Sifu’s nomination for best fighting game at The Game Awards raises questions about what is considered a fighting game.

Sifu's nomination for best fighting game at The Game Awards raises questions about what is considered a fighting game.
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There is little doubt about the quality of Sifu at this point. It’s a legally great game that combines many of the best aspects of fighting games and fighting games, but does that make it a fighter?

That’s the question hitting the gaming community right now when it was revealed this week that Sifu was nominated for best fighting game at The Game Awards 2022, and thoughts on it are understandably all over the place.

Looking at the game’s mechanics as a whole, Sifu shares much of his DNA with fighters in attacking, throwing, parrying, rock-paper-scissors fighting, as well as many techniques familiar to fighting game fans.

This is all super cool and easy to appreciate, but that doesn’t make the inherently SloClap title fit the genre nicely.

The main issue people get stuck on is that Sifu is a single player only game. There are no versus or online multiplayer modes at all.

Fighter nominees are centered around “the best game designed primarily around head-to-head combat,” according to The Game Awards’ own category description.

There’s no “head-to-head” combat in Sifu unless you count fighting AI enemies and bosses, but TGA just wrote “first of all” instead of something like.

Single player-focused fighting games are rare, but like Capcom’s ill-fated Red Earth, they’ve been around for decades – but even these games typically still include a Versus mode.

To see if there is any precedent for Sifu’s categorization, we reviewed all of the best fighting game nominees since they were first included in the awards nearly a decade ago.

There are some controversial candidates like Nidhogg 2, WWE All Stars and a handful of arena fighters, but each had a multiplayer component.

This seems to leave Sifu as the only title you can’t play against another person.

We found nothing to suggest that Sifu considers itself a fighting game, as it is often labeled as an action fight.

This may be an arbitrary nomination for an awards show to fill a year with a few new releases, but some wonder/wonder whether the decision has muddied the waters of what the wider gaming community would now consider a fighting game.

Apart from Sifu’s focus on martial arts, the game’s structure and design shares a lot more in common with a character action game like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta than with Street Fighter or Tekken.

It doesn’t seem like a case where TGA wanted to applaud Sifu for his achievements but no different as they were nominated for best action game this year as well.

Against some strong competition in MultiVersus, The King of Fighters 15, DNF Duel, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R, it seems unlikely that Sifu will take the trophy away – but it will certainly be very interesting if SloClap wins.

We’ll find out which fighting game was named the best of 2022 at The Game Awards next month on December 8, and we’ll also be getting bigger announcements for upcoming games like Tekken 8.

In my own personal opinion, I don’t think Sifu should be 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 games can still be fighting games and if Sifu falls into this category.

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