First of all.
I would like to apologize to my friends who took care of the English translation of the article “For those who are worried about not being able to win” that I wrote in June 2020.
I’m really sorry that it was posted after half a year had passed due to my personal circumstances, betraying the thoughts of my friends who responded very quickly.
My friends who helped publish this article,
Thank you very very much.
I’m looking forward to having fun with everyone again when the COVID-19 calamity is resolved and a new Virtua Fighter is released.
This is the best in my English. I think there are a lot of poor parts, including the above sentence, but I’d be happy if you could see more. If you feel like it, please tell me the strange part.
Then, the text.
- [Sub] For those who are about to start Virtua Fighter
- [Main] Questions for you who want to win.
- Are you following the fundamentals?
- Are you applying your 50/50’s?
- Are you leaving damage on the table?
- Are you dropping your combos?
- Are you trying to win on reactions alone?
- Are you trying to win without taking any damage?
- Are you inputting throw breaks?
- Do you keep playing the same people?
- Are you playing with a mission in mind?
- Are you mashing buttons even when you’re at a disadvantage?
- Does the risk and reward of your actions add up?
- Do you know what your opponents’ character options are?
- Are you aware of your situation?
- What’s your current situation?
- What are your strengths?
- How are you going to beat your opponent?
- One more thing.
[Sub] For those who are about to start Virtua Fighter
Thank you for reading this article and thank you for giving Virtua Fighter a try. The focus of this article is concepts you can absorb and learn as you’re playing, so I’ll do my best to avoid using terms like ‘frames’ and other jargon. Put aside the more complicated aspects of the game for now and let’s jump into it!
The concepts below were all written with Virtua Fighter as the focal point but there are lots of things that can also be applied to other games. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll walk away with something useful.
Which character should I choose?
Any character is completely fine. Unlike in 2D games, the disparity in strength among the cast isn’t something to worry about in Virtua Fighter. Try a character out and if they don’t click with you, keep trying other character until you find one who does. Finding a character is as simple as trying those who looks interesting to you, so give it a try.
For reference, here are some characters I recommend.
Virtua Fighter’s strongest characters
Akira – It will take some time and effort to get good with him but for those willing, this is a character with overwhelming attack power that is really satisfying to play.
Jacky – Jacky on the other hand is straight forward. Time you spend improving with this character will lead to increased combo damage and allow you to play more safely thanks to his just-frame Iageri* (input with 6_KG). 5 minutes with him is more than enough to take on any character on the roster.
* By cancelling this kick during its active frames with G, you’re able to cancel the move’s recovery frames. This grants you a large advantage, even on guard, and opens up new tools with Jacky.
My personal recommendations
Lion – Lion is strong on all stages and has a lot of full-circular moves that can’t be sidestepped. He has plenty of combo starters from counter hits but his hit confirms are a bit difficult.
Jean – A character with charge up attacks, a rarity in Virtua Fighter. Balanced in both attack and defence, he’s a really fun character to use.
Brad – Virtua Fighter’s kick boxer, complete with all the techniques you’d expect to see from one like ducking and swaying. A character with lots of options at the cost of a weak throw game.
Can you really use all your character’s moves?
There are a lot of moves in 3D games, but once you’ve tried out all the commands with your own character, that feeling of ‘I don’t understand how to do this command!’ will start to disappear.
It’s best if you can execute any command without thinking about it, but if it takes more effort when you’re first starting out that’s totally ok. As you practice your execution, you’ll become able to do it without thinking about it.
While you’re getting your execution down, it’s a great idea to also watch videos of high level players and copy them.
Have you got a combo you won’t drop?
Make sure you first learn a stable combo that works on all characters.
In Virtua Fighter, there are specific combos for light characters, heavy characters, foot positioning and all kinds of other specific situations, but there’s no need for those combos when you’re just starting out. Learn the combos that work on all characters and practice them until you’re confident you won’t drop them in a match
How’s all that so far?
