RE: SF4 Rose Notes

I've always liked Cammy, Claw(Vega), and Chun-Li in: ST, SFA3, and CvS2. In SF3:3S I still liked Chun, though I grew vastly more fond of Ibuki. With that, I would think that I'd also like the same characters in SF4. But I really hate what they did to Claw and Cammy, and Chun just didn't float my boat this time. Actually the only character to catch my interest at all in SF4 was the poor ole Weak Purple Thing; Rose.

That said I still have very little-to-no interest in SF4 other than waiting for SSF4, or whichever of the 4-series they decide to "get it right" on (probably the third iteration as per usual).

Anyway. SFIV Rose is similar to SFA3 Rose, except that she's been "SF4'd" so to speak. Changes (AFAIK):
- c.LP combos into qcf+LK or qcb+HP.
- c.LK links into either c.LP or c.MP and both of which are cancelable/comboable.
- All her special moves are super cancelable, making hitconfirm off qcf+LK or qcb+HP very easy (c.LK c.LP qcf+LK xx super for example).
- Her oc.MK (Slide) goes under fireballs during it's active hitframes and the frame data for it was changed.
- Recovery on Sparks were modified so that LP-Spark has fast startup but slow recovery while HP-Spark has slow startup and really fast recovery.
- No pushback on Sparks.
- Spirals are all 1-hit (which effects pushback and chip damage, etc).
- Her reflects are all terrible. Not good as reflects, not good as pokes, not good as meaties, not good as anti-air, etc. Her absorb is decent if only for meter and spark power-ups, while her reflects are just garbage.
- No airthrow (aarrgg).
- Her vertical jumping attacks were changed, but they are still pretty good.
^ Unlike poor Cammy and Claw whose vertical jumping attacks were completely bastardized horribly.

Regarding her EX-moves.
- Her EX-Spiral has invulnerable startup for the first 11 frames but the active hitframes aren't until the 13th frame. So it's kinda like 3S Chun's EX-SBK. It's a decent reversal in the sense that it will blow through meaties that have less than 11 active frames (which is nearly everything). But the downsides is that it can trade with intentional non-meaties, be option-selected against, and punished on block since it moves her forward and is -6 on block (easily punishable).
- Her EX-S.Throw is 6F startup inv and 6F startup, so it will beat meaty airborne attacks and can technically be used to get out of meaty traps. It's a far cry from her old supers but every character only gained their level one super anyway so Rose is no exception.
- Her EX-Spark is basically as one would expect, comes out as fast as the LP version and has a lot more damage and stun. Being two hit, it also kills FA's and will beat normal 1-hit projectiles. The advantage on block isn't as good as MP or HP versions but it's definitely better than LP version, which at least makes it a good combo item as well as a pretty good utility item. In a way it's basically a more buff version of the LP-Spark.
- The EX-Reflect may be the rotten egg of the bunch. Her normal reflect can only reflect/absorb normal projectiles, not EX ones, while the EX-Reflect can reflect EX projectiles and powers up the damage by 10%. Other than that it's a pretty crappy move.

Close MK, far MK, and far HK come off the ground. I know at least that close MK is unthrowable from the first frame which makes it a good anti-throw reversal or anti-tick-throw. Since the other two are "far" moves its a moot point, they're out of throw range, but presumably those aren't throwable either.

Rose's oc.MK slides under fireballs as said. But it's also -6/-3 on block/hit, though with 8 active frames the range then becomes -6/-3 to +1/+4. That means you can link it into c.MP on a meaty hit but timing must be perfect on the slide and the c.MP. It's actually a pretty good move in SF4, decent meaty and decent tick throw setup or utility move (poke/anti-air/cross-under, etc).

Rose's qcf+K armor breaks and is super cancelable and sets up a decent crossup j.MK if the opponent quick recovers. It may be one of the better armor breakers in the game, though I doubt it's the "best armor breaker" due to it's weaknesses -- C.Viper's qcb+P also armor breaks and works basically the same way except it's not nearly as punishable as Rose's. The LK-Spiral is horrifically punishable and moves her forwards, making it a really unsafe move to just use randomly, particularly at close raneg. Ideally you'd hit-confirm it from c.LK c.LP into LK-Spiral or c.LP c.LP LK-Spiral or c.LK c.MP N-Spiral. The advantage of it armor breaking is that it discourages the opponent from using FA's during blockstrings due to potential Spirals causing armor breaks. Also, since it moves forwards, if the first few active frames whiff air before connecting then the disadvantage on block is reduced (eg. meaty/far is safer).

Both c.MP hcf+LP and c.HP hcf+MP combo midscreen or corner and you can FADC then link c.MP into whatever (typically into S.Spiral). On block this is pretty safe midscreen due to pushback, and in the corner it's mostly safe depending on other variables. Something to consider using in lieu of the punishable LK-Spiral. Though the opponent can FA1 through the projectile but it won't score a counterhit. They also don't have enough time to FA2. The only real threat is if the opponent reversals through the projectile with an inv-move or does FA1 through the c.MP/c.HP which will score a counterhit and/or trade against the projectile, causing crumple. Though, the other downside is that c.HP is ridiculously punishable on whiff/block/hit so it's not a good idea to use c.HP without intending to cancel it. With the threat of Spirals at least the opponent should be shy of using FA's during block strings though. An opponent Rose can c.MP to punish the MP-Spark on block in the corner since it's -4 but the c.MP must be perfect reversal timing and will only combo at that range into qcf+2K or super. The plus-side though is that MP-Spark looks very similar to HP-Spark. HP-Spark doesn't combo on hit, but on block is +2F which allows her additional corner pressure or blockstrings or whatever. Although there is a large frame gap before the Spark hits it's still not a terrible idea to use in moderation to Spirals or empty baits because Spirals will beat FA's and empty baits will allow you to punish reversal mashing. For example doing c.HP HP-Spark in the corner when you know the opponent will block gives you +F to do more stuff with (like c.MP).

Rose's qcb+HP also combos from c.LP and is also hitconfirmable into super both midscreen and corner by linking it rather than supercancelling it (making it a stupidly easy hitconfirm). Even though it's -7 on block which is about as bad as the LK-Spiral, the difference is that HP-Reflect pushes Rose back pretty far instead of moving her forwards, so it's safer than the LK-Spiral. So for example if you do c.LK c.LP LK-Spiral the opponent can punish the Spiral on block with almost anything (c.HP is easy to punish with for most characters). But if you do c.LK c.LP HP-Reflect an opponent Rose's only option to punish the HP-Reflect is c.MK into super, which requires 1F reversal timing to connect with c.MK (which is not easy and not confirmable). Likewise with Sparks the opponent can FA1 through the HP-Reflect but it's a lot harder to time it since Reflects and c.LP are both so fast and it still doesn't score a counterhit on the Reflect. They also don't have enough time for an FA2 either, and it's incredibly difficult (albeit not entirely impossible) to FA through the c.LP and beat the HP-Reflect for a counterhit which makes it a bit less of a gamble than Sparks.

The downside is that for some stupid reason c.LK c.LP HP-Reflect doesn't work on crouching thin opponents despite working on standing and/or fat characters, forcing Rose to simply do one c.LP into HP-Reflect against the skinnies (like a crouching opponent Rose). The plus side though is that if you step back just a little bit then do c.LP HP-Reflect an opponent Rose's only option to punish this is with reversal c.MK into super, because the pushback puts her too far away to be punished even by c.MK into EX-Spiral or anything else. Oddly close MK combos to HP-Reflect on crouching characters but not standing characters, and HP/c.MP can combo to HP-Reflect but then the Reflect can whiff on block.

Funny thing about Rose's Ultra, the "shamwow" as it's been dubbed, is that it does more damage if you land it randomly off nothing than if you combo it from an FA or most other options (as seen in the previous Rose post). But it's probably the most practical way to hitconfirm into Shamwow. Alternately a max-range c.MP into hcf+2P FADC Ultra will combo but it's quite difficult to space it and time it and buffer it. It also costs 3 stocks of super, for that matter. But since it is possible there's a couple of ways to set up the correct distance, such as N.MP c.MP EX-Spark which sets the distance perfectly, or c.LK c.LK c.MP EX-Spark which again sets you at the ideal distance but is also by far the weakest way to combo it. Really I don't think the Shamwow was meant to be a combo-type Ultra, though it just happens that there's several situational ways to combo it. It's strongest attributes are that it's invulnerable up until it's first active hit frame and it can grab airborne opponents, so it's quite easy to land it off a crumple or if the opponent jumps.

Rose's f+HK (Piede) will knock down an airborne opponent rather than resetting them. Has very little juggle potential though, as the only thing you can combo after it is one hit of EX-Spark or super (same as HP-Reflect). However practical applications of this would be as an anti-air, or if you crumple the opponent and you only have enough time to land a juggle move (due to backdash or trade or whatever). Though she can combo into super off HP-Reflect or Spiral (and juggle FA1 for that matter), the Piede is the strongest juggle-only option.

