Back in my younger years and way before I became a gamer, I went over my cousin’s house often to hang out. Sometimes part of the hangouts were spent watching him play whatever game he was in the middle of before I arrived. I often watched him play games like Street Fighter or other fighting games. I’d sit in awe as he’d skillfully take out the CPU with a killer combo or final finishing move without blinking an eye. After a round was over, he’d turn to me and ask, “Want to play?” There were times I’d decline, mainly because I was self-conscious about being terrible at playing against him. It took a lot of urging on my cousin’s part to finally get me to play a game with him. My early exposure to fighting games made me quickly aware of what type of fighting gamer I was––the button masher.
Playing against my cousin in any fighting game meant I was going to get my ass handed to him. I lacked the skill and finesse to gain the upper hand in most fights. I certainly got a few punches and kicks in, but almost always the fight was over when he waited at the right moment to use a powerful combo attack or special finishing move on my character. When I played, I relied on mashing buttons randomly in the hopes that it’d carry me through the fight. It wasn’t so effective, at least when you’re playing against an actual person and not a CPU.
I later found out that the reason my cousin was really good at fighting games had more to do with him taking the time to learn the proper button combos during in-game practice training. Sometimes, when he went into the menu to show me how to use certain moves for the character I was playing as, I often found the more powerful and cooler attacks to be a complicated mishmash of down, down, up, X, Y, or whatever crazy buttons you have to push at the same time. Once moves went beyond the basic down, up, and X, I pretty much end up staring blankly into the abyss as I tried to make sense of how to execute all those buttons at the same time.
My cousin is very patient when it comes to teaching me certain things, especially when it comes to having better technique in fighting games. Unfortunately, it never does quite stick or I’m less patient to spend hours in practice mode to learn a killer move properly. In my mind, I want to play the damn game already! Much to my cousin’s dismay, I instantly default back to my button mashing ways. Whatever works, right?
I do wish I had better technique when I play against friends in fighting games. Hell, I’d be gleefully button mashing my controller and I’d watch as my character just accidentally unleashes a special attack. A lot of the time I’d be thinking, “Damn, how did I do that? I want to do it again.” When I try to recreate the attack, I never could figure it out again until the next accidental right push of buttons happens in the moment.
Now, as I currently play the story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us on normal, I’m button mashing in all the fights I have to get through. Somehow, it’s getting me through each chapter without a hitch. There’s only a few times where I needed to start a battle over again, but for the most part, button mashing is getting the job done for me. The way I see it when it comes to fighting games is this––I don’t know exactly what I’m doing but as long as I’m having fun doing it, then that’s all that matters. I’ll be button mashing to my little heart’s content now and beyond in any future fighting games I play.