Fighting Games

Ahh fighting games, one of the most polarizing genres of video games out there. Spend countless hours learning the entire moveset of your favorite character and mastering their most effective combos only to have your girlfriend come over and dominate you while spamming buttons. This is perhaps the greatest challenge developers have when making such games. On one hand, you need to make a game that is accessible for everyone. On the other hand, there must be a tangible skill curve to satisfy the hardcore gamer. Complex button inputs must be differentiated from simply hitting every button as frequently as possible. Similarly, spamming a very effective or (often) long-distance move must have a counter to prevent people from cheesing with one move.

Typically, these issues aren’t present for the top tier of players. Surely, the rest of us aren’t entering local and regional tournaments on the regular. That said, here are some of our favorite fighting games, characters, moves and why we love each.

Favorite Game

Julian – Tekken Tag Tournament

Tekken has always stood out to me from the other major fighting games for a variety of reasons. While I definitely enjoyed the two most popular — Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat — Street Fighter often felt too spam-capable.

A mixture of Hadokens and jump kicks was typically all you needed to beat your opponent. Alternatively, you could pin your opponent into the corner and go to work with Chun Li’s kicks or E-Honda’s slaps.

Mortal Kombat had some of the same issues, but on top of that, and due to the nature of the game, the lack of realism was a turn-off. Tekken has its share of non-humans fighting (in fact, one of my favorite characters is Bear) but the combat, for the most part, was still more realistic.

Soul Calibur, Marvel vs Capcom and similar games didn’t really appeal to me  for varying reasons, the primary being a lack of combat realism.

Tekken has a few awesome features that set it aside from other titles. A great grappling system and the tag feature was one of my first experiences with swapping fighters during a match.

Virtual Fighter was another great game I enjoyed. I didn’t enjoy the roster as much as Tekken’s but VF had a higher skill gap. Tekken (and eventually virtual fighter) also allowed for three-dimensional arenas, which solved the legacy issue of getting trapped against a barrier. This feature opened up the ability to evade attacks by dodging to the side as well as a new repertoire of moves that could be executed from adjacent to and behind your opponent.

Fred – Super Smash Brothers

Yea, I’m basic. So what? Super Smash Bros is great in so many ways.

For one, the game brings several of my favorite characters into an intense battle where each wields unique moves.

Did you ever think you’d have a chance to see Link shooting arrows at a Donkey Kong while Kirby floated overhead, baseball bat in hand?

The game also introduced me to one of my favorite characters of all time in Ness (I honestly don’t think I would have known about Earthbound if it weren’t for SSB).

The game has a certain level of finesse to it that I really appreciate. A noob can jump right in, tapping ‘down + B’ with several annoying characters (ahem, I’m looking at you, Pikachu), having fun right from game one. A more seasoned vet can use advanced techniques like dash cancels and edge hangs that elevate the match to a new level.

Don’t even get me started on the combos in this game. SSB varies slightly from the traditional fighting game combos in that you string together two or three moves in rapid succession vs having 20 varied buttons presses to unleash a set of a dozen moves.

In Super Smash Bros, it’s all about timing. I put hours into trying to perfect the Ness combo where you down smash your opponent (sending him flying into the air), jump up quickly to ascend above the floating enemy and then repeat the down smash. The combo could be devastating when timed perfectly, taking the opposing character from 0% to a red number in the 200s in a matter of seconds.

While N64 SSB will always have a special place in my heart, I appreciate the increased roster size and interactive stages of the later releases.

It also gives me the warm fuzzies knowing that Sony tried to replicate the SSB success by creating Playstation All-Stars. It was a nice try, but never really took off…

Favorite Character

Julian – Raiden & Sub Zero

Even though I just listed reasons why I prefer other games over Mortal Kombat, my two favorite characters across all fighting games both come from the MK world.

Maybe it’s because I loved watching the movies back when I was a child, though I’m sure they were utter crap and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them if I rewatched today.