The truth is, everything I’ve mentioned up until now are the types of things you should be doing when you start any fighting game, so how about points specific to Virtua Fighter?
Virtua Fighter is a game that leaves you at an advantage or disadvantage when guard an attack, so you’re constantly thinking about how to attack, defend and the mind games you play with your opponent within fractions of a second.
When you make a read, in order to make accurate, optimal choices, the number of ‘frames*’ of advantage or disadvantage you have is important.
*1 frame in this game is 1/60th of a second
Within that however many 60ths of a second, you have to decide whether you’re at an advantage or not and pick your action – there’s no way there’s enough time to then also enter your command. Instead, look at your motion your opponent’s character is making and the state of your own character to judge which attack will come, pick your next action and input it early.
The important thing to note here is Virtua Fighter is a game with a long ‘buffer window’. A ‘buffered input’ is when you input a command while your character is unable to move and then once your character is able to move again, the command will come out.
By inputting commands while you’re unable to control your character*, you’ll perform an action as soon as your character is able to move again. This ‘buffer system’ allows you to act at the earliest possible frame.
* When you’re escaping a throw, getting hit, blocking etc.
If you don’t act as fast as you can, you’ll lose your frame advantage. Your opponent will attack you when they’re at a disadvantage (known as abare) and you’ll find yourself getting hit a lot.
Once you’re used to the game, try and be aware what your ‘fastest’ action is. If you guard an attack, retaliate with the ‘fastest’ thing you can (a fast attack, throw your opponent, etc.)
Repeating this process while playing mind games with your opponents is what makes Virtua Fighter so fun. Naturally when you’re starting out this isn’t something you’ll be able to do straight away, but if you’re aware of it, over time you’ll be able to start doing this cycle. Please try and get used to it, little by little!
[Main] Questions for you who want to win.
Following along from my beginner’s guide, this one is for intermediate to advanced levels.
I can’t win!
I’ve no idea what I’m doing wrong!
If you find yourself having these kinds of thoughts, this is the guide for you.
I’ve already mentioned this in my previous blog entree, but at its core, Virtua Fighter does still follow the base fundamentals that will carry you through any fighting game.
Obviously, I’m writing with my opinion in mind so you get all those biases along with it, however I shouldn’t be leading you astray at any point (At least that’s my intent)
I’ll try to keep adding to this article if I think of any relevant additions.
Please feel free to let me if you have anything in particular you want me to cover.
I should also mention that there isn’t a set order to the way I have laid out this article. It doesn’t get progressively harder or anything. I Probably should have done that…Sorry😓
Are you following the fundamentals?
I wrote in the beginner’s guide “always try to follow the fundamentals” This rule applies here too. It goes something like this:
Advantage = Attack。Disadvantage = Defend.
It’s highly unlikely that you won’t rank up if you follow this rule.
When playing against more advanced players it’s often beneficial to “break” these rules.
You must be sure of the balance of risk vs reward when going for this option though.
If you’re just throwing it out there because “It works now and then?!” you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Do your best to not play all your cards one round, or one game at a time.
You’re NOT going to get better in the long run if you just want to fluke your way to a single win!
Tournaments are a special case!!
Putting everything on the line and going for hard reads can be a sound strat in this rare case.
Are you applying your 50/50’s?
Are you finding yourself in situations where you should have a guaranteed punish, but the opponents buttons are slipping through and nailing you?
Is your opponent magically crouching under your throw attempt, even though you have enough + frames whereas that shouldn’t be possible?
The core of VF theory is “Instant 50/50” Use the fact that you can buffer moves to apply your 50/50 on the first possible frame.
You can on occasion intentionally stagger the timing of your attack to beat out your opponent’s sidestep, panic moves, even their delayed “Abare” can be stuffed by your own delayed attack.
However, you must be aware that this only a viable option AFTER you have established that you can punish and apply pressure without any delay! You can experiment with delay shenanigans later on, get your 50/50 pressure down to an Art before you start adding delays to your repertoire.
