Category Archives: Tutorial

Whiff cancel tutorial by PhoeniX

The King of Details #4: Whiff and late cancelling cancel buffering trick
By PhoeniX

Today I’ll discuss some special properties of cancels in KOF.

Whiff cancelling
Unlike in most fighting games, if a move is cancellable, it can be cancelled regardless of whether it hits or not. Therefore it is possible for K’ to do cr.D xx qcf+A with or without hitting .

This opens up several strategic possibilities that are not normally available in other fighting games. If you whiff a move that has a good hitbox, but has bad recovery, you can either shorten this recovery or cover the recovery with a safe special.

This allows you to cover several options at once during neutral game. If you whiff cancel a sweep into a special that has a more upward hitbox you are essentially covering the full space in front of you.

Late cancelling
Cancellable normals, and some character’s CD attacks, can be cancelled into command normals. If these command normals have special properties such as hard knockdown, overhead or both, these special properties are lost when you cancel into them. In return, if you cancel into these command normals, they usually become cancellable.

But there is a way to retain these special properties. You do this by cancelling into the command normal late.

Whenever a move connects, either on hit or block, both characters freeze for a short time this is called ‘hitstop or hitfreeze,’ a late cancel is done by inputting the command normal just after this hitstop, just when the opponent starts moving backwards from the knockback.

This is a useful technique, especially for overhead command normals which tend to have a very long startup, which makes them prone to counterpokes. By late cancelling into a command normal, you will at least secure part of the startup to be covered since the opponent will still be in blockstun, essentially creating a frametrap from a normal into a command normal.

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Hitstun and Blockstun miniguide

By OmegaRyuji

Introduction: Set your phasers to “stun”
When an attack makes contact with a character in a KOF game, that character will usually go into one of five states: blockstun (an attack was blocked), hitstun (an attack that does not knock down a grounded opponent), aerial reset (if the character was hit in the air with an attack that does not knock down), airborne juggleable (a special property of certain attacks that knock the opponent into the air and allow most attacks to connect afterwards), or knockdown (an attack that causes knock down hits). Each of these has certain strategic importance, but the focus of this article will be on the first two.

The “stun” part of the names blockstun and hitstun comes from the fact that these states greatly limit a character’s available options. In hitstun, a character is put through a reeling/hurt animation during which they are completely vulnerable to anything that the opponent tries to do (except normal throws and some other special cases), aside from in KOF XI, when the hit character can be switched out with a saving shift. In blockstun, the character is locked in a defensive animation during which they will continue to automatically block any further attacks that make contact, though the player still has to properly block attacks that can only be blocked standing or crouching, but has a few more options available.While in blockstun, the character can use up resources in order to guard cancel, with either a roll (GCAB), a standing CD attack (GCCD), or a tag (KOF XI only). The character can also alternate between a standing block for high or mid attacks or a crouching block for mid or low attacks.
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A Guide to Frame Data

By OmegaRyuji
Introduction: What am I getting into?
If you have been looking for information on fighting games in the past decade, chances are you have at least come across some mention of “frame data.”  However, what that actually means and how to properly use it is something that players are usually left to figure out on their own.  Hopefully, this mini-guide can help you see that working with some numbers can put you on the road to a whole new way of developing and refining your play.

Basics of Frame Data: The only frames I know about are for hanging up pictures
A “frame” is a single still image which makes up part of an animation.  As you might already know, what you see when you play KOF is actually a series of still images drawn in rapid succession to create the illusion of fluid movement (or not-so-fluid, at times).

