Fighting Games (glossary)

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2-1 combo
2D fighter 
A fighting game where the action takes place entirely on a 2-dimensional plane, usually portrayed with raster graphics and sprites. The easiest and most obvious example of this style of fighter is the venerable Street Fighter series, or the majority of fighters produced and released by SNK/Playmore. Though there are notable exceptions, 2D fighters are usually characterized by faster action, a simpler priority system, and simpler (though not necessarily less technical) command systems in general.
3D fighter 
A fighting game where the action takes place within a 3-dimensional space, usually portrayed with polygonal characters and environments. A key distinction of the 3D fighter as opposed to the 2D fighter is the ability to sidestep attacks. The most commonly accepted originator of the 3D fighter is Virtua Fighter, and the most popular systems are itself, Soul Edge/Soul Calibur, and the Tekken series. 3D fighters are usually characterized by slower or more methodical action, more complex command systems, more commands to learn, and complex priority systems.
advanced block 
A special ability or method of blocking that is distinguishable from normal blocking, has a specific command through which it may be entered, and which usually enjoys benefits normal blocking does not. Advanced blocks are also typically more difficult to successfully execute than a standard block. (For example, Faultless Defense in Guilty Gear, Parry in Street Fighter 3, or Guard Impact in Soul Calibur.)
air game 
Term used for an aggregate assessment of a player's tactics while jumping or otherwise in mid-air. Can refer to either air-to-air combat between characters, or for a jumping character attacking a grounded one. Used more often when referring to 2D fighters, since few 3D fighters employ jumping as a game mechanic.
anti-air attack 
An attack made from a standing or crouching position that will successfully hit and damage a jumping opponent while he is in mid-air. Anti-air attacks typically enjoy high priority, but low damage, and are used as a defensive maneuver, though they will in many cases begin a float and trigger a shift from defensive to offensive play. Anti-air attacks must typically be avoided, but in some systems, may be blocked.
Once a popular attraction, arcades, due to the popularity and increasing graphical power of home video game consoles, are quickly becoming a dying breed in the United States, though they remain popular in Japan and some other areas of the world. Arcades were businesses in which a few dozen video game machines - dedicated to a single game each - were available for public use for 25 to 50 cents per match. The popularity of the fighting game genre was arguably at its height during the arcade boom of the early-to-mid 90's, when scores of players would congregate in small spaces to challenge each other while inactive players watched on, lending an atmosphere of a spectator sport. Modern fighting game publishers have begun to appeal to this atmosphere and to offer online multiplayer game modes in which a pool of players is established in order to provide spectators for matches while lining up to play. See nexts.
The most basic offensive action available in fighting games. A basic attack involves the pressing of one or more control buttons, the result of which is an animation by the character that, if within acceptable range of an opponent and targeted at a vulnerable location on that opponent, will result in damage (e.g. a backfist, chop, or roundhouse kick). Attacks (even command attacks and special attacks) have priority over throws.
An inherently defensive action by which a character absorbs the impact of an attack, thereby mitigating most or all of the damage conveyed by the attack. This is usually accomplished with a retreating motion on the joystick, a neutral position on the joystick, or in some systems, a dedicated button. Blocks may be performed either standing or crouching, and in some cases and systems, while in mid-air. Blocking characters may not attack while maintaining a successful block. Blocking an attack places a character in blockstun; a player who consistently prefers to block rather than to attack is called a turtle. The successful counter to a block is typically a throw. The Japanese term for block is typically guard.
An state a character enters after blocking an incoming attack. Characters in blockstun typically cannot launch attacks, nor may they throw, but are usually not prevented from continued blocking or other defensive commands, though some systems do include special commands for launching attacks out of blockstun. Blockstun is considered a loss of initiative or priority and a disadvantage for the character. Blockstun is usually conveyed with a special animation or other visual indicator.
To input commands well in advance of performing an action, in anticipation of making that action. The main benefit of buffering is that it makes such moves more unpredictable, since many players will learn to recognize joystick movements made for common actions and will react accordingly when such an action is performed agains them. Buffering is usually accomplished by entering the inputs for one action while still performing another, while blocking or otherwise defending, or while in the air or rising from a prone position.
