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Sifu's nomination for best fighting game at The Game Awards raises questions about what's considered a fighting game now

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • November 16, 2022 at 7:58 p.m. PST • Comments: 38

There's little doubt at this point regarding the quality of Sifu. It's a legitimately great game that blends together many of the best aspects of fighting games and beat 'em ups, but does that make it a fighter?

This is the question currently hitting the gaming community once it was revealed this week that Sifu was nominated for the best fighting game at The Game Awards 2022, and thoughts on the matter are understandably all over the place to say the least.

Looking purely at the game's mechanics, Sifu does share a lot of its DNA with fighters in its strike, throw, parry rock paper scissors combat as well as many techniques familiar to fighting game fans.

All of that is super cool and easy to appreciate, but that doesn't inherently make the SloClap title fit nicely into the genre.

The main issue people are hung up on is that Sifu is a single-player only game. There are no Versus or online multiplayer modes at all.

According to The Game Awards' own category description, the fighter nominees are based around "the best game designed primarily around head-to-head combat."

There is no "head-to-head" combat in Sifu unless you count fighting the AI enemies and bosses, but TGA did write "primarily" instead of something like only.

Single-player focused fighting games are rare but have existed for decades like Capcom's ill-fated Red Earth โ€” although even those titles typically still included a Versus mode.

To see if there was any precedent for Sifu's categorization, we looked through all of the best fighting game nominees since they were first included in the awards around a decade ago.

There are some arguable nominees like Nidhogg 2, WWE All Stars and a handful of arena fighters, but every one of them did feature a multiplayer component.

So that seems to leave Sifu as the one and only title you can't play against another person.

We haven't found anything to suggest Sifu considers itself a fighting game, as it's generally labeled as an action beat 'em up.

This may be just an arbitrary nomination for an awards show to fill out a year with few new releases although some worry / wonder if the decision muddies the waters of what the wider gaming community is going to consider a fighting game now.

Outside of Sifu's focus on martial arts, the game's structure and design shares much more in common with a character action game like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta than it does Street Fighter or Tekken.

It doesn't appear to be a situation where TGA wanted to applaud Sifu for its accomplishments but lacked a different spot for it because they're also nominated for best action game this year too.

Up against some strong competition in MultiVersus, The King of Fighters 15, DNF Duel and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R, Sifu seems unlikely to walk away with the trophy โ€” it sure is going to get very interesting if SloClap does win, however.

We'll find out which fighting game is voted the best of 2022 at The Game Awards next month on December 8 where we're also likely to receive more big announcements for upcoming titles like Tekken 8.

In my own personal view, I don't think Sifu should have been included as a fighting game, but I can understand the sentiment in this situation. Let us know in the comments if you think single-player only titles can still be fighting games and whether Sifu fits into that category.

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