Analysis: The Simplest Fighting Games


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How accessible fighting games are preserving their depth and what it means.

Thanks to Sam Not-Sam, Matt Bahr, KILLYIS, Jamaal Graves, WoodenFence, Dekapact, Cory Wright, Miguel Obando and everyone else who pledged on Patreon!

Special thanks to SonicKurosaki for letting me know about Junpei Iori.

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BGM in order:

Tekken 7 – Infinite Azure
Street Fighter III: Third Strike – Makoto Theme
Mega Man X – Sigma Fortress 1
Fantasy Strike – Geiger Theme
The Consouls – Infinite Azure (Tekken 7)


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  1. I don't think decision fatigue applies too much to the character select screen, at least long term. You'll only be making those decisions when you first start and are figuring out your team, after that you aren't putting effort into making a decision anymore since you just pick the team you've always played. Not to say that it doesn't matter since first impressions are still important, but the issue isn't long lasting. Loved the video though.

  2. I really liked this video. As someone who was defeated by thevinability to git gud with the inputs in Street Fighter this is an important issue and I might try Fantasy Strike.

  3. People don't give Fantasy Strike enough praise as a gateway drug for newcomers to get into the genre. As someone who had very little experience with fighting games, I was able to get to a point of making meaningful decisions within 2 hours of practice/research. I feel as though I have achieved some level of competence. Most importantly, I'm having fun since I am not so hopelessly mechanically far behind everyone else. For comparison, I had previously dumped 10 hours into Skullgirls and I still felt like I had no idea wtf I (or my opponent) was doing. All the "fun" strategic gameplay I had never experienced (but kept being told existed) seemed to be locked behind 30 hours of practicing combos and getting roflstomped by veterans in quick match.

  4. I put down fighting games years ago, but a buddy has convinced me to come back to try SF5:CE. This also looks like a really interesting new concept worth dipping back in for, I'm definitely going to support it!

  5. My favorite fighting game is Pocket Rumble, and you can make an argument it’s even more simplistic than Fantasy Strike. It’s two buttons, and specials are done on diagonal down input plus button. DP is 1b

  6. There was a game for PS1 that existed in this space called EVIL ZONE. Very simple to play. Had one attack button and a block button. all moves were made by one direction and tapping, double tapping, or holding the attack button. One of the most fun games I ever played.

  7. basing complexity on motor skills in videogame is stupid, getting artrithis from learning how to play games isn't fun but motor skill based games are awesome so in the end i just think there's just games that need a stick and games that don't but the latters are not necessarely dumb and sometimes its quite the opposite, you can play skullgirls on a phone and its still quite a deep game

  8. i guess you must be really passionate about it,for me learning combos and such it's always a waste of time,i play to have fun not to get a degree

  9. Something I always hated about fighting games is learning inputs. Knowing frame data, different mechanics, and character move sets is already hard, so why do I have to practice inputs? All it does is add a layer of artificial difficulty. While it does at a larger skill ceiling, it creates a massive difficult curve that only exists to “make it harder,” as appose to create depth.

  10. Is it bad that the sloppy dragon punch input you showed was how I thought you were supposed to do it for a very long time?

  11. I like smash much more than other fighting games because you know all of the inputs, you just have to learn what those inputs do. In traditional fighting games, you have to spend lots of time learning all of those characters special inputs just to see if you might be good at them. I think it would be better if they had more uniform inputs. Still keep a few special inputs for each character, but make it so you don’t have to learn everything about a character before deciding if you want to use them, because that is just a waste of your time

  12. One of the only games to successfully be simple while having depth and complexity on its core gameplay has spawned an entirely new genre of Fighting games.
    And that game is Smash Bros.
    Which is made by an SNK player.
    (Masahiro Sakurai).
    Huh. Neat.

  13. I've been playing Skullgirls after a while of my only experience with 2d fighters Heritage for the Future. I have to say, the inputs are much easier to learn, and I'm button mashing far less.

  14. Off-topic regarding the closing statement: Funnily enough, in the history of astronomy, telescopes were historically so expensive that accessibility was first truly achieved through people making their own telescopes starting in the 1920s thanks to people like Russell W. Porter.

  15. Honestly imo they should add the geiger charge indicator to charge characters to make it easier to play them

  16. They are a good idea, but as long as yourre persistent enough and don’t mind going for a while without winning, you should be able to get into anything

  17. dawg- we’re just gonna breeze past faust in the first 40 seconds of the video? act like he didn’t just 1000 years of death may? A WHOLE CHILD????

  18. It begins to become interesting, when you have to stop playing intentionally, or play intentionally unintentionally, to be unpredixtable

  19. Making new accessible games is awesome! Like what with fantasy strike is doing.

    Making existing games/franchises more “accessible” while not to be written off entirely, needs to be done much more carefully than it seems like it’s been done so far. Accessibility at the cost of depth, (in my opinion) in any of the three major areas that you mention is not worth it.

  20. 3 years later, and there seems to be more accessible games on the way. I'm wondering if a followup might be in order? Especially since Fantasy Strike is out of early access 🙂

  21. Yes I hate the down,back,forward special moves.. Its stupid to have that extra direction while other characters get simple back forth X or something.. In MK11 it takes a while getting used to amplified attacks,, you now have to press RB after the move at a precise timing.. You have to unlearn stuff from the previous game wich makes it annoying

  22. I think a simple fighting game is a great idea. It allows the players to completely separate the idea of execution from the rest of the tactical mental games (gambits, baits, zoning, pressure, mind games, reads, punishing mistakes, etc).

    I'm a melee player, and I love the high skill ceiling, but dive kick/fantasy strike legitimately sounds fun because execution will not be a factor, and the game becomes more strategic. I bet if you play enough fantasy strike, you would get better at most fighting games because you will have built the ability to play the mental side of the game.

    Take for example Richard Garfield. He built a game where his kids had to try to bluff their way through some sort of thing. I don't quite remember. But his daughter was unable to bluff so he created a simpler game for her. It was simply this:
    1. Secretly put a coffee bean in one of your hands.
    2. Tell me the bean is in one of your hands.
    3. I will guess which hand the bean is in.
    4. You will open both hands. If the bean was in the one I guessed, I win. If it's in the other, You win
    She was terribad at first, but then she learned to lie. After this game was learned she was then able to bluff in other games.

    The same idea applies here. Also, this seems to be very similar to the "Fox" vs "Jigglypuff" argument, in that y'all motherfuckers need Jesus. There is nothing wrong with playing a lower intensity game. There is nothing wrong with playing a higher intensity game. Live and let live.

  23. Fighting games could have something like "casual" and "pro" levels also altering the sensitivity of command input, input lag, reaction time, not just the AI.

    I'm a fighting game noob. Soulcalibur 1 gotta be the simplest fighting game I ever played, followed by tekken 3. You can go from mashing buttons to add some strategy elements a bit by bit, but since the beginning you feel a nice sense of rewarding, nice feedback from the inputs, you feel like you are actually doing special and significant moves.

  24. I appreciate the technicality of the more difficult fighters, but if more accessible games more people into fg then thats cool.

  25. I have played a lot of different fighting games. And the simplest ones were the best ones.
    I love smash bros ultimate for that. It's very easy to learn. Only tilt a stick and press a button. So you can play online and already try to read your opponent and punish his habits. But there a lot of deeper mechanics that you need for high level play.
    On Street fighter IV i couldn't even execute all the moves on the movelist consistently.
    Imagine you would have to train 20 hours to make a scissor to play rock paper scissors properly.


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