As most games of the fighting genre tend to do over their lifespan, SF4 has fallen into a rut. Unlike most ruts, however, this one doesn’t have anything at all to do with character balance (looking at you, Eddie). In fact, the top eight of every SF4 major spans nearly as much of the roster as 8 players can feasibly allow (unless, of course, both Ricky and Justin are present). Last week, Combofiend posted on the Capcom-unity forums announcing impending changes to Street Fighter 4. These changes, which have not yet been announced in detail, came accompanied with a creative call-to-arms of sorts, requesting feedback from players. While Capcom asks that said feedback come in the form of character-specific changes, I argue that there exists one flaw in the game’s engine that should first be addressed before worrying about whether or not EX Kazegiri should have more invulnerable frames (totally should, by the way).
Unblockables. They tend to be both character and opponent specific, and there are plenty of them. Initially, these setups struck me as game breaking; In a 2d game, a crossup should hit either the left or the right side, not some weird middle ground where the defender moves as though they were hit from one side, even though they blocked the opposite, resulting in palms to faces and arcade sticks to drywall. After some time, these setups have been discovered not to be unblockable, per-se, but simply “hard-to-block.” In December, Laugh and Infiltration put out a video that showcased a couple of these “hard-to-blockables” and a universal method of handling them:
All you have to do is block the correct direction (crossup or not) at the exact frame that the move connects with your character! Yes–a one frame block. This is actually one case where the entire roster being playable at tournament level yields negative results. Suddenly, the defensive game isn’t so much about knowing how to block mixups and in a traditional sense, but instead becomes just as execution-heavy as landing tsumuji loops.
Ibuki has a particularly dirty unblockable setup that works on shotos: after landing an EX neckbreaker, do a lk command run, super jump, j.mk. The j.mk (unblockable) then leads into s.mp, s.mp, s.mk xx neckbreaker, which sets up vortex, which could, potentially, end the round. All of those wonderful, terrifying things can happen if Ryu botches a single fireball and Ibuki slides through it with the EX neckbreaker.
Unblockables need to go.