SFA3 Misc.

I enjoy talking/thinking about SFA3 a lot, dunno why.

When recovering in the air in SFA3 there's actually 3 types, plus a 4th for rolling. Forward, neutral, back air recovery puts you into a temporary invulnerable state. However, during this invulnerability time you are unable to act (which includes blocking).

Whether on purpose or by accident, however, the amount of time you are unable to act is longer than the invulnerability duration. That means that after teching you are invincible for several frames, then you are no longer invincible and still unable to do anything other than super/VC activate.

This is how tech trapping in SFA3 works, entirely.

Basically, the game's juggle system makes it so that the opponent can air tech any time the player is not currently performing an action or during the last frames of recovery from a move (this is called "neutral"-state, though the term "neutral" is very misleading). V-ism allows you to enter a custom combo state which allows you to cancel attacks into another attack, therefor you can constantly be in a state of action by chaining move after move. But this also means that you can't stop or they will be able to tech, and in order to jump you must stop.

Therefor, players adjusted the enders to their combos to end with a setup that will allow them to recover very very quickly, as well as hit the opponent one last time to position them in the air where they want them to be. This way, for example, I will throw out a light attack that recovers very quickly and pushes you above head level, then perform a quick jumping attack. Now, if you don't tech then my jumping attack will connect, and even if you do tech you will still be in range for my jumping attack to hit you as soon as you become vulnerable again.

Therefor, it hardly matters what you decide to do, except that in by teching you are resetting the combo count, which also resets damage scaling, making whatever I do next cause significantly more damage.

Now, technically when you land you enter a recovery state, because jumps have recovery frames on landing. But, Capcom implemented a little thing that made it so that you could cancel this recovery state with a defensive crouch (low block). The reason they did this was because they wanted players to at least be able to block sweeps right as they touch the ground, hence why it's referred to as "trip-guard".

This gave rise to "crouch cancelling" and "walk cancelling". Walk cancelling is actually just a crouch cancel, except that you do not jump after crouching, and instead walk either forwards or backwards after crouching. Oddly, walking is considered an action. The only reason you can't transition from an attack into a walk is because the attack itself has a recovery period which triggers the "neutral" state.

A couple of random notes:

Air teching in SFA3 can be performed semi-automatically. A lot of players try to mash techs or time techs, but this is not necessary. Instead, you can hold the inputs for a tech after the last hit of a combo, before the neutral state begins, and the game will automatically tech for you. For example, if you are trapped in Sakura's crouch cancel series, if you push the tech inputs and hold it on the first j.FP attack you will not tech at the end of the series. However, if you wait until the last j.FP of the series and then push it any time between the tech window and the end of hit-stop occurrence, then you will automatically tech on the first frame of "neutral".

Many throws and airthrows bypass damage scaling entirely. Even if the combo count is over 60 hits and any move you do is causing 1 pixel of damage, certain throws that have been dubbed "slam" throws will simply ignore damage scaling and cause their usual chunk of damage (making them ideal enders).

Juli is a bit fucked in this department. While Cammy and Juni have the hooligan combination special move that can grab airborne opponents and cause slam damage, Juli does not. Therefor it may seem like a good idea to go for a kick-airthrow ender, but this is not the case. The reason is because the kick-airthrow has such massive recovery even when not teched that it is often highly punishable.

Pressing inputs at the point of hit occurrence will cause you to flash pink. This is actually a damage reduction mechanic like in Melty Blood, and will reduce damage by 50%. This also occurs during block-stop, when you flash blue, it reduces the amount of guard meter damage you incur. It may also have an effect on chip damage, but I doubt it.

Command throws break a lot of rules during V-ism's VC custom mode. It's well known that they are able to allow certain command throws to pick the opponent up off the ground (OTG). However, it's sometimes overlooked/downplayed that they can also grab the opponent during other states that they should not be able to, such as blockstun, hitstun, and during jump startup frames (where you are normally immune to throws).

