Twelve years ago, Arika released an extensive ten-minute combo video to promote their Street Fighter EX series in Japan. It contained several advanced combos for every character, including over six minutes of touch-of-death combos.
Street Fighter EX2 – The Combination (Remake)
Fast-forward to 2010, and ShinjiGohan has gone through all the trouble of recreating every combo using tool-assistance. If you ever happened to see the original and had any questions, now’s your chance to ask someone who knows each combo first-hand.
The entire thing is top-notch quality content front-to-back, but as far as highlights go, i like the Vega air-to-ground Excel combo at 1:33, the Hayate clip at 2:24, the Ken death combo at 4:21, Guile’s backfists of death at 5:36, and C.Jack’s overhead of death at 7:55. Of course, Dhalsim’s slide/upflame combos at 5:53 and Shadow’s multi-divekick combo at 9:04 are great too.
Derisive words like “unbalanced,” “overpowered,” and “broken” get thrown around so much these days, you’d think every fighting game was expected to have a 90% competitive roster ratio. It’s true that modern game developers can benefit from studying a long history of tournament-tested titles, but the fundamental problem remains the same: character diversity naturally fosters imbalance. There’s no escaping it.
How are designers supposed to tackle this issue? Every experienced player will tell you that concrete strategy is all about matchups. If you start with two characters, you’ll want to give them a complex array of options with the ultimate goal of staging dynamic battles while ensuring that the most skillful player wins consistently. Whenever you upgrade one move, you’ll have to match it with the appropriate adjustment on the opposite side.
When you introduce a third character, the number of matchups triples. Now when you institute an upgrade, you have to cautiously strengthen two potential rivals to that exact same degree, then compare them with each other to make sure their matchup doesn’t suffer. Every minor tweak can snowball into a series of adjustments echoing back and forth. We’re still talking about three characters here. Well, if you have a cast of 56 diverse characters to balance, you’re basically screwed. Nobody’s that smart.
Clearly, demanding 20+ evenly matched characters is an unrealistic expectation. What would be considered a reasonable number? Looking through the Classics, i’d say any “good” fighting game with a legitimate top tier of four or more characters is perfectly acceptable.
Whoever comes up with the best title for this week’s screenshot gets to choose the next featured SF4 Biweekly TACV character after Sakura and Vega’s installment! As always, the rules are one entry per person and i’ll choose my favorite on Monday.
SFA3 X-Sodom wakes up with HK Tengu Walking after counterhit MP Jigoku Scrape knockdown while A-Sodom wakes up with HK Tengu Walking after counterhit HP Jigoku Scrape knockdown. Sodom fights with katana under X-Ism instead of his trademark jitte under A-Ism and V-Ism.
It’s no secret that i use a lot of Focus Attacks in my SF4 and SSF4 combo videos. I understand how they might look repetitive to someone who can’t tell the functional differences between them, but there’s a reason behind each and every setup. Hopefully the following examples will shed some light on what purposes they serve and why they’re necessary.
Let’s get one thing clear right away: Anytime i can add a Focus Attack to the beginning of a tool-assisted combo without cost, i consider it lazy not to do so. From my perspective, if a character has nothing better to do, i can’t justify discarding that extra hit. It’s the same principle that forces Guile jump-in combos to start with an LP Sonic Boom. If you don’t do it, people have a right to ask, “Why not?”
However, that preliminary Sonic Boom never determines whether or not the whole combo is good. In other words, my combos are never good or bad because of the Focus Attack at the beginning. That’s simply a formality. Tuning it out won’t impact the value of the combo.
This is an important point: Combos aren’t built front to back. I never start with a Focus trade and see where it leads, the same way i never throw a Sonic Boom and see where it goes. You’ve never seen me end up with lvl3 Focus Attack (trade), j.HP, s.HP xx Hadoken, right? That’s because i start with a core concept i want to showcase and i build outward in both directions.
Three weeks have come and gone since the long-awaited release of Super Street Fighter IV. Fourteen videos and hundreds of research hours later, we have a fairly sound idea of what the new characters and spare ultras are capable of. Obviously most of them will continue developing further, but the foundation is set.
Looking forward, the most dynamic characters appear to be Rose, Ibuki, and Juri. Although several dedicated specialists have begun experimenting with Rose’s unconventional Soul Satellite ultra, i feel we’ve only scratched the surface of its advanced combo potential. Sooner or later, someone will figure out the right combination of setup, spacing, and dummy selection to control how and when each orb connects.
Ibuki has access to a disproportionately large pool of combo tools: chains, jump-cancels, ground loops, air trajectory control, etc. She’s still a relatively straightforward character underneath, but none of her known combos seem fully optimized yet. In fact it’s pretty amazing how she doesn’t have an infinite considering all the infinite-prone tools she possesses. You have to admit, Capcom has done a commendable job of balancing her.
Juri’s Feng Shui Engine ultra is essentially a Custom Combo, which always require many months to explore and optimize. She also happens to be of the best dizzy characters in the game, in the sense that you can use all her super meter to knock someone dizzy and then still have something special for the post-dizzy combo, because you get to restore her Fuhajin fireballs. It’ll take ages to wade through this many possibilities.