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.