Been a member of Dtoid since June 2006, but I don't really like the front page since it's become a jumbled mess of overwhelming content I could care less about. I'm mostly active on the forums these days. I'm here for video games, not social commentary. If you really want to get to know me, head over to Super Street Fighter IV or Gears of War 3 threads.
Favorite games: FFVIII, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Super Street Fighter IV, Tetris Attack, Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Star Fox 64, Tekken 3, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Breath of Fire IV, Dragon Quest VIII, NBA 2K12, Gears of War 3, Geometry Wars 2, Vagrant Story, Lumines Live.
Since the last entry in this series I was struggling to come up with a specific topic to discuss. There's a lot to cover in Street Fighter outside of just the mechanics and learning process. Grinding is a term that many RPG fans are familiar with (drug dealers too, but that's a whole other can of worms). If you want to level up, you fight goblins and boars for hours before you fight the dungeon boss. Fighting games are very much the same way. You want to have a chance to beat Daigo or Justin Wong? Those guys have 10+ years of grinding under their belts. They've trained with the optional bosses like Omega Weapon and Ragu Ragula on an every day basis. You better train and learn and get experience as much as possible if you hope to stand a chance.
The point? No matter how good you are, everyone loses online. And by everyone, I mean everyone. I hadn't sat through a whole episode of Gootecks and Mike's Excellent Adventure series in awhile, so I watched their latest episode.
I don't think I've ever seen a video that captures what it's like playing online so well. Winning doesn't feel like an accomplishment and losing doesn't feel like failure. In certain instances you can tell they got mindfucked because they knew the online factor was coming. It's like driving drunk (not that I would know...), you feel fine and in control at the beginning, but the longer you go the harder it is to maintain that control until you have that feeling that shit is going to hit the fan and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
In the beginning of every match they feel out their opponents, trying to predict if they'll do anything and playing footsies or zoning a bit. They're thinking and trying to strategize together. The match goes on and they gain a bit of momentum, earning the life lead or pushing their opponents towards the corner. Their opponents sense the danger and then turn on the juice, using all of the tactics anybody who's not used to playing online wouldn't be used to. Random throws, dash in EX moves, neutral jumping for no reason, random air specials, full screen specials, block strings that lead to reversals...just stuff that doesn't make any sense.
Unless you play online. Then it makes perfect sense. They block your bread and butter combo (BnB)? Why not shoryuken? Why not mash jab during block strings? Or, what if you mash standing jab and walk forward while trying to mash shoryuken? They'd never expect that. Unless they play online.
What happens when someone who plays offline tries to play online is the game they think they know changes online. All of a sudden those things you've learned in the training room and in match up videos don't work online. You can't tic throw because you're eating jabs and shorts. You can't frame trap because you're getting shoryu'd. You can't go for overheads because you're getting thrown.
It doesn't seem fair that, despite your skill and knowledge, these guys still manage to somehow beat you. So you're forced to play down to their level. Get real fundamental. Stop block stringing, start blocking, don't go for set ups, just good old fashioned block and punish. That'll work most of the time, but it won't always end up in your favor. Despite playing smart or playing safe, you might still lose.
Lag is a huge part of it, as it can cause dropped inputs. There's nothing worse than getting your inputs dropped in a game that requires such specific timing. You might block a LP shoryu and go for a throw to punish it. Only, lag occurs when you try to throw so instead of throwing you're just standing there and he's mashing shoryu again. He looks like a genius and you look like a scrub now. Next time around you just block because you're scared you might get punished for trying to punish again. Now you get thrown. Funny how that works, right?
Meta-game. The game within the game. You're not playing Street Fighter as you know it anymore, now you're playing Street Fighter online. It looks like regular Street Fighter and has similar inputs to regular Street Fighter, but it is not regular Street Fighter by any stretch of the imagination. It's a different game. One that, if you want to keep playing online to win, you'll be forced to learn. People are convinced that this just equates to mashing inputs. While that is a large part of it, that's not it entirely. Abusing things with fast start up, using specials that are hard to punish, and relying on 50/50's for damage (shoryu or block after a blocked jump in HK or cross up) are all a part of the online meta-game.
If you've no experience with this, it'll be hard to beat the first time around. When Mike refers to people playing dumb or that he's about to 'go dumb,' this is what he's talking about. The problem with this is he is obviously not as experienced at it as the people he's playing are. If you're pretty good racing with an automatic (I can hear the gearheads and car junkies shaking their heads) and try to beat people using a manual, you're not going to do as well. It's still driving, but the mechanics have changed. They're experienced with it and you're not. One of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain applies very well here:
"Never try to argue with a stupid person. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."
People who only play online are much better at playing Street Fighter than those who are used to playing offline because they are two different styles and methods. Offline, you would never do 4 blocked shoryukens in a row (unless you suck), but you might online because you know lag makes it hard to punish blocked shoryukens. As someone who primarily plays offline, you have no experience with this. You know you should be able to punish that blocked shoryuken. Alas, you're online, and people take advantage of it. It's not fair, but that's the reality of the situation. There is no honor in online Street Fighter. People are ruthless and will use anything and everything to their advantage for a win. It's a hard shift to deal with if you're used to smart, offline play.
Granted, not everybody plays that way online, but there are those that do and will beat you with it. You have to chalk those losses up to online, move on, and adapt. Online is a great way to get a bunch of experience with a wide variety of players. If you can put up with the inherent flaws with playing Street Fighter online, it can be a great learning tool to improve. However, if you don't have to play online...
"Offline is soooo much better!" - Every arcade junkie ever.
It really is.
If you have a local arcade or offline community, you should make every attempt to join it and participate in it. You'll make friends with many similar interests and, more importantly to this series, improve exponentially. With so many like-minded people focused and determined to improve, everyone will push each other to get better. You won't have to deal with the online meta-game and you'll have people who push you to improve that you can play on an even playing field.
If you're a 3rd Strike enthusiast like I am, you've probably heard the Denjin Video Podcast by Gootecks with Pyrolee. It's an excellent listen for anyone who's passionate about improving at fighting games because Pyro describes what it's like to have a small community of driven players push each other to improve. He talks about the inner-rivalries of the group he played with and how they were constantly seeking out new information from players they've played or seen (specifically the Japanese arcade scene). He talks about how he was a scrub who didn't know anything, to playing in his first tournament and losing horribly, to slowly improving and gaining rivals, to eventually becoming arguably the best 3rd Strike player in America. He credits the community he played with and their devotion to getting better. And, for as great as he is, he talks about going overseas to play and compete against the Japanese and quickly realizing he still has a long way to go.
Which brings me to the point of all this and the blog series in general:
Do you want to get better at Street Fighter? How far do you want to go? Would you like to be able to compete online? Would you like to place in tournaments? Is it just to impress your friends or girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife? How far you want to go depends entirely on you.
My goal has been simple from the very start. I want to be able to beat everybody. I don't aim to be the best or the one who wins the most. I just want to be able to beat anyone I play. If I can do that I can be satisfied with my skill level. In order to do that though, it's going to require a lot of time and effort, as well as patience and dedication.
I've been training mostly by myself for the last 2 years, trying to isolate what makes me good and what makes me bad. I thought for awhile that I could improve by simply playing non-stop online all the time. The problem is you don't have an outside perspective or people pushing you. It's hard to push yourself and motivate yourself when you're the only one doing so. There are times you may lose interest or motivation. That means any effort and time you put into achieving your goals was mostly wasted.
Dtoid once had a Street Fighter community of about 15 or 16 different players, both on 360 and PS3 (though the PS3 side was considerably smaller with only 5 or 6 playing consistently). It is my intent to garner enough interest in Dtoiders again to build up a strong community where we can compete, learn, and improve together. Not just Street Fighter either. WryGuy loves his KoF, I know CharAznable and Usedtabe were very active with Tekken, and a ton of the SF4 guys loved MvC3.
If you guys are really interested in getting better, these blogs are a great starting point, but the real growth is in building a community of focused players. The foundation is there, the only thing that's required is participation. I'm more than happy to teach/show people what I know one-on-one, and I'm sure there are others here who would do the same.
I'm on 3rd Strike exclusively these days, but I'll get back on SF4 once Ultra drops and to anyone that's interested in learning either, my gamer tag is: o KD Alpha o
The gauntlet has been thrown down, but who will accept the challenge? Next time on Street Fighter Learning And Education Time Blog: Tier Lists and Terminology
Whoo! Part 4! Who's hype for reading a super long, wordy, jargon-filled blog with a horrible picture/video-to-word ratio!? Not you? Well then close this blog now and go read something about how much the Wii U and Nintendo sucks or why paying for characters in a fighting game is totally cool because money and fuck you, advertising, baby!
...still here? I have to admit, your persistence is going to be needed. Street Fighter is a mental battlefield where weak minds get destroyed and the easier you get frustrated, the lower your chances of success. For some reason, people get ridiculously angry when they get destroyed in Street Fighter. I know there's a bit of a pride thing on the line, but really, it's online and everybody knows that's not really a true barometer for testing skill. Regardless, I've received more than my fair share of hate mail, being kicked out of lobbies, having people rage quit on me, and getting taunted if I lose a round. People really have come to dislike playing with me and it shows.
For example, these guys just couldn't handle losing so much they had to disconnect from the match (in 3rd Strike Online Edition if you disconnect from a match, you take a loss, your disconnect ratio increases, and your opponent loses the ability to save the replay).
Street Fighter, once you somewhat master execution, is a battle of wills and mental fortitude. I've compared it to a virtual Chess of sorts, to which I've mostly gotten scoffed at. That right there lets me know just how bad you are at Street Fighter. If you think Street Fighter doesn't require a lot of thinking, I know you suck at it. Plain and simple, I will always beat you and you will never beat me. It's a mindset.
