Every now and then the topic of the Low Punch makes the rounds, and when it does it seems to polarise the community. This debate recently surfaced again on the VFDC Shoutbox, where criticisms of the 2P varied from the functional (nerf 2P or should players just get better?) to the aesthetic (does punching someone in the shin look ridiculous?) From a simplistic RPS analogy, the Low Punch is the "paper" that beats the Standing Punch "rock" which makes it universally important to the core of Virtua Fighter and has been subject to a number of refinements over the entire series. Let's revisit this age-old philosophical debate and let us know where you stand -- or sit (hah!) -- on low punching!
Here's the recent Shoutbox conversation below that inspired this article. It has been slightly edited for layout and relevance:
social_ruin: Ups at ytpme. i say that as a mediocre vf player. btw nerf 2p. it's vf achilles heel.
MarlyJay: I'd like 2P to be changed to a low jab to the body. keep it as a special low and have the character doing it stumble or have a special animation so it still loses to airborne frames. Similar to sidekick and backdash
BLACKSTAR: wow thats a cool idea
BLACKSTAR: in that way, everybody would have there own version of sway, in a weird way
MarlyJay: Yeah. It could function the same but be far better looking and more realistic
Superkh13: I don't really have an issue with it currently, but this is nice idea.
oneida: nerf 2P?
BLACKSTAR: from my impression, what marly was talking about is mainly changing more of how 2p looks rather than how it functions
BLACKSTAR: that would be a good change, imo, because the game would still play the same, but you wont see people trading crotch punches back and forth
BLACKSTAR: it would look less silly
Ytpme_Secaps: The look of 2p is so old. Id be worried to change it, but maybe it could work
Tricky: change is the spice of life
MarlyJay: BlackStar gets it. 2p is the dumbest looking move in the game, but functionally important. So change it to look like an actual move used in fighting, but keep the function the same.
Stl_Tim: What animation would 2p changed too exactly?! Low backfist already exists, so a contorted looking 2p perhaps?
MarlyJay: Tim, I said in the original post "low jab to the body". This, rather than a crouching punch to the knees, which is what the move essentially is now
Wait! Before you chime in on the low punch, here are some great discussions from the past to give you some food for thought!
Game design decision behind the 2P mechanic
by @Mlai, Jun 12, 2012.
Mlai started this thread questioning the design decision behind the 2P. From his new player's perspective he states that "it feels overpowered for such a stupid-looking move", and ultimately has concern over the first impression it leaves for new players:
A valid concern, no?
There are some thought-provoking replies shared in this thread, including advice in how to deal with / improve one's response to the low punch. Of particular note is @Krye post sharing insights into demystifying the power of the 2P (incidentally, this was the draft to an unfinished article - shame!), and @White_Worm's part-philosophical-part-tongue-in-cheek analysis of the symbiotic relationship between 2P, P and… Tekken!?
Interestingly, this conversation which is approximately 5(!) years old is still pretty relevant today. But if you're willing to delve deeper into Fighting Game design theory, then the following thread might also interest you:
High, Mid, Low blocking - A different approach
by @El_Twelve, Jun 16, 2011
This greatly detailed thread by @El_Twelve is a general discussion on alternative approaches to the traditional High, Mid, Low blocking mechanic prevalent in most (if not all) popular, competitive Fighting Games today. He shares examples from Fighting Games of the past that used a different mechanic, which may open your eyes and mind to other possibilities, while pointing out the deficiencies with the traditional guard system:
I highly recommend you take the time to read this thread, but the big take-away is the ability to guard while moving forward.
The most recent game to exhibit the advancing guard mechanic was Ubisoft's For Honor which also employed a 3-point guard system. Is For Honor's failure to crack into the big-time competitive Fighting Game space (ala esports) indicative of poor fighting game mechanic (i.e. the 3-point advancing guard system), a poor implementation of a good concept (i.e. overcomplicating the meta game), or a combination of both?
The Low Punch, as benign or powerful you think it to be, is but one simple part in a much larger, more complex system. And it stands to reason that the overall success, or value, of the Fighting Game is greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, it's the combination of all the different parts, their relationships and interactions, that make the Fighting Game what it is.
So before you're quick to complain, criticise or get frustrated over one thing like the Low Punch, the answer isn't necessarily to change it, but perhaps to change your understanding of how it works within the bigger picture. Because unless you're working for SEGA, you have a 0% chance of changing anything within the game, but 100% chance to change and improve yourself.
Let us know what your position is on the Low Punch and/or fighting game design in general!
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