Rose's super, though so easily hitconfirmable, is also pretty good for chipping too. Her Sparks and AS.Spark are powered up by absorbing projectiles with LP-Reflect which IIRC is how it worked in every game. In SF4 it's 5% increase per absorb with 35% max (7 times). Incidentally though the powerup also affects chip damage, which I suppose is kind of cool. Storing powerups for super may not be worth it though since normal Sparks are so valuable.

Other than that, I think Rose is pretty straight forward, though definitely not a very strong character. Many people regard SF4 Rose as either bottom tier or at least low tier. It comes as no surprise to me though since Rose was only ever top tier in SFA2. She was low tier in SFA3 and low tier in CFJ, so it doesn't really seem out of place for her to be low tier in SF4 either. To me she "feels" like Rose in the sense that most of her moves are the same, unlike Cammy and Claw who don't feel anything like Cammy or Claw to me at all (they were changed SO much). Though she gained a lot of things in SF4 that she wasn't able to do before, most notably the c.LK into c.MP/c.LP links and the ability to combo LK-Spiral from c.LP (and super cancels and ex moves for that matter). I mean sure she sucks but she's still Rose with some interesting improvements/modifications over "old-Rose". O.Rose didn't have any links and couldn't combo off c.LP, she also couldn't slide under fireballs or supercancel her specials or link her super off HP-Reflect, among other things. I would say that it's pretty inarguable that O.Rose is stronger due to CCs/VCs and her old supers (friends) and better reflects, but disregarding the supers I think SF4 Rose is the stronger "core character" so to speak. Honestly I do really miss her SFA3 airthrow though, that's probably the one/only thing that irks me about SF4 Rose, hopefully she gets that back in SSF4 or whatever.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

RE: E-Sports

Continued thoughts from E-Sports post.

The generation that was born at the same time that the video game genre was born is getting kind of old these days. The OG of VGs, so to speak. But quite a few of them are still at the top of their game, or rather, they're still at the top. While there's some newcomers that compete at top level, the older generation hasn't seemed to have fallen off despite getting.. old. They have a lot of experience under their belt, after all, and the NewGen has some catching up to do. I would say, then, that experience conquers age.

Perhaps gaming really never had a whole lot to do with a person's age. Rather, maybe it had everything to do with the generation before the OG-VG not having access to video games at an early age. It's not that our parents were too old for video games, it was just too late for them to start. What I find is that you can understand and appreciate competitive games/sports a lot better if you've played them at least a little bit at an early age. I think Football is difficult to appreciate if you've never experienced it in grade school, or martial arts if you've never been in a fight. I think video games just don't click with much of the pre-VG generation. I feel this is particularly the case because my friends that are the same age as me who basically ignored video games in their youth are essentially at the same point my parents are, where they can't really get into gaming now because they missed the boat. Even if they wanted to, it just doesn't click.

Though, what happens if and when the OG-VG'ers do "retire". I assume plenty have, and have moved on to new hobbies or simply set gaming to rest. But wouldn't it be interesting if, for example, Justin Wong retired from playing one day and became a coach for a younger generation of players. Imagine a top player tutoring a team of players at a local college. Spending time practicing execution, grinding out bad habits, grinding in good habits, exploring footsies, learning matchups, perfecting setups, mastering a the sense of risk and reward, developing game plans, and just beefing up in general.

It's not something we really have right now. Sure, we practice and study, but not really cooperatively or objectively. We don't have a personal trainer, a coach. Our idea of practice is the equivalent of sparring in that they are just like casual practice matches, but we don't really run drills or take time out to exercise and train specific things with each other. If some one's weak spot is not being able to handle mixups when getting off the ground, when do we stop and have that player let themselves be knocked down so they can practice what to do on wakeup. If some one's weak spot is midrange, when do we record them and review each step of the footage in order to isolate mistakes. We also tend to stick to the same sparring partners rather than getting fully experienced with all forms of play style and character selection from a wide variety of players. We only get that experience at major tournament events a few times a year.

If such coaches did exist though we could have teams that go through this kind of training. And with trained teams, a league with rivalries. And with a league, major events that bring spectators who have team spirit. And with all that, a sport. An E-Sport. It's not entirely far-fetched since it already happens on some level with RTS and FPS genres. There is actually a college league for RTS in the USA that's alive and well. But when is it going to happen with Fighters. Will it ever?

Like I've said before, just imagine the day when a kid gets offered a college tuition because he's a top player in a video game, and then thousands of people tune in to watch college e-sports (video games) on TV. That may sound unreal, but the generation before the OG VG crew is also getting old. One day there won't be anyone left who wasn't born after the first console video game. It's hard to think of it, but there's no one alive today that was born before baseball or hockey in America (they'd have to be like 160 or something). So the number of people that "can't relate" or "don't get it" will grow fewer and fewer for video games just like it did for sports, and the number of kids that are all about it will grow more and more.

But it needs to be taken a bit more seriously though. I think fighting games may one day take bigger steps in that direction, as RTS and FPS already have, but fighters are pretty far behind. There are already leagues for FPS and RTS in America and "professional gamers" in these genres predates fighting games. Just to drop some quick links Johnathan Wendel, Lim Yo-Hwan, and Daigo Umehara. I would like to link Justin Wong's wikipedia article, but apparently there isn't one.

I don't think fighting games are actually doomed. It's just that arcades are not the way for us to go any more. Arcades are dying and that's that, lamenting over the past and treating the future with skepticism and apprehension isn't accomplishing anything -- it's not bringing arcades back nor is it helping to build a future for the fighting scene.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

SF4 Rose Notes

Sibladeko knows.

90-330 c.LP qcb+HP s
110-320 c.LK c.LP qcb+HP s
120-360 N.MK qcb+HP s (crouching)
140-380 c.HP qcb+HP s (crouching)
192 c.HP qcb+HP hcf+2P (corner)

140-380 c.LP qcf+LK s
150-360 c.LK c.LP qcf+LK s
160-370 c.LP c.LP qcf+LK s
160-400 c.MP qcf+LK s
170-380 c.LK c.MP qcf+LK s
170-410 c.HP hcf+MP s
178-358 c.LK c.LK c.MP qcf+LK s
182-362 c.LP c.LP c.LP qcf+LK s
190-430 (c./N.)HP qcf+LK s
196-346 c.LK c.LP c.LK c.MP qcf+LK s
200-440 N.HK qcf+LK s
210-420 N.MP c.MP qcf+LK s
220-430 N.HK c.LP qcf+LK s

160-400 f+HK c.MP s (meaty)
180-390 oc.MK c.LP qcf+LK s (meaty)
200-410 oc.MK c.MP qcf+LK s (meaty)
217-397 FA1 c.HP qcf+LK s (counter hit)
233-383 FA1 N.MP c.MP qcf+LK s (counter hit)
240 f+HK c.MP qcf+2K (meaty)

160-370 FA2 f+HK s
160-370 FA3 qcb+HP s
184-389 FA3 hcf+HP s
200-410 FA3 f+HK s
200-410 FA3 qcf+HK s
222-402 FA2 c.HP qcf+LK s
238-388 FA2 N.MP c.MP qcf+LK s
270-450 FA3 N.HK qcf+LK s
278-428 FA3 N.MP c.MP qcf+LK s
280-490 j.HK N.HK qcf+LK s
288-438 FA3 N.HK c.LP qcf+LK s
302-482 j.HK N.HK c.LP qcf+LK s
313-493 j.HK N.MP c.MP qcf+LK s

140 c.LP qcf+2K
160 c.MP qcf+2K
170 c.LK c.MP qcf+2K
190 c.MP hcf+2P
194 c.LK c.MP hcf+2P
196 c.LK c.LP c.LK c.MP qcf+2K
200 c.LK c.LK c.MP hcf+2P
210 c.LP c.LK c.MP hcf+2P
234 N.MP c.MP hcf+2P

242 c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.LP qcf+LK
258 c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.MP qcf+LK
288 c.HP hcf+MP FADC c.MP qcf+LK
296 N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.MP qcf+LK
296 c.HP hcf+MP FADC c.LK c.MP qcf+LK
296 c.HP hcf+MP FADC c.LK c.MP qcf+2K
301 N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.LK c.MP qcf+LK
301 N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.LK c.MP qcf+2K
309 c.HP hcf+MP FADC c.LP c.LK c.MP qcf+LK
310 c.HP hcf+MP FADC c.MP hcf+2P
314 N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.MP hcf+2P

