sponsored bannersponsored banner

Exploring Fighting Games’ Character Archetypes | Dashfight

Sebastian Quintanilla
13 min

This material was created with the support of our Patrons. You can support us!

Become a Patron
Exploring Fighting Games’ Character Archetypes | Dashfight
Whether based on their speed, approaches, attacks, or just how they feel to play, there are dozens of words you could pick to explain them.

Fighting games are chuck full of interesting characters, and thanks to the many decades of development, the creators of these titles have been able to hone in on what makes certain characters interesting to play. Whether its a grappler’s ability to threaten by sheer presence even at low speeds and ranges, or Rushdown’s flashy speed and in-your-face pressure, you have plenty of examples of great characters that fit into these archetypes.

The depth of categories is incredible, so we pulled together a list of some easily accessible female characters in various fighting Games that you can go out and play to broaden your knowledge of their common elements, and what you can expect from each archetype.

Exploring Fighting Games’ Character Archetypes Through Some of Their Best Female Representation

The Different Archetypes

There is no shortage of classifications, boxes, and labels in the Fighting Game world. If you wanted, you can really dig deep into what makes a character tick or what kind of features certain characters have that make them similar or different from every other character you see on the roster. Shoto, rushdown, Mixups, Trappers, Glass cannons, Clones, Puppeteers, Stance, Zoners, and much more along with every increasingly ambiguous label have been used all across the FGC to try to compress character’s kits into bite-size tags. 

Even when exploring a particular sub-genre, like anime fighters, 3D fighters, or platform fighters, you can find a plethora of different principles developers have when building certain characters. Making things more complicated, sometimes games will choose to emphasize a general aspect of their mechanics, such as air dashing and air juggling, leading to the need to differentiate characters even though they would all be lumped together as the same general archetype in another game.

Its also worth noting, and something we will explain in each of our picks, that these archetypes often share things between them. Although you are not likely to see a rushdown character that also features strong long-range projectiles, there are plenty of situations where two types of characters can seem to morph a little, share similarities, and even be confused for one another in their respective games depending on what the game values most.

Cammy, Street Fighter V - Rushdown

Even before Street Fighter 5, Cammy was already considered a pretty solid Rushdown-style character, but her development throughout the many games inside the Street Fighter series has really cemented the idea that she is one of the best rushdown characters for players that want to learn to the basics.

Rushdown characters, in general, can be the flashiest and most entertaining characters in a particular game. This does not mean they are the most difficult to master or even that they are the most powerful characters in the game’s roster, but there is something naturally cool about rushing towards an opponent with full intention of smashing their face in that just feels good in fighting Games. Cornering an opponent and apply all the things you’ve labbed over time to make sure they can’t breakaway is a feeling that only a handful of Fighting Game character archetypes get to experience.

Although Cammy herself might not be the best rushdown character on paper inside the Street Fighter 5 roster, she certainly is a great way to get started on that type of gameplay. Her normals have great range, she has a good number of options for her low pokes, and plenty of good anti-airs. Although she's not a footsie's character, she certainly requires some knowledge of the concepts behind footsies to be able to play at a high level which is a good thing to learn for any type of character out there.

There's a worthy distinction to be made here as footsie characters don't necessarily have to get up close to their opponents. They can, and often benefit, from staying at the mid ranges, controlling much of what is happening in the neutral and, to a certain extent, apply zonal control. Rushdown characters like Cammy also benefit from proper footies greatly, and her range and low pokes allow for some of it. But the end goal of any solid rushdown is to break through the gap and be face-to-face with their opponent to unleash their true power.

Panda, Tekken 7 - Big Body

Ok, you got us, we needed an excuse to bring back Panda for another of our top lists. We just didn’t get to talk about her enough in our top 5 non-human fighters in Fighting Games. And yes, if you want to get technical, Panda is just a clone fighter from Kuma, but when did technicalities get in the way of explaining good old fighter archetypes?

Yet, we promise there is a good reason we want to highlight Panda in this list, and no, its not that Bandai Namco has yet to announce she will be in Tekken 8, although we can certainly hope so. No, the reason is that Panda is part of a fairly niche archetype of characters that rarely gets talked about, the Big Body archetype.

Also, there is a small sidetrack in the vast river of details of archetypes that deals with joke characters that we won’t get into it right now, but we do feel Panda is not a joke character by herself. Yes, her story within the game is played up for laughs, and in the context of competitive Tekken, players have not won entire Tekken World Tours maining her. But that does not mean her moveset itself is a joke.

With that said, compared most to other labels, Big Body fighters are not as common, and often times they end up feeling more like slow grapplers who focus on their slow movement and command grabs, with the ability to put pressure simply by being up close. But with these two archetypes, although they share a lot of basic elements, also do have some differences that you should keep in mind.

