As a newcomer facing off against the real life world warriors of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, losing almost every match can make you feel more like Dan than the badass character you’ve selected. Since the game continues to be the most popular fighter on the market, with a thriving online community, there are no shortage of players ready to make mincemeat out of you. Though the road to success is bound to be filled with bitter losses, you don’t have to be a scrub forever. By following the right advice and practicing intelligently, you’ll be better prepared to dish out the beatdowns rather than receive them.
While there’s a vast knowledge base catered towards advanced players, trying to absorb that before understanding the basics can actually be detrimental to your growth. With that in mind, here are a few nuggets of beginner-friendly advice that could help keep you off the canvas.
My name is Ryu and I’ll be your tour guide
The series’ main protagonist makes for the perfect starter character. He’s the most well-rounded of the cast and one of the easiest to learn the fundamentals with. Better yet, if you choose to stick with him for the long haul, he’s got the tools to hold his own against virtually anyone. Even if he doesn’t end up being your go-to guy, that initial time with Ryu won’t be in vain. Investing your efforts into the master martial artist can help you gain a grasp for the overall flow of the game, as well as a better idea of what you’ll want out of a character. At that point, feel free to explore the entire cast and figure out who works best for you.
Top-tier or not top-tier
Further online research on the matter will likely take you to tier lists and heated debates around which characters are the overall best. While going top-tier with may seem like the easy way out, this approach is far from sound. Choosing a supposedly strong character will not compensate for any deficiencies in your own game, which means players of equal or greater skill will still pummel you. Furthermore, you may actually gain more success mastering a character that’s perceived to be low-tier because they better suit your style. Give everyone an honest try and go with what feels right.
The classic one-two
New players are very quick to focus on the ability to execute special moves, as their benefits are obvious. However, don’t lose sight of the importance of your character’s normal moves, which are arguably more important to your overall offensive approach. Every character has dozens of normal moves, many of which can be highly-effective weapons when used in the right situation. For instance, if an opponent is closing in on Ryu’s personal space, he can effectively poke them away with his crouching medium kick. Follow that up with a fireball and he’s either landed a two-hit combo and/or pushed his opponent away to a safer distance. Mastering the nuances of every normal move in your arsenal will make you dangerous in any situation.
The ethics of throwing
Throws are considered to be cheap by crybabies or those too ignorant to find countermeasures. The reality is that throws aren’t cheap. In fact, they are a critical aspect of Street Fighter IV, or any fighting game for that matter. Fighting without throws is like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors without paper. If you’re scissors, rock will always win, because scissors isn’t the appropriate tool for the job. In the world of fighting games, if you can’t throw, an opponent can simply block all of your attacks without consequence. Throws are designed to counter opponents who are blocking, so use them whenever your foe is getting too comfortable on the defensive end.
Think before you leap
Jumping towards your opponent is an obvious way to dodge incoming attacks and quickly close the gap. However, this tactic in most cases is very risky. The moment your character begins to jump, you’re sacrificing your ability to block. You’re also committing to traveling a set jump arch that your opponents can read and react to. A few characters can modify their jump arc by using certain moves in mid-air, but these will not always save your skin from a nasty counterattack that could cost you the match.
Because of the risk, taking to the skies isn’t something you should do impulsively. Instead, try your best to keep the fight on the ground, where you’ll almost always have the opportunity to defend yourself. If the urge to jump forward is strong, weigh the pros and cons of doing so in that particular situation beforehand. With time and practice, you’ll develop a sense of when it’s relatively safe and when you should stay grounded.
Let your opponent hang themselves
One of the easiest ways to inflict damage to your opponent is by successfully blocking or dodging their attack, then striking back as they recover. For instance, if you’re able to protect yourself as Ken unleashes his signature Shoryuken, he’ll be defenseless as he rises and falls down to earth.
While this window of opportunity is pretty obvious, there are a number of other moves in your opponent’s bag of tricks that will leave them open to attack if they’re not careful. How can you tell which moves will leave your opponent vulnerable when you block them? In general, the stronger the move, the greater the recovery time. Depending on the situation, you can even punish something as banal as a medium punch if you successfully block it and have a move fast enough to strike back. When someone tries to hit you with a strong attack, block it, then try and poke back before they recover. If it works, try and convert that counter-poke into a full combo for maximum damage the next time you encounter that situation.
Bringing out the big guns
Supers and Ultras are two of the most damaging maneuvers in the game. However, they’re extremely high-risk, as they’re generally slow to unleash and even slower to recover from. Because of this, you really shouldn’t use either unless you’re absolutely sure they will work. The best way to ensure success is by comboing into them. For instance, if Ryu hits his opponent with a crouching medium kick, he can combo into his Super without the risk of it missing. Beyond its use as a setup attack, using that kick is a safer approach overall, as the recovery time on the kick is far shorter than that of the Super. Ultras usually aren’t as easy to combo into, but it can be done with the right set of upfront maneuvers.
The more I learn, the more I realize how far I am from the end of my journey
These tips might help kickstart your quest towards Street Fighter IV mastery, but there’s still so much more to learn and master. Continue your search for helpful knowledge and keep practicing!