One of the upcoming games that has caught the imagination of the fighting game community this year is ARIKA’s Fighting EX Layer. First announced as part of an April Fool’s joke, this rebirth of ARIKA’s fighting game franchises (Street Fighter EX and Fighting Layer), is one of the most exciting projects on the horizon.
Recently, ARIKA co-founder (and creator of the fighting game as we know it) Akira Nishitani was interviewed by Bandai Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada regarding the game. In the interview, the two discuss a number of topics related to both Fighting EX Layer, and fighting games in general.
These topics range from discussing the birth of the modern fighting game genre (with Nishitani’s involvement with Street Fighter II). Here Nishitani talks about working from both the original Street Fighter and its spin-off Final Fight, while trying to figure out what works and what feels good. This includes studying some of the negative aspects that players just accepted, and then fixing them (one example he gives is making inputs more precise).
Another thing they talk about is the “backjump episode,” referring to how backward jumps have more range than forward jumps in SFII. This was something that people didn’t really notice at first, but was actually something that Nishitani added, coming from Final Fight. He states that implementing it was based on what he thought players would feel: that if they wanted to run away, they would want to do so as fast as possible.
A more important concept they talk about is the “mid” attack, or “overhead.” The idea of which came from Nishitani wanting a way for blocking to be “imperfect.” So their idea was to add moves that could not be blocked while crouching — a decision which lays the foundation for how offense and defense works in almost all fighting games to this day. Harada even comments on how no other system has been able to surpass these mechanics that the Street Fighter II team created.
Moving on to Fighting EX Layer, Nishitani talks about the popularity of the characters — specifically the Street Fighter EX characters. Skullomania in particular was one that they discovered was quite popular overseas.
In addition to this, they go over the Gougi system and why they decided to implement it in the game. Part of it is an attempt to try create a system that change the standard flow of fighting games. The whole section on the Gougi system is pretty in depth, with a lot of discussion on how it might affect the game, and competitive play. One idea tossed around though was the possibility of releasing new Gougi as a way of indirectly buffing characters.
Now, this is just a small part of what they discuss in the interview. With both Harada and Nishitani being developers, they talk a lot about the development process of fighting games, as well as the latter’s philosophies of doing so.
For those interested in reading the entire interview, Andrew “Jiyuna” Fidelis has translated it and shared it on his blog.