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Can someone explain the mechanics of Street Fighter to me?


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Right, I'm not too sure where I should be putting this, so mods please feel free to move this to the Retro/Ask the Forum folders, or ban me, but I'm hoping this will inspire some Street Fighting discussion.

I loved console 2D beat 'em ups back in the day but as I was only about 12 when SF2 hit the shelves/arcades, I was more of a Killer Instinct and Eternal Champions casual beat 'em up fan when everyone else was off mastering SF or KOF. I really got into beat 'em ups, at least the 2D kind, with the Dreamcast and really enjoyed playing Capcom vs. SNK, Rival Schools 2, Guilty Gear X and SF3 with my brother and schoolmates.

Thing is I used to (and still do :ph34r: ) rely solely on jumping kicks, quarter-circle forwardses and strong punch/kick only. I'm a button masher, and my recent purchase of Capcom Classics Collection confirms it - I can't even beat arcade mode on 1-star difficulty with Ryu, simply because I don't really know what I'm doing. I figure that weak punches/kicks do less damage, therefore they're pretty useless in a fight and so I never use them.

What with the new generation of 2D fighters (SF4 included I guess) and their onslaught of Xisms and Visms and False Roman Cancels and parries, the genre just seems to be getting more and more complicated every generation and while I enjoy playing casually with my friends, I would like to get to grips with the deep gameplay and strategies that each game seems to offer.

So, to cut to the end of a very obscure, possibly pointless topic - how do I do a combo in Street Fighter 2?

Oh, and for discussion - how did you get to grips with 2D beat 'em ups?

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Well, just to address your middle-punches thing...

In the older Street Fighter games, like SF Alpha 2, as well as Darkstalkers and the Marvel ones, the games followed a set of rules which defined, quite specifically, what moves could be chained onto what other moves (these collectively were called the "create a combo law").

Generally speaking it went that any move could be combo'd into any other move, provided the player increased the strength of the punch/kick with each move. So for example, you could go

standing low kick > crouching medium kick > hurricane kick, made with the high kick button

The medium moves allowed the player to increase the length of their combos by manipulating these rules.

In the latest games, like Alpha 3, Street Fighter 4, and Street Fighter 3, the rules aren't as simplistic, but there still are certain moves that will combo into others. In addition, when fighters jump, for example, sometimes the medium punches and kicks do different things (Ryu's jumping medium, for example, is a 2-hit uppercut). Also some characters have standing medium moves that do interesting things too (Ryu's standing medium is an overhead smash that hit enemies that are crouching and guarding).

When you try to make the jump from being a "good" SF player to trying to become an expert, you have to know these little differences and what advantages they afford you. I'm not an expert by any means, and someone will probably be along with a far better explanation, but this is what I know.

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I use mediums for various reasons; it depends on the game, the animations, the characters...in some games the wind-up anim for certain heavy attacks is obvious enough to allow an opportunity to block, so mediums can be a better alternative (and still hold more power than light attacks). Other games have preset combos that demand you mix up different strength attacks for them to work (Eddy Gordo's Leg-Whip Hammerhead is something like "B,O,X,O,S+T,S+T" if I recall) , so mediums are a necessary component there as well. Then you have the varying effects on specials - they might all be triggered with "punch", but the strength of the punch might change the outcome (see Urien's Aegis Reflector)...

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So, to cut to the end of a very obscure, possibly pointless topic - how do I do a combo in Street Fighter 2?

The basic system in SF2 (used in almost every other fighting game since) is about wether you are allowed to cancel the move. Canceling a move means stopping the move's recovery after it's hit (or blocked) and going into a different move. Most Capcom games don't let you cancel a move when it's come out if you miss completely. For Ryu in SF2, the most basic and commonly used 2-hit combo is probably crouching medium kick (cancel) fireball. To perform this you have to press the MK button and instantly start the motion for the fireball and press the punch button for it as soon as complete. You should aim to do it in one smooth rolling motion.

You'd be better trying it out on a later SF game, that same combo is in all of them with a medium kick button. SF2 timing is quite strict compared to other games. Start by practicing it on 3rd Strike as the timing is very generous and the computer is nowhere near as brutal in the opening stages if you don't have a practice mode.

Oh, and for discussion - how did you get to grips with 2D beat 'em ups?

Spend a lot of time playing (and getting beat by) people who do know how to play the games. Playing versus the computer will only get you so far.

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(see Urien's Aegis Reflector)...
In addition, when fighters jump, for example, sometimes the medium punches and kicks do different things (Ryu's jumping medium, for example, is a 2-hit uppercut). Also some characters have standing medium moves that do interesting things too (Ryu's standing medium is an overhead smash that hit enemies that are crouching and guarding).

