Although I haven’t written much about fighting games, I’m a big fan of the genre. In fact, I’ve spent more time playing Street Fighter II (Special Championship Edition, to be exact) than any other video game. And, at least back in the day, I was pretty damn good at it.
The only “tournament” I ever entered was a small event at a local Blockbuster celebrating SFII coming to the Genesis. I won, and it only made me more obsessed about the game.
When HD Remix came out, I was a bit rusty and I had to put up with the Xbox 360′s horrible d-pad, but I quickly got the “Playing To Win” achievement for winning 100 ranked matches. My experience with the online competition was a bit surprising, though, as, generally speaking, it wasn’t that good. I’m not claiming to be the greatest SSFIIT: HD Remix player either — in all my matches, there were a couple of people I played that were genuinely better than me — but overall it was a little easier getting that achievement than I expected.
So, in the spirit of good competition, here are a couple of tips for the intermediate players out there:
- First of all, calm down! Matches last more than 10 seconds, so you don’t need to be a constant torrent of offense in order to win. In fact, that will probably get you a loss against any decent opponent.
- 60-70% of my opponents didn’t seem to realize that SFII is filled with lots of characters that aren’t Ken or Ryu. Granted the duo is generally well balanced, has good defense and offense, and their combos are easy to pull off, but they’re not top-tier characters. Even if you don’t like the other characters, though, it’s important to learn their arsenal, techniques and priorities in order to counter them.
- Learn to adapt. If something doesn’t work, don’t keep doing it! This sounds incredibly simple, but it’s surprising how many people refuse to change their approach to a match even if things are not going well, e.g., I once got perfect against a Ryu player that, after being cornered, refused to do anything but try to jump out and consequently get hit with an anti-air. Ranked matches are also best 3-out-of-5, so that’s plenty of time to analyze and adapt to your opponent’s techniques.
- Cross-ups are great and all, but they’re not some deep-hidden secret to winning. In fact, if your cross-ups aren’t deep enough, it’s fairly easy to counter them even if the first hit connects (particularly with a throw). Also, if the first hit doesn’t connect, don’t insist on executing your entire 7-hit combo — that usually leaves you open to devastating counter attacks.
- Walking jab Dragon Punches are completely vulnerable on the way down and only work against beginners.
- Just because you hit me with a fireball doesn’t mean I’m immediately going to jump in on you. Conversely, just because you’ve blocked two fireballs in a row doesn’t mean you need to jump in on me either.
- If your character has an overhead hit (i.e., an attack launched while standing on the ground that hits an opponent even if they’re in a crouch-block), use it. Most people seem to be completely unaware of these, and it often catches them off-guard. Playing with these on wake-ups — with a combination of crouching jabs/shorts, throws, sweeps, etc., — is a great way of conditioning your opponent.
- Don’t consistently start off rounds with your Flash Kick, Flying Headbutt, Tiger Uppercut, etc. — those will usually just leave you open for a counter attack.
- Use block stuns to walk in and throw your opponents. Conversely, learn how to counter-throw in these situations.
- Check out Strategy Wiki for a full character list, Shoryuken for in-depth strategies, and David Sirlin’s (the lead designer of HD Remix) articles on changing and balancing the game. All these resources are very useful, so why not utilize them?
- Finally — and this is completely subjective — calling me a fag while simultaneously threatening to rape me is music to my ears. It only encourages me to win entire rounds just by using jabs or throws.
And here are some random character-specific tips:
- Balrog’s Buffalo Headbutt is a great anti-air and goes through fireballs — use this to close the distance on your opponents and try to throw-trap them. Balrog’s throw is a series of headbutts, and when it’s done, your opponents fly back and you can actually walk underneath them. Use this to launch a crouching medium/forward when they land, then throw ‘em again while they’re in a block stun. Most opponents don’t expect this, though, so chances are they won’t block the hit, but even if it connects, you can still initiate the throw. Balrog can also get good mileage out of mixing up his high and low dashes, and his crouching roundhouse has a good range while his crouching fierce is a good air defense when you don’t have a stored charge.
- Blanka’s jumping forward has a high priority and is a good cross-up. His slide can also go underneath Sonic Booms and high Tiger Shots, while his Vertical Roll has a good range and can catch opponents jumping in before they even get close.
- Chun-Li’s crouching and jumping forwards have great priority, as do her throws. Use walking and crouching jabs to put pressure on your opponent, then throw them when they try to counter or when they’re in a block stun.
- Dee Jay’s jumping forward is a great cross-up that can be followed by multiple jabs and finished off with one of this special moves (any one of them will combo).
- Dhalsim’s forward drill is a good way of getting in close, and his roundhouse drill is great for crossing up. Use both as soon as you jump to constantly pressure your opponents, and throw in a crouching strong followed by a Yoga Fire if any of them connect. Dhalsim also has one of the best throw-traps in the game — use a slide to get in close to your opponent, catch them with a yoga noogie, then repeat.
- E. Honda’s jab Flying Headbutt can cancel fireballs, and his Thousand-Hand Slap is hard to counter and does a huge amount of damage even if it’s blocked. Use it to corner opponents and pressure characters that don’t have good wake-ups as they’re getting up.
- Everyone knows Guile’s Sonic Boom followed by a spinning backfist combo, but it’s wise to mix up his projectiles with throws and reverse spin kicks (unlike the backfist, these are a top-down attack that will hit crouching opponents). Also, his roundhouse Flash Kick now has a substantially long horizontal travel distance — use this in medium distance stalemates when your opponent tries to attack as it will go through fireballs and usually hit them whether they’re standing, jumping or crouching.
- M. Bison is a high pressure character and that’s how he’s best utilized. His standing forward and roundhouse attacks are fast and have a good range, and can be used while storing a charge. His jumping forward is a good cross-up and is great on cornered opponents where, if blocked, it can be immediately followed by a throw. M. Bison’s Scissor Kick isn’t block-safe, but it can still be used to set up throws or crouching forwards (into more Scissor Kicks) if it doesn’t leave you in too deep after the block. His jumping strong has a good priority and can juggle as well; if it hits once, the strong button can be pressed again for another hit, and when M. Bison lands, he can hit one more jumping strong (or alternately, three separate jumping strongs can be executed if the first one connects).
- Vega’s crouching medium is a great poke and can be used in conjunction with his slide and Scarlet Terror to pressure opponents. His single/double backflips are also great for avoiding cross-ups when you don’t have a stored charge. When fighting opponents that don’t have a good anti-air, make sure to throw in the occasional Flying Barcelona Attack as it counts as a throw and will connect even if your opponent is blocking.
- Zangief’s knee drop and body splash attacks are great for pressuring opponents. When executed, Zangief immediately stops moving up and comes falling down while “maintaining” the hit box of the attack for the entire duration of his descent. Also, his 360 throws are now just a half-circle motion, both clockwise and counter-clockwise, which means they can be executed while blocking or walking forward.