If you’ve been playing as much Street Fighter IV as I have (or any online at all), you should probably appreciate this. I claim no credit for it myself and have no idea who made it, but I thought the readership might like it. It’s a big, complex image, so I’ll have to commit a faux pas and thumbnail it.
And because this wouldn’t be fun without a little bit of extra overthinking, I’m going to talk a bit about what this means after the jump —
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s one piece of genuine overthinking — in fighting game design, special moves are often traps for the players who try to use them. They’re called “skill-testers,” meaning they’re put in the game with the intention that the player will overestimate their efficacy.
Usually, knowing the fireball and the crazy fire uppercut is all well and good, but if that’s all you use, it is pretty easy for people who know the boring other moves to beat you. Choosing the less flashy but more effective move for the correct circumstance is a learning process – and a measure of increased skill in the game. It keeps the gaming experience oriented toward discovery longer if there are incentives to change the way you play as you get better.
Now, in Street Fighter IV, the special moves are not so much traps as overreliance on them is a trap – you get a little bit better by knowing how to do the special moves, so there’s an incentive to use them to beat up on rookies. You get a lot better when you learn how to use a character’s full moveset – but most players never get to that point, and the online play for Street Fighter IV is full of people who just spam fireballs and jumping dragon punches like they’re going out of style (which, of course, they are not. They are still awesome).
Super Smash Brothers is a much better example of a fighting game franchise that has special moves designed as skill-testers. A really solid share of characters’ B moves are pretty close to useless, but very flashy and attractive to newer players. All of us who’ve played have probably experienced being hit by Pikachu’s thundershock over and over again – and if we’ve played for a while, we know that it is a very vulnerable strategy.
So, when you go out there in the world, I can offer you one piece of advice – the situations where it’s really a good idea to Falcon Punch are few and far between. Be careful when you whip that thing out, sonny.