The appeal of fighting games

It’s time to talk about some fighting games again. This time I want to focus on what it is that appeals to me when it comes to the bright array of characters that fighting games are renowned for.

Fighting games don’t have to make sense, and because of this they have so much freedom when it comes to making each and every character not only look different from the others on the roster — but also feel different to play as well. 

So we’ll be talking about not only the visual appeal of these characters — as it’s this surface-level attraction that tends to be the leading factor in pulling in players — but also the difference in the way these characters play. Without any further delay, let’s begin!

The Appeal of Fighting Games

Aesthetics 

When it comes to getting new players into fighting games, I think that a character’s visuals are the biggest factor — that’s what got me into them! I took one look at Juri in Street Fighter or Litchi and Bullet from BlazBlue and I was immediately interested in learning more. My interest in the genre stemmed from me being a little bit horny on main, but thanks to that I have found a genre of game that I genuinely love. 

It’s not just the way these characters look in a still image, either, but the way that they animate as well. To name a few examples — Ibuki from Street Fighter has an entire kit based around ninja techniques using kunai, ninja bombs — and she animates and fights in a way that keeps in that theme. An extremely unique character like Jack-O from Guilty Gear summons up servants to do the fighting for her, has a borderline crazy personality, plus one of the greatest crouching animations of all time, as fan artists all over the Internet have been demonstrating of late

These kinds of things are so important when it comes to the appeal of fighting games and I can’t state it enough. All it takes is that initial interest and willingness to dip your toes into the game, and from there everything becomes more natural. I got into fighting games through Ultra Street Fighter, a game that was known for its tight execution, 1-frame combo links, and all sorts of other terminology that struck fear into my fledgling-level fighting game mind. However, your interest in your character is what keeps you playing and hungry to learn more. 

Character-specialists are a serious thing when it comes to the competitive scene in fighting games. The guys who manage to make it to the top of the top in the scene while only playing one character are some of the most inspirational people within the community. 

Characters and their game plans

On the other side, we have the gameplay itself being the appeal when it comes to getting into fighting games — even though I mentioned that visuals are what pulled me in, the game plan and play style of a character like Juri from Street Fighter massively increased my interest in getting invested.

To use Street Fighter’s poster boy, Ryu, as an example here, when it comes to play styles in fighting games, a character like Ryu may seem somewhat dull or boring because he is missing some of the crazy over-the-top animations and abilities that some of the later characters have. However, when it comes to learning the game, there is no better teacher than the main man himself. Plus, as you get better and learn more about fighting games, the simplicity and fundamental style of a character like Ryu becomes so much cooler!

When it came to Juri I was a big fan of not only her look but also her focus on a hit-and-run style of play. Juri makes use of incredibly fast forwards and backwards dashes so that she can be in the opponent’s face all of a sudden, attempt to find an opening, then retreat back to a safe distance and shift her focus to keeping the opponent away with projectiles.

I-No from Guilty Gear fulfils my want to focus on set-play and “Okizeme” — a focus on knocking the opponent down and forcing them into situations where they have to guess what the oncoming attack will be. She can knock the opponent down, throw out a projectile that hits the opponent as soon as they get up, and while they’re blocking that, I-No can move freely and continue her offence even further.

With a character like Litchi from BlazBlue, it was her ability to change her stance and combo structure on the fly that interested me.

Even the crazy looking team-based fighting games such as DragonBall FighterZ or Marvel vs Capcom have characters that have massively different play styles. Despite his weakness — until the most recent patch — Frieza was a really interesting character in DragonBall with his unique gameplay which centred around zoning the opponent, while also having the ability to perform some of the longest and most damaging combos under certain conditions.

I like talking about this kind of thing because there is a real stigma that surrounds fighting games and their accessibility for new players. But this isn’t something you need to be worrying about! Sometimes all it takes is your love for a single character and that will carry you up and down the learning curve that the game will send your way — so just jump in and give ’em a go!

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Conor Evans
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