Theory Fighter

A lot of people have been talking about what they would change in Monster and potential adjustments to the game/characters. Personally that kind of makes me sad because I really like the game how it is right now, and who knows how it would play with all these little adjustments. It is kind of fun to debate theory for a little while though. I wish other people were enjoying the game as much as I am. Then again, I try to focus on the positive stuff instead of the negative stuff.

That said, I guess I felt I should write some about what people have been suggesting. Mostly because they are just suggestions.

Naturally everyone has suggestions about the network. I'm sure that's getting improved and I think everyone just needs to chill, but whatever. Some things people have to say:
- Chat function in network
- Delay counter (which works like "Push Latency", if you're familiar with that).
- Allow players to change the ports that are used
- Don't freeze/lock the game when trying to access "Busy" player
- Show lag before connecting with players
- Allow a spectator mode

I don't know if I like all of these suggestions myself. The chat function would be nice, but I don't think a spectator mode is even remotely necessary. If there was a spectator mode I'd probably hate it -- I'd definitely want the ability to not allow spectators. That's what replays are for anyway.

Speaking of disabling though, I think if a delay counter was added then it should be customizable rather than automatic. I'd prefer the ability to toggle it or adjust it manually, rather than having it be automatic.

One simple suggestion I had was to fix how replays were unable to save if the player's name included an invalid filename character. For example, windows can not save files names with the following characters:
/ \ : ? " * > < |

That means if any of those characters are in the player's name, the replay will not save. Also regarding replays, I've noticed the game sometimes randomly crashes when trying to load very long filenames. Replays that have too many underscores (_ marks) for example will just randomly crash. I've gotten into the habit of auto-renaming all my replay files by numerical order now because of this.

Another suggestion that I actually agree with is to tone down back-dashing. On the one hand it's definitely a necessary tool for escaping certain really bad situations, like being anywhere near Delga for example. On the other hand they are sort of too good right now. Wake-up back-dashing reminds me of ground tech rolls in SF3:3S in a sort of way, except wake-up back-dashes are actually better than ground techs. It kind of makes the wake-up game a little dumbed down, since really all they do is extend your invulnerability time and move you backwards, which is exactly like tech-rolling when you think about it. But the big difference -- and also what makes them better -- is that you can't see the back-dash coming in advance. The fact that you have no idea if the opponent will wake-up back-dash or not makes it fairly difficult to plant any kind of meaty attack. In order to do a meaty you have to dash forward a bit and do the attack later than you normally would, but if you guess wrong you'll eat a wake-up 2A. And even if you guess right the opponent can still block while coming out of the back-dash, meaning it's not technically punishable. Some people might argue that you can punish a back-dash with the right tools, but that's not a luxury that all characters have. For example, F-Maya, F-Ryougen, F-Orju, and Aleksander are pretty good at countering wake-up back-dashes with the ability to quickly get on the other side of the opponent, which makes them dash the wrong way instead of backdashing -- and in the case of Aleksander, he can time his attacks a special way as to connect with the opponent as their invulnerability ends, and they aren't able to do anything about it other than eat it.

Although, I don't know how you would really fix it. I personally kind of like the idea of having recovery frames to back-dashes, which would at least make them punishable. But I'm not sure, theory fighting isn't really my forte.

Another thing that's been suggested is to implement a trip guard function, like the one in the Street Fighter series. Basically in the SF series you have recovery frames when landing from a jump. However, when you're landing from a jump you are able to instantly block as soon as you connect with the ground, this is called trip guarding because you're able to block low against sweeps (back before trip guards were implemented, sweeps were commonly used as anti-air). In the SF series though, Trip Guard is disabled when you attack while airborne. What that means is, if you attack in the air you will not be able to block a sweep the moment you land -- but you are able to block it if you don't attack. Monster doesn't seem to have this functionality as you're pretty much always able to block right when you land.

Another suggestion that I've previously mentioned was one submitted by Xiii: have normal throws decrease the opponents points. I can see how this would actually be a good idea, in a way. The theory goes that if the opponent is turtling and racking up points by successfully blocking all your attacks, one option is to throw in order to "beat" their blocking spree. However, throws are only mildly rewarding. When you land a successful throw you have the option to shift cancel it and go for a combo -- or just go strait into a combo if your character has that ability (Rail/Siely). But at the same time you also reset your points for hitting, but the opponents points are unaffected, so they can still burst at the right time and powerbreak you, or just be patient and save their shift for the right time.

But, personally I don't think throwing should remove all points. I'm kind of partial to the idea of it just reducing the opponents points by either a specific set amount or perhaps by a percentage. Removing all points would make throws simply too good, in my opinion. Especially considering how many extremely good throw set-ups there are in Freedom mode with a lot of characters.

Turbovec has also submitted the idea that blocking not gains as many points as hitting. He believes it's too easy to turtle for points, then use the points aggressively for powerbreaking. His idea was to either put some sort of proration or scaling on the way you gain points from blocking. That would mean that you'd get less points the more you block.

Personally I think that if there was a proration on point building then it'd have to be a very small amount. In order to get points from blocking you're technically putting yourself at risk of getting hit. It's not a very good idea to simply let your opponent rush you down and try to counter all of their attacks by blocking, unless you're sure you can get away with it or you don't have much other choice. I've been accused of "abusing" powerbreaks, but what other people call "abuse" I call "proper use". When people start rushing me down with characters that have extremely good pressure games, or when people start running away all round long, I have little choice but to utilize the powerbreak system in order to gain momentum and damage. If the point system got nerfed then I could see certain characters getting too powerful. Honestly I think the people who have problems with the point/powerbreak system just don't utilize it properly, or allow themselves to be the victim of it too easily. Not to dog on anyone in particular though, I've been running over nearly everyone with PB's lately until they (some of them anyway) wise up. You guys either need to strengthen your offense or stop letting me take advantage of points (pay attention!).

A few of us think it'd be nice if Rail's projectiles were easier to powerbreak. A lot of characters only options for powerbreaking his spirits attacks is to use shift, it would seem. Or at least, we definitely haven't found other reliable ways to do it even when we have point advantage. Most character's don't have attacks that can connect with Rail's spam very well.

I kinda agree with this one as well. But personally I don't think it's entirely necessary. A run-away Rail is definitely a nuisance, but no where near unbeatable or broken. A lot of players are just too impatient against M-Rail, especially including myself in that statement. But then, it's not like it's exactly easy to do. I would suggest to anyone to try and pick up M-Rail and see how difficult it is to do properly against a good opponent.

Ryougen is probably the most obvious thing that needs to get changed somehow though. I think everyone pretty much agrees that Ryougen just has a little too much going for him and needs to either be tweaked or nerfed in some way.

I agree that Ryougen needs some fixing, but then I don't want his playstyle to change much because I think it's kind of fun playing him. I'd much prefer technical nerfs like damage reduction or scaling. Though his counter move and catch move are both definitely a bit powerful.

4649/Chibita suggested a color edit mode. Which of course we all thought was stupid, hehehe.

Overall, I really like the game as-is. I personally wouldn't want much changed except perhaps backdashing. I'd rather stuff be added instead of being changed or removed. Most of us have been happy with the way the game has turned out so far. A lot of the suggestions are simply coming from us wondering what's going to happen next. We're really just excited about the game and wondering what the next patch will bring. I think a lot of us are confident that the author will make good judgements. I hate to say it, but I really hope he doesn't listen to every suggestion that comes his way, he's obviously a lot better at designing a game than any of us, hahaha. :)

Phew, glad I got that out of the way. I really don't like talking about suggestions or changes. I much prefer playing and enjoying!

Also, in regards to my last entry regarding unblockables, T-Othello also seems to have an unblockable as well. His 236b bite can't be blocked when shifted, which lets him combo into super if it connects. Seems fairly risky though due to the recovery time on it. But I felt it might be worth mentioning since I was talking about unblockables.

On a completely random side-note, I just recently noticed that you get a damage bonus for getting hit out of the air. So basically when you see that thing white circle "explosion" for getting hit while jumping, that means you took a damage bonus. I don't know, just a little FYI.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Unblockable (and miscellaneous)

Tranquility Maya's shadow summon (236b) creates a shadow that mimics Maya's every move. The interesting thing about this is that it's not like Yang or Rose, it's more like SFA3 V-ism shadows. Reason being: You have to block the correct way against Maya's shadow, which means you can't block her shadows jump attacks low (or the shadow's low attacks high).

What this means is that she is able to creat unblockables with this shadow. For example, if you have the shadow out and do a jumping A, then land and do a crouching B, the opponent will not be able to block all of the hits because the 2B connects low at roughly the same time as the shadow's j.A high -- and you can't block high and low at the same time.