Raiden is my first choice. Something about having the ability to control the weather, and specifically lighting, has always been a fascination of mine. Thor and Storm are some of my favorite Marvel characters and MK’s god of thunder falls right in line. He had many good projectile moves and launched himself across the screen a la M. Bison for one of the more effective moves in all of the early fighting games.

Growing up in the 90s, you often had two choices in your fighting game life: Ryu or Ken | Scorpion or Sub Zero. I typically didn’t have a dog in the former debate, but was always a Sub Zero fan.

What kid doesn’t love a ninja… who, by the way, can freeze his opponents by touch or projectile AND instantly create an ice clone of himself? And if his abilities aren’t enough, he just looks cool as F*ck.

Photo credit: GamePressure

Fred – Ness

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first:

  1. Ness is quite literally a child
  2. His weapons include a baseball bat and a yo-yo
  3. This boy has more magic than Harry Potter

I don’t know the storyline of Earthbound very well, but this must have been the baddest kid in town. Aside from his arsenal of lightning attacks, he can also shoot fire OUT OF HIS HANDS. Please see my first point above for why this is so awesome.

Photo credit: Vignette

Ness looks very unassuming, but wields immense power. It’s hard for me to think of a better feeling than launching a purple ball of energy out of my head, controlling the path of energy back towards my body, flinging myself into an incoming Yoshi and sending that smug little dinosaur into deep space.

To make things even better, one of his taunts is putting on hands on his hips, nodding cheerfully and yelling “Okay”. How could you not want to select this kid every time?

Favorite Move

Julian – ZANGIEF’S Spinning PIledriver

I almost selected a Mortal Kombat fatality here but that may be another topic entirely. Still, Street Fighter has several moves that are just as epic.

Though not a character I used often, Zangief’s persona was great. Ignoring the fact that most characters in video games are exaggerated stereotypes, this Russian wrestler was conceived as “Vodka Gobalsky” (AKA Red Cyclone).

Anyway, enough backstory and onto the move.

Not sure I need to follow up the clips with additional commentary, but as someone who grew up watching a little bit of pro wrestling back when there was WCW and WW was followed by an F, whether its the classic or new-school version of the move, it reeks of badassery.

Fred – Eddy Gordo Combos (all of them)

Sure, you can pull off some pretty spectacular combos in Tekken by pressing all the buttons. There’s something so satisfying about intentionally tapping the right buttons at the right time and watching that Hit Combo number continue to rise.

Eddy may be the ultimate “no skill” character in any video game in any era, with an array of capoeira-based moves that send his legs twirling at light speed. At the same time, his longer combos are practically impossible to pull off without hours of intense practice and dedication.

I’ll be there first to admit that when I first tested Eddy on some of my roomies, I pressed all the buttons. Then, I hopped into the training grounds and realized that he has some insane combos.

Within a week or so (first year out of college, no real responsibilities, so much free time) of practice, I had nailed his 10-hit combo. I’d pull it out as easily as I pulled my credit card out of my wallet anytime I saw a slightly appealing sale on Slickdeals.

The beauty of Eddy’s move set, as is probably true with most characters, is how you can decimate an opponent by knowing which situations to use which move. What makes Eddy’s my favorite are the fluid transitions between moves and the grace which accompanies his dance fighting.

Tell us what you think!

So what is your favorite game, character and move? What makes a fighting game fun? Are you a button masher? And most importantly, do you turn block damage on or off?

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Esther Twum-Acheampong
Esther Twum-Acheampong
6 years ago

Good job, guys!
Even though the only game I know is Super Mario…..Yes, I do remember the two of you playing continuously….., I love this site -the graphics and the writing.
Maybe someday, I will sit down and learn a few games with you.
Well done!

Geri Andrews-Savage
Geri Andrews-Savage
6 years ago

Well fellas, although this was very well thought out, I have no ‘gaming’ skills so other than my opinion on how flashy it looks and how well you both write, I’m at a loss. I grew up in the 50s and 60s jumping rope, playing jacks, racing all of the neighborhood boys (and beating them) listening to records, but sadly, not playing video games. Board games yes, video games no. But from what I can tell, you guys are both creative and talented. Keep up the good work.

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