Sparkster over at Logic Fighter recently posted a great article about how to pick up and learn new characters in a fighting game. The article is specifically geared toward King of Fighters XIII and uses Hwa Jai as it’s primary example, but the advice given here can apply in many different fighting games. The guide covers how to analyze and learn a character’s grounded normals, aerial normals, specials, supers, combos, frame-traps, block strings, and more. It picks apart each of these elements piece by piece as part of the new character learning process.
You can read an excerpt of the article below. Be sure to check out the whole thing at LogicFighter.com.
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact starting place for learning a character, though I’ll begin by assessing a character’s grounded normals since they’re the basis of a character’s defensive and offensive capabilities. There’s a lot to take in, but I usually look for moves with rapid startup or recovery and attacks that cover an excellent zone, while lastly taking note of special attack properties such as cancelability.
Most light attacks are somewhat standardized in terms of speed and so their usefulness relies more on range and special capabilities, though the heavy attacks in the game vary more greatly. Take Hwa Jai’s Standing Heavy Kick: its startup is moderately fast, but the recovery period is so concise that it’s difficult for the attack to be punished on whiff, allowing Hwa Jai to make liberal usage of this attack. The second point I mentioned refers to judging all of the angles that a character can control via their hitbox; I listed theseprimary regions on the SRK Hyper Guide and I’ll assume you’re familiar with them. Any attack that can fill up and control one of these areas is usually great, except in a few instances where slow startup imposes an issue, which is why I mentioned attack speed first. Not only is Hwa Jai’s aforementioned Standing Heavy Kick quick, but if you take a look at it you’ll see that it dominates the low hop space. Combined with its long horizontal length, this makes for a killer normal attack that can shut down grounded and short hop approaches. So Hwa Jai can cover that space really well with st.D and also with his other horizontal attacks like st.A, st.B, and st.C; but what then of the other two? Notice that he lacks an upward, vertical grounded normal like a standard cr.C so this sets up a potential weakness for him (unless he has a special move or great air-to-air option to help him cover those higher spaces) that’s important to recognize.
Also be aware of other miscellaneous attack properties when assessing a character. A few st.D kicks (and Hwa Jai’s st.CD) have lower body invulnerability which can give a character an option to beat low attacks without having to commit to a hop or rely on whiff punishing or frametrapping as often to beat out low pokes. These hopkicks can sometimes anti-air hops, so they can potentially reverse the standard RPS attack flow by controlling two fronts effectively. Cancelability is another key for judging how good a normal attack is. Many st.C attacks function as good hop checks or as nice pokes, but certain characters such as Hwa Jai and Ryo can actually cancel theirs into specials which can further increase their usage in creating blockstrings and frametraps. Knowing the order that a character can chain light attacks also gives insight to their strengths. Shen can chain cr.B into st.B but since he can only HD cancelcr.B/st.B, it doesn’t often convert into much damage despite its deceptional horizontal reach; Hwa Jai can’t cancel his cr.B, but he can chain into his st.B and then cancel it into his df.D slide which can be converted into a knockdown. Finally, while some attacks are capable of dominating a certain space, hitbox position can make certain attacks whiff against crouching opponents which can really hamper how safe a move is in footsies. Hwa Jai’s Standing Light Punch is one of the rarer standing jabs that hits every crouching character which decreases the risk of tossing out a fast hop check and even if the opponent was crouching he’s able to gain a frame advantage on block. Be sure to recognize which attacks will whiff on crouchers and keep that gap in mind whenever deciding to use one of these attacks, especially heftier ones like King’s st.C.
Source: Logic Fighter