Now, the shadow doesn't last very long so it's not easy to use out in the open. It seems the best use for it is to create meaty guard break situations after a knockdown, which suggests the need for a set-up to utilize properly. I've found a couple of ways to set this up, both involving the use of her Bash Combo super (214c). Which is fine really, since basically that means she can get her normal BnB damage (roughly 4k) and then use the shadow to tack on some unblockable damage (roughly 2k). Of course you can probably escape it with backdashes/shifts/supers but I'd imagine it's rather difficult to escape in the corner. I'm sure it's pretty useless against Katze though, but then again F-Maya is probably a better Shift selection against Katze anyway.

Personally, I feel F-Maya's cross-up gimmicks are only useful midscreen, and she becomes rather useless once the opponent has backed themselves into a corner. So, T-Maya is probably going to do you better service when your opponent turtles a lot. But for midscreen games, F-Maya is still a very vicious and difficult to block character.

Speaking of Katze and Maya, Maya's one of the few characters (along with Katze) who's BnB has no burst points until the very end of the combo. But the great thing about Maya's is that even if you attempt to burst, there's a high probability that you'll get PB for it. This makes it a "true" burst bait, rather than a burst-neutralizer, since you can punish bursts attempts without modifying the combo at all.

Something else we've found to be particularly powerful is Orju's and Maya's corner powerbreak combos, which are particularly strong in comparison to other characters. Maya's being [5bc]xN (which translates to repeated 5bc). And Orju's being [5bc, empty 66]xN (which translates to 5bc, then cancel 5c into a dash and do nothing during the dash, then repeat). When you get 15 or more points in a powerbreak, which happens to be very very easy for Maya to do, these combos do ridiculous damage and are very easy to execute. It's also very easy for Orju to put his opponent in the corner from anywhere on the screen, since his dash is so good -- what he can do is dash until the the opponent is nearing the ground, then do: 5bc j.c j.c 5c and the 5c will usually be in the corner, perfectly setting up his corner loop.

Orju also has an unblockable. When you enchant (236a) while Freedom shifted, it makes your shoulder check (214a) leave an unblockable blue trail behind. The thing is, the 214a has to whiff in order for the trail to be unblockable. But that's not really a problem since it's easy to use as a meaty attack. Basically once you have the blue ring and get a knock down you can then whiff a shoulder check when the opponent is waking up and they can't block the trail. The other way to land it is to wait for your shift to end so that Orju's shoulder check has more range, and then it's fairly easy to land the blue trail during a block string. Although, I think the best use of it I've seen so far is simply to do a shift enchanted 214a (while still shifted) at point blank range against a cornered opponent. For some reason a cornered opponent will still get hit by it, even if Orju is still shifted, so no need for a crossup. Great way to get free added damage.

Speaking of Orju, I forgot to mention that his F-enchanted 5c rebuilds his meter Shift, which makes me feel even more like Yun. Basically my playstyle with him right now is: land a combo, shift, combo -- use confusion tactics during shift -- wait for shift to almost be depleted and use enchant -- then spam 5c to rebuild meter very very quickly and repeat the process. It's almost exactly like playing Yun.

Turns out F-Orju also has good midscreen combos that work just as well as his corner combos. That makes him especially dangerous while midscreen since he's able to screw up your blocking almost as good as F-Maya. So I'm starting to wonder why the Japanese have ranked Orju so low, considering he's so good in both T and F modes. I hear rumors that certain people are taking an interest in Orju, I've also decided to really concentrate on getting good with F-Orju, so we'll see. Speaking of tiers, the latest tier lists (both EN and JP) can be found on the Monster Wiki: here. The Wiki has also received some minor updates to several of the sections.

Meanwhile, I'm still scared of M-Rail. We had always assumed F-Rail was the primary Shift of choice, but M-Rail is surprisingly good at run-away. In fact, although they changed Rail's properties in the latest set of patches, M-Rail seems to be able to spam projectiles and do extreme keep-away tactics almost like the "old Rail". I might even go as far as to say that M-Rail is even better than F-Rail if you play him properly.

Though, I've started to realize that certain Shifts should be used for certain match-ups, and certain other Shifts are actually better for specific match-ups than others. Great example would be to say that F-Ryougen is ideal for most match-ups, but T-Ryougen is really almost necessary to fight Siely and Rail properly. Personally I love the idea of match-ups and counter-matches, especially since the characters play rather differently between Shifts.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Highlights Reel

I finally got the Highlights footage that I captured from the Tournament on 2/18 put into a semi-acceptable movie and put it on youtube here.

This actually took some effort to do, which is why I haven't posted since Monday. Video editing is a royal pain, both due to the fact that I don't enjoy doing it and also due to not agreeing with extensive/excessive editing. But I decided to do something a little different with this video and create a few of my own personalized animations for the intro to this vid. A completely wasted effort in my opinion, it took far too long to create, and the results were totally not worth the effort. I highly doubt anyone even noticed what I added, let alone got impressed/entertained by it. Thus, I really should stick to what I know: Don't do video editing.

I really love computers. Hardware is perfectly wonderful and the things that computer hardware is capable of is truely amazing. It's software I hate.

Anyhow, I also highly regret the track that I chose to use for the background music. I mean, I really am a huge fan of Benza and I feel that artist deserves all the promotion he can get for creating awesome music, but I really chose a bad song for the video. The two just don't seem to "fit". I don't know why I chose that song, I guess I was getting way too anxious to release the video as soon as possible.

I've experienced and learned a lot since my last post, so I'd like to only briefly talk about the highlights. Some of the highlights include: An excellent display of how crazy good Delga's command grab is. T-Siely's fireball-uppercut traps and left/right divebomb mixups, and also easy b-n-b combos that do comperable damage to F-Siely. Ryougen being a whore. T-Orju abusing enchant rings and dots. And naturally, other random shenanigans. In particular I love all the Aleksander footage.

Of course, the Highlights footage was literally footage taken from the tournament only, and nothing else. But fortunately that was the point of the video. So in that respect I do feel the video at least serves it's intended purpose.

Looking back on the footage I realized nobody played Maya for the tournament, which is a shame because T-Maya and F-Maya are truely forces to be reckoned with. Also noticed a lot of players have started band-wagoning Ryougen instead of Othello. It was only a matter of time before people started to realize Ryougen's not only easy-mode but also insanely powerful and has ridiculously unbalanced tools to work with. Although, the jury is still out on weather or not Othello still deserves to be put in the same rank as Ryougen. Personally I feel Othello still has all the tools he needs to crush the majority of the cast, but we'll see.

So, now I'd like to now talk about my recent experiences with F-Orju. I've been personally avoiding F-Orju a lot. I finally broke the ice and dove right into the pandora's box that lay therein. And behold, F-Orju is a true sonovabitch. If you thought F-Katze, F-Ryougen, or F-Maya gave you trouble with left/right/throw garbage then wait 'till you experience all of what F-Orju is capable of. Though that's not to say that F-Orju is superior to F-Maya -- clearly F-Maya has far better tools at her disposal so it's not even a comparison really. However, I'm only using those examples because F-Orju can be utilized in the same manner: fuck yo block-style.

His 214a becomes much faster and shorter in Freedom and still has the ability to ground cross. This makes it extremely ideal for mixups, as you're able to very quickly change sides and confuse the opponent into blocking the wrong way. In addition, he also gains some very very wicked throw traps that are totally in his favor. If you do the F-Shifted 214a at the right distance here's what could happen:

- Dash hits, he does not cross up
- Dash hits, he crosses up
- Dash whiffs, he does not cross up
- Dash whiffs, he crosses up

After the dash he can do:

- 2a/5a -> combo
- 5c/throw

Now, if you attempt to jump out of this trap you could very well get tagged out of the air by 2a/5a or by 5c if you "jump wrong". But if you stay on the ground you're practically going to have to guess what direction he is hitting from or if he's going to throw you. You'll also have a difficult time backdashing since you won't be sure which direction is back. Your best options are to do a super or a shift, and both of which are circumstantial and baitable.

The F-Shifted 214a is also extremely good as a meaty move. It's blatantly obvious how good it is, in fact. The move itself has the potential to hit from either direction or whiff and also has the potential to put you on either side of the opponent. Meaning, it could hit or whiff from either side. To me this would be like giving Guilty Gear Millia's command roll some hit frames: too freaking good. Seriously, think of how fast Millia can get on other side of you and then imagine if her roll could actually hit you and BAM, you got F-Orju.

