Advantage

In most games there's a few types of advantage, and in IaMP there's actually several.

Frame Advantage, Yuyuko 5A vs Yuyuko 5A.

In the above image we see a timeline example of Yuyuko's 5A used twice against an opponent Yuyuko's 5A, which is an example of Frame Advantage. The different colors represent the different status during an action. Yellow, Red, Turquoise, Blue, and Purple represent: Start up frames, Active hit frames, Recovery frames, Block stun frames, and Frames on a timeline (respectively). If both Yuyuko's used their 5A's simultaneously then they would collide on the same frame and trade hits. However, when blocked, Yuyuko's 5A gives a +3F frame advantage, which literally means the blockstun caused from this move lasts longer than the recovery frames of this move, and therefor the Yuyuko who uses it will recover a full three frames sooner than the opponent Yuyuko. In the timeline image above we see that the top (player one) Yuyuko's second 5A begins three frames before the bottom (player two) Yuyuko's 5A. Thus, the first active hitframe from Top Yuyuko collides with the Bottom Yuyuko's startup frames on the fifth start-up frame (which is three frames before the Bottom Yuyuko's hitframes). Therefor, due to frame advantage, Top Yuyuko's 5A wins.

The exact numbers aren't particularly important though, except for very particular situations. This is because what's really important is whether a move has Frame Advantage or Frame Disadvantage, because that's generally what's going to decide who's next attack is going to win after a block or hit. Concerning yourself with the exact numbers is hardly important, unless you want to find out if something is technically possible or impossible with perfect timing (though keep in mind that perfect timing isn't practical 100% of the time, especially online).

Direct Advantage, Alice knockdown into late j.A.

In the above image we see something that is more along the lines of a Direct Advantage. The Yuyuko player is knocked down and Alice is clear across the screen, so it appears as though there's plenty of time for Yuyuko to get up off the ground and do some sort of movement or action, but this is not the case. As we can see in the second section of the image (center, circled yellow) Yuyuko does get up off the ground quick enough to at least fully recover before Alice is in range to do anything, but it would not be wise for Yuyuko to move or attack at this point because it will only be a few more frames before Alice's j.A connects with Yuyuko. If Yuyuko moves backwards, up+back, up, up+towards, or towards then Yuyuko won't get very far before Alice's j.A starts hitting, even if Yuyuko backdashes. Additionally, it isn't a good idea for Yuyuko to attack either because there isn't enough time for any of Yuyuko's attacks to fully animate before Alice's j.A connects, much like the timeline example in the first example above. Even Yuyuko's 6B "Flip" move which awards temporary invulnerability is not a good idea in this situation because Alice's j.A has no hittable box inside the doll. The "Flip" move would completely whiff Alice's body and do nothing against Alice's doll, so Alice is quite safe even from a Flip or bomb. Fact is, the only and thing Yuyuko can do is block, which isn't such a bad idea since blocking avoids immediate damage anyhow.

Indirect Advantage, Yuyuko 236A j8 vs Alice.

The above image is an example of Indirect Advantage. Here we see that Alice appears to be in no immediate danger and with plenty of room to move around, however despite how it looks, this is actually a disadvantageous situation for Alice. This is because there are butterfly bullets on the screen fired by Yuyuko flying right towards Alice, and Yuyuko is close by and directly in what is known as a Blind Spot for Alice. The reason this is a blind spot is because Alice has no attacks that can immediately hit the space that Yuyuko is currently in other than j.B or bombing. However, if you notice Yuyuko is not trailing blue shadows, which means Yuyuko can block both Alice's j.B or bomb. What this situation boils down to is; if Alice attempts to graze in any direction or graze attack, then the Alice player risks getting hit with Yuyuko melee (typically Yuyuko j.B or j.A in this situation). If the Alice player instead attempts to attack with a bomb or j.B, then the Yuyuko player can simply air block and allow the bullets to hit Alice, then continue with a melee afterwards. Even if Alice backs off with a backdash, the odds of escape are not in Alice's favor since both melee and bullet are going to be hitting soon. The proper action Alice should take here is to block.

General rule of thumb: When in doubt, just block.

Trying to highjump or backdash away from stuff will often get you CH, and airblocking with a normal jump will often get you guard broken in the air by an anti-air, so blocking in generally your best option. Especially if you know you can't beat an oncoming attack with a melee or bullet (normal/special), in this situation you should usually just block instead of trying to get away.



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Controls

In IaMP there's usually multiple ways of doing things, and usually multiple reactions for every potential action.

