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Fighting Fundamentals with JD

Ever wanted to learn how to get good at fighting games? Well here are some tips!

Fighting games can be some of the most intimidating games out there. Whether it was back in the arcades where every victory relied on your hard earned money, or today where playing online unprepared can lead to some embarrassing losses. Though a tough nut to crack, fighting games can also be extremely rewarding. 

It’s the satisfaction of pulling off a cool looking, high damage combo.

It’s managing to outwit your opponent.

Still, barrier to entry has always been an issue for fighting games, but with this I hope to help break down those walls and show you how you can approach the genre and get the most out of it.

I will be the first to admit that while I love fighting games, I am no professional. I’ve dabbled in tournaments in games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Street Fighter 4: AE, but due to time and money constraints (and a lot of hesitancy), I haven’t gone too far down the competitive path. That said, I feel like I get competent enough to enjoy these games on a competitive level. 

So what brings about this project? Since Street Fighter X Tekken and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I haven’t really taken out the time to learn any other fighting games. While some cool ones like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Soul Calibur V have released, I shied away from them because of the time and dedication you need to learn the metagame; the competitive ins and outs of the game. That will be my first warning to anyone; Fighting games take a lot of time and dedication. All of the practice, repetition, and execution it takes to reach a decent level of play will eat up your time, and that is why it is always good to be selective about which games to play. Some can handle multiple games at once, and in time you may be able to as well. Assuming you are new to the genre however, I will advise starting with a game that you have a personal interest in. That way, you’ll be more motivated to continue based on your interest in the franchise, not just because it’s what everyone else is playing.

In my case, that next task will be with NeatherRealm Studio’s latest – Injustice: Gods Among Us. It took me a while to warm up to this one, but as you can see in my preview, my perspective has greatly changed. This brings me to one of the first things people can do to gauge interest in a fighter -

Watching Video Footage

Injustice grabbed my eye because the combos looked really cool for certain characters. After seeing a few videos featuring the game’s cast, I started to see things that looked flashy and caught my eye. After viewing more, I began to appreciate the game more and became interested in the possibilities of the engine. If you are curious about picking up a fighting game, videos of the game in motion will always be a great way to see if you think it’s worth putting the time into.

(Flash vs Joker Official Gameplay)

Take it for a Test Drive

Not everyone has the opportunity to try games out early, but attending trade shows and events like Comic-Con and WonderCon will likely provide opportunities to get your hands on early test builds of a game if it isn’t already out. The idea in this phase is to feel out the game, and get a handle of the systems at play. If it’s a game that you can see yourself getting into, you’ll know because you either like how the game feels or you have the uncontrollable urge to keep playing. This may not be the case for all, but personally these are the earliest indicators of games that I’ve been very in to.

Demos are also a great way to sit down and try out fighters early. While demos are never a guarantee, on the occasion that one IS released, it can give you an ample amount of time to test and see if the game is for you. In my case, with Injustice I found myself enjoying the game almost immediately.

(Battle mode gameplay from the Demo)

As I said before, I am no professional. As you can see in my gameplay, I’m far from it, and I still have much to learn about the game. That said, Injustice continued to intrigue me. The demo gave me a chance to see how the game felt, how the moves were performed, and I could see what kind of systems were at play. Getting to test out things like stage interaction, move sets, and character specific abilities gave me a good idea of how the game will pan out upon its release. I am more excited to get my hands on with the final build than before.

Remember, especially when trying out a game, that you will NOT BE GOOD at the game. Unless, of course, you happen to be a natural, but more times than not you will struggle at the beginning. The purpose of the test phase is to see if its a game that you would be interested in trying to master rather than trying to be the best right away.

Videos – though they give a good idea of early gameplay – don’t get the chance to show off the full potential of the game until after its release. The best way to get into a game is to try it out. Whether you rent the game, or decide to take a plunge, the real challenge starts once you get the full game. I’ve come up with phases of learning a game, and hopefully by following these phases, one can understand their game of choice better. While I’ll be playing Injustice, the ideas in this feature apply to any fighting game.

 My formula is as follows:

Character Selection

Learning the basics




Keep a lookout for the first feature, involving character selection upon the game’s release, and don’t forget to look out for a new entry every week following, where I will track my progress, and offer tips to those who might be taking on the task of learning a fighting game. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and progress in the comments!




04/22/2013 at 03:17 PM

I'm excited about these upcoming features. I'm pretty big into fighters with DOA5 being my current. For some reason though I can only really get into 3D fighters where I can move around the environment. For this reason, I've never really enjoyed (or was any good at) Street Fighter. The Tekken and DOA series though have consumed many many hours of my time

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

04/22/2013 at 08:05 PM

Thats fair. The only 3D fighter i've been ok at is Soul Calibur, but i've dabbled in Tekken. Both are fun, but i've been primarily playing 2d fighters lately. Hopefully this series will be helpful, and thanks for the comment!


04/22/2013 at 07:29 PM

Yay! I suck at fighters, but I love BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena. Hopefully I'll find this series useful!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

04/22/2013 at 08:06 PM

Hopefully indeed. Blazblue is pretty fun btw, i've only played it a bit but its a cool game.


04/22/2013 at 07:56 PM

I used to live for fighters, but admittedly I have kind of fallen off. Part of that is because I ran out out people to play with. Friends moved away, my brother lost interest in them, and my expirence online has been hit or miss. But this might inspire me to get back in the ring and get my chops back.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

04/22/2013 at 08:08 PM

Sounds good. Having people to play with definitely helps. Online does the job sometimes, but nothing works quite like friendly, couch competition.


04/24/2013 at 10:47 AM

Man, I haven't put much serious time into a traditional fighter since Tekken 3 on the PlayStation Surprised My wife picked up a copy of Soul Calibur IV for cheap at Goodwill and I dabbled in it but didn't stick around (I still have it though). I'd like to play fighting games but just never seem to get around to it. I meant to get Tatsunoko VS Capcom on the Wii but never did. Then I got a 360 and meant to get Marvel VS Capcom 3...but still haven't. And despite online play, fighters seemed more practical when I was growing up and had two brothers to play with. But Injustice does look pretty good. It's finally making some of DC's characters cool lol. I'm looking forward to these upcoming features.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

04/24/2013 at 12:03 PM

Awesome, looking forward to having you guys read them. I'd still recommend UMvC3, its probably one of the most fun fighting games out there now, and you can probably get it for a good price.


04/24/2013 at 03:48 PM

I always seem to come across Fate of the Two Worlds but yeah, I would definitely rather have the updated Ultimate release.

Cary Woodham

04/25/2013 at 05:44 AM

I just mash buttons and hope for the best. :)

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