This doesn't sound particularly threatening until you consider the application of crossups being followed by an immediate command grab, or even a unactivated crossup followed by an activation followed by a command grab. Imagine the scenario of any time you are knocked down, the opponent does a deep crossup that can't be hit by reversals (because the reversal goes the "Wrong way", and is ambiguous and difficult to block in the first place) followed by an activation into command throw that blows through alpha counters. And then, of course, cancels the command throw into a custom combo that takes you to the corner, and then sets up a tech trap into infinite death.

Say hello to Karin's potential. And you thought anti-air VC's were scary huh.

Regarding tech traps though, there are exactly two characters that can transition from a ground-based VC into a jump juggle. That would be Chun-Li, who cheats, and Rolento.

Rolento's transition from ground to air is hardly so esoteric as Chun's. Being that his super jump counts as a special, he can cancel his normals and specials into the super jump.

But it's apparent that Chun-Li cheats when observing the technicals of HSFA (hyper street fighter alpha) that is bundled in SFAA (street fighter alpha anthology). Reason being, the HSFA mode allows SFA3 characters to battle against SFA1 and SFA2 characters. The SFA1 characters have the interesting property of becoming instantly invulnerable to further juggles the instant the opponent hits neutral. In this version, although it's still technically accurate to the SFA3 arcade version, Chun-Li is not able to perform her transition on the SFA1 characters, therefor she must at some point enter a neutral state.

However, in vanilla SFA3 and arcade SFA3, it is literally impossible to air recover from her c.SK, [d]u-SK, SK, jump VC.

The only real consolation to this is that it has to be done off a crossup since generally the tenshou kyaku will whiff otherwise. And, because her crossup is a j.SK, she doesn't get to do a whole lot of initial damage because the damage scaling from the light attacks in the setup is pretty big. Of course, if she infinites you, it hardly matters.

The sides in SFA3 are uneven. Player 2 will crossup a cornered opponent during a crouch cancel series due to the uneven sides. This will prevent basic crouch cancel series. However, there's a few ways to negate this. First, quite a few crouch cancel series and infinites can be performed by simply jumping vertically instead of diagonally. This is of course much harder, but still possible. Also, it's possible for many characters that have infinites to perform them anyway simply by using a crossup during the side switch, then continue the crouch cancel series by jumping across the screen while juggling, and then loop it back by using the crossup again.

Of course, these are not options for every character, but they are options for at least several.

The uneven sides thing also occurs when special moves are involved. If you perform a special move that takes you "into" the corner, you can crossup or crossunder a cornered opponent. This isn't particularly useful for many characters, but it most certainly is very handy for specific characters.

Oh, did I mention that slam throw damage also ignores the damage reduction from tech-hitting a throw? Well, it's true. You can't negate slam damage.

The shadows that trail along with you during a V-ism VC retain the move blockability properties. This includes high and low. And since they are technically mimicking you with a slight delay, it is possible to make the shadow connect with a high attack while you hit you a low attack, thus creating another form of unblockable.

This is particularly useful midscreen, once again, due to crossup. With VC1 active (the shortest duration between you and your shadow) you can crossup then immediately hit low while the shadow hits high. Technically this can be blocked by a computer or TA tool. But, humans can't normally block high, low, high, low within a matter of frames between each hit, which is the exact sequence you have to deal with.

These crossup types are particularly strong because it is possible to overshoot the opponent right as they are getting up, causing any reversal that they do to be facing forward and "under" you, which means reversal DPs and such whiff entirely because they move/face the "Wrong" way.

So, combine that with the command throw unblockables, and you can see why crossups are pretty scary.

There's really only a few characters that can escape a perfectly executed Chun-Li midscreen crossup unblockable.

Akuma should be an obvious one, teleport. Juni and V-Dan aren't as blatantly obvious, but they can with a well timed pushblock. I use to have a list of who exactly could and could not do it, but I realized the list was pretty obsolete when I realized the exact list did not apply to crossup cmd throw unblockables in every case.

Despite all that, confusion/mixup VCs are still very effective. Especially when the user can resort to causing massive chip and/or a guard crush when the mixup fails.

