Dragon Ball FighterZ Has People Debating Fighting Game Notation

Dragon Ball FighterZ Has People Debating Fighting Game Notation

Dragon Ball FighterZ has been a wildly popular game, but it’s also resurfaced some old discussions among the fighting game community — namely, numpad notation.

The method for transcribing long strings of combos has varied over the years, thanks to different games having different inputs. Street Fighter has punch and kick buttons, while other games like FighterZ have general light, medium, and heavy buttons. Some games, like Injustice, even just rely on numbers to convey which button should come next.

It all comes together to form a pseudo-language that fighting game players can use to convey combos. For an easy one, here’s one way of writing how to throw a hadoken as Ryu in Street Fighter: qcf.P. This translates to, “quarter-circle forward, then any punch.” Bam! Fireball.

That’s the good stuff.

That’s the good stuff.

While the letter versions are used in many games, numpad notation is a different method of transcribing these moves, using the numpad of a keyboard to represent the motion of the joystick. Instead of “qcf” for quarter-circle forward, now it’s “236”. The stick goes down to 2, across to 3, up to 6. Add a punch, and Ryu’s still tossing hadokens.

Not this guy, though.

Not this guy, though.

Many anime-style fighting games have been using this variant of notation for years, but the spreading popularity of FighterZ in particular has exacerbated the issue of whether to use English alphabetical letters or numpad notation.

Each case makes a compelling side. Numpad notation is universal, and has an easy-to-follow visual; letters, on the other hand, make it easier to speak aloud (in English) and work better with games that already use numbers to refer to their button inputs, like Injustice and Tekken.

Me personally? I’m a fan of numpad. It just reads clearer in my head, I don’t need to look up definitions of certain abbreviations, and it looks neater in writing. As some have pointed out, it’s also international! For commentary though, it’s understandable why some long-time fighting game commentators are hesitant to switch.

The talk rages on, but one net-positive are the jokes to come out of it.


  • How can we not just post arrows?! We already found the best method we just need the Internet (and all text based devices/mediums) to let us use the symbols we created alongside the written language.

    I don’t want to decipher the enigma code just to do a Hadoken.

    • The issue with arrows as it only works in a graph picture form, whereas numpad form you can just write down as a linear script that’s easily understood by anyone who’s used to a computer. And I say this as someone who doesn’t play fighting games, nor knew how to do a Hadoken, but I now understand it clearly enough to do it if I want to in the game

    • if it was that simple they’d be doing it, some mediums make it difficult or impossible to type out the unicode for arrows.

      And these are for quick notations not for tutotials, so you’ll still always get people who take the time to make tutorials easier to read by using arrows and button symbols.

    • The article specifically calls out commentators. You suggest they say “Down, Down-Right, Right” instead of “quarter-circle forward”? There’s built-in ambiguity there with “Down, Down, Right, Right”
      “Two, Three, Six” is a bit more awkward to say, hence the reluctance of commentators to switch.

  • I play fighting games and it is a doozey with all the notations. I do prefer the lettered notation over the numpad. I get used to reading both, but after a while of not playing, I tend to only forget the numpad and still retain my ability to understand the letters.

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