Jul 242008





No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”


Ok, I’ve been playing a lot more Kongai. 🙂 It really is a good game! It became a lot more fun when I didn’t have to use Amaya anyway 😉 Although, on Amaya, it was interesting to me that I had very quickly concluded that he seemed to be rubbish, and then I check a few forums and find out he is near-universally regarded as the worst character in the game, possibly the only all round ‘bad’ character in fact, in desperate need of a buff (sic) in a future patch. At least I figured I’d understood the game ok to have worked that out so quickly myself. He’s still the best looking guy in the game anyway 😛

If only these were my real stats!

But it really does fascinate me at times (although that one of my regular opponents enhances the fascination at least 1000-fold I must admit). One of the most intriguing aspects is just how well it models the mental game of high level play at fighting games like Street Fighter. Even when it ‘feels’ like a guessing game, it is hardly ever really a pure guess. There’s a lot of number crunching logistic-play optimisation kind of things you can do in Kongai, which is pretty much pure maths – and hence rather dull in my opinion, but Kongai remains interesting because there’s almost always another viable option, and you’re often weighing the mathematical “solution” against a healthy dose of instinct, and of course yomi. Which was a major design goal of the game, and one which it achieves with aplomb. Even the sometimes-decryed “luck” aspects in the game, actually mirror high level Street Fighter very precisely. For example, the 90/95% hit chances on many moves is very much what a good player feels when doing a ‘special move’ in Street Fighter. You know you’ll almost always pull it off correctly, but there’s just a chance that you’ll mess up certain moves, which could affect your choice of what option to take.


One of the other really fun similarities with Street Fighter is ‘training your opponent to do silly things’. For example, I was told by regular opponent that I take a certain action in the game too much; and I agreed that I do – but the reason was I’d developed that tactic because when I am playing a random unknown new opponent at the game, I want to ‘train’ them that this is something I am going to do, just to set them up for later when I purposefully won’t do it and this will hopefully cause them to make mistakes when “guessing” against me.


However, huge positives aside, I still stand by my earlier comments though; the method of collecting ‘cards’ is a huge black mark against playing the game. Even though they’ve improved it so you do gain a few cards very quickly, which is much nicer, it still doesn’t make it fun going up against someone with the odds stacked against you to try and win those cards. It is fun to gradually increase your collection and improve your choices and your deck, and I wouldn’t mind the method of collecting cards at all if the method of matchmaking was fair (ie: based on your usuable card collection size as well as rank/skill level). Or alternatively allow you to pick your card when you do win one, at least perhaps just from a subset of two or three. I’m a great example of the reason this would be good: I have a collection of 13 cards now, in theory, but actually, 5 of them are basically unusable to me. Also it rather dampens the fun of the “random card win” when each time I seem to get something new that I can’t use. The fun of alea just seems to let me down every time.

My record is now 36-16 and I’ve been playing with clearly sub-optimal decks for all of this time. But my current main deck is not a bad deck at least; well it wasn’t too bad as soon as I’d got a new character – anyone to replace Amaya instantly improved it. And now at least every character I play has some kind of item that isn’t totally useless for them, but none of them are the items I would choose if I had a full choice. But to fix the matchmaking method I have been playing a lot of private matches, so my record is probably rather misleading. I’d like to try ranked matches, but I really don’t want to do this until I’ve got something close to what I’d consider a good deck. I think I’ve only had one open game on Kongai so far when my collection was clearly giving me the upper hand. I won easily, and it felt like I was cheating.

What about the “Kongregate Challenges” to win cards you ask? Well, let’s just say every game I’ve played on Kongregate for this reason I’ve only given one star or two stars. They are all terribly boring RSI-inducing click fests… or worse. The only challenge I enjoyed doing was the one that involved playing Kongai itself. Even more irritating is that I know there are other decent games on Kongregate, it’s just a shame they don’t seem to ‘promote’ those games with challenges.

But anyway, Kongai is free & does prove to be a lot of fun… so, I do recommend it. And I’ll happily throw ‘practice games’ on Private Match too if you’re new and want to play me and win some cards 🙂

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