Final Fight 2

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As reality can be reduced to its constitutive particles on the subatomic level – its quarks, its gravitons, its bosons and fermions – so can the mechanics of a game be reduced to a series of binary switches, as can all software.

More interesting, though, is the reducibility of game play – that is, the fact that a game could be interacted with and successfully completed by a completely automated device, blind deaf and dumb, if it simply pressed the right sequence of buttons at the right intervals.

Some games are deterministic in such a fashion that this is the case.  The original Pac-Man could be seen as such; the work of many arcade gurus was in deriving this arcane formula, this perfect sequence of joystick jerks (yes indeed) to reach the kill-screen.

Many games, however, involve random factors or emergent elements that complicate that reducibility and even make it impossible.  Your humble, simple, first-generation JRPG with its random battles would require some kind of awareness in its player, even something as simple as visual alerts when a battle arose, so that it could react with the right button presses at the right intervals at the right time.  To construct a parellel example, Ms. Pac-Man added random factors that confound arcade masters to this day.

Some games even have crafted facsimiles of intelligence, crude AIs which react differently in every play through, even if you act the same way yourself – a sort of unconscious stab against the Newtonian idea of a clockwork universe, by showing beings which, if not actually possessed of free will, are able to change due to the randomness of their universe.

Even some of the more complex deterministic games are so massively complicated and full of interwoven patterns and systems that plotting out which buttons to press at which intervals would be impossible; the rapid exponential factors to calculate creates an indecipherable tapestry of sublime mathematics.

Final Fight 2 is not one of these games.

If every game is a virtual universe, a constructed reality with its own complexities and rules, then Final Fight 2 is not even a galaxy, or a solar system, or a pair of asteroids trapped in each other’s gravitational pull, or even a valley of frozen stone on the face of a tiny moon floating in space.  It is a pair of turds spinning around each other in a toilet, briefly circumscribing a series of concentric circles before shlurking into a black and, thankfully, forgettable oblivion.

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