Sifu’s nomination for Best Fighting Game at The Game Awards raises questions about what is considered a fighting game now

There is little doubt at this point about 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?

That’s the question currently hitting the gaming community once it was revealed this week that Sifu has been nominated for Best Fighting Game at The Game Awards 2022, and thoughts on the matter are understandably everywhere to say the least.

Looking purely at the mechanics of the game, Sifu shares a lot of his DNA with fighters in his fighting with jabs, throws, rock paper scissors parries, and many techniques familiar to fighting game fans.

All of this is great and easy to enjoy, but that doesn’t inherently make the SloClap title fit for the genre.

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

According to The Game Awards’ category description, the fighter nominees are based on “the best game designed primarily for head-to-head combat.”

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

Single-player-focused fighting games are rare but have been around for decades like Capcom’s ill-fated Red Earth, though even those titles typically still included a versus mode.

To see if there was precedent for Sifu’s categorization, we looked at all the nominees for best fighting games since they were first included in the awards nearly a decade ago.

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

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

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

This could just be an arbitrary award show nomination to fill a year with few new releases, although some worry/wonder if the decision muddies the waters of what the wider gaming community will now consider a fighting game .

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

There doesn’t seem to be a situation where TGA wanted to applaud Sifu for his achievements but had no different place for it as they were nominated for Best Action Game again this year.

Against stiff 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 walk away with the trophy – it will certainly become very interesting if SloClap wins, however.

We’ll find out which fighting game was voted the best of 2022 at The Game Awards next month on December 8, where we’ll also likely get bigger announcements for upcoming titles like Tekken 8.

From my personal point of 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 if Sifu falls into that category.


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