In 2020 Evolution Championship Series’ (EVO) lineup of fighting games to watch in their tournament, it would be tough for people to see anything significant amongst the games in comparison to last year.
I’m only joking.
This year’s lineup was completely shaken by the idea that “Marvel vs. Capcom 2,” a 20-year-old game, is one of the main games at EVO this year, blowing both me and the rest of the internet away.
I have already written about the impact “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” has had on EVO in general in another article, so for this particular column, I’d like to talk about one particular aspect of fighting games that I think is quite amazing.
One of the biggest criticisms regarding fighting games is that they are too hard to learn – either execution wise or simply game-sense wise. Both of these issues are made worse by the fact that most fighting games have rather abysmal tutorials, and even when they are informative, they can’t help a person who is struggling to defeat someone who has played fighting games before. This is called legacy skill.
The concept of legacy skill is what allows most people who have played a fighting game before to transition more smoothly into other fighting games. The definition of it is simply “the skills gained from other fighting games that are transferable to any other fighting game.” To use a more understandable example: riding a bike. When you have mastered riding one particular bike, it doesn’t take the time it took to master the first bike to then master the second, the third and so on.
This basic concept is the foundational understanding that what you learn in one fighting game has the potential to help you in other games that you perhaps weren’t doing that well in.
That’s how individuals like Sonicfox can do so well in multiple games simultaneously. It’s because all of the people playing on that big stage understand that they are applying skills from when they first started playing to now through all the games that they once sunk all their time into. Despite what many say, the execution between all of these fighting games are pretty similar; once you can get a grasp on one fighting game, it is pretty easy to transfer what skills you have in that one fighting game to then transition to another fighting game.
That is the beauty of legacy skill. It allows a person to understand fighting games not as a linear line of games that they can play and soon will, but a massive web of different games that open up when you learn the concept somewhere else and what to break into another fighting game.
Obviously this idea of legacy skill can be applied to countless other things in other genres of games, but also life as a whole. With all of that considered though, why does it seem like people don’t seem to think the same is true for fighting games? That the skill one gains from one fighting game simply can’t be transferred to another. If you are willing to apply it to one genre of gaming, it should frankly be applied to more.
When the announcement was made that “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” was returning to EVO after a decade-long hiatus, I was extremely excited and began telling some people that I knew about the whole event and what they were doing with the bracket. When I was telling one particular person, he told me that the people who once played the game might not want to return due to the lack of practice and/or the amount of time that it has been since they played the game. That’s when I thought about legacy skill. Through games like the sequel to “Marvel vs. Capcom 2,” “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” and others that have shaped the style of “Marvel vs. Capcom” like “Skullgirls” and “Dragonball fighter Z” that I believe that while yes, the once mighty overlords of the game might not be on their A-game, it’s safe to say that they will not be the push-overs that the poorly informed might see them to be despite the time gap since they played the game.
For me, however, I am glad that this game is in the lineup. It reminds me where I first started “getting” fighting games as a whole. The first fighting game that I got really into was “Skullgirls” and that sprouted into countless other fighting games that I could now understand because of one. This led to me being the massive fighting game nut that I am now despite the fact that I am not the biggest player of the games. It’s through fighting games that I found my love for the genre due to the fact that it was all up to me to beat my opponent. The few factors of luck in this game and the fact it’s almost always 1v1 drew me into the genre’s tantalizing concepts.
Now from my experiences playing fighting games, I will give you some tips to tap into legacy skill as much as possible.
People within the community say not to pick who you think is the coolest, but who is the easiest. That way the concepts surrounding that game are more easily accessible by the fact that they are being surrounded by a simpler framework. From there, you can begin to unravel that game’s particular mechanics. Remember always that the skills that you gain from one can be seen in another if you open your mind to the possibility you’ll see it more often.
That’s it, frankly.
I love fighting games. It’s partly the reason I am into gaming news at all and it has given me opportunities that I have greatly enjoyed partaking in. I want to share this amazing genre more and that yeah, it’s hard, but back to that analogy: it’s like riding a bike. Once you learn one, you can learn them all.
Edward Park is a third-year student majoring in English education. EP909756@wcupa.edu