Wednesday, September 9, 2009

EXP Podcast #42: Title Bouts

There is nothing like a little friendly competition to get a heated discussion going. In fact, according to Leigh Alexander's recent interview with Capcom senior director of communications Chris Kramer, rival development teams may lament their bygone days of battle. Join us this week while Scott and I discuss the Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter debate, the pros and cons of exaggerated competition, and some of the more memorable video game rivalries.

As always, you can find the original article in the show notes. We would also love to hear your thoughts on the subject, as well as memorable rivalries we may have missed, which you can leave in the comments section below.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you ever found yourself picking sides on a video game rivalry? Did this enhance your experience with the game or the gaming community?

- Do you think video game rivalries are healthy for the industry? Is there a genre or particular game that needs a boisterous competitor?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 25 min 1 sec
- Interview, "Capcom 'Would Welcome' Return Of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat Brand Rivalry" by Leigh Alexander via Gamasutra
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. One of the ultimately beneficial consequences of having a rival is that you have to improve your work to keep up. If you don't check your i's and dot your t's, your rival certainly will, and your own argument is stronger as a result.

    Personally, I missed the Nintendo vs Sega and Commodore vs Atari rivalries. I did get on with Sony vs Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft, but now my entertainment center has a Wii, XBox 360 and PS2 side-by-side.

    However, when I bought Street Fighter IV, I got hit by culture shock, for a lack of a better word. I've long been a fan of the Tekken and Soul Calibur series, where my favourite tactic was a relentless assault using the characters' extensive move repertoires. With Street Fighter IV's very spartan move lists and mandatory delays, I lost again and again. I kind of understand the tactical and strategic opportunities of being able to vary the speed and strength of every move, but my muscle memory can't keep up with my brain yet, nor can I think several moves ahead as I'm supposed to.

    Currently, there's the rivalries between themepark-style MMOs (EQ, WoW, WAR, LoTRO) and sandbox-style (Eve, DF), and as usual, it's hard to find any middle ground there. The design philosophies are quite different, and both sides vehemently refuse to even acknowledge any good design points made by the opposite side. In order for rivalries to become a positive influence, both sides must at least acknowledge the other side to be a credible opponent. Otherwise it's just mudslinging between tribes.

  2. There are several classic rivalries in gaming history:

    Mario VS Sonic
    Street Fighter VS Mortal Kombat
    Tetris VS Every other puzzle game

    What historically has made these rivalries great is that they help a genre develop through its infancy. Each of these games were at the forefront of their style.

    I think where we need to see rivalries now are in the indie scenes. I'd like to see someone make something that can contend with Braid, World of Goo, or The Path, but in such a way that they don't just copy, but really push the idea in new directions. Mortal Kombat brought a lot of things to the table that Street Fighter didn't even consider and each game had a very distinct ambience, despite similar core gameplay features.

  3. @Hirvox

    Good point about how rivals should still pay attention to their competition. I personally find it entertaining when companies show off their innovative features without bothering to mention where (or who) they got the idea from ;-)


    Tetris: the 800 pound gorilla of the puzzle jungle!

    I think it would be great to see rivalries crop up in the indie scene. Those games you mentioned also have outspoken developers, which could lead to some great, rivalry-inspired public discussions about game design/philosophy.

  4. Personally I found the Dead Space vs Resident Evil 5 thing earlier this year pretty interesting.

    With Dead Space not even beeing a series(not yet) it's propably not a classical Mario vs. Sonic type of rivalry, however it was interesting to see how people reacted to RE5 after having played Dead Space.

    "Dude, that shit feels so old!"

    You know what I mean.

    As far as I know Dead Space will get a sequel(I mean a real one, not that Wii thing), so there might be a future rivalry of Suvival Horror games coming up, especially if RE sticks to it's roots in future games of the series.

    You could also mention Silent Hill vs. Resident Evil in the PlayStation Era.

    Oh and you forgot Splinter Cell vs. Metal Gear Solid, which was a kind of West vs. East struggle, with Ubisoft trying to make things more accessible and Kojima doing his Kojima thing.

    As I come to think oft, cutscene storytelling is so fucking underrated these days, somebody please tell Clint Hocking or Ken Levine ;)