What’s So Special About Fighting Anyway?

Yeah, right.  I get it.  Fighting games.  What exactly is so fun about punching the other guy in the face, back & fourth, if that’s all you do?

Well, I thought it would be nice to go into detail about why I enjoy fighters as opposed to other types of games.

It’s not about being locked facing you opponent with no ability to free-roam, nor is it about just mindlessly clobbering your enemy until the next fight begins.

What exactly makes them different?

Just to make it clear, I like all types of games.

[rant ahead]  Except the sports and shooters we get year after year, in the form of Call of Duty, Live, Madden and soon I’ll be adding Assassin’s Creed to the list, since quite frankly, I gave the series TWO chances with Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation on Playstation Vita, and Assassin’s Creed III on PS3.  Both of those games failed me miserably.  I completed ACIII.  DLC included.  Not happy.  Couldn’t be bothered to finish the Vita game.  Both games were so severely buggy that I couldn’t even bare to pay attention to the actual story.  Just follow the yellow dot on the map.  That’s what I did the entire game.   I’m aware the games aren’t made by the same studio each year, but I was just too disappointed to ever try another Assassin’s Creed game again.  I even have pictures showing myself on the opposite side of an impassable wall, which I somehow managed to push myself through, and then I swam into nothingness until my game froze.  Because guess what.  I got so lost, and so bored that I just didn’t care anymore.

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[rant over]

As I was saying, I like all types of games.  Fighting, third person shooters, action/adventure, platforming , role playing games and even puzzle games sometimes.  But, still, fighting games I like most.

Third person shooters, like Uncharted 3, I enjoyed playing online, I’ve always like Megaman games and more-recently, (over a year ago) I enjoyed Resident Evil 2.  Perfect game for my PS Vita.  I say recently, because growing up, that game scared me too much to play for more than 10 minutes at a time.

But again, why are fighting games so different?  Multiplayer, and things I learn in fighting games, are not restricted to my console or my save data.  Unlike RPGs.  No matter what you do, if your data is deleted, your character is at level 1.  It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, you simply can’t pass certain areas unless your character is of a certain level, because you need equips, special attacks, higher ranges of HP and MP and so on…

But, in a fighting game, no matter what, on default settings, no matter if you’re using your save data, or your friends, your HP, or hit points wont change.  Your characters stats in most cases also shouldn’t change.  And, that’s part of the answer.  Fighting games have mostly done away with locking characters, although now, a trend seems to be that you can’t beat arcade mode to unlock character, you have to outright spend additional money to unlock characters, so I guess that statement isn’t exactly true.  “Street Fighter X Tekken” being the number 1 offender of that.  Literally locking away half of the games characters behind a pay wall.  Needless to say, that isn’t a game I remotely like, despite having my number one favorite Tekken and Street Fighter characters.

The next thing is, well…  Numbers, put simply.

Fighting games are very strict with numbers.  They cannot have any sort of lag as it directly effects the gameplay.  This isn’t true with shooters, third person or first.  So, you can have 10-16 players firing at each other in the same map.  They don’t have large movelists and usually have universal animations for shooting, reloading, etc.

Fighting games on the other hand, eat up system resources with their many different animations, attacks, attack properties sound effects, voice, etc.  Then, they also all, except one fighting game, which I do not play, run at 60 frames per second.  Action/adventure, and shooters?  Run at 30.

What this also means is that your console must be able to run the game at a speed far greater than 60 frames per second.  They’re computers, and sometimes, your data load will be heavier at specific times.  But, if the console is able to run the game at 75 frames without problems, and 62 frames when things get hectic, that means it will have no problem running everything at a locked 60 frames per second.

HDTVs.  They lag.  Standard def TVs?  They buzz but they don’t lag.  This particularly is true for older HDTVs.  I’m not quite on the same level as my friends.  I’m only better than perhaps two or three, and all the rest are better than me.  Not leagues and miles ahead, but still better, and they complain about lag during local play, but quite honestly, I don’t notice anything.  Maybe because I’ve been off SD for too long.

Why do they comeplain?  All attacks in fighting games are timed based around frames from their start up to their recovery.  A frame is a single still on your TV, and your TV flashes 60 frames at you each second to stimulate movement.  So, keeping in mind the game is running at 60 FPS (frames per second) if you have an attack that has a 10 frame start-up, it means that attack takes 1/6th of a second before it’s actively able to hit an opponent.  What this means is that if you are hit within those 10 start-up frames, your attack will be countered.

But, c’mon.  Lets be reasonable.  You cannot see and react to something coming at you at 10 frames, and then, even if you could, say react by the 3rd frame, which is impossible, mind you, your character must attack with a move that has at least a six frame start up, which in almost all cases,  will not have anything faster than eight or nine, depending on the game. If it has a seven frame start up, and you try to use that, you two will end up trading hits with each other because the attacks becomes active at the same time, unless one attack has a higher priority than the other, in which,  that attack will always win and there will be no trade.

