Maybe Rhythm Games Can Help Teach Fighting Game Skills

This is a lot easier to parse at a glance than text boxes explaining concepts like hitstun and recovery.
This is a lot easier to parse at a glance than text boxes explaining concepts like hitstun and recovery.
Screenshot: Starsky

Fighting games are hard, but what if they taught players how to perform combos with concepts from a more approachable genre? A new video imagines what it might be like to learn important techniques by way of a rhythm game-style tutorial.


The proof of concept, which is actually the product of clever video editing rather than any sort of in-game programming, demonstrates a simple corner combo and follow-up in Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2. By setting up the button presses and joystick motions as a series of scrolling notes à la Guitar Hero, the timing between attacks becomes much more obvious.

“It took a few hours to figure out the presentation and visual effects part of the setup, but probably about an hour to actually execute on this particular combo,” Starsky, the video’s creator and competitive fighting game player, told Kotaku. “I’m confident that I can streamline it some more to be able to crank these out quickly, as long as I actually can perform the particular combo.”

Starsky also said that, in addition to more of these videos, he’s in the early stages of turning the concept into an interactive program.

“Fighting games take a lot of dedication to learn, but the games themselves tend to do a poor job of actually teaching you how to play them,” Starsky added. “I’d love to see games adopt an approach like this to help players get more feedback during practice, but for now I’ll be putting together more of these short videos as I refine the process and gather feedback from people.”

While a ton of different techniques and strategies converge in any given fighting game match, there isn’t much separating combos from Rhythm Heaven minigames mechanically. As soon as you have your opponent trapped in these attack sequences, it’s all about maintaining timing and execution.


Starsky’s project may be just what someone needs to finally grasp the intricacies of a combo, and developers should definitely look to his outside-the-box thinking as they struggle with teaching newcomers how to play these dense, often frustrating games.



I would adore something active like this in fighting games. I end up so frustrated even in training because the game expects me to do a combo and I feel like I’m hitting the buttons, but it doesn’t go off. Even with ones that let me see what inputs it saw, that doesn’t tell me where I’m off in timing to what the game expects. I end up just frustrated and pondering if I need to invest in a $100+ arcade controller just to see if that improves things.