In a nutshell, frame data is a way of representing how long animations take.  Any non-projectile attack’s animation can be broken into three general phases: startup (everything that happens before the attack can actually hit), active (the time when it is possible to do damage {the time the move connects, the damage might happened like command throws}), and recovery (all of the time after the attack can no longer deal damage before the character is able to do something else).  Projectile attacks are a bit of a special case, since the active part of the animation is (usually) completely separate from the character’s animation, so the character only actually has startup and recovery animations.  Similarly, non-attacking animations, such as jumping or rolling, also go through startup and recovery animations.  What frame data tells you is how long each of those animations is based on how many frames each of those animations requires.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but why not measure the animations in terms of how long they actually take, instead of using some esoteric concept that’ll end up confusing a lot of people?”  The problem with that approach is that animations are not shown at the same speed universally.  For instance, it’s not uncommon for PS2 home ports of games to run slightly faster than the arcade versions.  Similarly, the time it takes to show 30 frames in one game isn’t necessarily the same as it will be in another, and there is also the issue of occasional slowdown while playing the game (particularly when there is a lot of stuff happening on the screen).  However, no matter how much real time it takes to show them, the game will always be animated one frame at a time, which is why that can serve as a universal measure of time.

A word of warning: there are differing conventions in exactly how to count startup frames.  Some people count only the frames before any active frames, while others also include the first active frame (the second method makes things slightly easier when frame advantage and static difference come into consideration a little later).  All examples used here will NOT include the first active frame as part of the startup time, but it is something to keep in mind in case your calculations keep ending up off by 1 frame.
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The King of Details #3: Buffering Tricks and Motion Shortcuts

Author: PhoeniX

The King of Fighters has a couple of buffering tricks that most people are unaware of, but make some parts of execution a lot easier. In the first part I will discuss the intricacies of the ‘hold button buffer’ and the second part will discuss input shortcuts, finally I will discuss some input tricks to make difficult cancels easier.

Hold button buffer
This trick is something very few people know about, which is a real shame because it significantly improves your chances of hitting links to super and reversals.

In several set situations, if you hold down the attack button, it will repeat the input for several frames for you, which mean it no longer requires accurate timing to hit a move as soon as possible.

Wakeup reversal hold button buffer
The most important part where you can use this buffer is for reversals. Depending on the type of move you reversal with, the buffer is bigger. The hold button buffer trick does not work if you want to do a wakeup normal, you have exactly 1 frame to reversal with a normal. When you want to reversal Roll, reversal st.CD or reversal MAX mode activate (in KOF2002 and KOF2002UM), you can get a window of up to 4 frames by holding down the respective buttons.

Reversal specials and supers require a little bit of explanation. Both these moves, when used as a reversal can actually be executed one frame earlier than other moves. This is also the reason why throw invincibility increases by one frame when you reversal with a special or super. Therefore, even without the hold button buffer trick, the reversal window is 2 frames, on one of the frames you simply reversal earlier.

With the hold button buffer trick specials can be used as reversal for a grand total of 9 frames + 1 extra frame if you reversal on the second frame. Which leads to a total of 10 frames. The hold button buffer for reversal supers is enormous, you get 24 frames + 1 extra frame of the natural 2 frame reversal window giving a 25 frame reversal window, that is almost half a second! Such a large reversal window is unheard of in fighting games.

Regular reversal hold button buffer
This same hold button trick can be used for reversalling out of hit or blockstun, or doing a move straight out of the recovery of your own move.
The buffer windows are: 1 frame for normals, 4 frames for Rolls, st.CD and MAX mode activation. Specials have a buffer window of 14 frames, but never come out on the first frame after hitstun/blockstun/recovery but rather on the second frame. Supers have a buffer window of 20 frames, but do not come out on the first frame after hitstun/blockstun/recovery but on the third frame.

Jump hold button buffer
During any type of jump you can also buffer a command so that it comes out on the very first possible frame after landing. This is very important for grapplers that need their empty jump throws to come out as soon as possible.

There are a few technicalities you need to know. If you buffer a special move early in the air, a jump normal will come out, once this normal becomes active in the air, the buffer is flushed, and the special won’t come out the moment you land. If you first do a jump normal, and then start buffering with another button press you can make use of the full buffer.

There are no buffer frames for normals, so it takes exactly 1 frame for it to come out. 3 frames for Rolls, st.CD and MAX mode activation. 13 frames for specials and 23 frames for supers.