Now, take all that and add to the fact that his Shift combos do really respectable damage without the need for Shift-Canceling or Supers, and you got yourself a formidable opponent. Yeah, I believe F-Orju is pretty evil. I still personally like T-Orju better though because it's more guaranteed damage as apposed to F-Orju's mixup gimmicks.

I've also made some headway in the area of spacing and poking. Thanks to Turbovec I've been able to really analyze Othello and Orju's hitboxes. It's rather interesting to say the least, but not something that I'll have an easy time transcribing into text, so instead I'll just make plans to upload some match vids depicting some of our encounters.

I'll have to save the rest for later, as I seem to have forgotten what it was I wanted to write.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

First Official Tournament

Well, the Westerners finally had their first official tournament for Monster. It was really quite fun, and thanks goes to AyaImmortal for running it. I'm still a little disappointed with the turnout, though.

14 players entered:
4649(ChibitaJr), BoringRyu, Harem, Hotaro, KenjiX, Khris, L3land, RushedDown, Rogueyoshi, TL_Crow, Turbovec, Xiii, ZKD, and myself.

Results were:
1st : Xenozip. (Ryougen, Orju)
2nd : Rogueyoshi (Siely)
3rd : L3land (Delga)
4th : Xiii (Aleks)
Tied for 5th : Turbovec (Othello), BoringRyu (Katze)
Tied for 7th : Rushed Down (Siely), Khris (Katze, Ryougen)
Tied for 9th : Harem (Katze), Hitaro (Rail, Ryougen), KenjiX (Aleks, Ryougen)
Tied for 11th : ZKD (Aleks), TL_Crow (Delga, Ryougen), 4649(ChibitaJr) (Siely)

Thanks very much goes to BoringRyu for this list.

You can see the brackets here: Brackets.

You'll notice that the brackets were set up kind of funky, so some players got byes. The seeding wasn't too bad, but I'd have personally done it a little differently, though I suppose it did work out in the end. Also you'll notice I whored the top tier Ryougen again, but at least I used Orju for the Grand Finals.

You may also notice a few names missing. We definitely missed some players for this tournament: ace_uno, Angry Lobster, Dandy J, Darkhonor, fooligar, Krost, Roadapple, Rioting Soul, Spooty, Smacks, and XAQshinor.

We had some very interesting play from rogueyoshi who showed why T-Siely is so much better than F-Siely. I got sent to losers by it, and it was a very very close match between rogue and I for the finals. We also got to see why Delga can be such a force (which I'll talk about later) from L3land. Xiii was also able to show that Aleksander can contend by getting 4th place, which is awesome. Overall I'd say it was a good tournament, but I really wish the other previously-mentioned players had entered.

I've collected all the replays from the tournament which you can download here: replays. I'd say this replay-collection went way better than the first time, we're only missing 2 replays from the entire tournament, which is awesome.

Anywhoo, I'll talk more about the tournament and the players that entered later in another post. Right now it's time to talk about Delga and throw trap mechanics (brace yourself).

In order to understand this next stuff you have to be a little familiar with the concept of possibilities (or potentiality). It's not too difficult of a concept if you look at the game Rock-Paper-Scissors. SF3:3rd players should be very familiar with the concept.

In most fighting games the throw trap system really does work like R-P-S where there's a 33/33/33 chance of success and failure, and sometimes in games like SF3 there's more of a 25/25/25/25 chance because you have other variables. Most games though, the defender has three options: Block, Avoid, Attack. And in these games the grappler has three options: Attack, Throw, Block.

I'm totally going to dumb it down as much as possible for the sake of giving an example:

Block Avoid Attack
Attack - O O
Throw O X X
Block - + -


What this chart is showing is the grappler on the left, and the defender on the top. Assuming the grappler has frame advantage, this is all the actions that could normally take place and what results they could have depending on what action the opponent takes -- fairly simple. For example, if the grappler attempts a throw and the defender attempts a block the result is O (success) in favor of the grappler. If the grappler sticks out a throw and the defender sticks out an attack then it ends in X (failure) for the grappler. And if the grappler blocks but the defender avoids then it ends in a + (advantageous) situation for the grappler because blocking can't be punished by avoiding, but avoiding can potentially be punished by blocking -- since empty blocking isn't really an action. Then if both players block nothing really happens.

This chart shows why you see people getting hit by Chun-Li's throw in SF3:3S over and over again. Blocking breaks even with Chun's primary options and only loses to the throw which causes minor damage and resets the situation, but your other options are vulnerable to getting hit which is not something you want when Chun is stocked. Again, this is totally dumbed down because most games have other functions (like parrying or short jumping or whatever).

But now we take a look at Delga's command throw and why it dumbs this down even further. Delga's command grab has full body invulnerability until the grab frames are active, and the reach is quite huge. Not only is the reach rather large, but it actually will "catch" any grounded hitbox or hittable-box that is vertically aligned to Delga's hand.

This means that there is not a single grounded action that will beat Delga's command throw. No attacks, no matter how fast, will beat it because they do not avoid the grab and the grab can not be beaten before the grab occurs.

The only way to really punish the action of Delga's grab is to short jump (instant double jump: 9,9) and hit him with an air chain into ground combo. If you hit Delga with an instant air attack on the way up from a normal jump then you're only getting minor damage. If you do a normal jump and attack on the way down, then again you're only getting minor damage because you can only hit him just before he recovers, and at that point you'll be too high in the air to do any real follow-ups.

So your options are jump or not. However, double jumps are slow enough that if Delga chooses, he can punish this action with an A or B attack just as you're leaving the ground and combo you after hitting you out of the air

So here we have:

Double JumpDon't Jump
(Any Action)
ThrowXO
AttackOX


All the other actions that Delga can do such as jumping or backdashing put him at a neutral in the situation, it may be advantageous or disadvantageous but it doesn't directly beat or lose to the opponent's actions either. And, there's really no immediate threat that the opponent can cause due to the invulnerability frames of the command throw and the fact that the opponents options are so limited. There's really absolutely no reason for Delga to block in this situation at all (or do anything other than take one of those two actions). Likewise the defender may be able to backdash, but not everyone has a backdash that takes them out of Delga's throw range. And for the characters that do, backdashing puts the defender outside of range (if the Delga player does the throw at the correct distance) which again neutralizes the situation -- though it's disadvantageous for the defender because they are backing themselves into the corner.

And yes, it really is that simplified. Your only options are to avoid it or get hit by it -- and the best way to avoid it is to put yourself in a position where you can get hit if Delga guesses right. But Delga's two options both lead to damage, and one of them is not likely to be punished if he guesses wrong.

If Delga guesses right with either of his two options, he gets large damage (huge reward). If Delga guesses wrong he's only punished for it if the opponent double jumps and combos, not if the opponent takes any other action. This means that Delga is 50/50 -- not 33/33/33 or 25/25/25/25, etc.

However, I could go into the intricacies on what occurs with other throw traps such as Makoto in SF3 or Potemkin in Guilty Gear for quite some time, because the defender has a lot more options and the grappler has to choose from a larger tree of options in order to counter all the possibilities.

In other words, it'd be a much much much larger cross-chart than the one I drew up for Delga. Thus, Delga's command throw is "retarded".



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Zoning and Beating

The concept of zoning is very simple and it's something a lot of us do by nature (perhaps without realizing). It's basically controlling space. Gamers who play MvC2 or IaMP should be very familiar with the concept, though if you're not then just think of how Ryu is able to control the space in front of him with a fireball. Monster still seems to be in the development process with the zoning game. It would seem the author did have the concept in mind for certain characters like Maya or shifted (T/M) Siely.

However, it also seems like the author may have tried to steer away from the idea of zoning with the point/powerbreak system. Anything really threatening that is able to control space can also be destroyed with the powerbreak system. That means you need point advantage or neutrality in order to use zoning effectively. Imagine your favorite fighting game with the points system implemented. I'll use SF3:3rd as an example: Chun-Li would not be able to control the space in front of her with her back+fierce (palm move) or down+forward (low kick) if she had a point disadvantage, mainly because the priority and hitbox would be obsolete and the moves would get destroyed by any hitbox it collides with.

