mechanics, because Bruce Lee overlooked the ground fight his whole life. UFC places an emphasis on ground fight, UFC is Western Mixed Martial Arts.


Ronda Rousey Armbar. UFC.


ability: Martial Arts

BKI's Axel was conceived as Bruce Lee (no air game because it's unsafe, no ground game because it is not in the JKD), to force the player to adopt Bruce Lee's philosophy (ability: Martial Arts). A character designed for experienced players like FF's Haggar. SEGA didn't understand that people cannot enjoy that kind of concept. First, air game is not that unsafe against basic mooks in BKI (game design inconsistency). Then, the audience never perceived the depth of the Double Dragon's concept in the first place (Bruce Lee's fighting philosophy's tribute).



I just understood why they think I am Mike Tyson...
They never understood the medium as a whole?

From a social angle, SEGA tried to tell us "look it's Billy (Technos Japan's real Billy)" the character designed for the "real warriors". They totally overlooked that the Capcom's Revolution was already achieved and all that we saw in BKI Axel was a "watered down Cody (Capcom's flashy Billy)". We (casual gamers) all went for the flashier, slower, unsafe western Adam (Badass Cody) or for the companion and her awesome eastern Tomoe Nage and her flashy unsafe flip kick (Sexy Guy). We (hard core gamers) all went for Adam's extra range and good air game, or for the Blaze's fast mobility and technical tricks.


Bruce Lee comments: your bland finisher has better range and is safer than Cody's finisher. Good 4 U.

BKI Axel was reduced -to our uneducated  eyes- to a "bland character, with no taste, not slow, not fast, not flashy, with bad air game for no perceptible reason (neither in lore nor in game)".



Bruce Lee comments: you shouldn't jump against footsoldiers, Axel knows this.

It is also back-up by the frankenstein nature of the whole game, and we may unconciously perceived that BKI Axel's audiovisual marterials were the perfect reflection of the "Frankenstein's monster girl" that BKI is.


Like you Berzerker!

Like you Cody!

Like you Haggar!

Like you Billy!

BKI Axel is an audiovisual...

Frankenstein's monster!

Conclusion:
BKI is a good beat em up, a revolutionary title, but its speech is so unclear, unconsistent, that it can't handle an acceptable mythology. SEGA will take decisions to build a legacy according to Capcom's definition of the medium. Because, as we will see in the next chapter: Capcom redefined the BTU.


If you want to play Fei Long competitively,
use the first fast one (safe on block),
hit check if block or not. If not blocked
then use the two others (unsafe on block).
It's Capcom's Bruce Lee.


See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Thu Dec 10, 2015 5:51 pm

Chapter22: Capcom created the Beat em up?

In 1991, the audience is not in empathy with Billy anymore and maybe never was inclined to build connection/empathy with that philosophy. The relationship between BKI Axel's visuals (moveset and chara design) and BKI Axel's gameplay is similar to this. It's like Buronson (Scenario writter) forgot to tell Tetsuo Hara (drawer) to design iconic visual elements to deliver the consistent speech of Hokuto no Ken.


Hokuto Hyakuretsuken!

Lots of people never read that manga nor watch the anime, but in 2015 everyone knows Ken and his signature move. This is how you create connection/empathy, this is how you build mythology, this is why HnK is one of the most used audiovisual material in the whole BTU and Fighting game genre.


I can't really negate that actually...

For the same reason the Holy Bible and the Greek Mythology are referenced in western movies made by directors who never read the Greek Mythology and never read the Holy Bible or just don't care about it. This is why this is called Mythology, it's uncouscious, it's deep in our culture and we don't even notice it. That's also why chinese movies do not refer to the Holy Bible as much. It's not because they do not read the Holy Bible, but because it is not in their culture.


Do you think I tried to build a legacy with those moves nobody knows the names?
No that's Technos Japan's 1986 outdated concept.


I'm with you pal, western audience knows the name of my throw.


Let's use this move everybody knows the name. (SSFII intro. 1993)

SEGA will understand that if you pretend to be the Hero of a BTU/Fighting game, then you need flashy moves. Even if they are not effecient in the actual metagame. First because casual gamers play for fun and flash is always socialy rewarded. (Look at the action movie industry, there is no game in this medium and all directors go for flashy stuffs). Secondly, because a part of the hard core gamer audience plays for flash.


In 1994, Sega totally understood what Capcom did in 1987.

That's why mid tiers and low tiers flashy characters are played in fighting games tournaments but not those who aren't. That's why grapplers are very popular in early 90's BTU (Professional Wrestling is all about entertainment more than Sport), that's why Dante based his whole fighting style and personality on flash (gameplay/scoring/trash talk during cutscenes). That's why western mythology (WWF, Holy Bible, Greek Mythology) is more welcomed than Martial Arts's mythology.


We can't really negate that actually...

When I say Capcom created both BTU and Fighting games, some people might say "you're wrong dude, look at Renegade". I answer, Capcom brought Flash in both fighting games and BTU redefining the medium in the process, and Kishimoto understood it instantly.

Kishimoto's Decisions:
After Double Dragon's success (compared to Renegade), small changes were made for the Nes Port (1988). In the same time, Technos Japan worked on DDII Arcade. Kishimoto took the decision to improve Billy's moveset, by combining mechanics from Renegade with DDI's concept (evil mechanics excluded). We won't go in-depth, we will just depict what SEGA's obviously missed.

