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- Archived Entry -
12.27.2004 - CFE Official Fighter's Guide Supplement
Naturally, the writing process for the Capcom Fighting Evolution Official Fighter's Guide involved extensive experimentation with CFE's systems. Over the course of the project, i gathered quite a bit of information that was simply beyond the scope of the final product. Our allotted time frame and our target audience ultimately dictated the book's contents and depth. Including everything in my personal notes might have scared off more potential players than it helped. Frankly, none of what follows is essential for beginners or even most tournament players, but it may prove valuable to combo video makers and game engine analysts down the road. It isn't clear exactly how much of this extends back to earlier Capcom games, but anyone concerned can probably devise tests to find out.
Nearly every uninterrupted action ends with 1 neutral frame before the character regains complete freedom to perform another action. It shows up as a single standing stance sprite following most moves or a single crouching stance sprite following crouching moves. For normal moves, special moves, super moves, throws, dashes, and most other offensive options, the guide includes this mandatory neutral pause in all frame counts. It's not possible to move, jump, block, or attack until after it resolves. For example, Guile's listed close s.MK values are 17 TO, 6 ST, +8 HA, +7 BA. Even though the attack animation has only 16 TO and gives +9 HA, Guile can't attack until the 18th frame. Thus, close s.MK links into c.HK which has 7 ST, but not into c.HP which has 8 ST. However, two actions may replace this neutral frame - SFIII parry and Training Mode automatic guard options. Thus, Urien's listed HK Chariot Tackle values of -6 HA and -7 BA imply that if M.Bison blocks and does a Reversal HP Psycho Crusher with 6 ST, Urien will have a chance to parry it even though there's no way to block in time.
Similarly, hit stun, block stun, wakeup animation, and other defensive states enabling Reversals also end with 1 neutral frame before the character regains complete control to perform another action. However, apart from the inability to move or jump, it has no restrictions. In fact, a Reversal is defined as a special move or super move performed in place of this frame. Since it's possible to block on this frame, the guide excludes this partial neutral pause in all frame counts. For example, Felicia's listed close c.MK values are 24 TO, 5 ST, ±0 HA, -1 BA. Thus, if the attack connects, Felicia will not be able to block or attack again until her opponent is able to do so as well. Yet if both players hold U instead of attacking, Felicia will start her jump 1 frame earlier than her opponent.
Every jump goes through three distinct periods: ground-based startup, airborne jump arc, and landing recovery. Special and super moves can interrupt startup ground frames, allowing some lenience in performing 360 and tiger knee commands. The 1st airborne frame is extremely limited, permitting only air block and air parry. Nearly all jumping attack options become available from the 2nd airborne frame all the way through to the last airborne frame - the obvious exception being height-restricted moves such as Yun's j.DF+K divekick and Demitri's air Chaos Flare. Beginning with the 2nd startup ground frame, jumping characters become invulnerable to ground throws. The 1st startup ground frame behaves inconsistently against throws, either escaping or getting grabbed seemingly at random. Ground-based jump startup is completely invulnerable to air throws as well.
All empty jumps have 2 frames of landing recovery during which it is impossible to block, move, or jump. Normal moves may be performed on the 1st landing frame, but special moves and super moves must wait until the 3rd frame. Oddly enough, attempting to perform a special move or super move on the 1st or 2nd landing frames results in the corresponding normal move appearing for 1 frame, then automatically kara-canceling into the special move on the following frame, even if the button is held to prevent negative edge. Thus, even though it's impossible to perform them cleanly until the 3rd landing frame, 2nd frame special moves and super moves are possible through kara-canceling. Landing recovery is vulnerable to throws, but throw attempts coinciding with the 1st touchdown frame induce random inconsistency similar to the 1st frame of ground-based jump startup.
Air parry, wall jump, and double jump have no effect on landing recovery. Air block does not delay blocking, movement, or jumping upon landing, but it does push back normal moves to the 2nd landing frame and special moves and super moves to the 3rd landing frame. Attacking while in the air results in 3 frames of landing recovery during which it is impossible to block, move, or jump. Also, normal moves can not be performed until the 3rd landing frame while special moves and super moves don't come out until the 4th landing frame.
CFE adheres to a strict flowchart of option precedence as it parses each individual frame. There are too many possibilities to list here, but most of it is logical, self-explanatory, and common sense for any experienced Street Fighter player. Super move commands are processed before special move commands, which are processed before normal move commands. Air movement is resolved before air attack initiation, so the character takes both actions on the 1st air attack frame. Ground attack initiation is resolved before ground movement, so the character performs the ground attack in place.
