Being good at fighting games means marrying several key skills in order to create an informed playstyle. It’s a combination of things such as combo execution, technical skill and matchup knowledge that give you an edge during a competition. Most skills can be practiced in training mode and ingrained into your muscle memory; however, there is an element that can’t be honed through practice alone. There is a skill that gives you a significant advantage in any matchup, but which can only be forged in the heat of battle. This skill will allow you to predict your opponent’s moves and even fool them into attacking you and falling into your trap. People who have been victimized by it have described their opponents as "psychics" or "mind readers" and have even claimed what they saw as "magic."
Enter Señor Footsies: A game as simple in its design as much as it is focused. Created by local Bay Area player Luke "A-Rival" Esquivel, this game puts a magnifying glass on the "magic" that can’t be attained in any other way except through battle-hardened psychology: footsies. In Señor Footsies the bothersome shackles of combo execution and fighting-game mechanics have been cast aside and the only thing left is the mental warfare between two players. Players will share one controller, adding to the tension of this competition, as they try to outwit their opponent and land instantly fatal blows.
In Señor Footsies, players walk forward by default but can press and hold a button to walk back. The other button makes your character do an attack reminiscent of Ryu’s classic crouching medium kick. Pressing both buttons will make you do a slower, yet farther reaching sweep kick. To make it a little more interesting, you can also build meter by whiffing attacks (as in Street Fighter III) and once you fill that meter, you can unleash a "pistola" attack which stuns your opponent when they walk forward. With mechanics that simple, the game makes you commit to playing a way that is crucial when playing any of the major fighting games out there: it makes you play the player.
Mechanics and mental play aside, the game is charming. Two crudely drawn characters in sombreros and ponchos stand in a combat pose in front of a MS Paint-quality backdrop. Everything from its simplicity and home-grown design, all the way down to its name, makes Señor Footsies silly enough to give players a good chuckle before they sit and play. While it has the ability to make any two players contend with each other for a true mental win, it also has a great ability to liven the atmosphere, inspire some laughs and lighten everyone's mood in the room.
Whether players use this as a stepping stone to improve at other games or just have fun at a party, Señor Footsies is a great game. It’s simple, fun and no matter how combatants choose to play it—whether they want to RTSD, turtle and build meter, or keep the action mid-screen—the flow of the game is entirely up to its competitors. The characters are identical and the moves are few so that, at the end of the day, win or lose, there are no excuses. Viva la Footsies!