The King of Fighters '94/System Mechanics
Blocking - Hold 4 to block attacks that hit mid or overhead, hold 1 to block low-hitting attacks. Normals do not deal chip damage, while special moves deal exactly 1/4th of their intended damage as chip. Proximity guard takes effect anywhere on screen. KOF '94 does not have air blocking.
Jump - Pressing 7/8/9 results in a jump. Jump angles differ between characters.
Superjump - Pressing 6, then 9 (or 4, then 7), then returning the stick to neutral, all within 5 frames, nets you a super jump, which sends your character about twice as far forward horizontally as they would have gone with a normal jump. Tapping 9 for only 1 frame will result in your character not jumping at all.
Dash/Backdash - 66 dashes forwards, and 44 dashes backwards. Neither dash has any invulnerability, though most are naturally evasive. Most dashes are an airborne hop, with the sole exception being Chin, who rolls along the ground. Specials are usable at any point during a dash (e.g Robert can use his j.214B/D during his hop dashes, and Chin can use any of his specials during his grounded roll dashes).
Throws - Normal throws, 4/6C or 4/6D at close range, cannot be blocked. There is no throw teching or softening. 1P will always take priority if both players throw at the same time, though normal throws will always lose to command throws. Some characters have air throws, and some characters have holds which can be mashed out of.
Avoid - 5AB dodges, making the character completely invulnerable and intangible for 39 frames. Dodging has no recovery, so you can chain dodges together with good timing. Dodges lose only to throws.
Meter Charge - Tap or hold 5ABC to take a stance and charge the POW meter. After 2f of startup, meter will begin charging at a rate of 1 point per frame. Charge rate does not accelerate with time held and the action has no recovery. Chainable light normals can cancel into charge.
MAX - When the POW meter reaches its limit of 127 points, the character enters MAX. POW meter can be earned in the following ways: taking any single hit grants 4 points of meter, guarding any single hit grants 8 points of meter, and manually charging by holding A+B+C grants 1 point per frame spent charging after startup. The duration of MAX depends on how the meter finally "pops;" if the limit is reached by taking or blocking attacks it lasts 5 seconds, and if the limit is reached with a manual charge it lasts 15 seconds. There are no other known differences between defensive and offensive MAX activation. While MAX is active, your attributes change as follows:
- Damage dealt increases by 1.5x
- Allows use of one Desperation Move, after which MAX will immediately empty. Supers executed while with a flashing lifebar deal 1.25x damage.
- Pushback taken increased by 1.5x.
- Pushback dealt increased by 1.5x.
- Damage taken increased by 1.125x.
- Unlimited access to guard cancel specials.
- Cannot charge, so cannot use charge cancelling.
Desperation Moves and Super Desperation Moves - If a character has either a full POW meter or a flashing health bar, they can execute a super attack known as a Desperation Move. DMs executed using the POW meter will immediately empty your meter. Supers executed by being at low health, however, can be used infinitely with no consequence. If you have a full POW meter and low health at the same time, your DM will be powered up to a Super Desperation Move automatically. This SDM will deal 1.25x damage and immediately empty the POW meter.
Provocation - Pressing 5C from a great enough distance will taunt, instantly draining 16 pixels of the opponent's meter. Regardless of how long the taunt animation is, any action except for another taunt can be taken after the 24th frame.
Team Attack - When stunned or caught in a mashable hold and near your teammates in the background, pressing ABCD will cause one of them to jump out and hit the opponent.
Defensive Attack - During a blocking state, but not during blockstop, press 6A or 6B to activate a special guard cancel attack that is upper-body invincible for the entire animation. These universally do 0 damage and have no cancel options, and are minus on hit in addition to leaving the opponent standing. Notably, they can be used whenever proximity guard is activated, even if you haven't blocked anything yet. This combined with the upper body invuln allows them to dodge some fireballs, such as Ryo's Ko-Ou Ken.
Guard Cancel Specials - While in MAX Mode and during a blocking state, but not during blockstop, you can input any special move to immediately cancel blockstun.
Input Delay - KOF94 has 2 frames of input delay before any input takes effect.
Input Buffer - When using a normal attack from a neutral state, the game will wait 3 frames before this normal's animation begins, since it is waiting for special inputs.
Stun - Hitting the opponent enough times in quick succession will cause a stun. During a stun, the opponent cannot act except to perform a team attack. The exact details of stun accrual are currently unknown.
Random Damage Spread - All attacks in KOF94 deal a random amount of damage within a range of variable size. The exact details of this are currently unknown. Generally speaking, light normals have a small range of potential damage values, while heavies, specials, and blowback attacks can deal significantly variable damage.
Button Hold - For special moves only, holding the button after completing the motion will store the input for up to ~10 frames and initiate the special as soon as possible.
Alternate Guard - After blocking an attack, continually switching between 4 and 1 will keep you from becoming throwable, as in other KOF games.
Charge Cancelling - As previously mentioned, chainable lights can cancel into 5ABC. Due to a quirk in how inputs are handled, you can link otherwise impossible combos, somewhat analogous to CPS1 chains in SF2.
- Linking into heavy punches (and light punches, albeit pointless) is the easiest - release ABC on the first frame of the charge and 5C will automatically come out (or cr.C if you're holding down). If it doesn't come out, just press C immediately after entering the charge and it will cancel out the charge. It takes some practice but is relatively intuitive.
- Linking into heavy kick is not much different from linking into heavy punch. As with heavy punches, you are cancelling with holding ABC and letting go, followed by pressing the D button either standing or crouching. Almost always it is done crouching instead, since it links into sweep. The link for sweep is much more difficult so it will take some practice, but is still quite doable. If you're really bad at execution, you can also opt to hold ABC and then press D to immediately cancel the charge animation without letting go of charge and it will still link.
Special Move Morphing - When using certain special moves with two different strengths, inputting the move again using the punch button of the opposite strength after the move starts will cause it to take on the second version's properties, often creating strange hybrids between the light and heavy versions. The second special can also be input with 236P, regardless of what the original move's input was. What this works with and whether it is useful varies wildly on a move-by-move basis. For example, take Kyo's 421K: 421B > 421C results in the light version's initial kick followed up with the heavy version's final slamdown, though it will never hit because the initial kick lacks juggle property, thus being completely useless. On the other hand, 421D > 421A performs the first two kicks of 421D but lacks the finisher, allowing juggles and being slightly quicker to fully execute.
- Note: Some cases, like the Mexico Team's Hien Shippuu Kyaku, how early or how late you morph the special move will give one of two outcomes. In this case, inputting 6D > 236A immediately simply turns the move into its B version. However, 6D > delay 236A causes the move to not knock down, allowing you to link out of it for combo extensions.