List of Fighting Game Archetypes

A preface, if this thread already exists then sorry. Also I’m talking about gameplay only, not the stories and personalities behind the moves.

So fighting games have been developed a whole lot, there’s probably hundreds of fighting characters, and they are all inspired by each other so there’s some patterns we can see. If anyone here is interested in making a fighting game perhaps this can be of use. Not in a few years but still good to know some info now. Also I’m not pro at fighting games so I don’t want to be an authority on this subject, I want to start discussion on fighting games on the technical design level.

I think its a lot more complex than simply a few types and “he is a rushdown, she is a zoner”, since they can combine and be totally unique. A lot of these are kinda set in a certain way due to the game, like how one game can be rush down oriented and another can be punishment oriented. Also a character intended for one style can be played another, like Chun Li in third strike. I don’t believe she was intended to be a turtle by the designers but that’s how she is. but hopefully there aren’t a lot of exceptions like that. If you disagree with anything here let me know, I hope to start a discussion. I don’t play 3D fighters so this will maybe only apply to 2D?


There are 4 big camps, rush down, Zoning, grapplers, and dynamic. There are all rounder characters but they can lean towards one group more so i won’t make it a 4th group. These 3 believe branch off and combine into more types. you can put a spin to any of these like “more defensive, high speed, high execution” and you can describe any fighting game character like this.

Regulars most fighting game characters in existence can fit here, they fight with their physical bodies and don’t rely on toying with the opponent, they get the kill as fast they can. The most basic type and you can see it in old fighters most because of the limitations.


1 Rushdown - they get in close and their sweet spots are closer, most of the time they are easy to learn and are powerful characters.
Cammy, Fei Long, and Rufus from SF4.
Jam from Guilty Gear
A lot of KoF characters.
2 Mixup-they get in close but rely on forcing opponent into tough situations and guessing games
El Fuerte, C Viper, Urien, Makoto from the SF series
3. Dominating - they have great normals and specials, which give them the power to do any thing. Most of the time they simply have high damage output one way or another. The key factor is that they are designed to be powerful and high tier most of the time.
Sagat, Yun from the SF series; Chang and Maxima from KoF

All Rounders - They have all the tools, and are good at everything. Different than simply combining two types. This is a weird section because it is subjective.
Ryu, Bison, Chun Li, from SF.

Zoning Their projectiles are a big part of their game, or they have tools to control the fight rather than win with strength and speed. They do not fight on their own and that’s their defining feature

[details=Spoiler]1. trapper - they have projectiles that control the opponents space rather than deal straight up damage. A subset is the physical trapper (dhalsim/billy kane) Most turtles can fall in this category
Testament, Dizzy and Venom from guilty gear, Sagat, Guile, actually most projectilers in SF4, Strider in Marvel 2.
2. puppet/tag team - characters that are actually 2 different entities. Usually the player controls one and the second is a puppet under your control. This is different from trappers in that they usually have less range and rely more on close range zoning and is more like playing two characters at once. They also have higher execution to play well usually
D’Bo from Jojo’s BA; Liselott from Arcana Heart 3; Carl from Blazblue.

Grapplers Their command throws are a big part of their game, there are very few pure grapplers, most have other types thrown in like Dominator and Mixup.

1. Straight-up Grappler - They are slower, stronger, and always want to get in. Straight forward and basic type. The grapple is their main game.
Do I need to list examples?
2 Half-Grapplers - take another archetype and give them a few grabs. This is a pretty big deal in some games, and not so in others where half the cast has a command throw. The difference between this and other grapplers are that they are considerably faster, throws are more mobile and not just basic SPD/Falling Sky.
Blue Mary and Shermie from KoF.
Abel and Alex from SF series, She Hulk and Hulk can be argued. Marvel 3 as a game doesn’t make room for pure grapplers.[/details]

Dynamic - They change throughout the fight, which affects their style. This can be user controlled, or not. There are no pure dynamic types, they always mix in with others.


