How to achieve personal growth in fighting games - and make it stick

There's a simple way to advance, but it also requires hard work

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • November 30, 2017 at 7:45 p.m. PST

One area that cannot be stressed enough when it comes to fighting games is the room for expression that is inherently part of them.

From Sako combos to Umeshoryus, a central point of fighting games have always been that exceptional players leave their mark in matches in ways that others simply are not able to.

While this is obviously something that varies from game to game, it is an intricate part of what makes a fighting game into just that, a fighting game.

In this article, I'm going to point out a few examples of this fighting game staple in action, and argue for the significance of keeping this in mind whenever you talk about a new fighting game.

Now, let me preface the remainder of this piece by saying that although it might not sound that exciting, if you want to level up, you better prepare to study.

We all know that fighting games are built on having a varied range of attacks that function differently depending on distance, your opponent's actions and tons of other factors.

As everyone reading this is almost undoubtedly aware given the nature of the site you're visiting, this means that every attack in every game has several different functions, although all such functions might not be particularly useful, or, perhaps not particularly useful based on what you know right now.


Did someone just say functions... ?

Because of this complex variety that makes up the foundation of most fighting games, which naturally also gets affected by what character you're facing and in some games, which stage you're fighting on, there are going to be situations that might arise which are not readily apparent from a game's beginning.

This is something that's even more obvious in older games, since they received patches irregularly, if ever, and therefore remained in the state they were when released. One perfect example is the extremely classic Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo, the most popular edition of the game that formed fighting games as we know them.

One thing, likely out of thousands, which we can point to in this game is that over 15 years after its release, a crazy option select with O. T. Hawk was spread publicly by Damdai which made him way better than previously thought, assuming you were skilled enough to pull this off.


"Who says I need a gun?"

This isn't an entirely uncommon phenomenon. In any fighting game, regardless of its lifespan, as long as there are people searching, people will be finding new things all the time.

The current era of fighting games both helps and hurts this, because on the one hand, with our current internet age, people share things at a much faster pace than ever before. Look no further than D-NO's Twitter Account for tons of interesting factoids about both old and new games, demonstrated in video form.

The drawback of the modern age, however, is partly that games get patched at a rapid pace, which generally discourages players from trying to find things as much, and in some cases finding things but not wanting to share them out of fear that people will be able to counter it, or that the developers will remove it.

While there are new discoveries made all the time in newer games as well, the most impressive examples tend to be when something is found in older games, simply because of how broken down they've been by so many people throughout the years.

In fact, what sparked the inspiration for this very article was such an instance - namely, a video from the Twitter user Agatsuma.

The video in question was from Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, and showcased that Urien can in fact juggle with one tackle more than previously thought in this corner situation. You can see the video below.


Click the image to see the video that finally made the Illuminati promote Urien to president.

In the comments, several people ask him how he does it and if there's any trick to it, to which he simply replies that there is no trick, just "put your spirit into it".

When commenters tell him that he's probably the only one who's capable of actually doing this, he responds that while he's never seen anyone do this before, he's been told that Kuroda also did it like it was nothing.

Basically, what we can learn from all of this, is that fighting games in general are really deep, and exploring them can reap some incredible rewards.

There are so many potential situations that can happen in any fighting game, that it's completely impossible for one person to account for them all only by exploring on their own. Sharing your knowledge can only serve to further your gameplay, and researching on your own is bound to help you find new things.

This is where mentality tends to shift between older and newer players. Obviously, this isn't exclusive behavior depending on how old or new you are to a game, but it's more prevalent in newer players.

This is something I touched upon in one of my previous articles, but it bears repeating. It's very common for players to have strong knee-jerk reactions to new fighting games, and demanding nerfs or changes long before tiers could ever hope to be established.

Although this is an issue from a balancing perspective since it often leads to so-called "early top tier" characters to be nerfed while the actual top tier characters, discovered later, skate by freely, it's also an issue for players' mentalities.

Pointing towards the developer to fix things isn't necessarily bad, there are often broken things in fighting games that could use fixing, but having it as your only resort will only lead you down a bad path.


Plus, let's be honest, here...

Though it might seem obvious to many of you reading this article, it's vital to stress the importance of researching things before you decide it's nerf time, partly because you never know if developers are actually going to listen to you in the end or not, but also because it fosters a healthy gameplay mentality that will serve to improve you as a player in the long run.

With older games, in most cases, people didn't have the luxury to even begin hoping for nerfs, so they tried to find ways around the problem instead. Sure, it didn't always work out, nobody's going to argue that Chun-Li in Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike is fair, and Akuma was such a problem in Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo that he ended up banned.

"Sometimes, you will be faced with an insurmountable wall ... But you won't know if it's truly insurmountable or not until you try your absolute hardest to figure out what exactly your character is capable of. "

But the effort people put in to try and match these seemingly insurmountable situations is what leads to incredible discoveries being made, and strategies being formed for characters.

You can bet that what formed the playstyle for many characters in today's meta, no matter what game you're looking at, can be traced back to someone saying "No, this can't be my only option", and doing their damndest to find out what's available, many times in ways the developers never even imagined.

Check your replays. What did you lose to? Recreate the situation in training mode. What can you do to prevent it? Exhaust every possible option, and keep grinding it out in training mode until it sticks.

There are so many resources at your disposal to overcome bad matchups, or even good matchups that you don't know are good yet, so put the time in.

It's also worth noting that just because nobody else has found something yet, that doesn't mean it can't exist. You just might find something brand new that flips a matchup on its head. It's happened countless times in innumerable fighting games.

Unfortunately, there's a real world that also applies to fighting games. "Life isn't always fair." Sometimes, you will be faced with an insurmountable wall that turns out to be just that, and thankfully, that's when the modern era of fighting games comes in handy because developers in fact can intervene and hopefully change this for the better.

But you won't know if it's truly insurmountable or not until you try your absolute hardest to figure out what exactly your character is capable of.


Yes, Alex, you and your players have suffered enough already.

The point I want to end up at is, even if you think it seems hopeless, put in proper work before you decide it actually is. Research videos, discuss with other players, share the knowledge and see just how deep you can go in your game of choice.

What's there to explore? What can you find? You just might be able to figure something completely new out, either alone or together with a group of dedicated friends.

Once you can feel completely satisfied in the notion that you've explored every option the game has to offer for whatever's troubling you, then maybe it's time to poke the developers about some changes. Just never make it your go-to option.

Nothing worth having comes easy, and that's true in fighting games as well. If you want to reach a higher level, you need to put in proper work, but the funny thing about research and knowledge is that it could extend beyond helping just you. It could end up helping a whole community in the end.

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