Footsies are a rather integral part of some games, while other games seem to lack them quite a bit. The interesting thing about Monster is that due to the way the game is designed it seems that there are characters who can really utilize footsies, while other characters don't necessarily need to rely on them. Thus, you're able to select your character based on what style of play you prefer, which is probably why a lot of GuiltyGear and MeltyBlood players naturally gravitate to Rail and Siely.

In order to understand why, let's take a look at what defines footsies. Footsies isn't easy to define in a single sentence because it's more of a concept than a single action. In fact, footsies combines several gaming techniques in to one, and when players refer to footsies they are generally referring to the act of affectively using multiple techniques.

Footsies implies the application of: Zoning, spacing, poking, feinting, "psychic DP", and baiting.

Zoning is the act of controlling space with one or more moves that can't be "beat" very easily by the opponent. For example, throwing a fireball controls the space that the fireball inhabits because the fireball itself does not have a hittable box, it only has a hitbox. Thus, the fireball can hit, but it can not be hit in return. Ryu's fireball controls the space directly in front of him and for a long as the fireball is active as it travels across the screen.

Spacing is the act of putting your character in an advantageous position on the screen, which is generally just outside of the opponents poke range. If you were to take Cammy and perform all of her normal moves on the ground and also all of her vertical jumping moves you would be able to visually see the space that she can zone/control. Now if you were to step just outside the maximum range on all her pokes then you are properly spaced. Cammy can not directly hit you unless you act, but if Cammy acts you can then hit her outstretched limbs as they recover. Spacing generally involves keeping yourself as close to your opponent's attacks as possible without actually getting hit by them. The purpose of this is to pressure your opponent and also to capitalize on whiffed moves. If you can imagine standing next to Urien and he jumps vertically, you then move backwards on reaction until you are standing just outside his jumping roundhouse range, Urien then comes down with a jumping roundhouse and it whiffs -- you've just spaced yourself on reaction. Although there was a chance to hit Urien out of the air for an advantage, there was also a chance for Urien to hit you or force you to block leading to a disadvantage, by spacing yourself just outside his range you've actively removed the risk. The other point of doing this is to limit your opponents options so that you can actively look for and react to your opponents valid options. If you space yourself by standing just outside of all of Ryu's attacks other than his crouching roundhouse, you know that he therefor can not hit you with anything except a fireball or a crouching roundhouse. Thus, any time you see him flinch you know to watch out for one of the two.

Poking is similar to zoning, but the key difference is the move that you poke with is not necessarily a "high priority" attack, but rather a move that has very fast recovery and is therefor "safe" to stick out. The intention of a poke is not necessarily to zone, but rather to bait and pressure. For example, Ryu's crouching medium kick is an affective poke despite it not being a very good zoning move. It only controls a short amount of space directly in front of him and very low to the ground and can be "beat" by a lot of attacks, however it has a long hit duration and very short recovery so it's not likely to be punished on whiff -- at least not on reaction but more likely on anticipation.

Feinting is the act of performing the beginning of an action but quickly changing it to another action. Which is a way of exploiting anticipation and reaction based techniques. This makes your opponent believe that you are doing one action in the attempt to trick them into countering your action, when in reality you are going to do a different action. If you can imagine some one raising their fist, pulling it back, and swinging it halfway toward you but then kicking you in the shin instead; this is a feint. Ryu had this sort of technique in Street Fighter Alpha 3 -- he was able to perform a "fake" fireball, which looked exactly like his regular hadouken except no fireball actually left his hands. You might see how this is affective if you can imagine Ryu pressuring you into the corner and spacing himself perfectly for a fireball, and then performing what looks like a fireball so you jump on reaction to it, but then no fireball leaves his hands. Games like Garou: Mark of the Wolves attempted to implement actual feint moves for all characters, but sadly due to the way the game worked the feints ended up being more useful in combos than for actual feints. Bust Basara in Samurai Shodown had a feint move where-in he would create an image projection of himself that would move in a particular way, while the original Basara would remain temporarily invisible -- this let Basara trick the opponent into thinking he jumped, for example, when in reality he was still on the ground. Anji in Guilty Gear has somewhat of a feint with the ability to perform his taunt which looks very similar to one of his overheads, but then he can quickly cancel it into a low attack. However, almost every game has some kind of a feint that can be used on a fallen opponent. After knocking the opponent down it's possible to whiff a very fast attack over the persons body to make them believe you're attempting a meaty, when in fact you are not. Again, the intention of this is to trick your opponent into believing you're doing one thing when you are in fact doing another.