Cheers fellas. I'm aware that the strength of the attack sometimes changes the special move, as in the above examples. I also know that combos were discovered in SF2 by accident, as a result of some glitch in the hit detection, so they're naturally much harder to pull off in SF2 than in the later series. Thing is, hitting your opponent always sends you back a little bit, right? What then is the maximum hit count you can get on any one combo in SF? Following Asura's example I can always manage two weak punches followed by a hurricane kick to make a grand total of three, but I can never manage anything longer. Alpha 3's V-ism, where you sacrifice having a super special for some bizarre make-a-combo-within-the-time-limit thing baffles me.

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The problem with fighters nowadays is that, if you're not living in the right place (Japan mostly) then it's very difficult to get any proper human experience any more, unlike when arcades where still around most of the country. So then, that leaves you first with AI - but all AI is shit, as it's either unrealistically easy or abnormally hard (Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo). Even when the AI acts slightly more believably, they'll still cheat from time to time, and/or fall for the same tricks over and over (Virtua Fighter 4 Evo). The final option is to play with your friends, but the big problem with that is that there's barely anyone interested in fighters any more, and you'll likely find that you're the only one amongst your circle to be interested.

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Thing is, hitting your opponent always sends you back a little bit, right? What then is the maximum hit count you can get on any one combo in SF? Following Asura's example I can always manage two weak punches followed by a hurricane kick to make a grand total of three, but I can never manage anything longer.

Depends on the game and the character. The basic routine for a combo is jump attack, normal attack, special attack. Three hits on the most basic level. In SF2 most characters have link combos - these are two normal moves which combo when performed immediately after each other with no cancelling at all. With Ryu, close crouch MP followed by standing HP is a combo in most SF2 games but naturally the timing is very strict indeed. If you do weak attacks, they will often chain (a chain is a type of cancel involving only normal moves) into themselves for several hits.

To get more, there are glitches of various difficulty. In SF2 games on the CPS1 board (pre Super) you get to use the CPS1 chain. Basically, it's a chain from LP or LK ending in a harder move which you can add a special on to. As a nice throwback, you can also do these on Alpha 3 when picking X-ism. There are other gliches in SF2 involving delivering a crossup and having the attack when you land come out in the wrong direction. This means rather than getting pushed away from your opponent, you actually get pushed together allowing even longer combos.

There are some fine combo videos out there on Youtube for almost every flavour of SF.

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Anyone who wants to play street fighter needs to know about ggpo.

It lets you play the arcade versions online with no input lag.

I've heard this is what their licensing for the console sfiv.

Every move has hit boxes placed differently so you have to know every move your character has and what moves they can beat of every other character at what ranges. When fighting you'll be either trying to poke your opponent by just landing single hits or playing footsies where you try to reach and grab them with a normal that can be combo'd and super cancelled. You'll need all your attacks for poking.

You will probably also use strong and forward as meaty strikes against people with weak wake up reversals.

When I learnt all this I stopped using my fierce punch and roundhouse but I've recently gone back to them.

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Actually I have to say the best CPU AI I've come across is in Guilty Gear, Slash onwards only. Turn it up to maniac and prepare for an ass whoppin as the computer rains some proper massive combo and loop hell on your ass. Will make you good though!

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You use it when you need a stronger attack than light punch, but a faster attack than fierce punch. ;)

No. Normals of varying strengths are used for different things and speed rarely has a bearing on your decision. Also MP is not always faster HP - on 3rd Strike Ryu's close MP comes out one frame slower and close FP, and crouching MP is the same speed as crouching HP.

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Cheers fellas. I'm aware that the strength of the attack sometimes changes the special move, as in the above examples. I also know that combos were discovered in SF2 by accident, as a result of some glitch in the hit detection, so they're naturally much harder to pull off in SF2 than in the later series. Thing is, hitting your opponent always sends you back a little bit, right? What then is the maximum hit count you can get on any one combo in SF? Following Asura's example I can always manage two weak punches followed by a hurricane kick to make a grand total of three, but I can never manage anything longer. Alpha 3's V-ism, where you sacrifice having a super special for some bizarre make-a-combo-within-the-time-limit thing baffles me.

OK, well, in Street Fighter III, a simple one with Ryu:

Jumping weak kick > standing medium punch > crouching hard punch > dragon punch > fireball > shin-shoryuken

That's 8, and it's a favourite of mine.

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No. Normals of varying strengths are used for different things and speed rarely has a bearing on your decision. Also MP is not always faster HP - on 3rd Strike Ryu's close MP comes out one frame slower and close FP, and crouching MP is the same speed as crouching HP.

See this is where I start to get lost, soon as were talking "frames" I'm out of here. I own dozens & dozens of 2D fighters and I'm shit at everyone of them. SF is a prime example.

