Defining Hype: A Look at Evo 2014 USFIV Finals

Since Evo 2014 still lingers in the minds of fighting game fans, I want to spend some time today discussing a topic that came up this year during the top 8 for Ultra Street Fighter IV: what makes any given fighting game match “hype”? There are a couple of obvious answers to this: incredibly close matches and ridiculous comebacks and the tension that these moments create, but are these the only causes? And since these don’t happen all that often, how do we derive “hype” from a match where neither of the things are present?

First, let’s talk about the Ultra Street Fighter IV portion of Evo 2014. This year, nearly 2,000 people went to Vegas to compete in the largest fighting game tournament in the world. Once the weekend whittled those 2000 down to the best 8, we all had high expectations for what we’d see. We all had our favorite players, mine were Snake Eyez because his Zangief has some of the best footsies around, plus he’s from the States, and Sako because, well, I just really like Sako. He plays Ibuki… sometimes.

Everyone in the top 8 went on to play at near-perfect levels and the crowd met each of these perfect matches that ended in a time over–and there were plenty of them–with a golf clap, a rustling of chairs and a few stray coughs that soon faded behind the booming loudspeakers pumping the sounds of fists and fireballs into the room. The scene was tense to the point of bursting, but not because of what was going on on the screen. It had a lot more to do with what wasn’t going on: no one was making mistakes. Everyone played too well and the room of spectators knew that on some level they wanted to see Fuudo or Bonchan or whoever just do something incredibly risky and stupid and have it work because that would have been unexpected. That would have put some people on their feet.

When my buddy Menno turned to me after the first few players had been eliminated and said “there’s no hype” I had a hard time finding a way to disagree with him. For all the cerebral plays that were happening on screen, all of the small considerations behind every button press, there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement to milk out of two top players locked in eternal footsies until the clock inevitably ran out during Fei Long’s Ultra for the tenth time. I found myself not quite bored, but close enough to boredom to look at my phone and check the time way more often than I would have if the hype levels had been cranked up a notch or two.

Hype is a whiff punish that combos its way to an Ultra. Hype is an unsafe mix-up that works. Hype is an unsafe mix-up that doesn’t work. Hype is taking risks. Hype is making mistakes. Any of these things could have added a degree of excitement to what was unfolding on the screen.

Don’t get me wrong, I can watch Street Fighter all day, but I’d much rather see a player like Smug show complete disrespect for his opponent while he’s rushing that shit down than watch the meticulously-calculated fireballs of any top shoto player. And the fact that the game favors defensive play more than ever has only served to suck more hype from high-level play. So is this potential lack of hype when players play “too well” a bad thing? For people who have been following tournaments for a while, no, not at all. While we may not leap from our chairs and shout every time JWong nails someone with Rufus’ crouching fierce, we can respect the entirety of what we see happening before and after that fierce was carefully calculated.

Maybe all of this is why Marvel vs. Capcom, more often than not, ends up being the most exciting event at any given tournament. The game moves so quickly that players have to rely on instincts more than they would like, which leads to some knee-jerk reactions that allow for openings in play, which, well, you can see where this is going. If people are forced to think quicker than is reasonably possible, they’re going to make mistakes. Even looking back at older, faster versions of Street Fighter shows similar results. The same calculation goes into every choice, but everything happens at far greater speeds, which not only serves to provide increased excitement, but also allows players more room to fuck up because we’re human and humans do that.

So let’s raise a toast to people who make poor decisions. Without them, life would just be footsies.

The Yang Reset That Nearly Made My Brain Explode

Sad Decapre

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent the opinions of any organization for whom I produce written or video content.

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a post where I called Ultra Street Fighter IV a buggy mess. Sadly, I still stand by that statement–in spite of my love for the game–and today I have a perfect addition to the growing list of things that need to be patched, please, for the love of god. Capcom, notice us senpai, etc.