"Psychic DP" refers to the concept of anticipation. Being able to anticipate your opponents actions by limiting their options and pressuring them into making a predictable move if a huge part of footsies. When you're able to trap your opponent and make them believe that they simply must attack in order to not get hit, that's when you've won. A psychic DP is literally what happens when you walk forward and pressure you opponent, and then DP on anticipation to your opponents retaliation. It's only really risky if you're not sure your opponent would try and attack, but in by limiting and isolating your opponents options and pressuring them into sticking something out you have removed the risk. Often a lesser form of anticipation that everyone might be familiar with is sitting and waiting for an opponent to jump or short jump, then immediately anti-air with something like a DP -- this wasn't necessarily done entirely on reaction but some part of it was anticipation.

Baiting is essentially countering the "Psychic DP" or exploiting a weak "Psychic DP" in the sense that your intention is to make your opponent look for something and then do another. The act of baiting is simply the application of countering/abusing poor anticipation. For example, if you make them afraid of an overhead by doing multiple overheads in a row and make them start looking for that overhead so that they can block high on reaction, then that's when you walk up and throw them because they were too busy looking for that overhead. Likewise if you know they are sitting there waiting for you to short jump so they can anti-air you they won't be looking for dash-ins and visa versa. If you constantly do short jumps at your opponent and your opponent begins to start doing DP's on reaction you've gotten into their head, you now know that when you successfully put yourself in the position for a short jump they will be looking for it and are too busy looking for that one thing, so then they don't see another. I call this "mental tunnel vision". If you're too busy concentrating on looking for one particular action from your opponent, then your vision is too narrow to see anything other than that particular action.

Pretty much everyone should be familiar with the Bait at least on a receiving end because pretty much all games utilize the idea of forcing you to look for one particular thing so that you can react to it, and thus players will naturally tend to abuse that by making you look for that one thing and then hit you with another. This exists very prominently in games like SF3:3rd, Guilty Gear, and Capcom vs SNK 2 and perhaps exists in all games at least on some level.

As said, footsies is the application of learning to use each of these techniques against your opponent and learning how your opponent uses footsies against you. Your goal is to either gain momentum or force your opponent into the corner -- To quote John Choi "walking forward is the most important part of footsies.". Once you gain momentum or corner your opponent you have gained an advantage by putting your opponent at a direct disadvantage.

Monster seems to have some level of footsies between characters. The reason why I singled out Siely and Rail is because those characters are able to avoid most of these techniques by mindlessly rushing down or "rushing away", respectively. Meaning, these characters are all about randomly mixing high/low and left/right games which are more of a gamble, or running away and attacking completely safely. When you play these two characters there's very little application of any of the aforementioned techniques.

Siely's whole objective is to connect just about any move so that she can continually attack you high/low while leaving very very little frame disadvantage between attacks. This is because she is able to continue attacking high/low without any sort of retaliation until she eventually hits you, and once she hits you she is able to just randomly pick what direction to hit you from on wakeup (left/right and/or high/low). Naturally there is at least a little bit of application of the aforementioned techniques because she does at least need to connection something to begin rushing down, but with the point and shift systems in place she does not even need to offensively try to hit you -- she can simply wait and block her way to a point advantage and utilize powerbreaks to gain momentum. In a way, her playstyle is very similar to what's seen in Vampire Savior or MeltyBlood -- Her dash allows her playstyle to be similar to Morrigan (Vampire) and I-No (GuiltyGear).

Rail on the other hand is quite the opposite. His objective is to avoid everything and keep himself as safe as possible while still attacking. This means he utilizes safe moves, backdashes, and frame advantage as much as possible. Rail does apply zoning at least, but apart from that his whole game is to avoid everything else until his opponent makes a mistake. Rail's playstyle is rather similar to what's seen in MeltyBlood and some characters in Guilty Gear.

