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.
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.
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.
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.