360 j.HK N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.MP qcf+LK
362 j.HK N.MP c.MP hcf+LP FADC c.LK c.MP qcf+LK
366 j.HK N.HK hcf+MP FADC c.MP qcf+LK
380 j.HK N.HK hcf+MP FADC c.LP c.LK c.MP qcf+LK
422 j.HK N.MP c.MP hcf+2P FADC N.MP c.MP qcf+LK (corner)
427 j.HK N.HK hcf+2P FADC N.HP qcf+LK
434 j.HK N.HK hcf+2P FADC N.HK qcf+LK (corner)
437 j.HK N.HK hcf+2P FA2 c.HP qcf+LK (corner)
448 j.HK N.HK hcf+2P FADC N.HK c.LP qcf+LK (corner)

428 FA2 Ultra
452 c.LK c.LK c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
468 FA3 Ultra
476 hcf+LP Ultra (max range)
494 FA3 N.MP c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
494 c.LK c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
496 j.HK Ultra
342-498 Ultra (half-full)
528 hcf+LP FADC j.HK Ultra (max screen)
534 N.MP c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
538 c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
549 j.HK N.HK hcf+2P FA2 Ultra (corner)
560 j.HK N.MP c.MP hcf+2P FADC Ultra
590 s Ultra (trade / 4 hit s)
619 hcf+LP s Ultra (trade / 4 hit s)

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Controllers, and Claw-Style

Controllers have been the subject of some debate among Fighting game fans. However, the vast majority of competitive Fighting game players prefer Arcade setups or to use custom-built Arcade Sticks for console gaming. A nice thread regarding arcade sticks can be found on the SRK forums here.

Pads 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 differences between using thumbs and finger tips. The idiom "You're all thumbs." has always been an expression to imply a person is awkward at handling things, because thumbs just are simply not as dexterous or swift as the other fingers. When one uses finger tips in lieu of your right thumb on a pad it is sometimes referred to as Claw-Style.

Here's some reasons why Claw-Styling is superior to Thumbing, which are also reasons why Sticks are often thought of as superior to Pads:

#1 - Rapid Tapping. Fingers are able to rapidly tap buttons much faster than thumbs. You can test this on your computer by rapidly tapping a letter for a given amount of time and then comparing your input per-minute speed with your index finger.

PS2 Pad multiple input combinations.#2 - Simultaneous Inputs. Finger tips allow you to input any kind of two or three button combination much better than with thumbs. While thumbs can push two buttons that are vertically aligned with one another, it's difficult to input diagonally aligned or horizontally aligned buttons, as seen with this image of a PS2 pad:

The first examples of □ and X being pressed and the second example of Δ and O being pressed are examples of easy simultaneous inputs for thumbs. However, all the other examples are difficult for thumbs because it is necessary to contort and move the hand in order to press them. The last example of □ and O being simultaneously pressed is practically impossible with a thumb. But all of these inputs are rather trivial with finger tips. When there are even more buttons involved the task becomes even more difficult, as in pressing three buttons simultaneously. While button mapping is allowed in tournaments it's widely looked down upon (note that macros and autofire are not allowed).

#3 - Sliding/Pianoing. Thumb Movement is slow. Moving your thumb to each of the attacks on the face of the pad is significantly slower than having your finger tips already on the buttons. For example, first pressing X then pressing O with your thumb is a lot slower than if you had your index finger on X and middle finger on O. While sliding (kara/RC) inputs and piano inputs are possible with a thumb, it's not nearly so easy as with finger tips. This is especially important for reversals and such.

#4 - Hovering. It can also make a big difference for things like simply having your finger on the attack button you need when you need it. Like with the example of CvS2 footsies: if your thumb is hovering over light kick and you need a medium punch to anti-air a short jump. But it takes time to move your thumb from light kick to medium punch, time you don't have. And you can't say you could just hover over medium punch because if the opponent dashes or rolls in at you instead then you're likely to need light kick pretty fast. Here's a nice little quote from Bob Sagat that really illustrates this point.

#5 - Mashing. Most games allow you to mash out of dizzies by rapidly tapping buttons and wiggling your directionals. Some games, like MvC2, allow you to cause more hits from a super by mashing buttons. And other games, like SFA3, allow you to reduce damage on hits by mashing buttons while getting hit. In any case, mashing with fingertips is significantly superior than mashing with a thumb for the sole reason that you can hit more buttons much faster when you're using more fingers, obviously.

#6 - Holding. This may not apply to every character in every game, but holding buttons while fighting can be difficult with thumbs. For example Balrog (Street Fighter, boxer) and Shizumaru (Samurai Shodown) and Aoko (Melty Blood) gain moves from holding multiple buttons, or rather they can execute special moves by holding and releasing a button. And they are still able to fight while charging these moves, which would prove rather difficult with thumbs.

Using a Keyboard is in 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, keyboards are rather bulky and blocky, so it can be difficult to input motion/directional inputs such a 214 (QCB) or 623 (DP). The good news is that you'll most certainly not have difficulty inputting commands from either the left or right side, which is something that many Fighting game players have an issue with on both Sticks and Pads.

Example video of claw-style, while playing Vampire Savior.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Tiers Again

Often the subject of tiers comes up. And on a broader spectrum; the philosophy behind game balance.

I recently had a bit of a self realization regarding this. To use a quick analogy: It's like picking a really badass katana that was made just for you over a gun that looks like shit. Pick the gun if you don't like dying all the time OK?

tl;dr ahead:

That said, I'd like to point out that Yoshinori Ono (and Capcom designers in general) want a little imbalance among the tiers. I said it before -- I'll say it again -- Ono (and probably others) have gone on record as saying that that's what they want: Imbalance.

Reason? A lot of players like the wacky underdog. Who doesn't root for Chikyuu when he plays Anakaris/Twelve/R4-Raiden/etc? Everyone loves to see the bottom tier just beast the hell out of that asshole top tier, they just do!

Meanwhile, a lot of players get stuck on a character in a game because they just "like that character". And then suddenly they have complaints. Either because the top tier is too common or too strong or they see too many weaknesses in their own character. But to the rest of the world: If you have a PROBLEM with your character then pick another character, even if that problem happens to be that yours is inadequate compared to another. If the only reason you're picking that character is because you just happen to really like them then shut the fuck up because you bring it on yourself. Choose preference or power, but don't complain, you chose it willingly. If tiers matter to you then pick top tier. Do not expect the rest of the world to play mid/low just for you, the world does not revolve around you. To use another quick analogy: Between soda pop and V8, you might enjoy drinking soda and everyone thinks it's cool, but you're really not as healthy or strong as the lame V8 drinkers and that's that.

What you don't want: Single god tier character (like #R Eddie)

What you do want: As close to 3 definitive tiers as you can get (high/mid/low)

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Slow Motion Fapping

I wonder if there's a demand for this kind of video or not. I'm guessing not, but who knows?

Frames are very esoteric in fighting games. Or at least, in my experience, very very few competitive fighting game players actually understand a game on a frame-level, let alone being able to apply that knowledge (Buk's one of a kind).

Anyway the point of the video is to show a little quirk with SF3 3S Chun-Li's EX Spinning Bird Kick. A lot of players thought it had no invulnerability frames and that it just had a tricky hitbox. They would go on and on about what moves could beat it and what moves couldn't, etc. However, it's clear when you watch the video that there is actually 8 frames of startup invulnerability. But the startup for the attack is 12 frames, so it's invulnerable for the first 8 but then becomes vulnerable on frames 9-12, the 12th frame being vulnerable but also attacking which means it could trade on that frame.

Anyway, that means it could blow through meaty attacks with less than 9 active frames.

But upon experimenting with the EX SBK I also discovered that the damn thing is vulnerable to Ken's SA3 (shippu) even during it's would-be invulnerable frames.

Like, near the end of the video I start hitting the SBK on frames 1-4 when it should be technically invulnerable, but Shippu hits it anyway. Why? I have no idea. It's clearly not a hitbox thing but a special property, as in it's invulnerable to any attack less than a certain strength.

It doesn't have anything to do with the superflash "draining" the invulnerability duration out of the move either, because I activated the EX SBK after the screen freeze, and just to prove a point also before the screen freeze and during the screen freeze.

Anyway I also discovered that Ken's Shippu is invulnerable until it's active hitframes, so it will pretty much blow through and hit anything that isn't invulnerable or above the first kick's hitbox (like a UOH will go over the first kick so a UOH can stuff it).

Though oddly it's still vulnerable to throws, heh.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

My Beef With Parries

I know this subject has been done to death, but whatever. Here's my problem with 3S style parries. If you can find an answer to all of these problems then I'm OK with parry. Good luck.