1 Stances - They have multiple stances which they can access at any time, so they can be played in a lot of ways. This may not seem important but stance based characters deserve their own section since its one of their defining features.
Gen from the SF series; Jhun, Chin, and Vanessa to an extent, from KoF
2 power-up They can power themselves up, but usually they’re vulnerable so choosing when to power up is necessary. A good player can play totally different at the end of a round compared to the first few seconds. This can include characters with stances, but stances that transition into each other in a line rather than swapping on the fly. Think drunken boxing guy from Tekken, its a stance but you work to get there. That’s the key difference.
Jam from GG; Hakan from SF; Maharia from Jojo’s BA; Frank West in Marvel 3
3. Ammo characters - for whatever reason, the characters has moves are limited and they must replenish to keep using them. They are usually powerful and this mechanic makes you think about your next move.
Petra from Arcana Heart 3; Roboky from GG

Remember- these aren’t separate lists or category, think of it like a web and each sub category connects to all others.

I like this. A definitive character type list like this could be used for conversation/indy development.

This is stupid.
No. The way YOU doing this is stupid. Potemkin isn’t a grappler? Gtfo.

You might add turtles to the list.

What about characters that have rekkas as some of their strongest points? Such as Fei Long and Mature and Ex-Kyo in KOF XIII?

Wish: OP but turtles under trapper under zoning.

I think the OP is doing a decent job personally.

characters with rekkas fall n rushdown characters, usually
turtles and runaway characters are usually zoners, but there are also different types of zoners does who want you to keep you away, and those who use their zoning abilities to setup their approach to you and start their thing
iirc there are at least 2 threads about thisfrom way long time ago, Ultima also made at least 2 lists of characters arhetypes some time ago

I didn’t say he wasn’t.
just checked the list, I put him in Dominating, so I can see why you think i said he’s only dominating.
Notice how Jam is in a few spots? I tried to highlight how most characters are a mix. Potemkin has a lot of specials that really control the fight, like his unblockable earthquake, his dash and fake dash, etc.

Wasn’t sure what to do with rekka characters, its an executional thing, if i made a rekka category I’ll need a charge character category etc.

A few things:

  • I’m not sure that I agree with most of the characters that fall under Dominating category, namely, Sagat and Pot. Sagat falls a bit more under zoning as his defining characteristic. While Potemkin IS a grappler and a defining one in the archetype. (Edit: read the post you just made, I see your point. It would still be a decent idea to give a couple examples of the generic grappler to drive this point home.)

  • Since you made a puppet category, that’s where Eddie from GG goes. I wouldn’t place him in with the standard zoners.

  • The puppet character from AH is named Liselotte, and the gun girl is Petra.

  • I think Hakumen is a poor example for an “ammo” or resource character, a better example, in my opinion, would be Robo-Ky from GG. Both characters use their meter for all of their specials/supers/etc, but Robo-Ky has to actively work to gain/manage his resources (meter and heat) while Hakumen gains meter passively. Additionally, better management of Robo’s resources change the properties of his moveset, which is not the case for Haku.

  • It would be a good idea to make sure to point out each game where the characters you are citing are coming from, since some of the characters have fairly common names. Example: Jin in the stances section for stance characters, there are at least 3 different games that I can think of off the top of my head that have a character with that name in them: Blazblue, MvC2, and Tekken. It would clear up any confusion over oddly placed characters. Such as Jin from BB being thought of as a stance character, since he is more of an all rounder than anything.

  • Add the all rounder category. They’re essentially the base that each of these other archetypes are deviating from. Plus it is a very popular and common archetype, and should get some (at least token) examples.

I changed the list accordingly, and made it more clear.
I was talking about Jin from Tekken, since I remember in Tekken 3 he had a stance. Might be wrong though. I also don’t play blazblue that much so I don’t see how Hakumen is not a resource character? I don’t play him but I thought you had to use the energy for your regular specials.

the thing is that there are different types of characters that use resources in different ways
Hakumen needs resources for doing his specials but he gains them passively
Robo Ky needs to work to gain his resources but he can also work without them
Aba has a limmited amount of blood packs that she use to power her up
Order Sol can charge the power of his specials, in a certain way he falls on the resource category because that, since he needs to build the metter and then he needs to control how it use it with his specials, the same can be said for Tsubaki on BB
Johnny has a limmited amount of coins to power up his iai attack
Aegis on the new P4UMA has a limited amount of bullets that she use to zone and pin up her oponents

then you have characters like Bang from BB that are a mix of the archetype that also have an amount of nails/shurikens that he has to manage, his gamplay doesnt revolve around them, but is part of his defining traits when you play him

Good point, but I mean, it’s only a few more to the list. Just sayin’.

