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For the first time, a fighting game has turned frame advantage into a visual effect

My turn.

Fighting games have a reputation for being a largely impenetrable genre, packed with jargon, complex mechanics and challenging systems. While some developers of fighting games have made strides to explain how these systems work, at the end of the day, going up against other players is, for a huge swathe of people, an intimidating, crushing experience.

One of the things that sets players of fighting games apart is game knowledge, specifically, knowledge of frame advantage. Frame advantage determines who recovers first after a move hits or is blocked. Players who know the frame data, as it's called, of the moves in a fighting game have a distinct advantage over those who do not, as they will know whether it is "safe" for them to attempt to strike their opponent - or whether they can punish a blocked strike themselves.

The frame data - and whether you have frame advantage - has always been "locked" away from players as they're playing a fighting game. Sure, you can dip into training mode to see what's what, but it's never been displayed as a visual effect before - until now.

Fantasy Strike, which is on Steam, is a fighting game I've covered before because it does interesting things to try to make the genre more accessible. Its developer, David Sirlin, has just put out an update to the game that makes frame advantage a visual effect.

Fantasy Strike now has visual effects on every hit that show if you recover first, or if your opponent does. They look like this:

And here's a gif showing the effect in action:

As you can see, each hit has a visual effect to show frame advantage. The blue effects show the character recovering before their opponent after a strike. But the final two strikes by the character on the left of the screen trigger the red effect, indicating the character recovers second. The final strike left the character recovering second by a lot, leaving the character on the right hand side of the screen free to punish with a retaliatory move of their own. This final strike from the character on the left was unsafe on block, something the new visual effect tells both players.

This is a brilliant addition to Fantasy Strike that should go some way to helping newcomers compete. But, according to Sirlin, it's good for experts, too.

"There's a lot of nuance in the exact timing and spacing moves that can affect frame advantage, and experts can learn about that now," Sirlin said in a blog post.