Are you leaving damage on the table?
Depending on the move you have blocked, you have an opportunity to get a “Guaranteed Punish”
throw punish、jab punish、elbow punish, knee punish etc…
Are you consistently choosing the right tool for the job？
The more skilled your opponent gets, the harder and harder it becomes to get any meaningful damage on them in the neutral.
Take all the damage you can possibly get!
e.g. You have an elbow punish lined up＞You could win with a couple of buttons but for some reason you throw?!＞They break your throw＞They counter you = You die ＞ Is this starting to sound familiar?
“They won’t die with a PK string, but a throw could lead to the W!”
I can’t deny that this kind of situation does occur now and then. At this point it’s down to luck and hard reads.
“Take the guaranteed PK string damage”
“(Risk having your throw broke but go for it anyway because it could end the game”
Honestly, these are both sound choices.
It’s only going to contribute to you getting better if you’re aware you’re making that choice at that moment.
BTW, if it was me, I’d probably go for the kill. I’d rather take the risk than be made to make yet another read after my PK string hits…
Are you dropping your combos?
This is basically the same as “Are you leaving damage on the table?”
“If I’d pulled that combo off I could have won…”
This one stings!
But there’s no use regretting all the time!
If you have the patience and the dedication, try and get to a point where you can staple all your combos 99% of the time.
What to do when the simple Bread & Butter combo won’t cut it.
“I have a far from mastered, difficult combo but it could clutch up..”
In this kind of situation I’d say go for it!
If that combo can get you the round but you’ve only got a 70% chance of pulling it off, I’d still go for that clutch every time. Each time you go for it, let’s assume it’s helping you raise your success rate to 80％ or 90％.
If it’s an extremely hard combo and you’re not seeing any improvement, it’s a bit humbling, but know when to quit.
B’n’B Combo (50 DMG)＝100% Success rate.
Hard Combo (70 DMG)＝50% Success rate.
If you take these percentages and repeat them 10 x..
B’n’B Combo ＝50×10×100％＝500 DMG
Hard Combo ＝70×10×50％＝350 DMG
you can see a huge difference in the amount of damage you can expect to achieve.
This also does a pretty good job of highlighting how important it is to practice and staple some of the harder more damaging combos!
Are you trying to win on reactions alone?
I have already partially covered this in my beginner’s guide blog entry, but in a world where you are expected to read your opponent and make decisions in fractions of a second, it’s very difficult to do that relying purely on your reactions.
If you could react to the 1st frames or 1st signs of motion of your opponent’s moves, life would be a lot easier!
At the end of the day you can’t let your opponent do whatever they want and try to win by reacting alone. You are going to have to make reads and preemptive decisions based on data and patterns you’ve noticed throughout the game.
“There’s a move coming at me, I can block and respond”
When you are able to accurately determine what kind of situation you are in, you can put your well-practiced punishes to use.
Your remaining life should also help you make the call if you should be switching to a 50/50 instead.
There is a huge spectrum of people with varying abilities in the FGC. Although it’s pretty rare, there are those among us that can see and react to guard breaks and low moves on reaction.
That’s obviously a fantastic skill to have, but there are plenty of strong players out there who don’t have those kinds of reactions so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
What about me？
I have godlike reactions so I wouldn’t even bother trying to throw lows at me if I were you 😇
Are you trying to win without taking any damage?
Vitua Fighter is not a shooting game. Accept the fact that you’re rarely going to win without taking any damage. Since we can’t focus on all our opponents moves 100%, it’s strategically sound to choose a few low damaging options that you’ll purposely let slip through the net.
There’s no need to try and block everything your opponent throws at you.
Let’s say you’re in a pretty bad situation. e.g. You have your back to the wall, or maybe you’re really close to a ring out situation.
Your opponent is going to go mid, low, or they might try and approach for a throw.
“At the very least you want to block the mid, break the most damaging throw option, and if you can see it, duck in time to block a slow sweep”
While you’re debating what’s the best choice you might take a low kick to the shins. You won’t be able to see linear fast low pokes but don’t worry about it!