Conclusion
This is a lot of data with numbers, which might not mean that much to you. The bottom line is, if you are having trouble timing reversals, empty jump throws or links into super, try holding down the button, to make the chance of hitting these tight timings much easier.

It is not really clear yet whether this ‘hold button to buffer’ trick is available in KOFXIII. In XIII this is not really an issue, as buffering windows are very large already. Doing reversals is not that difficult, even without holding the button down.

Input shortcuts
There are some input shortcuts, that may make life easier in the King of Fighters. These shortcuts work in KOF2002/UM and KOF98/UM. KOFXIII has shortcuts too, but they are somewhat different and they are discussed on the SRK Wiki.

Half-circle motions
For Half-circle motions you can skip the diagonals and still get the right move. This is generally not that important, but is very good to know for Andy in 2002/UM for example. Normally his db,f+P overlaps with his hcf+P move. his hcf+P move is a proximity unblockable, and only comes out if your opponent is in range and in a hittable state. db,f+P comes out regardless and is very bad on block. If you input Andy’s cl.C xx hcf+P, while hitting all the diagonals, on hit cl.C xx hcf+P connects, but on block cl.C xx db,f+P comes out and leaves you wide open for punishment.

But, if you input this as cl.C xx back, down, forward + Punch or back, down, down-forward, forward + P, on hit cl.C xx hcf+P comes out and on block only the safe cl.C comes out. Needless to say, this shortcut can save your life.

This trick, by extension incorporates all other motions that contain a half circle motion. so 2xhcb+P can skip the diagonals. For qcf,hcb+P you cannot skip the diagonals in the qcf, but you can skip them in the hcb portion.

Dragon punch motions
This shortcut is not as useful as the one mentioned above, but is still good to know. A traditional dragon punch can be input as forward, down, down-forward. In KOF you can also input it as forward, down, forward.

Special Input Blocking
To new players, a combo like Iori’s cl.C xx f+A xx qcf, hcb+P can be quite difficult. There is a specific buffering trick to make this motion a lot easier.

This combo cannot be input als cl.C qcf+A, hcb+P because qcf+A is a move (his fireball). If you press and hold an attack button, you can no longer do any special or super moves moves, only normals and command normals, until you release the attack button. So you can do the above combo as follows:
press and hold cl.C, qcf+A, release C, hcb+P and the combo will work.

Because you hold C, you can no longer do specials, and qcf+A simply registers only the f+A part since this is a command normal. Then you release C to allow specials and supers again, then you do hcb+P and the input parser will see that you have done qcf,hcb+P and register it as a super.

Another character that has a lot of use for this trick is (Orochi) Chris. It can be quite trick to do cr.BA f+A without accidentally inputting cr.BA xx qcf+A. But if you press and hold B you can just input cr.B(hold)A qcf+A (release B) xx anything.

Sadly this trick is gone completely in KOFXIII.

Buffer breaking trick
This trick is used to cancel normals into super in an easier way. For example in KOF98 it is not that easy to cancel cl.C into 2xqcf+P, and if you try to buffer it as qcf+C qcf+P, qcf+C comes out instead of close C. In KOF (and this includes KOFXIII) you can ‘break’ the special buffer by including a direction not part of a special motion. For example back.

So to do the above combo you can buffer it in the following way: down, down-forward, forward, back, press C, down, down-forward, forward, press Punch. This way close C into super comes out.

You can also use down, to do cr.C into super: down, down-forward, forward, down, press C down-forward, forward, press Punch.

This can also be used if you buffer a qcf, but make up your mind and decide you just want to do the normal, press back and then the normal. to simply get the normal. Or, of course, if you do qcb, you can press forward to get the normal.

The King of Details #2: Throws by PhoeniX

PhoeniX has written another great tutorial to help players new and old to the King of Fighters series.

The King of Details #2: Throws
This article will discuss the various aspects of throws that come into play in KOF games. The things I’ll discuss in this article are the Types of throw, throw invincibility, throw teching and Alternate Guard.