DDI's High Kick is replaced by Renegade's Rear Kick.

DDII's Billy benefits from a brand new move, flashy and efficient as hell: The hurricane kick.

Tastumaki Senpukyaku?!!

The year after (1989), Technos Japan  released a brand new version of DDII for the nes. This video game is very different from the Arcade game and Billy benefits from lots of flashy and efficient moves like the rising knee and the super uppercut.

Shoryuken?

Meanwhile, Capcom's Final Fight divides Billy into two.

Like you DDII's Billy and Jimmy
Like you SFI's Ryu and Ken...


Timeline

  • Renegade (1986)
  • Double Dragon (1987)
  • Street Fighter (1987)
  • Double Dragon II Arcade (1988)
  • Double Dragon II Nes (1989)
  • Final Fight Arcade (december 1989)

Kishimoto turned Billy into a "flashier" character just after Capcom's Ryu's birth, and will do the same for Kunio (maha-punch/kick aka mach-punch/kick). In the 80's, Beat em up and Fighting game were synonyms. Street Fighter II is the title which splits into two genres, video games which use exactly the same gameplay's core elements. Like if Counter Strike and Quake III Arena were not FPS. Like if World of Warcraft was not an RPG.

No it's A MMO RPG you fucking noob!


Is it a Fighting game or a Beat em up?
(Monster Maulers, Konami. 1993).

If SEGA failed to handle their mythology in the first episode, it's because they sticked to the outdated Technos Japan's hero (DDI's Billy). The very one TJ gave up to focus on Capcom's Revolution and Evil Kombat.

  • Technos Japan Double Dragon series Moral Kombat: Arcade 1987-1988 Nes: 1988-1991 SNES: 1992
  • The Combatribes is all about wrestlers and evil kombat (1990).
  • Shadow Force is all about Ninjas, Monsters and all that shonen's flicks (1992-1993)
  • The Kunio Kun series is all about evil kombat (1986-1994).
  • Double Dragon Fighting game: Capcom's Street Fighter's flick (1995)

1992 TJ's Shodai Nekketsu. SNK Art of Fighting.

Kunio's and Riki's Maha-Punch/Kick. Ryo and Robert's Zantetsuken.


In 1993, Sega started a huge mess by using Technos Japan's Concept (martial arts) for their brilliant Fighting game,
thinking that 3D technology was flashy enough.


Aftermath in the XXIth century


Released price about 8$  -try to enlarge their tiny audience-


Released price: about 40$ -let's feed the legacy-
I also use 3D technology, lol SEGA, you fucking noob!

Look how Virtua Fighter is dying by his lack of flash and gets crushed by Tekken or Soulcalibur and even Dead or Alive which are just way flashier. If BTU/Fighting games revolved around game design then Virtua Fighter would be one of the most played fighting games in tournament, but it's one of the least despite its really well made battle system (fact). I'm affraid it is not, and never will.  


SEGA studied a lots of games to create BKI, but forgot the most important of them all. Street Fighter. Sega will understand how important Ryu was during SoR2's developpement, in playing, well...

Quote :
—Right, the graphic design took precedence. A lot of emphasis was placed on that visual impact.

Koshiro: Yeah, that is true, but there was also a certain flow to the fighting that we wanted. I’m sure you’ve played Street Fighter II—my brother and I did too. We liked it so much we bought a cabinet and had it installed in the office at Ancient.
http://shmuplations.com/streetsofrage2/


This is the original cover, not that weird SNES cover...

Conclusion:

Here is the relationship between a chess player and his army.

The player dominates his fighting tool.

Masamune Shirow spent a long part of his life to understand what diverts humans from machines and he tried to understand the sociology between the two "species". Masamune Shirow asks questions and rarely answers to them, but I think he managed to define what the relationship between a BTU/Fighting game player and his character look alike.


Who controls who? Wait a minute, this relationship seems even more complex than that.

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:45 am

Chapter 23: BKI's Assessement
Let's make a breakdown:

  • the weapons system [done]
  • the battle system [done]
  • the playable characters [done]
  • the mooks/bosses [to do]
  • town, music and plot [to do]

The two last clusters we have to cover are very well made with not a single uncontrolled feature in it. It's BKI's awesomeness, this is why I kept them for the end. This is also why we will make a global assessement and suggest an hypothesis about Bare Knuckle's speech in this chapter. In anycase, I'm pretty sure the western marketing departement have played the game and said
Quote :
"Hey SEGA, your city is awesome with the astonishing music, and the weapons are so brutal: let's call this Streets of Rage. What? Axel who? Sorry I played the kung fu girl!"

Streets of Rage is certainly a much better reflection of what most of us experienced from playing Bare Knuckle. When the translated name fits better than the original name, expect some video game design inconsistencies (Bush Telegraph).

The weapons system:
Regarding the game, the weapons system is more advanced than Final Fight but more generic too. Regarding the lore, the weapons (bottle, stab, bat, pepper) provided a "darker identity" to the whole roster and it is backed-up by the plot's final twist.

Evilness Scale Meter:
Double Dragon < Final Fight < Bare Knuckle I < Kunio Kun series < The Combatribes

Good job in the weapons cluster SEGA but why "Bare Knuckle"?

