How Could Fighting Games Change for the Better?

Chances are you’re much too casual of a reader to appreciate the depth, complexity, and skill required to appreciate fighting game articles.

Firstly, I’d like to start off by explaining my background involving fighting games.
Like many others out there, it’s been only recently that I’ve considered myself a “hardcore” fighting game fan (I try for the sake of my own dignity to use that term sparingly). I was an only child growing up, so video games were pretty much my big thing. Of course, I was a kid, and while I owned a few fighters here and there like Tekken 3, Soul Calibur II, and the Smash Brothers series, I never really held fighting games in any different light than the rest of my collection of games. It was only until recently, like so many others, that I fully grasped the potential depth, challenge, and excitement of fighters, with the release of SFIV and MvC3. Now, one thing I might add is that I’ve never been one to play games poorly; I like to win (imagine that). The reason I’ve always loved games is because they’re something I can excel at, time and time again. Through my teenage years, I was a die hard FPS player, and I loved kicking ass online. I was always good, and could pretty consistently land myself in the top 3 on the end-game scoreboard. However, every so often, I would meet somebody who would absolutely wipe the floor with me, and it would completely infuriate me. Thing is, I loved it, because it would give me the initiative to step up my game, to become better, so that in the future, when I ran into someone with that skill level again, it wouldn’t be a problem for me. I would be able to once again ensure success.

It’s that competitive element that has recently drawn me to fighting games in such an intense manner. Like no other genre is there such a deep, complex, challenging, and out and out FAIR way to compete with another player. No power-ups, no power weapons, nothing but you and the guy standing accross the screen from you, armed with a massive, diverse, and balanced set of kick-ass moves, just like you, and you’re both ready to kick ass. And in that context, when you know your moves, play smart, and deliberately and successfully walk away with a victory, that’s a really amazing feeling. To expand on that, fighting games offer the ability to REALLY stick it to your opponent, with the inclusion of flashy combos and devastating super moves. In this sense, fighting games allow you to play with style, and that doesn’t seem to happen too much in most other genres. To me, this is from where the deepest satisfaction comes from playing games like this. The feel of finally mastering my favorite character’s move-sets, then finding impressive and effective methods of defeating my opponents is an unparalleled feeling of achievement within the realm of video games.

So don’t get me wrong, I understand why fighting games are the way they are. I understand how they work, and I love it. But I’ve been thinking about a few things recently that have me absolutely stumped regarding the evolution of fighters. I’ll break it up into categories, I suppose. That way my shoddy and over-worded writing might be a little easier to ingest.


I know right off the bat that me even mentioning this issue is going to have lots of people foaming at the mouth, but here goes nothing.

Controls are, have been and always will be a core mechanic of fighting game, and that’s obvious. The same is true of any game; without controls, you don’t have a game, you have a movie. What baffles me though, is that throughout the years, fighters, (especially, but not exclusively Capcom titles) have seemed to vehemently enforce strict commands in order to perform basic movesets. Now, I am NOT saying that you should be able to have a single button command to execute shoryukens or anything like that, nor do I want to see Street Fighter to control like Super Smash Brothers. Don’t get me wrong, I can pull off the moves just fine, but my question is this:

Why make gameplay operation so heavily focused on command execution when the main entertainment value in fighting games is, well… the fighting?
See, I understand why they did it with Street Fighter II, and even more so with the Tekken series. They had to make due with the technology and innovations that they had during that time period, and I respect that. It made sense to use commands like those for hadokens and shoryukens when we were playing on early arcade sticks and 32-bit console pads. My problem is that we’re still using those same mechanics to play these games as we did 20 years ago on machines and controls that have immensely transcended the technology and innovative prowess of those earlier machines. These controls are nearly as old as I am! To that, one might say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I get that, but I’d like you to ask yourselves whether or not these controls have been a staple of the games because they were just that outstandingly efficient right from the get-go, or that they were simply the best we could do, and we just got used to them, never bothering to change? This isn’t to say that the controls for fighting games haven’t ever made advancements, but I’m sure you could agree, all of those advancements were built upon the same control framework that existed initially.