This is actually the best outcome you could’ve hoped for.
Almost every low kick in the game is going to be negative ON HIT! so you have your turn back after giving up the tiniest amount of health in return.
Are you inputting throw breaks?
You don’t have time to break throws on reaction in this game.
Your throw escape inputs have to be preemptive.
“Guard Input・Sidestep Input = Use throw escape input.”
You need to etch this onto your brain when playing this game!
Throw escape commands can be buffered into both your standing guard and your sidestep movements, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ALWAYS be doing that.
Some of these sequences are common at higher levels:
“Throws after a micro crouch dash”
“Throws after a whiffed move”
“Throws at the very edge of throw range”
This just means you’re playing someone who really knows what they’re doing.
All you can do is try and learn from these mistakes. They’re giving you lessons on more advanced situations, showing you gaps in your defense where you could squeeze in another throw break.
Do you keep playing the same people?
Are you making the same reads, in the same situations？
Are you forgetting all the options you have and just following the same flow chart？
If your opponent gets a good read on you and can start to see your weaknesses, it’s likely that you’ll make those same mistakes again, and again.. Your worst tendencies tend to get highlighted when you’re losing. You lose the ability to think outside the box and end up reverting back to tried and tested methods (Those methods that your opponent knows inside and out…)
Branch out and play with as many people as possible.
It is possible to notice your own weaknesses, fix them, and bring your new game plan to defeat your opponent. But let’s be honest, you’ll normally be the last person to see your bad habits. Your best bet is to try and play with someone who is a good enough sport to point them out to you, and maybe even help you develop new strats.
If you want to play against lots of different people, I suggest dusting off your old 360 or PS3 😘
Are you playing with a mission in mind?
It doesn’t matter how simple the initial missions might be.
“I’m going to try “This move” in this situation.”
“I’m going to copy some of that high ranked players strats.”
“I’m going to pull off that combo I spent all day yesterday practicing!”
“Clear these little personal goals one at a time” I think following that mantra is the secret to maintaining motivation, and a guaranteed path to actual improvement.
Always have at least one goal in mind whenever you play.
【Example missions for beginner players】
- Stick to the fundamentals
- Don’t drop my combos
【Example missions for intermediate players】
- Deal the highest damage possible on all punishes
- Employ “Fuzzy guard” when I’m at -5 frames or less
If you have real problems determining what your missions should be, drop by my stream and maybe I can help you out?
I’m sure we’ll help you find something😉
Are you mashing buttons even when you’re at a disadvantage?
Once again, I have already covered this a bit in my beginner’s guide blog entry, but let’s look at some samples:
“You’re out of reach and throw out a few moves to test the waters”
“Maybe you’re fishing for a counter, or looking to close the gap with a long range move? Have you thought about how negative you will be on block? “
It’s true that if you’re lucky you could earn yourself a grip of damage if one of those tactics work. I still don’t recommend depending on luck to scrape through though. A risk like that is much more likely to leave you in a terrible situation on block.
Avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage at all costs.
Does the risk and reward of your actions add up?
I spoke about avoiding putting yourself at risk. I guess that is just one of the things to consider when looking at the bigger picture. Calculating the risk and reward of your actions.
“You only have a small advantage but you’re sure your opponent is going to mash out a button = You risk a highly punishable move.”
“You’re at a frame disadvantage but you’ve read the opponents delayed move or throw attempt = You gamble on a launcher.”
It’s possible, or even quite likely that you’ve been taking actions with far too much risk involved.
Go over your move list and rethink what options you have.
There are two sides to this that you need to keep in mind.
The basic theory is the same as when we tried to do the math on Hard combos Vs Easy combos. You need to judge if the risks you are taking are working out in your favor in the long run.
After experiencing the situations above 10 or even 100 times, you have to answer the following 2 questions:
“How much damage did you inflict on your opponent? Did it lead to the win? “
“How much health did you lose when you gambled and lost?”