I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, though. What this really means is that there is a variety of viable play-styles within a single game, which I personally find interesting. The good news is I've personally experienced all of the aforementioned techniques in Monster at least on some level, which makes me believe that it is a true fighting game. Hopefully as the author, ShoK, continues to work on the game the characters will get more fleshed out and more dynamic and depth will be added to the game. I'm personally hoping that things are added to this game, and not taken away.

- Copyright © Xenozip.


Crow Winters said...

You should cover all the characters in this! This is a great post. :)

AyaImmortal said...

Good post xeno. Very good sir

Maj said...

You're right that it is a difficult subject to explain. None of the short definitions are useful.

My own definition listed in my SF Terminology Encyclopedia v1.2 is that footsies is a subset of zoning focusing primarily on close range normals, where the most common goals are to knock the opponent down and set up crossup opportunities.

It contains a glimpse of what footsies entails but doesn't quite make the concept accessible to newcomers. In fact, even that is a misnomer because a LOT of veteran fighting game players don't know how to play footsies. In a lot of cases they simply found ways to avoid it by using characters that don't need to play footsies or can prevent the opponent from playing footsies.

Actually i remember a player named blt who would hang out in #capcom a lot. He kept asking people for a definition of footsies, but of course most of the best footsies players can't define it in words. He kept trying to get a working definition of it, but nobody could really give him one that didn't confuse him further. This was back when i first found the competitive SF scene so i definately didn't know enough to help him. But i could definately identify pieces of the puzzle whenever i watched Valle play.

Footsies has gradually become my favorite part of Street Fighter. But if someone asked me to define it, i would have to request at least two weeks to prepare a response.

- Maj

Xenozip. said...

Yeah, it seems to be a strange phenomenon with western players, to know of something but not know how to define it.

Another strange phenomenon is when players start to mimic certain techniques that they have seen, but without knowing why they do it. This is especially common with western GuiltyGear players who will often do things the Japanese players do, but then the results end up different because the western players often don't realize why the particular technique is used.

The most tragic phenomenon is when there actually are players out there able to define things, but then other players with less experience and understanding argue that the definition is incorrect. All too often have I seen informative posts on forums get polluted by misguided players disagreeing.

And the unfortunate thing about this is that the best remedy is first-hand experience, which is difficult due to geographics. It's not even about the shortcomings of a persons ability to explain with words. Sometimes you just can't teach someone something unless you beat it into them.

Maj said...

True, all of that stuff does happen, but i think it's unfair to blame western players for struggling with academic definitions of footsies. The concept is so complex, that you may as well define it as "close-range critical thinking." When you try to create a comprehensive definition of footsies, that definition refuses to end. We could write books on the subject.

Barring misuses of terminology/slang, i think most western players are more than adequate at explaining the basic components of intermediate play. Especially with the more "technical" games such as CvS2 and 3S, lots of players hang out on random fighting game forums who have read every article they can get their hands on. It's just that you get to a point where it's no longer about what's a safe poke and what's a good combo.

Once you cross over into the realm of mindgames, everything becomes way more difficult to pin down. And it's not necessarily necessary for success. Like i said, some of the best footsies players are terrible at explaining the components they themselves have invented. Nothing wrong with that. After all, not everyone is interested in turning SF into an online university. Most top players are interested primarily in being top players.

- Maj

Xenozip. said...

Right you are again. Although let me just say that I didn't mean to imply that westerners are at fault for being unable to define; rather I was just simply noting how common of an occurrence it is. I agree that players can get exceptionally good at playing without knowing much of what they are doing, and it isn't really a bad thing.

Although, by "tragic" I did actually mean that it's a shame when acclaimed pro-players finally are able to voice accurate details on subjects, but then the results somehow get polluted with nonsense from less knowledgable players. I can't count how many times I've seen players like Viscant post the truth, only to have it be muddled away with an onslaught of disagreements by other players. The threads end up going in circles and eventually die or get locked. I think the only reason why people listen so intently to players like Buktooth is that he doesn't try to argue -- either you listen or you don't.

And you are so very right, most players just want to play. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. If anything, they are helping the people they play more by physically showing what they are talking about, rather than putting it into words.

Although, sometimes words can open up whole new doors for people who weren't able to see with their eyes. There is a reason why we label everything, after all.