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Fighting Games FAQ
What are fighting games?
In fighting games, players are pitted in combat against one or more opponents controlled by AI or other players. Fighting games will generally involve hand-to-hand combat, with players and their opponents engaging in strikes, blocks, throws, kicks, combo moves that link moves together, and special moves. Fighting games will have multiple characters to choose from, and the choice of character will drastically alter the fighting style that the player adopts. A character with a karate background will move and fight differently than a character with a wrestling or boxing background. On top of the different fighting disciplines, speed, power, jumping ability, and strength will all be different. Each fight is often a clash of styles.
Modern fighting games can be 2D, 3D, or a mixture of both. The backdrops of fighting games keep the battle within a set space and sometimes have elements that fighters can use to their advantage, like platforms to enable higher jumps, or bottles or other elements that can be picked up and swung or thrown.
Fighting games have several formats. 1v1 is the standard, but arena fighters have gained a lot of attention recently. Arena fighters can have numerous characters fighting at once in built-up arenas. They are more chaotic and can support additional methods of victory, such as knocking other players out of the map.
How do you play fighting games?
The battles are structured, like in boxing matches or martial arts tournaments, where the combatants will strive to defeat their opponents to advance to the next fight. Players usually have health bars that drain when they take a hit. When a health bar is fully drained, they’ll lose that round. A lot of fighting games have rounds to enable players multiple opportunities to win. For example, a three-round match will enable a player to lose the first round and win the next two to win the overall match.
Fighting games have basic kicks, punches, blocks, and throws that can be linked together. These are a form of skill or special move called a “combo” and have become as important to the genre as the basic moves. They’re the first step up a player will take after learning the basics of the game, providing a skill-based progression tied to your ability to time the button presses required to keep the attack flowing.
In addition to that, special moves are often used in fighting games to either severely weaken or defeat an opponent or to turn a fight that the player is losing into a more competitive battle. Many special moves will require a power-up to perform, usually, a bar that fills up as the fight progresses before a specific combination of moves and button presses unleashes it and drains the bar. That makes it a powerful move, but with the potential of leaving the attacker vulnerable.
How do you get better at fighting games?
Almost all fighting games are easy to learn and difficult to master. Each move set has basics that any player can perform. Punches and kicks are the fundamental moves and can be done at any skill level. Doing so without any skill or timing is known as button bashing, which can be something of an insult thrown at newer players who overdo it.
Defending will require a sense of timing, as it requires reacting to an attack at the correct moment.
Learning combos and special moves will make for a more interesting and varied game for everyone. They’re harder to pull off, and there are moves in games that require very accurate timing.
Some fighting games have competitive players who understand how the game engine itself can affect the gameplay. They time attacks according to the game’s animation data. There are entire websites with graphs that list the frame data of many fighting game’s animations. These are certainly hard to master, but they’re a high-level skill, and you shouldn’t worry too much about it.
Can you play fighting games with a keyboard?
Yes. Though fighting games have their basis in arcade machines, which use joysticks and buttons, keyboards can be used to play them. Most games aren’t designed with a keyboard in mind, so you’ll need to adapt the controls to suit your own play style and capabilities, but keyboards are a valid method of playing fighting games.
Can you play fighting games with a controller?
Yes. Most fighting games are designed with a controller as the most effective method of control. A joypad, with its multiple face buttons, sticks, and d-pad, resembles the arcade machines that fighting games are built for. They provide the perfect platform for combos and special moves.
There are also specific controllers released for fighting games. You can buy fight sticks or arcade sticks that resemble the sticks from arcade cabinets, with a joystick and a number of large face buttons. Almost every professional fight game player will use one of these.
Can you play fighting games online?
Yes. Though the competitive beginnings of fighting games are in the arcades, and there are a number of in-person events that demand the players take part together in real-life, most fighting games will allow you to fight other players online. These can be quick battles with nothing at stake, to tournaments with ladders that track your progress.
In fact, online play is a vital component that requires the game to have robust netcode. This is the underlying method which connects two or more players to the game. As we’ve mentioned, timing is a vital element in fighting games, so the netcode has to accurately reflect the timing of each player.
Do fighting games have power-ups or skills?
Power-ups and skills are an intrinsic part of almost every fighting game. They have multiple uses. Smaller power-ups can be used to keep an opponent at bay or as a quick follow-up to injure a retreating fighter. Others are there to overwhelm an opponent in order to weaken or even defeat them in a barrage of moves. Whatever they are, they’re a vital skill to learn and can often be used by a player to turn a near defeat into a comeback.