The characters:
They refined Guy in a very progressive way : Blaze the Sexy Female Technician Warrior.
=> (Companion)
They refined Cody in a very progressive way : Adam, The Black Badass Western Martial Arts Master.
=> (Knight)
They chose to get rid of Haggar, to bring back Technos Japan's Billy: Axel, The Asian Martial Arts Master.
=> (Hero/leader)

The removal of the grappler has no real aftermath on the lore/game, but it is still a missed opportunity, since the mechanics they use has been created for him (fixed in SoR2). They managed to deliver their speech with Blaze, partially with Adam (bonsaï gate+gettho super star), and totally failed with Axel. He benefits from bland/overused/frankenstein's audiovisual materials (both in chara design and moveset), and refers to a fighting philosophy that is unappealing to the audience (casual and hardcore included). Most people perceived him as a "Watered down Cody".

The battle system:
The battle system emphasises on grapple game. Final Fight's intuitive grapple mechanics is upgraded with vault mechanics and tweaked with concepts from Technos Japan, East Technology and Jaleco. Renegade and Double Dragon (back grapple escape, back grapple, team attacks, throw behind the character only), Double Dragon 3 (slam from behind the opponent only), Hachoo! (recovery roll turns into throw escape). The Final Fight's air game is boiled down to try to highlight their amazing work. They tried to make Axel (DDI's Billy) personify their concept.


We have learned a lot from BKI!

SEGA eventualy totally failed because of a game design inconsistency. BKI's air game, despite being boiled down, is still as safe as Final Fight's air game. This is not the case of DDI in which basic mooks can duck. SEGA will work on that in SoR2. No mystery to solve here, just a noob who made a mistake. A mistake which has severly impacted their overall speech/mythology.


We create empathy with the audience,
we highlight our battle system concept,
we personify our video game.
We are the heroes. Like you Sonic!

Hypothesis about BKI's speech:
The full title is "Bare Knuckle Ikari no Tetsuken/Tekken", which means roughly: "Bare Knuckle, The Rage of the Iron Fist Fighting Technique". It can be both literal and metaphor in the same time.

Literal: Tetsuken/Tekken would be the name of BKI's Axel asian martial art. Something very efficient, but not very entertaining/boring (Bruce Lee's philosophy). Rage to illustrate his burning determination.
Metaphor: Iron (metal bat, metal pipe, metal knife blade), Rage (broken bottle in the head, stab, plot's final twist).


See you in my next post (For BKI's awesomeness!).


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:04 am

Chapter 24: Streets of Rage's Plot, Mood, and Baddies:

Intro and Plot:

Streets of Rage benefits from a very interesting plot regarding the thematics. Mafia rules over the town, crimes everywhere, and inefficient police. It looks like there is no princess to rescue and it's refreshing (DDII Arcade being the first BTU to do it). And if we look at Action Games stemmed from Irem's Spartan X (Vigilante, Altered Beast, Splatterhouse, Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja and such), we will notice that very rare are the games who break this common plot set by Spartan X (1984). 1992 is the year where lots of BTU started to give this plot up. What is so great about removing the rescue the princess? Simple, if you don't fancy girl (because you're an heterosexual girl, an homosexual boy or a kid), then you don't get involved at all. This kind of plot used by SoRI (as basic as it is) targets a wider audience.


Liar, this coins magnet is perfect!

The SoRI's plot sets the player in a dark ambient somewhere between Verhoven's RoboCop and Carpenter's Escape from New York. The city by night and the music helps a lot to set this mood. Interestingly, Sega's E-swat Mega Drive port sets the same kind of visual material for the city, and pretty much ties SoR1's heroes with E-SWAT's hero (Police support mechanics).


My very first run:
I was a kid (about 10 years old), a friend of I invited me to play one of his awesome games. He told me that he didn't manage to beat SoR alone and that he needed me. I was attracted by Adam but he told me to pick Axel (because he was more efficient), and he picked Blaze. So we reached the boss, he told me to pick "that option" and he betrayed me. Before I truly understood what was happening, he turned the tide and killed me. I was just "...". Of course, he explained me that playing coop was the only way to see the bad ending, but that was after he kicked my ass, saw the end, and turned off the Genesis. It's one of my most memorable/emotional experience in the BTU genre. I experienced the final's twist the "hard way". Nonetheless, I still do think this feature is just brilliant, and that the way I discovered it is the best setup to experience it. Betrayed by a friend, in a video game which sets a desperate mood from the very begining of the intro. The cherry on the top of that wonderful cake. As it was my first playthrough, I built a strong connection with Axel that very day.

Some other nice twists I enjoyed: Namco's Splatterhouse I (action game), SNK's Cyber-lips (run n gun), Technos Japan's The Combatribes (BTU).


There is something...

A small note about the SFX and SEV: they do the job without being unforgetable, it's Mega Drive's standard. I won't drag long in this chapter regarding musics and visual layers for the city. To me, it just piledrives Final Fight into Oblivion (and I like Final Fight since it is my first contact with a video game). That's not really a scientific comment. What is more scientific, is that people who find the BTU genre very stupid, oftenly state they like SoRI and II for their musics and their cities visuals. That's how efficient SoRI's city's audiovisual lore is. It manages to target/involve people who are just disgusted by the whole medium.


What am I doing here?

The Bad Guys:
Streets of Rage features very few enemies (5 versus 8 in Final Fight), so SEGA tries to not waste them.


