How to Approach a Fighting Game
No doubt the last three years have been incredible as far as the fighting game genre goes. Last year gifted us with KOF13, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat, and my personal favorite WWE all stars which no one plays and that fact is actually very tragic now that I think about it (damn it, its a good game!). This year seems to be almost as giving with Soul Caliber 5, Skullgirls, and already-infamous yet Street Fighter-cross-Tekken coming down the pipeline. Needless to say, being faced with such a plethora of options can be a little daunting, especially if it’s your first time playing these games competitively. Despite that, I believe with the right mindset, you can adjust and breakthrough the baby portion of your training in a relatively short period.
How to Play Improperly at a Hookup
I feel that getting good at any game takes a two pronged approach; learning the game and learning the character. I feel most new players when they play any game always gravitate towards learning the character. It is very important to learn the ins and outs of your fighter of course, but most of new players will simply stop at learning the combos, (maybe they’ll go a little further and learn the set ups), then find the “cheap” attacks (for clarities sake let’s say “shoryuken”) and call it a day. Then, when they travel to hookups or tournaments, they literally run in and try to do their combos even though they get anti-air punished, block punished, and basically get the ever-loving hell beat out of them. After said thrashing they get pissed off about how they lost because they weren’t able to get a situation to perform said combo. They also tend to have a habit of using their “cheap attack” and getting punished clean for it, then doing it again. Such a tragic cycle is all due to the player not knowing how to play the game at its fundamental level; going into detail of what that fundamental level slightly differs from fighting game to fighting game and would take a handbook; say…Maj’s foostsie handbook on sonic hurricane.com. Instead, I’ll just ask you this: If you do a shoryuken and I block it, then punish you with a combo, knock you down, and finally jump at you while you get up, what are you going to do? A reversal Shoryuken? Most new players will reach for that rainbow, flaming fist high in the air while screaming “SHOOORYOOOOKIIIIN”….only to get punished by a high damaging combo and then knocked down again, because I did an empty or safe jump and baited them. So what I’m saying is try not to be that new player. Let me suggest that you instead be that new player that goes to hookups, thinking about “hopefully I’ll play against “x” character tonight so I can see if my character can deal with his “x” special or normal as opposed to, “Gosh I sure hope I hit my combos tonight!”
How to Play Properly at a Hookup
Now learning combos and getting your execution down IS important but needs to be set aside for a night by yourself in training mode. During this time you can just grind combos until you get it down where you can do it over and over again with muscle memory. Now of course the world isn’t perfect and players who have been playing the game before it got into your hands for whatever reason will have an upper hand. One can wonder if they should even bother going to a hookup or opt to stay at home and practice combos? My advice is to go to the hookup anyway; when you go to them, try to learn what your character can and cannot punish. After all, you can train at home anytime; depending on where you are, hookups may not happen often. If you are not sure in the strength of your reversal, then just block. Then block. After that, go ahead and block some more. Of course, for the purposes of learning, go ahead and try that reversal if nothing else to see how it can get punished; if you lose a lot for trying it, and then don’t try it again if you see a similar situation getting set up. On another note, if you haven’t played the game in training mode at all before, and you don’t know any punish combos whatsoever, just throw; at the very least you can get a knockdown and setup a cross up situation for your opponent. Don’t reject yourself valuable experience and playtime against another human just because you “Haven’t gone into training mode yet so…” Throw that excuse in the trash. If you can’t get your combos to work try to focus on finding your opening again, but don’t force yourself. For example, don’t screw up a combo, fail, and then immediately try to repeat the combo right after the failed one. It sure sucks when you drop a combo, but it’s too late, you lost that opportunity; you are just going to have to move on and work towards finding another one. Execution aside, the main point of a hookup is to learn the game itself, such as the way the game moves, the way the fundamental game works, not to mention learning what your character can and can’t do against characters. If you need anymore motivation watch this video of Justin Wong entering a Kof 13 tourney and making grand finals even with having limited time with the game.
Of course Wong loses because Reynald has so much experience with game, but notice HOW Justin loses. Yes folks, there is a way to lose correctly, and Justin shows it right there. First of all, he waits for the right opportunities to make his attacks and comes in at full steam when he sees them, and his combos are not that complex, but he sure does his best with what he knows. In the end, the most important thing to take away from this video is that he never GIVES anything away to Reynald. He doesn’t do brash reversals with any of his characters and does not give Renyald anything for him to get an easy punish such as whiffed Shoryukens. Notice that Reynald gets all of his damage by out poking and finding ways around Justin’s blocks more than anything else.
At The End of the Day?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning combos or trying out whatever sick set-ups to land in the game, and hook ups are great for that sort of thing. Still, try to understand what can happen you go for that combo or set-up and look at what your opponent can or can do, instead of getting stuffed and then trying to hammer your way back in. Also do not be afraid to ask questions to other players. It won’t make you look weak, better players will not have any disrespect for you if you are continually losing. They will only lose respect for you if you are doing the same erroneous crap over and over while apparently learning nothing from it. Better players will always see potential if you have an open mind and ask why stuff isn’t working. Unless they are complete and utter pricks, better players will generally WANT you to get better, because good players make THEM better. When everyone gets better, then guess what? You get a strong fighting game community. So go ahead, go to community hookups, and don‘t be afraid to ask questions. As long as you keep an open mind, and actually look at what factors are beating you, you will have no choice but to get better.
Written by RamenNoodle