The act of pressing random buttons wildly in an attempt to execute moves or strings or to create unpredictability. Button-mashing is typically performed by players of an inferior skill level, since they do not yet understand a fighting system nor a movelist for their chosen character (see scrub); it can also be performed as a desperation tactic or as a response to an okizeme or wake-up situation. Some systems reward button mashing as an escape from dizzy or stumble status, or from a throw. Accomplished players look upon button-mashing as a last resort or a sign of ignorance; games that reward victories to button-mashing players are often said to have poor balance.
The interruption of one move (usually an attack) or string with another move or action. Typically, this results in an increase in initiative for the character launching the cancelled action, because cancelling increases mix-up and sometimes increases the priority or speed of a follow-up. Two of the most common and famous examples of cancelling are the Fireball cancel of the Street Fighter series (see 2-1 combo), and Guard-cancelling (called G-cancelling) in the Virtua Fighter series.
chain combo 
Also called a precanned or canned combo; derogatorily called a dial-a-combo. Chain combos are specific and defined series of actions which, when performed within a window of opportunity, and provided the first action is performed successfully, will result in a specific series of attacks with consistent timing, effects, and damage. Normally, if the opener hits and causes damage, the remainder of the chain combo is guaranteed. The most famous chain combos are those in use by the Mortal Kombat series from the third installment forward. They have much in common with strings, however, chain combos usually are unable to be linked to other actions. (e.g. Liu Kang's HP, HP, BL, HK, HK, LK, HK in Mortal Kombat 2 will always result in exactly the same animations with exactly the same timings and damage)
See taunt.
To hold the joystick in a certain direction for a predetermined amount of time, usually as the first portion of a command input for a special move. The most common length of time for a charge is two seconds.
chip damage 
closed stance 
A combination of opponents' stances so that their front feet are opposite feet. This has the result of limiting the proximity of the two characters, as their front feet will impact each other's relatively early in the approach.
A string of attacks which cannot be blocked once the first attack in the sequence (called an opener) has successfully hit an opponent.
command attack 
command throw 
An action, typically performed with a double-tap of the joystick in the same direction, where a character moves more quickly than normal over a short distance, in order to create either a close combat situation (forward dash) or to retreat from combat (backward dash). Dashes are normally performed from a standing position; some systems allow for crouch dashing, where a standing opponent dashes in and immediately drops to a crouch to execute a low or rising attack. The dash is a critical component in the majority of 3D fighter strategies.
diminishing returns 
A concept where, as a combo (most often a chain combo) or string becomes longer in duration, successive hits produce less damage than they normally would either outside of the combo or if they had been performed earlier in sequence. This is to create or maintain a sense of balance within the game system, and to give players an opportunity to rally from a mistake. (i.e. a roundhouse kick performed alone might cause 20% damage, but as a finisher to a 7-hit combo, might cause only 6 to 7% damage)
double knockout 
endurance match 
The smallest measurable amount of time in a fighting game. Most games are tuned to run at a consistent 60 frames per second, so the measurement of the frame is used to denote the execution time of moves and windows of opportunity afforded opponents while playing. A single frame lasts 1/60 second.
frame advantage 
ground attack 
ground game 
A term indicating that a successive action, if performed with consistent timing and command input, will successfully hit an opponent 100% of the time. Usually, guaranteed actions take place as part of a combo or string, and require a successfully performed opener to occur.
guard break 
An attack that breaks the guard of the enemy, leaving them vulnerable.
high attack 
An attack that must be blocked while standing, or may be ducked to be avoided completely. A high attack will successfully hit a standing opponent, but will miss a crouching opponent, and will hit a jumping opponent the majority of the time as long as the high attack has good priority or is timed well.
A state a character enters after being damaged by an incoming attack. Characters in hitstun typically cannot launch attacks, may not begin blocking until hitstun has ended, and have very low initiative or priority, if any. Characters in hitstun are usually completely defenseless against incoming attacks, which makes hitstun an integral concept to creative combos. The main goal of an opener is to force an opponent to go into hitstun, thereby opening him up to a successive combo. Characters struck by counters are normally subjected to a longer duration of hitstun as a penalty for being countered. Often, characters in hitstun are vulnerable only to successive attacks, but are immune to throws.
