Whatever Works: Button Mashing Through Fighting Games

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.

Ryu packing some serious fists of steel.
Ryu packing some serious fists of steel.

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.

That's a cool move! Wait, how do you do that again?
That’s a cool move! Wait, how do you do that again?

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.

15 thoughts on “Whatever Works: Button Mashing Through Fighting Games”

    1. I’m an Anti-Button Masher whenever i play Soul Calibur. I used to be an expert at timing throws and throwing opponents out the map. Using it on AI opponents is kinda ok but using it on a human player really pissed them off.

      1. Yeah, my brothers always go angry at me because I was really good at side stepping. But I do know throws and parries, so it’s not complete button mashing.

    2. I haven’t played Soul Calibur, but in general I can be bad at blocking in fighting games too. I’d usually be so focused at throwing kicks and punches, but leave myself wide open for retaliation. It’s bad.

      1. Same here! If you like Tekken, you’d probably like Soul Calibur also. It’s really fun and the designs are beautiful.

  1. I’m not that much of a Button Masher anymore (the buttons i press are not 100% random) but i still haven’t learned how to block in any game i ever play.

    As for learning Combo’s there is only 1 combo i ever remembered for a while and that is Devil Jin’s Overpowered Laser Attack from Tekken 5.

    I also know most of the Special Moves in Street Fighter 2 but thats kinda easy if you know what the moves look like.

    1. As I’ve mentioned in the comment above, I tend to forget or not use the right buttons for blocking in most fighting games. I try to be more conscious of it when I play now, whether it’s a fighting game or any game that involves any sort of fight.

      I have noticed that overtime, I do start figuring out which buttons I’m pressing to get certain power ups or combos to activate. Even then, most of the buttons I push are still pretty random.

  2. The Street Fighter games, and those that use similar controls schemes, are the only ones in which I DON’T mash. I’m especially bad with the likes of Mortal Kombat and Tekken. For some reason, their controls just don’t feel as natural and I have an awful time remembering their complex combos, so I just end up mashing away, hoping for the best! Like you said, whatever works. 🙂

    1. I’ve only ever played Street Fighter on and off here and there, not long enough to memorize the control schemes. Seems like if I invest more hours into it, as a lot of you have said, maybe I may actually avoid button mashing in that case!

      I love playing fighting games, but I really do dislike actually checking what a character’s special moves or combos are and then realize they’re so complicated to remember. I’ve definitely noticed that in Mortal Kombat and even Injustice! I like my controls simpler and easy to remember to get the job done. 🙂

  3. Haha I can relate. Yeah, I’m a total button masher with games I’m not familiar with. If I can learn on my own in a single player game, fine… but fighting games are not my strength. And stuff like blocking and dodging is always the toughest for me!

    1. When I played fighting games with my cousin, I think he got a little frustrated with me when I didn’t block or dodge properly. He’d always say, “What are you doing? Remember to block and dodge!” Apparently, I like to dive into my fighting games with fists blazing. Blocking and dodging be damned! 😛

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