You know, I’ve wanted to start a convo about this for some time. I consider myself a versatile player in that I like to play all styles, even when I especially excel in one (grapplers).

I have a few qualms with the list, but not in the sense that I want to call it shit. I think you’re on the right track, OP. However, why is there a subgroup for top tier characters (dominating)? If we have that, then we need a low tier group (submitting? lol). Also, I feel that Sagat is clearly a zoner – an archetype of the whole genre, even (ever since ST)!

Also, I think half-grapplers should be renamed, as I think that power characters is a better description for that group. For instance, I don’t see Honda as fitting into any of the groups currently listed. Outside of ST, his oicho throw has been more of a gimmick/mixup tool at high level, which is why I wouldn’t even call him a half-grappler. That being said, I’ve often heard of Alex being described as a power character, and while his grabs are more essential to his game than SF4 Honda, I wouldn’t even call him a half-grappler. Maybe I’m just being picky here, but I think a name change would bring clarity to that subgroup.

That’s all for now, but I did want to post just so I could keep a watch on this thread. Let’s keep the discussion goinggg.

dominating means they have excellent normals and special moves, and dont need combos to win.
Chun li from third strike is an example.
what name to do suggest for the half grapplers? Power is is kinda unfitting since characters like Blue Mary from KoF are not “powerful”.

imo chun is more like a poke character, wich is basically a zoner with less range, she zones you using her pokes

heavy grapplers
small grapplers
power characters for those who like honda, sentinel, honda tadakatsu, etc their primary perk is their strength

I always felt like Dudley and Makoto in SF3/SF4 were momentum characters, meaning once they got a hit they could keep gaining momentum and steamroll an opponent. Would that be under the Rushdown category?

Ok, well, then you need to take the dominating branch out of rushdown and put it somewhere else. Normal monsters aren’t always rushdown, and in fact, they’re mostly defensive powerhouse/space controllers.

Characters like SF4 Bison and Chun fit into a group of zoning/space control that I’d call hit-and run (as opposed to dominating). They are poke monsters, and that doesn’t necessitate rushdown, but neither is it traditional zoning. These characters control space at mid-range with powerful normals primarily, and tend to sit on life leads when they can. Another good example would be a turtley Rolento, I think.

I’d go with this idea, but label it something more like:
Traditional/Pure Grapplers
Minor Grapplers
Power Characters

Not all the time, but I’d say 99% of the time, that’s going to be a big YES. Momentum denotes that the character must stay on the attack after starting the drive to victory - thus, rushdown. Characters that score big with untechable knockdowns with good oki are often momentum characters, too.

yes, besides, every category has their sub categories
as i see it the 2 big ones are rushdown and zoning
the rest are just sub categories of them depending how the characters work with their tools

another thing is that zoning depends of the context, zoning is not only to run away or playing “passively”, some characters use their zoning tools to set their momentum and start their shit

so maybe we should say that the major categories are those who want to be in, and those who want to keep you away

Do you think maybe “Versatile” or “Balanced” should be added to zoning and rushdown as main categories? Seems like characters like Ryu are troublesome to categorize with just the two, only because he can do almost anything well, but he doesn’t really excel any one thing.

Balance type sounds fair to me though not accurate, since you can have a character that is a mix of styles but has weak points in his/her game
ryu is balanced and has elements of different styles, yet a character like rachel who also has some of said elements have differences that make her not fitting to the balance archetype

maybe hybrid would be more fitting at least for characters that deviate of the balance type like ryu, specifying what components of other sub types have
for example, Litchi on BB has elements of rushdown with zoning capabilities due her long range normals when she has her staff with her, so she is an hybrid of a rushdown with emphasis on mixups character with zoning with long range pokes

or how rachel is a zoner character that use her tools to set her momentum to start her rushdown game switching her style depending on the situation or matchup

Good points. Also, I was thinking just now about how I’d classify “Dynamic,” and it dawned on me that this isn’t even a style – it’s just a character attribute. Dynamic characters can have multiple stances or powerups that make them rushdown or zoning centric, or they could have one form that’s rushdown and one that’s zoning (both equally as potent) and be balanced. So yeah, anyways. lol

EDIT: Also, what about making the third group Versatile, and then having subgroups for Balanced (Ryu), Mixed (Rachel), and any others we could think of?