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Mechanics That Completely Broke Or Changed Fighting Games

Changing the way you end friendships, one game at a time

We all love fighting games, and there’s nothing more satisfying than punching a rival in the face and reveling in their agony as you do it. Over the years, there have been several mechanics and changes added to fighting games to help them distinguish themselves from one another, and with every new change comes a new way to deliver justice. While some were for the better, other additions completely broke not only fighting games but the souls of players themselves.

10.Infinite Combos (Broke)

An amazing mechanic to look at but terrible to be on its receiving end of is the dreaded infinite combo. Made famous in games such as Marvel vs. Capcom and Killer Instinct, these ridiculously overpowered inputs were enough to make any casual or newcomer to the franchise rage as they watch their character’s health bar dwindle while Magneto spastically kicks you into oblivion. Nothing was worse than feeling like you’ve got the match won and then one ULTRA COMBO!! And now you’re somehow the dead one.

Don’t get me wrong, they require knowledge and loads of practice to learn, and some games even have built-in systems to cause you to drop out of them after a certain amount of hits or break them. Still, whoever ends up on the bad side of one of these and you can say goodbye to your favorite wild-haired hero because he’s finished.

09.Fatalities (Changed)

When fighting games started, they all pretty much consisted of the typical 2D brawlers filled with fireball spamming and lots of jumping. After a while, things began to get boring. But that was all about to change. Not content with just giving players the typical, tame knockout ending to punctuate the pugilism, Mortal Kombat creators Ed Boon and John Tobias came up with Fatalities. This changed everything and gave arcade-goers around the world reason to feverishly fork over their quarters all over again.

Known for their gratuitous gore, Fatalities gave players a way to get in a free hit on their dazed opponent or viciously rip their spines out in glorious fashion. Mortal Kombat‘s game-changing mechanic broke the mold and spawned a new wave of over-the-top and gory clones, all of which borrowed from MK somehow. Whether it’s Killer Instinct’s Fatals, Clayfighters’ Claytalities, this is one mechanic that still has a strong influence even today.

08. Ring-Outs (Broke)

Ring-outs can be one of the most infuriating ways to lose a match. It’s always been a mechanic I never really understood. Why would they feature stages with no barriers since players would end up picking arenas with walls anyway? Still, games like Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur persisted in keeping these in many of their future installments. Feeling more like a distraction, many of these battlegrounds felt like any sense of fun or skill was now taken away. By literally forcing players to focus more on the stage around them, skirmishes no longer felt like back and forth dances of whiffs and punishes.

While not the worst feature added to fighting games, Ring-outs always felt out of place; when the world’s fate or your win streak is on the line, the last thing anyone wants is to fall out of the ring during your epic fray.

07. Auto-Combos (Changed)

Accessibility (or lack thereof) to newer players used to be something of a hurdle that held the fighting game genre back. Casuals would often drop them pretty fast, unable to keep up with the more powerful opponents online and their more experienced friends. And understandably so. With so many moves to learn, some fighters can get quickly become quite overwhelming. Combos didn’t make it any better, and soon games had to find a way to help the genre stay fresh and open to those who may just be starting their first one. Developers had to figure out a way to help those struggling get comfortable and feel like they stood a chance. Thankfully their prayers were answered with the creation of auto-combos.

Now hear me out: I know many of us experienced folks don’t generally like these at all. But to be fair, they really opened the doors for more people to have fun with a genre with a pretty specific demographic. In my opinion, making fighters more simplistic while keeping their competitive appeal intact was one of the best changes made to date.

06. Instant Death Attacks/ 1-Hit K.O. (broke)

There is nothing more deflating than watching your opponent charge up a slow-moving, easily avoidable attack only for you to roll right into it and be defeated in one devastating move. Not commonly featured in most fighting games, instant death attacks often cause more harm than help. A common theme within the Tekken series, these busted power punches of death would have players everywhere seeing red whenever they made contact. Whether it’s Paul, Miguel, or Kuma, one of these characters could end your life in one savage blow.

Sure, you could debate about the timing and everything you have to go through to set them up, but the fact that they can deplete your entire health bar no matter how much you possess can really obliterate one’s will to continue. Some titles won’t even require players to have a full meter to attempt these devastating attacks, meaning your adversary can spam these at their leisure or at least until they get lucky. With newer fighting games really committing to juggling and combos, it almost seems unnecessary to have the ability to take someone Saitama style.