  1. Option selects. Tapping a direction invalidates some mixups like crossup j.MK.
  2. Risk/Reward. In a lot of situations the most you risk is getting thrown while the most you gain is a hitconfirm combo into super.
  3. Reaction/Anticipation. Parries can not be punished on reaction since there's nothing to react to, they can only be beaten on anticipation (meaning the aggressor has to guess right).
  4. Startup. There is no startup for a parry so that lets you invalidate a lot of would-be setups.
  5. Guarantees. If I throw or sweep you successfully I can't guarantee any kind of additional reward because there are no guarantees in a game with parries.
  6. Throwing. Because throws beat high/low parries it puts a much greater value on throws. Even in top level play; some times a player will eat a meaty throw five times in a row simply because they are fishing for parries and scared of c.MK xx super.
  7. Hitconfirm. The biggest problem is sometimes you can't hitconfirm a super off a light or mid attack because stun duration is too short to visually confirm the hit, but with parries it's easy, now you're confirming off the parry (visual/audible/long duration) rather than only the c.LK.
  8. Jumping. Some characters have no business mindlessly jumping at the opponent without momentum/advantage. With parries, it's okay, because air parries can compensate for stupidly retarded mindless aggression. If you option-parry correctly the worst that happens is you land in their face. It promotes totally scrub-like behavior.
  9. Position. Footsies are diluted to whiffing attacks and hoping your opponent walks right into them, there is no forcing your opponent into a bad position in a game with parries.
  10. Guessing. (explained below)

Guessing: A lot of players seem to say that the one parrying is the one guessing, and this isn't entirely correct. What parries actually do is force the one attacking to guess, not the one parrying. In fact, at least there's something to react to for the one parrying, whereas there is nothing to react to for the one attacking.

Take for example a game without parries, without invulnerable DPs, but with invulnerable backdashes. The aggressor in such a game doesn't have to guess every time he wants to attack in fear of getting parried or DP'ed, and if the opponent backdashes to get out of these options then no harm comes to the aggressor or backdasher. But with parries and invulnerable DPs he can't land a meaty attack without guessing what the opponent will do, he can't tick with staggered jabs without guessing if the opponent will parry or not, and worst of all he can't bait out a parry and punish it on reaction like you can with a DP. Assuming you know the opponent will take an aggressive option like reversal DP you can bait that out, see it come out, and punish it during it's recovery. But with parries if the aggressor blocks expecting an offensive action to occur there is nothing to punish. You have to beat it by countering. In other words in order to inflict damage to the parryer, you have to attack either high or low or throw and if you guess wrong you get parried. THAT is the guessing game parries cause. Every time you attack YOU have to guess, not the one parrying.

I've said it before but I can't stress it enough, parrying is not a defensive option, it's an offensive option.

Now before people say that I don't know what I'm talking about, what I'm saying isn't even unique, most of the best 3S players have said the exact same things about 3S parries many times. Pretty much all of the best 3S players were eager to drop 3S as soon as SF4 was released, yet they still play older Capcom games like MvC2 and CvS2, they simply needed an excuse to ditch 3S. Also keep in mind that this doesn't come from inexperience either, I actually played 3S against some of the best players in the US, and I also play MeltyBlood, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, and VanguardPrincess (which have parry-whiffs fortunately), so it's not like I'm theory fighting over here.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Good Bye Street Fighter 4

So now that Capcom has officially announced Super Street Fighter 4, I think it's safe to say that regular SF4 is now dead in the water. People will probably continue to play it up until SSF4 is finally released some time in 2010, but it's more than likely that once they get their hands on it then SF4 will die.

But here's the real kicker, it's being said that there won't be an arcade release for SSF4. No arcade release means no SBO spot, and no SBO spot means Japan isn't going to care (plus they pay very little attention to console-only games anyway). So this will be the true test to see how much the Western world has it's head up Japan's ass. I for one am very interested in seeing if America/EVO will go with SF4 or SSF4, or both, and what Japan will do (if anything).

Anyawy, I've been keeping quiet about SF4 for a long time now, and there's a reason, I knew something like this would happen. Why? Take a look at Capcom's history. They never get a game right on the first try.

1991 Street Fighter 2 (Super Turbo)
1994 Dark Stalkers/Vampire (Vampire Savior)
1994 X-Men/Marvel series (MvC2)
1995 Street Fighter Alpha (A2 and A3)
1996 Street Fighter EX (EX3)
1997 Street Fighter 3 (3S)
1998 Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (HftF)
2000 Capcom vs SNK (CvS2)

They may get it "right" eventually, but no one really plays the first version of any of those series titles any more. So I wasn't personally expecting the first version of SF4 to be the one that sticks anyway (I was waiting for part 2). Now we're in 2009 with SF4 and SSF4 is slated to be released 2010. With 8 new characters being promised (10 total is rumored) there's good incentive to want to play it. Presumably the game will at least be as good as the prequel -- if not better. But not having an arcade release may be significant enough reason to downgrade back to SF4, and if that's the case then the series itself is as good as dead, since obviously the community will split and eventually dwindle.

I hate to be a cynic and bring anti-hype to something still alive, but people have been asking me if I've been playing SF4 and if I'll ever do any combo videos for it. The answer to both is no and no. I recently installed it for the PC, and will probably soon uninstall it. So mainly I've been keeping quiet because I never had any intention of playing SF4, and frankly I look at SSF4 as the nail in the coffin for SF4.


- Copyright © Xenozip.

Jojo's Ghettoness

I think I've posted this information before, but I'm going to try and make a more concise post.

- You can not do reversals in Jojo's, period.
- That makes meaty unblockables inescapable/unavoidable.
- Example: Hol Horse sweeps you, his time-slow bullet is unblockable and unavoidable on wakeup due to no reversals (guaranteed super off sweep).
- You can be thrown during jump startup and backdashes.
- There's 3F throw inv on wakeup or off blockstun, but 0F coming out of hitstun
- The two factors listed above make certain throw traps inescapable.
- Example: Old Joseph does his tandem (custom combo like Genei Jin) and ends with slide into 360, the grab ender is unavoidable/inescapable because there's no throw inv off slide hitstun and no reversals.
- There is ground crouch-cancelling. Example: normally Mariah can't link 5A to 5B, but if you do 5A [2] 5B it combos easily.
- But it's not a universal rule, some characters have no useful crouch cancels while others have many.
- Pushblocking is done by inputting three attacks during blockstun, while holding any direction, and can be done any time during blockstun.
- There's no limit to pushblocking. In games like MvC2 you can only push once per blockstun, the stun will have to end before you can push again. This is not the case in Jojo's, you can push every hit during blockstun at any time.
- Characters that can tandem (custom combo) have a jump-install, where activating the stand in the air will flip a switch (glitch) in the way the stand behaves during tandem.
- Example: Jotaro's Stand's 5C won't combo into itself during tandem, but if he activates his stand in the air the 5C will chain into itself during tandem allowing him to do [5C]xN.
- Petshop has a 9:1 matchup against the entire cast, he is normally banned in tournaments.
- Young Joseph's block animation will cancel his normal moves if an opponent's attack is active.
- With Young Joseph you can literally hold down-back and mash and the first frame of each attack attempt will be canceled into block (as evident when you c.A3 and hear his attack sound) while there's an attack like Mariah's Stand on the screen near him.
- There's 5F throw invulnerability when landing from a jump.
- So empty-jump into throw is pretty valid since the opponent can't throw you.
- And a number of other things I can't think of right now.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Stuff Fu

When the Smash community complained about the Ice Climbers having ridiculous rewards off a throw, the SRK community responded with "Don't get grabbed". This upset the Smash community who argued that the technique should simply be banned altogether. The response from SRK was a concise one-liner that doesn't actually explain anything, but the message isn't really false either. You could say it's sort of like a Confucius-style anecdote intending to convey a message. A message that was meant to guide people who were willing to open their minds and question things.

However, this message can't be conveyed with just words alone. No, some things can only be learned through experience. Perhaps most would only understand such a concept by example and experience. Like explaining how to paint a portrait, or to play a musical instrument, or to score points in a sport: You can't simply learn it on paper or with words, you have to practice and learn through self-discovery.

The real trick to a lot of these -- let's call them overwhelming situations -- is mindgames and footsies. In other words, not allowing yourself or your opponent to create the situation where you are put in this bad situation in the first place. In laymen's terms; "Don't get grabbed.", means: "Don't let yourself be put in a position where you're going to get grabbed.".

To put it another way, the best way to avoid getting grabbed is to avoid being in grab-range in the first place. If you're never in a spot where you can be grabbed, you'll never get grabbed.

So, how to accomplish this is like I said before: footsies and mind games. If your opponent jumped in at you then you failed at basic anti-airs, and if your opponent dashed in and grabbed you then you failed at footsies, and if your opponent made you block a projectile and then grabbed you for the win then you definitely failed at mind games.

The best answer is to be in a position where you can't get grabbed. That means you have to not only control yourself into a position where you won't get grabbed, but also prevent your opponent from getting himself into a situation where he can grab you. That latter is about one half of the hard part: stopping your opponent from doing what he wants to do (which is to grab you). You must understand that once you are in that situation where you can be grabbed you are essentially fucked anyway.

