What do you think of certain types of moves like the dodge in TW101 and MGR being unlockable instead of available right from the start?
They’re core mechanics, it’s kind of pointless. It’s additionally silly how enemy step (jump cancel) was an unlockable move in DMC4. If you’re going to lock those mechanics away then you’re asking for trouble. Especially for something like unite guts. The theme of beat em ups is that the character has all the actions they need to overcome any sort of challenge within the levels available from the get-go and the only upgrades they receive are more powerful moves. Holding things like that back are just poor planning.
I honestly think all the unlock systems for moves in those types of games are kind of pointless. Having these as unlockable distracts from the intrinsic joy of mastering the system. People value accomplishments like clearing hard mode for their own sake. While people feel a type of contentment with finally unlocking everything, it’s a hollow achievement in comparison. Having the character change over the course of the game can help create a variety, a difference of feeling from when you first pick up the game and when you finish it, but I feel like those sorts of changes should be connected more directly to in-game challenges, like earning a new weapon in devil may cry by beating a boss or tracking down a new weapon in a remote area in dark souls, both of those have a more direct pattern of completing an action to receive a reward rather than ambiguous things like money systems between missions. It’s less like completing a grind to succeed and having more definite goals. It also wastes less of your time with repetition.
Regarding the unlock systems, in which types of games does it work fined in?
In general I think progression based unlocks work better than buying it from an amorphous shop, as a general rule. As for what games that sort of thing works well in… I’d think games where you don’t have very definite goals or stage based progression, such as Just Cause 2 or another open world game. The sort of idea is that the player will go all over the place and do whatever they want to do, and having a definite progression path based on accomplishing specific challenges at specific points in time wouldn’t go over very well. Though that doesn’t really justify the idea of being able to buy any of your upgrades at any time, because that seems more of a trade-offy grindy type of thing.
Unlock systems with point buy make sense in games where you’re forced in some way to specialize, because there’s inherently tradeoffs to getting one thing over another, and it comes across better thematically when different upgrades make the character more differentiated from other possible characters. In devil may cry, you eventually end up with all the upgrades, that’s the intention, so grinding for points to buy things is more of a holdover goal, preventing people from getting at the juicy part of the gameplay they really want to do. The notion is that there’s a limited number of these points and you can only get so much for them. Dark Souls softly enforced this with multiplayer, because people tried to stay around the level that other players tackling the same area were at so they could co-op and invade, so people had to make tradeoffs. Then Dark Souls 2 ruined that and everyone just went with optimal gear all the time.
What’s dumb about upgrades in console brawlers? You play well, get money, earn new abilities, and to compensate, enemies (should) get harder or more complex. It’s about progression of the player’s abilities and also a way to teach more complex movesets to players without overwhelming them.
I can agree it helps teach complex movesets to new players by limiting them to only moves they understand one at a time, but I dislike the grindy aspects of it, and I’d really hate to play a fresh game of DMC or Bayonetta and not have some ability I used all the time. Like not having the teleport on Trickster style, or the stinger attacks for bayonetta. That’s especially painful in MGR where I have to play the prologue and I can’t air parry. God hand gets along a bit better with it, because you’re limited in how much you can customize the moveset, you have to pick and choose between options rather than having all your options at once (and god hand starts you with more of a “full toolkit” to begin with), but games like DMC or bayonetta everything is always available if it’s unlocked (barring like equipment stuff). Given they fully intend to let you take that stuff back to the beginning of the game to have fun with it in the early areas, I don’t really see the point in locking it off from the player.