What Makes A Good Fighter?

The video games that I have grown up with have mainly been platformers like Sonic The Hedgehog, or FPS games such as Doom or Duke Nukem.  Most of you out there who have read Plus XP for a while have probably noticed me saying this again and again, so I won’t go into details for the forty millionth time, but when I was about ten years old I was given a copy of Super Street Fighter II Turbo on the PC.  I had no idea how to play the game and, as much as I mashed the keyboard, the game wasn’t doing anything for me, so I put it down and said goodbye to my brief stint with Street Fighter and never thought to go back.

From the ages of ten to about fifteen I never really liked fighters until I got my hands on Soul Calibur II and Tekken 4.  This then gave me a gateway back into the fighting genre and fighting games began to grow on me once more.  It wasn’t until Uni, however, that I picked up Street Fighter IV and have loved the franchise ever since; this triggered me getting my PS2 back and buying Marvel Vs Capcom 2 and Capcom Vs SNK 2.  So, I now have a pretty big fighting collection, which leads me to the big question: what makes a good fighter?

A Well Thought Out Moves Set
This is the bare bones when it comes to fighting games – titles in this genre need a very well thought out moves set to survive.  With my experience of fighters there are two good moves sets that work.  The first is something I call the ‘juggling moves set’, which is based on button combos to juggle your enemies (by juggling, I mean having your opponent suspended in mid-air, not moving, because you’re throwing that many combos at him/her), much like the moves you get in Tekken and Soul Calibur. Tekken and SC fans will probably flame me when I say this, but it is like a well though out and controlled way of button mashing *flinches*. Getting your opponent into a state where they can’t fight back is pretty imperative when it comes to theses sorts of games. This ‘juggling move set’ works more on the 3D fighting plane, and this is probably because if you do get an over-cocky player who just combos like hell, you can simply just side step him and laugh as he combos his way to the other side of the screen, hitting nothing.

The bitch who stole my M&S underwired bra went that way!

The other type of moves set is based more on ‘super moves’ which use both the joystick and the buttons. I personally don’t have a name for this one, so let’s just got with ‘dragon punch moves set’ (due to the fact that one of your basic special attacks in this set is the simple shoruken from Street Fighter, which in layman’s terms is a dragon punch).  This moves set works better in a 2D fighting arena due to the fact that most of the attacks like to move from one side of the screen to the other.  The one thing I do love about this particular way of fighting is that everything generally looks shinier and more powerful.  You do also have the option of comboing with this set if you are stupidly good, so it is one of those things that is easy to learn but difficult to master.

There is one game that springs to mind which has the best of both worlds and that is Marvel Vs Capcom. This game lets you juggle your enemies with insane combos on a 2D plane but also utilizes all the shiny dragon punch move set moves to do this.  MvC is also stupidly ridiculous when it comes to its special moves, thus giving the player a perfect balance of both move sets.

The Perfect Roster
When it comes to fighting games, roster is definitely key.  Take Street Fighter for instance: sure, you do have a fair few characters who have the same fighting style, but they do take power into consideration. If you pit the likes of Akuma against Dan, you have a fight with two characters who possess the same fighting style and similar moves, but you have Akuma who is god-like in power and Dan who is pretty much just a joke in the SF roster due to the fact that his moves are quite weak.  Good balance of power is key really.  If you take Tekken as an example of this, you have a good variety of fighting styles, meaning you can experiment more with different characters.  Sure, you are still gonna get people who are similar (such as Jin and Heihachi) but the similar characters are few and far between.

So, for a good fighting game roster you need a good balance of power and variety, but if you have someone too powerful (or, indeed, too weak) you are going to have problems.

As I have pretty much said in the last two sections, variety in any fighter is key, whether is it the amount of fighting locals in the game, or the amount of different character variants you can have, such as costumes, colours or taunts. Variety in any fighting game keeps it fresh, hence why Tekken, Street Fighter, Marvel Vs Capcom and Soul Calibur are more successful, as they bring in variety and give you the opportunity to mix and match. Soul Calibur is a prime example of this due to the fact that it has great character customization and creation.  If you give gamers an excellent playground, they are going to use every single corner of it.

When I was younger I never really saw the appeal of fighting games; now, at the ripe old age of 22, I can see that they have so much more than just ‘let’s hit this guy in the face and laugh at them’ to offer. You just need the right balance of stuff really, and if you have nailed these three points then you have pretty much got an awesome fighting game on your hands.

Oh, and I am stupidly excited about Marvel Vs Capcom 3.

Last five articles by Rob



  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    The only fighters that I’ve ever really enjoyed have been the first three Mortal Kombat games. A good move set is the thing that I find most important because if you can’t even pull off the basic moves, what’s the point. I suppose that was why I never clicked with Street Fighter really – I couldn’t even do the special character moves, whereas with MK, I could…it was just the finishing moves which could be tricky. Great piece, Rob!

  2. Lee says:

    I had Tekken 2 on the ps1 and i always used to play as the cop Lei (or it might of been Lee) and I’d do the same set of moves every time it used to drive everybody who played with me mad. Except for my button mashing younger sister who would of been like 8 at the time she’d play as Baek and was unstoppable.

    more recently I tried Street Fighter 4 – there’s nothing like playing a game you get your arse handed to you on while it’s set on the easiest setting to make you feel like a casual gamer.

  3. Rob says:

    I have no idea why but I never really got into MK that much, I am planning to put a stop to that as soon as the new MK comes out, becuase that looks awesome.

    If I play Tekken now I would get my arse handed to me becuase I would have forgotten all the moves. I did pretty much what Lee did but I used Hwoarang and only one kick combo.

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    See, I’m used to the twin joystick fighting game from the arcades back when… well, let’s face it… your DAD probably wasn’t even born then dood!! I remember some of the cabinets having two sticks plus two big red buttons but that was as far as it went… you’d move the left stick to control the guy himself and then the right stick would determine what move you’d come out with so (this is from memory… going back 25 years or so) moving right and then flicking the left stick DOWN and the right stick UP would force the guy to do a backwards somersault while moving the left stick UP and the right stick DOWN would be a forwards somersault. I could be wrong, as it was a very VERY long time ago… but that’s how easy they were to control.

    Now, when I first picked up Street Fighter IV I did so because there was a lot of hype around it and a bunch of people were coming over for the weekend so we figured this would be a good game to play. They came around, and I just sat and watched them kick each others’ arses using all manner of ridiculous combos where they’d be using both sticks PLUS the coloured buttons AND the shoulder buttons with maybe a few trigger presses thrown in for good measure. Bugger that.

    For me, as an old school gamer who really doesn’t WANT to get Reiter’s Syndrome from gaming, I just want to avoid games like that. I can understand WHY they’re like that… because the more moves you have, the more skilled you’d become rather than relying on just “head kick, head kick, head kick, roundhouse, head kick” all the time… but it just kills the game for someone like me who wants to veg out and just kick folk in the head.

  5. Edward Edward says:

    See, in terms of fighting games I stick pretty rigidly to Smash Bros Brawl.

    Otherwise, I had no idea you were excited about MvC3 ;)

  6. Ben Ben says:

    I used to love Tekken Tag Tournament in the arcades (how I miss you!) but since then the only fighting game that I recall buying was Soul Calibur 2 on the Gamecube. Fighting games and me just don’t mix, just not enough depth in terms of storyline and so forth.

    The new Mortal Kombat has my head turning though.

  7. Rob says:

    If its any conselation Ben Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is in the pipe line :)

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