Which brings me to my next point: Beating. To put it simply it's just the concept of effectively using hitboxes and hittable boxes. An example would be to say a punch that has a high hit area (chest and up) getting beat by a low attack that has a very low hittable box and a long enough reach to hit the person throwing the punch. SF3:3rd and Guilty Gear players should be rather familiar with the concept. Which is actually why I like SF3:3rd so much (yes, I actually like 3S). To me it's really enjoyable when a game has a really diverse hitbox system because players have to be cautious with what they zone with, and the people who try to beat these zone moves with their own "special" hitboxes have to be cautious as well because improper use gets punished. Perfect example -- and also part of the reason I play Ibuki in 3S -- is to take a look at Ibuki's down+toward+forward (slide) attack. This move of hers has an extremely low hittable box and moves forward, which lets her pass under quite a lot of attacks that other players might try to zone with. She's able to beat a lot of attacks with this move, but the move is only effective if it hits, if it's blocked she is very very vulnerable to getting punished. The reason I was saying Guilty Gear players should be very familiar with the concept as well is because everyone has access to a method of going under high hitboxes and going over low hitboxes, except maybe Potemkin. And the same concept of proper use holds true for Guilty Gear, neither attack method is really abusable as misuse of the method leads to heavy punishment.

Monster doesn't really have too many examples of beating with normals, since normals seem to be rather plain and linear, and quite limited actually. It's possible the author was leaning in this direction with the character Othello who has some interesting hitboxes that can go over/under depending on the move. Likewise, a lot of characters have dashing attacks that can go over lows or under highs, like Orju or Katze who both have "hop" overheads that beat lows, and sliding sweep moves that go under highs.

Problem with it is there's hardly any good moves to zone with in the first place, except Othello who's got the best normals in the game.

Speaking of Potemkin, some one related Delga's command throw to Potemkin's, and I strongly disagree. Potemkin's command throw does actually have invulnerability frames, but not nearly as many frames as Delga, who happens to be totally invulnerable to all attacks until the catch frame. Add to the fact that its hitbox is gigantic and the character can dash and you've got one retardedly good grapple character. Just picture the character Maya sticking out a 2B and having it get grabbed because her toe was vertically aligned with Delga's finger tips -- crazy.

I dunno, Delga kind of takes the whole throw trapping concept and dumbs it down quite dramatically, which I'm too tired to post about right now. I'll go into the subject further in my next post.

I've uploaded some new vids on my YouTube, finally. Some Orju stuff can be seen, which depicts a lot of what I was talking about in my previous post.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Orju's Enchant

One interesting property that T-Orju has access to is his shifted enchant circle (which I'll refer to as green ring). Doing a 5c while the green ring is active will make the ring spin and a timer gets put on the screen, which can be done multiple times. If either player his a point advantage then any attack that the opponent does that connects with the green ring will powerbreak the player with less points. In other words, Once Orju has more points than his opponent and does a 5c to start the timer; he becomes practically immune to attacks because any attack the opponent does within the ring will cause a powerbreak. This is a double edged sword though, if Orju has less points than his opponent and the opponent attacks inside the ring while the timer is active, then Orju will be powerbroke. I feel one side is sharper than the other though, since you control when the timer is active.

Now, I originally thought this was like a weaker function than T-Maya's shield, but now I'm really beginning to think otherwise. T-Maya's shield fails against multi-hit attacks and also fails against throws. Turns out T-Orju's green ring will actually PB throws that cause damage (assuming point advantage). I discovered this when playing against a Rail player. To make a long story short, I got thrown while the green ring was active and I had point advantage, but surprisingly Rail got powerbroke anyway. This makes it a lot more useful since it also works on multi-hit attacks.

What's really killer about it is the fact that it's multi-use. If you happen to powerbreak some one off it, you still have the green ring and can use it with 236b to lay a green dot after a powerbreak combo. Which is really nice because the green dot is also something I like a lot, since it's essentially free unavoidable damage.

Though, I think the best part about this is that it gives Orju more chances for powerbreaks, which is something he can really utilize once he has 2 or more super stocks. Powerbreaks are the perfect time to use a level-2 or level-3 enchant super, then use 236b to lay the "super dot". I especially love the level-2 super dot.

Back to Maya. I had previously mentioned that she has some pretty good throw traps. Well, here's a quick list of some simple set-ups:
- 623a falling (air) a -> throw or 2a
- 623a falling (air) b -> 2a (mix up with previous option)
- 623a whiff falling (air) c -> throw or 2b/a
- 236a -> 2a or throw
- 236a 5aaa -> walking throw (more effective with shadow or shield out)

By the way, 5aaa gives enough frame advantage to link another 5a, which means you can do 5aaa -> 5aaa -> 5aaa. This combo doesn't actually have much use except for M-Orju's white dot (shift enchanted 236b) which has a vacuum effect and lets him loop [5aaa] for as long as the dot is out. However, it's good to keep in mind that it gives frame advantage, since it may be useful as a tick throw setup if your character doesn't have any other particularly useful setups.

I'm starting to be less impressed with F-Maya than I was originally. She's definitely a threat while mid-screen, but she doesn't have much in the way of screwing you over in the corner. Basically, as long as you back yourself into the corner F-Maya can't really do much to you other than try to throw you.

Run-away Rail is really annoying to fight. I was surprised at how much more effective M-Rail is at run-away than F-Rail, I had assumed the opposite were true. But actually, F-Rail seems to be more geared toward rushdown and combos, while M-Rail is appears to be really good at running away. Not sure what the point of T-Rail is, the only thing I see different is his bombs will cause stun-lock to the opponent.

Well, I'll have to post more later. Getting too tired to think. No new videos today (too tired). I have plenty of nice replays though, so I'll be sure to cap and up some vids tomorrow.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Maya Madness

Update: The Friday ranbat/tourny has been moved to Sunday the 18th.

Ikusat was able to help me with my audio desync problems that occured when uploading vids to YouTube, thanks Ikusat. So fortunately, I'm now able to upload multiple matches in a set into one video, which means I can upload lots more footage instead of just picking one or two matches from a set. Good idea, bad idea?

Since my last post I've been playing lots of T-Maya and F-Maya, and having tons of fun. F-Maya seems to be really strong once she's activated her shift. In fact, it almost feels like playing Yun -- once you activate GJ it's practically guaranteed damage. Her ability to hit you instantly from the left/right and high/low with her Shifted forward portals is pretty nasty and hard to counter. And her shifted "rush punch" (214a) becomes extremely good because it persists and has a delayed hit. What this means is that Maya can throw out the shadow and force the opponent to either trade with it or block (or PB it if they have point advantage), and if the opponent is blocking then Maya can either hit high or low and either from the left or the right by using her forward portal. Though, the crazy thing about Maya is that even unShifted she's still got some pretty wicked high/low traps and some pretty good throw traps. T-Maya is also still a blast to play.

The best part of playing Maya was doing some Maya mirror matches with rogueyoshi. But what made it even more fun was the fact that he picked Freedom and I picked Tranquility. Normally mirror matches wouldn't be as interesting, but the shenanigans and gimmicks went through the roof when we played, which was fun as hell. And to make it even more crazy, we picked opposite colors -- green is the color associated with Tranquility, but I had a blue costume during the set; and likewise blue is associated with Freedom, but rogueyoshi had a green costume during the set.

Also had some matches against rogueyoshi's Siely and he showed me a lot, which made me wonder if I placed Siely a bit too low on my tier list. Afterwards, I heard the Japanese current tier list and it was pretty much just like mine, except they placed Siely a lot higher than I did (I put her bottom, they put her mid). Though, it would have to be T-Siely or M-Siely that gets put there, because I personally can't see F-Siely being anything more than bottom tier.

And I got to mess around with Orju a bit and I have to say, I need to take my own advice. I've been blowing super stocks way too much with him, and not building enough level 2's and 3' -- which is something I recommend doing for a lot of characters, like Rail and Ryougen in particular. It's totally and completely worth the damage output to sit on a few stocks until you're able to unleash multiple supers in one combo. On a side note, I still think Orju's Absurd is still the ultimate "you're gunna die, bitch", hehe.

I've got a long long way to go with Rail. I need to just stop using T-Rail and M-Rail altogether and just start using F-Rail. Crazy thing about Rail though is that he totally dominates the air to the point where it's never a good idea to jump in a match against Rail. It's also really hard to PB his spirit rush, but apparently not too hard for Othello's enormous hitboxes.

I've uploaded 7 new vids which contain 17 matches total on my YouTube.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Unofficial Tournament

We had an unofficial Monster tournament in the IRC channel today (mostly for the EC players). It was technically unofficial because AyaImmortal decided to just randomly spring it on us without announcing it anytime earlier. We pretty much only had one hour prep-time and so not everyone was able to participate. Fortunately I believe this was just a test run to get everything ironed out for the actual tournament on Friday. Although I'm not personally sure if this Friday thing will be a ranking battle or a tournament. Either way, it should be fun.

Today's tournament was an eleven man "unofficial tournament" which included the players:
ace_uno, AyaImmortal, Dandy J, Darkhonor, fooligar, Harem, Smacks, Turbovec, Xiii, ZKD, and myself.