Throw effects follow movement and attack initiation, so it's possible to escape throws even on active frames by jumping out or walking out of range. It's also possible to execute invincible attacks to counter throw activation, and even normal attack initiation generates a little bit of super meter before the throw connects. Throw effects resolve before hit collisions, so throws win cleanly over standard attacks if the two become active simultaneously. Identical opposing actions usually overlap, as with normal attacks trading hits. If the two can not take place simultaneously, such as with pairs of throws or super moves, then their relative order is assigned at random.
Block, air block, and parry all have 0 ST, but there are a handful of situations where attacking is allowed while blocking is not. For example, most SF2 super moves have 4 ST before superfreeze during which the opponent may perform any action. However, it's also possible to initiate a special move or super move on the 5th frame, even though blocking and normal moves are not allowed. Similarly, blocking and normal moves are typically disabled for 1 frame longer than the suspension period for special moves and super moves following opponent superfreeze. Thus, scenarios arise where barely unblockable super moves can still be countered using special moves or super moves.
Unlike nearly all other aspects of the game engine, superfreeze behavior seems inconsistent. Frame counts involving superfreeze carry ±1 frame margins of error. Either the precise clock for superfreeze calculations exists outside of the standard 60 frames per second timer and causes unpredictable lossy round-off, or superfreeze effects are dependent upon unexpected variables such as character state, distance, and/or orientation. Even at the slowest game speed, it's impossible to predict whether whiffing Ryu's Shin Shoryuken will cause a neutral standing opponent to go into blocking animation on the 6th or 7th frame following superfreeze. Sometimes Shin Akuma's Messatsu Gouhadou can be blocked even after superfreeze and sometimes it can not. Fortunately, the 4+5 ST responsible for this dramatic difference is unique to Shin Akuma's Messatsu Gouhadou.
Strangely enough, post-superfreeze frame advance seems to have no effect on defensive states such as hit stun and block stun. No doubt this safeguard exists to prevent potential unblockable uncombos as notoriously exhibited throughout MvC combo videos. Therefore, it's pretty safe to say that combo breakers don't exist in CFE because hit stun temporarily negates subsequent blocking limitations. In other words, timing super moves to follow attacks in such a way that superfreeze coincides with the 1st frame directly after opponent hit stun does not make them unblockable.
Due to their considerable post-superfreeze frame advance periods, the majority of SF2 super moves must be blocked before superfreeze occurs. Yet links into super moves are extremely rare in CFE because opponents in defensive states such as hit stun and block stun are immune to post-superfreeze frame advance. With the exception of Ingrid's Sunburst and Hydron's mashed Lighting Mast, the fastest super moves have 4+4 ST, requiring link combo starter candidates to carry at least +9 HA.
Although SFA Custom Combo mode reduces attack pushback and impact freeze, it does not modify HA, BA, HS, or BS values for physical attacks. Since the impact freeze caused by projectile attacks only affects the defending character, it constitutes part of the listed hit stun and block stun values.
Since Capcom fighting games overlook tiny timing errors in special move inputs, it's possible to complete the directional motions for a charge special move and return to charging position before activating the special move with the appropriate button. For example, charging DB, quickly tapping F and returning to DB, then pressing P still executes a Sonic Boom. The goal is to minimize the necessary charge time for the next Sonic Boom by eliminating the physical delay in resuming a charge position. Charge character experts often utilize this old SF2 trick to overwhelm their opponents with surprisingly rapid attacks.
In CFE, charge buildup is reset every time a special move is initiated. Thus, the maximum number of charge moves allowed within any set interval can not be increased using this trick. It's impossible to cheat the game by overlapping charge times for multiple successive moves. At best, this trick simply delays the execution of one charge move in order to shorten the waiting time until the next one.
Resuming the charge position for even the shortest length of time before pushing the button always yields the optimal charge time for the next use. However, any extra time spent in this position before the button press constitutes lost charge opportunity, which adds up as the attack string grows. Furthermore, even if charge overlap was possible, the benefit could be reaped in full only once per any optimal string of charge moves because the execution delay necessary to perform the trick would offset the remainder. Therefore, this trick is only useful for minimizing the gap between two charge moves in situations where a delay can be afforded in performing the first.
Finally, any special move or super move command completed 1 frame before the character is able to perform it still registers on the following frame without requiring negative edge. For example, in order to follow up Ingrid's forward dash with her Sun Upper, the command for the Sun Upper may be completed either on the 1st frame following the dash or on the last frame of the dash. This particular form of input lenience increases the Reversal timing window from 1 frame to 2 frames, ensuring the opportunity to perform Reversals under high game speed settings despite frequent frame skips.