There's a bizarre "glitch" that occurs with Chun-Li j.d-FK "stomp" when canceled into a VC. When performed while rising into the air, Chun will continue on that path even when the VC is activated. However, if done while descending then Chun will actually retain the trajectory, if slightly altered to make her fall even faster. This gives her an auto-confirm for her unblockable. Basically, if you perform a meaty stomp and the stop whiffs or you get hit then you don't technically waste any meter. If, however, the stomp hits or is blocked then you will cancel into the VC and can perform an immediate j.SK followed by the c.SK for the unblockable. This isn't particularly useful midscreen though, since technically the stomp either can't crossup or has a very very difficult time of doing so even when it's possible. Therefor the best application for it is when you have the opponent cornered. This technique can be reversed in that situation, but thanks to the fact that it's an auto-confirm, at least you won't be gambling with your meter.

Gen's Jakouha super is also another little rule breaker. The grab will actually break any and all juggle and invulnerability state rules. Basically, if the opponent is in the air and Gen collides with them, they will get grabbed. To boot, the damn thing is a slam throw, and therefor ignores damage scaling as well. This was fixed in the old console versions and added in as a dipswitch in SFAA. But in SFA3 he is the only character in the game that can break juggle limits and aerial invulnerability states. He can even grab you when you're in hit-reel from an alpha counter.

For many years the top tiers have been considered to be Akuma, Sakura, Dhalsim, and Zangief. Which is pretty cool since none of those characters possess infinites. And Dhalsim is considered to hold that place in the tiers in any of the 3 -isms.

Unfortunately, times have changed, players evolved, etc. and poor Zangief no longer holds his ground there. Sodom has been secured as one of the top 4, but it's actually debatable if the S class should be limited to just 4, since Sagat is generally also considered to be ranked on the same level as the others. I personally wouldn't be surprised if Vega(claw) and Karin make their way in there some day, but for the time being this is not the case.

So, it just goes to show that normals, functionality, and utility can conquer "the infinites". I mean, after all, Birdie is generally ranked dead last in everybodies tier lists for that game, and ironically he does have an infinite.

Ok, so now this post is entirely too long.


Pushblocking, etc.

Some other random thoughts came to mind, so I apologize in advance if this post structure is completely chaotic. This little online journal was intended more for me than the people spying on it in the first place!

Pushblocking is, in my opinion, a wonderful yet widely untapped mechanic. I don't play Marvel vs Capcom 2, but I have played it enough to understand it at least, as well as some X-Men versus Street Fighter. I've also played quite a bit of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Vampire Savior, and I do also enjoy playing Juni in SFA3 (though I'm more partial to Cammy).

What these have in common is pushblocking, which I feel can compensate for a lot of otherwise really bold/problematic game mechanics. I honestly feel Jojo's and MvC2 would not be playable without this mechanic, and I also believe V.S benefits from it greatly as well.

I'm currently of the opinion that it was a much needed mechanic in some other 2D fighters that simply don't have it. For example, if BBB implemented pushblocking they could have done a lot of really wild things, like making ground-based moves not blockable in the air (which they currently almost all are, including supers) and given the game much lower airdashes and maybe even short jumps and such. Ground overheads could have been given to more of the cast, and the existing ones wouldn't have to have been so slow, either. All because of pushblocking.

What does that have to do with aerial dynamics, well it has to do with the "strength" of the air game in general. I want to say that a game like MB suffers from the problem of having characters in a game that have entirely too good air movement and air attacks, plus air blocking and no guard meter, compounded with the fact that the majority of the cast don't have particularly reliable anti-airs and weak/impractical projectiles. For characters like Miyako and Ren, it's simply far too foolish to even bother fighting on the ground when they can fight so well in the air. But then fighting in the air just means bouncing around like an idiot, trying to get above the opponent and push the right button at the right time. It boils down to "You thought I'd move here, but I didn't! Fooled you!" and "You thought I'd try that again, but I didn't!" kind of game.

I would say that this wouldn't be so much of a problem if there was no airblocking or there were better ways to lock the opponent down in the air with a air block string, and/or air blocking heavily drained some sort of guard meter to the point where it would be practical to do air-to-air guard crushes.

However, those are really rather extreme mechanic rearrangements. Pushblocking might also be pretty extreme, but such a mechanic doesn't have to be either free or limitless like it is in Jojo's and V.S. It can be limited either by blockstun duration, timer, or possibly even meter, and it could certainly be limited to ground-use only.

