Character Select Screen | Fighting Games 101
Date Published: June 25, 2017
The fighting game landscape is expanding as a result of the recent releases of game titles such as Tekken 7 and Injustice 2, consequently bringing in more novice players. As it is the case when entering any unfamiliar gaming scene, there are many things to keep in mind and the fighting game community (FGC) is no different.
Generally, fighting games are known for being intricate with many different layers of how to go about situations, match-ups, optimization, etc. However, the factor that is consistent among all fighting games is that everyone starts their journey on an equal playing field, and that is the character select screen.While the case may be different for professional players as there is more on the line with regards to tournament placing, monetary gains, sponsorship, etc. The selection of a character for beginners and casual players is best summed with three basic rules; appearance, gameplay, and enjoyment.
Appearance – A fairly simple concept, do you enjoy looking at this character?
It’s the most superficial of the three rules, however it’s a pretty important one as a character’s appearance reflects on your personal style. If you like big characters like Street Fighter’s Zangief or Tekken’s Jack, then you have developed a pattern of the type of character you enjoy.
Another reason why character appearance is a significant factor in selection is because becoming a good fighting game player takes a long time for most, therefore you want enjoy staring at the character on screen considering the number of hours you will be logging in with them across practicing, online, story mode, etc.
Gameplay – The second rule delves a bit more into the mechanical sense of the character, the question here is, does this character fit your playstyle?
Most players as they gain experience with fighting games tend to develop a universal playstyle of sorts, some enjoy playing more reserved, others enjoy rushing down, and the list goes on. If you’re known to be more defensive minded, perhaps charge characters, like Street Fighter’s Guile or high health point characters like Persona 4 Arena’s Kanji would be a better fit.
After pinpointing your personal playstyle, the next part is to test if the character’s overall game plan matches up with how you want to play. Factors such as execution requirements, defensive options, pace, damage, and many other components should all be considered before committing to a character.
Of course, personal playstyles can also change how a character normally plays, however, more often than not, certain characters are designed for a particular game plan, therefore trying to apply pressure with a zoning character or run down the clock with a low health character, will be an ineffective strategy as it’s not playing to the characters’ strong suit.
Enjoyment – The last rule and the most important one of the three lies within the question, do you enjoy playing this character?
While in a perfect situation you would want to hit all three criteria, if the box is checked on the enjoyment rule, the other two are deemed irrelevant. The reasoning behind why the third rule is the most important, is due to the fact that like in any game that isn’t played solely for professional competition, having fun is the most important factor of them all.
Truly enjoying playing a fighting game character is already a head start for novice players as it makes learning and growing as a player a more enjoyable experience. There are many factors that can make fighting games frustrating at times, however when you go back to playing a character you deem as fun, it’s all that really matters in the end.
To summarize, while it’s possible to play characters that don’t fit your personal playstyle, or ones that you don’t connect with visually, I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless you genuinely enjoy playing that character, in which case, everything else can take a back seat.