You see, I approach Street Fighter like a professional boxer would approach an upcoming fight. I train for it, I scout my opponent (if possible), and I try to identify my weak areas so that I can improve upon them. All the knowledge I've given out doesn't mean anything if you don't learn how to apply it. You can perform cr.MPxxShoryukenxxFADCxxUltra all day in training mode, but if you never get a chance to land it in a match what good is it to you? What if your opponent doesn't make mistakes? He never misses a punish, he never whiffs a special, he always makes his normals or specials safe. You know those types. They're frustrating if all you've ever played are the guys who go ham with their offense.
You know the type...
This is the SF4 equivalent, but I'm sure if you've played SF online for any period of time you've come across these guys. They're convinced that the best offense is a constant offense and the best defense is a constant offense, no rhyme or reason, just reversals and unsafe specials all day with crouching jabs or shorts thrown in for good measure. These guys can headfuck you into playing their game and all that knowledge you have doesn't mean much against an opponent who isn't playing smart.
Jungle style. Balls to the wall, caution to the wind, hit as many buttons as you can, be completely random at all times, use every button and option, mindless, jungle style. I'd post the Ghandi Ryu video we've all seen by now, but you get the point. The scariest thing about jungle style are players who know how to utilize it effectively. Remember this for later.
What I'm getting at though is being able to read your opponent. By that I mean, being able to tell what kind of opponent are you facing. Is he blocking like he should? Is he constantly waking up with reversals? Does he mash throw during block strings? Does he always block low? Does he block cross ups? Does he never tech throws?
Reading Your Opponent (And Yourself)
So you've gotten your execution to a competent point and you're ready to start putting what you've learned to use. That's great and all, but a lot of factors come into play before you can just start frame trapping and option-selecting.
You need to be able to identify their skill level, what they can do and what they can't. Do they anti-air every jump in attack? Is it always the same anti-air? If they always let you jump in without anti-airing you, take advantage of it. Cross them up to mix it up, but if they're not anti-airing that's to YOUR advantage. If they're ALWAYS anti-airing with the same anti-air, empty jump or safe jump to bait them. Certain normals will sometimes stuff or trade with anti-airs, so use those too if you have them. Any offensive momentum that pushes your opponent toward the corner is to your advantage.
One thing that I've noticed some players do is they let their opponents wake up for free after a knockdown. For example, say you land a shoryuken and then back away while they wake up. This is a huge flaw in their game, as the entire point is to knock your opponent down, pressure them on their wake up, force them to make decisions, and put them in the corner. The Japanese have come up with a term for wake up game tactics called 'okizeme.' Roughly translated as 'rousing attack,' the point of okizeme is often to mix up or continue to pressure your opponent while they're waking up from a knock down. This is where meaties, baits, tic throws, mix ups, safe jumps, and ambiguous cross ups are most effective. When your opponent is waking up, he has to decide if he's going to reversal, tech a throw, or if he's going to block, where to block.
Say for example, you knock your opponent down and they have a tendency to block on wake up. Test their throw tech reactions and go for a throw. If you know they're not likely to reversal and they tech the throw, no real risk is taken and the situation reverts back to neutral. However, there is an advantage in this and I'll get into that later, as it leads into the next part. The whole point of this section is to train yourself to recognize what your opponent is doing. How your opponent reacts to your okizeme is often the best indicator of how good or skilled they may be. If they always start the round off by immediately attacking, identify that they're doing this and see if it's always the same attack. Do they jump in at the start? Do they hadoken? Is it an EX dashing straight? Maybe they always jump back tatsu or throw an air hadoken. Do they always use cr.MK to hit confirm or do they always do the same block string? Do they always try to go for a throw after a blocked jump in attack or blocked cross up?
Recognizing patterns or tendencies in your opponent's style of play is vital to being able to overcome it and shut it down. If you lose to something and don't know why, it's also important to recognize what it is and try to figure out why. The more skilled your opponent, the more clever their offense and defense tend to be. You have to assume that while you're recognizing patterns in their play that they're doing the same with yours. So to avoid being predictable, use different options to keep your opponent on their toes. It will prevent you from getting easily 'downloaded' while your opponent may focus more on trying to read you than from being predictable himself.
I hear the word 'spam' being thrown around by novices a lot too, usually in conjunction with projectiles. If someone is constantly hitting you with the same thing, it's because it's working and you're not adjusting to it. The onus is on you to stop getting hit by this attack, not on the opponent to stop because you think it's 'cheap.' It's working for him, he doesn't need to change anything. If he's zoning you with hadokens and spacing them correctly so that you can't close the distance, it's YOU that's the bad player, not your opponent. He doesn't have to use anything else because his zoning is working as intended. Why should he give up his winning tactic? Because you're losing to it and thus you think it's 'cheap?' 'Cheap' is another term I hear from novices. There is no cheap in Street Fighter (offline, anyway), only effective and not effective. Sometimes you're going to have bad match ups. And in those bad match ups there are going to be things your character doesn't deal very well with. Rekkas, projectiles, dive kicks, frame traps, mix ups...these are all things that can be frustrating, but are essential to the individual character's success. Not using them is limiting your character's potential and thus your own potential for wins.
The comments section of this video lets you know all you need to know about how little they know about Street Fighter and why they will continue to lose, no matter the player. They lose to the tactic and the match up, but not necessarily the player specifcally. Any player who knows how to do what the Gouken does can defeat the Honda player.
While that Gouken wasn't very good (he missed a bunch of damage potential and did a lot of unsafe dive kicks and tatsus), he didn't need to be good at anything other than zoning to win this match. He recognized his opponent's weakness and took advantage of it. Regardless of his skill, he played to his strengths and his opponent's weaknesses and that's why he won.
There are a couple things that Honda could've done to deal with Gouken's projectiles.
- Use Focus Attack to absorb the projectile (even the EX version does only 1 hit if they don't charge it) as this will close the distance, as well as give you an ultra earlier in the match, with the potential to get two if you use it early enough and absorb or take enough damage.
- Punish whiffed upward aiming hadokens with headbutts. Even if you don't punish and he manages to recover and block, you've closed the distance and pushed him towards the corner.
- Pressure Gouken with Jab xx Hundred Hand Slap any time he gets close. All he did were jump in fierces and roundhouses. Even blocked HHS pushes your opponent towards the corner. A little pressure goes a long way. Any time the Gouken got pushed to the corner he immediately tried to get out with escape tatsus or dive kicks. These are unsafe and can be punished. Well-timed butt slams will, at worst, trade, but keep Gouken in the corner, where he can't zone as effectively. Whiffed air tatsus can be punished by dashing in where he'll land and using a command grab. This will make him think twice about trying to escape as much using these tactics and keep in him the corner.
- Quit doing random EX headbutts or butt slams in hopes that a random one will work. Even if one lands, you're not conditioning your opponent since he knows they're random. Since you're not punishing whiffed upward hadokens and Gouken's not jumping in on you, there's almost no reason to use EX headbutts. LP headbutt works about as well for anti-airing and you build meter, not burn it. Meter is important for Honda, because he's more dangerous in this match up with super. Jab xx HHS xx Super, Anti-air headbutt xx super, super through projectiles, anti-air super, whiff punish with super, etc. Since Gouken wasn't forcing much of the action and only really tossing hadokens, Honda could've had super and two ultras both rounds. A fully loaded Honda is much more dangerous than one who isn't utilizing his meter or damage potential. Since Honda's a character that can deal out a lot of damage with just a couple attacks, meter makes him all the more dangerous.
If you're not playing your character to their potential by using all of their tools and you lose, you need to recognize what you're NOT doing and how you might go about incorporating those things the next time around. Simply recognizing what did and didn't happen in a match can change the flow or momentum between matches. Reads and adjustments are the key to Street Fighter. The more you can predict what your opponent will do, the easier it will be to react or punish your opponent for being predictable.
1B)Autopilot and Random
A lot of players, after having played a certain character for awhile, will go into an 'auto-pilot' mode, where they just react with their usual routine of options because they work against the majority of players they face. 3rd Strike Akuma's tend to always do shoryuken after a blocked HK tatsu. A parry or block and punish in this situation will work most times because it's unexpected. Most of their opponents try to punish the blocked HK tatsu. In certain match ups, you can punish it (Hugo's pile driver, Dudley's Corkscrew Blow, characters with small hitboxes go under the last few hits and can easily punish), but not too many players online will continue to block, just wanting to escape the block pressure Akuma can force on opponents. Try to recognize what your autopilot tendencies are so that you can break them and be more effective. It's not about being random, it's about not being predictable.
I can't stress that last part enough. Too many players rely on random because they're misguided and think random is what works for them. To a certain extent, it will, but it works way more against you, because an opponent that adjusts will get much better punishes for blocking than you will get for landing random hits. Remember, random is a double-edged sword. It might be okay every now and then just to keep your opponent on their toes, but relying on random attacks is putting yourself at a disadvantage. If it's random, you don't know what's going to happen either. Random is a gamble, and if you bet wrong, you lose big.
However, there are guys who master being random and autopilot. They're frustrating and often make good players look bad because they know what a good player would and wouldn't do. They often gamble a lot and rely on that to carry them. One of the best players I've ever come across online who embodies this is this guy:
Not putting him on blast, as the guy can beat anyone and he's actually got fundamental skills (hit confirms, defense, anti-airs, etc.). His reactions are top notch and he knows his character and style. The only problem is once you figure it out, it stops being effective and he has a much harder time pulling off wins. All he has is that style, so in that respect he's one dimensional. It's a really hard thing to deal with, but once you do he has almost no counter or adjustments for it. He also only plays this character, as far as I know, so he's one dimensional there as well. There is no switching it up, because he's so ingrained in this particular style with this particular character that he maybe doesn't want to or can't adjust his play once he gets figured out.