Galsia is the core of the army, a "leather jacket baddy", the first mook we met. He reminds us of FF's Jake (color scheme/outfit) or FF's Bred (haircut/face), he's here to "pet" us. From a game design angle, he's way more than we thought. He benefits from a target combo (like FF's Jake) combined to a good mobility (like FF's J). He can use knife adopting a charging attack pattern (not exactly like FF's Fatties), he can stab (like FF's Holly wood) and he can use Pipe and Bat (like DD's Williams and Roper) adopting another behavior. Of course, he can drop knife, bat, and pipe. The work on turning Galsia into a "one man army" permits to:

  • give more battle design's options to the developper for refreshing the experience.
  • use Galsia as a "weapon dispenser" for rewarding the player.
  • specialise the other mooks.

That's what I call a wonderful optimisation. He's one of the most polished canon fodder of the BTU genre in 1991 (and almost no one will overstep him later).

The second we met is Signal who reminds us of FF's J. While being a Punk, his function in battle is very different. He's nowhere as slippery and sneaky as J, and does not benefit of an infinite combo.

How lucky we are: we do not have Mega Crash!

Signal's signature moves are a slide (like FF's Holly wood) and a toss. The slide is a nice support attack for crowded fight. The toss is no threat in regular fights (since we can throw escape toss) but becomes very threatening in pit fights. Signal is a very well thought support mook since the game has no grappler mook (Abobo, Andore).



The third one is Hakuyo the elite mook. His asian design refers to the DD's lore without refering to the FF's lore at all. Gameplay wise, he has a very long range, fast moblity, and can be a pain in the ass for slow walking characters. He's not that closed to Poison but still.

Note: Shiva2/3 really seems to be the "upgraded BKI Hakuyo" both in chara design and gameplay.



The 4th one we met is Nora. She is quite surprising in look comparing to previous mooks and is introduced with a special entrance (door). Let's decompose her. She is basicly DDI's Linda concept: a mook with a whip who benefits from a defensive crying stance, to loosely emulate the DD's "we are not this evil with girls". A DD's concept that Final Fight totaly annihilated*. Nora guides us toward the DD's mythology and pursues what Hakuyo started.


Girl, Gay, Transexual.*

Note: It's funny how Bare Knuckle is more "evil" than FF in weapons cluster, but more "moral" in battle design. Maybe the "poison case" affraid them. It's supported with Nora's look. While being less "naked" than FF's Poison or CF2's Vixens, she benefits from a more sexual audiovisual material. SEGA designed Nora as a Dominatrix in a way more sharpened way than any BTU. In anycase, the idea behind the female mooks is the same: "mooks are evil  + sex is evil = evil misogynistic kombo  Twisted Evil ". Plus, Nora is coward and sneaky (crying stance) in gameplay. Very polished work here (game <=>lore). She connects FF's Lore (Garcia/Signal) and DD's lore (Hakuyo).


Ground fight and sex are evil.

Despite following the previously established path of girl mooks, Nora is quite a significant move in the BTU/Fighting game's mythology. The last Double Dragon game (DD Neon, Wayforward, 2012) change DDI's Linda outfit by the one of Nora. SoulCalibur's Ivy (Namco, 1999+) and Dead or Alive 4/5's Christie (Team Ninja, 2006+) are Dominatrix too.


DDI's Linda in DD Neon and SoulCalibur's Ivy

It's important to note that we met all these mooks in the first stage, but the next one appears in stage 2.



Jack, the projectile mook (Axe/torch). While being close to the FF's Hollywood concept (Knife/Molotov's throw) he's quite different both in lore and game. First he is specialized (no slide, no jump attack, no stab), then he can use his projectile as shield (while juggling with it). Regarding the lore, he's a crazy creepy clown, like a deviant street artists, in the mood of Carpenter's Escape from N.Y movie. This mook refers neither to FF nor to DD (and he's supported by stage 2's mood). He gives a lot of identity to BKI and reinforced the "dark ambient" of the overall video game.

Carpenter's Escape from N.Y movie

Conclusion:
You may noticed how SEGA used the enemy placement to bring us from a "known territory" to "their own territory". We start with some Final Fight's flick to pet us, then we go toward DD's flick to feel more comfortable, then we go stage 2 and dive in the Dark Bare Knuckle's mood. This mook roster combined to the battle design is just so clever on so many levels (social, game and lore) and foreshadows very well the stage scheme we'll review in the next and last SoRI's chapter.


Indeed, we'll review bosses within their stages.

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:06 am

Chapter 25: The Streets of Rage


Music for reading.

We start in downtown with flashy shops and "fighting in the streets" to pump up. This town doesn't seem this bad afterall. After meeting pretty much all the mook roster, food pick-ups, and weapons, we  meet a reasonable but mandatory first stage boss introducing an even more iconic music: the gimmicky boss theme. Antonio benefits from an impressive sprite and breaks the FF's/DD's mood we were set in. Stage 1 does his tutorial role in introducing game features (BTU school) and in petting us (enternaining music, flashy stage, DD's/FF's mood mooks). The boss is a trial step (game) and sharpens the BK's mythology (lore).


DD? FF? Nop: BKI!

