The Purpose of Long Combos

What do you think of lengthy combos in fighting games? What purpose does getting stuck in a 90% combo in Marvel Versus Capcom or Guilty Gear or even Smash have?

I am not personally a fan of long combos. I think combo length in Guilty Gear and Smash is pretty reasonable on average. In Smash to get long combos you have to continuously read your opponent. In Marvel and Skullgirls it can get more drawn out. Skullgirls was designed with resets in mind which helps mitigate a bit of this, because to get real damage you need to reset continuously which gives people chances to break out.

The purpose of having combos in general is so that some situations can be punished with more damage than others. It creates this diversity between just footsies, wakeup situations, whiff punishes, jump-ins, or them whiffing a super or dragon punch. They can also vary depending on whether they are on the stage. Like in the corner in Skullgirls I can do this extremely beginner combo, s.HP (launch), j.HP, air dash forward, j.HP, j.HK (dunk) for a ton of damage. It’s certainly not the most damage efficient combo in the world, but it gets a lot more than my standard sequence midscreen (which replaces the third HP with an LK to catch them for the HK and allows for an OTG into another loop for ultimately more damage), however it doesn’t work anywhere outside the corner. If you whiff punish someone’s normal, you can’t link into another attack before canceling into special and/or super. If someone whiffs a dragon punch or super in front of you then you get a lot of time to perform a big attack that gets a lot of hitstun, and thus can be followed up into a lot.

There’s also this level of focus that goes into committing to a combo in a traditional fighter, and if you’re not punishing something, you don’t know if they’re going to block or not, so either you can confirm with low commitment moves, at the cost of damage, or you can risk going straight a combo which might be really unsafe on block.

If someone can get a 90 or 100% combo on you in a traditional fighter, it usually means spending a lot of your own resources in order to do so. This one Skullgirls introductory video showed how even though you can 100% a character on your opponent’s team with some effort, you end up expending all your resources to do so, and feed them a ton of meter in the process, which they can use to wreck you too.
Personally I’d like to see more work put into different ways that combos can be made more about reading the opponent in the future. This probably means increasing hitstun so combos require less tight timing, but allow people to react to what’s going on. Like making it so tech rolls in traditional fighters have a small vulnerability period at the end, making 2 juggle trajectories that have to be followed up differently, etc.

The purpose of getting stuck in a long combo is, you fucked up hard and really shouldn’t have done what you just did.

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