So, while random can work against you just as well as it can work for you, there is a sort of art or skill in mastering it. Not everyone can do it, and a lot of players look down on it. Regardless of opinion, if you can master it, go for it. It's just one more weapon in your arsenal. Just don't rely on it. Don't be one-dimensional. The best players know when to use it and when not to. Poongko is a prime example of how to turn it on and off when appropriate.
Training Your Opponent
Like I've said before, Street Fighter is a mental battlefield where mind games rule when you play this game at higher levels. Training your opponent simply means conditioning them to think a certain way to to expect things you want them to expect. This is the funnest part of Street Fighter for me, as it really starts to delve into the mix ups and mindfuck territory. Poongko is one of my favorite players because he conditions players into doing what he wants them to do to win. His execution is excellent and his reactions are fantastic, but what makes him really dangerous is his ability to force you into his style of play.
If you've played SF4 for any period of time online, you probably already do this to a certain extent. You might block string someone and drop it in anticipation of a reversal. You might frame trap someone you know likes to hit buttons or mashes throw tech. Good Ken players in 4 will do delayed crouching shorts to see if you're mashing crouch tech (trying to tech a throw while crouching) and then punish you with shoryukens if you are. Makoto will rush you down and punish you with normals to force you to block so that they can land their karakusa. Cody will frame trap you and condition you to block to kill you with tic throws or in hopes of counter hitting you for more damaging combos.
There are all methods of training or conditioning your opponent to do things you want them to do. Okizeme is a huge part of this and training your okizeme to include different options or set ups is vital to your chances of winning. In SF4 various characters have a 'vortex' that players refer to. Akuma will pressure you on your wake up with demon flip set ups. DeeJay will do ambiguous cross ups or frame traps so that he can combo into his cr.MK which causes knockdown and allows him to continue pressuring you. C. Viper, Cammy, Ibuki, and even Oni (to a certain extent) all have their own types of vortexes that make them 'better' than the rest of the cast. They make getting knocked down more dangerous than against characters with less okizeme options like Sagat or Vega.
In ST, Vega has the best okizeme in the game with his wall dives, as they are mostly safe on block and lead to more mix ups if you land them. This makes getting knocked down against Vega extremely dangerous and thus makes him one of the best (if not the best) characters in the game.
He conditions Kusumondo, one of the best ST players ever, to block and hesitate going on the offense because of the threat of Vega's okizeme. This is a bad match up for Honda, but try to pick up on the way Mao forces Kusumondo to play. Kusumondo tries to limit the wall dive's effectiveness by putting himself in the corner, preventing a cross up. The corner, usually where character's are most at a disadvantage, works to Kusumondo's favor in this particular match up. Notice that later on in the set, Mao works at keeping Kusumondo midscreen as much as possible where his wall dives are most effective. Kusumondo does a great job limiting Vega's mostly safe pokes with great spacing and timing of his own normals, so a lot of blocking is going on in this match. That sets up opportunities for command grabs and throws which Kusumondo utilizes throughout the match. Safe jumps, jump back or neutral jump normals in anticipation of wall dives, purposely whiffed normals or specials to punish counter attempts, control of space, and control of the air game determine the flow of the match and show how each player is trying to impose their will on the other.
When you play a match against anyone, regardless of skill level, you want to put an idea in their heads of what your next move is going to be. You want them to think you're going to go for overheads so you can go low. You want them to think you're going to go for meaties or throws so you can bait a reversal and punish. You want them to think you're baiting something so you can go for throws. You condition them to block so you can go for tic throws.
Let's say you condition them to expect a throw after a blocked jump in attack. Walk back for a second and throw out a quick normal that you can hit confirm from. This will cause them to question their action the next time this situation occurs. Say you go for an overhead and then usually go low. Next time do two overheads and go for a throw. They expected a low, the second overhead threw them off, and they were not expecting a throw. Now your opponent is confused and scared to be put in that situation again. He guessed wrong twice and he might get desperate. Do one overhead, walk forward for just an instant and immediately go to block to see how they react. Do they try to tech a throw? Reversal? Do they block low? Block high? Attempt a parry? Dash back? Use this as data for their tendencies and plan to blow it up the next go round. Players who panic fall back into bad habits and tend to not consider the implications of their actions in those situations, as they're merely worried about escaping those situations. Use this to your advantage and really get into their head by exploiting their tendencies.
Try to pick up on what your opponent is falling for more than anything. If it's tic throw set ups, don't just use the same set up. In certain instances, dropping hit confirms might do you more good in the long run than earning just that small bit of damage. It shows you're willing to mix it up even when attacks land and makes you just that more unpredictable. It isn't always advisable, but keeping your opponent on their toes is key to staying unpredictable. That being said...
Mindfuck your opponents by maximizing your damage potential. Hit them with long, extended combos. Get the max damage from any situation to put pressure on your opponent into not making any mistakes. If they whiff an uppercut, try to get the most damage possible from a punish to force them to play less risky. Some players are unaffected by this, but some are susceptible to getting mindfucked simply by sheer skill of execution and loss of life. Players who get punished for trying to rush down will all of a sudden slow down their offense and play more defense or play a lot safer. They might not take as many gambles and try to play reactionary.
Some players don't handle rush down offense well and some don't handle turtling defense well. Pick up on what makes your opponent uncomfortable and use it to condition your opponent to playing the way you want them to. Are you more comfortable forcing them to block? Rush down. Are you more comfortable playing defensively and forcing your opponent to come to you? Turtle.
However, what can really help your game out is if you learn how to play both ways. You can change your style depending on momentum of the match. If you won the first, but lost the second round with turtling, play the third with rush down and throw your opponent off. Keep your opponent guessing by playing defensively to get the lead and rushing down to finish them off. Or rush them down to get the lead and finish them by turlting up. Whatever works for you in the match, use it until it doesn't work. Condition your opponents into playing how you want them to play. Build a game that forces your opponents to jump at you. Build a game that forces your opponents to block or parry. Use different characters to prevent getting downloaded easily or quickly. Different characters have different strengths and different weaknesses. Play to their strengths or play to your opponent's weaknesses.
This last part is something I think only I really do, but I've found helps me figure out different player's games and how to overcome them. Lose the first round or match purposely. Don't show them all your cards. Trick them into believing you play a certain way or can't execute certain things. Play solid though, try to force their hands offensively, but don't show everything you're capable of in the first round. As you play more matches, let your offense and defense evolve. Either your opponent will evolve with you to the point that you've both seen most of what each other can do and will and skill decide the match, or your opponent can't evolve his game with yours allowing you to steadily defeat them. It doesn't work too well for things like ranked, but in long sets this will go a long way. You still might not see everything they're capable of, say, in a best of 10, but you will build a strong foundation to go off of and get a good feel for how your opponent likes to play.
Editor's Note: I'm going to link some really useful tools and things at the bottom here, which, if you can utilize them I heavily suggest you do as they can only help improve your game Also, if you guys have any questions on anything I've covered or want me to go over something you have questions about that I haven't covered, leave a comment and I'll try to get to you within a reasonable amount of time. I also need some input because at this point in the series I'm unsure what direction to go in since the general stuff has mostly been covered.
Anyway, thanks to any and all who've stuck around for this extremely lengthy, wordy blog series so far and to those of you who've shown appreciation.
An okizeme trainer to help you with your okizeme for SFIV on PC, Shabrout has put together an awesome mod and tutorial video:
If you're looking to learn 3rd Strike, Nica K.O., one of the best 3rd Strike players in the US, has compiled a huge playlist of all sorts of really good, really technical and character specific tutorials and demonstrations for anything and everything 3rd Strike:
If you're interested in all the different hit boxes and what they look like for everyone in SF4 (all the way to AE, as far as I know), a bunch of guys over at SRK have put in a lot of work compiling everything and making it really comprehensible:
One of the best resources for match up knowledge out there for SF4, SF4tube offers a variety of character specific content, allowing you to search by match up, showing who wins, who loses, and other character specific content.
In this post I'm going to be covering a multitude of things, but most of them are going to pertain to how to use the training mode and other features that help players learn how to go about playing the game. If you've read previous installments in this series, everything I've covered so far will be useful for this post. If not, I suggest you at least skim over some of the previous posts to familiarize yourself with the terminology I'm going to be using and come back to this one after.
Almost every fighting game post-1998 has a training mode feature that was implemented, probably because of demand and developers figuring out that players could use it as a tool to help learn the game's various ins and outs, as well as figure out extremely specific things you may have come across in a match or have seen someone else do. In general, people tend to use this mode for only a couple things; combos, how to perform specials or supers, and maybe some system mechanic stuff like Focus Attacks and Just Defense.
(The following video is not Street Fighter related, but is awesome nonetheless)
And while training mode is great for those things, a lot of people stop there and don't get to figure out the really useful aspects of training mode. Even the most basic of training modes allow you to figure out things like the range of various normals, what hits high or low, what you can cancel and link from and into, and how to go about creating and performing set ups (my personal favorite).
Before we get started though, we have to figure out some basic functions of training mode to understand how to go about using it for any of those things.