An action in which a floated opponent is attacked while descending from mid-air. This usually has the result of the defender rising back up into the air, during which time she may be struck again. The character being juggled appears to "bounce" off the aggressor's attacks. A juggled opponent is rendered completely defenseless; thus, the goal of most combos in 3D fighters is to accomplish long juggles for large amounts of damage.
A style of play that resembles poking, but using a more defensive posture. A combatant using keep-away strategies plays with a very reactive style, using anti-air attacks, specials, and carefully timed counters to keep an opponent at mid-to-long-range.
A term used to describe a character who has no more energy/life left to continue fighting and remains incapacitated. Depending on the rules set, the game either ends or continues into the next round.
An attack that serves to join two or more other moves or strings together into a larger combo. Linking attacks are usually shorter, quicker, and less damaging attacks than normal attacks.
low attack 
An attack that must be blocked while crouching. A low attack will successfully hit a standing or crouching opponent, but will miss a jumping opponent.
mid attack 
An attack that can be blocked either while standing or while crouching. Mid attacks will successfully hit either a standing or a crouching opponent, but most will not hit a jumping opponent. What separates a mid attack from a high attack is that defenders may crouch under high attacks, but not under mid attacks.
negative edge 
The neutral position is a joystick completely at rest (the center position). Some systems require the return of the joystick to a neutral position from a command input before successfully entering the input for certain other actions. This is sometimes denoted in movelists as a lowercase "n", however, Universal Command Notation defines it as the numeral "5".
A term with origins in the United States arcade scene. While two players were matched against each other, a prospective challenger would walk up to the arcade machine and place a quarter or token in the bottom corner of the glass shield over the monitor of the machine, framed by the metal bezel of the front panel, indicating that he or she would challenge the winner of the current match. This was termed "nexts," as in, "I have nexts."
open stance 
A combination of opponents' stances so that their front feet are the same feet. This has the effect of allowing the two characters to come within extremely close range of one another before touching, allowing more close-range attacks and throws to be successful.
overhead attack 
An attack that must be blocked while standing. An overhead attack will successfully hit a crouching opponent, including an opponent who is blocking while crouching. Overhead attacks are commonly used as part of a mix-up in order to breach the defenses of a turtling opponent.
Any defensive move that redirects an incoming attack, typically causing damage to the attacker or reversing the ring. Reversals first appeared in the Virtua Fighter series, though the Dead or Alive series is most recognized for them, because they are such a large portion of that system's strategy. In DoA, they are termed holds, though the concept and end result is the same.
reversing the ring 
The action of swapping locations between opponents within the fighting plane/space (i.e. the first player ends up on the right-hand side of the screen, whereas he started play on the left). This can be accomplished in many ways, depending on the system involved, and usually is used in conjunction with attempting to create or escape a corner trap or ring out.
ring out 
rising attack 
An attack that is made from either a supine or crouching position, while a character is in the process of returning to a standing position. Most rising attacks take place as part of a defense against an okizeme situation, to ward off incoming pressure. rising attacks are a unique feature of 3D fighters, and are usually an ill-advised tactic, since they often share common characteristics and can easily be blocked or reversed.
The way in which your character is standing while not throwing an attack. Several characters have multiple stances, and many systems allow for branching or flowing from one stance to the next. Some characters' fighting styles are extremely dependent upon fighting stances and have them as an integral part of their strategies (e.g. Lei Fei of the Virtua Fighter series or Soul Calibur's Maxi). Can also refer to a character's foot position relative to an opponent; see open stance and closed stance.
survival battle 
A term referring to a grouping of fighting games that share the same basic mechanics, command inputs, priorities, concepts, and in some but not all cases, characters and plotlines. Most Capcom games belong to a common fighting system, in that they share a button layout, control scheme, and basic joystick movements, even across different game series and/or character lineups.