05. Super Specials (Changed)

This, by far, is one of the best additions to the fighting games as a whole (at least in my opinion). Special attacks exist in pretty much every fighting game since the genre’s inception. But Super Specials upped the ante by giving each combatant their own ultimate techniques. These powerhouse abilities were a fresh and unique way to help take out your opponents in the most flashy way possible. The use of these attacks usually requires you to have a full or half full meter and series of directional inputs of some sort to unleash them and have some form of snazzy animation or combination that reduces your opponent to a crumpled mass on the arena’s floor.

Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you hit your friend with a gigantic beam or a flaming fist of fury to change a match’s tide or end it in spectacular fashion. As one of the best additions to the fighting game formula, Supers really changed how we could enjoy our victories and made winning so much sweeter. No matter how simple or supreme they looked, these killer moves will remembered as some of the best changes to fighting games.

04. Self-Regenerating Meter (Broke)

I seriously don’t know who thought this was a fantastic idea, because it most certainly was not. A pretty universal feature, the special meter or the EX meter was always something that a player had to earn either by connecting attacks and combos or through other means. Unfortunately, there are games out there that believe there’s a necessity for a self-regenerating EX bar, and I will never understand why. Mortal Kombat 11 was extremely guilty of the overtly broken meter mechanic. Certain characters benefited greatly, with almost all of their most powerful attacks and tech connected to your endlessly recovering bar. Soon tier-breakers like Jacqui Briggs became completely broken as there was no end to how someone could “Zone” their way to an easy victory since they never have to fear running low on their meter. If that isn’t broken, I don’t know what is.

03. Tag System (Changed)

Being one of the newer additions to the genre, the Tag System really took fighting games to a whole new level. Now going from your everyday 1-vs-1 battles to epic clashes of 2-vs-2 or even 3-vs-3. Tagging added an entirely new layer to your matches and new ways to strategize and counter your friends.

Revolutionizing the genre, these team-based games were some of the best brawlers ever created. You seriously can’t help but love the classics like X-men vs. Street Fighter, Tekken Tag Tournament, and the new gems like Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle. No longer would we be stuck to playing just one of our favorites; now players could choose multiple characters, and with more characters means more super moves, and there’s nothing better than more giant beams attacks. Love it or hate it, the tag system took fighting games and made them entirely new and fresh, something this ground-breaking mechanic should always get credit for.

02. Comeback Mechanics (Broke)

We often hear mixed conversations about, and something that I generally think has existed in a good majority of fighting games is the comeback mechanic. Created to be a way to help close the gap between lesser and more experienced players, this mechanic can be a useful tool or outright break a game, with the latter usually being the case.

Typically the requirements to achieve these match-breakers consist of low health, full-meter, dead teammates, etc., making it seem rather fair as you get an increase in damage and other benefits when your back is against the wall. While games like Tekken 7 and Bloody Roar have done a fantastic job at making these feel like a more balanced option, others have just made it downright broken or useless…*cough* Street Fighter 5 & Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Pros or ranked players online show you how unfair some of these can be in the right hands, completely taking away from the whole purpose of its existence. Overall, if done right, this one helps; sadly, it rarely does, and newer players pay the price.

01. 3-D Fighting Games/Side-Stepping (Changed)

Introduced in 1993’s hit title Virtua Fighter, 3-D fighting games completely turned the arcade on its head by implementing such a simple yet effective playing method. Drastically needing a way to stand out from 2D titans like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Fatal Fury, the legendary Yu Suzuki decided to use polygon graphics and three-dimensional technology to give players additional dimension to their fighting experience. With this breakthrough came one of the main staples of the genre: sidestepping.

Becoming one of the most powerful and mainstay tools still used in games like Tekken, Dead or Alive, or Soul Calibur, sidestepping lets you do more than jump and block, instead of allowing people to avoid attacks and take advantage of the free damage completely. One that you can definitely say without a doubt changed fighting games forever.

Greg Peterson
Just a fun-loving, fighting-game-playing, adventure-mongering guy. Greg has been addicted to gaming since his youth when he received his first Nintendo. A fighting game enthusiast and lover of all RPGs ranging from Thousand Arms to Street Fighter.

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