I believe the results were:
1st - Xenozip (F-Ryougen)
2nd - fooligar (M-Katze)
3rd - Turbovec (M-Othello)

But beyond that I'm not sure, since I wasn't the one running the brackets.

Personally I would have liked more entrants. We certainly missed: Angry Lobster, BoringRyu, Rioting Soul, Roadapple, RogueYoshi, Spooty, and XAQshinor. I'm hoping these players and the ones from today are all able to make it on Friday. I'm also hoping more people randomly attend as well. Then again it is being held on Friday evening, so I'm expecting a lot of people to have previous engagements.

fooligar opted to use M-Katze for the mock tournament, which took me by surprise. I had originally thought M-Katze was terrible and the worst of the three Shift choices, but fooligar has once again busted out some advanced combos that do crazy damage and actually make the character seem viable. Though, I'm not saying it's a good idea to pick M-Katze over the other two Shift choices, but at least it's been proven that M-Katze isn't worthless. Definitely makes me wonder what other kind of craziness fooligar has up his sleeve.

And yes, I know I'm a total bastard for picking F-Ryougen. But a small mock tournament was the perfect way to test and solidify my theories of his brokeness. And yes, he's broken. fooligar discovered Ryougen's 4B counter move can parry Delga's command grab, which is just plain wrong (as if that match-up wasn't bad enough). I also managed to use it to parry Othello's exploding blood (parried the explosion itself). Makes me wonder if there's anything it can't parry. And keep in mind the damn thing counters high/mid/low regardless, and is cancelable into shift/super or fully cancelable during Freedom mode, and it links into his B-n-B on crouching opponents.

Anyway, in regards to my experiences with using him in the mock tournament, all I can say is Ryougen is too good/easy. Had I picked Maya or Orju I would have been working a lot harder and doing a lot less damage. Mostly for the simple facts that F-Ryougen's command dash is disgustingly fast/good and the counter move is disgustingly overpowered. In fact, that's all I really did the entire tournament; whore his dash and counter moves (both of which can lead to his B-n-B).

I'm starting to wonder what character I should pick up next, but it's probably going to boil down to a choice between Rail or Katze. Though I'll still be playing Maya and Orju, of course.

I also got to play Maya a lot in casuals today. I've picked up a few new tricks with her that seem to be pretty effective. She's got some interesting midscreen and corner 50/50 cross-ups, in addition to her midscreen 50/50 high/lows. Considering that her rushdown is so strong, I might have to seriously pick up F-Maya (I've been using T-Maya exclusively). I'm going to go out on a limb and say M-Maya is garbage, but having said that just leave it to fooligar to prove me wrong.

I saw some interesting Aleksander play today too. The poor guy definitely needs a throw or command throw, or at least some type of useful special move, and then he'd actually be pretty cool.

I'm getting really tired and this post is getting kinda long, so the rest will have to wait till next time. In closing, I tried collecting as many replays from the mock tournament as I could, so that you guys could download and watch them. I got most of them (but I seem to be missing a few) right here. I've also uploaded 7 new vids of some of the mock tournament footage to my YouTube.

PS. I've been toying with the idea of recording vids that I post on YouTube by turning down the BGM in Monster to it's lowest setting, then playing other music while I capture the video. But can people stand my music selection, hmmmm...



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Top Tier

The Japanese gamers had their first official Monster tournament yesterday (the 10th), and they were kind enough to share some of the replay files with us. It's unfortunate that we didn't get all of the replays, but at least it was enough to see proof of what we had suspected all along.

First of all, some of the Japanese players are still ahead of us in skill and experience by a noticeable margin (but not all of them), which comes as no surprise. Second, they are tier whores just like the rest of us.

Othello was by far the most picked character in their tournament, and it's really not hard to see why. A lot of western players have naturally gravitated to this character as well, but there's really only a few players I've run across that really use him on the same level the Japanese do. I suppose it's only a matter of time before we catch up to where they are now, and footage of them playing certainly helps in that department.

Othello is definitely the best character in the game at the moment (1.0d), followed by Ryougen (who I'll talk about later). His main strengths are his poke range, speed, damage, priority and fast 50/50 traps. His combos are easy, he moves all over the place very quickly, he has awesome hitboxes which give him great pokes and anti-airs, and his damage is definitely a tad over the top. But what really sets him apart from the rest of the group is his ability to hit either high or low almost instantly, and the moves he uses to do this have a very long reach. His instant double jumps are also wonderful for meaty guessing games or cross-ups. It's easy for Othello to confirm off of these 50/50 traps or meaties into a Shift cancel, which lets him go into his B-n-B for absolutely retarded damage (6k), which only costs him the Shift and one stock of super.

Othello doesn't have any bad match-ups, either. One might think that he'd have a hard time dealing with rushdown due to the lack of a reversal, but alas he does not even need one to get through most match-ups easily. The odd thing is that every character can at least fight him decently, but they're just fighting a losing battle due to his overall advantages.

Ryougen is clearly the second best in the game at the moment (1.0d) and worlds apart from the rest of the cast. His standing A attack is something most characters wish they had; it's fast, big range for an A, and it's hitbox extends much further than it's hittable box. It also leads to his B-n-B which yields 3K+ very easily (stupid easy execution) that doesn't even cost meter. He's also the only character in the game that has a parry-like function -- but actually it would not be as strong if it actually were a parry. Instead, he has a counter move which is a directional plus attack input that has instant start-up and will parry almost all attacks; low, high, mid, and even some projectiles such as Maya's forward and ground portals, which is stupid good. If that wasn't enough, he also comes equipped with a catch move (like Geese's catch moves) which will grab overhead attacks and automatically counter with a move that sets up his high damage B-n-B combo. And to add insult to injury they decided to give him a forward-moving command throw that can also set up his B-n-B. In Freedom mode this command throw becomes a very fast moving command dash that can also ground cross, which is retardedly good for throw trapping and left/right 50/50 traps. And to top it all off he has an outstanding zone game with his air attacks, which have absurd range and decent priority.

Overall, Ryougen would probably be the best character in the game if not for Othello being able to beat Ryougen. Ryougen simply flat out destroys a lot of the lower tier characters and is simply overpowered in comparison to the mid tiers and he's able to beat Katze. This definitely seals his current position in the top of the list.

So far I've been sticking with Orju and Maya, but I recently took it upon myself to pick up Ryougen just so I could get the perspective of playing Ryougen, rather than getting stomped by him. And so far it's been like going from CvS2 Vice to CvS2 Sagat -- or 3S Ibuki to 3S Chun-Li -- or MvC2 Venom to MvC2 Sentinel (actually probably the best comparison) -- or GG Chipp to GG Dizzy. He simply has better tools, better damage output, and has to work a lot less hard than the rest of the cast to take wins.

So, my tier list has actually only changed slightly since I last posted it, but I'll post it again to reflect my new minor changes:

S: Othello, Ryougen
A: Katze
B: Maya
C: Orju, Rail
D: Delga
E: Aleksander, Siely
F: Efleet

On a side note, regarding my last post on throw trapping -- Katze definitely has the best throw traps and tick throws in the game.

I've also updated my YouTube with 12 new videos, most of which depicting just how overpowered Ryougen can be.


- Copyright © Xenozip.

Throw Traps

Most people are familiar with the concept of throw traps. Advantageous situations that put your opponent in the position to guess weather you will attack or throw (or block to counter retaliations), since blocking "beats" attacking but throwing "beats" blocking. Naturally if we didn't have throws then what's to stop us from blocking all day long?

Monster's throw system seems a bit odd to me, but perhaps that's just because I've spent too much time playing SF3:3S. At first glance the throws in Monster seem to have very short ranges, slow startups, and are inputted by pressing a directional and the heavy attack button. There's no tech throw system (no throw guard), and there seems to be a standard throw invulnerability time after leaving hitstun or getting up off the ground. There also appears to be a damage proration on a lot of throws, which makes comboing off them somewhat less rewarding than otherwise.

Good news is, Monster seems to incorporate the ability to utilize throws offensively in each of the unique character-specific mechanics. Delga, Ryougen, and Siely have command throws which they can use offensively in any Shift. Siely's and Rail's normal throws are pretty easy to combo off of, especially in the corner, which becomes interesting for Siely due to her fast walk speed. Freedom Shift Katze, Orju, and Ryougen have special moves that put them closer to the opponent very quickly, which allows them to set up some interesting tick throws. Tranquility mode Maya has a shield move that allows her to absorb one hit which lets her set up some interesting throw traps, although she has some methods of throw trapping in Freedom as well. There's also a lot of moves with either frame advantage or neutrality that can be used pretty well for tick throws.