Then, we enter the "dilapidated" dark suburbs for stage 2. It's like the Final Fight's first stage, but by night and extended: awesome. The music and visual effects make it way more seedy, like RoboCop. We meet the insane jugglers (axe and torch) for the first time and we start to understand Bare Knuckle's identity. The Stage Boss is like the second strike. It is as big as the first, but way more terrifying: Souther, a psycho refering to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Plus his special attack really forbids us to jump. Great identity both in game and lore. We are definitely not playing a random brawler.



After that, we think we gonna go in more seedy place, but how surprising BK is again, it's a beautiful "moon beach" by night. Galsia is upgraded to green but aside from that, we enjoy the walk. The boss is even more outstanding, (yet almost out of place), Abadede. He refers to ultimate warrior in lore and is an FF's Bay Area's Abigail in game (charge punch, throw). He's tough, and after beating him, we really don't know what to expect.

Attack of the Barbarian!!

Eventually, we get back to the town by the bridge. It's time for pit fighting (game <=> lore), and all the mooks are upgraded (new color) to "keep the groovin". At the end, the Boss is even bigger than everything we've seen: Big Ben. Gameplay wise, they are upgraded FF's Fatties (they charge with flame) fused with a DD's Abobo feature (we can grapple them but we can't throw them). Once again plain brilliant in the optimisation's cluster. SoR "pets" us again, while still keeping its own identity (lore). This boss confirms that Blaze's fast walk is a real advantage for boss fights (game).

Mr. Big Ben, Mr Big Bull...

You can't grapple me.

Assessement: All those huge Bosses we met at the end of each rounds clearly refers to the Hokuto no Ken's mythology (which did the same) without creating interferences with the BKI's lore. Very nice move Sega.

Heart sama is one of them.

Here comes the epic time: the boat, or more precisely the "beatnik on the ship". Very surprising stage once again: beautiful wood visuals, cruiser feel, badass music. Asskicking place. Abadede comes back for more after some good fights and when we think we reached the end, the Judo Babes stop us. They break the HnK's gimmick. The Blaze's clones concept is brilliant (once again). They reuse Blaze's sprites (because they are technicaly limited) and I know some people think it's lame, but to me: they just don't get it.


You really don't get it...

The girls mooks/bosses are depicted as sexual objects in BTU: all of them. The Combatribes makes fun of that gimmick. Streets of Rage I breaks the scale. They are like Blaze (same sprites), Sexy Female Technician Warriors. Nothing more, nothing less. Add the fact that they have a polished moveset (throw escape, throw, jump kick, high mobility) which turns them into one of the toughest boss in the game (if not the toughest) and here we see that Bare Knuckle I is certainly the most progressive BTU ever to be made.


Like you Blaze!

The robot industry. Sure, FF's industrial aera is referenced, but replacing the flames by those Terminatorish hydraulic machinery is great, and those DD's conveyer belts add a ton of spice. The music is disturbing, harrowing, following our "stealthy steps". The police support starts to feel a bit out of place visually speaking, and the boss fight(s) might feel a bit lame on many different levels (game and lore), it's a real weak point. This said, they were limited and from a pure game design angle, a double Souther is a quite tough fight if you play solo.

Assessement: We have just beat the stage 6 and the difficulty scaling for bosses and sub bosses creates a very good rising tension, up to now.

Now comes the lift. Nothing surprising here because it's the FF's scheme (Industry => Rolento's lift).



What breaks the mood is:

  • the very refreshing music compared to the two last stages (very dark mood).
  • the weird police support.
  • the "no boss battle" (Calm before Tempest?).

This stage is funny as hell since it's Ring Out all over the place thanks to the "violent breathing". Of course, Signal makes his "evil twist" to turn the tide (toss).

Big Bad's Right Hand-Man's evolution:
<=> => =>
Billy <=> Jeff 1987 => Guy 1989 => BKII Shiva 1992

At last comes the syndicate. "Last soul" is here to explain us that this stage is no bullshits. Indeed, it's a boss rush and we just understand why SEGA permits us to use police even in crazy place like the boat, the industry and the lift. It was to accustom us to use it when we want, whatever the place. And when we desperately need the police, it's not there anymore, we are alone, in a death corridor (game <=> lore). It's one of the best "hot/cold" effect, boomerang effect of the BTU genre. The Boss Rush is really well paced, with food after each boss to reward player who didn't lose 1UP, and frustates the one who did. It's one of the best boss rush of the genre, better than Crime Fighters's ones, especially because it is not after beating the final boss (Bonus stage/bonus mode), but because it is before accessing the boss. SEGA rules. Finally, we reach the end of that infinite corridor, the door appears and the judo babes too. This is where we want to die. No, this is where we find the courage to beat them, because it is the final boss just behind the door, we feel it.

=>
In 1991, The Big Bad's right "hand-men"

The fateful meeting occurs with Will... Bel... Mr. X. An interactive dialogue breaks the pace. We refuse, and Mr. X Theme's starts. It's the Final Fight. He's gimmicky as every "Willy's successor" but this is what we expected. We beat the game, we watch the ending, with that delicious music on it, giving the most screen time to Axel the hero (just in case we forgot he is a playabe character that we might care about in another video game) but we are very pleased to see Murphy. He is the only highlighted side kick, and we understand why: he helped us a lot! We built a strong connection with him, despite him being a back character.


Another SEGA's great move.

