As regular listeners of the podcast will know I’ve been playing Them’s Fightin’ Herds for the past several months and have wanted to write about the game’s combo trainer. Among the various features the game offers I find this to be one of the most impressive, so much so that I hope other devs take notice and implement an identical system into their own games. So let’s dive into what makes the Herds combo trainer so impressive when compared against other fighting games on the market.
For those not in the know, let’s first look at what a combo trainer is. As the name implies it is a tool available in most fighting games that allows players to practice particular combos. Players select the combo they’d like to practice and the game will then allow them to practice it while providing feedback. If the combo is dropped (the player misses an input) the game will note the exact move in the string where players made a mistake, otherwise it will will indicate that the combo was executed successful. This can serve as a great learning tool for players as it provides detailed feedback about where they need to make improvements while executing combos.
However, one common downside to combo trainers is that they’re very rigid in nature. Developers will include a handful of combos that they believe are useful for players, but if you want to use the trainer for something outside of what is provided you’re not able to. This limits the usefulness of most trainers and often requires players to simply use practice mode while learning more advanced combos, or practicing specific situations. With how useful this feature is the limited ability that players have when using it isn’t ideal as having a greater deal of flexibility would dramatically improve the usability of it.
Enter Them’s Fightin’ Herds. Like so many other fighting games it has a combo trainer, but a key difference is that it allows players to save their own combos. They can even choose the starting location and stance of their opponent which can be especially useful for practicing things such as corner setups, or anti-air combos. This means that as players discover optimal combo routes or learn ways to handle specific situations they can create a combo file and practice the routine until it becomes second nature. This is a huge win for Herds as it allows players to utilize the combo trainer beyond the confines of what the development team provided while creating routines that are tailored specifically to the skills and combos that they want to practice.
Personally, I found this feature a huge help with learning how to better utilize Arizona’s lasso, which has been a huge game changer. Arizona can only generate magic, an expendable resource used for special moves, by capturing her opponent in her lasso attacks. Because of this it’s very important to learn how to incorporate the lasso into combos. With a bit of help from an Arizona character guide and some folks on the Herds’ Discord I was able to create a couple of combo routines that made use of the lasso, so I could more reliably build magic throughout a match. Thus, I’ve since spent a lot of time practicing those routines and have a much better handle on using Arizona’s lasso.
However, the usefulness of Herds’ combo trainer doesn’t just end there as players are able to share any of the routines they create with the wider community. Wherein other games players need to rely entirely on video or text guides to learn, Herds instead allows players to provide one another with files that let them practice combos in a very practical environment. This is extremely helpful for any new player as it provides an invaluable resource for getting up to speed on any character’s bread and butter combos.
Not only does this feature help new players, but by allowing players to easily share information Herds fosters an excellent sense of community. As I previously stated, I was able to enter the community Discord and ask questions about Them’s Fightin’ Herds and received extremely specific answers to my questions. I’ve even seen players freely offer combo files for niche combos they’ve discovered because they wish to share this information with the wider community so that everyone can improve. There are also resources with several combo files available that go over bread and butter combos that everyone has free access to, which does wonders for lowering the barrier to entry for new players.
It can’t be understated how great the combo trainer in Them’s Fightin’ Herds is. By allowing players the flexibility to create and share their own combos the team at Mane6 have greatly expanded the usefulness of this feature and helped garner a better sense of community for their game. Frankly I’m of the mind that any fighting game with a combo trainer should copy what Herds has done as it greatly expands the usefulness of the feature. Evidently, Arc System Works agrees as they noted they wanted to add this feature into the recently released Guilty Gear -Strive- at some point in the future. Here’s hoping more developers imitate what has been done by Mane6 and follow in the hooves of Them’s Fightin’ Herds.