In my previous post, I alluded to a glitch that I couldn’t quite put a name to and that I couldn’t re-create because I had only seen it a couple of times, usually after a couple of beers and almost always online, so I wasn’t certain that the glitch was, in fact, a glitch and not some combination of beer-haze and lag. In that post, I described the glitch thusly:

I’ve run into a strange error involving character placement. It’s difficult to explain and I’ve not yet been recording when the glitch has occurred (you’ll all be the first to see it when I do catch it on film), but if certain moves hit at certain angles and force a character to move, say, forward (so that the attacker should land in front) sometimes the attacker actually lands behind. I’ve seen this from Rolento (vs. Decapre) and Dudley (vs. Ibuki) which makes me think that it could be something to do with small hurtboxes. It’s confusing, though. It’s a lot like a fake cross-up, but the attacker nearly touches the ground behind the defender before swapping to the back, or the other way around. I have tried to recreate the incident, but I can’t.

Quite the chunk of text, but it turns out that this sort of thing is a known issue and actually came up on Reddit late last week, so I included some footage in the most recent Weekend Roundup over at Shoryuken.com. Here’s the video, featuring Empire Arcadia’s Dieminion making Yang seemingly teleport from one side of a previously-reset Oni to the other without actually moving:

 

A Redditor named Hyunkel provided feedback on how this (likely) works, which can be viewed in the video’s description, but I’ll go ahead and stick it here for ease of access:

The thing is, Yang’s st.HK looks like it’s moving forward (like E.Ryu’s st.MK for example) when in fact, it stays in the same place and just have a big ass animation (and hit box).

In that situation, you have to look at where Yang is before hitting that button and block accordingly, the same way a fake cross up works.

As Hyunkel states, this bug appears to happen when someone uses an attack with a forward-moving animation that doesn’t actually move the character’s hurtbox. Since the hurtbox doesn’t move, the character’s actual location on the screen doesn’t change, it only appears to change thanks to the “forward-moving” attack. In the case of the video above, Yang’s standing roundhouse causes the skater to look as though he has started to move forward to perform the kick. During that false forward momentum, Oni lands “behind” him. Once the attack is over, Yang switches back to the side from which his attack began and, bingo bango, free combo because who in the fuck could possibly be ready for that?

If we were ready, through some mystical somehow, we could easily punish abusers of this bug. It is, after all, a reset just like any other reset. Resets take advantage of defenders who aren’t prepared for them and don’t have time to react. That’s why so many resets involve truncated combos of some variety. It’s easy to assume that your opponent will continue hitting with the current combo rather than switching over to a different one halfway through, so it’s almost out of habit that we mindlessly hold down back and, if playing Street Fighter IV, slap jab and short in rhythm with their attacks, because crouch-teching has been known to break combos, discover electricity and cure cancer*.

So it’s good to pay close attention while being combo’d, especially if resets are common within the current string. As Ibuki, I frequently reset with command runs, often ones that place me behind my opponent. And they work a lot more than I’d expect, so I do them more than I probably should. When we expect a reset, we can punish it with a jab into a combo, a raw dragon punch, a throw, or any number of other things, but we have to know that it could be coming. Therein lies the problem with this Yang reset. I’ve see it happen when fighting both Rolento and Dudley, so that means that there’s a chance that any button that causes false forward momentum (can I coin that term?) could result in this glitch if performed directly under a falling opponent, as Mr. Landon did in the clip.

So do we start a list of these false momentum buttons to keep on our growing phone note pads to check before each match? It might be wise since more FADC pass-through bugs are being discovered all the time and none of them were removed with the Ultra update, in spite of them being documented and alarmingly easy to re-produce. We’d be waiting for Godot if we expected a much squirrelier (what? that’s probably a word) error to be remedied.

I’ll get it started:

Buttons that may give you cancer after landing from an aerial recovery:

  1. Yang – s.HK

 

* Crouch-teching has not been proven to do any of these things and is currently awaiting FDA approval. Please use crouch-teching at your own risk.

Happy Fourth of July! Let’s Celebrate With Ultra Street Fighter IV!

Every firework-blooded, apple pie-eating man and woman across this great nation spent today celebrating the most important birthday of all by launching explosives toward the heavens as if to say “You’re next!”

But I’m doing that later. For now, I’ve got a collection of the most patriotic Ultra Street Fighter IV matches that you’ve ever laid your Uncle Sam-lovin’ eyes on. So put on your bald eagle boxer shorts, grab a Coors (the Banquet version, not the Light version, because America doesn’t do half-assed flavor) and get ready to watch the Sonic Booms fly. For Freedom. For America.