Still, I would like to see some improvements on the throw system. The player Xiii has suggested that throwing decrease the opponents points, which seems to be a good idea. Personally, I'd just like a little bit more range.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Network Gaming

I believe Monster has a rather nice network and some pretty good net-code. And the good news is it's only going to improve from here, since it's been expressed by the author of the game that improving the net-code is a priority.

My only real nitpick is that the list of active games (hosts) doesn't refresh automatically. You have to exit and re-enter the network screen in order to refresh the list. I suppose that's easy to cope with, but I'd still like a refresh button. Hopefully there will be one added in a future patch/upgrade.

But on the plus side, as it is right now, gamers are able to enter the network screen and connect with a server. The server collects and reports information on who's playing and who's waiting to play. Fortunately though, there's a Direct-IP function in the Network screen, which allows players to directly connect using their IP address.

So basically, we broadcast information to a server that says if we're available or not, and then the server broadcasts that information to other players on the network. If that server we report to goes down then at least we have the Direct-IP option, which will let players play without the need for a server.

In regards to the actual lag (latency) while playing over the network, it seems pretty good so far. According to some people it's not really the "best" or least latency. But this is definitely the coolest idea I've seen for fighting game net-play, which is actually to reduce frame rate rather than have input lag.

Basically what happens when there's lag in Monster is the game visually slows down, but your movements and attacks are still right on cue as you're pressing the buttons. This is fairly ideal in comparison to having the game be normal speed but then having your attacks and movements occur late due to lag.

Playing in slow motion isn't really ideal for proper gaming, but at least it's viable. The only really annoying occurrence is lag "spikes", which would be times where you have absolutely perfect frame-rate and 0 input-latency, but then suddenly the game slows down for a brief moment, and then resumes normal play. Very annoying indeed.

Fortunately, lag spiking is rare. I'm in North Virginia and I've had some excellent connections with people in MD, NJ, NY, NC, and even a pretty good connection with players in FL and Canada, which is rather surprising. There are limits though, because playing against West Coast players while on the East Coast is exceptionally slow. But hey, at least when there's lag it's "slow" and not "laggy and unplayable".

On a side note, players with sticks/pads that are having trouble getting them to work might want to try JoyToKey. Just keep in mind that if you're using a stick/pad and JoyToKey, you'll want to set both Player-1 and Player-2's controls to the same, so that you're able to play with the same controller on either P1 or P2's side.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Fun Stuff (reevaluation)

Had some really excellent matches yesterday and I had some rather interesting matches today. Had to take another look at some match-ups and reevaluate things a bit.

Yesterday I got pounded on in a set with fooligar, which was extremely fun. I'm always looking forward to finding better players and trying to up my game. He also reaffirmed by original impressions of Ryuogen and Ryuogen's match-ups with Maya and Orju.

Maya just doesn't have the damage output to keep up with a good Ryuogen, since Ryuogen can deal 3k+ easily without meter, and off just about anything he does on the ground. Plus Ryuogen does absolutely ridiculous damage once he has stock to burn, which is definitely not something Maya is on par with. Maya can't really get in on him from the air because Ryuogen actually has viable anti-airs that work on her. On the flipside, Maya can't keep him out of the air because Maya's anti-airs aren't a threat to Ryuogen at all, and her air-to-air game simply loses to Ryuogen's. Thus, Maya has to play very very cautiously in that match and stick to the ground, keeping away from Ryuogen and abusing her shadows and portals when she has Point advantage or neutrality.

It's possible to rush Ryuogen down, but it's really rather difficult with Maya. Maya doesn't really have any viable overheads other than her forward portal Okizeme (her instant high/low traps) which actually only work if you have Point advantage or your opponent has no Shift. Thus, even if you're rushing Ryuogen down, he's going to be building points just from blocking since Maya has practically no mix-up game without portals, which puts you in a bad spot. I feel Maya has a much better time rushing him down when Shifted, but then you leave yourself open to one of his high damage super combos (since you can't Burst). Maya will also have a lot of trouble getting in from the ground since it's fairly easy to keep her out with Ryuogen's air pokes.

Still, I feel that this isn't a completely hopeless match, just a very very lopsided one.

Orju on the other hand actually has some real hope against Ryuogen. His damage output once enchanted is almost at the same level as Ryuogen's no-meter B-n-B's. Additionally, he seems to have an easier time keeping away from Ryuogen and a somewhat easier time getting in. He's mainly able to get in easier because his forward run speed is infinitely better than Maya's (Maya doesn't really even have a run), which at least lets him advance on whiffed pokes. Though just like Maya, Orju doesn't have an anti-air or air-to-air against Ryuogen. Orju also has a much better high/low mix-up trap than Maya. Even though Orju's isn't instant, it just feels more reliable to me than Maya's (perhaps I'm on crack).

Also had to reevaluate both of those character's matches against Katze (Maya and Orju). I'm starting to see how the match is actually much better for Maya than it is for Orju. It's still pretty obvious that Orju is able to crush some impatient or inexperienced Katze players, but that's really the only time. When the Katze player realizes that he can out-poke Orju with 2A and random 2C or 662C, it becomes a lot more messy for Orju. Orju then has to rely on trying to control the air with j.C, and sticking out well timed/spaced 2B's, but this strategy unfortunately starts to fail once the Katze player realizes he can just dash in and anti-air Orju with his DP. Sticking out well timed/spaced 2B's also begins to fail when the Katze player starts slowly advancing and sticking out 2A, which stuffs everything Orju has except 5A. But the problem with countering 2A with 5A is that at that range Orju can't really capitalize on it. And once Orju is in the corner, he's toast. The one thing Orju has going for him is anti-air 5B, which becomes a moot point since Katze doesn't really even need to jump in at Orju to begin with.

This is definitely a match I'm interested in working on.

Maya on the other hand seems to be better at controlling the ground and air, and also better at getting in using shadows and portals. Of course portals require a Point advantage/neutrality to use, but at least it's something. Maya's also able to keep Katze off of her by guarding ground portals and setting shadow traps. Even though Katze can just ignore these, at least it keeps him off Maya long enough for Maya to regenerate Shift if she needs to. Her unShifted 214a rush punch is also really good for zoning Katze when Maya has Point advantage or neutrality, and can also be used to push him off Maya or stuff some of his would-be mix-up traps and pokes.

Alas, I still feel it's an uphill battle for her to beat Katze, but at least she has better tools than Orju in that match.

Also regarding Maya, I found a new Burst bait that I've incorporated into my Shift-Cancel B&B. Although it's more of a Burst-Neutralizer than a punisher, my old one seems to fail in the new 1.0d patch so I had to come up with a new one. And so here's a replay showing the new one: here.

Not really the most outstanding damage, but at least it avoids bursts, and if the opponent chooses not to burst then I still have my shield up.

I've also posted 11 new videos on my YouTube.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Training

Human competition is always good, but every once in a while it's good to visit training mode to experiment with set-ups and combos, or to iron out your execution. And certainly, a few minutes in training mode can help you get back in the groove of the game when switching between multiple fighting games.

The training mode in Monster is pretty standard, though it does have one interesting feature that isn't found in other console fighters. Though, it does seem to be a work in progress as it appears to be missing a few other staple features.

In Monster you're able to toggle all the Training Mode options at the press of a button on your keyboard, which is something nice about PC games in general. The options include switching your opponent between Human, CPU AI, or Preset. The presets include: Stand, Crouch, and Jump. And you're able to toggle guarding during the stand/crouch/jump actions (pretty standard stuff).

However, one nice thing that's in Monster's Training Mode is the ability to switch Shifts without having to enter any menu's or leave the training session. You're also able to refill your Shift or Super gauges at the touch of a button. Not something you'd find in CvS2 or MvC2 training modes.

There's also one last option, which causes an automatic PowerBreak on the opponent and sets the PB-clock to 666, which is handy for experimenting/practicing with PB combos.

And naturally the replay function exists in Training, which is handy for recording combos or glitches and stuff like that.

My only standing nitpick at the moment is the lack of an opponent "record" function, found in games like CvS2 or Guilty Gear or SFA3(PS2-AA), which allows you to record inputs for the dummy to execute. Though I assume it's a work in progress, so let's hope they add new features to the Training mode in the future.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Rushdown

As with most games, blocking beats attacks, and throwing beats blocking. Overheads are often added to games to give another option for beating blocking by creating a guessing game (mix-up) situation where you may either attack high or low.