And thus is the actual definition of a mindgame (versus a mixup). A mind game is being put in a position where you are forced to choose between a tree of all failure -- so after blocking an attack you are forced to choose between options, all of which lead to you getting hit -- learning that means to avoid that position that put you there to begin with by using superior footsies (spacing, baiting, etc). When the opponent throws a fireball and you block it, then the opponent can press toward and punch which will result in either an attack that will anti-air you if you jump, or throw you if you don't jump, this is called an option select. The mind game here was the whole situation of the defender blocking the fireball and that being the trigger that lead to this inevitable damage of melee/throw.

A mixup is where the attacker puts the defender in a situation where the attacker can succeed or fail depending on different options that can not be reacted to. Such as, getting hit on either the left or the right, or getting hit either high or low, or getting hit by a punch versus getting grabbed. The defender does not know which option will be chosen and can't react to it, and the attacker also does not know which option the defender will choose to try and prevent damage.

Things like high/low, left/right, blockable-melee/unblockable-throw, and parry/no-parry are all mixups that neither player can actually react to, they can only anticipate, which means they can only guess.

But to define a mind game, it is the act of avoiding the mixups.

For example one, a grappler character can not simply throw you at any time or any where, the character must be within throw range. The trick of footsies is to prevent the character from getting within throw range.

For example two, if a grappler can do more damage with a throw than they can with any of their melee attacks, you should choose a defensive option that will result in you getting hit by the grappler's melee rather than you being grabbed.

The mindgame therein is understanding and applying both example one and example two. Without these elements there is no mindgame, there is only blind guessing. To use an analogy, when there is no mindgame and only guessing it is like Rock-Paper-Scissors game (not something you can react to, just options you can guess from), but with a mindgame it is like chess where you can react to your opponents skill and experience (and can defeat them with better decisions).

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Level Up

I've been thinking about the different tiers of skill among players in competitive gaming for a while. A recent IRC conversation spawned some interesting nice observations.

- level 0 is watching yourself (autopilot).
- level 1 is being random (mashing).
- level 2 is paying attention to your opponent (countering).
- level 3 is reading your opponent (beating).
- level 4 is controlling your opponent (ume shoryu).
- level 5 is being champion.

In regards to level 0, this actually applies to fighting games, RTS, and FPS alike. If you are entirely focused on what you are doing and what you feel like doing then you'll almost always get crushed by better players. In fighters this is like jumping at the opponent just because you want that sweet jump-in combo only to be consistently anti-aired. Or throwing fireballs because you think they look cool, only to have your opponent jump over them and kick you in your chest.

However, autopilot has many dimensions to it. With fighters you can actually pay attention to your opponent to some degree, long enough to get a knockdown for example, then autopilot the rest of the match based on rushdown/mixup patterns that are really strong. In RTS if you're not scouting your opponent you will most likely get countered/destroyed, but if luck is on your side then you can just pick the strongest build and roll with it without having to adjust your game based on your opponent. And it definitely applies to FPS, it's possible to run the map and control respawn and item-spawn points once you get the first frag, but if all you do is autopilot then you're being predictable and leaving yourself open to be countered.

With level 1 the player isn't necessarily autopiloting. Sometimes players just do the weirdest shit for no rhyme or reason. In fighters we get that "Why would you do that?" moment, because there's really nothing that happened over the course of the match that would prompt a player to do (x) move at (y) time).

Interestingly, level 1 has a chance of actually beating the higher levels of play by virtue of luck. Also because the higher levels depend so heavily on paying attention to the opponent, yet if the opponent is acting in a way that is entirely non sequitur then these skills are hindered to some degree. In RTS and FPS this applies in the sense that you're left completely in the dark if you're unable to physically see your opponent at any given time, so randomness can actually be really strong since there's a chance these unpredictable actions are set up without you even being aware of them until it's too late.

That's pretty much the only reason being random is placed higher than autopilot. Moreso, the reason auto-pilot is given level 0 rather than level 1 is because it can take many forms and be incorporated into the other levels to varying degrees.

Speaking of luck, it also occurred to me that luck plays a really huge part of RTS and FPS, and other competitive games like Poker. With most fighting games, players create their own luck by forcing mixups and guessing. But in RTS/FPS/Poker, the game creates the luck for them and you need to compensate for your luck with talent.

Level 2 is all about reaction. It seems like the strongest leap forward when a novice player grasps the concept. Indeed, it's a rather large and essential step forward in fighters, but even bigger in RTS and FPS. As mentioned before, if you're not paying attention to your opponent you're subject to being countered. On the flipside, if you are paying attention, you can counter them.

If some one flips a coin and tells you to call which side the coin lands, but you have five seconds to call it once the coin lands, why would you guess? Why would anyone not use those five seconds to inspect the coin before saying which side it landed on. So, when a player is obviously blocking low you can go for an overhead, or if the player is clearly blocking high you can try for a sweep, and things like that. One of the greatest joys of a counter is probably anti-airing the opponent, not because it's difficult, but because once you learn to watch your opponent you begin to realize how fun it is to punish the opponent for doing something they clearly should not be doing.

In a way, it's kind of like saying that you're letting your opponent come to you, and you're not really beating them so much as you're allowing them to beat themselves. Basically, you're killing them based on the mistakes they make.

But this is why raw countering is pretty low on the skill-tiers in the grand scheme of things. It has it's own set of weaknesses. First of all, how can you punish mistakes if the opponent doesn't make any? Further more, you are subject to tunnel vision and loss of control. If all you do is sit there and try to react to your opponent, your opponent is then free to take initiative entirely. They will make it increasingly difficult for you to predict/react to what they do, intentionally using tools that are difficult to counter.

It's a pretty disheartening and cold feeling to realize that you were so focused on that anti-air that you let the opponent walk across the screen and smack you in the face. Though that's an extreme example, it's not unrealistic. Some players that are so intent on countering they will watch much too closely for the wrong thing -- they are so sure the opponent will jump that they are baffled and surprised when the opponent simply does not.

Level 3 is all about anticipation. If some one hides a coin in their hands and lets you guess which hand the coin is in, you're using anticipation. You don't really know which hand the coin is in, but you're making an informed choice based on an educated guess. This compensates for vision in a lot of ways. In fighters things can happen in an instant. After you knock an opponent down, you don't know if they will do a reversal or not when they get up, and it's much much too fast to react to. But if you don't do an attack when they are getting up then you're giving them the opportunity to recover, regain initiative/momentum, and you lose your mixup potential. This is where anticipation comes into play. You have to just assume you know what the opponent will do, whether they will try to defend against you or try to counter you with a reversal.

The strength of level 3 is that you're freeing up your tunnel vision and just playing based on both reaction and anticipation. You're not so focused on any one thing, but rather you're allowing yourself to be fluid.

Level 4 is a bit esoteric, it's not something that many players comprehend, let alone achieve. It takes a lot of time and practice and observation for some people to realize just how strong it is to simply walk forward in a fighting game. What level 4 does is exploit the weaknesses of level 2 and 3 and 0. The trick is getting your opponent to do what you want them to do. That way you can throw out your reaction and anticipation all together. Why risk guessing if they will jump, and why bother trying to react to it, when you can just force them to jump?

The idea is using fear and uncertainty and feints. If you walk right up to your opponent, but just outside any of their pokes, you're putting the pressure on. Their personal space is invaded, and now you're throwing fireballs in their face and they are taking chip damage. They are worried, they see you qcf and start a fireball, they jump. Only to be anti-aired because it wasn't a qcf-fireball at all, it was a qcf-LK feint. A simple trick, but an effective one. The LK recovers much faster than a whiffed fireball, so they person feinting is free to anti-air the fool that jumped.

This all sort of revolves around the idea of the Umehara Shoryuken (psychic dragon punch). It's not so much that he's psychic at all, more like he puts you in a situation where he can't possibly guess wrong and he doesn't need to react. He just forces you to make a mistake or bad decision, rather than waiting around for it to happen.

Level 5: The champions fists are special.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Double Standard

I had a self-realization about a double standard that the fighting game community seems to have about pronunciation of terminology and names in fighting games.

Honestly, you don't go around mispronouncing the French word champagne, nor do you go around mispronouncing the Spanish words tortilla or fajita. You'd be getting a lot of dirty looks and scolding fingers if you did, making yourself look like an uneducated douche.

So it personally kind of annoys me when I hear people calling other gamers weeaboo otaku Japanophiles for trying to pronounce Japanese correctly.

I'm sorry but, no. Collecting stupid amounts of anime and manga, cosplaying as characters from these collections, and worshiping the culture for no reason is being a weeaboo. But incorrectly pronouncing Japanese character names and move names or refusing to use the actual Japanese move names or terminology is just being a douche, just like being a douche for failing at pronouncing Spanish or French words.

