Universal Fighting Game Guide: Resets

Welcome back to In Third Person’s Universal Fighting Game Guide! I hope you enjoy reading these posts as I do writing them, because I have put a lot of thought and heart into this series of posts.

Today, let’s talk about one of my favourite advanced tactics in fighting games: the reset.

What is a reset?

A reset is the act of an offensive player following-up a combo with another attack immediately after the end of the initial combo. This may include following up a combo with an attack, a throw, or starting another combo.

Even though I’d been playing fighting games since Street Fighter II came out in 1991, I’d never even heard about the concept of resets until I saw the above match between Alex Valle and Sabre at EVO 2009. Sabre put Valle on blast by seamlessly transitioning from one combo to the next with Sakura. It blew my mind to see the impact of resets in action, as it looked like Valle couldn’t do anything to stop the relentless rush down from Sabre. Ever since seeing that match, I’ve tried to learn more about the art of resets and how to execute/defend against them in every fighting game I’ve played since.

Why would you want to execute a reset?

Resets are a great way to further inflict damage in a very quick manner. They’re also a great way to keep the pressure on an opponent, as you’re giving them virtually 0 time to breath between skirmishes.

More importantly, resets are usually the best way to reset the effects of damage scaling, which is a feature found in most modern fighting games. After a certain number of hits, each consecutive attack in a combo will do less and less damage until your attacks do virtually no damage. By using a successful reset, you’ll also reset the damage scaling in the process, which adds further damage to your offense.

Risk of attempting a reset

The trade-off to attempting a reset in most cases, is that your opponent usually has time to regain their character and protect themselves (or counter-attack) your reset attempt. While you can minimize their opportunity to react to a split-second, most reset setups usually have just enough room for your opponent to make a correct guess and stop your attempt in its tracks. We’ll discuss the ways you can minimize your risk in the next step.

Oftentimes, you’re also setting up resets by executing combos that don’t do as much damage in the short term in order to execute a reset and get more overall damage in the long haul. There’s a definite risk/reward factor involved whenever you go for a reset.

How to execute a reset

1. Start a combo

This is self-explanatory.

2. Get your opponent in position

The thing about resets you should know at this point, is that you must be extremely mindful of what state your opponent is in when the combo ends. In the Sakura reset tutorial video above, her opponent is usually falling from the air and landing in a standing position when Sakura goes for the reset. However, resets may also start from opponents who are recovering from an untechable knockdown, which is demonstrated in these Mortal Kombat reset videos.

The key is, your opponent needs to be in a state where you can immediately follow up your previous combo with a new combo. You also want to put yourself in a position where you have a lot of offensive options at your disposal and your opponent will only have a split-second to guess which of those options you’re going to use and how they’re going to stop it. In order to put your opponent in an ideal reset position, you may need to cut your combo short or end the combo with a weaker move. For instance, in the Sakura video above, the very first reset shows Sakura ending her first combo with a standing light punch in order to put her opponent in the perfect position for a reset attempt.

3. Follow up with an attack

Once your opponent is in a state where you can attack them again, you must follow up with an attack. Your opponent in most cases will have the ability to block or counter-attack your reset attempt. However, if you’ve set them up properly, your opponent is going to have to make a split-second judgment on what you’ll do next, and due to the amount of options you’ll have available to you, they’ll likely guess wrong. Make them guess wrong by showing your opponent that you have a lot of tricks up your sleeve when you put them in reset position. One time, you may want to attack low to start your next combo. The next time, you may want to start a new combo off of a cross-up or cross-under. The third time, you may want to simply go for a throw. The key is to always vary up your reset attempts to minimize the risk of having your reset stopped.

When to execute a reset

– When you’re willing to gamble guaranteed damage in the short-term for more damage off of a reset
– When damage scaling weakens the end of your combo to the point where it’s more trouble to keep it going than it’s worth
– When you want to keep a persistent rush down offense going

When not to execute a reset

– When you can’t afford to give your opponent the chance to escape
– When a regular combo is enough to finish a match
– When a failed reset attempt is punishable for big damage

How to defend against a reset

If you’ve never seen a specific reset before, it’s really hard to defend against it even though your fundamental defensive skills may be above par. Even if you know the reset is coming, the best reset setups put the defending opponent at an extreme disadvantage, as you’ll need to make a split-second guess in order to correctly stop the reset.