Setting Up Training Mode
When you first start training mode, the game takes you right to the character select screen like it would if you were playing a match or arcade mode. The obvious reason is to select the character you're going to be learning or using, but what might not be obvious is why some games also let you select your opponent. Most people disregard this option and just pick whoever the cursor's placed on and go into training mode right away. In the beginning stages of learning the game, this is usually okay to overlook, but as you progress and become familiar with the game you'll eventually find yourself selecting specific opponents. There are a lot of reasons to do this:
- Your opponent has a small/large hit box (the part of the character you can hit). Some characters have specific combos that only work on them due to those hit boxes (Elena in 3rd Strike and Zangief in SF4 are some examples)
- You're trying to figure out how to overcome something your opponent has (reversals, footsies, specials, set ups)
- You're trying to figure out a set up that works on this specific opponent (Denjin Hadoken in 3rd Strike)
- You're trying to learn what a match against this opponent might look like (Say you've just unlocked Gill or Akuma)
- This character might have glitches or oddities about him/her you've discovered and are trying to recreate (DHC glitches, high jump cancels)
Give some thought into who you select as your opponent and go into training mode with an idea of what you're trying to accomplish. You don't always have to use training mode for a specific purpose, but it helps to know more or less what you're using it for aside from combos. The next step is figuring out how to configure training mode for its various uses.
Most training modes allow you to set things like the dummy action, meter levels, stun states, being able record your opponent and play it back, see the attack data (damage, number of hits in a combo, damage scaling, attack stun), set damage levels, and have button configs and character move lists. These things are all useful in their own ways. For example, setting meter to 1 bar allows you to see if a combo that uses meter allows you to build up enough to finish the combo off with a super. Having no meter allows you to see how much meter you build if you need to get super or want to see how much meter it gives your opponent. Setting the stun to instant allows you to practice stun combos or juggles from mid-screen or the corner. You can use the record and playback abilities to set up reversal scenarios or figure out how to overcome a zoning tactic your opponent is using. Turning the attack data on is great for seeing if extending that combo in SF4 is worth it or if you're better off saving your meter for later. Do you get more stun than damage if you extend it? Do you need more damage than the threat of stun? How about figuring out if something is a true block string or a good frame trap? Setting the dummy to block after the 1st hit or to block the first hit and then try to jab or reversal after is a good way of figuring that out.
Let's say you don't know the X-Ism Chun-Li vs. V-Ism Guile match up and don't know too many people who use X-Ism Chun-Li. It's hard to get experience against those seldom used characters, especially in a game where there are multiple versions of that character. Never played a Twelve in 3rd Strike before? Never fight them and don't know where to go about watching a good one on YouTube? Training modes often allows for players to set the dummy to a CPU and configure their difficulty. One thing I used to do in Alpha 3 was set the CPU to max difficulty in training mode and play various characters against my mains to see what I can do in that match up and what the other characters can do. It's not a perfect representation of that match up, but if gives you a foundation of familiarity to build on so you're not bum rushed by an unfamiliar opponent who exploits your lack of experience in the match up. You don't have to worry about losing because training mode isn't a match and you can figure out how to go about on offense and defense.
The other method of learning how to fight against a seldom used character is learning how to use that character yourself. If you know what he/she can or can't do, you'll be better prepared for fighting them and using that knowledge to exploit an opponent who only knows the match up, but not your character, as you may be able to catch them off guard with things they don't know.
Getting Into the Gooch of Training Mode and Frame Data
Once you're pretty familiar with how training mode works, there's a ton of things you can use it for. One of the best, if not the absolute very best, training modes ever created was put into Skullgirls, as it has a ton of options most other fighting games don't have. The most notable thing for me, is the inclusion of hit boxes and being able to set attacks as reversal.
Hit boxes and frame data are a huge part of every fighting game and destroy the notion of 'priority' that novices come up with through lack of understanding. I'll give a quick explanation in order to help anyone out who isn't quite understanding why some moves beat others or why they might not be able to throw or get thrown in certain instances.
When you perform an attack in a fighting game, every attack, no matter if they're normals, specials, supers, ultras, or focus attacks have 3 states.
The first is Start Up, where the move hasn't come out yet and is in its initial beginning phases. Most attacks are vulnerable in this state and can get stuffed by other attacks. Things like sweeps and Mexican uppercuts (crouching fierces) tend to have more start up than things like jabs or shorts. A fierce tatsumaki probably has more start up than a light tatsumaki, so specials also tend to follow this rule of light-to-fierce hierarchy.
The second state is Active, the part of the attack that can actually hit your opponent and connect. If your active hit box comes into contact with your opponent's hit box, they will get hit and the move will connect or they'll block it if they're blocking correctly. Once a hadoken is performed, it is an active hit box until it hits something (opponent or another projectile) or it leaves the screen. Most people can figure out that a shoryuken is active until its peak, and stops being active on its decent.
This part of the attack is the Recovery, where your attack has finished being active and you are once against vulnerable to getting attacked. Where normals like roundhouse and fierce usually have more start up than jabs or shorts, the same is usually true for recovery. Fierce tatsumaki is, in most instances, easier to punish on block than short tatsumaki due to its recovery. There are times when this isn't true though, as some tatsus do more stun or space your opponent to a neutral position depending on the circumstances in the match up, so that is something to take notice of.
As far as hit boxes go, you only really need to know 3 or 4.
Blue Hit boxes: The area where you can be attacked. During neutral states, you should see multiple blue boxes enveloping the entire character model and certain areas around the character model. If a red box comes into contact with your blue box, hit detection will trigger and hit or block will occur. During Sagat's Tiger Shot only his head, chest, arm, and back leg are hittable. This means his front leg from about the knee down is not hittable. The lack of a blue hit box here means any attacks in that area will whiff. Bison's Psycho Crusher, however, only has one tiny blue hit box in the middle of that huge red hit box.
Red Hit boxes: If this box comes into contact with a blue hit box, hit detection occurs and hit or block come into effect. Bison's entire body is a red hit box during his Psycho Crusher, and thus is a pretty great attack, as the only part he's hittable at during it is in the middle of his body. A tiger shot here would attack him, but seeing as how Sagat has done it so close to Bison, the resulting attacks might trade since Sagat won't recover in time to block.
Green Hit boxes: The only one you'll see in the image above is Sagat's, which is noticeably behind him. This area is generally only used to prevent characters from moving through each other. In certain games this box is always active so that you can't pass through each other on the ground or in the air. If two green hit boxes touch they will repel each other, pushing each other in a direction or to a standstill. In this image, Bison doesn't have a green hit box, which means he can pass through Sagat's green hit box.
No Blue Hit box and Detecting Throw Hit boxes: The absence of a blue hit box means this character is completely invulnerable. Like the area under Sagat's knee, if any red hit box were to come into contact with that area no hit detection would occur. Sagat wouldn't get punished, nor would he have to block if he was neutral. The absence of a hit box also happens during other special moves, specifically the start up frames of a shoryuken or super. Not all shoryukens and supers have no blue hit boxes, but certain ones that don't are completely invulnerable, making them great reversals or anti-airs. These instances are sometimes referred to as i-frames (invincible frames) or moves that are invincible. Ken's Shoryuken in CE literally has no blue hit box whatsoever, so he's completely safe during the entire animation (from start up to recovery). In ST, however, he has a blue hit box on his back and head, allowing for cross ups or certain projectiles to hit him if timed correctly. Also notice the difference in Blanka's jump in roundhouses between CE and ST. In CE, any anti-air would probably result in the opponent getting stuffed, as he has no hittable area on his legs, where in ST you can at least trade since he now has a blue hit box.
As far as throw hit boxes, these are a little difficult to detect, as they are only active when throws are active. Since most throws (command or otherwise) are 1~3 frames, that means they're active for only very short periods of time. A lot of games give throw hit boxes a red hit box, similar to attacking hit boxes. Some might do yellow or other colors to differentiate, but the important thing to note is that these hit boxes have to come into contact with blue or hittable boxes in order for hit detection to occur. Some have large ranges (ST Gief piledriver) while others have short ranges (SSF4 Makoto karakusa). Keep in mind that these boxes can grab ANY hittable/blue hit boxes if they come into contact with them, which is why you might see Gief grab Dhalsim's neutral st. HP from full screen during its start up or recovery phases.
Knowing these things goes a long ways in figuring out true block strings, frame traps, footsies, and developing a ground game in general. You don't have to know all the frame data, but it certainly helps and goes a long way towards knowing what's safe and what's not. If you can wrap your head around these things, you'll start to develop a game that's generally 'safer' and less prone to getting punished as much.
One Last Thing About Training Mode...
Training mode is great for upping your execution and knowledge, but it also helps in getting rid of those bad tendencies you know you've built along the way. Everyone has at least one or two things they do that they know they shouldn't. It's part of the learning process to recognize these things and actively try to stop doing them. Training mode can be a tool that helps you do this. Execution is absolutely key in Street Fighter, and fighting games in general.
The best method for improving my execution was taught to me by a friend who was pissed off he couldn't perform hadokens any time he wanted them. He told me he sat there in training mode one day and tried to do 100 hadokens in a row and didn't stop until he did it. Afterwards, he claims he's almost never missed another hadoken input again. Muscle memory carries you through most matches once you no longer have to actively worry about executing something and the only way to achieve this is through repetition and grinding.
If you can do something 100 times in a row, as extreme as that may sound, you can generally assure yourself that you'll be able to do it on command, every time. From BOTH sides of the screen. Great execution is simply a matter of repetition and timing. So stop mashing throw, stop mashing reversals, stop mashing jab, and put the time in to learn how to execute properly by using training mode. You've read through all this already, so you're at least serious enough to give it a try.
NEXT TIME ON KAYDEE ARUPHA'S BANGAI STREETA FIGHTA TRAININGU!: The fun stuff...finally, YAY! (...or is it!?)
