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understand what we were doing wrong. That is not the way it
to be, mind you; just theway it is right now. Learning how to play fighting games by yourself (or with someone justabout equally clueless as you) is kind of learning how to
fight by yourself; that is,stupidly hard.What makes things even harder is that literally the vast majority of
in a fighting game islocked away from you until you are able to physically and mentally perform at a certain level.
is one of the most physically taxing game franchises out there, but it’s comparativelyeasier to get people hooked with a taste of the actual
by teaching people differentopenings and game strategies and unit compositions, and
remind them that all thetheorizing isn’t worth jack shit if they can’t attain a minimum level of physical execution. With
, it’s like you have to basically take it on faith that there is an amazing gameavailable to you after you spend years of your life training with the Wu-Tang Clan.What follows is my attempt to give you a crash course in fighting games. I’m writing thisbecause people frequently express to me the desire to learn how to play fighting games in thesame sense that people tell me they wish they had time to cook more often or work out; if Iwrite this, then I can just link it the next time you express this sentiment and save us both thetrouble. Luckily,
is probably the easiest time in the world to learn how to playfighting games, so really, you have no excuse. I may not make you a champion, but if I canmake you literate, that’ll be enough.
Who I am:
I am not a professional player or coach, or a professional game designer oranything like that. Far from it, in fact. I’ve played fighting games seriously since about 2002 orso. I’ve taken my licks as a tournament competitor, but I’ve only won a crappy little
tournament at an anime convention at Cal State Northridge, and my prize was somecrappy
anime DVDs (one of which I already owned). I’ve had the privilege of losing to some of the greats, but that’s about it. But I do think very seriously about the processof developing new skills — how to learn, how to practice, how to teach — whether thoseskills are aboutgamesormartial artsor whatever.
About this guide:
There are many ways to learn how to play fighting games. For me, I spentyears playing at theUC Berkeley BEARCade (RIP). My game of choice was
Capcom vs.SNK 2
, which, as an introduction to fighting games, is kind of like learning a language bymemorizing its dictionary and hoping for the best. As a fighting game, CVS2 is splendid. Oneof the best, really. But there is simply
too much stuff
in it — too many characters, options,tools, etc. — which makes it very hard for a budding fighting game player to improve. If something isn’t working, a newbie’s first instinct is to think, “Well, I’ll change to one of theother 40-odd characters , or use a new ‘groove’ (a set of different design elements like airblocking, parries, rolls, different super meter management, and so on)”, when it really shouldbe something like “Hey, I should probably not jump so much.”As a result, I spent years messing around with CVS2 — and by “messing around”, I mean“playing a
” — without ever getting that much better. This one guy at the BEARCadenamed Eric (“Meaneric”) Choi would demolish me for free, and I never understood why hecould do that. It just seemed like he always had a dragon punch when he needed one, or athrow when he needed one. I must have spent a few hundred dollars trying to beat Eric. It tookyears before I beat him even once.One day at the BEARCade, we were running through our usual $1-entry weekly tournaments,and
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
needed one more person to have a full 8-man bracket. Ericwas the favorite to win, so he encouraged me to enter. “Okay,” I told him, “But you’ll have toshow me how to play, first.”“ Easy,” he said. “Just pick Original Sagat.”