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Fighting Game Tropes

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A list of tropes related to Fighting Games.

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Note that the complicated interplay of stats, movesets, and mechanics in fighting games mean that most characters are best described as a combination of two or more archetypes, like a Big Body Trapper or a Rushdown Mix-Up.
  • Close-Range Combatant: These characters do their best when they're right in their opponent's face. They're hard to avoid when they're close, but struggle when they lose momentum. Commonly known as a "Rushdown" character.
  • Glass Cannon: A character who often has high mobility and attack power, but has the lowest health to balance it. Often overlaps with Rushdown, but others trade health for more all-rounder options, or take the other extreme as fragile Zoners who evade and bombard.
  • The Grappler: Don't get caught by them, or you'll be in a world of hurt. Grapplers are almost always at the extremes of Mighty Glacier or Rushdown, and follow a universal strategy of "get within grabbing range and stay there".
  • Fragile Speedster: A mobile, hard-to-hit and unpredictable combatant, usually focusing on strategic use of combos, positioning, and attack properties to make up for their low damage and defenses. Most often known as "mix-up" characters.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Known mostly as "The All-Rounder", this is a character with equal parts offensive and defensive moves.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Also known as a "zoner". These characters work best keeping their distance from an opponent, attacking from afar with projectiles, traps, and long-ranged normals. They're often very vulnerable up close to compensate.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Move fast, hit hard, laugh off the counter attack. Pure examples tend to be either intentionally unbalanced, or have handicapping mechanics, like short range, that offset some of their advantage.
  • Mighty Glacier: much higher health and attack than the average fighter, balanced with low mobility and attack speed. "Big Body"-types pair this with long reach and a big hitbox, while "Small Body"-types trade limited reach for a reduced hitbox.
  • Puppet Fighter: A character who fights with a secondary object or weapon that has its own unique properties, often requiring the player to master a second set of controls.
  • Trap Master: An uncommon type of fighter who litters the arena with traps (automatically or manually activated) to control space. Most commonly known as "trappers".
  • Shotoclone: A specific subset of the "All-Arounder", named after the "Shotocon" moveset used by many characters in the Street Fighter series. explanation 
  • Stone Wall: A defensively-focused character, often relying on Counter Attacks and Victory by Endurance.
  • Swap Fighter: A character who is actually a set of multiple characters that can switch out between each other.

Fighting styles and Gimmicks

  • Animal-Themed Fighting Style: A fighter is themed after a particular animal or type of animal.
  • Animalistic Abilities: A fighter who emulates or channels the abilities of an animal without transformation.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: A character who uses long range and melee weapons at different ranges (compare The Musketeer and Sword and Gun).
  • Boxing Battler: Punch, punch and more punch...
  • Combat Parkour: When a character combines their fighting style with acrobatics.
  • Confusion Fu: That fighter who confuses opponents (especially players) during fights. Their movements, attacks, and properties could be so bizarre and unpredictable that it throws people off guard.
  • Counter-Attack: "Reversal Characters" whose moves are defensive-oriented, and built around parrying and counter-attacking the opponent's moves.
  • Dance Battler: A character who uses a heavily rhythm-reliant and mobile moveset, often with some sort of musical theming.
  • Drunken Boxing: A few liters of sake before the fight can improve performance.
  • Gun Fu: A character who mixes unarmed martial arts and firearms in fluid ways beyond basic Pistol-Whipping.
  • Moveset Clone: When two or more characters use the same techniques.
    • Ditto Fighter: A character that fights by using the moves, if not the forms, of other fighters.
  • The Musketeer: a character that alternates between ranged and melee weaponry, or uses a Mix-and-Match Weapon with "modes" like a rifle with a bayonet (compare Bow and Sword, in Accord and Sword and Gun).
  • Multi-Melee Master: A character who swaps between two or more melee weapons, often with tradeoffs between reach, speed, and power.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: A character who swaps between two or more ranged weapons, often with tradeoffs between fire rate, power, and projectile speed/range.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: When a character is trained in a fictional martial art.
  • Fighting Clown: A character that fights in a humorous way, whether playful, slapstick, or trollish. May or may not also be a Joke Character, lethal or otherwise.
  • The Greatest Style: When a character is very talented in their fighting style.
  • I Know Karate: A character focuses on heavy punches and strikes with the occasional kick.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: When a character's fighting style or techniques are based on non-combat sports.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: When a character developed his own fighting style just by watching the fights on television, playing video games or watching other fighters in action and he was never trained in the martial arts.
  • Improbable Weapon User: a character has some odd signature weapon that heavily influences their moveset.
  • Improv Fu: When that character relies only on instinct and improvisation and is not trained in any martial art.
  • Ki Manipulation: When a character is trained to control his inner power.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Martial arts + sorcery = A perfect combo.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: These fighters can do something only they can do, or have unusual quirks to their abilities that give them a unique playstyle distinct from other fighters in the game.
  • Ninja: A warrior who travels through the shadows to reach his goal.
    • McNinja: A ninja who is not born in Japan.
  • Psychic Powers: When a character is trained to control his mental powers.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: When a character spontaneously creates weapons from their own body.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: The famous martial arts that combine sorcery and hand to hand combat.
  • Sword and Fist: A fighter that mixes armed and unarmed martial arts.
  • Sword and Gun: A fighter who Dual Wields a melee weapon and a firearm-type weapon simultaneously. (compare Bow and Sword, in Accord and The Musketeer).
  • Taekwondo: Kicks, kicks and more kicks...