There's some pretty different ideas and opinions on what discerns the different levels of skill or play in Street Fighter depending on who you ask and what they value in terms of knowledge, execution, ability to adapt or analyze quickly, as well as how they perform under pressure. There are plenty of Gods of execution in the community who don't do that well or don't even participate in tournaments simply because being really great at only one aspect of the game doesn't carry you very far. Desk, one of my favorite guys in the community, has stated on a couple of occasions that he's played in tournaments before and done decently, but prefers and enjoys focusing more on game mechanics, exploits and what's possible within the boundaries of each game.
To be great in tournaments, and to a lesser extent, great at Street Fighter for local or online play, you need to be multifaceted and a jack of all trades. There are players who excel in one specific area or areas over other players, but in general they're able to win a majority of their matches because of the time, dedication, mental ability, and ultimately, love for their Street Fighter of choice because those things are pretty much a requirement for an entryway into high level play. I think of Street Fighter in terms of levels and how each player plays. Identifying that, and being able to recognize where on the plane of skill your opponents are at are ways of picking up techniques or things about the game you might not know very well or are just discovering for the first time. It's also good for recognizing how you should approach your opponent; should you respect them by not just trying to run them over with your play or should you enforce your style of play on the match in order to capitalize on an opponent who may not be able to deal well with it?
Playing a multitude of opponents with varying skill levels is, to me, a very good way of learning every aspect of the game. Lower level opponents might do things higher skilled opponents might not do at all because the risk factor may be too high, but if you never encounter them you might come across someone who stumbles onto that and exploits it. They might also do something completely by accident that could be applied to your game, but isn't something done too often, if at all. The one thing I can say about novices/noobs/scrubs/bad players is if they're resilient, they will develop a style of play around their limited skill after not too long. Some can be easy to figure out and overcome, but others might give you trouble and might end up beating you from time to time. Those are the players you want to play, the people who, with limited skill or knowledge, can still manage to beat you. They're frustrating at times because despite the skill gap, you know you might lose.
I've seen this a lot, and even run into it myself every now and then. People who 'turtle' or, defend the majority of the match only to time counteracts, are the ones I hear the most complaints about.
These guys have played long enough to figure out how to defend against the majority of the attacks in the game and know what's generally safe and what's generally punishable. They have very few openings because players who rely or build this game on this style very seldom make big mistakes that lead to obvious openings. However, they sometimes don't initiate an offense and it could be because of a lot of different things; maybe they don't have confidence in their execution, or maybe they're not sure of the match up. They could also be trying to frustrate you out of your style or game plan by simply creating no opportunities for you to punish. As someone who plays a very punish-heavy style, these opponents are sometimes hard for me to deal with. There are characters who generally do well while turtling, such as Guile, Remy, DeeJay, or really any charge character.
One thing I've come to realize about turtling is there are some very fundamental aspects to successful turtling that deserves a certain level of respect. For one, good turtles usually have footsies that range from solid to great.
Footsies is just a term for the spacing and timing of normals or in certain cases, other things like supers, focus attacks, or specials. A great example of this are Ryu players who, when not throwing hadokens or punishing jump ins with shoryus, walk forward while intermittently pressing cr.MK, or low forward. They're doing this for multiple reasons, some of which include preventing you from using forward dashes, advancing forward by walking, normals you're using to hit confirm into your own specials, or in certain instances, baiting you to counterattack it (SF2T is a good example of this). They could also be trying to force you to jump, as they may not have much in terms of footsies after you overcome their low forward or are trying to deter you from developing your ground game which, depending on your character, might be better or stronger than theirs. I've come to think of footsies in two different terms, which I'm borrowing from a guy who used this example for 3rd Strike, so shout out to that guy whose name I can't remember:
Close Normals(Blocked or hit normals) - normals that are within the range of a 100% chance of hitting your opponent for hit confirms or combos or that they block for pressure or chip damage if they come out. These normals are the ones you usually use in close range like a cr.LK, st.HP, close standing MK or forward+MP overheads. They're good up close and certain characters have better normals of this type than others. An example would be Ibuki vs. El Fuerte in SSF4. Ibuki's normals can cause a lot of pressure and can lead to some dangerous, high damage potential mix ups, while El Fuerte's normals aren't generally used in the same manner in most situations. Both play the same style of game plan (mix up or 50/50) though they have different methods of executing it. While Ibuki may have better close normals, El Fuerte has some pretty decent placed normals.
Placed Normals (Normals that hit from mid-range or whiff depending on what your opponent may or may not do) - these are normals that are some of my favorite, and can change the pace or style of a match. You'd use these for things like preventing players from dashing in or counter-poking an opponent's normal, for starters.
A favorite of mine in this instance (and I swear I was doing it before anyone thought she was even a good character) is Sakura's far standing HK in SF4. While it isn't cancelable or linkable (...though it might in very specific circumstances), it's great for punishing those shoto low forwards. It goes over most crouching normals and hits most crouching characters about face level while standing characters get hit from about the waist level. It's a good counter poke for shotos or people who just want to dash in or walk their way into close range. I'd use it a lot against Ryu and Zangief specifically because it stops the hadoken and low forward game from mid range and prevents Zangief from walking in, or trying to force me into the corner with his placed normals. There are counters to this poke, but it's a solid fundamental tool that forces players to adapt to it. This one aspect of the game will show you if your opponent is able to make adjustments and counter it, or if they struggle with dealing with it, allowing you to control the space and pace of the match.
Another aspect of placed normals is the cancel buffering properties certain placed normals have. Low forwards are great because you can cancel them into a multitude of specials or supers, as they're great hit confirms. As a result, you can throw one out and perform the special as if you'd expect it to hit and cancel anyway. It's beneficial because if the normal whiffs you're probably not going to get punished for it the first time (unless your opponent was expecting it or has crazy reaction speed) and the special won't come out. If you do connect the normal the special will proceed to come out and you'll begin to establish your ground game. My favorite example of this is in 3rd Strike, where you'll often see a crouching strong or forward whiff from just out of range in most matches. This serves two purposes; since dashes are really good in 3rd Strike, it will punish people who mistime or get predictable with their forward dashes, while it also punishes people might be trying to do the same with their placed normals as most low strongs or forwards can hit confirm into supers for great damage, giving you momentum, a knock down, and spacing, as most supers will send you towards the corner (where all characters die in 3rd Strike). It means you don't just get to used placed normals or dash in for free, so they become a double-edged sword in a game like 3rd Strike. They're effective in other SF titles too, as they're used to start characters without projectiles' ground game.
Footsies are a vital part of the game and learning how to utilize them to their fullest potential is the fastest path to evolving your game. Predicting a jump back from close range? Standing HK. Predicting a cross up? Lower your hitbox by doing a low forward. See a shoto whiff a low forward? Punish it with a sweep. You might not use every normal for every match, but certain normals are better in some match ups than they are in others. Grapplers usually get the full buffet of normals to keep them on their toes and prevent predictability. This falls into the zoning aspect, which the following video actually covers pretty nicely.
There's plenty more that goes into the category of footsies, such as baits and frame traps, but I'll cover those in the following entries. Next post I'll try not to tangent too much and cover the general ground game and how to go about establishing it and defending against it.
Final Note: As you can tell from the title and content of this post, I decided not to cover how to go about mixing up your offense and defense as midway through typing this up I came to realize that would be about 3 times longer than my previous post, which already was overwhelming to certain *cough* individuals. In an attempt to make this more palatable, I gave this section its own blog post in hopes that it wouldn't be too intimidating and it covers an area of the game I know a bunch of players are weak in. I'm going to ask on the forums as well, but if anyone reading this has questions or would like some more info concerning something they don't quite get or understand please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll try to cover it as best I can in the next entry.
As a guy who does pretty well competitively against some really good players in the fighting game community, I often come across other not-so-talented people looking to improve who ask me 'how can I get better at Street Fighter?' The question itself seems simple enough, and most people will point you in the direction of SRK's forums, YouTube tutorials, or tell you things like 'stop mashing and block more' that seem simple enough, but often lead to more questions than answers. SRK can be imposing for someone who's just starting out and doesn't know where to look/what questions to ask.
It's for that purpose that I finally, after much talk and little action, put into words just how to go about improving in Street Fighter. A lot of what I'll cover can be applied to other fighters as well, but for the sake of continuity and understanding I'll be covering Street Fighter. In these 'guides' I'll try to be as thorough as possible and explain things to the best of my ability, so the pacing will be slow as to drive home the points I'm trying to make.
The first thing we'll have to cover are the very basics of any Street Fighter game. These things apply to all Street Fighters and translate from game to game regardless of which version of Street Fighter you're playing. Keep in mind I'm talking 2, 3, Alpha series, and 4 exclusively. If you know how the mechanics of each game work, skip ahead to the introduction to save yourself the time.
(Edit 2/18/2014: Now that I have the other parts of the series up, I'm going to revise my earlier posts with links to the later stuff and some fix some stuff that needed correcting and editing. Part 2 which deals with footsies and identifying skill is here, Part 3 which deals with how to use the training room to improve ishere, and Part 4 which deals with mind games, reading your opponent, and training your opponent is here.)
Street Fighter is a 6-button fighting game that features some pretty complex, yet easy enough to learn mechanics that give the game an easy accessibility, while also providing for depth the more you learn about the game. Every game has the following;
LP - Light Punch, or jab.
MP - Medium Punch, or strong.
HP - Heavy Punch, or fierce.
LK - Light Kick, or short.
MK - Medium Kick, or forward.
HK - Heavy Kick, or roundhouse.
PPP/Px3 - Triple Punch, or all 3 punch buttons pressed simultaneously.
KKK/Kx3 - Triple Kick, or all 3 kick buttons pressed simultaneously.
