Here Comes a New Challenger explores the Australian fighting game scene from the perspective of a newcomer and the result is both fascinating and heartwarming, but only to those who are familiar with Street Fighter IV.
Here Comes a New Challenger answers one of the burning questions I’ve had for a while: can a complete unknown start playing Street Fighter IV and compete at an acceptable level in a regional tournament? This documentary follows an Australian who doesn’t really know that much about fighting games and the subculture surrounding them, but he has a lot of time in his hands and impetuous passion. What’s the worst that could happen?
As soon as the documentary starts, problems begin for this player: his Xbox 360 suffers from the Red Ring of Death, he has to face some fierce competition online, he keeps losing tournament after tournament, playing Street Fighter IV all day soon becomes a chore, he gets frustrated after losing so often which leads to a resentment against the game and so on and so forth. But little by little, this contender starts learning the basics, he sees that the community welcomes him with open arms and he analyses his matches to see what he did wrong and improve.
Here Comes a New Challenger explores uncharted territories and that’s what makes it so appealing to watch. For starters, it focuses on the Australian fighting game scene which is something we don’t hear about that often if you don’t live there. The film documents the life of someone who changed his life overnight and decided to learn how to play a video game at a tournament level which would be overwhelming for most people. But that’s not all in terms of doing something new. Some of the interviews feature young women and it’s refreshing to see them talk about their experience in the fighting game community, taking into account that women aren’t that well represented in fighting games since this is a male-dominated scene.
The business side of the fighting game scene is also mentioned a couple of times. Sponsors, video games as an industry and the advantages of large corporations coming in and throwing money in what a lot of people see as a hobby or simply entertainment and others see as a business is fascinating and definitely raises some compelling questions that a lot of viewers will have to answer on their own.
In the end, I would recommend this documentary to two kinds of people who I feel will definitely enjoy it. One, those who dream about becoming professional players because this film paints a clear picture of what that entails. Two, I would recommend this documentary to fighting game fans who have a grasp of Street Fighter IV’s mechanics and the fighting game community in general. If you fall under those awfully specific categories, Here Comes a Challenger will not disappoint.