This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Balance between characters has always been a key part of modern fighting games. So why did Capcom design the latest installment of its premier franchise with clear kings of the ring in mind?
With the release of Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition, Capcom intentionally made new characters Yun and Yang the standout warriors of the game. These twins had versatile offenses backed up by safe special moves, strong mix-ups, great damage potential, and decent defensive options.
The competitive community has had to deal with these kung fu masters since the game came out in arcades. But I also wondered what these two mean for casual or intermediate players. So I rounded up four Bitmob members to discuss the issue with me.
Together we talked about character balance, the tier lists players use to rank characters, and what companies should focus on when developing these fighters. Here is the full transcript, complete with footnotes for new players who are unfamiliar with the scene. For the abridged version, click here.
The community members are (in order of appearance):
- Jonathan Ore, a Toronto resident who writes for Bitmob and the local site Dork Shelf. He hasn’t entered any tournaments but follows the scene.
- Alex Spruch, a tournament player whose most recent event was GVN Winter Brawl 5 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He writes for his own website, Spruchy.com.
- Chase Koeneke, a two-year Bitmobber who enjoys fighting games at a casual level. He also hosts the World 8 podcast.
- Daryl Bunao, a former tournament player from Northern California who has played at two Evo tournaments. He is an intern at Anime News Network and a former content producer for the Super Smash Bros. site All is Brawl.
Chris: Since we're talking about character balance, we should start off by asking what your definition of a “balanced” fighting game is. Is it when every character has a fair change of winning? Is it when not everyone is viable, but you still have enough diversity to accommodate different play styles at a high level?
Jonathan: In pure theoretical terms, I think the former is true, where every character (save outliers like joke characters and A.I. bosses) has the same chance of winning against any other character…if the players are at the same skill level. Diversity of play style is more a comment on character depth than outright balance.
Alex: To me a balanced fighting game is when every member of the cast has options to deal with anything that might be thrown at them. Sometimes a character might not have the best answer (and that's what differentiates one character from another), but as long as they have some sort of options in all situations, then a game is that much closer to being balanced. It's when a character has the best response to everything that imbalance starts to show itself. A game can be balanced while not being as diverse, but conversely there have been fighters that have featured wild rosters that were not the least bit balanced.
Chase: I think the latter definition is more apt, but I don't begrudge a fighting game that balances all of its characters. As long as a variety of styles are available so that everyone can find something that works for them, I think you've got a winning formula.
This question seems more pointed to one-on-one fighters though. When it comes to games like Marvel vs. Capcom and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, the idea of tiers starts to hold a bit more weight.
Daryl: I feel that a "balanced" fighting game offers the players an assortment of characters that should have an equal — or at least what the community calls a “4-6 match-up” — with the other members of the game's cast.
Chase: This is really why I prefer tag-style games. In a game like Street Fighter 4, every character is put under a microscope – which is why I believe the Yun and Yang controversy is getting so much press – but in a game like MVC, characters can be used more situationally (like how I use Haggar mostly for his assist and rarely for his fighting ability).
Alex: Yeah, but in a tag-game scenario, you're just putting characters under even more scrutiny by seeing what they offer with assists and DHCs (Delayed Hyper Combos). Also, tag games aren't free from grossly overpowered characters that can turn the entire match around (see: Dark Phoenix).
Jonathan: Yeah, MVC3 sort of throws game balance into a different sphere of discussion. Assists versus on-point, team orders, team synergy – it all becomes something that a single top-to-bottom list can never fully explain.
Haggar and His Amazing Lariats are the worst of the worst. I loathe facing down that every time I see him in the VS screen.1
Daryl: The problem with tag-team fighters such as MVC and TVC is that there are multiple variables that can happen at any point in time that can completely sway the match of a game. Personally, I dislike that kind of play, because it overshadows the hard work it takes to build a lead or mount an incredible comeback. Back in the day, if you were close to death, it meant a lot of work was needed to steal a victory. Though in this case, it's more about player skill than actual game balance.