These buttons are referred to as your character's normals. You have standing, crouching, air and sometimes command normals (meaning, a direction held and a normal at the same time, like Ryu's forward+MP 2-hit overhead). Some characters will have multi-hitting normals (Ibuki's standing HK when close) while others may have target combos, which are a sequence of normals hit in specific order (Ken's standing MP into HP when close in 3 and 4, or Dudley's chain combos). Not everyone will have these, so it's important to know what your character can and can't do. Some people will tell you that not all normals are essential. This is a lie. Every normal is essential and has its uses. It's up to you to figure out how and when each normal is applicable. You won't always use every normal, but by having every tool available to you, you will fare much better than the people who only use lights and heavies.
In SF3 and SF4, one can throw an opponent by pressing LK and LP at the same time. When close, you can choose how and where to throw an opponent depending on if you threw them while holding back, forward, or remained neutral on the joystick (no direction held). You can break a throw by 'teching' it by also pressing LK and LP at the same time.
In SSF2:Turbo, proximity of your opponent determines if they can be thrown or not. While close to an opponent you can press HP, HK, MP, or MK to activate a throw while holding back or towards on the joystick. If you're close enough you will throw your opponent. If not, you will perform the corresponding normal. You can tech throws in Super Turbo by teching in the same manner as performing a throw (HP, HK, MP, or MK), though you will still take half the damage. Not all characters have throws with the 4 aforementioned buttons too, as characters like Chun-Li can't throw with MK or HK, but can tech with those buttons. Keep in mind also that while the Super Turbo (or New/N.) characters can tech throws, Super (or Old/O.) characters can't tech throws at all.
In the Alpha series, throwing is done similarly to 2, only instead of just pressing HP or HK when close you press 2 punch buttons or 2 kick buttons at the same time. Teching applies similarly to SF3 and 4, where you will break a throw by pressing 2 kick or punch buttons at the same time your opponent goes for a throw.
In the Street Fighter series there exists 3 methods of blocking. Holding back will trigger high blocking. Holding down and back will trigger low blocking. Holding forward when your opponents jump over you will trigger cross up blocking. High blocking will block attacks that hit high, like standing normals or specials, overheads, or jump in attacks. Crouch blocking will block attacks that hit low, like crouching normals or specials. There are certain attacks that bypass these two methods of blocking by hitting you from behind. These attacks are called cross ups. For example, if Chun-Li holds down and forward while pressing HK when next to her opponent she will jump over you and kick your character in the back of the head.
This is a cross up attack and neither high nor crouch blocking can defend against it. In this instance only cross up blocking will work, which is performed by holding forward, or towards the direction your opponent advanced from. All 3 are necessary to play Street Fighter in order to protect yourself from being constantly hit. When used correctly, you will block all attacks that aren't throws or command grabs. Certain moves are unblockable (Ryu's Denjin Hadoken in 3, projectile set ups into Ultra in vanilla 4, or supers that create multi-hitting normals that can hit high and low when timed correctly like Yang's Seiei-Enbu or V-Isms in Alpha 2 and 3).
It's certainly true that you can't realistically block everything in a Street Fighter, as part of the strategy in Street Fighter is figuring out how to overcome your opponent's blocking by mixing up your attacks. However, by reacting appropriately and making the right reads you can block the majority of attacks and frustrate opponents or force them to try to throw you in order to open up their offensive game.
These are pretty basic, but I'll go over them anyway as I'm sure some people reading this might not be aware of certain specifics. Specials are the moves which require a series of inputs to execute. Hadoken, tatsumaki, shoryuken, sonic boom, flash kick, spinning pile drivers, teleports, and other similar moves are called specials and can have up to 4 different versions (though some only have 1, like teleports, while others only have 3, like command grabs in 2 and 3). A LP hadoken might not do as much damage or travel as fast as others, but it usually has less start up and recovery, meaning it's easier to time in order to not get hit during or after it's animation. An EX shoryuken from Ken in the IV series has more invincibility frames than a LP shoryuken (8 frames more if timed correctly), but requires 1 block of meter and can be more easily punished on blocked than a LP shoryuken because it has more recovery. Risk/reward is large part of Street Fighter and picking and choosing when to risk big or when not to risk big is part of the mental game between two knowledgeable opponents.
Each variation has it's specific use and purpose. Using the fierce or EX versions (using Px3 or Kx3 with the required meter available) isn't always the best option, so learning when to use each version can mean the difference between staying safe or getting punished, or getting the max damage from a punish or extending the combo.
Command grabs are considered specials, and are important to note as almost all command grabs (none that come to mind which don't) beat all regular throws. Depending on start up, they'll also beat the start up of certain normals or punish the recovery of certain normals. In general, command grabs only work at close distances and have significantly faster start ups than most normals or specials. This means that using normals or certain specials at close range against characters that have command grabs is generally not a good idea and should instead be used at ranges to keep these characters out of their command grab range, collecting damage along the way towards initiating their offense or getting frustrated into making mistakes.
Supers, or super moves, are often similar to the character's specials with some major differences. First, you'll notice the screen often denotes the execution of these moves with a momentary freeze of the screen and is followed by a scrolling background or changing the color of the background momentarily. These moves often do much more damage than specials and thus, require a full super meter to perform (or levels of meter depending on the game). You can combo into some similarly to how you would combo into specials (shinkuu hadoken, shoryu-reppa), or you can use certain ones by themselves (denjin hadoken, Necro's slam dance, T. Hawk's raging typhoon, Akuma's raging demon). Some supers even give your character's special properties (Makoto's Tanden Renki causes increased damage, Yun's Genei-Jin makes him broken by causing everything he does to become overwhelmingly amazing, Yang's Seiei-Enbu makes all specials and normals he does multi-hitting, V-Isms do the same throughout Alpha 2 and 3) while others don't really do much at all (Dan's super taunt, though they do have their uses).
Super command grabs are also very strong like their special counterparts and often do great damage while beating all other throws (Final Atomic Buster, Gigas Breaker) or can throw people out of the air like other command grabs (Megaton Press). A couple things to note about supers; some have invincibility on their start up while others don't, some are completely projectile invincible while others only have limited projectile invincibility, some have little to no start up while others have more start up than you would think, and some have overhead properties while others can be used as cross ups. It's very important to figure out the properties of your character's supers and how they can best be applied.
One final side note about Supers I have to mention is that the Alpha series, and 3 in particular, have a lot more varying Super options to choose from, making this section of that game I'll cover at a later point in time (if anyone is interested).
Cancels are simply canceling the animation or recovery of a normal or special into a special or super. Crouching MK into Hadoken (or cr.MKxxHadoken, where xx denotes a cancel) is a cancel, which can then be canceled into shinkuu hadoken during the hadoken cancel or you can bypass the hadoken cancel entirely and go straight into a shinkuu hadoken from a crouching MK cancel in 3rd Strike and SF4 (I believe cr.MK into Hadoken in ST is a link, correct me if I'm wrong though). You can also cancel certain normals into each other like crouching jabs or lights into each other, or by using chain combos like Guy's Bushin chain or Akuma's standing MPxxHP chain in 3rd Strike. Normals you can cancel into each other are chains, and some are cancelable (Ken's standing MPxxHP, Yun's 1-2-3 LPxxLKxxMP, Guy's LPxxMPxxHP) into supers or specials.
Basically combos that aren't cancels. In SF4 you can choose to cancel light attacks (LK or LP) or link them. One example would be Adon, who can't chain light attacks, but can link them. You're allowing the first attack to recover completely and timing the second attack to connect before your opponent recovers. Ryu's close standing MK links into a crouching jab depending on timing and distance in 3rd Strike. Makoto's standing MP links into itself in SF4. Characters like Rose and DeeJay often use links to hit confirm or combo into their specials or supers in SF4 as well, so links are very important.
Here's a video that goes a little more in depth if that all seems confusing to you:
Okay, that was easy enough, now the real introduction.
Got all that down? Seem like a lot? Pfft, we're just getting started. I could write Bibles of information about Street Fighter, there's so much to know and learn. But that isn't why you're here. Chances are you've played before and already know all that stuff. You're here because you know all that and still feel like you suck or need a lot of improvement. Chances are, you know basic strategies and what characters can do, but you just can't seem to win by fault of execution or not being able to figure things out. Or, let's say you can only play one character and can't seem to use anyone else in the cast.
The cool thing about Street Fighter is that, for as much stuff as there is to learn and play with, there are only 3 or 4 types of input-type motions that all of the cast relies on.
Motion input characters that use quarter circles and half circles, as well as shoryuken motions (like Ryu, Ken, Rose, Sagat, Fei-Long, etc.)
Charge characters that use back or down charge timings (Blanka, Bison, Balrog, Vega, Urien, Remy, etc.)
Grapplers that use half circles, 360, or 720 inputs for command grabs (Zangief, Hugo, Abel, Alex, Hakan, etc.)
And super jump-cancel characters (being able to cancel the recovery or animation of a normal/special by instantly super jumping, performed by pressing down and then up) that are beyond even most player's execution which require sacrificing your soul to some dark deity and the blood of some virgin creature (Ibuki, C. Viper, also see Gods of Execution Desk, Sakonoko, Latiff)
In general, Street Fighter characters often are a mix of most of these types of moves and learning each kind will open up the roster to you. An example of a character who uses a lot of different input motions is Alex in 3rd Strike, who uses quarter circles, charge moves, and half circles. Another example would be Ibuki who uses jump-cancels, quarter circles, and half circles. If you learn how to execute all the special moves in the game, you can start learning how to play different characters.
And that's where I'm starting. How to go about learning characters, what makes them easier to learn/better/stronger than other characters and how to identify which characters best suit your playing style.
