So, you’re eyeing up the new edition of Street Fighter 4, huh? Are you new blood, anxious that online players will chew you up and spit you out? Maybe you’ve played the previous iterations of Street Fighter 4, and the fireball inflicted wounds still haven’t healed. Well, if you want to stand a chance out there – in a world of psycho power and spinning bird kicks – maybe a few words of wisdom are all you need to enjoy yourself out there. I’ve been playing Street Fighter for a number of years, but I’ll try to avoid the jargon as much as humanely possible and give you the information you need in the Queen’s English. But before we start…
Before we get started on your journey from rookie to Street Fighter demigod, here are some of the acronyms generally used in fighting games, that I’ll be using if I hope to guide you with any kind of coherency (You will probably need to refer to this section throughout):
LP (Light Punch): MP (Medium Punch): HP (Heavy Punch):
LK (Light Kick): MK (Medium Kick): HK (Heavy Kick):
. QCF (Quarter-Circle Forward): Rolling your stick from down to forward.
. QCB (Quarter-Circle Back): Rolling your stick from down to backwards.
. HCF (Half-Circle Forward): Rolling your stick from back, doing half a full rotation to forward.
. HCB (Half-Circle Back): Rolling your stick from forward, doing half a full rotation to back.
. SPD (Spinning Piledriver): Rolling your stick from up, doing a ¾ anti-clockwise rotation to forward.
. DP (Dragon Punch): Performed by pushing the stick forward, moving it diagonally to down and rolling the stick to down-forward.
Pick and Choose your best one!
I would say the best advice I can give to start with, is to pick a single character and stick with him/her until you become more confident. I know that drunken Ryu versus Ken grudge matches can be a hoot, but when choosing your ‘main’ you should always take your style of play into consideration.
Do you prefer to play keep away with projectiles, trying to keep the opponent in one area and away from you? Perhaps characters such as Guile, Dee Jay or Ryu are your go-to guys. Do you like to get stuck in with pressure and really like to let loose on your opponent? Then warriors the likes of Abel, Ibuki or Cammy could be for you. What about grapplers? Basically, it’s best to discover the character you find the most joy with. Experiment and try every character at least once! It’ll teach you how to fight them better too!
Some fighters are easier to grasp than others, of course. You can pick fighters with far more difficult inputs than most – such as C. Viper – or a character with quirky movesets demanding certain strategies, such as Hakan, and his ability to lather himself up in oil and slide across the place like a sunburnt lunatic. Characters even have varying amounts of health and differing susceptibility to being dizzied. Regardless, almost everyone in the game has an equal opportunity to be on top. SSF4 AE is well balanced in most respects.
Bread and Butter Techniques
Once you’re set on your main man – or madame – you want to make sure you have all of the basics down. Hurling yourself into the online lobbies is a sure-fire way of getting beaten an awful lot and frustrated. Challenging the AI in story mode for a bit and messing around in the training mode is probably the best way to get to grips with your character. Giving the trial mode a go is also a great way to understand the capabilities of your pick, though unfortunately there is no trials for new characters Oni, Evil Ryu, Yun and Yang.
Now, the first thing you need to get comfortable with is your chosen fighter’s bread and butter moves; What I mean by this is you should check your character’s command list – or use the aforementioned trial mode – learning all of his or her available moves, and theorising about where they’ll come in handy. Think about effective techniques or combos that you’ll want to be using most of the time to score a hit. A solid example would be Ryu’s crouching medium kick (Down + MK) into Hadouken (QCF + HP.) This is a prime example of a technique you want to be doing often when you’re starting out; it’s quick, with solid range and it’s pretty safe if blocked. Make sure you don’t simply focus on the special moves in your command list either, your ‘normal’ attacks are just as important. The crouching medium kick mentioned before is an example of a normal attack. You may be surprised by the repertoire of options you have.
Furthermore, make sure you know an effective combo or technique – that if the other player makes a mistake or is stunned – you can punish with on reaction. Your big damage move, if you will. Another Ryu example for this would be forwards + HP into HP Shoryuken (DP + HP.) This is a slow and heavy combo, so you would only use it if the other player has made a mistake and you have a big enough gap until the opponent recovers to hit him/her with the combo. Take some time in training mode to get your technique down consistently. Make sure you know at what moments to use which attacks. You don’t need to do the insanely difficult wombo combos you see in Youtube videos if you want to become a strong player. Sometimes being conservative is the best policy even for the pros.
Something else crucially important is learning an anti-air attack, so you can swat down players trying to get the jump-in on you. For example, if a player jumps in at Guile he can answer with his flash kick and knock that bird out of the skies.
Know Your Enemy
Understanding how to approach the other player and his/her chosen character is one of the most vital aspects to being good at Street Fighter. No two match-ups are the same, so you need to know what the other character is capable of. To give you a greater idea of what I mean, say you’re up against Guile, you DO NOT want to jump in at him, especially when he’s crouching – his crouching HP and Flash Kick will keep you at bay with ease. Now you’re up against Makoto, the odd jump-in attack is not such a bad idea considering her anti-air options are much weaker – just don’t be predictable!
A strong example of a contrasting match-up would be Sagat (Strong projectile game) and Zangief (Deadly grappler up close.) You need to be well aware of your strengths and weakness’ if you want to win. In Sagat’s corner you want to be keeping burly Zangief the hell away from you – using projectiles and pokes – quick and ranged normal attacks – and punishing with a Tiger Uppercut if he tries to jump at you. This is strategy widely known as ‘zoning;’ Keeping your enemy in one area and making it difficult for him/her to get at you. Alternatively, if you’re throwing down the gauntlet as the Red Cyclone, Zangief, you need to be up close and personal to do your damage. You can use his Lariat move so Tiger Shots go right through him, jump over them and inch ever closer. Just make sure you don’t jump into Sagat while he’s inactive, or you’re going to eat a Tiger Uppercut clean!
Know who you’re dealing with and what tools you have to turn the tide of battle.
And that’s your lot for now..
Stay tuned in for part 2, where I take you through more advanced tips and techniques in which to hone your Street Fighter move arsenal.