Characterization and Other Tropes

  • Divergent Character Evolution: When two or more characters that are clones of each other evolve until they gain details that differentiate them.
  • Dream Match Game: When developers release a game bringing together all the characters from previous games, ignoring the story.
  • Expy: When inspiration gives birth there are new characters.
  • Game Mod: When other programmers (mostly freelancers) create bizarre, sexy, and any other kind of modifications...
  • Impending Clash Shot: When developers show their characters fighting or teasing each other in their covers.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: When character sprites or models are reused in sequel games or spinoffs.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: When developers ignore characters' power level to make them beat up. This is common in crossovers.
  • Updated Re-release: When developers release an improved version of a game with more setting, characters and better gameplay.


  • Hitbox Dissonance: When there is no fixed point to hit an opponent.example 
  • Hit Stop: To help players confirm into combos, most 2D fighting games actually have varying amounts of hitstop in all their attacks. For most non-special attacks though, the amount is so small (measured in 60ths of a second) that they're hard to notice visually.
  • Home Stage: When the fight takes place in a character's house, as shown in the image above.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: "Yes", "Cool", "Good", "Great", "Dude!", "Sweet", "Awesome", "Wonderful", "Viewtiful", "Excellent", "Stylish", "Fantastic", "Amazing" "Incredible", "Mighty", "Marvelous", "Uncanny", "Crazy", "Galactic" and (whew!) "Unstoppable".
  • Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: In general as players research and exploit things the computer can't. Of course the computer has some aces up its sleeve.
  • Palette Swap: Same sprites/models, different colors/skins.
  • Promoted to Playable: When that NPC (boss or not) becomes a playable character in the sequel.
  • The Smurfette Principle: When the characters available on the selection screen only one or two is female. This was common in classic games.
  • Training Stage: It's your virtual dojo. Just train and show your true power!
  • Video Game A.I.: A classic player opponent.
    • A.I. Breaker: When a player manages to break the A.I and use it to their advantage.
    • Artificial Brilliance: When the A.I abuses its strategies to try to defeat the player without the possibility of being broken.
    • Artificial Stupidity: When the A.I is so stupid it can be broken easily.
    • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: When computer-controlled characters blatantly ignore the rules of the game.
    • Perfect-Play A.I.: When the A.I is so smart that it uses the same strategy at the right moment, the same punches at the right moment, the same combos at the right moment and you even wonder if you are really facing an A.I.
    • Secret A.I. Moves: When A.I uses the moves that you, dear player, cannot use.
    • SNK Boss: A fighting game boss that is ridiculously difficult to defeat.
  • Video Game Interface Elements: The famous interfaces that are never indispensable.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Unless the playable cast have only adults, this is unavoidable by default.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Unless the playable cast is one-gendered, this is unavoidable by default.