There isn’t an exact figure you can answer this question with. However, if you’re coming out on top with most of your reads, the results should be obvious in your win/loss ratio.
The old “go big or go home” saying is very rarely the answer in VF. Think about your risk/reward across a longer game plan, not just in that one instance.
Strictly speaking it does depend on the type of player your facing😥
Do you know what your opponents’ character options are?
“This guy is just mashing!”
“I don’t know this matchup!”
You’ll hear these phrases a lot. They are excuses, pure and simple. It is 100% up to you to be prepared for your opponent.
If you’re having problems in a certain matchup, do the research and apply countermeasures.
There are a lot of streamers and content creators using a great variety of characters. It has been 10 years since VFFS came out. There is a wealth of information and strategies out there. If you’re having difficulties in a certain matchup and you don’t have a local FGC to ask, check out somebody’s stream and try commenting and asking there. Language barriers aside, you’ll be surprised how hard they’ll try to help you.
Go out of your way to play your bad matchups as often as possible.
Don’t try and find all the answers by yourself.
There is absolutely no harm and no shame in asking!
Are you aware of your situation?
There are countless possible situations in VF.
There’s your relative position on the stage, the size of the stage, the wall game, your character’s stance and axis etc. etc..
Amidst all these possible scenarios you need to be able to detect, and be aware of the 50/50 your opponent is trying to force on you. Most importantly, can you see the worst-case scenario? Can you pick out which is the deadliest option that you MUST avoid?
If you don’t learn to be aware and conscious of your situation, you won’t get better no matter how much you play.
As you fight higher level players you might encounter this:
“Go for a low throw on OKI and take a launcher to the face..Switch it up and go for a risky mid on OKI and they block..”
If you run into this seemingly impossible to break defense, your opponent is probably using a technique we call “Goro-shiki” (It’s an option select that allows the player to block your OKI attack but buffer in a reversal launcher to counter your throw attempt all during their wake up roll animation)
This is still the same as working out a bad matchup.
At first it will seem impossible and frustrating.
“No idea what’s going on!”
“This must be a bug or a hack!”
If you have these thoughts, rest assured that’s not the case. There is an answer to everything. Do the research and conquer!
You’re always welcome to come to my stream and ask away!
There’s a short video about “Goro-shiki” here Tetsuko’s YouTube(In Japanese)
What’s your current situation?
“Are you in the middle of the stage? By the edge? “
“Do you have your back to the wall? Is the other player near the wall? “
“Do you have a life lead?”
Are you changing up the moves you use (Game plan) depending on your positioning and health bar? You should be.
Different situations/positions call for different options.
“If I can get a 6 throw (Throws that end with a forward motion command in VF usually throw the opponent forward leading to wall combos or ring-outs) will I throw the opponent out of the ring? If the roles are reversed and my back is against the wall, I should be hyper focused on maintaining a 6 throw break input to prevent the same from happening to me!”
“I wouldn’t normally take this kind of risk but this one move could lead to round ending wall combo.”
“I have a huge life lead. Why take any risks? Play safe! “
The more you learn to think about these options, and the more you can switch between them and choose the most viable option at any given time, the stronger you become.
Understanding these situations properly allows you to see game changing reversal opportunities too.
There’s so much video and other great resources available now. You have the means to learn as much as you want. Make the most of it!
What are your strengths?
Is it applying 50/50’s?
Defensive techniques such as sidestep/throw break?
Or maybe you’re great at landing one particular move？？
It doesn’t really matter what it is.
Find your strength and play to it.
All the guys that are considered to be the “best of the best” have strengths they play to.
As for me, I think my strength is probably spatial awareness. No one can withstand the attack near wall.
I’m very good at finding the wall! When I first started playing I guess I was pretty good at sidestep attacks…。
Just thinking off the top of my head I can think of players with amazing defense (Yogo) Fuzzy guard experts (Shiwa) or players with unlimited knowledge of the game(Homestay or TJ) How about a player who will get max damage from every move he evades?! (Tonkatsu)…etcetc
The point is it could be anything.