Dashing or Grazing and HighJumps can be done in two ways, for example. You can hold the D button and push a direction to get a dash. Or you can input forwards or backwards twice for a forward and backward dash, or input down and then up for a highjump. This can be pretty important for graze attacking and movement in general. The preferred method for most movements is to use the D button and a single direction. For example, after landing Hong Meirin's AAAB string, it's ideal to use to hold 3 (down+toward), then immediately tap D as soon as she recovers from the B kick, and then immediately tap A as soon as you begin to dash, and that should allow you to juggle with her palm thrust move. The method of inputting D3A (D+down+toward+A) should be significantly easier than inputting 663A (toward, toward, down+toward+A). The example given for Hong Meirin can be seen below:

Hong Meirin AAAB D3A

Another simple trick involves using Bombs as stated in my previous post. Rather than inputting 22 (down, down) you can instead input 11 (down+back, down+back). The main advantage of doing it this was is that you'll be inputting a block command instead of neutral down, which means while you're trying to input the bomb inputs you'll be blocking oncoming attacks that may have potential gaps in them. If, for example, you attempt to bomb using 22 in between Alice 5A 6A, you may be hit because there's a small gap in there just large enough for your guard to drop. If you input a bomb with 11 instead then odds are you'll continue to block until the bomb begins, so you should not be hit.

And another shortcut involves HighJumping backwards. When highjumping backwards (HJ7) it can be difficult to use the D button in order to move the way you want. Often, when using D7 you'll accidentally get either a backdash or a vertical highjump instead of a diagonal highjump. To avoid this it can actually be better to manually input the highjump motion with 27 or ideally with 17 (down+back, up+back). The advantage to this is that you'll first block low, and then transition into a diagonal highjump backwards without the risk of accidentally backdashing or vertical highjumping. Although this is much easier to do with a Stick controller or Pad controller than it is on a keyboard. But regardless of the controller, backwards highjumps should be easier with manual inputs than with D7. However, for vertical highjumps and forward highjumps, ideally you would use D8 and D9 (or D69) respectively since it's faster and easier.

Controllers have been the subject of some debate for with competitive Fighting game fans. However, the majority of competitive Fighting game players who attend major tournaments and compete at high levels of competition prefer to use custom-built Arcade Sticks for Fighting games. A nice thread regarding arcade sticks can be found on Shoryuken.com forums. Most serious hardcode Fighting game fans agree that Sticks are the way to go.

Game Pad controllers have often been rather taboo when associated with Fighting games because the majority of people who play on pads tend to use their thumbs for attack inputs instead of their finger tips. This is not really ideal because of the difference between using thumbs and finger tips. If we examine the difference, we can clearly see that finger tips are able to rapidly tap buttons much faster than thumbs. Finger tips also allow you to input any kind of two or three button combinations much better than with thumbs. While thumbs can put two buttons that are vertically aligned with one another, it's difficult to input diagonally aligned or horizontally aligned buttons, as seen below:
PS2 Pad multiple input combinations.

There's also several other techniques which finger tips allow you to do that are difficult to perform with thumbs, such as: Tapping, Drumming, Pianoing, Sliding (kara/RC), and - as previously mentioned - simultaneous inputs.

These techniques may not seem to apply to IaMP, but some of them actually do. The ability to hold the D button and input another attack such as A or B while dashing or highjumping is the same as a duel-input, which is significantly easier with finger tips than thumbs. This applies to things like Meirin's AAAB D3A (seen above) and lots of characters j.A and j.B loops that require you to to dash or highjump during them (such as Sakuya, Marisa, Remilia, Yukari, etc). Additionally, having one finger over a specific button like D, and another finger over a specific button like C, allows you to quickly highjump cancel or airdash cancel without having to move your thumb from one input button to another. Since your fingers are already in-place, you need only press the buttons without having to move any fingers. And lastly, drumming and tapping can assist with timing for reversals such as a 623 (dp) uppercut move in between hits or while getting up off the ground (example: Marisa 623 in between Yuyuko 6A 22B).

The good news is that IaMP only has four input buttons, so even if your controller is limited to four input buttons on the pad's face, you'll still be able to use finger tips for playing IaMP instead of thumbs. The downside is that many players feel that using thumbs for directional inputs is still not ideal in comparison to using a stick (since with a stick you'll be using finger tips and wrist for directionals).

Popular gamepads of choice are: Japanese Sega Saturn pad (AKA. satapad). Japanese PS2-Sega Saturn pad (Saturn pad built for the PS2). The Saitek USB-pad series (ideally P220 -- P220 > P2500 > P990). And the default PS2 pad.

Using a Keyboard is a bit of a gray area. In theory, since you'll be using finger tips for both attack inputs and directional inputs, it would be acceptable. However, many keyboards are limited in how many inputs it can process simultaneously. Additionally, keyboards are rather bulky and blocky, so it can be difficult to input motion/directional inputs such a 214 (qcb) or 421 (rpd). The good news is that you'll most certainly not have difficulty inputing commands from the left or right side, which is something that many Fighting game players have an issue with on Sticks and Pads. For the sake of IaMP you can probably get away with using a keyboard, provided you're able to perform simple special and super movements.




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