Chase: I'm not saying tag games are perfect, but I do think they allow for more flexibility instead of a game like Street Fighter, or even Smash Bros., where a player can have a giant disadvantage right from the outset.
Yun and Yang vs. The World
Chris: I think Chase and Daryl both have points, though you can argue that in a vs. game, your team is really one "character" made from three parts that work together.
Going back to what Alex said about balance, are Yun and Yang characters that have answers to everything to the point that they marginalize the rest of the roster?
Alex: Hah, I'm glad you picked up on that, Chris, because that's exactly what I was going for. Yun and Yang are overpowered specifically for that reason: They have the best answers for absolutely everything. I don't think it marginalizes the roster, but it's definitely to a point where it makes the twins more appealing than any other character in the game.
Jonathan: Speaking of "giant disadvantage," I can't help but think of fighters like the Naruto games, where the characters' strength was directly proportional to their power levels, or whatever, in the anime itself. That was almost a positive of those games for that particular audience, though. The idea of barreling through every other competitor with Itachi in a Naruto game was horribly unbalanced, but it was a selling point.
Chase: That's a good point. When story starts to factor into these kinds of games, being unbalanced can be a good thing. Anyone know if Dragon Ball Z: Budokai did something similar?
Daryl: When it comes to characters displaying heightened abilities, the general fear that gamers can allude to is the dominance of Magneto, Storm, Sentinel and maybe Cable in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. What I would like to say is that both Yun and Yang are new characters, and it will take some time to fully determine whether or not the rest of the SSF4 cast can find tools to counter the twins.
The reason why Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel dominated the tournament scene for MvC2 is that, over time, competitive players would sign their souls to these characters just to come out on top, thus creating a following of like-minded players. If Yuns and Yangs start topping tournament listings and all the top players migrate to them, which I doubt, then there could be some knee-jerk reaction to prevent the game becoming a one-sided fight.
Jonathan: Yun and Yang are problems for sure, but I'm fairly sure they represent a unique problem in that they were designed to be stronger than the rest of the cast from the outset. I think the designers' intentions were to make them very appealing because the rest of the cast had been playable in SF4 for up to three years already, so it would easily shake up the roster and how other players reacted to them. Compare them to Evil Ryu and Oni, who generally didn't re-write the book on how people are playing the game.
Daryl: Chase, I remember playing one of the Dragon Ball fighting games, and if someone played a weaker character storyline-wise (like Krillin) vs. the ultimate form of a boss character, the boss character would simply do more damage and have greater defense. It may not be fair, but it tries to replicate an already existing plotline.
Chris: Actually, the DBZ talk has a point: It is a selling point for Goku to be so much stronger than, say, Cell Jr. And this feeds into this discussion: Since, at the end of the day, Arcade Edition is a product, you could think of Yun and Yang as a selling point for arcade goers, who tend to be of a higher skill level.
Alex: I don't know if time is going to change anything regarding the twins. The game has been out in Japan since December, and the only weak match-ups for the twins have been Zangief and Sagat (I think Fei Long might do decently as well).
Jonathan: Do tournament results and compiled tier listings really matter to a fighting game beyond the die-hard enthusiasts, though? Character imbalances, except for the more outrageous, egregious examples, don't really manifest until we're talking about players of high skill and execution, who know the ins and outs of most or all possible match-ups. For most players who play online or among friends casually and don't enter into tournaments, it's a basic case of "more skilled equals more wins," regardless of the character used. Right now in Arcade Edition, I have as many problems with a good Abel player as a good Yun player in my skill bracket.
1Vs. games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are designed around team synergy. Some characters, like Dante or Magneto, are meant to be your main fighter (on point). Others, like Haggar, are lousy on point but have a great partner assist that helps your main fighters (in this case Haggar’s invincible lariat).
Delayed Hyper Combos are when you cancel your first character's super attack into your second character's super. It takes at least two super meter bars to perform, but it's the safest way to tag someone in.
