Sure Killing Technique: An Overlooked Concept

Perusing my collection of memorabilia from days of Street Fighter past, I find an overwhelming recurrence of a single theme: Sure Killing Technique. In its simplest form the Sure Killing Technique appears to be nothing more than a character’s special move(s). And arguably, it is nothing more. However, the name of this concept seems to imply a guarantee of some sort. Sure Killing Technique, synonymous with Assured Killing Technique or Irrefutable Killing Technique. I argue that at its slightly more expanded form, Sure Killing Technique is the application of what has become known as “Special Move” so that tick damage assures your opponent’s death. In its earliest form, an example from Street Fighter II: World Warrior would be gaining a knock-down on your opponent, leaving him with a sliver of life, then executing a shoryuken, hadoken or blade kick with such precision that the opponent has no ability to escape defeat. Whether blocked or unblocked, the damage from the attack will kill. Should the opponent execute a move that produces enough invincibility for them to escape even the tick damage, they still remain vulnerable, and a follow-up attack will kill them. In the game’s most recent iteration, Super Street Fighter 4 AE 2012, Sure Killing Technique, at this expanded definition, still exists.

To establish a definition of the concept of Sure Killing Technique, I reviewed strategy guides and arcade cabinet labeling as far back as Street Fighter II’ (Champion Edition, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the cross-market naming conventions employed at the time). To the best of my knowledge, and as far as I can confirm by a lack of finding, no move sets were officially provided for World Warrior or Street Fighter (what has now become known as “Street Fighter 1”). From the point of Street Fighter II’ through Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Sure Killing Technique is prevalently emphasized. Below are examples I have found of the application of the concept Sure Killing Technique:

Street Fighter II’ (Champion Edition), Capcom 1991,1992 arcade cabinet move set sticker: Sure Killing Technique is listed under each character as their individual special moves

Street Fighter II’ Hyper Fighting, Capcom 1991,1992 arcade cabinet move set card (part number S2T92CA02): Sure Killing Technique is listed under each character as their individual special moves

Super Street Fighter II, Capcom 1991,1993 arcade cabinet move set card (part number SS2939A01-2 and SS2939A02-2): Sure Killing Technique is listed under each character as their individual special moves

Super Street Fighter II, Capcom 1991,1993 arcade cabinet move set sticker (part number SS2939A03-4): contains the language “THE ART OF THE SURE KILL”, the sticker illustrates the special moves of each of the new challengers

Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Capcom 1991, 1993, 1994 arcade cabinet “How to Play” instruction card (part number SSX943A01): contains the language “When you continue to use sure-killing techniques, increased energy will be shown on the Super Combo gauge!!” and “You can defend against your opponent’s attack by moving the lever backward without attacking. (However, a sure-killing technique still does approx. ¼ damage.)”

Street Fighter Zero, Capcom 1995 arcade cabinet move set sticker (part number SFZ956A03-3): notes character moves as “Special Move”

One of Sakura’s Alpha 2/Zero 2 quotes: “That sure killing technique, from you will absolutely be made mine won’t it!”

These are just a small sample of the references to this concept that persist throughout the history of the game. Unofficial game guides of the time also introduced the concept of “Cheese”, which, at face value, is a derogatory translation of the slightly expanded definition that I offer. In fact, Street Fighter Alpha/Zero introduced a victory icon in the form of a piece of cheese, to denote when a character has won by way of tick damage, or what I would argue, is true Sure Killing Technique.

Taking the definition to its greatest degree, Sure Killing Technique could be defined to include total game mastery. The point in a match or a round when one player knowingly and confidently possesses an advantage and proper application of that player’s mastery of the game will assure him/her a victory. We all know it when it happens, at least subconsciously, that point of confidence when you know absolutely the technique that will bring victory, and proceed to properly execute it. True game mastery would produce this result at the earliest stage of the game, whereby one player knows confidently at the start of the match that his mastery of the game will absolutely trump his opponent’s mastery of the game. Arguably, it is the game designers’ eternal struggle to omit Sure Killing Technique from the game, and balance it to the extent that at any given time, either player has an opportunity for victory. Conversely, however, it is the intent (at least of Capcom, as we know) to allow a degree of this opportunity in the game, if for no reason other than the attraction of new players.

Given the expansive quantification of all things Street Fighter (and fighting games in general), from frame data to damage infliction, it seems this concept deserves a formal definition and to be established as part of the general understanding of an individual game’s engine. This quantification undoubtedly already exists, but without necessarily carrying the label “Sure Killing Technique”. I contend that while Sure Killing Technique is certainly synonymous with the term Special Move, the name Sure Killing Technique implies a slightly greater definition, which includes proper application of Special Move so as to assure victory. I offer this information to you, the fans of Street Fighter and to the greater extent, fighting games as a whole, in the interest of defining and establishing this concept and for the expanded understanding of fighting game engines and knowledge as a whole.

This is a rather interesting view on the whole concept of Special Moves, or, as they were originally called ‘Sure Killing Technique’. I’ll be sure to keep this knowledge in mind.