Street Fighter, Tekken, and Guilty Gear are known for their complex mind games, including the mix up. Here’s what it means and how to do it.

Fighting games may seem straightforward: you kick and punch someone until they lose all their health and are KO'd. But fighting games are actually known for their extremely complex mechanics, combos, and strategies. While learning a new fighting game, you'll probably come across an abundance of interesting phrases you need to learn, including a mix up.

What does a mix up mean in fighting games?

The definition of a mix up is luckily straightforward, unlike other terms that have a bit more of a debate when it comes to their meaning. The term mix up refers to using a combination of different attacks that require a different response or defense to guard.

A mix up usually consists of high, low, and overhead moves, as well as throws. In games like Street Fighter and Tekken, this includes kicking and punching. The goal is to be as unpredictable as possible, making it harder for your opponent to guard attacks. This gives you the advantage and can open them up to some devastating combos.

How to perform a mix up in fighting games

The specifics of performing a mix up depends on which game you are playing. But the basics are somewhat similar whether you're playing Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, or King of Fighters. All characters can do a basic mix up, although some can do it better than others thanks to their moveset and fighting styles.

The key to mastering a mix up, no matter what game or character you're playing, is to not be predictable. You have probably noticed you often approach people with the same attack or will follow up an attack with another one that you have mastered thanks to muscle memory. But after a while, your opponent will be able to read you and easily block your incoming attack. That's when it's time to switch it up — or mix it up.

Basically, you want to throw in some mind games and surprise moves. This could mean short hopping in King of Fighters, but then attacking once you land instead. Your opponent will have blocked upward to avoid a seemingly incoming aerial attack and not be ready for your sudden kick from the ground. Or it could mean throwing out a move in Guilty Gear that's whiff punishable and then going into that same position again — making it look like you're going to do the same attack — but then pause or do a fast move towards them.

How to get better at the mix up in fighting games

If you want to get better at mix ups, you'll simply need to put in a lot of practice and really study the fighting game of your choice. You need to really know your main fighter's attack options so you don't keep repeating the same patterns. You also need to understand the map, spacing, and every other character's possible options.

When you're doing a mix up, you are essentially playing a mind game with your opponent. For this reason, you need to know what they are capable of and be able to predict it and work around it. This will ensure that you are ahead of them at all times and able to pull off some spicy reactions.

You also need to pay close attention to your opponent's playstyle. You'll see them starting to do certain things when they approach or when they are attempting to counter your attacks. Once you learn your opponent's tendencies, you'll be able to have an attack prepared in response. For example, if your opponent often jumps into the air to avoid your incoming attack, be ready to use an attack that targets where they keep jumping.