Take other genres for example. One game I like to use to make comparisons regarding controls is skating games. Admittedly, I started with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and haven’t played much else but Skate, but even then you see the progression through the years. Like in the first THPS, how special moves were executed through preset button sequences that usually consisted of something like Down, Right, Circle, or Up, Down, Triangle. Later throughout the series, they introduced the option to assign **custom commands for executing special moves **using the same basic button sequences. That may not seem like it makes a huge difference, but that’s probably because you’ve never gotten too into the game. When you’re grinding along a long rail, and you want to ollie off of a ledge, and perform a special flip trick, you benefit from having the final direction command for the special move being Left or Right, because it shaves off the time between relocating your thumb back to left or right. Why does that matter? The more time you have to input Left or Right while in the air, the more time you have to spin during your trick, thus allowing you to score more points. Now, THPS and SFIV aren’t similar in gameplay by a long shot, but I hope you can understand the comparison I’m trying to make here.

Imagine for a moment if fighting games adopted this same “custom command” option. If players were able to set hadokens and shoryukens to their own specific commands, it would entirely change the way the game is approached and played. It would also serve to deepen the individual play styles that people develop using their characters. If players could set the commands that they felt comfortable with for whichever characters they chose, it could potentially direct much of the focus of gameplay from difficult-to-input commands, and back to the actual fighting. See what I’m saying?

In Halo, I’d be absolutely livid if, to fire a rocket, I had to input a series of directional commands followed by a trigger. And of course shooters and fighters are different animals, but why do we put up with over complicated controls for the latter? This also keeps many of what would be considered ‘casual’ players out of the genre, which is great when you don’t want to waste time steamrolling scrubs, but isn’t the whole fun of fighting games about having challenging and competent competitors to play against? And the more the merrier, right?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel that fighting games alienate many players with their steep learning curves that are brought about by over-complicated controls. It’s already hard enough to learn how to actually fight and perform. What people should be focusing on when playing a fighting game is all of the exciting elements of combat, not how to move your fingers the right way. How about some flexibility?

EDIT: A lot of people seem to think what I want is for controls to be absurdly over-simplified. To me, however, that’s just as awful as over-complication. I am NOT asking for one button commands for specials or for charge moves to become available for instantaneous use. I THOUGHT this would have gone without saying. I don’t want to see Street Fighter for Facebook. The customization of controls doesn’t immediately imply one button commands, but imagine what sort of variation there would be between two a Guile player who decided to switch the inputs for Flash Kick and Sonic Boom, and then a player who uses default controls. It’d make a single character play in completely different ways. It’d make the same character play in completely different ways, and to me, I like variety.

We don’t need to tear down the elements of game play that keep things balanced, we just need to find newer, more innovative ways of creating balance while offering freedom to players, rather than restriction.

getting rid of Ono and Niitsuma.

It’d be nice if [S]developers[/S] Capcom actually learned something from game to game. Just do Kinect Street Fighter, get it over with, cut out the “how do we make this more accessible for beginners?” mentality when going forward with traditional fighters. Go the KOFXIII route. Do arcade game version first, let it marinate for a year, then do a home version that fixes any problems. The wheel doesn’t need to re-invented with every game, just make it round again.

I like how someone just comes out of the blue writing a fucking essay on the subject and starts the thread with a very respectful Chances are you’re much too casual of a reader to appreciate the depth, complexity, and skill required to appreciate fighting game articles.

Fuck you too, asshole!****

Inputs arn’t hard, l2p

Online Play:
(more later)

What’s Sarcasm?

Blazblue already did attacks set to a easy stick that you could change, and that’s very much like Smash Brother’s direction plus button.

How can fighting games improve? Just polish them as much as possible and build it around experienced players’ input.

I didn’t say that they were hard, I said that they were over complicated.

Do you mean to say that you couldn’t possibly fathom more effective controls for games like Street Fighter?

So did you ever figure out how fighters could change for the better or just complain about throwing a hadouken?

Lots of depth in this article

Down forward attack to Hadouken is overcomplicated? Kids these days.

Haha. I’m getting there. It’s not exactly like I have the answer. I’m just throwing ideas about how I would improve things, and was hoping to encourage the same in others.

Nope. Inputs are like that for a reason.