Ultra Street Fighter IV: My Favorite Buggy Mess

Sad Decapre

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent the opinions of any organization for whom I produce written or video content.

Before I get started today, I just want to let you guys know that I couldn’t be happier to finally have my digital hands on a copy of Ultra Street Fighter IV. The hype that had been building since my first Ono Shoryuken last year at Evo finally manifested itself in an updated version of one of my favorite games of all time. I have fun every time I play it and I expect to continue to do so for many months to come. That doesn’t mean that the update is perfect.

I’ve been putting together the community roundup posts over at SRK since the game’s release and in so doing I’ve seen some pretty dark corners of the Ultra update. A great number of these bugs have  to do with FADC dash-throughs and involve weird hitbox and hurtbox interactions. Many of these are new, but even more of them remained in the game from the days of Arcade Edition ver. 2012. If you’ve not seen these before, here’s a video that NurseLee compiled which appeared on Shoryuken.com’s front page yesterday:

This isn’t even close to a comprehensive list. In fact, there’s an entire thread on the SRK forums dedicated to this problem. The real kicker? The original post was created 11 months ago. That means that the glitch has been public knowledge for almost a year, which means we knew about this stuff before the Ultra update was even announced.

This particular bug isn’t game-breaking. Sure, the dash-throughs could potentially land someone that final mix-up to take that final round of that final match in winners finals (did I say “final” enough?) but it’s not likely. Gambling 2 meter for this kind of opportunity, especially when each specific instance only works on a handful of the cast anyway, just isn’t something to get overly upset about when it comes right down to the competition aspect of the game. But why are these bugs still there at all and how do more of them keep getting introduced?

The dash-throughs aren’t the only oddities that I’ve seen in abundance, either. Over the course of several evenings of casual sets with my local FGC, I’ve run into a strange error involving character placement. It’s difficult to explain and I’ve not yet been recording when the glitch has occurred (you’ll all be the first to see it when I do catch it on film), but if certain moves hit at certain angles and force a character to move, say, forward (so that the attacker should land in front) sometimes the attacker actually lands behind. I’ve seen this from Rolento (vs. Decapre) and Dudley (vs. Ibuki) which makes me think that it could be something to do with small hurtboxes. It’s confusing, though. It’s a lot like a fake crossup, but the attacker nearly touches the ground behind the defender before swapping to the back, or the other way around. I have tried to recreate the incident, but I can’t. This makes me think that it’s an inconsistent kind of bug and that’s much worse than one that can be produced repeatedly for a couple a reasons: first, it’s harder to pin down what’s causing it; and second, people can’t train against it or have any way to anticipate it.

And finally, what about Elena’s inconsistent hurtbox that Wolfkrone found within the first days of the update? If this problem exists, I’m certain that it’s not exclusive to Elena, as none of the other bugs seem to be isolated incidents.

Bugs in fighting games are an interesting beast to discuss. We so readily forget that the entire idea of combos came from a bug way back in the days of Street Fighter II. Had that bug not been expanded upon purposefully by developers like Capcom, we likely wouldn’t have the fighting games that we play today, as characters able to do nothing but throw fireballs at one another and punch every once in a while sounds like little more than a re-skin of Pong. No one wants to play a re-skin of Pong. Kara cancels started out as a bug, too. So could these wonky hitbox issues be semi-intentional since many of them made the transition from Arcade Edition ver. 2012 over to Ultra? Or am I just giving Capcom too much credit here?

Take every bit of this (and a great deal more that I’m all but certain I’ve missed) and combine it with the fact that every new character and every new stage added in the Ultra update were transferred over from the failed Street Fighter X Tekken and therefore aren’t “new” at all. What? Oh, right, Decapre wasn’t. She’s a completely new charac–

Wait, no she isn’t. She’s Cammy wearing an alternate costume and enhanced with Raven’s particle effects from, you guessed it, Street Fighter X Tekken. Now, I love Decapre. She’s a character fun enough to main, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that Capcom built her up as much as they did, then teased a fan favorite like R. Mika before finally showing her to us. If Capcom’s goal was to piss off a whole lot of people, they succeeded. But we’ve all heard this issue discussed more times than we’d like, so I’ll leave you with this final thought:

Are we, the first handful of FGC loyals who slammed down fifteen bucks, simply beta testing a product due to release two months from now? Will these problems even be addressed in the physical release of the game? Will we be waiting for a 2015 or, worse, a 2016 iteration of the game before we see these problems fixed?