Dark Phoenix is Phoenix’s transformation super move. You need all five super meter bars and your opponent to KO Phoenix to activate it, but Dark Phoenix is obnoxiously powerful. When coupled with the game’s X Factor ability boost her only weakness is human error.
Patching Games After Release And How Casual Players See Balance
Daryl: So I’ve got a question that I've been trying to figure for a long time now. Back in the day, when a fighting game came out, it would be final; players would have to make do with what they got. This was something I held onto for the longest time before the infamous Sentinel nerf and a number of changes that happened in MVC3 and even in Mortal Kombat. Do you think companies should actively alter characters in their game through online patches if they see a trend of unbalanced play?1
Alex: The joys of the internet have been both a blessing and curse in this regard. I think companies should patch for balance when it's something broken, like when Zero could Snap Back you out in MVC3 when his double was out and no one would replace your fighter, or even for things that everyone can agree on being overpowered (arguably Dark Phoenix right now). It's just that determining what is worth patching and what isn't is difficult right now, and when companies jump the gun on patches, such as Sentinel’s HP nerf, the game’s chance to develop is hindered in a way.
And Jonathan, you're completely right on that, I was talking from a tournament level that it's agreed that Yun and Yang are overpowered with hardly any bad match ups.
Chase: As more of a casual fighting fan, I can't really tell if a character is unbalanced on my own. It's not until I read and hear things from other people that I see this, and usually it only manifests itself when play is way above my skill level.
Daryl: Your average Joe the Plumber can sit down after a day's work and play Arcade Edition, enjoy his new characters, and play competitors around his same skill set. At this level, it's hard to say a game is not balanced because it would typically rely on the player's skills to win or to deal with problem characters.
At the tournament level, the top players are using characters that they are comfortable playing against the game's entire roster. At this point, tournament results and tier listings do come into effect because they compile generalized information of what characters are winning and against which opponents you character can dominate. As a former tournament player, I want to come out on top because I did not want to travel 50-plus miles to lose two games and get called free on a live stream.2
Chris: Daryl, I think the Sentinel nerf was planned before release. When we wrote about it, one of our community members mentioned that those patches are sent weeks in advance, so it probably wasn't a knee-jerk reaction.
Jonathan: My gut reaction to that question is that the entire premise is wrong. I don't know why you would tailor these changes to the arcade market, which is anemic outside of very small niches in Japan and the United States, and apply it to a console/PC release where the variety of players is vastly different.
Alex: Despite its name, I think it was always the plan to release Arcade Edition on the consoles.
Jonathan: I agree completely, I was just trying to answer Chris's question about Yun and Yang being a selling point for arcade players. I just have a gut feeling that the selling point of the game is different for arcade and non-arcade audiences.
Daryl: The problem with snapping in Phoenix is how to deal with her once she comes in. She has enough mobility to run away and once she super jumps and shoots out tracking fireballs, she can safely tag out upon landing back on the ground. At this point, only rushdown-type characters really benefit from such a tactic, whereas everyone else just sits down, watches Jean run away, and feels sad that they couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. This situation, however, can be the center of the "Imbalanced tactic/Player error" Venn diagram.
Jonathan: I'd best visualize that Venn diagram with Phoenix's Healing Spheres, surely.3
Chris: Chase and Daryl have good points. Back when all I had was a PlayStation 2 copy of Capcom vs. SNK 2 I knew nothing about tiers, let alone advanced techniques like that game's roll canceling. And I enjoyed it just fine. When I play online in the original SSF4 I fight Kens, Blankas, Codys, Sakruas, Guys, Gens, and Makotos – all of whom weren't considered that great in tier lists. Unless you went to tournaments or someone told you online, you probably wouldn't be able to judge just how good a character really was.
Daryl: If you took a trip to some of the bigger arcades in the nations, you’d notice that the Street Fighter 4 machines only had 17 characters, which was less than what the console port brought home audiences. This version of SF4 remained untouched for arcade players worldwide even when Super Street Fighter 4 came out. Arcade Edition was a much-needed update for arcade players.
