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Fighting Fundamentals with JD - Character Selection


So, you’ve picked your game and are ready to jump in the ring, but you don’t know where to start. Thankfully, this problem can be solved with the simplest of concepts – favoritism. It’s something that we as people naturally do when it comes to anything we enjoy, and fighting games are no different. When it comes to selecting a game to play, the biggest draw is usually something that you personally find interesting. This also goes for the characters you select to play as. In most cases the character you elect to dedicate most of your time into directly ties into your overall enjoyment of the game. So naturally it’s best to go with what you like.

When I was younger, my friends introduced me to Super Smash Brothers. I wanted to play and compete, so I decided to try and learn what I could to be competitive in my circle. As I looked at the cast of characters, I naturally chose Pikachu since I was (and still am) a huge fan of the Pokémon series. It’s as simple as that. I liked Pokémon therefore I chose a character that I enjoyed. With Pikachu as my starter, I was able to feel out the game and see what I liked and what I didn’t like. When playing with my friends, I found that other characters had cool traits that I enjoyed as well. For example, a friend of mine chose Link, and when he used the Spin Attack, which I thought was a cool move. Thus, I decided to pick up Link, who would go on to be my main throughout the rest of the series.

The concept of a main reaches far into ones enjoyment of a fighting game. A main is pretty much your personal “main character” whom you decide to spearhead as you compete against your friends. Most prominent fighting game players will select a main, and there are multiple ways they might go about it. Many will go with characters they recognize or like from the fictions they come from. Others might go with people they think look cool. Some will try out every character on the roster until they find one that feels right. Others will just pick the “best” character in the game in hopes of winning on a consistent basis. While the last one isn’t a mindset I’d suggest, each method of selection is a valid way to go about selecting characters. Do note that regardless of your early ideas of favorites, things do change once you begin to learn the game.

Upon playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the first time, my three characters were Captain America, Zero and Amaterasu. I picked all of them purely based on them being characters that I liked, and at first I was dedicated to that team. However, after getting my hands on the game for a while, not only did that team have little synergy, but I had a hard time learning both Zero and Amaterasu, meaning that I had to change it up if I wanted to stay competitive. Eventually I found my stride, but the point is that sometimes your likes will lead you down the right path, but many times your first choice is just a means of getting started.

When it comes to my experience with Injustice: Gods Among Us, I started the game with the intent of trying to learn at least one of three specific characters – Nightwing, Green Lantern, and The Flash. I decided on Nightwing based on my like of the character, Green Lantern because of the late (but Great) Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and the Flash because of the combo’s I saw he was capable of in the early footage. Each of those was for a different reason, but in general it gave me a basis to start off. When I started up Injustice, the first thing I did (and the first thing I usually do) is have a set of friendly matches with my younger brother. This gave us a chance to feel out the game in a comfortable, yet competitive environment. Not all will have the chance to play with family or friends, so for those who can’t I recommend starting out by jumping into Training mode with your character of choice. This gives you a chance to see how they feel, learn their special moves and experiment with the combat engine. It all serves a purpose down the line.

For me, my first impressions of Nightwing were mixed. I enjoyed the style of his special moves, but his movement seemed awkward and I had no idea how to utilize his combo’s properly. This was mainly due to the game’s overall stiff feel and Nightwing’s dual stances. Utilizing both of his stances properly was a bit jarring, because it requires me to think of playing one character in two completely different ways. It was a bit discouraging at first, but like with all fighting games there is an adjustment period. If you’ve researched and studied your game of interest like I had, you might assume you could jump in right away and be good at it, and there may be some great players capable of such a feat, but for most it’s a rude awakening when you start up and realize you can’t do anything. That said, this hurdle is natural and necessary in order for one to improve. Keep it in your mind that the game is still new, and that in time you’ll improve. Just stick to your character, and you’ll see the fruits of labor pay off in due time.

One quick recommendation is that once you’ve selected a character to learn, try and stick it out for as long as possible. Don’t switch around too much. Doing so may ultimately hinder your progress learning that character. Learning one character first will focus your experience and make you better at the game as a whole. Playing multiple characters is fun, and feel free to do so, but (as an example) try and pick your main at least three times out of five, that way you never forget the basics of what you’ve just learned.

So, you’ve decided on a character for whatever reason you saw fit. Next it’s time to learn the basics! In next week’s article, I’ll run down the process of learning basic combos and using arcade mode, trial mode, and story mode to further improve your game.

Offer up your thoughts, comments and other suggestions regarding character selection in the comments below!



Our Take

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

04/30/2013 at 10:48 AM

*Side Note* One other thing to consider here is controller. While playing fighting games with a normal pad controller is completely valid, some might opt for a Fight Stick. These are pretty expensive, but extremely useful for fighting games. They take a while to adjust to, but once you become proficient with one, you won't want to go back. Those looking to dive deep into fighting games might want to put down the money and pick one up, they're quite worth it!TE Fight Stick


05/01/2013 at 04:20 PM

Injustice has been the first fighting game I've bought since Soul Calibur iV and it's certainly been a steep learning curve. I've literally only won one fight online out of possibly 20!? ... :/

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/01/2013 at 05:40 PM

I know how you feel. I lost like the first 6 o r 7 ranked games in a row. I tried player matches after that just because there is a lot less pressure involved. That way I was able to get used to online and next thing i knew, I was winning matches. So yeah, KoTH or just regular player matches should be a good start. 