Types of throws
Throws can be divided up into two large categories. First there are the normal throws, these are throws that every single character has. The second type are the command throws. Command throws can be further subdivided into two main categories Delayed throws and instant throws. Like in other fighting games, throws cannot be blocked, but if you are in blockstun, you are invincible to throws. During regular hitstun though, you can be hit by command throws. This is different from most other fighting games, and this makes it so that you can in fact combo into throws in KOF.

Normal throws are universally executed by either using f/b+C when close for a forward throw, or f/b+D when close for a backward throw. Normal throws can be teched to avoid the damage and knockdown.

Command throws can never be teched. And thus have to be avoided in different ways. Command throws come in two general varieties, ones that have an 0 frames of startup, and ones that have several frames of startup before connecting.

Instant throws are very effective at punishing moves that would normally be safe on block, because even a move that is -1 on block can be punished. Because instant throws are so fast they can also beat out a lot of moves in their startup, even if they are very fast. Instant throws will even beat meaties on wakeup if used as a reversal.

Delayed throws have a slow startup, which means that they cannot be used as extremely reliable punishes and reversals as easily as instant throws. Very often though, part of the startup, or the complete startup of a delayed throw is invincible. This makes even delayed throws quite effective to beat out opponent’s attacks.

Throw invincibility
Tick throws are not as effective in The King of Fighters as they are in Street Fighter 2. After hitstun and blockstun a character is invincible to throws for 9 frames. Fighters without throw invincibility allow you to do a throw the instant the opponent comes out of hitstun and blockstun (A.K.A. a perfect tick throw). In The King of Fighters the player that comes out of hitstun or blockstun will always be able to throw out a light attack before he becomes throwable again. Therefore, to successfully hit a tickthrow in KOF, you first have to scare your opponent from pressing any buttons at all.

Another situation when someone has throw invincibility is on wakeup. When you wakeup normally in The King of Fighters, you are invincible to throws for 8 frames. If you reversal with a special, you are invincible to throws for 9 frames. I’ll discuss this increase of throw invincibility for reversals in a later edition of The King of Details. If you recovery roll your knockdown, you forfeit all throw invincibility.

In older Fighting Games like Street Fighter 2, it is possible to grab someone out of jump startup. In KOF the startup of a jump is invincible to throws. In KOF you are also unthrowable on your landing frames. This is an important aspect for baiting out throws. Players can use their delayed invincible throws as reversals to make the opponent whiff their jump-in attack and land to get hit by the grab, but if the jumping player anticipates this, he can jump instantly after the moment he lands, he will not be throwable for a single frame as both landing and jump startup frames are invincible.

As discussed earlier hitstun itself is not unthrowable, unlike most other fighters. Hitstun caused by jump normals is unthrowable, this makes it impossible to combo straight into a throw from a jump attack. Command jump normals do cause throwable hitstun. For example, Iori can combo his j.b+B into his command throw (hcb, f+P) but he cannot combo jump C into his command throw.

Throw teching
Teching of normal throws has a fairly large window in KOF. Depending on the throw and the character it is either 16 frames or 10 frames. For example, Kyo’s b/f+C in KOF2002UM has a 16 frame tech window, but Billy’s b/f+D in KOF2002UM has a 10 frame tech window. Many players have reported that the Tech window in The King of Fighters XIII seems closer to the 10 frames than the 16 frames, this has yet to be tested thoroughly.

The way throws are teched differs from KOF to KOF, but it it the same in KOF2002UM and KOFXIII, so I will use these two games as a basis. Whenever you are thrown and you want to tech, you need to hold any direction and press the button of the corresponding throw. So, if Iori throws you with b/f+C you can hold d/b+C to tech. And if Billy throws you with his b/f+D throw you can hold b+D to tech. This seems to imply that you need to guess which throw your opponent is going to use to tech. But you can option select it easily. Whenever someone throws you, you can quickly tap both C and D in succession and it will tech both throws. The movement needed to do this is a lot like piano-ing or “p-linking” in Street Fighter 4.

In the original KOF2002 you could tech both types of normal throws by simply pressing C and D at the same time and in KOF98 you can tech with any one button regardless which button the opponent used to throw you with.

