I've button-mashed many a fighting game character just to watch them die, but recently I've been trying roll my fighting game knowledge-train a little further down the line. As reported by Wired, the Street Fighter IV Combo Trainer looks like a good way of doing that. It's a fan-created mod that helps you practice the timing of combo attacks.
For a casual observer, fighting games and their passionate communities can be baffling. Why, or how, are people able to invest so much time, energy and thought into them? The genre's most popular games are bad at communicating their own depth and nuance; pro matches become a flurry of indiscernible animations, and tutorials are normally either too basic or too dull to teach match-relevant skills. Most articles similarly assume their audience already knows the jargon, but if you're anything like me you only recently learnt about concepts like rushdown, zoning and grapplers. In fact if you're anything like me, you just Googled to find a third jargon word because you could only remember two.
The Combo Trainer, built by Reddit user Necrophagos, is designed to sit open alongside Street Fighter IV and gives you an interface through which you can set up and time different attacks. When you get the timing right and see your in-game fighter perform your desired combo, you can tell the software to play a series of clicks to coincide with each button press. Like Giorgio, these clicks help you to practice the timing as you attempt to perform the moves for yourself. Considering that some of these combos require you to press a specific button during a single frame of animation, that's invaluable.
That computer text-to-speech voice is never going to stop being creepy, is it?
In its current state, the interface is cumbersome and the software doesn't come with any preset combos, but it's still worth trying if you're interested in becoming better at fighting games or just curious about the level of skill required to play them well.
If you're looking for an in-game primer, Skullgirls has the best tutorial of any recent fighting game I've played, as it carefully sets out concepts that apply not just to that game but all fighting games. You will need to overlook the booby art in order to enjoy it, however.