Of course there will always be someone better..
But having that one thing where you can say “I’m pretty damn good at this” Just having that one thing makes a huge difference to your confidence. Anything will do! Find it, be proud of it, and continue to develop it.
How are you going to beat your opponent?
Can you see the route to defeat your opponent? It’s like a road with branching paths. You’ll have to switch between them on the fly, but the stronger players out there tend to have many of these “paths” in their mind. There’s a flowchart to beat your opponent but it has to be able to flow in different ways, it has to adapt and so do you. The best players have this kind of winning mindset.
Go into the game with a plan/path to win over your opponent.
“Are you going to have an offensive or passive opening? How will you lead the round? “
“What type of preparation and situation crafting are you going to do to get your opponent where you want them? “
There’s a bunch more thoughts besides these, but these are a few examples.
The main point is, I’m NOT trying to do one of the following:
“Stubbornly stick to one game plan”
“Make my opponent fall for a bunch of gimmicks”
Either of these options is fun for 5 minutes and then you’re done. This is not the way!
It’s good to have a game plan of sorts but be willing and able to change it up. Try not to go for short term satisfaction. Be aware of the choices both sides are making and adjust accordingly.
“Are you making life easy for your opponent?”
At the end of the day it all comes down to this.
If you don’t follow the fundamentals you will lose.
If you don’t make the most of your advantaged situations, if you keep smashing buttons when you know you shouldn’t (Not worth the risk), if you keep dropping your combos… If you’re repeating any of these mistakes, you’re making your opponent’s game plan 10X easier.
You could look at it this way
“Do what frustrates your opponent“
In many ways that will be the secret to success. Frustration leads to mistakes.
Nobody can do everything I’ve written here perfectly by the way.
Even the theoretical best of the best “Tenshoushin” ranked players are not 100% consistently mastering every aspect.
The players who follow the fundamentals and perform them to the highest level possible, the ones who keep on deepening their understanding of the game, and the ones who can put all of this to use while making quick accurate reads on their opponents are the strongest VF players.
This game has more than a few situations where “knowledge” will make a huge difference. You can cut your opponent’s options in half and see fake 50/50’s for what they really are.
For example after breaking Shun’s P+G throw, or blocking Lau’s 66P+K, you can’t block one of the lighter characters standing P. However, if you just crouch for a second you can duck the incoming P and you’ll still be able to block an elbow or any other mid attack. You could even add a side throw throw break to the mix and have yet another layer of defense!
There’s situations where doing a regular side step will lead to nothing but making sure you’re not blocking at the time will allow you to sneak in a punish etc..
Those who spend enough time in the lab will find a lot of these anomalies.
One more thing.
It doesn’t matter how perfect your execution is, or how much you know, this game is ruled by reads!
The picture right at the top of this article says “Think!” but this is just a game after all.
There’s no harm in not taking it too seriously some times and just taking it for what it is.
Have fun! But, if on your journey you find yourself hitting a wall, I hope you’ll be able to return to this article and ask yourself a few of the questions written within.
The real fun begins when you can actually look at your own game play and break it down and notice things.
When you start seeing yourself pull off combos you couldn’t before, adapt to situations like you couldn’t before, and frustrate your opponent like you couldn’t before… When you learn to stand back and really judge your own growth, you’ll begin to see leaps in performance you weren’t aware of. There’s real satisfaction in seeing progress and learning to spot it.
You know there’s plenty of Virtua Fighter things that I don’t know too. I have a bunch of homework to get through and I try to keep at it!
Actually, it isn’t homework, it’s part of the process and it’s fun!
Let’s try and enjoy it together! We make the process more efficient and fun by sharing knowledge as a community.
Speak to you soon guys!
On YouTube, I mainly play PS3 rank matches while talking with listeners, and hold events with Tetsuko.
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