A horrible double standard to accept proper Spanish and French into the English language but reject Japanese (or any language for that matter). IMO the otaku-bashing has become far too popular of a trend, and frankly I think you're a prick if you call other people weeaboos for just trying to pronounce words correctly.

- Copyright © Xenozip.


The answer to every IaMP related question is: "Depends."

The reason is because there are quite a lot of situational variables to take into consideration for any given scenario, so it's impossible for any given answer to be right all the time. It's just one of those qualities of IaMP that is both rather frustrating and yet can also be endearing in retrospect.

For example, in most fighting games you could say: "If the opponent jumps at you, do c.HP or DP as an anti-air." and it would apply in almost all situations where the opponent jumps at you. It's a good general rule of thumb. Sometimes this even leads to players not jumping at all unless it's after a knockdown, because there's never a right time to jump except on okizeme.

But in IaMP you can't say that you should always anti-air the same way in every situation, it depends on many different things. Lots of things can effect your method of anti-air:
- If the opponent has no bullets in front of him and has used up both airdashes, either a bullet or melee anti-air works fine.
- If the opponent has bullets in front of him and no airdashes you can anti-air with bullets.
- If the opponent has both airdashes saved up and no bullets in front of them you can use a melee anti-air at the right distance.
- If the opponent has both airdashes saved up and bullets in front of them you your options are to use bullets to force them to use their airdash and negate their bullets, or to attempt to dash under them to graze their bullets and force them to airdash toward you.

You would also think that you should always go for a tech-trap setup in order to capitalize against a bad air tech. Or to never air tech against a good tech-trap setup. But even these have conditions. You might not want to go for the tech-trap setup if it would cost too much spirit, self draining you as a result, especially if you know your opponent respects the risk of air teching and you assume that the opponent will not tech. Some characters would also shy away from trying to tech-trap Youmu, Yukari, and Remilia due to those character's unique properties. Likewise, you may choose to air tech and risk taking extra damage in order to deny your opponent bomb stocks, because you won't be landing on the ground so you can prevent them from regaining any bombs they used. You also avoid having to deal with a meaty okizeme rushdown that would put you back into the corner.

I myself am guilty of getting hit by the same thing in the same situation repeatedly, without realizing it or fixing it. Though in my defense I think I'm like most players -- I need time to think about it before I can adjust my game. So don't worry, if you find yourself getting repeatedly lamed by something or other, you're not alone.

If you find yourself beating your head against the proverbial brick wall, you may want to take a moment to consider what all your options are and if you've fully explored each one. What do you think would be a good word to describe; trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results?

And if you do find an answer, and then that same answer fails the next time, just remember that situations can change frequently in IaMP.

- Bellreisa says: "There's never an always in IaMP."

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Puzzle Fighter

Okay so it's not really a fighting game. But it is a versus game by Capcom so screw it, I'm talking about it. Actually a few people have asked me (yea, more than one, who knew I was popular?!) what I've been playing lately. Well, short answer is: nothing.

Long answer is as follows: I've been a fan of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo for a long time. I've always loved the arcade version, personally, even though it's less balanced and glitchy. I sort of prefer the glitchy unbalanced version anyway. Lately I've been playing it online via nFBA emulator and P2P netplay client with some people, and I really enjoy it in general.

First of all, to you Puyo scrubs out there, Puyo Puyo is actually a much "easier game" to play. Puyo doesn't have a lot of strategy and the game is designed for very easy chain-combos, and doesn't emphasize the need to pay attention to your opponent as much. You can basically play it optimally as if you were playing against yourself, ignoring your opponent entirely, which makes it feel more like a single-player game. However, in Puzzle Fighter there's quite a few different strategies, and watching what your opponent does is significantly stronger than only paying attention to your own board, which makes it feel very interactive. Plus, while chains can be strong in SPF2T they aren't always the best option and you have to work to build chains properly. They don't just fall from the sky automatically like they do in games like Puyo Puyo.

Anyway, Some things to note:
- Gems. The squares you build.
- Breakers. The circles that break the squares.
- Damage. The counter-blocks you drop on your opponent.
- Diamond. The shiney white bit that will break all pieces of the same color.
- Chains. When you break some pieces, then break more pieces afterwards on the same "turn".
- Life column. The 4th column and the column that will end the round if it is filled to the top.

In this game the characters have different drop patterns for their Damage. One of the very first tactics that most newbies learn in this game is to specifically counter their opponent's Damage pattern, since it's not random. In most cases the character's "weakness" is either red or blue on the left side. Usually column 2 or 3 are the ones that players start stacking the color that their opponent drops and they throw all their "junk" in column 1 or 6 (using 4 only if necessary).

Honestly, this isn't such a bad tactic since you don't get breakers whenever you want them. But if you're stacking breakers up in your "junk piles" then you may be able to access them when you want, instead of relying on luck to get the color you want when you want it.

What this usually results in is really tall power gems of a single color. It's fairly easy to do against most characters and it leaves a large power gem open to be broken at any time, since it's difficult to cover such a large gem with damage. If a gem was built horizontally it could be easily covered in a row or two of damage, forcing the player to "dig" the gem out with breakers. But with a vertical gem the player can fairly easily place a breaker on it at any time because it's difficult to cover it in damage. But because not all drop patterns are created equal, this leads to character strengths and weaknesses, in other words: tiers.

The first names you hear about in regards to Puzzle Fighter tiers are always Ken and Donovan. They have probably the best drop patterns out of any normal character. Honorable mentions go to Morrigan and Devilot.

The reason Morrigan is interesting is because her colors change in her third row of damage like Donovan. Even though she drops a lot of red in her center, if the opponent tries to counter her by building red, they are taking a huge risk by gambling with their 4th column (since building red means there's red in column 4), making them prone to sudden-kills. Otherwise they will have to either build blue in the left corner or yellow in column 2 and 3, which can be stifled if Morrigan drops 3 rows of damage in one turn, followed by another row of damage in her next turn.

Gouki (Akuma) and Devilot both have diagonal color drops. However, their damage is also nerfed. Even so, Devilot's damage isn't nerfed as bad as Gouki's. She actually does a fair amount of damage both with single large breaks and chaining, as apposed to Gouki who really has to rely on very large chains to do significant damage. Her only real weakness is to Red in the left corner or Blue for columns 2 and 3, but she can easily make it a chore to try and counter her by dropping two or three rows of damage which puts a variety of mixed colors all over the board.

Meanwhile it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the worst character is, master of self ownage, Dan. Though honorable mentions also go to Chun-Li and Felicia who also have some pretty pathetic drop patterns.

However, if your opponent is aware that you are going to try and do this, they can take counter-measures of their own by throwing lots of mixed damaged at you rather than singular rows for you to counter-build against. The best way to do this is with "double breakers" and chaining.

Whether by glitch or design, breaking two colors simultaneously counts mathematically as a singular break. Thus, when you get a piece that contains two breakers of different colors you have the potential to cause a lot more damage with a double-break than with a chain. In the scenario seen to the right, the double break actually does slightly more damage than if the breaker piece is flipped and causes a 2-hit chain.

However, this only really applies to small chains and short chains. A small chain meaning the hits involve very tiny amounts of gems (like one or two gems per chain hit). Or short chains like 3-hits. The multiplier for chaining is actually quite ridiculous, I don't exactly know what the multiplier is but it's pretty obvious that it increases per hit of the chain which gives 6-hit and 7-hit chains the potential to flat out kill your opponent. The playing field is 72 spaces (6 columns, 12 rows) so assuming your opponent's field is clear then that number would result in death on the next turn, and if they have a row of blocks already on the field then instant-death.

But one (dis)advantage to chaining is that Attacking is much stronger than Defending. When playing, if you do damage the damage doesn't actually fall until the opponent finished dropping a piece (ending their "turn"). Instead a number is put on the field and you have a chance to reduce that number with your own damage. But, the amount of damage you do to the counter is actually a lot less than if you had attacked.

In other words, if your opponent does 20 damage and the counter is set to 20, and you break the same number of gems you won't decrease the counter to 0. Actually I think it decreases only to 10. Which means defending is only about half as strong as attacking.

The reason this effects chaining is because you're unable to act while a chain is going on, but your opponent can.

This brings me to the next subject, which is something I like to call "parking". Basically, when your opponent drops a lot of damage the blocks are set to timers, each turn reduces the timer by one. When the timer hits zero it converts the damage into regular gems.

You can take advantage of this by placing breakers on top of damage. And over the next five turns if you placed breakers on all the colors by the time they convert then they will all break simultaneously. You know what that means, huge damage. So although defending is weaker than attacking, countering-damage or "parking" can actually be ever stronger. You send back the same amount of damage that was done to you, plus some.