Go play gief or ibuki in SFxT with the super easy inputs. These characters are able to do things they are not supposed to be able to do and break the character. Gief can spd you instantly at any time without even the slightest bit of buffering. Ibuki gains access to instant tsumiji, which is the best poke in the entire game. Special moves shouldnt be hard to execute (and they’re not, the only ones being kind of difficult are the typical super moves) but they should not be oversimplified to the point. This also lets zoners anti air in situations where they couldnt before. Say you jump over a fireball, and the opponent must block because they dont have time to input the Dragon Punch. With the easy inputs, they do and it makes zoning overpowered.

Also, if we turn Hadoken into just F+P instead of qcf + P, Ryu loses out on two or his command normals, his solar plexus and his overhead. This is te same for many characters. With the current input system we have a good amount of normals as well as inputs that are not even difficult and simply take a small amount of practice.

Execution as a limited barrier of entry is a good thing.

And this is nightmare fuel for tournament directions. It’s bad enough having to set gems and button checks, now we have to let players set their own custom moves?

Mother of god.

I honestly don’t think fighters will ever be that popular because everyone hate losing, but unlike many other popular titles you can only blame yourself, no team, no random, etc and most don’t find that bearable or fun.

Also is this going to be another execution debate? We have a trillion post thread for that already. It’s like bringing up religion in the FGC. Game designers are better off making the game as ‘hard’ as they see fit and anyone who sees it ass too easy/too hard is free not to play. No one will ever be happy.

They still find someone to blame, their opponent.

Cue the hatemail.

Oh course but I find titles like FPS and MOBA have much easier ways to draw people back even when a player complains about the game and seems very upset every match they play since they can blame the team.

I counter custom commands with this:
When an opponent jumps, one must input a DP motion. This is a test of the players calibur, memory, and reaction. With custom inputs, there could be creative ways to defeat any risk w/ anti-air dp. For instance, a player can option select a dp AND block at the same time if a game allowed for custom inputs. The whole risk of throwing out special moves (at least most of them) is that your dropping your block to attack. Now, for risky moves, being able to block during those inputs heavily gives the player who executes a dp a lot less risk and a lot of reward (this would lead to an entirely different level of buffering).
I mean, there aren’t really any difficult inputs that can’t be overcome w/ practice.
I can’t stand by any of that statement because this potentially takes away from risk/reward gameplay which is the basis of every competitive game. There’s no real need to implement custom commands for any fighting game.
Speaking of ACTUAL FIGHTING. Have you every played 3rd Strike?

I don’t know how to gauge this article.

Let me just say this.

I think fighting games are improving as a whole already, and are going to get better, prime examples are Skullgirls and KOF13.

And, your argument about overly complicated controls confuse me.

What controls or inputs are overly complicated, strict timing on combos, sure, but I have not played one fighting game that asked me to do five backwards DP while simultaneously hitting jab, forward and fierce.

Also, have you not played offline?

If you have, you know controls are that way for a reason.

Let’s say I’m playing an opponent (who has Ryu), and they’re being tricky, now out of the corner of my eye I see him roll his wrist towards me, there’s only going to be one option, fireball (Unless you’re playing HD Remix, fucking fake fireball what the fucking fuck), and now, me, armed with that knowledge, can react faster.

Buttons and controls are standard for a reason.

Lets say someone has a custom command, and instead of having Fireball mapped to Fireball, they have it mapped to SRK.

I’m listening to this man mashing out Fireball, thinking they’re gonna, y’know, Fireball, but instead, they throw out an SRK.

Now, if I’m listening to this person, I would question myself “why the hell would they fireball on their wakeup, time to jump and punish” but instead of getting the punish, I get punched in the mouth simply because he had it mapped differently.

Let’s talk charge characters.

There is a reason Sonicboom is a charge motion, if Sonicboom was a motion that didn’t demand a second worth of cooldown, it could be used a much as an Hadouken.

Have you ever wondered to yourself why charge characters lose fireball wars, it’s because they have to charge.

Think about the startup and recovery of Bulleta’s missle, WHILE IT BEING A QCF.

She already is a rushdown monster, having the ability to dash right behind her fireball, she’d be outright broken if she didn’t need to charge.