Fighting games are intimidating to get into. Aside from the likelihood of pros putting new players through the wringer with seemingly impossible combos, there’s a lot of jargon involved. ‘Footsies’? That’s moving back & forth on the stage, throwing out attacks for an advantage. ‘Plus on block’? It means an attack that the player recovers from faster than a blocking opponent.
Then there are some terms that are really bizarre out of context & aren’t much better within it. Whether they’re general or game-specific, these are the strangest terms used in fighting games.
Might as well start with a strong one. People debate over whether the Smash Bros games count as fighting games as, while there’s fighting, it also has multiple opponents, items, & other gimmicks. The Fighting Game Glossary certainly thinks it counts, as they’ve cataloged its quirky terms, like ‘John’ (excuses for poor play), & ‘Dave’s Stupid Rule’ (winners can’t pick the stage they won on for a rematch).
‘R&all’ might be the strangest Smash term as it’s very specific. It refers to the cloud platform in Yoshi’s Story stage in Melee & Ultimate. The SmashBoards forums noticed it appears in different spots on the stage depending on the timer. Forum user FastFox officially dubbed the cloud as ‘R&all’ & the name’s stuck ever since.
9/10 Mexican Uppercut
In 2D fighters, jump attacks can be effective for opening up a character’s defense. Effective enough that Capcom came up with anti-air attacks like the Shoryuken to stop jump-happy chappies all the way back in the original Street Fighter. But why perform a fancy special move when a regular attack can also stop them in their tracks?
Ryu’s crouching heavy punch sees him throw a Enormous uppercut that isn’t as good as his Shoryuken, but it can do in a pinch. When any other character has a similar crouching move, it’s called a ‘Mexican uppercut’. It’s because back in the early days of the genre, Mexican players used these kinds of moves a lot. Or so the story goes.
8/10 Canadian Burst
Still, ‘Mexican uppercut’ is a little derogatory, & isn’t used a lot nowadays. Luckily, Mexican players get their own back with this term that’s still in use. Though it’s a little more specific, as it revolves around Guilty Gear’s ‘Burst’ technique, a general technique where characters can push opponents back with an explosive blast.
It’s best used when the player’s on the receiving end of an attack or pushed into a corner. But, when the player uses it in midair & as far away from the opponent as possible, it’s called a ‘Canadian Burst’. Why? Because Canada needs to step up their Xrd & Strive game. Though it seems to be a term Canadians used for themselves than a direct insult. In Japan, it’s called a ‘Domi Burst’ after Guilty Gear player Domi, or ‘kitanai hanabi’ (dirty fireworks).
Feeling hungry? Sadly, this King of Fighters term isn’t serving anything but punishment. In 2D games where characters hold Back to block (i.e, Every 2D fighter except Mortal Kombat), players can trick their opponent by doing a cross-up. This involves jumping & attacking just over the back of their character’s head.
The player will l& behind them while they’re blocking, leaving them open for more attacks before they can switch directions to block. KOF’s Iori has a midair attack (Back+Light Kick) meant specifically for this, as it’s useless for anything BUT cross-ups. It’s called a ‘Taco’ from ‘tacón’, the Spanish word for ‘heel’ since the attack’s hitbox comes from the rear than the front.
Continuing the food theme, this term is considered pretty old school nowadays. Yet it’s also one of the more famous pieces of fighting game jargon. It refers to someone with Depraved defense, as they’re easily opened up & pummeled with a combo. Once they’re popped, their opponent can’t stop.
The term was popularized in Marvel Vs Capcom 2 when tournament player & commentator Yipes used it in his trash talk. His infectious enthusiasm was enough for him to be quoted by Deadpool in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (“Where yo’ curly mustache at?!”).
This is the last of the food-based terms, but it’s also the most inexplicable. Tekken 2 introduced Attack Reversals, where characters like Paul, Nina, Jun, etc., could hold Back+Throw during an opponent’s attack to grab that limb & throw them for extra damage. Tekken 3 introduced a counter to this counter where, if the caught foe presses Forward+Throw during the reversal, they’ll pull their limb back & sock their opponent for good measure.
For some reason, the announcer would say ‘Chicken!’ when this was done. Was the game insulting the player for doing it? Or was it just a gag? The clip would be reused for the console version’s ‘Force Mode’, where players picked up chickens for health à la Final Fight. Even so, these attacks are still called ‘Chickens’ multiple sequels later.
4/10 Roman Cancel & Baroque
No, there isn’t a historical-based fighting game out there where Peter Paul Rubens can shut Julius Caesar down. Not yet anyway. These are actually two terms from two different fighting games that, more or less, refer to the same thing.
In the Guilty Gear series, a ‘Roman Cancel’ is the ability to cancel out of moves to a neutral state at the cost of some super combo meter. While in Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, ‘Baroque’ does the same, but it uses up red health from the health bar instead. That red health would recover if the player tagged that character out, but Baroque makes the player choose between getting that health back or going for a Enormous combo.
3/10 Paint the Fence
This one’s unique, as it refers to a specific combo for a specific mode in a specific game. Capcom Vs SNK 2 gave players six grooves based on mechanics from different Capcom & SNK fighting games. The A-Groove replicates the Custom Combos from the Street Fighter Alpha series, where characters can cancel any attack into another.
M.Bison (or ‘Dictator’) players would pick this Groove, drive their opponent into the corner, activate their Custom Combo, then do his Psycho Vanish attack over & over again until their gauge emptied. It does a lot of damage, & it looks like Bison’s swiping a paintbrush up & down. So, it became commonly known as the ‘Paint the Fence’ combo. It’s not the only term for a common combo, but it is the weirdest.
2/10 Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas
Tag team & 3-on-3 games like the Marvel games & Dragon Ball FighterZ let players call in their partners for assists. It can help them open their opponents up or gain some extra charge for super combos & other techniques. However, they can be in Enormous trouble if they call in an assist at the wrong time.
It can leave both their main character & assist open to a full combo or a super move, damaging them both or even KO’ing them at once. It’s such a treat for the attacking player that it’s like their birthday came early, hence ‘Happy Birthday’! If the player brings in both assists, & all 3 characters get zonked, it’s a ‘Merry Christmas’ instead.
1/10 Double Luigi
Finally, this term would be simple enough if it was referring to a mirror match in Smash Bros. But it’s not. It’s a general term that applies to any fighting game played at a tournament. If the last game of a set goes to the final round of a match, Japanese commentators would call it a ‘double riichi’. It’s a mahjong term where two players are potentially able to declare victory, or ‘riichi’.
Since few people outside of Asia & the Yakuza fanbase play mahjong in the West, it got misheard as ‘Double Luigi’. More serious commentators will call it a ‘full set, full round’ instead. But whenever someone wants to add color to the proceedings, they’ll invoke Nintendo’s green plumber for a touch of green.
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