tag match 
An action that typically has no associated attack and causes no damage, but often has a beneficial secondary effect or sometimes no effect at all other than a visual effect intended to goad an opponent into acting or to gloat over a victory. Taunts are typically disposable moves that have little tactical advantage, and as such, are rarely seen in advanced-level play. Dan Hibiki from the Street Fighter system is a character infamous for his vast arsenal of taunts - including a super - but weak selection of standard moves.
tech hit 
A defensive action used to eliminate some or all of the damage associated with a successful throw attempt. Tech hits (sometimes called throw escapes) are command inputs from the defender, which then alter the throw animation or effects and usually grant an advantage to the defender by reversing initiative. The timing for entering a tech hit command is usually very strict, and typically requires a specific command input influenced by the command input required for the escaped throw.
tech roll 
A defensive action taken by a character who has been knocked down, to escape a potential okizeme situation or to dodge an incoming ground attack or pounce. The usual animation for a tech roll is either a kip up or handspring, or alternatively, a roll (from which its name is derived), or sometimes a rolling sidestep. The timing for entering a tech roll command is usually very strict, and usually cannot be performed by a character hit with a crumble or knocked prone rather than supine.
To unintentionally indicate to your opponent, through startup animations, joystick movements, or predictable strategies, what your next action will be. Telegraphed moves are often easily countered or defended against, and as such are a negative aspect of play.
A move that has priority over a block or reversal, but is countered by an attack. Throws typically require close proximity (less than one body length) from an opponent, with the majority requiring point-blank proximity to be successful. Successful throws often push an opponent further away, set up an opponent for a back attack, or lead into an okizeme situation. Throws are divided into two categories, simple throws and command throws. Simple throws include a combination of buttons plus up to one joystick input, while command throws often have elaborate or time-consuming directional input sequences prior to a button press. Simple throws typically have priority over command throws.
tick throw 
An aggressive strategy by which small and fast attacks are used to provoke an opponent into a defensive posture and to begin blocking. The attacker then follows up with a throw, which gains priority and will normally hit successfully. Tick throws are commonly used as part of pressure, and could be considered a form of trap.
A division of quality sometimes used to compare characters within a single fighting game or system. To create tiers, statistics from advanced-level play are used to calculate the relative and mean effectiveness of characters in relation to one another. Typically, and with players of equal skill level, a high-tier character will regularly defeat a low-tier character, as a result not of the skillset or weakness of the players, but by inherent weaknesses or strengths in a character's moveset or available tactics. Higher-tier characters are often easier to learn and master than lower-tier characters, or appear to be so because of their higher percentage of success, which consequently has the effect of making them popular choices by players.
time out 
Also known as time over. All fighting games (unless deactivated in option menus) have a timer that is set to a specific limit and begins to count down from the start of a round. If the timer expires before one of the characters is defeated through either loss of life or a ring out, then the character with the higher life total is awarded the round. In rare instances, both characters will have exactly the same life totals, in which case a draw is awarded, which results in a won round for both players.
A usually derogatory term used to indicate a player whose style and posture are almost exclusively defensive in nature. A turtle is very passive and rarely initiates combat, preferring instead to block repeatedly and wait patiently for an opponent's mistake before attacking. In rare cases, turtles will not attack at all, but will instead resort to reversals and throws to create damage. Some players will begin a round with a rushdown, attempting to create a life advantage, then switch to a turtle strategy and wait to win via
An attack that has priority over a blocking opponent, who will thus find himself defenseless against such an attack. Unblockable attacks typically have much longer startup and/or recovery animations, which leave them open to counters, as well as a low priority over simpler or quicker attacks.
The process of a character rising to his feet after being knocked down by an opponent's attack. There is a brief period of invincibility in the wake-up process, as well as a brief period of vulnerability. The exploitation of these windows of opportunity are a chief component in 2D fighter strategies, and in a 3D fighter, is more commonly known and properly referred to as an okizeme situation.
To make an attack that does not hit an opponent, nor is it blocked. A whiffed attack leaves an attacker in a very vulnerable position, and with little initiative, usually subject to a counter. Some baiting strategies, however, rely on intentionally executing whiffed attacks with low recovery times in order to entice an opponent into attacking.