When you are thrown during a normal move, command normal move, Roll or CD attack, you cannot tech a throw. If you are grabbed during a special move or super you can tech a throw. In KOF98 you can always tech a throw.

Alternate Guard
As mentioned earlier, you can only attempt tick throws if you have scared your opponent into not pressing buttons. But even when the defending player is too scared to press buttons, he can still defend against tick throws with a technique called Alternate Guard.

If you block an attack, you can continue to stay in block animation, and remain unthrowable, by quickly alternating between standing guard and crouching guard. You know you are doing it correctly if you are not moving backwards when alternate guarding.

To stop an opponent from alternate guarding, you have to exploit the fact that they’re not blocking low for some part of their alternate guard movement, and thus you need to throw out a low to beat the alternate guarding. This can be quite difficult, because the opponent can choose to block high for a very short time, and block low for much longer when alternate guarding.

Below we see an example of Orochi Yashiro doing a tick throw with cr.A to hcf+P on a crouch blocking Mai. The second part of the video the Mai player alternate guards, and this time the tickthrow does not hit Mai. In fact none of Orochi Yashiro’s grabs are able to hit her anymore for as long as the Mai player decides to continue to alternate guard.

Needless to say, alternate guard is an essential technique to defend against grappler type characters.

In the Arcade version of The King of Fighters XIII, Alternate Guard played a much less important role than in older KOFs for several reasons. First of all, it is a lot more difficult to alternate guard in KOFXIII and requires much quicker movement than in older KOFs. Secondly, some characters lack the ability to Alternate Guard altogether. For example, Maxima cannot Alternate Guard at all.

Luckily, all of this has been fixed in the console version. All characters can Alternate Guard now, and it has become significantly easier to do so.

It is possible to alternate guard even without blocking an attack. If someone whiffs an attack at some range away from you you’ll still go into a guarding animation. This can also be extended by alternate guarding.

Fuzzy guarding tutorial by PhoeniX

The King of Details #1: Fuzzy Guarding
PhoeniX, 14 September 2011

This series of articles focuses on the fine details of the King of Fighters engine. A comprehensive understanding of a game’s engine can help you to improve as a player.

This first installment in “The King of Details” covers “Fuzzy Guarding.” Fuzzy guarding is a technique that allows you to effectively block high/low mix-ups without the guess-work.

Let’s clear up a few things about the terminology. Fuzzy guarding can refer to two different concepts: Option-Select.com explains the concept for which it is usually used in 2D fighters. It is a technique to land instant overheads with normals that do not usually hit crouching opponents. This is not the fuzzy guard that I will talk about.

We will focus on the technique mostly used with 3D fighters like Virtua Fighter. It is following a certain pattern of high/low blocking that will effectively block a large part of the high/low mix-ups that you have to deal with in a match. This concept is not unique to 3D fighters, and it is also found in 2D fighters. It plays an important role in the King of Fighters because it forces the player to react to high-speed mix-ups more frequently than most other 2D fighters.

Basic Fuzzy Guarding
Fuzzy guarding is used when a player is on the defensive and does not, or is unable to attempt to anti-air an inbound opponent.

Whenever an opponent hops in, he has several options.
1. Do a hop in attack
2. Empty jump and go for a low attack.
3. Empty jump and go for a throw.

The defending player now must deal with 3 options. By using the fuzzy guarding technique the player is able to defend against the first two of the agressor’s options without thinking. This leaves only the empty jump into throw option which, thanks to KOF’s large throw-tech window between 10 and 16 frames, is not difficult to react to.

To Fuzzy guard, you block high, until the moment a hop attack would hit, regardless of whether the opponent did a hop attack or not, and a fraction of a second later, go into low block. This effectively blocks both options.

The image below shows a frame by frame progression of a fuzzy guard situation. With arrows showing the way the Mature player is blocking.


(Click image to see full size)

The image shows two sequences of K’ doing a hop-in.
One time K’ both goes for a hop C and the second time he goes for a empty jump crouch B. In both sequences Mature blocks with the exact same timing, and is able to block both.

