Many players of fighting games and beat em up games start out by mashing. When you have 2-6 attack buttons, it can be hard to tell the difference between moves, so you might as well press buttons and hope something good comes out. A better player will understand when to use each move, but a worse one will see a large movelist, say “nah, pass” and just mash it out.
Some games are designed to actually facilitate and reward this type of mashing, games with strings (a sequence of unique moves activated by pressing buttons in a specific order). By mashing the buttons, you’ll accidentally end up doing all sorts of moves, and since neither you nor your opponent has any idea what you’re about to do, that makes you unpredictable, and ironically more effective in a genre that is advanced rock paper scissors.
It’s easy for intermediate level players to shut down this sort of play by simply blocking and waiting for an unsafe move to punish, or by throwing out “knowledge check” moves that require a specific counter (you can also call this spamming). However among beginners, it can allow them to develop a surprising level of basic competency at the game. They might be throwing moves out randomly at first, but sometimes they see something cool happen, and remember the feeling in their hands when they got that, allowing them to iterate and repeat it. Also helpful is these games list the strings in the move list, so beginners can learn a string as easily as checking.
For many beginners, these strings are literally what combos are. They’ll call them “combos”, not knowing there’s a larger combo system in the game. In a way, this is really helpful for beginners, compared to other games, because strings don’t involve tight timing, and are listed right there.Continue reading