Your about to witness the strength of Street Fighter. Well not just Street Fighter, but most early Capcom titles. They set this standard where you got some story before you hit start. Some more once you get the game rolling. Sometimes a beat little middle bit. Then finally wrapping it all up at the end. Making the story be about the journey. Not some slog of menus and cutscenes. You knew when it was time to shoot and when it was time to read.
Now I’m not saying that is how all games should be. Just it’s how most games should be. I will often find myself mashing through dialogue just to get back to monster hunting in Pokemon Arceus. Then I’ll catch myself not catching Pokemon to run ahead in the story. This is because they don’t balance it well at all. Floods and famines is all you get in that game. Either it’s a near endless set of cutscenes, or just a bunch of mindless barely guided gameplay. The old RPGs didn’t do that. Well to be fair most RPGs aren’t well known for it’s captivating gameplay. Still it happens in so many games nowadays I don’t even fight it. I have to say I enjoy games much less after Mega Man X4. PSX is the start of the decline for sure. We had a brief bit if time when the PS3 was just releasing fantastically paced games. Which makes this modern mess worse. As I mentioned about all games, it’s true for Capcom too. Even Mega Man strayed away from the clean action then story set up. You can’t find this style even in their newer retro games. That is until Mega Man 9, 10, and 11. They keep true to the gameplay padded by story that just hits so right. Know what other game does it right?
Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World both give you a heads up in the instructions first. Then they chime in after each world boss. Giving you a moment to reflect on what you just accomplished. Perhaps a brief tease at what comes next? It’s the right amount of cool down and lore for a game like that. I get that more narrative heavy games require more story breaks. Something Fallout New Vegas handles well by letting you still control your character during the scene. Have the exposition happen organically around you. Sure that can end up in some awkward situations with the camera, or worse standing and chatting in a broke down bus for 30 minutes. That brings up the big question of is it needed? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love movies. I watch them often. Just I like my games to have a point to the narrative. Outside of just padding things out. Make the story as fun as the game. If only Capcom has some more recent examples of a healthy balance between gameplay and cutscenes in a story rich world.
Resident Evil, especially the remakes, have a solid marriage of gameplay and cutscenes. So it’s possible in just straight up action games. Which makes the bad ones worse. I can overlook tutorial cutscenes. I don’t like ’em but I get it. But having to stop every night to cook dinner and goof around with your buds gets old fast.
The Capcom style narrative structure will always be my favorite. It’s a shame that it’s basically dead. So many games would benefit from less cutscenes like Metal Gear. I admit the story is important, but maybe add some extra shit to do in-between. Even it it’s just base management or menu organization. On the other hand Hollow Knight could use less stretches of gameplay without a story beat. Call it nostalgia if you want, but I like what I like. That happens to be late 80s early 90s Capcom. Though to be fair everyone thinks their hometown was the best growing up. So take it how you like. Just know a game might not be bad, just unbalanced. If that’s the case then let the skip button have it and just fly forward. You can always look up what to do if you get stuck. For my money, I’d stick with something short and sweet and gets straight to the point. That point is gameplay..