If you do fuzzy guarding correctly, it will block all high/low mix-ups of this type.

Close C Option-Select Fuzzy Guarding
There is another method for guarding ainst this type of mix-up that is more risky. I call this method the close C option-select fuzzy guard. This defensive option-select is very strong. The defending player waits until they would have blocked a hop-in attack. But, instead of going for a low block, you press C (or for some characters D). This will make Close C come out, which is generally the fastest move for a character, and it will beat out any attack that is done by the opponent after the empty jump, and if you time it late, it will even tech an empty jump throw.

Observe the schema below. This time we’re using the close C option-select fuzzy guard. Difference in input and visuals have been marked in grey. Notice that C is pressed quite a bit earlier than it comes out. Normals in KOF have several frames of input delay before coming out. I will likely discuss the delay in a later edition of The King of Details.


(Click image to see full size)

Countering Fuzzy Guard
Both fuzzy guarding options are clearly important to understand and execute effectively. However, they are not flawless. It is uncommon to see high-level players get hit by standard hop mix-ups. Overcoming fuzzy guard isn’t easy. You need to break that pattern of your pressure in some way to break fuzzy guarding.

Some characters have hop moves that hit twice, like Mature hop B and Whip hop D. If you were to start blocking low during the blocking of the first hit, you would get hit by the second hit and eat a combo anyway. Therefore you have to fuzzy guard on the ‘second’ hit. Both Mature and Whip can time their hops attacks so that the second attack never comes out, and can go for a low instantly. If you wait for the second hit to come, you will get hit by a low. You can still fuzzy guard somewhat against these mix-ups but the timing and pattern is more complex. It is easier to use your judgment and reactions to react to these types of hop attacks instead.

When someone is using the Close C Option Select effectively, the best way to stop them from doing it, is to make it look like you will hop in, but land outside of the range of their close C. Although close C’s are really quick, they have pretty bad recovery, so whiffing is not an option. Staying outside of the range can also trigger a far C to come out, these have bad recovery too. In theory, this seems like an effective way to counter the close C option select. But in practice, it is difficult. The best close Cs have a huge range, and it is not easy to make the opponent misjudge their range. When you hop in outside of close C range, a skilled opponent will resort to normal Fuzzy Guarding instead.

A tactic against an opponent who effectively uses the close C option-select is to hop and land just outside of their close C range, Close C attacks are quick but have bad recovery. Whiffing a close C attack is not an option. By hopping outside of close C range you can also trigger a far C attack to come out instead. These attack have bad recovery as well. While it seems that this technique can be used to combat the close C option-select effectively, it is actually quite difficult. The best close C attack have huge range and successfully causing your opponent to misjudge their range is a difficult task. Skilled opponents will identify your attempt to bait the close C to come out, and resort to normal fuzzing guarding.

If you are playing with a grappler with an instant or invincible start-up throw. You can empty jump and go straight into the throw. Both an invincible throw and an instant throw will beat close C and low block.

In 2k2UM, K’ has a very strong tactic that can be used against players using the fuzzy guard technique. His f+B overhead is very fast. K’ can empty jump and go straight into f+B, breaking the pattern of Fuzzy Guarding. He can also go into overhead directly after a Jump-in attack. A defending player that is fuzzy guarding would be going for a low guard after blocking the hop attack, resulting in them being hit by the overhead. If you read K’ ‘s overhead and block it, it can be punished for high damage.

Finally, a player may choose to us a hop attack that hits later than usual. This leaves the defending player pressing close C before the hop attack hits. Hop CD attacks are generally good choices for this technique. A good example would be Chris’ hop CD. This option is quite risky against characters that have a good upward close C like Iori and Yashiro.

Conclusion
Fuzzy Guarding is a vital technique to master in any King of Fighters games as you’re effectively able to block or counter mix-ups automatically. It is a defining weakness in new players.

I hope you have found this article useful. This is my first article in this series and I do not intend for it to be my last. Any feedback is much appreciated.

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