The Importance of Balancing in Game Development And Hacking Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Alex: That brings up the question though: Even if it goes unnoticed by a majority of the audience, should companies still strive to create a balanced product?
Chase: Exactly. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I specialize with Lucas, widely considered to be one of the worst characters in the game. But since I only play with my group of friends, it's never that big of a deal (and since I'm the best player of my friends, I normally win anyway).
Daryl: Given the unavoidable competitive nature that fighting games have built over the past two decades, I think it would be wise for developers to consider making their game balanced so that individuals who have an affinity to a certain character can enjoy winning. Let's be honest — I despise losing, and I would be a masochist if I liked playing a character that's meant to lose all the time.
Jonathan: I think that producing a balanced fighter should still be important in the development process as long as it fits the subject matter (licensed products like DBZ aside). I don't think, however, that producing a "tournament-viable" game with airtight 5-5 matchups should be the main worry of that game. From a pure marketing perspective the tournament players are a captive market to begin with. Making it fun and accessible with a variety of compelling characters should be the first concern, as it is with pretty much any video game with a narrative component these days.
Chase: Yes, developers should try to balance their games. Since casual players like me don't know the difference anyway, why not balance the game so that all players can enjoy it?
Daryl: Chase, your Smash Bros. comment just brought up some painful memories, my friend. I used to be a content producer for a Smash-dedicated website called All is Brawl, and for the longest time, I've watched the evolution of tier debates. I particularly like this small faction of players who hated how Sakurai sabotaged the competitive nature of Brawl so much that they went on to produced a hacked version of the game by adding in the advanced tactics found in Super Smash Bros. Melee and removed tripping.4
Chase: Yeah, I remember hearing about that patch. It sounded ridiculous from my perspective, but I knew hardcore players would probably love it.
Jonathan: That's a fascinating case, Daryl, because it flew against the designer's intent for the game altogether. Members of one segment of the game's audience were flabbergasted that it wasn't built for them.
Alex: Say resources are limited for a team, and they can only do so much to ensure the game is fun and balanced. How should it be skewed? The Brawl community should be applauded for their tenacity if, although I think the game’s balance was a clear message from Nintendo on how they feel about the competitive scene.
Daryl: It was a sight to behold. This was during the time before Major League Gaming picked up Brawl for their competition circuit, and the Smash community was in a three-way butting of heads between the "Melee is a better game" faction, "Brawl is a better game" faction, and the "let's have it both ways" hack faction. I've been away from the whole Smash scene for a few years now, so I'm really interested in driving out to Genesis 2, the big international Smash tourney, this weekend.
Chase: If I were a more hardcore player, I'd probably lean more towards balance, but being the kind of player I am, I'm more interested in getting all my favorite characters in the roster.
Alex: Fun fact: I went to a local Smash Tourney shortly after Brawl came out and in the first round I had to face Mew2King. Needless to say I got my ass handed to me, but he was a pretty nice guy although he could've used a stick of a deodorant.
Where's The Love For Fei Long?
Chris: Plus you had the Meta Knight issue as well. I don't think the twins have a stranglehold on SSF4 as much as Meta Knight did on Brawl.5
Even after adding the twins, I think Capcom wanted the game to have balance. There are still good characters in the old cast and strong players who can overcome the twin match-up. That also brings me to another character that has been considered top tier that we haven't talked about: Fei Long. Why hasn't he been given the same amount of attention that the twins have?
Alex: I think Fei Long hasn't been mentioned with the twins because it's generally agreed he's not as strong as them, with worse match-ups against much of the cast (including the twins) and not nearly as many options. And to top it off, he's not nearly as flashy.