First things first, we have to know what type of execution you have. Not everybody can perform everything at will all the time, and without lots of practice you'll be eating a lot of punishes from skilled or experienced players. So if you're more comfortable performing charge moves, Guile or Honda might be a better fit for you than Ryu or Ken in the beginning. The importance here is to feel comfortable with being able to execute the basics with your character. If you know you can get Sonic Boom more often than you can get Hadoken, start from there. If you feel comfortable with the type of character he or she is, it will be easier to go about learning how to play them. If you're trying to play outside your comfort zone to expand your knowledge of the cast, even better, as you'll have to do this at some point to gain a complete knowledge of the game anyway.
So let's just assume you've never seen this character you're trying to learn before and aren't sure what he/she can do. Most fighters these days have move lists or command lists which have a set of varying specials, supers, and command normals/unique attacks that are specific to that character. A command list looks like the following:
While this move list doesn't show everything the character can do, it does give you their basic special and super/ultra commands. Ken can perform his Shoryuken by inputting down, moving the joystick to forward, and then moving it to down and forward while pressing any punch button. Chun-Li, however, has charge moves that aren't very well explained by this move list. Her Spinning Bird Kick is a charge move, though you'd have to infer that by the "HOLD" text between her inputs. To perform her SBK you'd hold down on the joystick for about 2 real life seconds and then press up and any kick button. Her Kikouken would be performed by holding back for 2 seconds and then pressing forward and any punch.
Before you attempt using your new character in a fight though, you'll need to be able to perform these supers and specials at a fairly consistent rate from BOTH sides of the opponent. I know a lot of players have told me "I can only do this certain thing from the right side." That happens to a lot of people when they're first starting out, myself included, but being handicapped to one side is a huge weakness any smart opponent will undoubtedly exploit. Learn how to execute on both sides and most importantly, know how each command should be inputted correctly to prevent a lot of execution errors resulting in a punish or missed damage opportunities. For input specifics, I'll cover some that in a later entries, as it has a whole bevy of intricacies that require their own section. For now, getting the basics of specials, supers, and command normals/unique attacks down and familiarizing yourself with them is the only goal here.
Once you feel like you know your character's specials and supers, learn their normals. I can't stress this part enough. Seriously, normals are just about 50% of Street Fighter and are ABSOLUTELY VITAL FOR COMPETENT PLAY. For example, a character like Honda doesn't have any normals remotely similar to a character like Dhalsim. Honda usually has some decent air normals like his neutral jumping HP (straight up and HP, which you can then move forward or back a little while airborne in 4) while Dhalsim's normals depend on if he's neutral or holding back on the joystick. Dhalsim's standing HP will go almost 3/4's of the screen to hit your opponent while his standing HP while holding back or blocking will cause him to attack with a headbutt that will only hit at very close range. The same goes for his jumping normals. A neutral jumping HP will hit as an overhead on crouching opponents from a good distance while a neutral jumping HP while holding back will cause the headbutt to come out and isn't very good at all in most instances.
Normals should be learned for the following purposes; canceling, hit confirming, anti-airing, knockdowns, resets, linking, frame trapping, zoning, pressuring, punishing, and tic throwing. Learn what normals hit only high, only low, as an overhead, as a cross up (MKs in most instances), which can be parried high, low, or both, etc. One of the first things I do when learning a character is learning what their anti-airs are. Some character's specials work as anti-airs, while others have to rely mostly on normals. Anti-airing doesn't always work the same way twice in certain games (3rd Strike more specifically) and thus you need to know how to anti-air people in a multitude of ways.
Makoto in 3rd Strike has more anti-air options than her Super 4 counterpart because of the differences in the system mechanics between the two games. However, just based on normals, she has limited anti-air options. Her standing MP or MK might result in a trade with jump in attacks where her crouching MK might outright beat jump in attacks or lower her hit box enough to make the jump in miss, or whiff. She has a great jumping MK and a pretty good jumping LP (as almost everyone in 3rd Strike does), so those options are available to her instead of just risking getting beat by an air parry or jump in attack. By jumping back and timing her MK in the air, she loses some ground, but prevents being pressured after the jump in attack and stays in a comfortable space where she can dash in to pressure her opponent after or continue to play footsies with her normals from a safe distance (similar to how she can jump up and immediately attack with her HP in 4). Her best anti-air, like many others in 3rd Strike, is to parry the jump in attack, as it sets her up for a quick karakusa (her command grab) or hit confirm into punish (standing HP cancel into HP hayate). Of particular note here is the system mechanics for 3S and 4, as parries and focus attacks can be used as anti-airs as well that lead to much better damage opportunities in most instances. The Alpha series after 1 has V-isms that work well as anti-airs too.
Another thing I like to check for, that I know a ton of people do as they love to exploit it to a fault, is to find the quickest normal I have in order to start pressure or use for tic throwing. One of the things I come across most is people who rely on their crouching LP or LK between block strings or attacks. This is a bad habit mostly brought on by SF4, as most hit confirms in that game start with a jab or short. It's good for hit confirms only really in that game, as elsewhere it's hard to get much out of jabs or shorts alone. The negative side to relying on these normals is they are very, very easily punishable. A quick reversal, well spaced normal, or parry leave you open for a lot of damage and experienced players will punish you heavily for relying on these normals.
(I have to admit, this is my favorite series on YouTube. I don't know who the guy is that uploads these, but he's got a fan in me.)
Most character's quickest normals are their jabs and shorts, so knowing the max number of times you can connect these attacks in a combo or chain is important to your spacing and pressure game. While it may seem like you're safe to do these attacks, just like everything else in these games, there is recoveryandyou can be punished with well timed attacks. I use these normals mostly for block pressure, tic throws, and hit confirms, though they can also be used as baits (throw out a safe one on your opponent's wake up to bait out a reversal) or as misdirection (throw out one that whiffs if I know my opponent is likely to block or fish for a parry so that I can get a throw in or use another quick normal to hit confirm into something). They're also good for spacing, as a blocked chain of 3 crouching lights (LP or LK) usually put shotos in good range for crouching MK hit confirms. The spacing of push back on block or hit is something to consider and another reason why knowing the range and speed of your normals is important.
Another thing about normals is figuring out which normals are cancelable and which normals I can link to and from. I'm sure everyone's seen Ryu's crouching MK into fireball cancel at this point, but a good number of people probably haven't seen his far standing MP (MP when not in close range) cancel into shoryuken or tatsumaki in 4. In general, the crouching MK is of far better use than his far standing MP, as it has better range and is easier to hit confirm from, but knowing you can cancel from far standing MP can be useful too as it does 20 more damage and might catch your opponents off guard. In general though, you want to find those 1 or 2 normals that will become your 'go-to' normals for hit confirming and canceling into specials and/or supers. in 3rd Strike, Ryu has multiple cancelable normals, each depending on how close or far you are to your opponent. His close standing HP, which is very fast and does great damage and stun, is cancelable, while his far standing HP is only cancelable into his HK chain combo. His close standing MK is cancelable while his far standing MK is not. Learning which normals to use for cancels is the first step in learning how to hit confirm into specials and supers. Also important to note is which specials are cancelable into supers, like Ken's shoryuken into shoryureppa or Honda's hundred hand slap into his super in 4 (I forget the name, something like Killer Head Ram).
While canceling is a great and important utility of normals, linking is also very important, as it can extend combos, build more meter, increase damage potential, and lead to some devastating punishes or mix up opportunities. Link combos like Ryu's crouching MP into another crouching MP or standing LP into a crouching HK in 4 are integral to extending combos or scoring knock downs. They also can be used as frame traps or set ups for tic throws, to throw your opponent off or if you don't feel confident in your link timing. For example, if you land a crouching MP your opponent will probably expect another crouching attack before you cancel into a special or super, so you might be able to sneak a throw in (if your opponent isn't mashing inputs). The next time, your opponent might try to tech the throw so you can try for that link and have a greater chance of landing it if it doesn't link since it will hit your opponent trying to tech a throw. Certain specials and supers can also be linked in specific situations (Ken's shippu-jinrai from almost any normal is one example in 3rd Strike), though that's a bit advanced and mostly something you'll see from very skilled players, as there is a large risk factor involved in those links (whiffing supers is generally a really bad move as you lose meter and certain whffed supers set you up for big punishes).
Normals are the tools you need to start playing your character to their potential, and are the gateway to becoming a better player. Once again, you may not always use every normal, but having every normal available to you is much better than being limited to a few good ones. Some of the best players use seemingly every normal at their disposal (Smug with Dudley or Sabin with Dhalsim in 4 are prime examples) and it gives their opponents more to look out for, helping predictability become less likely and giving them a greater chance to win.
Practice these things in training mode and against players who are a little less skilled than you are in order to become familiar with them and get used to using them in matches more often and you'll find they become second nature after not too long. Train yourself to be diligent in timing and each input. Every input should serve a purpose outside of just getting random damage and training yourself to recognize when to press buttons will help your hit confirming, link timing. counter-hitting, and block stringing exponentially.
Next Blog Entry: How to identify an opponent's general skill level and use normals correctly is uphere.
I don't use my blog often, as evidenced by the lack of posts or content on it, but that's simply because the front page is so goddamned terrible with ads and badly designed layouts that I try to avoid anything outside of the forums like minorities paying taxes. The following is a brief rundown on my comparison of Street Fighter III and IV, and why I prefer one over the other (try to figure out which one!).
Having spent a considerable time playing SFIV before ever attempting to really play SFIII competitively, I can tell the mindset of players simply based on their preference between the two. It's similar to 'downloading' someone's play style or being able to judge a personality based on a certain criteria. Also, learning the history of the FGC and how cutthroat high level play is in fighting games gives a unique insight into why people prefer a game like SFIV over SFIII. Put on your reading bifocals and ready your panties for wadding, this is going to be a long post with a lot of long-winded, run-on sentences.