The trick to defending against a reset is to not allow yourself to be put in a position for a reset. Unless you’ve done your homework and seen what your opponent’s reset options are, you probably won’t know your opponent’s reset setup is until they’ve already caught you with it at least once. It will suck the first time it happens, but if you remember what your opponent did to put you in position for a reset, you can actively avoid getting put in that position again. If you avoid getting caught in the setup, you won’t be forced into a guessing game that’s heavily in your opponent’s favour.

In Summary

– A reset is the act of an offensive player following-up a combo with another attack immediately after the end of the initial combo.

– It’s a great way of extending damage off of a combo with the trade-off being that your opponent has the ability to block the reset if they guess correctly

– Some times are better than others to take the chance on a reset. Know what those times are!

11 thoughts on “Universal Fighting Game Guide: Resets

  1. Federico Figueredo December 21, 2011 / 8:03 AM

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m a person who’s recently begun to get into fighting games I find it hits a lot of the points needed for a fulfilling explanation, namely:
    – What is thing X
    – Why is knowing thing X important
    – How to do thing X
    – When to do thing X (and when not to do it)
    This article aims to give a general idea to a mechanic widespread among the genre and I believe succeeds admirably. I’ll make sure to send inquisitive folks your way.

    • Jett December 21, 2011 / 9:13 AM

      Thank you Federico for the comment!

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I’m still learning all of this fighting game stuff too, and just as you said, there is a lack of information that covers the points you mentioned, as most of the content out there is geared towards advanced strategy and tactics. There are other Universal Fighting Game Guide posts you can check out here if you’re interested:


      What fighting games are you currently playing?

      • Federico Figueredo December 21, 2011 / 11:24 AM

        Hi Jett,

        I’ve been browsing through your site these past few days but I had not encountered all the posts you linked me to. Luckily these are my lunch hours so I can take a look at them =)

        I’m currently playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (and Mortal Kombat once in a while.) I only got UMvsC3 a little while ago (I was won over by how visually enthralling the game seemed) and have been enjoying the ride so far… so much, that I ended up giving an eye and a leg to get myself a MadCatz TE Stick (which is nothing short of awesome) and ordered myself the game guide, which I’ll hopefully get within a month’s time.

      • Jett December 21, 2011 / 3:19 PM

        UMvC is great. I played the heck out of MvC3, but I haven’t put in much time into Ultimate, as I’m currently focused on AE 2012. I love how exciting it is to play Marvel, and I like how they’ve fixed some of the broken character balance and glitches (which I admit to exploiting). When I do play Ultimate, I primarily use my main team from the old game (Wolverine/Storm/Sentinel), though in Ultimate I’ve been using Strider and Dr. Strange a lot, too. I’d love to play MK more, but I take fighting games pretty seriously, and I find it hard to be good at many of them at once. Right now my main rotation is Street Fighter/Marvel and I play some MK for a change of pace.

        Congrats on the TE! I own two of them and they’re amazing. I have a bunch of fightstick-related posts as well if you’re interested, particularly if you’re ever interested in switching out buttons or the joystick on your TE:


      • Federico Figueredo December 21, 2011 / 3:30 PM

        I’ve skimmed over some of those posts. I was relieved to know a person with no technical background was able to deal with the process. I think the main hurdle will be to actually get quality parts in the first place.

        I’ve straddled the desire of getting better at a fighting game and the desire to try out different things (games) for a long time. I’m currently focusing on Ultimate since it’s the one that feels best when I’m playing it. The problem I see on the horizon is that I’ve not yet found neither locals with PS3s to play online or offline with. I have one or two friends who really like fighting games but they lack the hardware to play this title in particular (and will obviously lag behind when I start getting better at the game -which I suspect will make both their and my experience a little worse-.)