That was Streets of Rage. One of the best BTU of 1991 (if not the best). One of the best battle design, with an amazingly polished pace in difficulty scaling and gimmick battles, with outstanding music which sets the different moods for refreshing the experience and provides us the will to fight. Of course, only 5 mooks, 2 food pick-ups, and 5 weapons. But try to make a BTU this good with this affordance people! SoR is just a masterpiece regarding this cluster.

Conclusion:
What is interesting is that Bare Knuckle II will pretty much get rid of all the "twisted side" of Bare Knuckle I and even of some progressive moves such as the judos babes. When SEGA will try to fix the BK's mythology, they will also turn their lore (for town, enemy, music) into something more consensual for no "required reasons" (nothing is broken in this cluster and everything works perfectly). The reason behind this decision might be the new team and direction. To me it's an artistic decision and we don't really care about it from a scientific angle. We are the audience, not the authors.


See you in my next post!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:17 am

Chapter 26: The BK II Analysis's introduction:

Golden Axe The Revenge of Death Adder and Streets of Rage II were both released in 1992, and designed by different teams. The two series are very different, both in thematics (lore) and battle system (game) but they shared exactly the same problem. The bland heroes (Ax Battler/Axel) are characters designed for experienced player (like Haggar), but are totally unappealing to the audience (which was not the case of Haggar). They are overshadowed by their sidekicks because of game design decisions which overlooked sociology aspect of the medium and have disatrous aftermath on their own mythologies.


Not to this point, of course. Noobs =/= Stupid.

Despite those disparities (team, lore, battle system), the developpers made huge changes to fix inconsistencies in their sequels. They both understood how mechanics affected lore (and vice versa), and how to deliver a speech with the BTU medium. From a pure scientific angle, they created two masterpieces of the genre: not a single interference. This is the proof that SEGA (all developpements teams included) raised its level of understanding of the genre at this point.


-----------------Level Up!------------------

They entirely assimilated what both Capcom and Technos Japan achieved before them, and they are now able to make their own video games without copying or acting like mad scientists. We will obviously focus on SoR2 since Golden Axe has nothing to bring to this analysis (neither in lore nor in game). Up to 1991, SEGA used to be like Sakura Kasugano: a Ryu wannabe (Capcom/TJ wannabe). While filled with good intentions, and the will to become a very good fighter, she forgot to exist by herself. 1992 is the year where SEGA stopped that childish behavior because they understand what they are doing from now on.


Like you Ryu!

Here is my hypothesis on how Ayano Koshiro (one of the BKII's lead designer) and her team worked on this sequel.
They catched the BKI's global idea/concept first.

  • Revolves around Axel's martial art (Bare Knuckle : Ikari no Tetsuken).
  • Progressive attitude for sidekicks (Girl / Black people).
  • Very matt grey kombat (no ground fight, FF's battle system).
  • Grapple game + | Air game -.


Then they spotted the things the previous team did "wrong".

  • the game design inconsitency (the underthought air game)
  • the hero's audiovisual bland material (chara design and moveset)
  • the hero's lack of gaming identity (neutral gameplay)
  • the roster's philosophy concept (balanced out)
  • the unconsistent speech (weapons game emphasis vs bare knuckle idea)


Then they found solutions for those bullet points (mostly from SFII) to deliver the speech the previous team intended to deliver (for the sake of showing respect to them). We'll broach those solutions during the SoR2's analysis. Then they added the mood they like, tweaked/removed/added the mechanics they wanted (all supported by their lore, and vice versa). Then designed characters (playable/enemy/boss) to highlight the battle system's concept, and created the mythology they wanted to. A mythology which is quite different from the first episode overall.


Sexy? Oh yeah! Technician? yup! Warrior? ...

My theory is this. They thought that they can undo what have been done -which is wrong- because the first episode didn't manage to handle its mythology -which is true-. This is the only mistake they made, and it will backfire a bit, but not this much actually. I say this because, overall, SoR2 is still considered one of the best BTU of all time all over our planet according to many "tops 10" from professional press to blogs (fact). We can act like childish fanboy (and I'm a vey childish SoR fan), but we can't negate that fact.  



Bullshit!

There is a good reason for that fact to be. SoR2 is mayonese and a very tasty one. A Consistent speech combined to a gameplay very polished, planned, thought and at the peak of 1992 BTU's mechanics (fact). Even the Capcom's FF model of this era (Warriors of Fate) is not this elaborate from a pure game perspective (fact). Last but not least: a very sharpened identity/mythology (fact). The very one BomberGames will rest upon to make the best Streets of Rage ever to be made (SoRRv5, a fanmade game we won't analyze).

Conclusion:
The purpose of this chapter was to outline the SoR2 analysis. Once again, this is pure hypothesis even if this analysis will be backed-up by an interview. An interview which was not used to build this analysis. I discovered it years after studying the genre and few monthes after planning this book.


Indeed, GA TRoDA's Stern Blade benefits from the flashiest audiovisual material.

See you in my next post!


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:11 am

Chapter 27: Reading between the lines

When Iceweb38 shared the Ayano Koshiro's interview, I read carefully some parts to check how the analysis I had planned falled in. She stayed unclear on some points, she quoted a lot of games (Gynoug, Contra, Street Fighter II) but she is "filled" with "business prerogatives" in some others.