Daryl: I think the reason why there hasn't been a red alert on Fei Long or any of the buffed returning characters solely rests on the amount of warning stories about Yuns dominating Japan. First, it's a bad sign when two-time defending Evolution SF4 champion Daigo Umehara is switching over to Yun. Second, according to data collected by Japanese player Nohoho, Yuns have been winning by a large margin.
This is almost like a modern-day legend unfolding, where all walks of life gather at a local bar and tell tales of an unbeatable hero. In this case, it's tournament players going to arcades discussing how to handle Yun.
Jonathan: "The poor sod got up to his feet and looked up. The silhouette of a young man, his arms stretched out like a bird, blocked out the sun before him. Two sneaker-clad feet dove towards his face.
It was the last thing he ever saw."
Chris: Yeah, I think Daigo's switch did have an effect on the psyche of players, since he's so well known for using Ryu. But Daigo is also Daigo; even if he didn't pick Yun, he'd still be placing at top spots in tournaments.
I think another factor with Fei Long is that more people are used to him from earlier games and don't see him as being as strong as the twins, who are new. He got improvements, but mainly benefited from the rest of the cast getting nerfed.
1Shortly after Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came out, Capcom added a patch that reduced Sentinel’s health to two-thirds of what it was. Sentinel had the highest health of the game before the patch, and some believed it was a reaction to complaints about the robot. It was the first time Capcom patched a game after release that directly affected competitive play.
The 2011 Mortal Kombat has a feature where developers can tweak characters without using a formal patch. Developer NetherRealm Studios has used both this system and patches to balance the game.
2"Free" is lingo for when people lose quickly and brutally in a verses match, or for when a certain tactic will always work on them.
3"Rushdown" characters are those who specialize in close-range offense like Yun, Yang, Magneto, and Wesker. It also refers to an aggressive playstyle for any fighter.
Since Dark Phoenix is so powerful, tournament players prefer to force regular “Jean Grey” Phoenix into a match early using a technique called a Snap Back and KO her before she gets five super bars. Phoenix can die from even basic combos due to her abysmal health, but if she escapes she can run away and tag back out.
Healing Field is one of Phoenix supers. She creates a flaming sphere around her that regains health if she’s near her opponent.
4Super Smash Bros. producer Masahiro Sakurai has said that Super Smash Bros. Melee is geared too much towards hardcore gamers. When designing Brawl, the developers removed many unintentional techniques used in Melee tournament play, like wavedashing and lag canceling. In Brawl characters will also trip randomly when they try to run.
5Meta Knight is the dominant character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Unlike the previous characters discussed, Meta Knight is so strong that many in the community wanted him banned from competition, though the Smash World Forums rules list that most events follow never did.
The Giants of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
Chase: What are everyone's thoughts on the giant TVC characters (the names escape me at the moment, so I'm just going to call them Lost Planet Mech and Giant Lighter Man). Are these characters balanced?1
Alex: I've never played much TVC, but from the little bit I've watched on EVO streams, it didn't appear that they were overpowered — just incredibly different from every other character on the roster so other players were unprepared to deal with them.
Chris: Chase, It's been a while since I followed TVC, but the giant characters were considered balanced. I think the problem was that the giant characters were actually good enough to use in tournaments, and people didn't like fighting them. They changed the flow of the fight like Phoenix does in MVC3.
Jonathan: I think the consensus was that they were powerful but just too big a target to be considered competitive choices. It's pretty clear that they're there more as a spectacle, and a different kind of challenge, than part of a balanced fighting game. The idea of playing as or going up against a Giant Gold Lighter Robot has its own appeal, surely. Ignore me if I'm totally wrong and they demolished the competitive scene, though.
And Chris, while I can see such an unfamiliar kind of challenge being trouble for a tournament scene, wouldn't it be seen as good for a video game in other circumstances? In a "We have something fun and different from every other fighting game out there" sort of way? It's a weird achievement considering other fighting game mega-bosses (mostly thinking of Galactus and other Marvel Vs. bosses) were completely un-fun to play as, whenever the option was available.