I spent weeks playing SFA3 on the Dreamcast and I never got any good.

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See this is where I start to get lost, soon as were talking "frames" I'm out of here. I own dozens & dozens of 2D fighters and I'm shit at everyone of them. SF is a prime example.

I spent weeks playing SFA3 on the Dreamcast and I never got any good.

This is me. I loved beating my mates at 2D beat 'em ups in the Dreamcast era but it's only now, when I struggle to beat a 1-star CPU opponent in Street Fighter 2 Turbo, that I realise how unbelievably crap I am at all of them.

I've got a PS2 complete with Street Fighter 3, The Last Blade collection and Guilty Gear XX Slash The Midnight Carnival Accent Core Plus Ex Alpha European Extreme Championship Edition 2 and I really enjoy playing them. It's just that I'm never very good at putting in the effort to master the controls. I prefer to just hammer buttons while playing against my equally inept friends, but I never feel like I deserve to win in these cases!

Asura - I'll get combo practicing right away. Ibuki kicks tremendous amounts of arse.

EDIT: Actually, how are you supposed to link a shoryuken into a hadoken?! ;)

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See this is where I start to get lost, soon as were talking "frames" I'm out of here. I own dozens & dozens of 2D fighters and I'm shit at everyone of them. SF is a prime example.

I spent weeks playing SFA3 on the Dreamcast and I never got any good.

It's a slightly confusing term for a very simple concept. A frame is just 1/60th of a second, so Ryu's close HP is 1/60th of a second faster than his close MP. It's definitely not worth worrying about if you're just picking up a game, but if you've got the frame data for a game you can find out which moves can be punished and by what. It's nowhere near as big a deal as it is in 3D fighting games (especially Virtua) but it's there if you need it.

Also, playing for weeks is nothing! It was about a year before I started to feel even slightly decent on 3rd Strike and Alpha 3, and that's playing several sessions a week. It was again that long before I became halfway decent on KOF2002, even with years of Street Fighter experience behind me. It's not really something you can dabble in and get results at high level, same as anything really. But "good" is a relative term, so it all depends on your competition. You can get good enough on most games to toast the computer within a few months no problem, but that's more to do with learning the AI flaws than anything else.

I think unless you've got regular competion with human opponents, you'll struggle to learn any fighting game. Online is finally getting to a point where decent play is possible (especially on GGPO) so that's not so much of a barrier in this country as it was even a year ago. Almost every fighting game player will be friendly enough to give you pointers on how to improve based on how you're playing, and most will be more than happy to expose their own tactics in casual matches - if they don't, you're probably playing with the wrong people.

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No. Normals of varying strengths are used for different things and speed rarely has a bearing on your decision. Also MP is not always faster HP - on 3rd Strike Ryu's close MP comes out one frame slower and close FP, and crouching MP is the same speed as crouching HP.

Wow. Willei, def one of the most hardcore SF players on this forum ;)

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Actually I have to say the best CPU AI I've come across is in Guilty Gear, Slash onwards only. Turn it up to maniac and prepare for an ass whoppin as the computer rains some proper massive combo and loop hell on your ass. Will make you good though!

On #Reload (the only one in the series I've played), even on the lower difficulties I still can't beat final boss I-No. :P I think I may have done it a couple of times, but only with flukey instant kill moves.

I'm crap at beat 'em ups, even "dial-a-combo" Marvel vs Capcom 2.

For example, I'd had Soul Calibur 1 and 2 for several years, unlocking all the single-player stuff, consistently beating the AI on Ultra Hard, but only getting to play the occasional match against those very few friends who were at all interested in fighting games. I thought I knew enough about the games to beat newbie button-mashers who never block and don't 8-way run. But while I was at uni we had an all-night SC2 session and I found I was evenly matched against the people who'd never played it before. Oops! :D

It's a slightly confusing term for a very simple concept. A frame is just 1/60th of a second, so Ryu's close HP is 1/60th of a second faster than his close MP. It's definitely not worth worrying about if you're just picking up a game, but if you've got the frame data for a game you can find out which moves can be punished and by what. It's nowhere near as big a deal as it is in 3D fighting games (especially Virtua) but it's there if you need it.

How is it that FAQ writers get frame data for games that are only available in the arcade? Do they record them with a video camera? Or is it a systematic process of elimination ("Ryu's weak punch is faster than Guile's weak kick but slower than Chun-Li's weak kick...")? Or are these players' ninja reactions so fast that they can see the individual frames? ;)

I've seen loads of in-depth FAQs written about fighting games that (at the time) were only available as coin-ops. The very concept of people learning enough about the arcade machine to then be able to go back home and write an FAQ about the game, entirely from memory, is utterly alien to me! (How much money must they have spent in the process...?)

