Playing fighting games on PC wasn’t really an avenue I put much thought into pursuing. Up until recently, I didn’t have PC hardware capable of running video games at all. Even if I did, the PC has played second fiddle to home consoles as the tournament standard ever since the fall of the arcades. Home consoles were easier to set up while providing players with a standardized battleground. Consoles don’t have issues with game performance varying from one PC to the next or having to worry about driver support for every possible controller option. As someone who took fighting games seriously and competed at IRL tournaments, I was going to take the tournament standard every time.
Things are…different now. I haven’t competed in an IRL tournament in a few years. Even if I wanted to, the entire fighting game tournament scene is in flux due to the ongoing pandemic. Also, I finally have a PC capable of running fighting games. If I were to ever give fighting games on PC a chance, it would be right now.
Arcade Week continues! Online play is great, but there’s nothing quite like playing Street Fighter in the arcade!
Traditional arcades may be long gone, but a few times a year, I’ll stumble upon a Street Fighter arcade machine at a convention or other public establishment. Whenever I see one, I always make it a point to play it for the novelty, but my hype levels go through the roof every time there’s a random stranger on the other end ready to battle. These days, it’s my goal to stomp out every one I play against at the arcade as a petty means of reparations for all the losses I took as a kid.
Street Fighter Week continues! Though this story was sort of told in real time over the years, here’s a consolidated story of my rise (and fall) in the world of competitive Street Fighter!
There was a time when I thought the world of competitive Street Fighter didn’t extend beyond the bounds of local arcades. For a long time, I fancied myself as being savvy in Street Fighter II, as I could perform any of the game’s special moves on command and I could beat my friends. I didn’t think there was anything more to learn.
Boy, was I wrong.
Learning how to become competent at fighting games was an agonizing process that was years in the making for me. In hindsight, my progress was extremely slow at the beginning, as I simply didn’t know how to get better. The biggest mistake I made during those early days, and one that I see online players fall into all the time, is having the mindset that the more you play, the better you get. That is a fallacious mentality to have, as I simply played poorly for a long time with no visible signs of improvement.
I now know that improvement in fighting games – while still a bumpy ride – doesn’t have to take nearly as long if you understand the process for improvement. In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we cover the concept of training intelligently in order to improve at a faster rate.
Street Fighter IV was the biggest thing since Street Fighter II. In an era where the fighting games had laid dormant for about a decade, the success of IV rejuvenated the entire genre. It also has proven to be an amazing game that has stood as the premiere fighter for almost a decade now.
Previously, I wrote a post about this legendary game’s failings. Now it’s time to go the other way and celebrate all of the great things it did do. With the release of Street Fighter V looming, let’s look back one more time at what made Street Fighter IV so special.
Core-A Gaming, with the help of pro fighting game player Laugh, put together a fantastic video about Laugh’s theory of the three types of fighting game players. You should watch the whole thing, but I’ll summarize the key points here before I go into my piece. The three types are:
Mind: The player whose primary strength comes from leveraging information about the game, from frame data, to option selects, to set-ups.
Heart: The player whose primary strength comes from trying to counter their opponent’s specific approach to the fight.
Body: The player whose primary strength comes from being able to perform higher damage combos and block better due to their physical dexterity.
Everybody is a mix of these three elements. Each one has its strengths, but also its weaknesses. Mind players can get flustered when forced into a situation they haven’t prepared for. Heart players can be coerced into making bad decisions. Body players can get frozen out of being able to use their physical talents.
Using this theory, where do I fit?
Street Fighter IV, without a doubt, is my favourite game of all-time. Having literally dedicated thousands of hours to playing it, deconstructing it and building myself up to be the greatest world warrior I could be over the last six years, the race for #1 game in my heart wasn’t even close. Even if the game is eventually surpassed by something else, I’ll never shake the profound effect its had on my life.
It may reign as my favourite game, but it’s certainly not a perfect one. In the wake of the Street Fighter V beta, the flaws of its predecessor glare brighter than ever. Before we let it retire with its rightfully-deserved legendary status, let’s lovingly pick the game apart for its flaws with this list of 10 ways in which Street Fighter IV failed.
In the early days of Street Fighter IV, I saw Balrog as one of the coolest characters in the game. He was also one of the most popular, as pro-players like Gootecks and PR Balrog proved that the character was viable in tournament play. As the game evolved and new characters were added though, his popularity fell off a cliff.
Despite that, I’ve always toyed with the idea of playing Balrog seriously. I always loved the idea of smashing people with the headbutt and finishing them off with the Violent Buffalo Ultra Combo before they hit the ground. After completing my work with Evil Ryu, it felt like a good time to move onto something new.
Becoming a master of every single character in any fighting game is really hard. Now that games have dozens of characters with nearly as many play styles and a countless number of moves to understand, reaching a peak level of effectiveness with everyone is prohibitively time-intensive for almost anyone. With only so much time one can spend on any given fighting game, most people lean heavily towards one main character and possibly a back-up.
I fully endorse the approach of learning every nook and cranny of one character. You don’t have to look very far for examples of people who have taken this approach, such as Smug of Dudley fame in the Street Fighter IV series. However, that doesn’t mean that any time you play with a character other than your main is a waste.
In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we cover the virtues of character variety. No one will ever expect you to master every single character in a game, but so much can be learned by exploring the grass on the other side. Here’s how character variety can make you a better fighting game player.
Have you ever fought someone that seemed like they were psychic? Someone that seemed to have a counter for your next move the instant you did it? Some players may just have a read on you. Others might have been really good guessers. Or, in very specific circumstances, they may have leveraged an option select to improve their odds of success. In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we talk about the concept of option selects. This is probably the most advanced concept in all of fighting games, though I’ll try my best to break it down and simplify things. Continue reading