This is Rose Ball:
To explain what’s going on:
this is Street Fighter IV, in
practice mode versus mode. Both players are handicapped so they have a pixel of health, and both have selected Rose as their character. They are playing best of 9. At the beginning of each round, one of them “serves” by performing Rose’s “Soul Spark” move – a half-circle towards on the joystick, and a punch button. Then, they take it in turns to perform her “Soul Reflect”, which can reverse projectiles; this is a quarter-cirlce away on the stick, with a punch button. Whoever fails to time the parry correctly will get hit by the “ball”, and the other player will win the round.
So: they’re playing Pong, inside Street Fighter IV.
This is clearly awesome.
What I like most is that it’s consensual – there’s nothing to stop one of them just walking over and pounding the other player, bar good conduct. The game of Rose Ball only works if you both play fair. Later in the game, you’ll see one player move closer to the other, upping the difficultly of the game, as there’s less time to parry the ball.
It’s always interesting to see consensual games like Rose Ball emerge from other games. An obvious corollary is Cat and Mouse in the Project Gotham series; whilst it was a player-derived, consensual mode in PGR2, by the third and fourth games in the series, it turned into a fully fledged game mode.
See also some of the new consensual gameplay modes that people have made for Halo 3 – the four-team, eight-player racing game that is Rocket Race, or Grifball, the two-team ballgame that’s hugely popular online.
Consensual play – breaking the “official” rules in an agreed manner – is something that always emerges when you give players rule-based systems such as videogames. Few systems are robust enough to make it worthwhile, though. Cat and Mouse is quite fragile if someone doesn’t understand the rules; by contrast, the Halo 3-derived games are much more robust, as there’s more customisation of the rule-system available to players. These kind of games are important, though, because they require no modification or custom code, no downloads or installation; they’re just new layers of player-generated rules on top of pre-existing, developer-designed rules.
And: they usually turn out to be lots of fun, because anything that can survive the mill of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Xbox Live players playing – and refining – it is probably pretty good.
Hence the survival of Cat and Mouse into a canon game mode; hence the popularity of Griffball. And Rose Ball? I think that’s going to stay a novelty for relatively skilled players, but it’s still nice to know that such a thing is possible within systems like SF4.