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No. Normals of varying strengths are used for different things and speed rarely has a bearing on your decision. Also MP is not always faster HP - on 3rd Strike Ryu's close MP comes out one frame slower and close FP, and crouching MP is the same speed as crouching HP.

Yeah obviously, but if he needs to ask then he's not going to learn by us telling him. Better just to tell the simplest lie and let him go back to whatever he does instead of playing Street Fighter.

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Wow. Willei, def one of the most hardcore SF players on this forum ;)

I had to look it up of course. I did already know HP was faster though...

How is it that FAQ writers get frame data for games that are only available in the arcade? Do they record them with a video camera? Or is it a systematic process of elimination ("Ryu's weak punch is faster than Guile's weak kick but slower than Chun-Li's weak kick...")? Or are these players' ninja reactions so fast that they can see the individual frames? :D

I've seen loads of in-depth FAQs written about fighting games that (at the time) were only available as coin-ops. The very concept of people learning enough about the arcade machine to then be able to go back home and write an FAQ about the game, entirely from memory, is utterly alien to me! (How much money must they have spent in the process...?)

Very often the data is released by the developers to the people who make the guide books. In Japanese arcades they often have copies of the guide books around for your perusal, and the guide books are out very soon after the game's release.

Sometimes they just don't bother though, and I have no idea how it's worked out in these cases. Sometimes, it just isn't. You'd probably be using high speed cameras to do it, or just the player's guesswork. In the SF2 days, it probably would just have been guesswork.

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That combo I had up there, I'm sure I can do it in SF3. Where's the problem with it? Admittedly, it's been a while since I played it.

Jumping weak kick > standing medium punch > crouching hard punch > dragon punch > fireball > shin-shoryuken

cr.HP doesn't link from MP, and it's not a chain.

specials cannot cancel into other specials, so dragon punch > fireball will not work.

More sensible would be:

Jumping weak kick > standing medium punch > dragon punch > shin-shoryuken

I'm not certain that would work either, the dragon might miss due to pushback. Comboing from a light jump in can be needlessly tricky too.

An actual good combo to practice would be:

Jump crossup medium kick > standing medium kick > dragon punch > shin-shoryuken

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I'm crap at beat 'em ups, even "dial-a-combo" Marvel vs Capcom 2.

It's probably worth mentioning that MvC2 has a funny dial-a-combo system. For the uninitiated (such as the OPer):

In some fighting games, usually the more erratic ones, the characters can perform a chain combo of attacks with no delay in between attacks. If you were to do a HP normally, there would be a recovery after missing it. But, if you were to land it, you could link it onto another normal attack with no penalty between. The normal order in Capcom games would be:

LP > LK > MP > MK > HP > HK

and you could skip buttons but not go back on yourself, so you could go LP > MK but not MP > LK, or even from MK > MP because kicks come after punches in the order. To continue the combo, many of these games have a launching option so you can continue the combo in mid-air, and improvise further if you know what to do. A HP or HK would usually floor someone, so you usually can't go HP > HK at the end. However, when you start an aerial combo (or "Aerial Rave") the sequence resets, so you could go back to LP at the start.

However, in MvC2, it changes! Typical:

LP > LK > MP > MK > HP > HK

But there is no MP or MK, you say? Actually, there is. It only exists in a chain combo, and occurs on the second instance of the LP/LK button. So it could go LP > LK > LP (now MP) > LK (now MK), or LP > LP (MP) > MK, or LK > MK and so on.

Just because I will, here's the order in the GGXX games:

P > K > S > HS > D

except it's never so strict at times, and you can sometimes go back from an S to a P but the order is never so strict. Launching opponents is much harder though.

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This is me. I loved beating my mates at 2D beat 'em ups in the Dreamcast era but it's only now, when I struggle to beat a 1-star CPU opponent in Street Fighter 2 Turbo, that I realise how unbelievably crap I am at all of them.

Yup! You are me and I claim my five etceteras

I kinda knew I was a bit crap - but it really hit home when a friend of the GF (from her knitting circle no less!!) beat the snot out of me at SF II.

But, but ba... how? :D

I think putting a lot of time into MvC 2 didn't help, as I used to button mash my way to victory or get cheap with Cable

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Going off on a tangent, I find the nicer Street Fighter games one of the most satisfying games ever. Particularly when playing as the Shotokan-type characters. It's like the blues; you've got the same three "chords", and potentially infinite song combinations. (Yes, clumsy analogy, I know.)

I have to admit I haven't ever played any of the Street Fighter 3 subseries though. Just EX Plus Alpha, all the SFIIs, Alphas and MvCs. And CvS2.

SF IV looks rather impressive from what I have seen. If a little like the EX series, with busier backgrounds.

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