I guess we’ll know more in August. I’ll see you guys Friday.

Sources: NurseLee, SRK Forums, Wolfkrone

On the Scene! Episode 3 is Live!

IbukiRooftop

I love the new training mode fight request feature in Ultra. There’s a very good chance that all future ranked match videos will follow the format that I used today. I kept the footage all in one take, because it didn’t feel right to edit out one particularly painful match (even though its… wow. It’s brutal, y’all.) It ended up being a particularly long video–my longest, actually–but when I can bounce so rapidly from a match where I try something and screw it up to training mode where I show you what it should have looked like, that’s just… I’ve been wanting this for a long time and I didn’t even know it.

The video is a return to Ibuki. I am still in the process of adjusting my muscle memory to the new chains that I should be using to maximize damage output. I’m also still getting used to the idea that landing a Super in a match should be happening a lot more than it used to. Since a couple of her target combos end with her in the air and her opponent ready to be juggled, Capcom’s intent is apparent: stop throwing knives at them so much on the ground; save them for the air!

I’ll see you next week!

Ultra Street Fighter IV Ibuki Impressions and Decapre Info Dump

Continue2

I’ve had a week to get comfortable with Ibuki again and I have to say, she feels like a much stronger character overall. Sure, people can choose to spend an extra 11 frames on the ground after I knock them down if they want, but I’ve been following all of my setups by holding block (if I see that I haven’t gotten a hit) and then just tossing out a throw. I get teched a lot doing that, but it seems pretty safe at the moment. There are, undoubtedly, characters that can punish this, but it’s a good, easy strategy to fall back on at the moment while I continue to adjust to the idea that my setup timings aren’t always going to be as exact as they used to be.

Her improved walk speed makes a huge difference. I feel like I’m playing a different character when it comes to the neutral game, which was the worst thing about Ibuki in Arcade Edition. She just couldn’t play effective footsies all that well without taking serious risks with Tsumuji. Now I just sort of walk around and poke with 6+short and option select a Tsumuji. It’s a lot safer and people aren’t ready for Ibuki to have real mid screen options. It’s amazing how many people get hit by this stuff!

I’ve still been playing Decapre a lot, too. It’s always good to have pocket characters and shotos are so boring (though a pocket Ryu would absolutely be better.) I expect Decapre to be able to cover some of the matches that Ibuki is bad at due simply to the range of some of her buttons. Ibuki has classically had the most problems with characters who have incredible buttons, Bison in particular. If Decapre can out poke Bison, I may have to learn that matchup to cover my ass. There’s a distinct chance that Ibuki’s increased walk speed may have helped her tremendously in matchups like vs. Bison, though, so I need to take some time to try that out before I remain terrified of him for another iteration of the game.

Sad Decapre

I’ve been putting together a text file with an incredible amount of Decapre information so that I can keep everything that I’ve found fresh in my mind. It’s full of stuff that I’ve gathered from forum posts over on SRK as well as tech from various videos that have been popping up online. For those interested, I’ve dumped the information here. This will also double as a backup of the file for me because I don’t trust clouds.

Various Frame Data

1)      All non-ex versions of Cannon Strike have the same advantage. That advantage depends on how low to the ground the move is done. Lower = better.

Frame Traps

1)      c.LP, cl.s.MP xx Rapid Dagger xx Super

Block strings

1)      c.LK, c.LP, c.MP, s.HK | Notes: c.HK typically doesn’t hit here. Must use standing.

