Traditional fighting games were never my forte. Oh, I'm halfway decent when I jump in every now and then. At college I actually got pretty good at Guilty Gear X2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2, even to the point where I could start seeing the frames of animation during a match and know that I had a split second during my opponent's recovery phase to launch a counter-attack. It was all very Matrix-y.
However, aside from dabbling in Street Fighter IV and Smash Bros. Melee, I've not really stayed on top of the fighting game genre. While I do have the experience to know that there's a lot going on under the hood, I didn't realize how much was going on until I stumbled across Shoryuken.com's ebook, From Masher to Master: The Educated Video Game Enthusiast's Fighting Game Primer (Super Book Edition), a title so cumbersome it simply has to be a satirical nod to Capcom's ridiculous naming convention history.
One would think that for a freebie ebook Masher to Master would be a throwaway pamphlet that only covers some basic moves of well-known characters. Nope. Instead it's 120-plus pages of really deep strategy and mechanical theory, going from the basics of what hiboxes are and how they function, to introducing vocabulary terms like "frame trap" and "yomi", to - and I swear this is a real section title - the close-range high-low-throw mixup.
Masher to Master is a dense read, but interestingly enough it's not a difficult read. There's a lot of info to take in, but the language used is pretty straightforward with sidebars to explain new lingo and lots of illustrations to provide examples related to the topic at hand. If you're a newbie wanting to get into the fighting game arena or are a casual player wanting to further understand "speed-chess-poker-magic-the-gathering-rock-paper-scissors-fighting" then this book is well worth your time. Plus, it's hard to beat the price of "free."
If you're unsure if you want to get into the world of fighting games, then allow me to present the reveal trailer for Hakan, the leather-clad Turkish wrestler whose move set involves being doused in oil and doing some of the most homoerotic moves on his opponents you'll see outside of specialty porn.