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How to embrace Imbalanced Character Design In Fighters

The word "Fair", is a common one, used in a variety of sentences. "My my, what a fair day it is today". "Daddy, can we go to the funfair!?". "I'm sorry sir, you don't have a valid ticket. Now you must pay the... fare...".. Okay, maybe "Fair" Isn't used in that many sentences. I bet the one line we have all heard in all places in all the years of our lives however, is:

"That's Not Fair!" ><"

Many times have we softly muttered this under our breath, or horribly screamed it to the top of our neck whilst throwing the pad at the wall nearest to the television. A friend of mine has burned through 9 PlayStation 2 pads just from throwing them in pure anger. Lets hope for the sake of him and his family, that joy-pads are never crafted out of sharp metal. It is no secret that games love to TEEF us sometimes (Teef being British/Jamaican slang for stealing) most of the time, it is the computer AI, or the single player mode, the last boss, the first boss, heck, even the games environment can Teef us when it wants to. Can anyone spell, lack of collision detection in the wall in an FPS? However, in light of all of these subjects, the most that me and "That's not Fair" has had a rendezvous, is with Fighting Games.

I always say to people, "no use complaining if you aint out to make the change." or "Just jump over the damn fireball if it's annoying?" Here I will try and teach fellow fighters how to embrace these "faults" since we are not the developers. It's either complain and waste oxygen, or play the game. Which ever camp you stand in, you are welcome to read on!

First of all, it would be good to head over to this post over on http://shoryuken.com/?p=1145 about the word - Fair. It's pretty cool and interesting how many different opinions there are about a balanced game. My posts are under the name 'Grimtail' (My FFXI character name :D) Lets pick a game. Eenie, meenie, miny, mo - Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. For those who follow tiers, we know that Chun-Li and Yun are basically the most perfect characters in the game. No, this doesn't mean they were born from a virgin mother like Jesus was, this just means they have the most advantages when compared to the rest of the supporting cast. It doesn't mean they are unbeatable. The way I like to describe tiers is to imagine that if fighting games were played by the Borg, then Chun-Li vs Sean would end in our favorite Chinese beauty as the winner. Robots run on a program. There is no stopping it unless you unplug it or tell it to find a key-gen from yahoo during the match. The Borg player would utilize all of Chun-Li's strengths and the other would utilize all of Seans, boiling down to a simple equation: Chun-Li > Sean. We as humans however, have many other factors that take effect during our gameplay. We make mistakes, we panic, we sweat (well i do) we sometimes try to show off, we press the wrong button, do the wrong move, choose the wrong super, and many other inconsistencies. So, a human could very easily change that equation to: Sean > Chun-Li. It just depends how much of a beast you are.

I love fighters. One of the things I adore about them the most is how, you can look at two good players go head to head, and if you know your stuff, to you, the match is so amazing because of how technical it is, but to any old bypasser, its just any old game. To become the dogs bullocks at anything, you gotta put in practice. Hours and days and weeks and months and yes, YEARS, of practice. So you want to walk into Evo or any local tournament and win the tourney with Dan? My advice to you, young Skywalker, is to learn him inside out and back in again. Even go on the internet and research his back-story! Find out his favorite color, what his hobbies are. Maybe he's single? Any rivalries? Any children? You need to know everything! Next, you must know thy enemy. This step takes very long, especially if your playing a game like Marvel vs Capcom 2, one of the most broken (but oh so fun!) fighting games Ive ever played. But, believe it or not, there are people out there who religiously play as the Ryu, Ken, Akuma trio or the Servebot, Megaman & Roll tag team, even though the top dogs of that game are basically the Marvel/Disney characters.... *cries*... They do it, to see how far they can go and also because it makes it even more fun. My brother once told me that games are supposed to be fun, did you know that? You as a little Zergling, must go up against the whole roster, taking notes to remember certain details. Maybe watch a few youtube videos. Get stuck into some forums, but equip your forum umbrella because alot of people talk alot of s*** on those things, so take care!

