While I know this sounds like this is going against everything we all know about fighting games today, please be open minded about this and think before you reply. I’m sure you already planned on that anyway so it’s ok.
Pretty much every fighting game has special move inputs. More than often, your QCF is your projectile, and your DP is your uppercut. But I come here today to challenge the very idea of these inputs.
Here is what I am picturing. Imagine you’re playing Ryu in a Street Fighter game. Instead of doing QCF to throw out your fireball, imagine instead just holding forward and a punch button? (ignoring the fact that Ryu already has a forward strong and forward fierce.) And to do your SRK, just hold downforward and punch. Or hold back and a kick button for a hurricane kick. Or press a single button to dash instead of having to double tap a direction. (Similar to the Alternate Dash Command in TvC (a great game)) Or making FADC one magic button instead of two buttons and two inputs.
My question is how would this change Street Fighter, or any other fighting game?
Remember the last time you fought a Ken scrub online in SF4? Notice how he always seems to wiff fierce punches from full screen? That’s because he’s trying to throw a fireball. What to most people seems like the easiest of special move motions, the newcomer struggles. However no one has a problem doing Ken’s step kicks. So imagine a game built around these simple special move inputs. A newcomer would have a much easier time learning special moves and could quickly begin focusing on the strategy of their character of choice.
To average players
After you know all the special moves and a bit on how your character plays, you no longer have problems with execution. You won’t have to spend an hour in training mode practicing a DP motion 50 times on both sides of the screen to nail it down. So instead, you’re already focused on the strategy of the fighting game. Because you know everyone you’ll fight will have just as good execution as you do (which is near perfect) no one will worry about anything outside of the game, such as the shape of their controller and how good it is for special move inputs on either side of the screen, or how fast you can mash out a SRK at a moment’s notice. All this meaning more time to learn strategy, matchups, and combos.
This would also mean pad players won’t have the disadvantage that most people think they feel. Holding a direction on a D-Pad or even an analog stick is just as easy as holding an arcade stick in one direction. Meaning you wouldn’t have to spend 100 dollars on a stick to get the best execution.
To top level players
Execution is almost never a problem with top level players. They are more worried about the mind games, the footsies, the oki, and all that fancy stuff. With that in mind, wouldn’t using these simpler inputs change nothing at all? Imagine Daigo throwing fireballs, then punishing a jump in with a SRK FADC ultra. The man’s done it a 1000 times and almost never misses. Let’s examine this act closer
Let’s first look at the input for such an action
:qcf::p: -wait- :dp::p: - :mp::mk::r::r: - :qcf::qcf::3p:
That’s a lot of motions for about half a second of action. Now let’s imagine this with simpler controls.
(pretending “D” is a magical FADC button when held forward)
:r::p: -wait- :df::p: - :r::snkd: - :r::3p:
Considerably smaller. I could probably teach this to a new player in minutes.
Back to Daigo, what would be the difference in this scenario if the inputs were easier to do rather than being very difficult? His opponent still made the same mistake, Daigo punished the same way. So what would be the problem if Daigo’s response was made of 3 different inputs rather than 15?
And remember, even Daigo sometimes gets an EX Shoryuken instead of an Ultra after the FADC.
Current games that do similar things
BlazBlue has something called a “Drive” system where every character has unique attacks all assigned to the D button. While most of these just add properties to normal attacks (Ragna’s, Tager’s etc) some of them do something that in other games would be likely mapped to a special move input, such as Rachel’s wind powers or Hazama’s chains. While the whole game most certainly uses special move inputs, even on D button moves, the Drive system is certainly a step in the right direction.
Tatsunoko vs Capcom makes use of an alternate dash command. Instead of double tapping forward or back (which is still possible in the game) you can instead press A, B and C at the same time to dash. Not exactly one button, no, but you can start a dash faster than in other games, albeit by a small difference.
While we can talk about Smash Brothers being a fighting game or not later (I personally am on the not-a-fighting-game side even though it’s still good fun) all of the character’s special moves are mapped to the B button and works exactly how I explained. Hold a direction and press the button to do your move.
So while this idea has not been fully realized just yet, similar mechanics already exist.
Not all moves are meant to be done instantly.
Sometimes 360 motions could be done quickly, such as Zangief’s SPD only requiring a 225 degree spin, but 720 motions aren’t meant to be done instantly.
There’s a reason why charge moves are what they are. Take Guile for example, if he could sonic boom and flash kick any time he wanted to, there’d be no way to beat him (refer to SFII Guile AI for example)
One solution to this problem is to simply not touch it. Charge moves and 360-720 moves are what they are and stay that way. They’re not exactly the hardest moves to execute. The other solution is to not have characters built around charge moves or spinning commands, but that wouldn’t be very nice would it?
But toaster! If these inputs were used in X game then Y character would be broken using Z combo!
It could be possible that there is a fighting game where certain moves are meant to require a complex input, El Fuerte’s RSF loop for example. My response is that my idea might not translate well to certain characters, combos or specific fighting games. But if a game were to be built from the ground up with simple inputs, nothing would stop it from being a great fighter.
Lack of depth?
Some may say it is because of complex inputs that the game is deep. It requires practice because only the dedicated should be at the top. My argument to this is simple: If your fighting game loses depth after execution is mastered (or simplified) then you probably don’t have a very good fighting game. The depth in a fighting game comes from the fight between the two players, not their hands.
The ultimate goal
With simple inputs in place, a fighter could be infinity more accessible to newcomers, maintain a high level of depth, and provide the same action a normal fighting game could provide. While how exactly this system would work may need tweaking, I’m positive a game designed from the ground up to support this idea could succeed.
Make fighting games about the fight, not who can uppercut the best