Beginner Fighting Games

Rising Thunder, Pocket Rumble, Divekick, Rivals of Aether… what’s the point of all these “beginner-friendly” games? Traditional fighting games are overwhelming at first, but you have to keep PLAYING them to git gud. Playing these baby games won’t magically make you a KoF/GG/Melee champion.

How many games do we need to dumb-down (oh, I mean, “simplify”) mechanics for scrubs before we realize that they won’t learn no matter what. Also, enough with “we want to explore the strategic element”. You can do that with all these other games that don’t need some 1 or 2-button control scheme.

The point is, I can bust out divekick and get anyone off the street playing in seconds.

King of Fighters can be overwhelming to someone who only plays Street Fighter, Guilty Gear is overwhelming to anyone who hasn’t played an arc sys fighting game before. Playing Street Fighter won’t make you a champion in those games, but it will give you a leg up, and you’ll certainly be able to wreck anyone starting fresh in those games. I know I’ve picked up random fighting games and been able to fight on par with people experienced in them just using fundamentals.

Having a simpler game to learn allows beginners to focus on the few tools they need to win, like fireball/anti-air, like the basics of footsies, meter management, simple combos, and so on. That’s a game that needs to exist in my opinion. If you don’t have games with a greater accessibility teach people the basics of the harder games, then it becomes a lot harder to get people into those harder games.

I’ve gotten people to play traditional fighting games with me and tried to give them the introduction and they were like, “This is cool, but there’s way too much stuff for me.”

How many games do we need to dumb-down (oh, I mean, “simplify”) mechanics for scrubs before we realize that they won’t learn no matter what. Also, enough with “we want to explore the strategic element”. You can do that with all these other games that don’t need some 1 or 2-button control scheme.

People will learn. Releasing new games with simpler control schemes isn’t harming the games we already have. They’re not establishing a new competitive standard. The further point I made is that these games are unique and do things other fighting games aren’t necessarily doing, which by itself validates their existence.

Being bad at a game does not make you a scrub. It does not make sense to write people off as irredeemable when they could potentially learn. If nothing else, these games are a useful tool to me personally, for introducing people to traditional fighting games in person.

These games teach you more with all their additional mechanics. Why regress. If you feel overwhelmed, there’s always the early entries in a respective series (e.g. SFII).

Except SFII is still too complicated for a lot of people, and on top of that, has the worst input read algorithm next to SFI, making it hard to even play the game at a beginner level unless you’re better at special move inputs than you’d need to be in order to play a more complex recent game.

Depth comes at the price of complexity, and sometimes people need a scaffolded experience or they simply get overwhelmed. It’s a regular pattern, beginners have so much to take in all at once to even play the game, they go a ton of rounds fumbling with the few controls they know and mashing buttons.

Simpler games with more straightforward basic functions can help alleviate this and allow people to develop the basic skills to understand the more complex games. Otherwise fighting games become a genre with no entry point, and that’s dangerous.

And there’s also the part where you glorify sub-SFII games like Divekick and Pocket Fighter. These games aren’t really good for learning either, I don’t care how you spin it. How many people have played those games and then seriously taken up more complex fighters? Usually, people get serious about FGs are actually playing with other people (friends, tourneys). Or through their desire to improve. These types of 1 or 2-button games are just gimmicks that become boring after a short period. They might be worth mentioning because their simplicity lets you easily discuss more fundamental concepts in the genre, but that is about the extent to it. I mean, people don’t discuss level design in NSMBW because it’s obviously too difficult, so they stick to the simpler SMB, and that’s fine for educational purposes, but we can’t keep teaching 1+1=2 over and over, nor should we glorify the work of people who think that coming up with 1 (not even 1+1, but literally just 1, which is what Divekick and Pocket Fighter are) is some revolutionary new idea.
Basically, if someone comes out with a sub-SMB platformer (like an autorunner), we ignore it, correct? So why behave differently for fighting games or any other genre? That kind of started as one ask, but turned into another.

Maybe they’re not good for learning? I don’t know yet. I haven’t had a serious chance to test out teaching people through them. So far I’ve mostly just been going with 3rd strike because it’s free and online.

I don’t really know how well they work as an introduction tool. They’re still pretty new. I admit that I’ve barely gotten to play pocket fighter, and never with another person.

I think they’re worth a try. Maybe I’m wrong and they don’t translate into anything. How about we wait and see?

The other thing is, Divekick is absolutely 1+1. There’s a lot more going on in Divekick than in an autorunner. I know it looks simple to you. Even I thought the concept was kind of stupid when I first saw it, but after playing it with other people it clicked and became interesting. Divekick asks a lot more of the player than any autorunner does. There are a lot more “inferential judgments” going on. (totally coining that term on the spot here, might even throw it in the glossary)

It’s like footsies in a traditional fighting game, it doesn’t make any sense to you when you first start playing, so you just mash, then you wonder why the other guy is hitting you more. I know I’ve had many people get surprised when they actually sit down and play divekick with me and realize that there’s a lot more to it than they initially thought.

And Pocket Fighter is more complex than Divekick, so it probably has more complex strategy to it.

The other thing is, fighting games are way more complex than SMB. If you strip away SMB you have something that is barely a game, if you strip away fighting games, you still have something left that is arguably just as complex as SMB.

8 thoughts on “Beginner Fighting Games

  1. treeghettox July 11, 2016 / 11:10 pm

    Can you please elaborate on SFII’s input tomfuckery? Also, am I crazy, or are quarter circles in SFV strangely difficult to execute?


    • Chris Wagar July 12, 2016 / 11:34 pm

      It polls the controller at different parts of the frame on different frames. The buffer length for certain moves can actually vary randomly. Frameskip can affect input timings as well. And the input read algorithm itself isn’t coded as well, omitting many sloppy but close enough inputs that might be considered correct in a more modern game. There’s a lot of things and I don’t know all the details because the algorithm and operation of the game is complex and the details aren’t public.

      And yeah, I think you’re crazy.


    • DJaeger July 23, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      QCFs are still pretty easy, but double QCFs are harder by design than in Third Strike and SF4. The developers have literally said that they made it so you cannot shortcut through the double QCFs, neither by shortcutting the first one (like in SF4), nor the second one (like in Third Strike). I think they might have made it so people fuck up DP inputs less (and don’t get a super input instead), but I cannot say for sure.


      • Chris Wagar July 23, 2016 / 10:40 pm

        I wish they kept the SF3 shortcut, that one made so much sense.


        • DJaeger July 24, 2016 / 1:03 am

          Yeah, that was the best one they had, was sad to see it go for the far worse SF4 one.


  2. DJaeger July 23, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    How do you play Third Strike online? I am trying Fightcade and it is fucking up on me. I am incredibly interested.


    • Chris Wagar July 23, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Basically once fightcade is unzipped, stick the rom (not, you need the japanese version) into the ROMs folder. Then start up fightcade, hide missing games in the settings and it should be lit up. Then you double click someone’s name to challenge them. I’d play you, but I’m busy right now.


      • DJaeger July 24, 2016 / 1:10 am

        I got it working just a while ago, it was just my fuckup (got a wrong zipfile from the wrong emu site). Thanks anyway!


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