ABC's of Fighting Games: Infinite to Zoner
Watching a match in your favorite fighting game but have no idea what the commentators 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.
Click here for part one.
A character is in neutral when they are not attacking or blocking and thus can take any action. A match is in neutral when neither player is attacking or blocking for an extended period of time and both are looking to start an offense.
A combo that loops back into itself infinitely. Usually considered to be game breaking.
Any super attack or technique that powers up an opponent for a limited amount of time. Named after Sol’s Dragon Install from Guilty Gear.
A move that occurs as soon as possible. An instant overhead happens without telegraphing a jump. An instant throw happens in very few frames. An instant air dash air dashes as low to the ground as possible.
A period in a move where a character’s hurt-box disappears making them unable to be hit. Usually found at the start of DPs.
A state in which your opponent is in the air and in hit-stun, vulnerable to a follow-up attack.
A combo that knocks your opponent into the air and keeps them there through subsequent hits.
Canceling any move with a jump for a followup. Launchers tend to all be jump cancelable.
Canceling an attack that moves you forward on whiff in order to add distance to another move. Kara throwing is the most famous example of this.
A zoning strategy that involves filling the screen with projectiles while running away from your opponent in the hopes of whittling down their life.
A state in which a character is lying on the ground. Characters cannot attack until they wake-up from a knockdown.
Any move that knocks your opponent into the air in hit-stun. Used to set up air-combos or juggles.
Getting better in a game. A competitor has leveled up when they can take on competitors of greater skill.
Used to reference a super move that takes more than one bar of meter. When a charater’s “Level 3 “is referenced, it’s whatever super they have that takes three stocks of meter.
A combo that is executed by performing one move that fully completes and hitting the opponent with a follow-up move afterward. Uses no cancels.
A move used in the middle of a combo specifically to make linking easier. Usually causes a special hit-state.
A multi-hitting move used to force an opponent to stay on block.
Any combo that features a repeating series of moves. Usually easy to memorize while dealing decent damage.
A move or combo that can execute even if the execution is sloppy, i.e. when mashing buttons.
Hitting buttons rapidly. Often used as a derogatory term for someone who is playing poorly, though strategic mashing also exists.
How likely it is for one character to win against another character if player skill levels are roughly equal.
Throwing out a move that has lots of active frames while an opponent is waking up. Meaty attacks force the opponent to block instead of using a reversal.
Any resource that governs the use of powerful moves and techniques.
Minus X Frames
This refers to how many frames the opponent gets to act before the player character. If a move was “minus 5 on block” the opponent would be able to act five frames before the player character if they block said move.
A series of attacks that need to be blocked or responded to in multiple different ways to avoid getting hit.
A non-tournament fighting game match for money. Usually popular among competitors that have been eliminated from tournaments as a way to regain their tournament entrance fee.
Two moves that will always connect when used in sequence. Some special moves have follow-ups that are natural combos.
Releasing a button. Zero’s Z-Buster fires when negative edging an attack button in MVCI.
Any standing, crouching, or jumping attack performed by pressing an attack button with no other directional input.
One Character Victory. In team games, being able to defeat an opposing team without switching characters.
The portion of a fighting game characterized by choosing which moves to take while the opponent is waking up. Involves predicting the opponent’s next action in order to score a hit.
A player is “on block” when the opponent is attacking them in such a way that the safest option is to stay blocking. Players who are on block cannot act since they are frequently kept in blockstun. Keeping an opponent on block is a key part of good offense.
A term carried over from poker describing when a player plays poorly after a few frustrating losses.
The act of scoring a hit while the opponent is on block. Usually involves getting them to block in the wrong direction.
A situation in which one command can produce two different outcomes. For example, forward and heavy punch in MVCI will attack if the opponent is out of throw range but will throw if they are in throw range. Option selects usually end up advantageous for the person performing them in either situation.
Short for on the ground or off the ground. Refers to any attack that hits the opponent while they are knocked down.
Any move that must be blocked while standing. Usually used to refer to high moves that are also executed from a standing position.
Any defensive technique that nullifies or responds to an opponent’s attack by executing just before it lands.
A technique involving drumming ones fingers over the attack button. Used to execute specials that require a rapid tap, like E. Honda’s hundred hand slap.
Hitting one button before quickly hitting another. Used to make combos easier in Street Fighter IV.
Plus X Frames
How many frames you get to act before the opponent gets to act. If a move is “plus 5 on block” then you get to act five frames before the opponent can if they block your move.
In team games, the character you are actively controlling. Also used to refer to the character you start a match with.
A quick or long range attack done to hit an opponent at maximum range.
A sequence of block strings, mix-ups, knockdowns, and other offensive attacks meant to deal damage and keep the opponent from attacking back.
Something that is amazing. A reference to an infamous piece of commentary from IFC Yipes
A measure of how likely one move is to beat another. A high priority move will usually beat a low priority one. Not actually a game mechanic but a result of several other mechanics working together such as frame data and relative hit-box size.
The range at which your character will enter their block animation when an attack is thrown at them. When far enough away, many characters will simply walk backward instead of guarding when an attack is used.
Hitting an opponent with a counter after one of their moves whiffs or is blocked.
Any technique that creates space between you and the opponent after blocking their attacks.
Used to refer to throwing out normal attacks, sometimes excessively. If an opponent is “caught pushing buttons” they are punished for repeatedly throwing out normal attacks.
Rapid Cancel/Roman Cancel/RC
A technique that returns a character to a neutral state after executing a move, usually at the expense of meter. Named after similar techniques in Blazblue and Guilty Gear.
Predicting what an opponent will do before they do it, usually allowing for a punish.