Monster also comes equipped with both throws and overheads, and to make things interesting, it also allows you to dash cancel your attacks into command attacks (dash attacks). Many new-comers to Monster may be the victim of block strings that lead to alleged guessing games. However, Monster has it's own set of rules that govern block strings and overheads.

First of all, the majority of overheads in this game can't truly be comboed, they are links -- The exception to this is Ryuogen and Othello, but I'll go over that later. So, because they aren't true combos, option selecting beats out a lot of loose mix-up situations. We'll use some quick examples with Katze and Siely to demonstrate a point.

Katze can do his normal attack chain and then dash cancel into his dashing C, which is an overhead, or he can dash into his crouch-dashing (sliding) C, which is a low attack. His overhead also gives him quite a bit of frame advantage, so even if it's blocked he can continue the string with another set of attacks looping back to the overhead. However, being that the overhead is rather telegraphed, a simple option select beats this "mixup". To do this, all the player has to do is wait for the right time to do a few simple A attacks to either block or knock Katze out of his overhead, a very simple yet effective technique. On top of that, the overhead is both noticeably audible and visual, so a mindful player should have no trouble dealing with it.

Siely on the other hand, takes to the air any time she dashes, and she can attack very low to the ground. But again, a simple option select beats out most of her attack mixups. All a player has to do is be mindful of when the attacks occur, and stick out A attacks in between hits. If Siely takes to the air then the A attacks will knock her down.

Of course, the point is rather moot since an experienced player will be mindful of the point system and be on the look-out for potential powerbreaks. After all, if you're successfully blocking then you're building points, and even when you're not blocking correctly you don't lose your points. Thus, proper use of Shift will enable players to deal with rushdown.

Back-dashing and backdash->shifting are also rather effective for wake-up games (getting up off the ground) when the opponent has the advantage of planting a meaty high/low mixup.

However, there is another option, which is Tranquility. Tranquility gives most characters auto-guard on their special moves, making them quite good for dealing with rushdown.

Players who favor Katze should also be familiar with the fact that Katze's DP move persists and trades with just about anything in the game, allowing him to stuff a lot of mixup situations. Though, like any DP, it's punishable on block so players will have to be very mindful of when and where to use it.

Of course, there are instant-air double jumps, which act a lot like Short Jumps found in SNK games and CvS2. But fortunately these are quite audible, visual, and telegraphed (slow). In other words, they really are a lot like short jumps -- except you can hear the jump, see the double jump sprite.

Now back to Othello and Ryuogen. They sort of break the rules by having "instant" overheads. The good news with Ryuogen is he isn't able to get any real damage off an instant overhead. Othello, on the other hand, is able to shift cancel his overhead, which allows him to combo for heavy damage. But then, that's just another reason why Othello is so top tier. Though, in my personal opinion it's not impossible to block Othello on reaction, though it can be rather difficult.

Just remember that the idea is to block as much as you can to gain points, then use your shift or super or other high-speed attacks to cause a powerbreak and regain momentum. Or just learn to option select properly.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Balance 2 (Match-ups)

As previously posted, this info is subject to change as the game changes with patches and updates.

So, after having some experience under my belt, as well as observing matches between other players, I've noticed some particularly unbalanced matches. Let's take a look at who and why.

* Katze vs. Aleksander: This match is absolutely terrible for Aleksander, who has almost no hope of winning. Katze is able to shut down pretty much anything Aleksander could ever hope of doing simply by poking with his quick 2A move. And to make matters worse, Katze also has backdashing and his DP on his side to totally negate Aleksander's game.

* Katze vs. Orju: Once again we see Katze's superior pokes at work. Katze's 2A when spaced correctly beats everything Orju has except Orju's 5A. Bad news for Orju though, since at that range Orju can't follow it up with anything, and Orju's 5A also loses to Katze's other far range pokes. To make matters worse, Katze is also able to beat out Orju's air attacks with his anti-airs, and can also win air-to-air if spaced right (although their air-to-air game seems somewhat even). Still, all Katze really needs to beat Orju is proper spacing and zoning with Katze's superior pokes. Orju can win this match, but it's definitely an uphill battle.

* Katze vs. Maya: Horrible match for Maya. Pretty much for the same reasons as Orju. Although it's a bit worse for Maya than it is for Orju because Maya's normals (air and ground) attacks lose even harder than Orju's do. And to make matters worse, Maya can't keep Katze out either. Maya doesn't have any reliable method for anti-air or anti-meaty/anti-rushdown. And to top it off, Maya also doesn't have a strong enough mix-up game to really hope for any worth-while damage -- all Katze has to do is block and build points. While unshifted, her portal gimmicks quickly start to lose to the point system itself. Her forward portal gets power broken and her ground portal is a free invitation for Katze to combo her by simply walking into it intentionally and anti-airing her. Though if that wasn't enough, you have to remember that Katze actually does have decent anti-rushdown, so even if Maya randomly gains momentum, she's still likely to lose momentum just as easily.

* Maya vs. Delga and Aleksander: If Maya is in Tranquility, this becomes a terrible matchup for both Delga and Aleksander. All Maya really has to do is zone and poke with her superior ground and air game, while playing the keep away game, until she is able to Shift and activate her shield and shadow. Once buffed, they have no reliable way of stopping her other than command grabs. Although Delga could theoretically win by gaining momentum and maintaining it, in practice that is really not an easy task since Maya only needs to be patient enough to gain a foothold, then it's over for Delga. As for Aleksander, pretty much anything he does becomes a massive risk, because whiffing anything other than A attacks leads him losing momentum.

* Ryuogen vs. Delga: Another horrible match for Delga. Ryuogen controls this match almost completely due to his ability to reliably keep Delga out and consistently cause safe and reliable damage without burning super (or even meter, for that matter). Delga has almost no hope of winning this match.

Hopefully as I continue to play I will get a better understanding of the match-ups between characters and have more to post. And hopefully as the game is updated/changed I'll be able to reevaluate the match-ups.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Balance (Tiers)

Not all characters are created equal. This is a general maxim for pretty much every fighting game, and the same holds true for this one.

Note: Everything posted here is naturally subject to change, since the game is constantly being updated and changed.

As of the most recent patch (1.0d), it's apparent that Othello still remains at the head of the pack, so to speak (har har, punny). If I were to personally draw a rough outline of the tiers at this point, I'm pretty sure it'd look something like this:

- Top: Othello, Ryuogen, Katze
- Upper Mid: Maya, Orju, Rail
- Lower Mid: Delga
- Bottom: Aleksander, Siely

Let's take a quick peek at why.

* Othello has outstanding pokes both on the ground and the air, and is one of the few characters that has a particularly good anti-air. He also has really easy and damaging combos both midscreen and corner. What's more is he has a very solid high/low mix-up game that is rather easy to confirm into large damage. And to top it off he's also got very good movement and hittable box sizes. The only really negative aspect to Othello is his need for super stocks to counter meaties/rushes. He pretty much doesn't have any particularly bad matchups, just about every match is in his favor or breaks even.

* Ryuogen's strength is his strength and defense. He's able to do quite a bit of damage off just about anything. He also has a particularly good poke/zone game with his air moves and some of his ground moves. Another huge strength of Ryuogen's is his defense; as his command counter and command grab moves are quite useful tools for countering traps and 'would-be mind-games'. Ryuogen may have a few bad match-ups, but the fact that he completely destroys the characters he has good match-ups with kind of balances this out. Though once you start to realize that Ryuogen has some pretty ridiculous damage output, combined with very good defense and zoning, it becomes obvious where he stands in the tiers.

* Katze is an all around solid character, but with a few perks that only he benefits from. Some people might be quick to call him the "Ryu" of the game, and while I'd generally agree, I personally feel he's more like the "Chun-Li" of the game. His DP (dragon punch/uppercut) move persists, and is a great anti-meaty/anti-rushdown move -- although it's really not a good idea to use it as anti-air. Which is OK, since he has other really solid anti-airs, which are even better than a DP since they are normal moves that can be used to start combos. Katze doesn't have any particularly bad match-ups, but he definitely has a few good match-ups. A well played Katze is able to shut down a lot of the mid and lower tier characters with superior poking and zoning, and is also able to defend himself quite well.

* Maya, Orju, and Rail: These characters are somewhat like "speciality" or perhaps "gimmicky" characters. They have a lot of strong points and a lot of weak points to go along with it. What puts them in the mid tier is: They're generally able to fight the upper tier better than the lower tier characters can -- and they have to work less to beat the lower tier characters.

* Delga is something of a wild card. He has terrible matches with T-Maya, Ryuogen, and Othello. He also has to work harder to fight Rail than other characters do. But, he's also really strong. A well played Delga can beat Othello and Katze, and should easily crush Siely and Aleksander, but being that he has some really bad match-ups put him a rank lower than the upper-mid who are generally rather flexible by comparison.

