There’s a really interesting (and in my opinion fun) conversation going on in the thread started by Paul B on changes to the game for S3: (PaulB Talks: Season 3). If you haven’t taken a look I would encourage you to.
But one of the themes that is recurring is that people have different ideas about what constitutes good and legitimate fighting game mechanics. In that thread and elsewhere, many people place singular importance on the neutral game. If you “win” in neutral you should be rewarded. They tend to be dismissive of the KI combo/breaker/counterbreaker system as “guessing” and any successful break is “rewarding you for failing in the neutral game.”
I don’t want to reconstitute that debate here, but it brings to mind the idea of a perfectly “neutral” fighting game. What does that look like, and would it be fun? Well, I think Divekick would qualify. No combos, no special moves. Just all neutral all the time. I admit, I haven’t played it (sorry IG ), but plenty of people think it’s fun. You can imagine other variations on “neutral” gameplay with more options than Divekick though. Probably Karate Champ and Yie Ar Kung Fu qualify. These were considered fun at the time, but have no significant following, no tournament scene and are not trotted out as examples of stellar FG gameplay. I never played SF 1, but SF2 already (accidentally) had combos. And the challenge of pulling of specials and combos has always been considered a big part of the game. But it is much more “neutral” than most modern fighters. Why don’t we all still play SF2?
So, without much additional rambling, I’m hoping to have a discussion on “what is the point of combos?” Especially if you share the philosophy that a “win” in neutral leads to a reward, why don’t we have fighting games that simply don’t have combos? A win in neutral means you hit your opponent. Period. What do the combos add to the equation?