ABC's of Fighting Games - 360 through Hyper Armor

Watching a match in your favorite fighting game but have no idea what the casters mean when they say “wake-up reversal DP was baited!”? Not to worry! Just check out this exhaustive terminology guide and you’ll be speaking the fighting game lingo in no time.

360

Spinning a joystick in a circle to hit all four cardinal directions. A motion that usually triggers command grabs. Often used as a synonym for command grabs.

50/50

A situation in which a player has to guess between two possible actions or get hit. High/Low mixups are 50/50s. Attack/Throw mix-ups are as well.

8-Way Air Dash

The ability to air dash in any direction. Usually seen in Capcom’s VS. titles.

Active Frames

The portion of an attack that has a hit-box and that can do damage. A move with more active frames has a higher chance of hitting the opponent.

Advantage

The player who will win if nothing else is changed. Usually a player with a high health lead.

Aggro

A style of play characterized by wanting to stay on offense and having few options from a defensive position.

Air Dash

Moving in a direction in the air. Usually used to advance on the opponent quickly with an overhead.

Air to Air

A move that has high priority in the air. It will usually beat other aerial moves.

Alpha Counter

Any move that allows you to spend resources to attack from a blocking position. Named after a technique in the Street fighter Alpha series.

American Reset

Dropping a combo accidentally but immediately continuing to hit the opponent. Usually a derogatory term for sloppy play that goes unpunished.

Anchor

In team fighting games, usually the character any given team is based arounf. Will often be the player’s best character and will be used to close out matches.

Anti-Air

Any move used from the ground that has a tendency to beat moves from the air. The shoryuken is the most iconic anti-air move, however many characters have a variety of anti-air normals and specials.

Area Control

A style of zoning play characterized by locking down areas of the screen with attacks. This allows the player to control where his opponent is and use moves that are favorable based on that position. Area control moves are moves that produce this effect, like Dormammu’s Dark Hole in MVCI.

Assist

In team games, calling in a teammate to attack briefly and then leave.

Assist Character

A character who is usually bad but has a very good assist move and is chosen solely for that.

Auto-Combo

In modern fighting games, the ability to perform a simple Bread and Butter Combo just by tapping a single button.

Auto-Correct

Moves that will immediately change direction to face your opponent. In 3D fighters these moves hit side-stepping opponents, and in 2D fighters these moves hit even after switching sides during a jump or cross under.

Back Dash

The ability to move backward a short distance quickly, usually by double tapping back on the joystick. Back Dashes tend to have short periods of invulnerability.

Baiting

Attempting to get an opponent to perform a specific move and then countering said move. For example, walking toward a knocked down opponent might bait them to wake-up Shoryuken. By blocking, you can then punish it.

Battery Character

In team games, a character specifically included on the team to build meter instead of dealing damage.

Beam

A projectile attack with no travel time that hits instantly. Characters usually cannot move until a beam is done firing.

Block String

A series of moves that keeps your opponent on block with no chance to act in between.

Block Stun

The amount of time your opponent stays in their blocking animation after blocking a move. Usually less than hit stun.

BnB/Bread and Butter Combo

A short, easy to perform, decently damaging combo that can be transitioned into from a variety of hit-confirms. The combo that will most often be performed by a player in any given match.

Bodied

Beaten by an overwhelming margin. Easily defeated.

Brawler

A character type known for their slow heavy hitting moves. Brawlers usually have moves with armored properties to compensate for their slow nature. An example is Nemesis from MVCI.

Buffering

Entering a series of commands while a move is executing so that another move will execute after it ends.

Burst

A move that breaks the opponent’s combo by throwing them backward. Coined after a technique seen in Guilty Gear.

Button Dash

The ability to dash by pressing attack buttons rather than using the joystick. Usually seen in Capcom’s VS. style games.

Buttons

Often synonymous with normals. A character’s basic attacks. A character with “good buttons” has good normal attacks.

Cancel

Cutting off the recovery of one move in order to perform another move or technique. Needed to perform combos.

Chain/Gatling/Magic Series

The ability to cancel one normal into a normal of higher strength in certain games.