To me, the benefits to pushblocking are rather interesting. No doubt, I feel it definitely works in every game that it's in, and not in bad ways at all (IMO).

My favorite benefit is being able to pushblock against jump-ins, which hinder the frame advantage and stage-area advantage awarded by overpowered jump-ins. Though another benefit that I rather enjoy is forcing players to be creative with their attack strings and mixups. Tick throws, overheads, and staggered attack chains become not so freely spammable in games with pushblocking, though they are certainly not completely nullified either. Even in Jojo's and V.S where pushblocking is free and limitless, the mechanics of breaking down the opponent's guard are not nullified at all, but rather players just need to find new and interesting ways to hit the opponent. In other words, they have to actually think instead of just spam high/low/throw all day randomly and mindlessly.

I've always wondered what Guilty Gear would be like with pushblocking implemented. Considering that momentum and damage is so heavily integral in that game, my theory is that it would benefit from it a lot. For example, Testament barnie string (exe beast) into high/low/throw over and over and over until you finally block wrong and he gets to damage half your lifebar or more, ending in a knockdown that enables him to use a meaty projectile that awards enough frame advantage for him to do it again.

But, I digress.

The problem with pushblocking though, is that it doesn't actually benefit everything under the sun. Certainly SF3:3S wouldn't gain much benefit to that kind of mechanic other than hurting Yun and Yang. But that would just mean that Chun, Ken, Dudley, and probably Makoto would dominate the rest of the cast. If anything, I would think pushblocking would hurt 3S a lot more than help.

I also have no idea how it would actually effect Garou:Mark of the Wolves. I want to say positively by hurting B.Jenet, Kevin, and Terry. But that would mean that Gato would dominate even better than he already does, in addition to Grant dominating as well.

Anyway, pushblocking is just something that's been on my mind a bit.


The final installment of the previous posts.

But first, another interesting type of air movement is short jumps or hops. In the games that I've experienced them in, such as Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Garou:MotW, and CvS2, I've been rather fond of them. But I believe they can just as easily go horribly wrong if not properly balanced, such as what is seen in a lot of SNK games where shorthops are basically all anyone does all round long.

In my opinion, it shouldn't be difficult at all to balance this mechanic though. Things like adding a landing recovery, narrowing the jump arc, slowing the ascent, and disabling defensive options during short jump state are some obvious "fixes" to a potentially problematic mechanic.

The question then becomes, are they necessary to add at all, particularly in a game that has other types of airmovement. Personally, I would say yes, especially if given some incentive to use them such as air special cancels or the ability to super cancel the ground recovery, or other such things. Though with these in place, I feel that they also shouldn't be totally risk free or difficult to anti-air if anticipated. With it set up like that, I believe it becomes enjoyable to attempt risky short jumps when you get inside your opponent's head with a read. And likewise, enjoyable for the opponents that read short jumps and are able to punish them, and so on.

But, back to air movement in general. I think what it all comes down to is the implementation of many different mechanics that can make or break air movement.

Although I may get hated on for saying this, I feel that MeltyBlood and Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (and certainly BigBangBeat) failed in these departments, and GuiltyGear may have on some level as well. Even though MeltyBlood and GuiltyGear are rather popular and enjoyable games, I feel the footsie game is diluted, watery, linear/predictable, and boring. As much as I have played MeltyBlood and continue to play it even now, I think the footsies in that game are much less what I would consider real footsies. Instead, I would say that MeltyBlood relies almost entirely on "king of the hill" fighting, which is basically just vying for height supremacy, and "fishing", which is basically just sticking out pseudo-random high priority pokes while flailing around in the air.

Games like MB and GG tend to be very "hoppy" due to the airdash and doublejump mechanics, and not much classic style footsies really go down. Instead, both players are bouncing around like rubber chickens with their heads cut off on opposite ends of the screen. Eventually some one moves closer, some one gets hit or blocks, and then the rushdown-mixup game occurs. Guilty Gear has a more interesting dynamic to it than Melty Blood, though, which is the projectile game. The majority of the cast in GG has some slow moving projectiles that they can use as both cover and shields, as well as zoning and controlling space. While projectiles exist in MB, not every character has them and even a lot of the ones that do have them hardly use them for that purpose.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again, even things that we can deem as "stupid" can be enjoyed -- such as the children's game rock-paper-scissors can actually be fun for a while to some people, even though it's not exactly action packed rocket science.

