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Why don’t fighting games have an online practice mode?

Submitted by on Monday, 1 February 20108 Comments

Every major fighting game released this generation has an online feature with the exception of Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS3. Two player battles are pretty much guaranteed and that’s really all you get. Even if a game has multiple modes to play, they won’t be online enabled.

With the recent resurgence of the fighting game genre, one would think that an online training mode would have been done by now.

Let’s take a look at the online features that fighting games have had in the last couple of years:

Street Fighter IV online is incredibly barebones and only allows for one on one matches. It doesn’t even support lobbies for more than two players. Thankfully this issue is being rectified in Super Street Fighter IV. Capcom is also including a Team Battle mode which allows for 2 vs 2 and 4 vs 4 online matches. One could even have a 7 vs 1 team battle for a real challenge. Another new addition is the Replay Channel which will allow gamers to watch matches online. These new features are great and it’s a huge improvement from the original SFIV.

Tekken 6 online is pretty standard and supports up to four players in a lobby. Namco also released an update earlier this year that added online co-op to the Scenario Campaign mode. It’s actually pretty fun to play with a friend. Item farming has never been easier and the increased difficulty makes it fun and challenging. Tekken 6 features an offline Team Battle mode that allows you to select up to eight different characters to play as in a series of one round elimination matches. It’s really a shame that Team Battles are not playable online and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be since it is a two player mode.

The King of Fighters XII? Have fun even trying to play that game online. There is no community and the lag makes it nearly unplayable, even after the update that was released. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix has an online tournament mode and that was certainly a great addition to the game. Super Street Fighter IV will have a similar feature patched into it post-launch. Soul Calibur IV and all the other fighting games only allow for quarter matches at most. Where is the creativity at?

Heihachi likes training with his pet bear.

Is there any particular reason to why no fighting game supports an online practice mode? It’s not like people wouldn’t use it either. If you check different forums for Tekken 6 or Street Fighter IV, you will notice that people are constantly asking for advice. Some players don’t know how to counter certain strategies and they look to the internet for help. There have been many times when I have played a friend just to practice certain moves or combos to see if they are practical or possible in a competitive setting.

The problem is that there are health meters and time limits that make practicing online more tedious than it should be. Considering how lag is going to be a factor in any fighting game, certain elements of gameplay are going to be changed. The only way to figure that out is to try it for yourself and learn from your mistakes. Not worrying about defeating your partner is extremely beneficial as it will allow you to do whatever you want for however long.

One solution has always been to have a friend come over and go into practice mode and spend hours trying new moves and strategies. Some games feature the ability to record actions in practice mode which will allow you to playback techniques that an AI isn’t programmed to do. This was a staple feature in the Tekken series since the third game and yet it is unacceptably missing from Tekken 6. In the Smackdown vs Raw series, one could just practice online all they wanted. The only issue is that you have to break any pinfalls or submissions that would end a match. This freedom is only possible due to the fundamental differences between fighting and wrestling games though and it’s not an actual feature that was intended by the developers.

Chun-Li wishes that Dan was a pet bear

Honestly, how cool would it be to practice online with some of the best players in the world giving you personal lessons? Online play is never going to be the same as offline competition, but for many, it’s all they have. It’s not like practice mode can’t be played for fun either and one could create their own mini-games. For Tekken 6, two players could fight to the death until they reach a total damage done to their opponent. First to deal 10,000 damage wins! In Smackdown vs Raw, the first to successfully hit five finishers can then pin the opponent. It’s games like these that can make playing all the more interesting and fun.

I know I have watched and studied hours of YouTube videos that show pro players in action – what about you? Do you think an online training mode in a fighting game would be useless? Useful? Unnecessary? Let us know in the comments section…