Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Street Fighter Lessons: Throw Range

Welcome to the first installment of Street Fighter Lessons! Each lesson will briefly explain one particular element or nuance from the classic fighting game series Street Fighter and then explain how implementing that element into a 3D action-adventure game may improve the overall fun and feel of the player character.

One of the most satisfying moves you can perform on your opponent is the throw. The throw can be used to interrupt combos, setup combos, distance yourself from your opponent or just plain humiliate your opponent. In many Street Fighter games, the throw input command requires the player to press only one button; meaning, the Risk/Reward ratio is Low/High. In addition, you can perform a throw even when your opponent is blocking. (Back in the early days of competitive Street Fighter, throwing an opponent while blocking was considered "cheap." Quite honestly, the best feeling you can have in SF besides beating your opponent is throwing your opponent while he's blocking.)

In early SF games from SF2: World Warrior to Super SF2 Turbo, the throw range distance was significantly big for many characters. The result: you can throw your opponent from a very far distance even though your character's sprite is nowhere near your opponent's sprite.

Street Fighter Lesson:

In general, the more throw range your character has the more powerful and in control you feel during the fight.

So what does a significant throw range mean for a 3D action-adventure beat-em up? Many gamers still have issues with judging depth correctly. If your player character doesn't have an exaggerated throw range, the player is forced to analyze his surroundings and find the right camera angle to ensure he's next to the enemy, potentially breaking the combat flow. The increased throw range ensures the player doesn't have to consciously recognize if he's in the correct range of the actual character and enemy's geometry.

Below is a screenshot of Kratos about to throw an enemy. Notice the distance from Kratos and the enemy. At this point, the enemy is already in the process of being thrown even though Kratos is not physically near him. If you ever played Dhalsim in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, then you know exactly the feeling you have when you perform a throw with this much range.

Thanks to Eric Williams for providing the inspiration to write this post!

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