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                 - Archived Entry -

11.15.2004 - CFE Official Fighter's Guide Announcement

Tomorrow brings the launch of Capcom's first fighting game in over three years. Capcom Fighting Evolution, titled Capcom Fighting Jam in Japan, features 23 characters across six different game systems. In mid-October, BradyGames approached Kamui, MrWizard, and myself to write the Capcom Fighting Evolution Official Fighter's Guide. My main responsibility was to compile frame data for all attacks using the single frame advance capability of the PS2 beta version loaned to us.

Basically, i had to count every move, frame by frame. It was three weeks of hell. At one point the special moves weren't even going to be included because of the tight schedule. Apparently, Japan gets all their frame data using similar methods, though i'm sure that the larger fighting game market there affords them the budget to hire multiple experienced people to work on that stuff. I had to do it myself, making it up as i went. Hopefully people give me enough credit to trust that i knew what i was doing, because the data is consistent. Stuff that should combo does combo and stuff that shouldn't combo does not.

Apart from the frame data, i contributed to the basics overview and game systems sections. Kamui and MrWizard wrote extensive strategy sections for every character in the game. They collected complete damage data and came up with all sorts of useful bits of info available at a glance.

The release of this guide marks the first time that frame data has been made available in America before its Japanese publication. It's part of a continuing trend toward hiring proven, experienced players from within the core Street Fighter community to author quality strategy guides. At the very least, this effort will help beginners overcome the enormous hurdle of joining such a developed community of dedicated players.

If you can afford to give up 15 bucks, please pick up our guide and let BradyGames know how you feel about it. Your support is their only reason to keep looking to our community for authors. Sales expectations for 2D fighting game guides are outright pitiful. Believe me, it won't take much to surprise them. I'm neither looking for a career, nor a bonus, nor praise. I simply see this as a good way to teach new players about the depth of Street Fighter play and to help our community grow. All you have to do is get the book and let BradyGames (and maybe Capcom) know if you like it or not.

Regarding the game itself, it's much too early to attempt a respectable review. At least six months of widespread tournament exposure is required to develop an informed opinion of any fighting game worth playing. Strictly within the realm of first impressions, i must admit that the game fails to impress.

It certainly covers all the basics we've come to expect from Capcom fighting titles: tight controls, solid game engine mechanics, and a diverse cast of classic characters. Loyal fans will definitely get their money's worth. However, there's simply nothing new or inspired here that will attract new audiences. As a friend put it, when you look at games like Devil May Cry and Onimusha 3, you know that Capcom still has talent. They just don't care to put that kind of effort into fighting game projects anymore. Those of us hoping for a 2D fighter revival may have to keep waiting until Street Fighter 4.

Fortunately, the game does improve after the initial disappointment with its lack of novelty. There are actually a lot of cool things to try in CFE, but it takes some digging. The mysterious new juggle ability granted to attacks such as Urien's c.HP and Yun's Tetsuzankou (DP + P) will entertain combo video makers for quite some time, as will the strange whiff cancel properties of Custom Combos. Another welcome addition is the set of character-specific Arcade Mode endings contributed by Udon Comics.

Perhaps the best compliment to be made here is that Capcom took the high road on character balance. Instead of weakening the stronger characters as with the unpopular MvSF and CvS games, they solidified the vulnerable ones. For example, lengthening the hit stun caused by Ryu's F+MP overhead and Guile's Sonic Boom allows them to compete with the naturally dominant Darkstalkers characters without detracting from the inherent play styles of any cast member. Whether or not Capcom succeeded in balancing characters won't be decided for months or perhaps even years, but their overall approach should be commended.