There are fighting games where some characters have projectiles (fireballs) while other characters do not, but then we could say that is simply character diversity rather than system-mechnical/conceptual diversity. A board view of some examples can be seen in games like Arcana Heart and BlazBlue. Though it’s quite a bit more subtle in games like Street Fighter 4, you do see at least some differences between the cast outside of just normal and special moves. Things like SF4’s Adon getting up slightly faster than other characters, and Hakan having a set of moves that modify the behavior of his other moves, as well as characters universally being able to switch between Ultras. Certainly, almost every game tries to avoid homogenization of the cast by making characters unique, but what makes a character unique seems to be the trend that game designers are seeking the natural conclusion to. Or at least, in the past we have seen an extremely diverse character roster with very unique gameplay between characters, such as Capcom’s Vampire Savoir series, and that has seemingly inspired the next-gen to go even further with the general idea of “everyone is different but equal” (or at least kinda equal).
A more extreme example would be Arcana Heart 3 where the player is able to pick an Arcana which modifies a wide variety of things. Like, picking the Wind-element Arcana allows you to jump cancel some normal attack moves that are otherwise not jump cancelable, and gain additional movement options in the air, whereas picking the Luck arcana will instead boost your chances of getting random bonus counterhits on hits that would not have otherwise caused a counterhit. Even more radically is the Flower-arcana which basically makes it so your character can never be counterhit (nullifies in-bound counterhits). Games like Capcom vs SNK 2 and Melty Blood Actress Again have explored Grooves/Moons which change your movement options (among other things), yet Arcana Heart instead gives every character a dash unless they pick the Ice-element arcana which then causes your character to run when front-stepping.
This sort of customization or “choice” seems like an evolution to me because some concepts are quite old, yet not fully explored in the past until relatively recently. For example, the concept of Magnetism isn’t new, we’re talking thousands of years of knowing about magnetism. But it really depends on how game designers decide to execute the concept that makes it really noticeable.
As an example, Magneto is a character from the Marvel series that has been in comic books and the Capcom Marvel and Versus titles for a long time, and yet his ability to control Magnetism wouldn’t necessarily be blatantly obvious to those not already familiar with the character. When you simply look at the way he fights, he doesn’t appear any different from other characters. However, games like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure attempted to explore the concept of magnetism with the character Mariah “poisoning” you with increasingly stronger magnetism, making many of her moves faster/stronger with bonuses to attack range and number of hits. It became more obvious what her power was, though it could be argued that each level of magnetism merely powered up her moves rather than modified their behavior. The concept of Magnetism was also explored in BlazBlue with the character Iron Tager also being able to “poison” the opponent with magnetism, which pulls you in closer to him when certain moves activate, which is seemingly rather potent for a grappler-type character who wants to be up close to the opponent.
Some things would appear to translate over to the Fighting Game genre rather naturally and easily, such as Ice Man of Marvel being able to freeze his opponents, while other abilities may need a little more thought put into it. Even though I mentioned Jojo’s Mariah, she’s somewhat of a special case. Many of the characters from the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure series also had an array of interesting abilities in the Manga series that simply don’t appear particularly obvious in the Capcom game, if at all.
Summons and Helpers is also one of these concepts that I think could be explored further, to interesting effect. Characters like Zappa and Eddie from the Guilty Gear series have the ability to create an additional “character” on the screen and control them while still controlling themselves. In the same game, however, there are the characters Dizzy and Testament who can “summon” helpers, however these only act on their own, in other words it could be argued that these types of summons are nothing more than dynamic projectiles (or like “thinking” Fireballs). In a more narrow view, you could say that the assists that exist in Marvel vs Capcom 2 are just push-a-button-get-an-attack, in other words the assists are one-button fireballs themselves. The customization for assists in MvC2 is amazing and holds a lot of dynamic, but the actual output is simply push-button-fireball. The cool thing is though; I think players enjoy both the autonomous and the controllable types, which means greater possibility for flexible diversity. The reason that’s cool is because that gives way to possible hybridization or unique out-of-box thought, translating directly into the fighting game genre.
Personally, I always find it very interesting when a game incorporates fresh ideas that modify the behavior of normal play, and I hope to see more games in the future explore certain subjects.
What I hope to see even more of in the future is: character game-play customization, ability to modify game-play, and a broad exploration of secondary characters (summons/assists) that are teamed with the main character and either controllable or autonomous.
"I recall a post on some blog that matched up all the features with the first game/series that they appeared in. I'd like to see it again if anyone know about it. Ah, it was omni's page: http://lowfierce.blogspot.com/2009/01/combat-systems.html "