Coming into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with a background in traditional fighting games has been quite the challenge. There are so many differences in the way that Smash plays compared to other fighting games that my mind and my hands have really struggled to translate my skills to this game. On paper, it seems like Ryu would be the perfect fit for me, as he retains most of his move set from the Street Fighter series. Without having to worry about what moves I’m pulling off or how to use them most effectively, I could just play and let my instincts do the rest.
Now that I’ve had a few days to play it, that isn’t the case at all. If anything, he’s actually one of the harder characters to play due to the way he controls.
My background is in traditional fighting games, such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. In those games, the vast majority of inputs are singular. You press the button, and you get the desired move, irregardless of how long you hold the button for. In the heat of the moment, I can be smashing an attack button, but I know it’ll be the same attack every time.
Ryu in Super Smash Bros. does not work this way. If you “tap” the A button, you get a normal attack. If you “hold” the A button, you get a heavy attack. Based on my experience, the threshold between what’s a “tap” and what’s a “hold” is miniscule. It’s been a real struggle for me to consistently get one or the other. My brother Randy says that it’s not that big of a deal for much of the cast, but it seems to be a big deal for Ryu, the character I really want to play as.
Above is an example of a Ryu combo. The first two hits are “tap” A’s, followed by a “hold” A. It’s not at all natural for me to differentiate between the strength of my thumb in this manner, causing me to prematurely fire off the heavy attack too early. The last thing I want to do in an intense battle is lightly tap a button. Let me smash it!
Pocket Rumble also used this mnemonic and I couldn’t stand it there, either. Thankfully, that game gives you the option to map varying attack strengths to different buttons. Smash Bros. does not. I would gladly sacrifice one of the two jump buttons in exchange for separate light and heavy attack buttons.
I know this won’t be an issue for most, but it’s a real hang-up for me. Being able to get the most out of the character requires players to differentiate between these strengths on the fly. Personally, I find this much harder to learn than the joystick+button combinations required in traditional fighting games. Without any control options to address this issue, my only course of action is to grind it out in training mode until I get it right or try someone else. For now, I’m probably going to try someone else, but Ryu is on my bucket list of characters to “git gud” with.