Anti Airs

1)      Psycho Sting xx FADC xx Air Throw [290 damage]

2)      Ultra 2 [254 damage] Notes: Guile input

3)      Air Throw [150 damage]

4)      Spiral Arrow [100 damage] Notes: weird to hit with air-to-air

5)      c.HP [100 damage] Notes: trades with lots of stuff

6)      cl.s.MP [60 damage] Notes: last resort; awkward spacing; trades with lots of stuff

Combos | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76YdMBfTTXE

1)      j.HK, c.LK, c.LP, c.MP xx Psycho Sting [283 damage]

2)      j.HP, c.LP, c.LP, c.MP xx Rapid Dagger [242 damage] Notes: can cancel Rapid Dagger into Super

3)      j.HP, c.LK, c.LP, s.LP, c.MK xx Razor Edge Slicer [238 damage] Notes: can do safe jump #1 after

4)      j.HP, c.LP, s.MP>s.HK, air throw [303 damage]

5)      j.HP, cl.s.LP, cl.s.MP, c.MK xx Razor Edge Slicer [275 damage] Notes: can do safe jump #1 after

6)      j.HP, c.MP, c.MP, c.MK xx Razor Edge Slicer [311 damage] Notes: can do safe jump #1 after

7)      j.HP, c.LP, c.HP, c.MK xx Psycho Sting [314 damage] Notes: may involve a 1 frame link

8)      j.HK, cl.s.HP, c.MK xx Psycho Sting [354 damage] Notes: allow cl.s.HP to hit twice

9)      EX Scramble xx Break, Spiral Arrow [220 damage]

10)   Ex Scramble xx Break, Ultra 2 [456 damage] Notes: Guiles input

11)   j.HK, cl.s.HP, c.MK xx Rapid Dagger xx Super [507 damage] Notes: allow cl.s.HP to hit twice

Corner Combos

1)      Spiral Arrow, Psycho Sting [220 damage]

2)      Spiral Arrow, Ultra 2 [436 damage] Notes: Guile input

3)      Scramble xx Break, Psycho Stinger [260 damage] Notes: must use LP or MP Psycho Stinger

4)      Scramble xx Break, Air Throw [250 damage] Notes: allows for safe jump #4 after

5)      Scramble xx Break, Razor Edge Slicer [180 damage] Notes: allows for safe jump #1 after

6)      Scramble xx Break, cl.s.MP [180 damage] Notes: causes air recovery; use as a reset

Safe Jumps | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0olwSh3ngGo&list=PLGCyYP9PoWfNbUazdvI4gI-4QuDirnLGh

1)      After Razor Edge Slicer: Do a slight delay before the neutral jump.

2)      After forward throw: Do a slight stagger before you jump.

3)      After back throw: Whiff a jab then jump right away.

4)      After air throw combo: [CORNER ONLY] Use the HK Scramble into HK Cannon Strike, timing will need some practice.

5)      After EX Razor Edge Slicer: Do the Scramble as soon as possible and cancel it to a HK Spiral Arrow at the peak of the jump. Is a cross-up.

Unblockables | http://youtu.be/sUog4RxojuE

Back throw, slight step forward, s.MK, j.LK

 

Friday I’ll have episode three of Of The Scene! ready to go. It’s Ibuki-heavy just like you guys like it.

My First Batch of Matches From Ultra Street Fighter IV!

Decapre Intro Glass Shatter

Last night, a few of the guys from the local FGC and I got together in a endless lobby. Everybody brought out all sorts of different characters–some new, some old–and threw hands with each other for the better part of a few hours. I got a ton of footage from the session and then chopped it up so that everyone’s main had a chance in the spotlight. I only played Ibuki a few times in this session, so I felt like showing some of my Decapre matches was more appropriate. There’s also an abundance of Rolento. Josh has this whole thing where he tends to usually win with that character, so finding a match without Rolento in it was… hard.

So far, I still really like Decapre. She has some really good tools to use at range (s.HK, s.MK), some really good air normals (neutral jump HP, j.HK) and her combos are incredibly satisfying. I think this satisfaction stems from being able to end a good deal of her strings with an FADC into an air throw. It just looks so brutal. Her mixup tools are pretty good, too, but they’re going to take some getting used to. I’ve been spoiled by mixup tools that don’t involve charge inputs.

Check back Tuesday for an in-depth write up on Decapre strategies that I’ve been working to employ.