Quote :
—What happened to the special attack from the first game, with the patrol car and the bazooka?
Koshiro: We had to take that out since we were using diagonal scrolling now. In exchange we gave a dedicated button for the characters’ special attacks.
—I’m guessing you would have removed the patrol car attack anyway though, right?
Koshiro: Yeah, probably. That was something that really stood out to players in the first game. We needed a different way to get out a pinch this time.
—I see. But the new moves aren’t as flashy as the patrol car, don’t you think?
Koshiro: Yes, but I think being able to strategize and decide how to use your special is more fun. Like in a STG game, I like having some special attack that requires thought, instead of just having a bomb that destroys everything.
http://shmuplations.com/streetsofrage2/

So Miss Koshiro reverse engineered the Mega Crash (and its Depth) by playing STG games and Street Fighter II, because -of course- she never heard about Final Fight. She neither never knew that the Static Target Combo Chain system she reused for Streets of Rage 2 was  the one designed in a very obscur Capcom's game called Final Fight of which no one has played. It is just coincidence, exactly like providing I-Frames to the throws (another FF's feature here). She also reverse engineered the Capcom's jump-in attack and designed exactly the same input to perform it (down + attack while jumping), coincidence once again.



Every BTU have plagiarised Technos Japan and Capcom in a way or another. Following this logic, you can understand why I studied the whole genre to make analysis, and never took interview as solid source regarding mechanics's genesis, even if the director is honest. Look how Levine is considered as a Video Game genius with his BioShock. He plagiarised Bungie's Halo's mechanics free of charge like any home system FPS. Bungie spent a lot of money to convert/design mechanics which where thought for Keyboard/Mouse to make them fully ergonomic for game pad. And look how the Game Designer of Halo is unfamous compared to Levine.


Halo is only a Shooter,
but BioShock is so Gorgeous!


On the other hand, Alien vs Predator or Captain Commando benefited from new game mechanics and were considered as FF's clones in the 90's. Capcom is hated by a lot of people nowdays because of their business practices. DLC, shallow blockbusters, etc. The way I see the thing is, Capcom takes the money where it is and with that money, they built a huge building dedicated to game design creation (Research &  Developpement) which is not the case of Ubisoft, Electronics Arts, and all those majors who just don't care about game mechanics. They will plagiarized (and watered down) game mechanics (free of charge) from other studios to deliver their speechs.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/04/15/capcom-investing-78-million-in-research-and-development


Like you Haggar.

With this audiovisual material, Koshiro tells me something like this:
Quote :
I plagiarized a lot of Capcom's mechanics from FF to make SoR2. Mega Crash, Grapple system (walk into/jumping grapple), chain system (static target combo), jump-in attack, invincible throw (slam/toss). I admit it. To show  my will to improve Final Fight, I create a character who refers to this video game. He benefits from the same fighting philosophy and his "def special", "slam", "jump kick", "jumping grapple" are illustrated with audiovisual material similar to his.

Exactly like Capcom did with Guy and Cody when they plagiarized concepts from Technos Japan.

Exactly like Capcom did in 1993 with Maki

My combo finisher is very unsafe,
like you BKI Blaze! (1991)


This practice does not exist anymore of course.

Like you Final Fantasy!...??? Shocked

Conclusion:
Once again this is not a Capcom's advertisement. I say they know they were plagiarised free of charge during the whole 90's by other studios (Final Fight, Street Fighter). By respectful ones like SEGA, but by other very stupid ones (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon...). And they know they will be plagiarized forever without making any profits from pure game design. Professional game testers didn't understand neither Double Dragon nor Final Fight, and they are paid to review (and sell) games like Marvel vs Capcom 3. Capcom's policy is simple: This world is not "my little poney : friendship is magic" and if we want to make new awesome games and games mechanics (which will be plagiarized and watered down free of charge by the whole industry), then we have to find solutions:


Take the money where it is by making popular blockbusters and selling crappy DLC the audience craves for.

See you in my next post.


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PostSubject: Re: Streets of Rage : Lore vs Game Analysis   Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:59 am

Chapter 28: Koshiro fixed the Mythology
The last chapter may sound a bit harsh/rude, but I can't be hypocrite. Very few are the XXIth century's Capcom games I like. I'm especially disgusted by the whole Street Fighter IV series and I won't go in the Biohazard/Resident Evil territory. But this is analysis, no "WatchMojo.com".


What the f....

Thanks to the previous chapter, we understand why we can't use the interview as a tool for the game mechanics's genesis, but also why we can for pretty much anything else and actually, what she said backed-up my hypothesis. We will not cover characters in-depth before reviewing the battle system's modifications but let's make the overview of Koshiro's amazing work to fix the mythology. She stayed very unclear toward Adam's fate when the reporter asked the question but it became clearer when they approached the roster's philosophy cluster. Read carefuly this quote.

Ayano Koshiro wrote:
Koshiro: [...]So Adam had to be put aside. But we did have him appear in the story. We thought, since he’s not here anymore, maybe Axel and Blaze have to go rescue him?

From there we got the idea for his younger brother, Sammy. He was going to be the super-maneuverable, tricky-style character. Using him requires some skill. We designed him as a character who experienced players would want to try.

As for Max…. he’s the power-style. My brother Yuzo loves throw-based characters. You know, the characters who are hard to use, but when you connect, it’s over with just one hit.


That roster seemed like a good balance to us: two standard style characters, and two with quirks.