Now, remember I said this game was glitchy? Well, one notorious glitch in the arcade version is known as "the diamond glitch". It basically involves flipping a piece that contains the diamond vertically. To do so you have to have a column that is blocked off on either side, leaving a 2x1 space. Then you press down to land the piece, and just before the piece locks you rotate the piece by pressing either button to flip the piece vertically. For some reason this only works vertically, not horizontally. And it only works if you actually flip the piece, not rotate it. I believe it also doesn't work if the piece you're landing on is a damage block, but I could be wrong. At any rate, the game calculates the damage you'd do approximately twice instead of once. I don't really know the specifics of the calculations, but I just know that there is a major, significantly noticeable difference between a normal diamond break and a glitched diamond break. I've seen a diamond glitch do about 20-30 more damage than it would have done without the glitch.

In closing, here's some casual online matches between myself and an "anonymous" player:

- Copyright © Xenozip.

World Champion

The first world champion for Street Fighter IV has taken his title.

Lead producer for SF4, Yoshinori Ono, was present at the Evolution grand finals to watch history be made. Along with the 23,000 (twenty three thousand!) viewers on the live stream and the estimated 4,000 (four thousand!) spectators at the Evolution hall.

Although there was not that many players in the hall the begin with, during the events that lead up to the finals and during the finals itself the hall was flooded with ever increasing cheers, energy, and viewers.

Just like the Marvel versus Capcom II finals; the Street Fighter IV finals went to the wire. Both players having been put into the losers and taking matches off each other, putting an extreme amount of pressure and hype on everyone involved.

It was great. Congratulations to everyone involved.



- Copyright © Xenozip.


Evolution Fighting Game Championships: Marvel versus Capcom 2.

It's Marvel, baby.

The finals are officially over now. Between 11,000-13,500 viewers on the live stream to watch the grand finals, and with good reason. They caught quite a show.

I don't want to spoil it for those who didn't watch it (who wasn't watching, really?) but I'll say this; the finalists met in winners. One was sent to losers by the other, and that player came out of losers to knock that same player into losers as well. That means they both lost to each other once. And in the grand finals they both took rounds off each other. It went down to the wire. Holy hell it was epic. They may not have been on the top of their games, but playing three sets and taking wins and losses off each other to the point where it went to the absolute final round was crazy intense.

Once again mad props to Skisonic for his incredible commentary. He was even doing a great job commentating Guilty Gear, despite not playing the game or knowing much about it.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Psychic DP 2K9

Our friend Suou asked why Psychic DP's (Dragon Punches / Uppercuts) were so popular with the crowd in Evolution 2K9. Or rather, maybe he just noted it, and I took it upon myself to explain it a bit.

Seth Killian was the first to write about it, I think. That means he's obviously the guy to go to when you want to know what a Psychic DP is thoroughly. But what I'd like to do is explain it in another way, starting with an analogy.

So, if you can imagine yourself in a real-life fight situation, that's what I'd like to talk about.

Picture your opponent much bigger than you, and much faster. He punches your guard with a heavy force, so you know he means business. You try to punch him back, but he's much too strong and quick for you, you end up guarding just to keep from getting knocked out. As you back up, you eventually find yourself in the corner. Now you're pinned, nowhere to run, and all you're doing is guarding.

This is the pivotal moment. Your opponent moves his body to your side and that makes you feel vulnerable. You opponent moves closer, invading your space, and that makes you feel even more vulnerable. Your opponent pulls his body in front of his hands.

Now here you are, nowhere to run, and now you don't what your opponent will do. You're so scared, and you don't think you can successfully block this next attack, so your instincts tell you the best defense is a good offense. You throw out an attack to intercept and counter your opponent's obvious actions

Only to get uppercut in the face.

That's because you dropped your guard. You dropped your guard in order to attack. And you did that precisely at the time that your opponent designed. He set up the situation, he forced you, he pinned you. He knew all too well, like a cat toying with a mouse, that if he showed you what he wanted you to see that you'd have a reaction, and that reaction is something he knew he could blow right out of the water with his fist.

That's a psychic DP (Ume Shoryu).

How is this in fighting games? Simple; when some one in invading your personal space it tends to be a natural human reaction to attack in order to push you out. But someone skilled in the ume-shoryu will pressure you in specific ways and eventually "read" your actions by giving you little other choice, which is why it's often called "psychic".

- Copyright © Xenozip.

No Sagats

Good news or bad news, depending how you look at it: There's no Sagat for Evo2k9 tomorrow in the winners or losers. That's right, the final brackets will consist of characters other than Ryu and Sagat. Surprisingly we did not see many Sagats today. It was pretty amazing today actually. I'd like to say that for today; I've been glad to see Akuma, Rufus, Dhalsim, and Viper being represented, among other characters. Not just represented but there was some really awesome choice moments (spoiler: like Balrog whiffs a short rush punch and Rufus does an ultra on reaction, but it was out of range due to the short rush punch).

Actually, I have to say there has been a very very impressive showing in general.

Next, I'd like to say that SkiSonic is awesome. One of the best English commentators we could hope for, in my opinion. Surely DogFace is awesome and we love other commentators like Arturo and Seth, but SkiSonic is something else. I'm not just being bias because I've met him a few times and spoken with him online a couple times, no. He says everything that is going on perfectly, and his understanding is just uncanny and highly appreciated. He says it right as it happens and exactly what happend and/or what should have happened. In other words, he sees all the angles and tells it to you immediately. Seriously, mad props to Skisonic.

Oh and also random note: I increased the embedded stream window size per J-Boogie's request: Evolution 2k9. So if you're having trouble directly connecting you might want to try the embedded stream in that post, it's larger window size now so it's the same thing, but you might get better connectivity.

Also another little golden gem spoiler: When Sirlin was up for the SF-HD remix (HDR) match early this morning the commentators had a thing or two to say about it. Obvious hijinkes ensued. But right as the match was scheduled to start Sirlin refused/objected to play. That's right, Sirlin who was on staff for the HDR project did not play in a scheduled match on the grounds that "he did not like the TV screen", or so we heard. I can't confirm though because all the live-stream-viewers actually saw/heard was the scheduled match players step up to the plate and plug in and set their controls, then Sirlin refusing to play after plugging in.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Evo 2k9 Live

A live steam of Evolution 2009 has been put up for broadcast.

A good opportunity. You'll see more footage than what can fit on a DVD, and you'll see it much sooner than the DVD release, so be sure to tune in.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Smash Revealed

I was eavesdropping on a conversation between Mauve and Tropsy when Mauve mentioned the words "versus-platformer" and Tropsy responded with "like Smash?".

It was like an epiphany. He was right. All this time I'd been thinking Smash was a fighting game. But it all make sense now; it's not, it's a versus-platformer.

To be fair, I've never actually played Smash. But I tell you; that realization sure was a load off my mind, now I can see the game for what it is and take it at face value. Sweet.

Incidentally I'm now also convinced that 3D fighting games are kind of like versus-beat-em-ups (like a versus River City Ransom) while 2D fighting games are not. Well, crap like VF5 and DBZ, anyway.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Games, Arts, Music and Drugs

Morally or legally obscene/violent/illicit material has frequently been associated with the inspiration or encouragement, and sometimes even the direct cause, of violence or other crimes. For example, when it's learned that a criminal was allegedly influenced by a video game that contains graphic violence, the game itself is blamed as the cause for their actions. Does it not occur to people that this person could just simply be really fucked up in the head, regardless of influences?

You may remember some incident in the news where a criminal is said to have played a first person shooter game and the media starts pointing fingers -- not at the criminal, but at the game. Perhaps it goes with the need for an answer to the always-asked question: "Why did you do it?". Gaming isn't the only medium to receive this treatment though. Music is often associated with the cause behind violence as well.

And now, some of you may have heard about the issues with sexually explicit material in gaming, written/drawn works, and visual novels in Japan. There is a certain amount of interest in seeing some of the more obscene or grotesque versions of these games either banned or made illegal. Whether or not either banning or illegalization will actually take place remains to be seen (in all likelihood they will not be), but one thing is clear to me personally; it's very sad anyone would consider banning/illegalizing these things, and even more sad if it actually happens. A foreboding snowball effect looms over this concept like a fist of doom.

Why? Well, I believe it is wrong.

I personally believe people who commit violent or illegal acts should not shift the blame onto something or some one else. I believe they are violent people and criminals, regardless. And more importantly, I do not believe the people who create art/games/music should be blamed for another person's violent or criminal acts.

I can safely say that I've been exposed to graphical violence, drugs, and violent music. Yet, I am not a violent person, nor am I a drug addict. Just like people who become violent; I feel that people who become addicts are simply that: drug addicts. They are not the victim, they are the criminal.

