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SSF4 Arcade Edition Tips for Beginners (Part 2)
Frame Data – Raise your Game by Knowing about Frames
In the virtual world of gaming you may have heard the term 60 frames per second as being the ideal frame rate. This essentially means that the game processes 60 frames of animation per second meaning movements look more fluid and perform to an optimal level – everything flows better. Specifically this is usually important for action heavy games involving lots of combinations of moves or a lot of action happening in the game at any one point. Some games will struggle when a lot of characters are on the screen at some points – Dynasty Warriors immediately springs to mind. The frame rate of the game slows to accommodate the memory usage of the assets in the game. Sometimes even just 1 or 2 frames can be crucial especially in fighting games.
Each move you use in SSF4 will take up a certain amount of frames. To simplify it, the ‘light’ moves i.e. weak punch, weak kick will take up less frames than a heavy punch or heavy kick. There will be the frames used for the move itself and (depending on the move) recovery frames to account for. It then becomes increasingly important to think about how you use your moves as missing with say Crouching Punch with Blanka to a jumping opponent means you will be punished due to the amount of time it takes to recover. Along with basic frame theory there are also positive and negative frames. Positive frames would mean if you attacked someone with a certain move you would be left in an advantageous position after this move hit or was blocked allowing you to block yourself if you expected a counter or continue a combo if you did hit the target.
It will definitely help you know which moves could be considered ‘safe’ and which ones are asking for a counter. It will also make you realise how sometimes your character has moves that you will rarely or never use simply because if you miss with it, it leaves you at a huge disadvantage.
If you want to delve deeper with advanced reading of frame data then here is a very useful link -
Video of Sakura's EX Moves
EX Moves – EX-tremely Useful
EX moves really are crucial to your game. Essentially EX moves are more powerful versions of each character’s special moves. Your character will generally glow yellow a little to signify it’s an EX move and it costs one bar of your Super meter. The changes vary from character to character. They may make a special move more powerful, change the properties of the move (i.e. give it invincibility frames, armour) or even add new movements. Examples would be Guile’s Sonic Boom becoming extremely fast and also hitting twice rather than once so it can’t be focussed and absorbed or Abel’s command grab which increases the power and gives it higher priority.
The risk reward decision is whether or not you want to use the Super meter for EX moves or build it up to be able to unleash your Super combo. This is completely character dependent and down to personal choice as some characters have some incredibly useful EX versions of their special moves whereas others make sense to build it up. I tend to favour using EX moves over building for a Super combo because it allows you to mix up your play style keeping your opponent guessing and can be useful in a pinch to escape a punishing combo, as many EX versions have high priority.
Offense is Key
Character Strategy - Sakura
Sakura was the first character I decided to use when I first picked up Street Fighter 4 when it first came out – mainly because I thought it would be fun to beat people with the smallest and weakest looking character in the game! She used to be very low down on the tier list back in the day but got slightly beefed up over the years. At first she looks quite similar to Ryu and Ken in terms of move set but mark my words when you move past that initial observation she really is a unique character and great fun to play. She has some great mixup options when she is close and can stun opponents quite easily as a result but can struggle from afar and relies on her EX moves to truly be a fearsome character.
She is best played as an aggressive character in my eyes as her relatively low stamina means you will suffer if you are playing the defence game against a projectile based character (of which there are many) and can be dizzied quite easily. Building meter is key to be able to use the very powerful EX moves. Definitely a high risk/high reward character but the fact is you’ll go into most of your battles as an underdog which makes victory even sweeter.
Some key moves you’ll want to use:
- Fireball – The normal version can be fired and go around halfway across the screen but can also be charged up to throw your opponent off guard and may catch them when they are jumping in to close ground. It less powerful as far as fireballs go so using it more to trap opponents to set up for her Shoryuken (uppercut). This works well against Zangief I’ve found as you really don’t want to get too close to him and he can do zero damage from afar so a good tactic. The EX version is more powerful and travels the whole way across the screen. Good for chip damage (damage sustained while blocking) in a tight spot.
- Arcing Hurricane Kick – There are multiple uses for this one. Timed right the Strong version goes over most fireballs, it does chip damage but you’ll want to use the light versions to apply pressure as it’s safe on block and gives your opponent less time to react with the onslaught. The EX version is very valuable. It is faster than the normal version but adds a high kick at the end of the move launching your opponent which you can then follow up with more attacks and ‘juggle’ the opponent. This should be your main goal as Sakura to connect this EX version. The most common follow up is with Jump Smash to get three free air hits.
- Shoryuken – Rather than travelling straight up like Ryu or Ken, this version has a small build up beforehand. It does good damage when it connects (especially the Strong version) but it’s also easier to see coming and you will be punished massively if it’s blocked. The EX version is therefore more useful to either escape an onslaught as has invincibility frames or used in combos. The EX version makes Sakura do two uppercuts as well so can catch some opponents unawares especially as many may not have played against Sakura before.
- Jump Smash – It’s not a move I would use a lot in all honesty apart from after the EX Arcing Hurricane kick and also the EX version tracks the opponent so great against a fireball spamming character to catch them before they recover. Perfect against a charged fireball against Ryu, Chun-Li or a Firebird from Sagat. Sagat by the way is probably the worst match up for Sakura – high damage output, great uppercut priority to stop you closing in and surprisingly quick.
- Crouching Strong – One other move which is a must for a Sakura user is crouching Strong. It’s a fantastic anti air move and can stop a surprising amount of jump ins. It tends to frustrate people and a frustrated opponent never plays as well as he should. They can’t believe this small Japanese schoolgirl has such a great move and ultimately will probably try the jump in again...and usually fail. At its worst timing you trade damage but you come off better.
I hope you’ve learnt a few new things about the most unassuming but quietly powerful character in Super Street Fighter 4. Trust me, beating Sagat down with Sakura is worth its weight in gold or even throwing Zangief – priceless.