The Obstacles to FIGHTING GAMES

“Button Bashing”? Wrong. Fighters can be the most intimidating, strategic competitive games around.

Fighting Games can be the most enjoyable and competitive games around but they are also becoming increasingly inaccessible for newcomers Armed with several complex features they have put off several casual gamers in the process.

Recently, “the saviors of the gaming world”, IGN, posted a “Fighting Game for Beginners” guide advising gamers new to fighting games as to which games were “novice-friendly” and which games that were not. Bear in mind this guide was a meant for newcomers who want to play fighting games casually not competitively. And with that in mind, Gaming Experts (*ahem) IGN have made complete mess of things as usual.

IGN’s Advice

Best for Beginners: Killer Instinct, Super Street Fighter 4, Divekick, Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl

Beginners Beware: Tekken Tag 2, Guilty Gear, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

While I don’t disagree totally here but the most upsetting thing in my opinion this list is where both Street Fighter and Tekken have been placed or IGN’s treatment of Tekken in general.

The first obstacle is Execution – “The how”

The first and most obvious obstacle to succeeding in fighting games is execution. The first thing a player always asks is  “how to do this move” and “how to pull off this combo?”  The input requirements in fighting games are more demanding than any other genre. “Quarter-Circle Forward Punch! Forward, Down, Down-Forward Punch! Half-Circle Backward Kick!”

How do you Hadouken? This is usually the question beginners ask.

These are common all Street Fighter commands which no one pulls these off on their first try. This is why I would not consider Street Fighter as game for beginners. The special moves inputs intimidating compared to other games. It’s not a game where anymore can just choose any character and have a reasonable chance of winning. God forbid they pick a character like Vega, Zangief or Gen.

Whereas Tekken, as with most 3D fighters, has much simpler commands. Tekken doesn’t require a rapid directional movement before every significant attack and you can pick any character in the roster and have a good chance at least pulling off some combos strings. My little sister is the best example of this. She preferred because she can look at the command list and pull of most move with ease but she really struggle to pull of any in Street Fighter.

The first obstacle is execution and Tekken is more accessible in this regard. This thing to remember is IGN’s guide is one for newcomers for game that they can pick up and play casually learning as little as possible about how the deeper fundamentals of the game works but still have fun. Playing a Street Fighter game without special moves is a sad sight to see. It’s games like Tekken, Smash Bros or Dead or Alive they should be recommending.

Your typical Street Fighter commands. You off pull these off on those first attempt.

Your typical Street Fighter commands. You won’t off pull these off on those first attempt.

The second obstacle is Knowledge – “The When and the Way”

After passing the first barrier and learning how to do these moves the next step should be learning when to do a certain attack and as to why you should do this attack over another. This is where 3D fighters like Tekken  become more intimidating because firstly there are a greater number of options and secondly it’s not obvious as for what option to choose.

Tekken characters on average have around 80+ attacks each. The number of attacks are large but less distinctive compared to Street Fighter attacks which are often distinctive and can easily be classified for use. Hadoukens are for zoning, Shoryuken is an anti-air attack, etc. 

Games like Tekken and Virtua Fighter features 80+ moves per character. It's less obvious to know the right move to do each move. A move's speed, range and hit level should come into consideration here.

Tekken and Virtua Fighter features 80+ moves per character but it’s less obvious to know the right time to do each move.

“Should I do a hop-kick launcher or less riskier attack at the start of the round?” It’s not obvious not and this is where problems lie for a lot of people. They end up doing an attack they want to do instead something they should do; like a high-damage long range punisher with no frame advangtage at point-blank range. Each move has a purpose and should only be done in certain situations.

IGN’s Bias Reporting

IGN painted Tekken as a ridiculously complex game but to the point that they only gave Tekken Tag 2 a 7.5 and a large part of that was due to the game being deemed “too demanding to serve as a proper newbie-friendly experience” despite Tekken Tag 2 having a dedicated in-game tutorial mode which teaches you the game’s core commands and mechanics which the reviewer would then go on to admit that he tried to skip certain parts of multiple times. Smart.

One the other hand they chose the Street Fighter 4  games as entry level fighters. This is only because the IGN guys grew up on games like Street Fighter so there’s already familiar with it. There’s a bias there and the initial execution barrier isn’t there for them because the IGN guys learned how to Hadouken many years ago but they can’t assume everyone else has. It’s just unprofessional journalism.

As a response to certain critics Soul Calibur V trimmed its characters’ movelists in order to become more accessible for newcomers.

Final Verdict

If someone asked me what fighting game to recommend for casuals I’d say: Tekken, Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur or Super Smash Bros. Why? Because the execution barrier in all these games are relatively low. You can button-bash and still pull off good-looking moves doing it. Of course a lot of these games have a lot more depth and of course playing against someone who knows what he’s doing will always kick your ass but this guide was for people only seeking casual fun out of fighting games right?


5 thoughts on “The Obstacles to FIGHTING GAMES

    • There aren’t that many stance-heavy character in 3D fighters and the execution barrier in 2D fighters is still a more prominent and harder barrier to overcome….in my opinion


  1. Good stuff, thanks.
    Also, never EVER read IGN.. That’s just a waste of everyone’s time. That site is a steaming hot pile of garbage.


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