      • Jett December 21, 2011 / 5:17 PM

        Quality parts are not hard to find, per-se. I got my joystick from a “nerd” convention and buttons from my local Chinatown, but if you don’t have local options, a site like http://www.lizardlick.com/ will do the trick. From what I’ve seen, they’ve got everything anyone would want in terms of buttons and joysticks.

        I think it’s great to play as many games as you can, even if you want to specialize in one or two. You can always bring experience and skills from one game to the next, which is part of why I started the Universal Fighting Game Guide in the first place. I brought a lot of my Street Fighter learning into Marvel, and brought learnings from those into MK. In the end, it all helps to make you better.

        As far as finding players to play against, my two immediate recommendations would be:

        1) Play online matches with strangers
        2) Find local meet-ups and play there

        You can still learn and level up a lot by playing online against strangers, as long as you know how to learn and grow from those experiences. Locals you may be able to find through a Google search or through surfing the http://www.shoryuken.com community forums. I’d offer to play with you on PS3, but I only have that game on 360. I do have Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on PS3 though if you ever decided to try that out.

      • Federico Figueredo December 21, 2011 / 6:19 PM

        Thanks for the tips and heads up 😉

        I agree about the fact that certain gaming skills can be translated from one game to the next. I’ve personally done so with most action games and platformers (which have been my genre of choice throughout the years) and have seen some gamers who are very proficient with one fighting game jump into a new one and enjoy a relatively small acclimatization period.

        I will definitely try playing online. For the time being, I’m still not being consistent enough against some AI opponents so I think there’s some solo learning time that can still be had there. I’m also trying to find some local forums* (I think shoryuken.com mostly caters to folks in the US and Europe but I’ll see what I can find there) since it’s always a blast to play people close to you and enjoy lower latency levels.

        Wish me luck =D

        * I live in Argentina

      • Jett December 22, 2011 / 12:38 AM

        Playing against the computer is an alright start, but it’s definitely not the same as human competition, as the computer usually behaves wildly different from a human. It’s still handy to get an overall feel for the game and the computer may teach you a thing or two, but human competition is always preferred. Even with some lag, I’d prefer playing online, because at least then you get a better idea of what to expect from a human opponent.

        In my time playing both Marvel and Street Fighter, I’ve run into way more South Americans online in Marvel than in Street Fighter. Is Marvel a bigger deal over there?

      • Federico Figueredo December 22, 2011 / 12:03 PM

        I somewhat disagree. Playing against the computer (or any other simplified opposition) is actually a great advantage when learning a game. Of course this is *only* if you’ve made a training plan that actually takes advantage of the things you can indeed learn and practice while playing against an AI vs the ones you really need a human opponent for. In this way the fact that the opposition is simplified becomes a boon because you can focus on the limited amount of variables it handles (vs. the complexity of a human opponent.)

        This does not mean that playing against the computer is better than playing against a human opponent. It does mean that, since there is an assortment of things you can improve and learn without needing another human as an opponent, it’s often useful to use the AI (which is always readily available, is more easily understood, and will not tire of using the same character in the same way for the 100th time) rather than a person to do so.

        I’ve not seen any South American lobbies when playing Marvel yet (though I’ve seen a steady number of South American folks playing Mortal Kombat.) I’m actually in the process of finding like-minded individuals in my area. I’ll let you know what I can dig up =)

      • Jett December 22, 2011 / 4:13 PM

        Valid points. Within the right context, it can be great. However, I wouldn’t consider anyone to be a skilled fighting game player if they can beat the computer on the hardest difficulty setting. If fighting the computer is the ONLY thing you do to level up, then at that point I would say the approach is flawed.

        Interesting you have that issue with Marvel. I run into South American lobbies more than I run into Canadian ones. Weird.

        Good luck with the community building exercise. I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

      • Federico Figueredo December 22, 2011 / 7:16 PM

        You are absolutely right. The end game is fighting actual humans and to get good at fighting actual humans you eventually have to… fight actual humans (lots and lots of times.) There is just no way around that.

        As I mentioned before, I haven’t really put much effort on the on-line aspect of Marvel but I will definitely put some hours into it from now on. I’ll let you know if I tap into these mysterious well of South American lobbies! =D

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