The end of any attack after its active frames. Cooldowns have no hit-box, just hurt-boxes, leaving your character vulnerable for a short amount of time.
A special move that is executed by performing the same special move input repeatedly. Named after Fei-Longs repeated punches.
Ending a combo on purpose in order to start a new one before the opponent can react. Named because it “resets” hit-stun and damage scaling.
A response is a move that is good at countering the opponent’s moves but bad when thrown by itself. A response character is a character whose move-set includes many of these moves and who is good at capitalizing on the opponent’s mistakes.
Performing a move as soon as one is able to when exiting hit-stun or knockdown. Using invulnerable moves as reversals is a good way to stop the opponent’s pressure.
The ability to invulnerability move on the ground after a knockdown before getting up.
The ability to move forward quickly for prolonged periods of time. Usually faster than dashes but take longer to start up.
Another term for rematch.
A style of play characterized by relentless pressure and mix-ups aiming to kill the opponent before they can effectively fight back.
A move that completes in enough time to avoid any counter-attack. Moves that are plus on block are usually safe.
Purposefully playing worse than usual. Used either to insult an opponent of lesser skill, or as a form of match collusion.
A character that can move another part of themselves independent of their main body. Named after Guilty Gear’s Zato-1 who could control a shadow demon independent of his body.
A specific team loadout that other characters can be slotted into. For example, Dormammu with the Reality Stone is a good shell for any other character in MVCI.
A character with a projectile, a dragon punch, and another special move that makes them travel across the screen. Named after Ryu who, according to the Street Fighter II manual, practiced Shotokan Karate.
In team games, any move that forcibly causes your opponent to switch his point character.
Any move that causes a knockdown but allows your opponent to roll or otherwise perform an action before getting up.
Using any move over and over again. Projectile spam is the most frustrating and common example.
Spinning Pile Driver. Used as a synonym for any characters main command throw that requires a 360 input.
Any move that requires a series of joystick inputs followed by an attack button to execute, but does not require meter expenditure.
Spin Out/Flip Out
A state characterized by an opponent spinning in midair before being able to act again. Usually notes when hit-stun has run out.
A special move that puts the opponent in a special pose, usually with a number of follow-ups. Can also refer to switching a character’s fighting styles mid match.
Going into a stance to cancel the cool-down of a move. Used when the stance animation is shorter than the cooldown of said move.
The amount of time a move spends executing before its active frames. Characters are vulnerable during move-start up.
A move that “stays out” is a move whose hit-box doesn’t disappear. For example, Zangief’s body splash hit-box stays out until he hits the floor. Moves like this have no cooldown or have active frames that are so long that their cooldown is rarely seen.
To counter someone’s move with your own move. Lower priority moves are stuffed by high priority moves.
In Street Fighter the amount of hits you can take before getting dizzy.
A player is “styling” on another character when they use strategies and combos that are more flashy and entertaining than they are effective.
An attack that expense meter or some other resource.
Moves or techniques that can take a limited number of hits from the opponent before going into hit-stun. Sentinel in MVC2 always had a hit of Super Armor to work with.
A difficult to perform combo done specifically for the sake of being impressive.
A move, usually a normal attack, which knocks an opponent down.
Switching between characters in a team game.
Canceling the recovery of a move by switching characters in a team game.
A series of normals that cancel into each other when otherwise they shouldn’t based on the game’s mechanics.
Escaping a throw by performing a throw input at the same time as the opponent. Most of the time only normal throws can be teched.
Thinking up combos or strategies before actually trying them out in-game.
Performing a short quick move followed by a throw. Requires the opponent to block and throw tech in quick succession and is usually hard to defend against.
General categories separating characters with more favorable matchups from characters with fewer favorable matchups. Higher tier characters are generally “better” than lower tier characters.
Performing a special move input with an jump input tacked on to the end to execute an aerial special move as low to the ground as possible. Named after Sagat’s move that used a similar input in Street Fighter II.
Running away from the opponent when you have more health than them in order to win by time-out.
Touch of Death
Any combo that can kill character regardless of how full their health bar is.
Two moves that connect at the same time sending both characters into hit-stun.
A type of zoning character style known for laying traps around the battlefield that activate when the opponent runs into them.
A technique used by characters with an eight way air-dash that involves jumping before dashing back to the ground. Allows for very quick high-low mix-ups.
Purposefully staying on block and forcing the opponent to approach you in order to deal damage. A strategy often utilized by defensive characters with good responses.
Any attack or situation that cannot be blocked. Throws are unblockable. Attacks that hit both high and low at the same time are unblockable. Certain types of special attacks and supers are unblockable.
A move is universal when every member of the cast has access to it. For example, every character in MVCI has a universal launcher on crouching heavy punch.
A style of play characterized by performing a mix-up that leads into a combo that leads back into the same mix-up. Until the opponent guesses correctly they are “caught in the vortex.”
The act of choosing which move to perform while getting up off the ground. A character who uses a “wake-up super” uses a super the first moment they can after getting off the ground.
A move that bounces your opponent off the wall or ground extending their hit-stun and allowing for multiple follow-ups.
A technique involving dashing (or in 3D games side-stepping) canceling your movement into a crouch, and then canceling that crouch into another dash. Used to move across the screen quickly in 2D games or to side-step while blocking in 3D games.
Using a move that does not even make contact with the opponent. Whiffed moves are the most vulnerable and can be counter attacked at any point during their animation.
Canceling a whiffed move into another move in an attempt to keep it safe.
Synonym for mind-games.
A style of play characterized by heavy use of projectiles and long range normal to keep the opponent out of attack range.