Mirror Mode: A Street Fighter Game Where You Break Up Street Fights
I am not the biggest fighting game fan in the world. I’ve played through the stories and arcade modes of the most recent Tekken, Injustice, Mortal Kombat, and Smash games, and have spent a decent amount of time online in them too. And yes, I think Smash is a fighting game. The object of the game is to fight another character in one-on-one combat until you win – how is this even a debate? Anyway, I am not a fighting game expert, but I like fighting games – and whenever I think of the fighting game, I think of Street Fighter… but I also think it would be much better if you spent your time breaking up street fights instead.
This is the second instalment of our new weekly column where we talk about how a popular game series would be great… if only it was the exact opposite of what it was. This all came about because I wanted to write about Tony Hawk’s Walking Simulator as a normal article, and everyone shouted at me in the work Slack. Luckily, the more you think about it, the better it gets. So now we’re going to do this each week. You’re welcome.
Street Fighter isn’t actually my favourite fighting game; that would be Tekken, specifically Tekken 3. But I haven’t just chosen Street Fighter because its title lends itself to a Mirror Mode headline – Street Fighter’s 2D designs, arcade soundtrack, eccentric level design, and emphasis on the fact you have to beat up a car all establish it as an icon for fighting games as a whole, even if it’s not my personal favourite.
I grew up playing fighting games, and I loved them because they were simple. I knew how to juggle people with Eddie Gordo or Hwoarang in Tekken, and I knew how to do a Hadouken or make E. Honda do that thing where his hands go all blurry. I knew how to remap the buttons to do complicated grabs with a single button tap. I thought I was the Chun-Li’s knees. Then I got older and started hearing people talk about footsies and yomi and fuzzy guard, and I discovered that fighting games were actually much more complicated than I realised. That’s why I want a Street Fighter game about breaking up street fights – it can help bring the simplicity back to the genre.
I’m not going to go all Bill Clinton and suggest video games cause kids to become evil, but fighting games are pretty violent – you win by fighting. Street Fighter is not as bad as Mortal Kombat when it comes to ripping out spines, and fighting games are not alone in being violent, but still. Whoever punches the hardest is right – that’s the basic ethos of fighting games. There’s sometimes a good vs evil plot attached, but these differences are settled with fisticuffs, not a frank exchange of views.
That’s where this hypothetical new game comes in. You see a bunch of people trying to settle their differences by pummelling each other, so you stroll up to them, put your arms around them, and ask “can’t we all just get along?” You learn the value of talking through your problems, you get to turn enemies into friends, and the world is a better place than it was when you woke up this morning – all because of you.
That sound boring? Well, it wouldn’t be. It would be cool as fuck. You wouldn’t be some weedy guy with thick glasses and an ill-fitting suit shuffling up to people and telling them that violence is never the answer. I’m thinking something more like Guardian Angels. These were a group of citizens who patrolled the New York subway during the height of the ‘80s crime wave, keeping everyday folk safe from muggings and stabbings, as well as generally making people feel less intimidated without the discrimination and reckless authority of the cops. They wore red jackets, red berets, white t-shirts, and had strict training to ensure they were there to make everybody feel safer, not to make people scared. Cammy already has the beret and Ken already has the jacket. They’re basically halfway there already.
That idea of feeling safe is important too – that’s why the Guardian Angels have moved beyond the New York subway, and now have several chapters across the USA, and many more spread around the world. For the most part, fights are pre-arranged in Street Fighter. You show up to the occasionally bizarre location, take on your opponent, and you both go home. It’s violent, sure, but in the same way boxing is violent – it’s a very organised, consensual violence that all parties have agreed to take part in. Street fights are usually not arranged in this way, and even if they somehow are, bystanders may be caught in the middle.
Of course, it won’t necessarily be completely devoid of fighting. Some people need to be knocked down a peg or two, and while I’ve mainly talked about breaking up street fights, sometimes it’s not so much a fight as an assault – one person beating up an innocent bystander. That’s when it’s time for Chun-Li to wade in there in her Guardian Angel gear and hand out some justice.
Street Fighter is the quintessential fighting game, but like all fighting games, it’s just a bit too complicated for me to understand. For that reason, and because the New York Guardian Angels are just some of the coolest people ever, the next Street Fighter game should be about breaking up fights, not starting them.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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