Daryl: According to my friend Kevin (KBeast, 2nd place TVC Evo), Gold Lightan was actually the lowest on the tier list due to his inability to deal damage. He cannot fight a full screen battle so he loses to people jumping around throwing fireballs or get snatched up in a command grab.
PXT-40a was actually doable with the ability to overwhelm the opposition with projectiles and deal heavy damage. Still, it had problems dealing with grabs and would get rocked by a few combos once it lost momentum in the match.
Chris: Plus I think both giants had issues with projectile characters, especially with Tekkaman Blade, since his spear throw had a "cut-scene" that would break super armor.
Evo, Tekken, and GamerBee
Alex: So what would you guys argue is the most balanced game at EVO this year? I'm going to have to go with Tekken 6.
Daryl: I've always thought of Tekken 6 as my perfect fighting game. I feel that the vast array of moves that every character has almost makes it seem that they all possess the exact same tools as the next character on the select screen. If you think about it, all the characters have two different grabs or more, various high/mid/low attacks, launchers, ground bound combo extender, and a selection of combo-ending moves. I feel like Tekken disguises all its moves well by taking the identity of their character and saying, "How would Lili's refined attributes or Dragonov's Russian Sambo make this move work?"
That, or EVO can run a Street Fighter 1 tournament. Nothing says balance like Ryu vs. Ken with identical properties.
Chase: I can't seem to get the hang of 3D fighting games. I play a decent amount of Dead Or Alive, but I'm much more comfortable with only two dimensions. Tekken, Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter are lost on me (though Virtua Fighter was my favorite fighting game for the 32X…by default).
Jonathan: I swear I have never played a match of Tekken 6 online that didn't begin with the other player beginning a juggle that KO'ed me outright. It's loads of fun when I play with friends, but when even remotely skilled players are involved…it's like those Magic Eye portraits that I could never cross my eyes properly to see.
Chris: Tekken was never my favorite series. I did try to learn Tekken 5 for a few months when it was the cheapest game at the college arcade, but once the price went up I went back to the Capcom vs. SNK 2 machine.
Daryl is right with the Street Fighter 1 comment. It's been mentioned in Shoryuken.com's Domination 101 articles, but the only truly balanced fighting game would be one with only one character. As much as we talked about Capcom's balancing with MVC3 and Arcade Edition, they're still going to have the most attention because that series has the most fans, the recognized players and "storylines," and because we want to see if someone will win an upset with a low-tier character like GamerBee did with Adon last year.
When I went to CEO in Orlando last month, one of the most-hyped matches was when an El Fuerte player [SeeDogPoo] nearly beat Marn's Yun. El Fuerte is a perfect example of the hard-to-master low-tier character, and almost everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the match. There is an appeal to a David vs. Goliath bout from a spectator's perspective.
Not that Adon was low-tier, but he was under the radar at the time.
Daryl: It took me a long time to get the hang of 3D fighters. For the most part games are all about being evasive while trying to assert your character into his/her comfort range. From there it's all reaction-based combat with some players remembering the frame data of common attack strings and doing the math to counteract with their own attack string. If you ever watch the YouTube series "Avoiding the Puddle," the hosts are always talking about how to punish moves with X amount of recovery frames.
The crazy part is that I was in that Evo hall where GamerBee ousted Justin Wong at Evolution 2010. Even though I was playing Melty Blood casuals off to the side, I remember the storyline leading up to the match like it was an introduction to the World Series. GamerBee, this unknown foreign player with an underused character, is playing America's best, Justin Wong, during the Street Fighter 4 game of the night. What unfolded at the end was a sight to see. I want to say that nearly 600 people watching in the hall were up on their feet cheering and shaking the ground beneath my feet. For that moment, it seemed like the whole world stopped to acknowledge this new player and shower him with respect.
I want to say in that instance, the game is balanced. I dunno what the Adon/Rufus matchup numbers are off the top of my dome, but that match was definitely a demonstration of skill rather than the game playing itself out.