I also think that illegalizing the obscene/violent material will only cause harm, not good. It is as though we are saying that the person who is influenced by the material is the victim, and the criminal is the one who created the material. And I truly, honestly, completely disagree with that. Here is what I think you're actually doing when you illegalize such material:
1) You are making the person who commits a crime after experiencing this material a victim, not a criminal.
2) You penalize people who aren't negatively influenced by this material the right to access it.
3) You are making the creators and distributors of this material criminals when they are not.

Unfortunately, the only way I can explain what I mean is to go over it by case. I want to talk about how this effects gaming, but I must first talk about drugs since they are widely illegal.

What happens when you illegalize a drug is make the creators and distributors criminals. The police and DEA don't target drug users so much, but rather their goal is to find the distributors and creators. Occasionally they will hunt down users, but they will offer them bargains in order to gain information on distributors. What they are doing is treating the people who make and sell drugs as the problem. Drug users are often just put in rehabilitation, treated as victims of an addiction to illicit material. Basically it's like saying the world needs to protect people from bad influences by criminalizing the ones that make it available.

In a way it's like illegalizing alcohol, wherein you penalize the people who are able to consume alcohol responsibly and not be negatively effected by it or negatively effect anyone else. And, when you illegalize it, you are suggesting that a person who abuses alcohol and causes a car accident was more of a victim of alcohol, rather than being a criminal who was unable to responsibly drink without becoming a danger to themselves and others. You also, of course, make breweries and distributors criminals for no reason.

Now, imagine what that would mean if they were to illegalize explicit/violent art or writing? That would mean artists and distributors are the criminals supplying the public with a bad influence. And, that would mean that the lunatic that murdered some one because they were supposedly inspired by a book would probably be offered a bargain in order to gain information on distributors. That's right, the murderer isn't the criminal, but a victim.

This could also happen to gaming. If a game is banned/illegalized it sends the message that what authors are doing is wrong and that players need to be protected from illicit material found in games.

Music and drugs are different though.

First of all, if a person purchases and listens to a violent sounding music album, and then goes and commits a crime, I believe that person would have been a criminal anyway, with or without the album's influence. Because I know that if I listened to the same album then I won't commit any crimes.

On the other hand, concerts are a different ballpark. At a concert it's not just the music, but also the environment and the people there. I highly doubt you'd ever see people moshing at a violin recital, but it happens at punk rocker and heavy metal shows. But to me, it is not the music or the artists that are to blame, but rather peer pressure. When surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals, one is more easily influenced and more willing to do things they would otherwise not do. A person might do something to impress their peers, or may suggest something to their peers and some one acts on the suggestion. If you were to hear the messages "You should punch some one.", it could be easily brushed off with a laugh; but in a large group of angry violent people if that messaged is played then some one is likely to actually do it.

Drugs, however, actually effect a person's mental state. Additionally, they contain addictive chemicals. It isn't just that the experience is so enjoyable that a person would want to do it again, but really a chemical that makes them want to.

In the end, I believe drugs have plenty of logical reasons to be illegal. But art, writing, music, and video games should never be banned or illegal. In a way, I guess I am saying that I believe in the freedom of speech.

By the way, happy 4th of July to all you Americans out there.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Chars I Like

Just a list. The characters are listed in order, but the games aren't in any special order.

- Vampire Savior: Q-Bee, Lei-lei, Felicia, Lillith, Victor
- Jojo's: Rrubber Soul, Mariah, Midler, Shadow Dio, Young Joseph
- IaMP: Yuyuko, Sakuya, Suika, Yukari
- Blitzkampf: Kanae, Mycale, Marilyn, Sai
- SF3-3S: Ibuki, Chun, Remy, Elena
- GG#R: Venom, Millia, Baiken, Dizzy
- MB-AC: Mech-Hisui, Satsuki, V.Sion, W.Len, Aoko, Kohaku
- Monster: Ryougen, Orju, Maya, Othello
- SS5sp: Amakusa, Yoshitora, Mizuki, Basara
- SFA3: Claw, Rolento, Cammy, Chun
- ST: Claw, Cammy, Chun
- CvS2: Claw, Kyo, Chun, Mai, Cammy, Vice
- MotW: Grant, Dong Hwan, Kevin, Rock
- KoF98: Mai, Daimon, Blue Mary, Chizuru, Vice, Shermie
- KoF2k2: Mai, Daimon, Blue Mary, Maxima, Kula, Shermie
- KoF2k0: Mai, Blue Mary, Maxima, Kula
- VP: Ayane, Lilith, Kaede, Eri
- TMNT: Aska, Wingnut, War
- LB2: Shigen
- SF4: lol.. (?) Rose
- SWR: lol.. (?) Alice, Suika
- CFJ: lol.. (?) Mukuro/Kenji, Karin, Ingrid

Well, these are the characters I like. Some games I've played a lot more than others. The ones with question marks at the bottom are games I don't play much, so the characters listed are just vague assumptions.

Looking Around

Looking at certain features in fighting games, I have to wonder why developers don't adopt good ideas from others and make them standard features. Things like advanced training mode options, replay record, custom character colors, netplay lobby, peer to peer netplay, spectating netplay, and all the little things. Little things like survival mode, character move lists, challenge modes, sound/music test, and things like that.

When something is a good idea, I have to wonder why it gets overlooked/forgotten in the future. The same might be said for actual gameplay mechanics as well, and not just features outside of the game.

Then again, I have to wonder why the scene doesn't adopt standard codes of practice as well. I think the competitive gaming scenes could learn a lot from one another. Fighting game players could learn a thing or two about the way events are organized and run for FPS and RTS, for example. And things surrounding events, community bases and knowledge bases. Again, when something is a good idea, why isn't it made standard? Above all, I think competitive gaming could really learn a lot from organized sports.

A Hook

Relative power versus Universal power is something that isn't always apparent or easy to gauge. Especially not just from simple observation.

For example, a character could be improved in 2 ways
- Give them a move or cancel properties that is useful/advantageous in all matchups.
- Give them a move that specifically counters another character's move.

To elaborate, giving a character an invulnerable DP is a universal tool that can be used against just about any other character. Likewise, not giving a character any reversal-type move (or any inv. move) universally handicaps this character relative to to the rest of the cast. What this means is that we could see a character moving up or down in their tiers just based solely on these qualities, which is why many Western players feel that if a character has a apparently overpowered move then they must be top tier.

On the other hand, there's sometimes ways to improve a character within the tiers by giving them moves that counter a specific other character in the cast. A broad example of this is like giving a character a throw-invulnerable move, which would be significantly more useful against the grappler-type character(s) in the roster than the poke/runaway type characters. A more specific example would be to give a character a move that dodges either just high enough or just low enough to beat a specific character's pokes, but do not have that property against other characters.

One really good example I'm fond of is GGXX#R Eddie and Anji. Wherein, Eddie was undeniably top tier and certainly overpowered compared to the rest of the cast, and Anji was undeniably bottom tier and very underpowered. Yet, because Anji had auto-blocking on a lot of his normal moves, Anji turned out to have a decent/even matchup against Eddie. The inclusion of autoguard moves sounds like a universal ability, but in this special case it turned out being significantly more useful against one specific character rather than the whole cast because it specifically countered all of Eddie's strong points, which meant that Anji could shut down Eddie's whole offensive game.

Now, while Eddie was still top tier and Anji was still bottom tier, the tiers don't always go unaffected.

A theoretical example would be to introduce half of a roster of characters, wherein character "A" is top tier because of their superior low pokes. However, after introducing the other half of the roster it's found out that these characters are all low tier, but they all have moves that counter low pokes, making character "A" significantly weak against half the cast, dropping that character down from top tier. Even though character "A" seemed to have universally good moves, if half the roster counters this character then you can't rightfully say this character is top tier, even if that half of the roster is universally weak (except against character "A").

I believe this sort of thing has happened in games like Vampire Savior, Garou, and Jojo's where certain characters would be the dominating top tier if not that they have some critical bad matchups which lowers their over all ranking.

And, it's important to keep that sort of thing in mind when evaluating tiers. You can not just look at a character and say that they are top tier because they have a single awesome attack. In a match, you're doing more than one move, so one good move alone isn't enough. You must also analyze matchups, because if you don't then it's possible a seemingly strong character is actually not that good because of bad matchups.

Personally I think tournament results should also be cataloged and analyzed and weighted with other data to determine actual tiers. Reason being, even if everything looks right on paper it may not actually be plausible in reality due to execution. Somethings the easy-mode characters that aren't especially strong do better than they theoretically should simply because they are reliable and easy to use.

Once again, for those that "don't believe in tiers"; it's true that a player's skill is going to be a stronger determining factor in the outcome of a match than character-ability. BUT, it's still technically a potential handicap. Just like turning up/down stars for damage/life handicap in versus mode, picking a character with a bad matchup will also be a handicap. That isn't to say the better player can't win, it's just that it will be much harder to do so.