Hello again, one & all. That magical time of year when everyone's inner cosplayer gets a chance to flourish is just a few days away. Unless, of course, you've already hit up a Halloween party. Regardless, that has nothing to do with what I want to talk about today. After the jump, I'll elaborate...
As I was saying, it's almost Halloween and all the costumes & decorations that are designed to frighten us will be on full display. However, there is a very strange vacuum in fighting games when it comes to being scary. Given that our choice of games is focused solely on competition, there really isn't much room for anything frightening to take hold. At best, we're presented with things that make us uncomfortable, but they can only take a back seat to the combat. Which is perfectly understandable because if we were focusing on the atmosphere, everyone would lose their matches & that's just bad for business.
Thankfully, gaming as a whole is about varying levels of immersion. Depending on what genre is your particular favorite, your level of immersion can change drastically. Fighting games have been becoming friendlier & friendlier with the idea of character customization. This helps with the concept of immersion. However, it doesn't provide anything scary. You can make damn near anyone nowadays. Hell, some games even go out of their way to grant you the ability to make characters from other games. You can only go so far with it, though... and that keeps things from being truly terrifying. Again, we hit that wall where things have to stop at uncomfortable.
Another facet of fighting game immersion is music. Generally, music comes into play to keep things entertaining. Soundtracks are in place to set the tone and have, thankfully, become entities unto themselves over the years. Music is meant to inspire & evoke emotion and that's important. It serves to cue us in on when the emotions regarding a particular character or an important event. Unfortunately, that is where music's immersion ends. Figuratively speaking, it can only leads us to the water... but it can't make us drink.
Finally, there's the plot. This is where the concept of immersion succeeds. Upon learning more of a story, one can learn the depth of a character and it is in THAT aspect that things can become rightfully scary. Learning the truth behind a character's origins or intentions can seriously alter your opinions of them. This is even truer when their appearance conflicts with their personality. Case in point, B.B. Hood/Bulleta.
For the love of God, do NOT let that face fool you. This chick is a coldblooded, heartless lunatic. That's the beauty of it, though... once you peel back a layer or two, the undeniable truth comes out. It is here, my FGC brothers & sisters, where we can get our taste of horror: in truth. Another prime example is actually very new. I'm talking about Eliza. On the surface, she's a relatively self-absorbed lounge singer, but once you discover the truth of her actual identity, she becomes unabashedly terrifying... like Old Testament terrifying. However, there's one character who, at his core, scares me more than anything. Just the idea behind this guy is insanely haunting. Not to the point where I can't play with or against him, but his presence unnerves me.
If you can't recognize him right away, that is Ryuji Yamazaki. Here's a guy who grew up idolizing (and ultimately joining) the Yakuza. After his idol/boss was ambushed, tortured & murdered, he went off the deep end and killed everyone involved with the incident. Soon after, he opted for a change of scenery by making his way to Hong Kong. He went on to be a successful businessman in the usual dirty dealings: drugs, firearms, etc. Eventually, he was hired as the Jin twins' bodyguard. It wasn't until a fateful meeting with Billy Kane. During his participation in the 1995 King of Fighters tournament, Yamazaki learned that he was a member of the Hakkeshu. This is where he gets frightening.
You see, the Hakkeshu are victim to a trance-like state called the "Riot of Blood". It makes people uncontrollably violent & near unstoppable. However, despite being a homicidal maniac in his own right, Yamazaki can surpress the Riot of Blood through sheer willpower & by being good ol' fashioned stubborn. I'm going to repeat that because it bears repeating: Yamazaki can surpress the Riot of Blood. Truth be told, he barely even taps into the power granted him by being a member of the Hakkeshu. This essentially means that he's holding back... a LOT. Yamazaki is a force to be reckoned with by himself, but could you imagine the hell he could raise if he ever decided to let that power run wild? For that reason, Ryuji Yamazaki is the best example of how terrifying fighting games can be.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.