Universal Fighting Game Guide: Meter Management

Back in the old days of fighting games, you only had to worry about one meter: the life meter. As long as that meter didn’t run out, you were golden. However, as the genre progressed, so to did the number of meters you were required to manage. Today, almost every fighting game has some sort of super/EX/resource meter that grants you additional moves at the cost of the resources in your meter. In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we’re going to cover resource meters and how to leverage them to your advantage.

What is a resource meter?

I would define a resource meter as any on-screen meter that grants you additional moves and abilities by spending a portion of the resources within that meter.

Why is meter important?

Having meter handy is always going to give you a leg-up because you’ll have access to additional moves and abilities. When you manager your meter in a way where you’re always optimizing your meter use so that you gain maximum damage every time you use it, you’ll be much more of a threat. Likewise, if you don’t have meter, you won’t have access to those moves or abilities that could help you turn the tables or close out a match with a win.

How do you gain meter?

In most fighting games, meter is gained by either by hitting your opponent or getting hit by your opponent. Though you will naturally gain meter through the flow of the fight, you’ll want to make efforts to build that meter as fast as you can. In a game like Street Fighter IV, meter can be gained by executing a special move, whether it hits your opponent or not. Knowing this, you can execute a special move when you’ve knocked your opponent down to squeeze in an extra little bit of meter.  If you understand how meter is gained in any given game, you can then find creative ways to build that meter up faster.

What is the best way to spend meter?

The answer to this question is a tricky one to answer, particularly in a generic way. The best way to spend meter is going to depend on the game you’re playing, the character you’re using and the situation you’re in. What I can do is give you a few general tips:

Don’t waste your meter

You do not want to spend your meter on a move that is easy for your opponent to defend against, a move that doesn’t give you a max amount of damage or burning your meter in a way that cuts yourself off from a better option later. An example of the latter can be illustrated in Mortal Kombat. In that game, using one bar of meter for an EX move might add an additional 5% of damage to it, but if you have 2 bars, you can save it for a combo breaker, which will prevent you from eating a combo that could go as high as 50% or more. If you’re going to use your meter, you’ll always want to use the right amount of meter for the right end result. If you think in those terms, you should have a better idea of how to use your meters properly.

Don’t sit on your meter

Meter is a valuable resource to have, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should sit on a maxed out bar in hopes of coming across the perfect moment to burn it. Simply sitting on it can actually be a detriment to your strategy. For instance, in Street Fighter X Tekken, let’s say you built up your meter to 3 bars and saved it for a Cross Assault, which costs 3 bars. If you played through the match in its entirety without using a bar, you’ll have 3 bars available to you at the end. However, during the course of a match, you may build 6-7 bars worth of meter. If you simply sit on your maxed out meter, you’re missing out on the additional 3-4 meters you would have gained if you burned your initial meter earlier. To translate in Street Fighter X Tekken terms, instead of sitting on 3 bars for a Cross Assault, you could have gained a total of 6 bars to use on one EX move, two switch cancels and one Cross Assault at the end of the match.

As stated in the previous paragraph, you’ll always want to use the right amount of meter for the right end result.

Have a game plan for your meter use

By far, this is the most important tip I can give you. You should have a base knowledge going into every match what you want to use your meter on and at what point you want to use it. The most obvious meter plan for any character in any fighting game is the primary one for Phoenix in the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 series. In order to activate Dark Phoenix, you need to be in a situation where your team has 5 super bars stocked. In order to do this, you should have Phoenix as the last character on your team while the first two members of the team generate meter for her.

Most characters in fighting games don’t need as much thought as Phoenix does, but you should absolutely have a game plan for your going in. Think it through not just in terms of how much meter you have available to you, but in terms of how early/late the match is, how much health each character has and exactly what state your character is in. As you play your game, you’ll start to recognize a number of these scenarios and you can decide what level of meter you’ll burn should those cases arise. If you have a plan, you’ll always do a better job of managing your meter because you’ll already have a defined idea of what good meter usage is.

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