What are your thoughts on super moves in fighting games? Do you prefer to have access to all of your supers, like Skullgirls, or choose between multiple supers a la 3rd Strike?
I have no strong preference. Maybe a mild preference towards having them all available.
As for supers in general, I always think back to this Sonic Hurricane article: http://sonichurricane.com/?p=3757
“The third milestone is learning how to combo into super (or ultra, in SF4’s case). Suddenly a single major mistake can end the round, so everything changes once again. When you can deal 40% damage in one shot, the entire match evolves from a series of isolated encounters into one continuous entity. You start to think long-term because you no longer have to win every minor clash, as long as you prepare to seize that big opportunity down the line.”
Supers are powered by meter, which is built up by merely using special moves, and occasionally other things, so it’s a resource that people deliberately build in part through their playstyle, but one which also requires commitment and action of some kind to build, unlike a cooldown. Since supers are limited by this meter resource, using them is about picking the right moment, which is somewhat similar to a cooldown. Supers typically have different utilities. They usually have invincibility, and can fit anywhere in most combos, since both normals and specials usually cancel into super. So you can confirm into super, or use supers raw. Confirming means you lose some of the potential damage of the super (even if you are doing more damage overall).
Because supers also typically feature a superflash, an animation that does not take place in in-game time, they warn the opponent before use, making them less useful in neutral situations unless you can catch your opponent in the middle of a move. So because of their invincibility and great hitboxes, they beat everything except doing nothing, which they lose hard to since the super flash gives the opponent a massive warning to block, provided any of the super’s startup time is after the super flash (it’s possible to have 2 frames of startup before the flash, and 0 afterwards, so by the time the flash is seen, it’s too late, this is typically done for super command grabs, because otherwise they’d be useless, since the opponent can just hold up to jump, and they need to be in a non-hitstun state for it to work and command grabs aren’t a good choice for beating attacks usually). This makes supers excellent reversals, since the point with a reversal is to beat a meaty attack, but vulnerable to being baited like any other reversal. Some games don’t have superflashes, but they’re rare.
Supers usually have a partial immunity to damage scaling in combos, so they’re ideal to tack onto the end of combos when the damage scaling is really high. This means you lose out on a lot of the super’s natural damage, but you get more damage right now when you know it’s guaranteed.
SFV then made supers the only way to chip out an opponent, which means chipping out is a major investment, which I think is super interesting.
Supers add a long-term strategic element to a tactical (short term) game.