And, this is where it gets fun.  No, you can’t see it coming, but, you can react to it.  How?  Predicting your enemy, or putting them in a situation to where they think it’s a good idea.

With a move-list, for example of 80 different attacks, how exactly do you predict what your enemy is going to do?

First, keep in mind, that some attacks are so slow, and have such a long start up, it make no logical sense to do them up close, unless your enemy is doing an attack with long start-up themselves.  But, if they’re being that foolish, you’ll have better options anyway.

Also, you want to keep in mind too that some attacks can only be done while crouching, or some attacks can only be done mid-air (2D games mostly) and some can only be done while rising from a crouch (Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur) while other attacks can only be done while side-stepping (3D games only).

So, by keeping in mind that each attack has it’s use, and using an attack improperly will set you up for failure, you don’t actually have to worry about the entire move-list of your enemy.  Just the attacks he or she is most probably going to do.

What you then do is, while you’re fighting, study your enemy and keep in mind, they are studying you.

Me and my friends, we play Tekken Tag 2.  Four players.  Now, there’s only two fighters actively fighting for a majority of the match.  That means one enemy I’m fighting, and the other is watching and waiting to come in.  So, because I know I’m being watched, I will use two different strategies.  If for example, I’m trying to mix things up, and using a specific pattern, if the pattern has a punch that can be side-stepped, I’m going to use that on the person that doesn’t side-step, and for the person that does, I will instead trade out that punch for a kick that tracks side-stepping enemies.

And, for some strange reason, it works every time.  Eventually, one would think, “Yeah, he’s doing that now, but when he tries it on me, he’s going to kick.”  Hasn’t happened yet, so I keep doing it.

Some strategies work on beginners, others work on good players or not.  And anyone Adept in fighting games will tell you to throw out any tactics that only work on beginners.  They’re useless and can lead to bad habit and will leave you confused.  Some strategies only work on the computer controlled enemies, while never working on even beginners too, just something to keep in mind.

Just what the hell am I talking about anyway?  I’m all over the place.

To sum things up.

1. Attacks in fighting games are based around frames, and individual properties.  Some attacks could be completely invincible on start up, which means they cannot be interrupted until they become active.  They may do double damage depending on your characters current action, and so on.

2. you have to study your enemy while you are fighting, unless you’re playing the same person over and over.  Now, this may or may not be a good thing.  If you’re playing against someone that is particularly bad, and tries to use bad strategies, you’re going to feel like that character you’re fighting against has somehow become a different, much better character than you’re used to, because someone who knows how to use them properly wont use any bad strategies.

I use Feng Wei as one of my four characters I use in Tekken.  Not my most favorite character, but he’s my best.  My friends and I play against one another frequently, and one of them went to a tournament two weeks ago.  And, in this tournament, he fought Feng Wei.  My friend is used to fighting against Feng Wei, and the one he fought in the tournament used some of the exact same strategies I did.

Now,  my friend analyzes the flaws in our strategies after we’ve all left.  This is why playing against beginners is so much different than playing skilled players.  You think one thing is coming, but a skilled player pulls out something different that stops your counter strategy dead in it’s tracks.

However, that isn’t what happened.  The guy at the tournament used the same strategy I did.  My friend was ready for it and punished him for it.  Sometimes, you only get one or two chances to try specific strategies in fighting games.  It’s a really bad feeling when someone puts up an iron wall over one of your strategies.  You have to do something different.  Something Smart.  Something effective.  And, if all you had was that one strategy for that particular situation, and you know it’s not going to work…  You’re going to freeze up.  You can try something anyway, pray it works, and improvise if you’re skilled enough too.

Freezing up, however is a bad thing.  It’s showing your enemy you don’t know what you should be doing.  So, then, your enemy can more-easily condition you to do what he wants you to do.  That gets really bad because now, you’ll start getting baited.  You take the bait, and throw out your 10 frame punch, which your enemy wanted you to do.

It’s going to go down hill from there….

But, just keep in mind, you don’t have to be still and confused for someone to try to bait you.   Most of the time, it’s to get a feel for how you play, and see how you react in relation to their actions.

I’ve lost every tournament I’ve ever entered, personally.  I’ve switched from characters I was winning with to characters I had no idea how to use, because they were new (Can’t in a million years tell you why I did that.)  Completely forgo strategies because I don’t know how they would specifically work on the enemy, and so on.

You have to be used to tournament situations, and that, I am not… I do stupid stuff that I normally wouldn’t.

But, hopefully, this has left some understanding.

Fighting games are about numbers, building a strategy based around your attacks, which each have specific, proper uses, and doing it in such a way that bests your opposition through the use of mind games, and deceiving their perception and expectation.

 

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