Charge Move

A move executed by holding one direction for a period of time, then pressing the opposite direction and an attack button. Charge moves tend to be better than other special moves but harder to execute since they cannot be performed on a whim. Guile’s Sonic Boom and Flash Kick are both charge moves.

Chicken Blocking

In games with no air-unblockable moves, holding up-back to avoid having to deal with high-low mix-ups on the ground.

Chip Damage

Damage taken while blocking moves. A mechanic implemented to force players to be aggressive.

Churning Butter/Spin It to Win It

Frantically spinning the joystick and mashing buttons with a grappler character while being hit. This usually makes a command throw come out as soon as possible, punishing any dropped combo or gap in offense.

Clash

In Arc System Works games, when two hit-boxes overlap without overlapping any hurt boxes.

Combo

A series of attacks that will be guaranteed to land provided the first one hits. Done by hitting the opponent again before their hit-stun runs out.

Combo Breaker

Any technique usable while in hit-stun that stops a combo from completing. Popularized by Killer Instinct.

Command (Move)

Any technique that requires a special button input different from its normal input. Dante’s Bold Move, for example, is a command jump executed by pressing two kick buttons in MVCI. Command moves are treated as special moves and follow all the rules for special canceling that special moves follow. This usually sets up for new combo or mix-up opportunities.

Command Normal

An alternative normal attack done by holding a direction on the joystick and pressing an attack button.

Command Throw

A special move that executes a throw. Usually cannot be teched like normal throws. Tend to be better than normal throws, doing more damage and allowing for follow-up combos. Usually used by grappler characters.

Counter Pick

Picking a character that has a good match up against the opponent’s character. Zoners are good counter-picks against grapplers, for example.

Counterattack

A move that causes a character to take a stance and then attack back with an invulnerable attack if they get hit while in that stance.

Counter-Hit/Counter

Any attack that hits the opponent while they were in the middle of their own attack. Counter-Hits tend to have increased hit-stun allowing for easier combo follow-ups.

Cover

In team games, performing a move to keep another character safe. Assist characters can cover the point character when they use unsafe moves, or point characters can cover assist characters to prevent them from getting punished.

Crosshanded

A style of play popularized by Seth Killian which involves crossing your hands to use the joystick with your right and the buttons with your left.

Cross Under

Running underneath the opponent while they are in the air to create a cross-up situation.

Cross-Up

A situation in 2D fighters where you quickly switch sides and attack the opponent, forcing them to switch their block direction at the last minute. Cross-up attacks are attacks that can hit the opponent after jumping over them but before hitting the ground, which is usually when opponent’s change their block direction.

Crouch Cancel

Canceling any move with a crouch. Needed to perform a wave dash in Capcom’s VS. style games.

Custom Combo/Variable Combo

A state in which any move can cancel into any other move. Named after a technique in Street Fighter Alpha 2. The Time Stone in MVCI has a similar effect.

Damage Scaling/Decay/Proration

A mechanic which causes each subsequent hit in a combo to do less damage.

Dash

A quick movement, usually forward, performed by double tapping the joystick in the desired direction.

Dash Cancel

Canceling a move into a dash. Usually used to enable a combo follow-up.

Delayed Wakeup

Staying on the ground longer than you need to after a knockdown. Can ruin an opponent’s mix-ups or vortex play.

DHC -Delayed Hyper Combo

A technique in team games that allows you to perform a super and then tag into another character to perform their super.

Dial-A-Combo

A series of moves that combo together because they were specifically programmed to. Combo strings in Injustice, Soul Calibur, and Tekken are Dial-A-Combos.

Disjointed Hit-Box

Any move whose hit-box doesn’t overlap the character’s hurt box. Moves with a disjointed hit-box tend to be safer and have high priority.

Dive Kick

Any move that alters a character’s aerial momentum to strike downward quickly from the air.

Dizzy

A state in which a character is on their feet reeling, open to another attack. Caused as a result of repeatedly getting hit or, in some, games special hit-states.

Download

To understand your opponent’s strategy in the middle of a match and counter it.

