My Struggle With 3D Fighting Games

Over the past decade, I’ve overcome so much in the world of fighting games. Coming into Street Fighter IV as a lapsed fan of the genre with barely any skills to begin with, my knowledge and skills have developed to a point where I’m proficient in numerous fighters. However, there’s at least one entire sub-genre that I suck at: 3D fighting games.

Since the advent of Virtua Fighter in the mid 90s, there are two fundamental factors of 3D fighting game design that I haven’t been able to overcome.

3D Movement

From the moment I played Street Fighter II in the arcades as a kid, it was hardwired into my brain that up meant jump and down was crouch. 3D movement fundamentally changes that dynamic, as jumping and crouching are generally replaced with side-stepping. In my head, it feels really unorthodox to move in this manner, as this simply isn’t an option readily available in the 2D games I’m used to. On paper, being able to sidestep any attack literally adds a new dimension to combat, but I simply can’t come to grips with moving around the environment in this manner.

Special Move Commands

Most 2D fighting games rely on a handful of special move commands for each character’s flashier techniques. Most 3D games are different in this regard, as characters oftentimes have hundreds of different moves that are performed in non-standardized input sequences. I can wrap my head around six normal attacks and three special moves, but I’m immediately overwhelmed when I take control of a character and have no idea where to start. I guess I could put in the time to learn one move at a time, but that would take an inordinate amount of time and even more losing to push through.

On top of that, I simply have a terrible memory. I struggle to memorize long combos in games like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Even trying to memorize the dozen or so combo strings in the Mortal Kombat and Injustice games is tough. Trying to recall dozens, if not hundreds, of unique commands in the heat of the moment, is simply too much for me to grasp.

A For Effort

And it’s not for a lack of trying. Sure, I haven’t poured in hundreds of hours into any of them, but I sure did buy and play Tekken 6, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Virtua Fighter V, Dead or Alive 5, and every Soulcalibur game except for III. I quite enjoyed Dead or Alive 5 and I’m really excited to play Soulcalibur VI someday, but unless I’m able to overcome my mental barriers with 3D fighters, they’ll never be more than quick flings. It may never pan out for me, but I think I’ll keep trying in hopes that I can crack that nut someday.

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6 thoughts on “My Struggle With 3D Fighting Games

  1. Jeff December 8, 2018 / 5:10 PM

    I have bad memory too. How do improve your ability to visually recognize and correctly respond to the opponent’s moves and attack strings?

    • Jett December 9, 2018 / 12:46 AM

      I can’t necessarily speak from a place of expertise with regards to the 3D fighting game space, but I fancy myself to be pretty good at 2D ones. I think the logic to responding to your specific question is the same though.

      The best way to respond appropriately is to do your homework. If you are comfortable with reading and understanding frame data, you can know beforehand that if you block opponent A’s attack, you can punish with attack B. If you are not comfortable with reading frame data, you can figure that out in training mode. Set up the dummy to repeat the move, and figure out what you can punish it with when you block or whiff.

      Some games may give you a visual indicator, such as your opponent taking a really long time to recoil. However, you probably won’t know for sure that something will work unless you’ve tried it in practice. Even if something recoils slowly, you might get pushed back on block too far away to punish, or you may need to punish it with a very specific attack. If you come into the match already knowing all of the answers, you will be in a much better position to respond appropriately every time.

  2. Hector December 11, 2018 / 7:26 AM

    I downloaded “Dragon Ball FighterZ” on a couple of weeks ago and, while playing it, I also found that it is quite difficult to remember all the different combos. However, after I practiced a couple of matches, I was able to get used to the controls. I have been playing Dragon Ball video games for a long time, and I think that this title is a good instalment in the franchise.

    • Jett December 11, 2018 / 9:38 AM

      Dragon Ball FighterZ is pretty good! I stopped playing it though for 2 reasons:

      1) The game’s meta was too one-note. I found that the characters were too similar to each other mechanically.

      2) The coloured-square system. People saw that I was top level and dozens of people would just leave the match before I could get a fight in. Wasn’t worth my time sticking around.

  3. Hector December 21, 2018 / 3:16 AM

    The similarity between the characters was something with which I struggled as well.

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