This weekend marked the annual Evolution Championship Series, known affectionately among fighting game diehards simply as EVO.
A swarm of tournament contenders and fans descended on Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the biggest EVO crowd to date along with over 3,500 competitors from around the world. When you get this many people in one room together, there are bound to be a few cockstains that ruin it for everyone.
On the same weekend that Capcom announced it was sucking the last vestiges of milk from the Street Fighter 4 teat, Double Helix joined the panel to talk about Killer Instinct, the revival of the formerly Nintendo-exclusive fighting game developed by Rare. What should have been a quick bit of hype for Mad Catz’s partnership with Double Helix for an arcade stick turned into a reminder that every time the gaming community gains some ground, somebody will fuck it up and cause a regression.
What you see above is a prime example of why articles continue to be written every day about online bullying, lack of parenting and the place of women in the gaming industry. Double Helix Studios needed a boost coming out of E3, when their live demo for Killer Instinct was superseded by a producer’s errant attempt at trash talking a female Xbox community manager going horribly wrong. What better place than the biggest tournament in the United States for fighting games to give them a chance at redeeming both their company and their product?
Apparently, staying in the office and producing a Youtube video would have been a better option. Fans in attendance at EVO, still butthurt over the exclusivity of the game to the Xbox One, began booing anything that came out of either person’s mouth by the time they dared mention the dreaded name of Microsoft.
Let us be clear: I am aware that EVO is not the best sample of gamers to provide scholarly analysis of a video game; nobody is debating what Ryu’s continued motivations are for continuing to enter himself in tournament after tournament. We watch EVO to see players beat the hell out of other players, and the skill they demonstrate is unparalleled. Nine years later, I still get chills every time I watch this video, which eventually got its own trophy and achievement in Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online:
The anti-Microsoft attitude is popular at the moment. Dare step into the murky waters of forums and comment boards and you will see for yourself how ugly fanboys can get when defending one system against another while lauding its supposed advantages over its competitors. This kind of mouth breath is why I will champion any candidate who pushes mandatory sterilization laws in his or her home state, but until that day comes, I and every other gamer has to face a fact.
Killer Instinct, a Microsoft-owned property, is only going to come out on the Xbox One. There is no negotiation, and no amount of petitions or bitching up a storm will change that fact. Rather than sling mud and shit at the people responsible for making the fucking game, a studio seeping in mediocrity with their first real chance at fame and recognition since Silent Hill: Homecoming, can the fighting game contingent please give them a shot?
If asked to provide a list of my favorite fighting games of all time, Killer Instinct and its sequel would not crack my top five, reserved for the likes of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution and Capcom vs. SNK 2, the latter of which will be available on the PSN by the time this column likely goes to print. I would not, at the same time, banish Rare’s fighters to the bottom with Shaq-Fu, Double Dragon V and Mortal Kombat Advance. It was fun and deadly, if a bit too friendly to button-mashers. The people at Rare, however, cared more about the quality of their games than half of the companies developing milquetoast military shooters and microtransaction-filled mobile garbage.
This new Killer Instinct is not going to be enough to sell me on an Xbox One, but I hope those with a sizable disposable income who invest in Microsoft’s next system decide to give Double Helix’s game a shot. It is, after all, an exclusive to the console and should be showered with the kind of love that such an idea deserves…provided the game actually turns out to be good.
Tekken Revolution and Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate both offer free to play solutions for series veterans, but this kind of business model has never been applied to a fighting game revival like Killer Instinct. Double Helix appears to be at the mercy of Microsoft when it comes to this decision, as the big bosses felt it necessary to get the game in front of as many Monstered-up players as possible. Let us hope the screams of “ULTRRAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” are heard in plenty of homes across the country.