Once we’d decided on the direction for the characters, their moves came naturally. Axel and Blaze were normal characters, so that went smoothly. We decided on flashy, colorful moves for Sammy. Since Max was the throw-style character, we went for pro-wrestler moves.

I created an index for their moves/attacks, and filled it in one-by-one. Nearly all of their moves were created by me. I had to think of ways to bring variety to their movesets, and I drew a lot of inspiration and nuance from the popular vs. fighting games of the time.

Let's restructure what she said.

She got rid of the "balance out the roster" philosophy (Street Fighter II's scheme). She will only care about balancing the fighting philosophies. In other words, she goes for "mini maxing", which is the Final Fight's scheme (or Golden Axe's scheme). As broached in chapter 13, Capcom used height and weight to give global overview of a character's fighting philosophy to the player (both in SFII and Final Fight). It's a pure social tool. Koshiro didn't want to be as unclear as Capcom but she doesn't want to fall in the "trap" of BKI ranking system.


Capcom Ranking's system didn't bring any interference...

So she created a star system to rank characters. The star system is not completely a gaming tool, its primary function is social. You can even notice it social function in the SoRR's Board, since Bombergames used it for SoRRv5. A gaming tool is RPG's Stats (Life/ATK/DEF...) or Wrestling Game's Stats (Stamina ,Reversal,Speed...) and some BTU features gaming tool too.


Treasure's Guardian Heroes (1996) provides gaming tool.

The star system is like a "watercolour painting" of the fighting philosophy. It is more sharpened/polished than the Capcom's "Height / Weight" system, but it is not pure gaming tool. This refined system will be reused by several games. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Alien vs Predator, and even the very recent Dead or Alive 5.


Capcom's Alien vs Predator (1994) provides social tool.

1st Assessement: Koshiro gets rid of a BKI's interference, by polishing Capcom's Ranking system.


Even SFII never explicited it like this...

============

Regarding the plot, there is a princess to rescue (TJ/Capcom's Scheme). It will be a black guy (Sega's progressive policy), but whatever the sexual orientation of the player, he will care about this princess since he has built a strong connection with him thanks to the BKI's "out of control" mythology. Adam is the fans's favorite because of huge video game design's mistake (game rejects lore / lore rejects game), and Ayano Koshiro used this fact to fix the mythology (game <=> lore / social).
2nd Assessment: By forbidding us to play Adam, Ayano Koshiro gives us a great reason to kick the big bad's ass. Amazing job for fixing the lore while involving the player in the plot in the same time. The player shares Axel's Rage (Ikari no Tetsuken!!) in this episode which is not the case of DD or Final Fight. Most of us even believed that he would be playable in the sequel since we rescued him.
Axel is the hero according to the BKI's unclear speech, since rare are the players who understood what was so "outstanding in this character". Koshiro decided to make Axel rescue the princess (BTU's logic),  but provided a flashy and easy-to-use moveset to him.



From now on, when people will think Axel, they will think "Gran Upper", they will design artworks with that move, they will make fun of that move, and they will use it a lot in the game.


People use that move a lot in SF. This is the basis of my gameplay.

3rd Assessement: Another amazing job to create the empathy of which Axel totally lacked, following the "Ryu's principle" (Easy and Flashy). He can now support BK's mythology and his status.

============

Blaze is the companion so "his/her" moveset will be more technical than the hero (Capcom's scheme) and "he/she" will be a sexy girl (SEGA's progressive policy) but not dress like warrior at all (more on that in another chapter).



4rth assessement: Turning Blaze into a sexy girl makes her look less badass than the hero, and many people will see in her, on a first look, a girl to sleep with more than a girl to fight with. This permits to downgrade her status in the mythology (like Capcom did with Cody in 1989) and to reinforce the hero's status (Axel). Another good fix to the BK's mythology (delivering a bit less progressive speech in the process).

============

Max is the heavy mob so his moveset will be grappler and he will be "sluggish" as hell (Capcom's Scheme), since he's not black (Capcom's scheme). Koshiro said her brother like to play grappler in SFII, and Okamoto said he designed Zangief like Haggar (Capcom's Scheme and more on that in another chapter).


5th assessment: It's Capcom all over the place. While being a new archetype in the franchise (BK) it's an old archetype in the medium (1989+). He will not benefit of the "brand new" aura the BKI's sidekicks got and can handle his supporting actor's status.



Skate will be the trickster so his moveset will be brand new to support the SEGA's progressive policy. The kid visual will help a lot the people (who see Mike Tyson everywhere) to understand that black people can be "cool" (hip hop culture's pun intended). However, he will not be as badass as Adam to not overshadow the hero, but nonetheless, very cool and fun to play...


...to not turn him into a useless "Kunio Kun's girl".

Conclusion:
Ayano Koshiro used the Technos Japan/Capcom's scheme (game <=> lore) to fix BK's mythology.

  • Progressive Policy for sidekicks (black/girl): Check
  • Sidekicks polished and refined identity/status (game & lore): Check
  • Hero's status highlighted (game - lore): Check
  • Capcom's battle system sign of respect (Grappler): Check

The Ancients wrote:
“We don’t really need Adam, do we?” “Nope!”


Indeed, the mythology is fixed.

See you in my next post!


Last edited by BigDarsh on Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:26 pm; edited 4 times in total
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