Tier List Stigmas
Chris: iPlayWinner had the match listed as even. I was watching that on the stream sometime after midnight, and I couldn't get to sleep until an hour or two later. When Gamerbee played at CEO, he was using Akuma and Fei Long to deal with Adon's bad matchups, but he's still an exciting player to watch.
We should start wrapping this up, and there is something I did want to ask you guys: Within your circle of friends, is there a stigma against choosing the best characters or picking from the low tier? We talked about Yun, Phoenix, and the top tier of MVC2, and I tend to gravitate toward good-but-not-too-good fighters like Rose.
Chase: We don't let my friend Bryan use three Jins in Marvel vs. Capcom 2; he's just too good with the character to allow him more than one. And for TVC, we usually state before we play whether we want to play with the giant characters or not, since it really does change the whole dynamic of the game. Other than that, we really allow anything. No one's that good to make the tiers show through.
Ed. Note: Home versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 allowed players to choose the same character three times.
Jonathan: Among friends playing locally, it isn't an issue at all. We just rotate between playing who we're good at and picking whoever we aren't familiar with and adjusting accordingly. It helps immensely when everyone's in the same room and can agree on having a couple of "Random All" matches. It's also the only time I can bust out MODOK in MvC3 and really have some laughs.
Online's a different case. Like Chris, I like to use the not-always-used characters. In SF4 I've avoided using guys like Ryu, Ken, Zangief and now Yun/Yang simply because they're everywhere; I run into so many of them that playing dozens of Ryu/Ryu matches sounds so boring. The few times that I get a Chun/Chun or Dudley/Dudley feel sort of special as a result. Personally, there has to be some mixture of the character's personality and play style that I like for me to put lots of time into them.
Daryl: I have two answers for that. Among my old high-school friends, we tend to play characters that we enjoy playing, like Hulk, Sentinel, Wesker, Akuma and Wolverine. Their thinking is that they try to win with the characters they think they can actually learn without much hassle.
My friends in the competitive scene have various tastes depending on the game. In MVC3, they tend to gravitate to the best characters that suit their play styles, so there's an abundance of rushdown staples like Magneto, Taskmaster, Wesker, and Dante. For games like SF4, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, and Arcana Heart, my friends tend to pick a favorite character and ride him out to the bitter end. These one-on-one games play out like a chess match of who can open up his opponent first and dictate the tempo for the rest of the match.
Personally, I'm in that category. To me, picking a character isn't about who wins the most but who I have fun playing the most.
Chris: Triple Jins? I've faced a person who used Triple Juggernauts who just kept spamming assists. I won, but it's a frustrating match when you don't really play the game and can't do the "Double Snapback" properly2.
Rose is my favorite Street Fighter, but I also like her good pokes and projectile games so I do tend to use characters like Mu-12 in BlazBlue or Trish in MVC3 who have a similar playstyle even if I don't like them personally. I did switch from Rose to Juri for Arcade Edition and the CEO tournament, though I prefer to think it's because I wanted a change in pace and not due to the Soul Satellite nerf3, which I understand why Capcom did it. Juri still has a hard time against the best characters, though I don't think she has it as bad as Rose does.
1While Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a 2-on-2 tag fighter, the giants fight by themselves and have super armor to break through attacks. They are the PXT-40a mech from Lost Planet and the Tatsunoko hero Gold Lightan.
2In home versions of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 you can select the same character three times. A "Double Snapback" is when you hit both your opponent and the opponent's assist with a Snapback. You can juggle the assist character indefinitely afterwards even after he or she is KO'd, but in tournaments you have to stop as soon as the assist dies.
3In Super Street Fighter 4, Rose is invincible when she activates her Soul Satellite Ultra Combo, which makes it a great technique to escape pressure. The attack is no longer invincible on startup in Arcade Edition. The nerf is fair in the sense that the attack was a get-out-of-jail-free card, but otherwise her defense after a knock down is shoddy and she didn't get substantial buffs to compensate.