The Archetype of a Fighter...
If you know me or follow my work, then you know I love fighting games. When I find a main and compete online, I feel that character is an extension of myself. Both novices and professionals will agree that this somewhat natural connection is vital for gamers of all skill levels. But what is it that makes these characters so unique? Why am I better with a Vega than I am a Zangief? The answer is because most titles have archetypes, they build the roster off of.
A simple example would be Street Fighter's Ryu and Blazblue's Ragna The Bloodedge. While from entirely different titles, both would count as a Shoto, the Jack of All Trades archetype. There are other variables to consider. It is common to see characters with styles from multiple archetypes. But don't let the technical talk discourage you. After all, I'm here to help break things down for you. Let's start off simple, let's find a character you like, and then learn the ins and outs. The journey to this piece is an interesting one. It started off with me researching the next Critical Hits video, looking into different fighters, their styles, and finding your main character to use. I even put some of these theories to the test, inviting several friends to game with me while recording their choices and style. Due to the amount of data I collected and the depth of these titles, the videos will become a mini-series where I go over each class.
I started with one of my closest friends, let's call her Nao, on my arcade machine. While Nao is a novice, she does enjoy fighting games as I do, so she had an idea of what to expect. I would note which characters Nao would select while applying the character select theory to my own choices. We played some classic titles she never experienced, like X-Men: Children of the Atom and Street Fighter Alpha, then jumped over to Soul Caliber 6 and Injustice 2. It turns out Nao and myself used several of the same characters, but my ability to strike high and low, or mix-ups, was more defined. This didn't prevent her from winning. However, Nao was able to utilize her character's archetype to its advantage.
The second player was Is, who opted to game on PC. We started with Skullgirls, one of the most technical fighters on the market, and I found the results more interesting. After explaining the concept of special moves to her, I noticed that Is was doing better with Peacock and Eliza. However, she would struggle with Double or Ms. Fortune. Another thing to note is that Is played with a keyboard, unlike Nao, who used a controller and arcade stick. I should also point out that Is didn't have the same aggression or prowess as Nao, who felt more comfortable with titles like these.
My third experiment involved Rach in a title I actively play, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle. Rach is a friend I usually play online with, along with Is, so she was already somewhat familiar with the title but never played. At the start of each round, she would need a moment to see everyone's attack but would soon be ready to fight. I started off the same way I did with the others, using random select before choosing characters. Rach's choices were similar to me and Nao's, often selecting characters I would use. As her wins and confidence grew, I decided to amp the experiment by choosing my primary team. Rach was overwhelmed at first, but then something happened I wasn't prepared for. Using the knowledge of the characters she had played prior, Rach could form a team that could not only combat but actually beat my team. I was stunned by the fact that Rach could find a counter to my strategy with the character select theory. I always told her that if she ever tried her hand at competitive gaming, she would do well, and this experiment proved it.
I still have more research and matches ahead of me. I am particularly looking forward to fighting my friend Shampoo. Shampoo is an old friend of mine, both of our nicknames come from the same anime, who used to play together, and she recently purchased Blazblue Cross Tag Battle. Shampoo understands your average fighter's mechanics, so I want to see if she stayed with the archetypes she's familiar with. I know I have, although I didn't realize it until recently. Cammy, Mitsuru, Orie, and May all fall into the rushdown class. These characters want to get into their opponent's face and wreck it. I've always been an in-your-face kind of gamer, things like losing never deter my single-mindedness. I also use Black Canary and Neopolitan, representing the stance archetype, and occasionally characters like Yukiko Amagi, a zoner.
These are all characters I selected early on when I first got into a new title, and it all boiled down to one thing. The key elements when choosing someone are how strong they look, and let's be honest here, how cool they look. And while it's true that looks can be deceiving, this will help select your main character. If a character seems interesting enough, you'll be more inclined to learn. If they feel "natural" to use, that will make training much more manageable. The thing you need to remember when playing anything on a competitive level is it will take time. You need to learn the game, your characters, the strategies, and this is true for any title you may pick up. But if you dedicate yourself to the game, you too can feel that sweet rush of victory.