Adam Heart’s tips for understanding fighting games

We spoke to Adam Heart, creator of Divekick and fighting tournament veteran, today for part two of our Future of Genre series: The fighting game finds new life through instant death. We asked him what he found similar and dissimilar in the strategy and knowledge required between the one-hit-kill matches of Divekick and something like Street Fighter. Obviously one mistake could mean death in both, but how else are the stakes different? His response:

They are actually very similar, but in Divekick you need to hone a much smaller set of skills and maintain a smaller set of facts to compete. It’s intense and real, but it is bite-sized in that way. You don’t have to grind or practice hard or play hours every day to win a Divekick tournament. If you know the game, and you know your character, and you know the situations, and you can get into your opponent’s mind, you can win.

To win in Street Fighter 4, in my opinion, you need to know the following (this list is excluding character matchups).  
- How to move left and right
- How to crouch
- How to jump up, left, and right
- How to block, both high and low
- How to use your normal attacks, of which you have over 12 on the ground
- How to use your jumping attacks, of which you have over 6
- How to perform, and the ability to perform effortlessly, each of your 2 to 6 special moves
- How to perform EX special moves
- How to perform Super attacks
- How to perform Ultra attacks
- How to throw your opponent
- How to focus attack
- How to dash out of focus charge and focus attack
- How to focus cancel
- How to focus attack dash cancel
- How to cancel normals into specials or supers, and knowledge of which ones can be cancelled
- Knowing which of your air attacks, if any, can cross up
- Knowing how to block a cross up
- Knowing which of your moves are safe and which are not
- Knowing which of your fast or long range moves can punish your opponent’s unsafe behavior
And that list should be enough to get you started.  If you are comfortable with all of that, you are probably ready to start really learning to play Street Fighter 4.
To win in Divekick, you need to know the following:
- How to jump up, and jump back
- How to use your one attack
- How your character-specific trait works, if you have one
- How to use your ground special move and air special move, both of which are always just “press both buttons at the same time” (no memorization needed)
Now you are ready to really learn to compete in Divekick.
Both games test reading, reactions, spacing, deep game knowledge, pattern recognition, etc. They aren’t far apart in that way, only in the number of things you need to know and practice before you get to really play.

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