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

05/01/2013 at 10:58 PM

I've got that fight stick (shown above) for the PS3, the Tatsunoko one for the Wii, and I hardly play any fighting games. It's a shame Capcom hasn't released a fighting game for the Wii U, and I'm not particularly interested in the Mortal Kombat franchise... hm maybe I should pick up the Tekken game when it's cheaper. I've always wanted to try out the Tekken series.


05/02/2013 at 05:37 PM

Same here, i have a standard Hori for ps3 (works on PC too), as well as the Wii TvC one, I have the SFVI fightpad for convinience.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/03/2013 at 02:30 PM

Not a bad move. Tekken Tag 2 is a really good game


05/02/2013 at 12:30 AM

 I'm an old school arcade rat so your dead on with the arcade stick. And the home versions of these have come a long way. And maybe its just me but I usually have three main characters. Typicaly a balenced one, a fast one, and a bruiser. This way I have some flexabilty, and I can throw a wild card at my opponent.  And being good with a character most people don't play as helps too. I liked  Zangeif and played him often in all his incarnations. So most people are used to fighting the ai version, and try to use the same tactics against me, which epicaly fail. You won't fire ball me into a corner or out sweep me. I can get in close, scoop you up and set you on your head. Zangeif also has really good reach and his feirce attacks are obscenely powerful. And since most people don't play as him they don't really get a true feel for what he can do. This method worked for me in Tekken with Yoshimitsu and Jack also.


05/02/2013 at 10:13 AM

Great article, my favourite fighting game character of all time has to be Street Fighters Gen. I was pretty gutted to see that he'd been missed on the MvC rosta. I think one of the reasons I love him so much is because of the vast amount of time it took to be able to use him. That duel stance is something that at first seemed impossible to master but it really gives the player an opportunity to turn the fight around by mixing things up.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/03/2013 at 02:31 PM

Yeah, Gen surprised me. I wasn't a fan of him till I saw this professional player using him. he goes by Xian. His Gen is sick.

Captain N

05/02/2013 at 05:32 PM

Smash Bros was one of the first fighting games I played as a kid too and it was awesome. I was pretty good with pretty much any character in the original, though I mostly used Mario, Link, Samus, and Captain Falcon. I got Melee and had a blast too, and ended up using the same characters with some new ones like Dr. Mario and Young Link. I eventually eneded up getting Soul Calibur 2 just because it had Link, but I liked it too, it was a game I never played. Link became my main, but later on in team battles, Mitsurugi, and Cassandra became my partners with Link. I was good with Leon too.

As for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I always have Captain America with me, as for the rest, it's either Chun Li, Dante, or Zero. On Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, I always use Zero and Batsu, sometimes I switch one with Jun the Swan, but I try to use as many characters as I could to see how they play and find ones that I'm good with. But really, despite that, we usually just want to use our favorite characters.

On Injustice, Batman is my main and the character I use the most, plus I'm more familiar with him. I know all his special moves, and know how to pull off a few hits before using his super move, it gives a bit more damage but's satisfying to watch. I like how fighting games give you so many characters, they have different fighting styles, but they give you so many to find one you're familiar with. 

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/05/2013 at 12:52 AM

It looks like we are fans of a lot of the same characters, especially in Smash bros. And Cap ftw! 


05/02/2013 at 05:41 PM

Im street Fighter i usually use Ken or Cody, Tatsunoko vs Capcom it's Zero and any onther character Tongue Out, I prefer quicker characters with a more agressive style.

I got SFxT on PC it's an odd duck, learning Kings moves can make you unbeatable i'm usually not good with the tank characters but i've been good with king since Tekken 3.

I'm not a tutorial type, so I learn through just exploring the game itself... Until i get bored Tongue Out

I'll get Injustice soon, but Persona 4: Arena is top of my agenda this monthSmile

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/05/2013 at 12:53 AM

Let me know what you think of Persona. I may give it a try if i can ever get back to Persona 3. Hopefully they release 4 on psn classics...


05/05/2013 at 09:08 PM

I own a couple of fight sticks - a Hori stick for Xbox 360, and a Capcom fighting stick that was originally for PS2, but I bought a USB adapter which enables me to use it for my PS3 fighting games.

I'm an odd duck. I like Street Fighter all right but it is not my favorite series. I prefer 3-D fighting games over 2-D fighting games, and my favorite series by far is Sega's Virtua Fighter series, although I also enjoy Namco and Tecmo fighting games. Among 2-D fighting games, my favorites are Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear, and BlazBlue.

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