Monday, August 4, 2008

Landing combos more consistently

One of the nice things about GGPO is that you can watch what other players do, and pick up tidbits that you haven't incorporated into your game yet. I was watching Hentaikamen, who is very strong (at least by my standards :) ), and who pretty much took me apart with his Dictator.

One thing I saw was that he was starting a lot of his jumpins with jumping jab. I thought this was a little bit wierd, as usually my Dictator jumps in with

a) Roundhouse, because it does more damage.
b) Strong, because I can hit once on the way up and once on the way down, for more chances to hit if my opponent jumps back at me.
c) Forward, because it has hitting frames all the way to the ground.

So it seemed wierd to me that this great player was using what appeared to be a suboptimal jumpin. Why was he using jab?

I experiemented with it, and I found that jump jab lands you much closer to your opponent than the other options above. This has a real effect on gameplay, because it's very easy to be out of range for your favorite combo with Dictator. Specifically, one thing I absolutely hate is when I jump in from the front, land my jump in, then follow with a standing short, low forward, scissor kick combo -- except the low forward whiffs out of range. That's really annoying and can often lose you the round in terms of opportunity cost.

When I tried with jumping jab, I never whiffed my low forward. So by using jumping jab, you're giving up damage for consistency, something that is totally worth it.

It might seem really obvious to some, but I'd never really thought of mixing up my jumpin attacks (Why use anything other than the "best" choice?).

It's the same "aha" moment I had when I first saw Kurahashi playing boxer in Japan

And saw him playing against Dhalsim too.

Kurahashi would just jumping strong (what I call his "curly punch") to jump in with instead of roundhouse, for the exact same reason. Jump strong lands you closer to the opponent, letting you do low jab x2, low strong, into a series of options (at least that was what Kurahashi mainly used). Back then, I would only jump in with Roundhouse, because it did the most damage. It took my seeing a superior player using something else for me to question my basic assumptions.

Looks like almost ten years later, I still haven't learned my lesson.

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