Even I am able to look past the flaws in MB's air game and still enjoy the game as it is on some level. But not a set goes by where I don't end up thinking at some point "well, that was stupid, why did I just play that game?".

But to me, I'd much prefer to have fun where I know fun can be had. Such as the doublejumps that exist in certain versions of Monster and the airdashes that exist in Immaterial and Missing Power, since I know the way things were done in these games only add rather than subtract or dilute.

To me, these mechanics not only make sense on paper, but are actually really "fun" in practice, which is pretty rare in high-level competition in fighting games these days, IMO.

In closing, shorter/lower/slower/more risk = better.

Doublejumps and Airdashing

In my last post I focused more on doublejumps. So in this one I'd like to focus on airdashing (yes I realize I got the titles backwards). And in a later post I'll overview air-movement in general.

I use to think that airdashing killed ground-based footsies and turned games into momentum-based mixup-rushdown games. But I've learned that this isn't the case at all, it's actually quite dependent on how airdashes are done, how air defense works, if doublejumps exist too, and that the whole concept of wakeup-rushdown is almost entirely separate.

Once again, I think a prime example of a game where it was done wrong is SWR, while a game that actually did it quite right is IaMP.

Unlike games with doublejumps, I've learned that games with only airdashing, like IaMP, can actually develop different kinds of footsies. Namely, footsies in the air, ground to air and visa versa, and yet still maintain some footsies on the ground.

Unfortunately, I believe most games with airdashing also have doublejumps, so it's difficult to make examples outside of IaMP. Or rather, it's difficult to say if other games did airdashing wrong or not since doublejumps also exist, making it hard to isolate. Of course, I haven't played every single 2D fighter in existence, so there may be another game out there lurking in the shadows that I don't know about.

Airdashing generally has a preset distance -- and in my opinion the shorter the better -- and generally leaves you vulnerable for a brief movement at the start of an airdash. Being that you're able to attack though, and are technically moving, gives rise to some interesting things.

I believe the "first level" of airdash shenanigans is simply learning economy of movement. Learning to position yourself on the ground first, relative to your opponent, then taking to the air allows you to beat the opponent in the air with superior movement and timing.

But the first level isn't going to win you matches once players start learning the "second level", which I believe to be mostly the art of baiting. Things start to happen where you will use air backdashes to avoid and punish anti-airs, using air forward dashes to "over-shoot" anti-airs, leading your opponent into the air and using air backdashes to attack while moving backwards with superior range or height, and baiting the opponent into a bad position in the air so that you can land first and anti-air, or trapping the opponent in the air that is trying to escape via the air.

On the second level it begins to feel a lot more like "loose" footsies, so to speak. You can't twitch around and make pixel-perfect-precision movements like you can on the ground, but rather once you commit to a movement you're pretty much set within certain perimeters.

And that is what gives rise to the "third level", which requires a higher understanding of vectors. Learning the exact positions that your opponent could potentially land in, should they take to the air, allows the player to position themselves in ideal spots on the ground. This enables players to anti-air or dash under aggressive forward movement, lock down/trap neutral movement, and chase backwards movement into the corner. What this does is actually nullify air superiority by gaining so much ground superiority that you force the opponent to playing the ground vs ground game (which actually occurs in IaMP rather beautifully).

Of course, in a game with aerial projectiles, you get players trying to use air shots to dig their opponent out of their ideal ground positions. And in a game where not all characters are created equal, you get some rather interesting dynamics of players attempting to force the fight into the air, force the fight onto the ground, or attempt to get the opponent onto either the ground or the air so that they can fight on the opposite plane.

Personally, I still believe that all this gets heavily diluted when doublejumps are added into the mix. But then I can't really say it's doublejumps fault entirely, since if the game has doublejumps only and no airdashing then it's possible to have a game with am extensive and enjoyable footsie game with doublejumps. In my experience though, I would say the combination of both is not particularly to my liking at all.