Note: This guide is not intended to teach you how to play Street Fighter; instead it is aimed at introducing the mechanics that set Super Street Fighter II Turbo apart from other fighters. This assumes that you have spent some time learning Street Fighter V, Ultra Street Fighter IV, or another modern fighting game (Injustice, Guilty Gear, etc). That would also include knowledge of basic fighting game vocabulary like normal attack, special moves, cancels, tier list.
For more advanced Super Turbo strategy and character-specific information, be sure to check the Shoryuken.com wiki. For upcoming tournaments, past results, player interviews, tier lists, and everything else surrounding competitive Super Turbo, visit STRevivial.com!
There’s no questioning that Street Fighter II is the game that set the mold for the fighting game genre, and fueled the competitive arcade culture that ultimately led to the start of the fighting game community.
As the fifth and final iteration of the series, Super Street Fighter II Turbo pushed that mold to the limit, introducing signature mechanics like super combos, throw techs and air juggles — with an adjustable speed setting, another series first, so veteran players could turn up the action.
The result is what many players consider to be the greatest fighting game of all time. Originally released in 1994, ST remains one of the most popular fighting games in the world, with a healthy competitive community online and off.
Super Turbo is characterized by high damage, powerful special moves, and a deep emphasis on spacing. ST features some of the most effective fireballs and invincible anti-airs of the entire Street Fighter franchise, so while a clean jump-in could mean the end of a round, a patient zoning strategy will consistently pick apart reckless players. The game is often fast and unforgiving, but this is where I — and so many other players — learned their fundamentals: the sweet science of Street Fighter.
The cast of World Warriors
If you’re interested in Street Fighter at all, you’re probably familiar with the 16 character cast of Super Turbo. Akuma is also available as a playable boss character, and can be selected using a secret code at the character select screen. This version of Akuma is historically banned from competitive play, and is still considered a baseline for judging “broken” characters in fighting games. To select Akuma, input this code at character select.
- 1) Highlight Ryu for 3 seconds
- 2) Highlight T-Hawk for 3 seconds
- 3) Highlight Guile for 3 seconds
- 4) Highlight Cammy for 3 seconds
- 5) Highlight Ryu for 3 more seconds
- 6) Press Start, then all 3 Punches
It’s also possible to select the Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers versions of the characters using specific codes as well. After picking your character you’ve got to input their corresponding code to get the older version of the character. Old characters have different moves and properties that fundamentally change how they function. This means there are actually twice as many possible match-ups in the game.
Old characters can’t use super combos, and cannot break throws. Some old characters do have their own advantages, for example O. Fei Long can cancel his crouching medium punch and crouch medium kick while O. Sagat’s fireballs are faster and his tiger uppercut is a single hit. In most cases however, the Super Turbo characters are considered stronger. The most common old characters in competitive play are O. Sagat, O. Ken, and O. T.Hawk.
Understanding and defending against throws
Understanding throws is an important part of grasping the core strategy of Super Turbo. Throws are instantly activated when pressing heavy punch and forward or back within throw range. Some characters have multiple normal throws with different buttons, too. Unlike Street Fighter III, IV and V, there is no startup on a throw, nor is there a whiff animation. If an opponent is not in a throwable state or outside of throw range, the character will simply use their normal attack.
If both characters attempt a throw within range on the same frame, the game will simply choose which player throws the other: a true 50/50 chance if they throw at the same time. There is no throw priority in Super Turbo, so normal throws can beat command throws if they are within range and executed at the same time.
Normal throws can be teched or “softened” if you input your own throw within 13 frames of being thrown by the enemy. You’ll still take half of the throw’s damage, but the character will flip and land on their feet rather than being thrown to the ground. Sadly, if a throw is going to do enough damage to kill, it is actually not possible to tech, so throws become even more dangerous at low health.
Some ground throws will hold the opponent in place for a certain number of hits before releasing them. Both players can mash their controller in this situation to try and increase or decrease the number of hits and damage. These throws cannot be teched and can leave the opponent in a dangerous reset situation.
When getting up off the ground, your character will have a random amount of throw invincibility, between one and thirteen frames. This gives the player a natural defense to being thrown on wake-up, avoiding the sort of throw loops you might see in Street Fighter IV or V. This also means your own throw can be used as an instant wake-up option if the opponent is in range — but it will lose to meaty attacks.
These are just a few of the reasons why tick throws are considered incredibly strong in Super Turbo; in fact, if the tick throw is tight enough you can’t even hold up to escape, because the pre-jump frames are throwable too! Your only defensive option is to use a reversal move on the first recovery frame to beat the throw. If you thought Street Fighter V’s throw loops were too strong, just wait until Honda gets you with an Oicho in the corner, or Dhalsim just noogies you to death.
Reversals, juggles and combos
Because the 30th Anniversary version of Super Turbo is an arcade port, the looser input shortcuts and buffers that exist in Street Fighter V and other modern fighters for motions like dragon punch, tiger knee, and SPD do not apply.
Being able to execute your special attacks on command is highly important, because as I mentioned before, there are certain tick throw traps that are inescapable without a reversal input. It’s important to know which special moves will escape throws for each character; some may have invincibility or airborne frames, while others are just so fast that they cannot be thrown. M. Bison, for example, can only use his super move to escape because none of his other specials have invincibility. Being able to time and execute the right one-frame reversal under pressure is a key component of defense in ST.
Like modern Street Fighter titles, Super Turbo allows players to link normal attacks together and cancel normal attacks into special moves for combos. Each attack inflicts a random amount of damage and stun within a certain range. That means it’s possible to be hit by the same combo two rounds in a row, and the first time it will stun and the second time it wont. Damage isn’t entirely unpredictable though, and the constant threat of a quick stun adds to the game’s offense.
Remember, Street Fighter II was not designed with modern balance or combo systems in mind, so for some characters, the most effective combos are just a combination of normals. In other cases certain combos can be inconsistent or difficult to execute, due to spacing.
There are a handful of moves that are capable of juggling the opponent, like Ryu’s familiar jumping medium punch (which was introduced in this game). Juggling is usually most important in anti-air situations, adding on damage for characters like Vega and Dee Jay. All super moves can juggle the opponent if they hit in the air, except for the ones that are grabs.
While it is possible to cancel normal attacks into special moves, you cannot cancel your attacks into super. In exchange for a lack of combo ability, most of super moves have a ton of invincibility and are relatively safe on block.
It is possible to combo into super using something called chain cancelling. This is a pretty advanced technique that requires you to buffer in the motion for your super while chaining together multiple lights. When performed correctly, the last light attack in the chain will be kara-canceled into a super move before it comes out.
Bringing it together
Once you understand the throw system and basic commands of Street Fighter II, Super Turbo is readily accessible and you can quickly find yourself playing dozens of fast-paced matches in a row. Keep in mind that the game was not necessarily built with two decades of competitive play in mind, so there are going to be strategies that feel cheap, or mechanics that don’t seem to make sense, and moves that seem… incomplete. But the game has stood the test of time and remains one of the most popular titles in the FGC for a reason!
UPDATE: Super Turbo expert damdai offered some corrections to specific points:
1. "Tick throws can only be stopped with reversal special." False. Can be counter thrown if in range.
2. "Normals can't be cancelled into supers w/ the exception of renda cancelling." False.
3. "Wake-up throw loses to meaty." False, unless meaty is spaced outside of throw range.
— Damien Dailidenas (@damdai) June 2, 2018