Dragon Punch/DP/Uppercut/Shoryuken/SRK

A type of move that travels upward with a period of invulnerability at its start. Named after Ryu’s Dragon Punch, the first move of this variety.

Drive/Trait

A special character gimmick activated by an attack button. Named after the systems used in Blazblue and Injustice.

Dropped Combo

Failing to execute a combo properly, thus allowing the opponent to escape from hit-stun.

Empty Jump

Jumping at the opponent but not performing an attack. Usually used to mix-up the opponent with a low or throw after landing.

Ender

The final move in a combo. Used to either deal as much damage as possible, or set up positioning for another mix-up.

Engine

A strategy that feeds into itself. ChrisG’s engine in UMVC3 was to always have enough meter to perform Morrigan’s Astral Vision.

EVO Moment

Popular highlights from the EVO tournament series. The most popular is EVO Moment #37, in which Daigo full parries Justin Wong’s super in Street Fighter III: Third Strike.

EX Move

An enhanced version of a special move that costs meter to use. Usually not as damaging as a super but slightly better than a normal special.

Exposed

When an otherwise solid player’s glaring weakness is exploited. Usually uttered when a skilled player loses to a less skilled player with a more transparent strategy.

FADC

Focus Attack Dash Cancel. In Street Fighter IV spending meter to cancel a move into a focus attack and then dash canceling that focus attack to perform a different move. Used to describe any move whose startup can be canceled into a dash to perform another move.

FGC

The Fighting Game Community.

Fireball

Any projectile attack that travels across the screen. Characters can usually move after throwing a fireball.

Follow-up

An attack that connects after a previous attack to start a combo.

Footsies

A style of play which involves throwing out good, high priority, long range normals in an attempt to hit your opponent while keeping them out of range to hit you back.

Frame Data

The exact number of frames each move takes to execute. By analyzing frame data you can figure out which moves are safe in what situations.

Frame Trap

Two moves spaced in such a way that your opponent can act after the first, but almost any action he takes will cause him to get hit by the second.

Fraud

A player who claims to be good but is not. Sometimes used as a derogatory term toward professional players that lose in embarrassing ways.

Free

An opponent who is easy to beat. A “free” victory.

Fuzzy Guard

In 2D fighters, locking an opponent into a standing block animation even though they are crouch blocking. Makes it easier to hit them with overheads. Also refers to a technique in Guilty Gear used to block high/low mix-ups however that usage has faded from the community.

GGPO

One of the first examples of rollback netcode in fighting games and still largely considered to be the best.

Grappler

A character type known for their hard hitting attacks, slow movement, and hard hitting command throws. Beats the opponent with throw mix-ups.

Guard Break

Any technique that makes your opponent unable to guard your next attack. Named after a technique in MVC2 where forcing the opponent to guard once during a normal jump will make them unable to block again if they exit block stun.

Guard Cancel

Any technique that allows you to exit block-stun and take an action.

Guard Crush

Certain moves that cause an opponent to stop blocking if they sit on block for too long.

Happy Birthday

In team games, dealing damage to two characters at once.

Hard Knockdown

Any state in which your character is knocked to the ground and has to wait to get up before they act again.

Hit Stop

A slight freeze in animation that happens when you hit the opponent. Makes it easier to follow up your attacks.

Hit Stun

The amount of time a character stays in their “getting hit” animation after an attack lands.

Hit Stun Decay/Proration

A mechanic which decreases hit-stun after every subsequent hit in a combo to prevent infinites.

Hit-Box

The portion of an attack that can connect with the opponent. A hit is registered if a hit-box overlaps with a hurt box.

Hit Confirm

A series of safe attacks that can be transitioned into a combo if they connect and are unpunishable if they are blocked.

Hit State/Stun State

States your character can be in after they get hit. The most basic is hit-stun however many games have their own special hit-states that can be used to extend combos.

Hurt-Box

The portion of a character that can be hit. A hit registers when a hit-box overlaps a hurt-box.

Hype

Excitement.

Hyper Armor

A move or state in which a character can be hit by an infinite number of moves without going into hit-stun.

Click here for part two of our series.