* Aleksander and Siely: These two have their pros and cons, certainly -- but the problem is they have way more cons than pros. While Aleksander has unblockable normals, he suffers from: slow speed, unsafe normals, and lack of special moves. For however hard the opponent has to work to beat him, Aleks players will have to work extra hard just to get wins.
Siely's main problem is lack of damage outside of meter, and extremely low priority on her normals and specials. Although she has some potential, she remains bottom tier due to just not being very solid or strong.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Shift, Burst, and GuardCancel

The "Shift" function in Monster acts like this game's meter and "groove" or "ism" functionalities. While un-shifted (shift gauge inactive) your character acts as normal in any shift. When shifted you gain a power increase (and also incur a damage penalty) and your special moves take on new properties. You also gain a stock of Super each time you shift, which allows you to perform Super moves (called Monster Blow and Bash Combo).

There are three Shifts to choose from: Monster, Freedom, and Tranquility. Briefly:
  • Freedom acts like this game's Custom Combo groove, and generally gives a speed increase and allows you to freely cancel your special moves.
  • Monster acts like this game's "X-ism" (SFA3), as it's generally slower, but more powerful and with increased juggle potential.
  • Tranquility generally provides your characters special moves with some auto-guard, and some characters also gain additional stun or other special properties, and the speed is generally average or slightly slower than unshifted.

What's interesting about this system is the Shift gauge fills on it's own, so you don't have to rely on constant attacking or blocking (or charging) just to build meter. However, you don't get super stocks unless you shift and shifting is an important functionality for both offense and defense, so gauge management is required for effective game play.

The general purposes of the Shift gauge are: Combos (ShiftCancel), Burst, and GuardCancel. Briefly:
  • Shift Canceling is used to extend combos because Shift activations are able to cancel normals, specials, and even supers. The shift activation itself is able to hit and shifting builds a super stock, so they can be used in combos as a confirmed way to deal damage. Extended combos are generally some variation of: normal chain-> dash normal-> special-> shift-> normal chain-> dash normal-> special-> super. On a side note, performing a super while Shifted will refill your Shift gauge (you remain shifted)
  • Busting is a new function added in 1.0b and has been in the game since. It allows you to shift in the air while in hit stun. There are some moves you can't burst after being hit with, and Bursting is baitable and punishable. You also regain your Shift bar at half the speed you normally would after Bursting.
  • Guard Canceling is just as it sounds, you're able to cancel out of block stun with a Shift activation. However, Guard Canceling is subject to Power Breaking, and is also baitable and punishable. It's important to keep an eye on who has the most points when some one does a Guard Cancel, because Guard Canceling at the wrong time could lead to a powerbreak in the opponents favor, while doing it at the right time could lead to a powerbreak in your favor.

A lot of newcomers to the game fall victim to improper use of Bursting and Guard-Canceling. A common example would be for a player 2 to be hit with a large combo (giving player 1 a lot of points), then player 2 attempts a Guard-Cancel after getting up off the ground, but ends up getting PowerBroke because they did not have enough points to beat player 1's attacks. What player 2 should have done was continue to block until gaining enough points to beat player 1's attacks. And keep in mind that if player 1 is able to hit player 2 while player 2 was trying to block, then player 1's points reset.

The general idea with Bursting and Guard-Canceling is to become very good at successfully blocking (for points) or successfully hitting (for points) so that you can utilize either function to reap the benefits of a PowerBreak.

Certainly Bursting has it's own penalty, so improper use of the function could lead to even more damage plus the Shift-regeneration penalty. And while Guard-Canceling seems like a good idea you have to remember that ground moves have a lot of cancelability, so if you attempt a Guard-Cancel at the wrong time the opponent can generally react to the flash with their own action. The ideal time to Guard-Cancel is when you have more points than your opponent and you know they are about to connect an attack with your hittable box that has low cancelability options (like a dash attack or jump attack). Because you have more points when the shift collides with their attack you will beat the attack for a PowerBreak.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Points and Power-Breaks

An interesting feature with Monster is the point system.

A brief overview on points:
  • Combos raise your points. Your points reset at the start of a new combo or if you block an opponents attack. They don't reset if you're hit or if your opponent blocks.
  • Blocking raises your points. They will reset if you hit the opponent. They will not reset if you're hit or your opponent guards.
So, what do these points do. The person with the lowest point score has a "warning status" and can be power broke if they are hit out of a move (counter hit). Having a higher amount of points gives priority over your opponents attacks, so when two hit-boxes collides (clash) the person with the higher amount of points wins. You can also hit your opponents projectiles to cause a powerbreak.

When a player is powerbroke both your points and the opponents points are added together and put on a clock. The opponent is sent into the air very slowly (floaty), and you can juggle the opponent during this state. Each hit reduces the clock by a point, and the clock will also automatically decrease rapidly after the first hit. Once the clock reaches 0, no more hits are allowed to connect (fast multi-hit moves will still connect if performed before 0).

If your points are equal, projectiles pass through one another. If points are unequal, then the highest point score will beat (and powerbreak) the lower score.

This can be summed up by saying:
  • Player with the lowest points is put in "warning".
  • Players with the "warning" status can be power broken when two hit-boxes collide.
  • When power broke: all points on the board get transfered to a clock that determines max hits, and the opponent is put in a juggle state.
  • Clock starts after the first hit and depletes rapidly on it's own, and each hit also depletes the clock.
So, what that means for gameplay is that the defender is rewarded for successfully defending, and the aggressor is rewarded for successfully hitting. However, the reward only makes a difference when successfully utilized. If a defender attacks but fails to powerbreak their points reset. Likewise, if an aggressor attempts a powerbreak and fails their points are reset, and same if the aggressor defends.

This is a rather interesting concept because it allows players to switch momentum while scoring big damage if they are able to utilize the system properly. And naturally that leads to a certain amount of psyche/guessing games.

EG: The aggressor has the opportunity to land another combo by forcing the defender to guess when the attack will be and what kind of attack, or if it will be a throw. The defender has the option to switch to aggressor, but then loses any points they gained while blocking if an attack connects.

Fortunately however, even though the defender is getting rewarded by points, the point system in general still favors the aggressor because of cancel-ability options and mix-up game.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Skill and Experience

It would seem that there's a very noticeable difference in player skills at this point. This is great news to me, because that means the game has some depth to it to keep it interesting. It also means competition will be exciting, because it's challenging.

A few things lead me to this conclusion. The first thing was playing a set with some one who had taken a short hiatus from the game. This person was able to consistently beat me before his hiatus, but afterwards the table had turned. The other thing was actually just looking at replays sent to me by other players and checking win/total game ratios online, and I saw how some players have gotten quite good while others are kind of straggling.

But like I said, this is a good thing. As long as we all keep getting better and better, then there will always be something to work toward.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Monster

Monster is a 2D Fighter doujin (independently/fan made) game for the PC by Sho Kawakami of 8105 Graphics. Currently, the game is still in production and constantly being updated and improved. I've personally taken an interest in this game for several reasons, and so I decided to start a blog to reflect on experiences with the game.

Briefly, some factors that interest me about the game:
  • Interesting dynamics in the game-play. The characters seem to be somewhat diverse, but what interests me more is the actual game mechanics, which seem to be fairly fun in this game so far.
  • Being that this is a PC game, the game can be updated and tweaked with patches should there be glitches or balance issues. And the good news is, it actually is being constantly updated and improved upon.
  • It can be played online, but the net code is vastly superior to X-Box live. This is good news for human competition which is always good for fighting games.
  • Good start. So far I like the game, but then it's also still in production which interests me a lot.
  • The way the characters play. The artwork in the game doesn't interest me much -- but then, they could be fighting trees for all I care -- but I do like the way some of the characters play, in regards to their move-set and special skills. I personally get in to a lot of games just because I find a character or two that interest me, and this happens to be one of them.
  • Replays. I personally love spectating, and I feel it's both an essential part of learning/improving competitively and also very entertaining. Fortunately this game comes equipped with the ability to record matches into small "replay" files to be watched any time, which is definitely a major bonus.

So, that said, those who are reading this and find it interesting might want to take a look at some links of interest, so here goes:

- 8105 Graphics - Monster Home (JP)
- English Monster Home
- Monster Mook (JP)
- Monster Wiki

Discussion threads on Shoryuken.com
- Monster: How many people are interested?
- Monster - The most awesome doujin fighting game yet?
- Monster: Combo, Strat, and Game Information



- Copyright © Xenozip.