First, let's take a look at each series to get a feel for what type of game each one was trying to be. If you can understand what the developers were attempting to make, you might understand why you may or may not like the respective games.
Street Fighter III debuted almost 17 years ago, in the midst of what some consider the golden age of fighting games. Around this time you had the Street Fighter Alpha/Zero, Street Fighter Vs., King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat, and Darkstalkers/Vamprire Savior series'. That's a lot of fighting games with a lot of different mechanics and varying casts each with a plethora of normals, specials, supers, combos, and match up knowledge and that's without even mentioning any 3D fighters. It's easy to understand how SFIII could be overlooked when the game only featured 2 of the original SFII cast, and had a bunch of new characters in a game that featured new mechanics. The art style, music, story, cast and mechanics were very different than previous iterations. The concept of the game was to create an entirely new Street Fighter, with a focus on depth of gameplay and making as technical a fighter as possible in order to stand out in a sea of other fighters.
In contrast, Street Fighter IV comes out almost a decade after the previous entry in the series, with the genre mostly dead or on life support, as most titles released for the genre had moved on to the 3D realm, leaving 2D fighting a thing of the past. It has no real competition and comes out after most have already written the series off as dead or too old and outdated. The game's producer, Yoshinori Ono, did several interviews about Street Fighter IV leading up to and after it's release. Of note and particularly relevant to this post is this excerpt from an interview I read awhile back and found here (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2009/feb/12/gameculture-xbox) which explains the concept behind IV and its contrast to Street Fighter III:
"I think that the Street Fighter series is comprised of games geared toward certain classes or levels of players. Each title or offshoot in the series has been very much aimed at, and tuned for, players of a given ability level. The most notable example of this would be the venerable SFIII series.
Because III was released after both II and Alpha, the market was populated with a very talented set of players who had honed their skills on those titles that had come before. As a result, III was very much aimed toward the proclivities of these hardcore players. It is a game with tremendous depth, most of which can only truly be tapped by very skilled players.
This time around, we've made a very conscious and very deliberate effort to adopt the same rules, the same sort of "feel" on display in II and update it to become a new fighting "tool" for the modern age. That was this project's driving concept from the start. That's why I'm thrilled that you even asked this question. It shows that our efforts have paid off and that you recognise the connection we're attempting to establish.
If we take a moment to consider fighting games as "tools" rather than games, we can say that the SFII series was the sort of fighting tool that was enjoyed by a simply staggering number of players. None of us of a certain age need to consult the manual to know how to play. The "rulebook" is simply embedded into our brains at this point. The inherent familiarity of this system is terribly important. The same goes for sports or any other kind of game. The shorter the barrier of entry, the easier it is for a player to grasp the rules, the more likely you are to draw a large number of people in. This is especially important for games with a one on one aspect. Both players should have a basic familiarity with how to play the game if we really want a fair fight.
This philosophy is what drove – and what is driving – all aspects of the development of IV, from the character lineup, to the general rules and basic gameplay elements, to the game balance itself."
So while SFIII was specifically designed to cater to skilled players who could enjoy a fighter with a wealth of depth, SFIV was designed for a much wider audience to enjoy and learn by lowering the bar of skill required to be competitive. Because let's face it, not too many players are sticking around if they can't win after a few matches. The casual fan just wants to pop in the game, win a few, lose a few, and call it a day. Mashable inputs, comeback mechanics, easy combos, easy reversals to escape pressure, and character familiarity lower the entry point for 'competitive play' and allow novices to enjoy the product while hopefully learning a few mechanics and techniques along the way. Such was the quest I embarked on when I first started playing IV online. It wasn't until I ran across players who knew what they were doing that I learned everything I thought I knew about Street Fighter was terribly wrong and misguided.
I was the online scrub, mashing and jumping in with a recklessness I can now enjoy laughing at, having once been there myself. However, unlike a great majority of players, I wasn't satisfied with just beating my friends and a few online randoms. I wanted to beat everyone. And I meant everyone. The guys I knew, the guys online, the guys at the arcade, and even the ones on YouTube. So I spent countless hours playing matches and watching videos, asking questions and seeking stronger and more skilled opponents. After learning the mechanics and basics, I became addicted. What was once a personal quest was now an unhealthy obsession with higher levels of play against more skilled opponents. I read up on frame data, hit boxes, tier lists, match up specifics, player tendencies, character specialists, execution techniques, articles written by FGC veterans and all sorts of archaic knowledge in the hopes that doing so would make me a better player.
And it has. I started winning local tournaments and beating everyone around me. I outgrew the competition and sought out opponents online, eventually winning most of the time against a good 85% of my opponents. My Super IV player data reads that over 6000 online matches, I've won 78% of them. That's a huge improvement from a guy who mashed out everything and couldn't block cross ups.
Yet, the 15% of opponents I couldn't beat bothered me. Why couldn't I beat them? What did they have or what did they know that I didn't? Was it arcade sticks? Was it secret techniques that players were reluctant to share or archaic knowledge you couldn't find unless you knew what to look for? I was convinced it had to do with set ups and okizeme, the weakest parts of my game. So I looked for how to improve those things and that is where I started to not only fall out of love with Street Fighter IV, but actually come to dislike and even hate certain parts of the game.
The techniques and set ups I was learning about couldn't be applied against anyone in this game because the game's mechanics weren't designed for them to be successful. Higher level play doesn't work against lower level opponents. To make matters worse, I came to discover option selects and just how much they took away from the thinking aspect of the game. One of my favorite things I learned was mix ups. There's nothing like getting in your opponent's head and making all the right reads and decisions, forcing your opponent to change his play style or frustrate them into accepting defeat or quitting outright. Nothing says 'I give up, you're better than me' quite like rage quitting. However, mix ups only work on people who are disciplined in not letting inputs fly and know the repercussions of getting punished for bad decisions like whiffed/blocked shoryukens/ultras. That, unfortunately, does not describe SFIV's community. Not through any true fault of their own, but because the game rewards these types of things. I've had so many close games lost at the end simply because in the middle of a block string or mix up an ultra or shoryuken catches me and decides the game.
After almost 3 years, I decided enough was enough and I needed to play a fighter where these things were not the norm. Where these types of things were not only rare, but instead punished the player for attempting these things. Where mix ups were rewarded and the flow of matches was much smoother and faster paced. Where I had a variety of characters that didn't all play like clones of each other with slight variances. Where skill was rewarded and the better you were the deeper the game. Where I didn't have to worry about getting scrubbed out by mashers.
And then 3SOE happened.
Not only does the game have all of the aforementioned, but it has a rich backlog of information and matches I could quickly learn from. And players with years of experience able to answer my questions mid-match, showing me the answers in game if I asked.
The FGC is a rough community. There's plenty of assholes who are looking to get their kicks by being dicks about winning while offering nothing towards the learning experience. SFIV is plagued with them online. Thus the independent research and application of what I've learned and watched and re-watched. The one thing I can say about the community on a whole though is if you are really trying to learn the game and ask the right questions, there are people who will answer them. There are people who try to advance the scene's overall skill level by trying to educate as many players as possible. They understand that the stronger the novices are the stronger the higher level competitors will be. It's a win-win for everybody, but not in a game that rewards bad play and has auto-pilot decision making that deters or weakens a player's ability to perform in pressure situations or make good reads.
So, in a very long winded way, what I'm saying is SFIII is in no way comparable to SFIV. SFIII is not only chess, it's 3D chess in a labyrinth filled with death traps. Each decision could be fatal. Every read could cost you the match. It's high stakes Street Fighter for players who like technical, analytical Street Fighter.
SFIV is the game equivalent of rolling the dice, with the house always coming away the winner and the loser only becoming more desperate to win. Only they can't, because you can't outthink the game, you can only hope it's shitty rules and many loopholes somehow tricks the game into letting you win. So you try any tactic, no matter how they're viewed, just to come away with a sense of accomplishment.
...but no matter if you win or lose, you haven't gained any experience or understanding. You can only get so good at the game before succumbing to its crippling ruleset and being forced to play the way it wants you to play. You have to use safe jump set ups. You have to drop block strings. You have to use frame traps. You have to use option selects. You have to play defensively with a majority of the cast. You have to depend on just one or two tactics to win. Zone or vortex. And now that USF4 has weakened vortexes considerably, what's left? More characters that will fall prey to the bad mechanics and badly programmed hit boxes? Isn't it sad that the only way the game can keep interest is by adding more characters? The game IV was based on, II, still holds a ton of interest, having weekly tournaments for the last two decades at arcades in Japan like Gamespot Versus or Nakano Royal and it hasn't had an update since HDR.
The IV series has already lost so much interest in the last 3 years that people want other fighters to take its spot as the main event at Evo, where Street Fighter has always been the main event. Does anyone really believe that IV will have the longevity of II, Alpha, or 3S? Especially in this fickle gamer scene, where the majority of gamers travel from triple-A title to triple-A title with little to any thought or concern that the new game they're playing is exactly like the last game they played.
Only, in the case of SFIV, the games actually get worse and the issues the first game had never got resolved. Each iteration got worse the more characters they added. In Super, TKCS Cammy and an entirely new roster of weaker characters swung the balance of the game wildly in favor of a half-dozen or so characters. AE changed that by making everyone worse while adding a character that the developer purposely made overpowered in Yun, making the game a 1-character competitive scene. AE v2012 addressed the issues with the top tier by making previous iterations of the top tier stronger while nerfing Yun and making OS's the effective go-to mechanic for high level play. The ridiculous amount of work it takes to make the game fun now is what makes the game not fun now, and I'm grateful for 3rd Strike, a game with its own issues, but nowhere near the constant bullshittery offered up on a dishearteningly consistent basis in IV.