Big Body fighters, like Panda, don’t suffer from a common limitation from their grappler cousins, the ever-frightful stubby normals that require closer ranges. They are able to be a threat in the neutral, despise their slowness, not because they could break through and command grab you, throw you, or set up a chunky combo, but because their mid-range attacks and pokes are legitimately scary.

For Panda specifically, this means staying at those mid-distances and always being on the lookout for a nice counter hit to launch her opponents up into the air and drive them right into the wall.

The next time you want to pick up a grappler, maybe ask yourself if instead, you are willing to venture just a bit more, and pick up a big body type fighter, see how the life of a half-screen beast suits you for once.

TOP 5 Non-Human Fighting Game Characters | DashFight

Millia Rage, Guilty Gear Strive - Mix-up

Millia Rage from Guilty Gear Strive is a great example of a mix-up character, but she also fits almost perfectly into the category on account of her strong Okizeme options. Mix-up characters rely on their various attack options to open up opponents and in short, keep them guessing. 

Okizeme, also known as Oki, generally means grounded pressure, the type of pressure that often requires opponents to block or play far more defensively than they would otherwise. Although having solid Oki is not a mechanic for Mix-up characters, it certainly helps, and Millia has plenty of great Oki like her 236H.

Some of these are whats called 50/50 guesses, where-in your opponent might be faced with any number of options that are all roughly equally likely, and guessing the wrong one comes at a price. Of course, this is where the idea of learning what opponents do, and assessing the larger picture of the game state come into play to make a more educated guess meaning bringing the odds more in your favor.

Another type of mix, one that Millia can be particularly good at, is what is called vortex mix-ups. 50/50s are just that, a one-time guess, guessing wrong means a combo follow-up or attack that results in neutral or leave the door open for counterplay after the initial guess. But vortex mix-ups take that away, they usually lead into another mix-up, be a 50/50, low/high, or yet another vortex. For example, Millia’s 1P is a burst mix-up which can then lead to a 214K which itself is cancelable. Or her j.236P, which is a three-way mix-up.

Mix-up characters can be great fun, especially as they force you, whether as the player or the opponent, to broaden your understanding of the matchup beyond which normal out reaches the other, or which poke comes out faster. Their matches require you to think a few steps ahead, and to commit your opponent's habits to memory, whether to expose their short falling in guessing any given option, or subvert their expectation, and seemingly read their mind when the 50/50 comes your way.

Peacock, Skullgirls - Zoning

Peacock from skullgirls is the final character we want to highlight today, and that is because she covers a remarkable amount of features from classic fighting games zoners.

The idea of a zoning archetype is to control the space in between the characters on the screen. Remember how we mentioned before that footsie characters look to maximize their value in that mid-range by having plenty of options and always looking forward at what they can do with the space they have? Well, zoning characters twist that into creating space, which for them, naturally leads to an advantage.

You might also hear zoning characters being talked about as keep-away characters. Although they do share much of the same principles, zoners is the larger set of features, with keep away mostly focusing on the intent of any given character to push opponents outside and not allow them to get up close, instead fighting at mid to long ranges. Something that most zoners do, but not by definition, as they are more considered with getting players into specific areas of the screen where they can deal the most damage, which can at times be very up close.

Peacock is one of the quintessential styles of zoners who use projectiles, of various speeds and sizes, to push away opponents, and apply their pressure. But the rabbit hole goes deeper, with zoning fighters leaning into different types of area denial.

Take for example, Peacock’s 5HP, which shoots up a cannonball that explodes into a fireball and is cancelable into other moves for both offense or defense. This would be a classic projectile zoning tool, as once its out, Peakcock can do whatever she wants during its action. 

Other zoners can make use of traps, projectiles that remain largely in one place, but that is not necessarily the case for every zoner. In fact, even if the most common tool for zoners are projectiles, a character can also be a zoner with very large disjointed attacks, Think how Min Min is depicted in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

But the reason we went with Peacock over Min Min or Valentine here is that she really is just pure honest projectile zoning. Her slow George’s waddle is a fantastic zoning tool for mostly grounded opponents. Its the perfect example of why projectiles don’t have to be fast and difficult to see for them to be valuable.

The value of people’s attention is the commodity that zoners trade-in. They require their opponents to be vigilant about what is out in the field, what could come next, and what kinds of patterns the zoner will come out with or swap too. Peacock does this brilliantly, with projectiles that travel in a straight line, slowly, fast, explode, or any number of other features that make it that much harder to pinpoint a good time to break through what might at first seem like senseless spam. With much closer inspection, it is a deliberate attempt to condition players to stay away from her.


Ultimately, any complete list of archetypes in fighting games would be almost never-ending, and you can always find new ways to categorize characters based on any number of criteria.

This material was created with the support of our Patrons. You can support us!

Become a Patron