Whenever you feel comfortable with your character, test him/her/it out with some friends. Don't be a data-player or better yet, don't try to pretend you are a Borg. You need to have the approach of experimenting the things you have encountered. Are Iori's fireball recovery frames faster than Ryu's? Well, they definitely aren't now, after KOFXII... But still, you get the idea? You think Abel's reset works on everyone in SFIV? Maybe it doesnt? Maybe you can dash under Sagats high tiger fireball? Experimentation, is the key here. Another thing you dont want to do, is get attached to playing the CPU. They basically play like an on rail shooter and do the same thing over and over, so you gotta bring some friends over and get cracking at this! Which eases me into my next point of advice, which I am very passionate about.

GTFO of your house, and play in the arcades! Do NOT get too attached to playing online! Please! I say this because of many reasons, but in this context, i say it for the sake of bad habits. For one, no matter what game you are playing online, whether its BlazBlue and its amazing netcode or KOFXII and its no so amazing netcode, there is always a chance of lag, and as humans, we tend to adapt to the playing field. If you play online too much, the timing of your dragon punch will be quirky. The judgment of your start up frames could be wrong. The input speed of your combo might be way off. This all leads to bad habits, and then the one time you think your the dogs bullocks and go trotting off to your local arcade tourney full of beastly arcade only beasts, then your going to get your anus, anally beasted with a side helping of Beast and someone will probably be dressed up as Beast from X-men, just to make it that much worse. Do you want this? No you don't! Unless you have a strong heart & ego and can come back from such a terrible experience tenfold, then do so, but just to give you a heads up, playing in the arcade makes you a better player, in my honest opinion. Hide behind your Gamertags or PSN ID's all you want, but it is only by going into the heart of the community and playing with the best and those on-route to be one of the best, can you really achieve big things.

I'll tell you this: I have lost matches in the arcade because of how intimidating my opponent was, not because he was actually better than me, but because i feared him as a player. I had heard stories he was amazing and i had seen him play. Live up to the myths? Yes he did. He didn't blink while he played, his iron grip around the arcade analog was as firm as a shaolin monk. He was bald. The way he pressed the buttons was basically finger Tai-Chi. He had his own custom made fight stick, probably made out of dragon wood, and his nickname was Jafar. - For me, that was fear. Here comes the last nail in the coffin: He wasn't even that much better than me. I was Makoto and he was Yun. (SFIII) Out of my fear, I messed up so many grab opportunities, I failed to punish him when he made a mistake, I was afraid to get out the corner when he had me there and I even forgot one of the tactics I usually do with Makoto. Needless to say, I got owned. But not because of the character he was, but because of who he was as a player and as a man. If it was a game of manhood fighter, I would of died!

My point is pointing to this - Theres a lot more to fighters than characters, statistics, fireballs, etc. Fighting games involve mind games, trickery, baiting people out, controling the flow of the match, shaolin monks, fear, personality, and a wad of alot more. Not to say that, me being afraid of Jafar, means that it happens to everyone. Im sure there might be some players who wont let that effect them, but it doesnt change the fact that fear is a human emotion, as is with all other emotions. Some of these emotions can be toyed with in an arcade/tournament fighting experience.
Imbalanced characters in a fighter will always be around. Either because there will be humans that always take certain characters to levels that the developers didn't even know was possible, or because more and more games are just badly made. Whichever the reason, don't be a sheep and follow the heard of Chun-Li's, Magnetos, Storms and all the other over powered (or maybe, more explored) characters. If you wish to take your Bridget from Guilty Gear or your Dan from Street Fighter, to the top. It can be done. You just need to work on more than just the game. Work on yourself as a human being. Hows that for wisdom?!

What other experiences have you had with imbalanced characters? What is the most amazing thing you have seen a person using a typically under explored character do? Have any of you had similar intimidating experiences in an arcade setting? I'd love to hear the stories. :D
I hope you enjoyed my 1st ever blog post on Dtoid, and if you'll excuse me, I need to work on my finger press ups, for that Iron Grip!
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About CharlieKunone of us since 8:00 AM on 07.14.2009

PSN ID:CharlieKun


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