This page covers the advanced systems and game mechanics of Hokuto no Ken. For information regarding the basic game mechanics, see here.
Player 1/Player 2 Side Differences
In Hokuto no Ken, there are actually differences between the two sides in the game, which manifest in several ways. Firstly, there can be differences in the ease of doing certain combos depending on whether you pick the 'Player 1' or 'Player 2' side when first starting the game. Mr. Heart is the only character who is affected greatly by this, having a throw infinite that is much easier to perform when he is 'Player 2.' The second main difference in the sides is that the way characters bounce off the wall when being comboed is actually different on the left and right sides. This difference is independent of whether you are 'Player 1' or 'Player 2,' and you only need to take into account the side you are facing. This causes certain combos to only be possible or require modifications depending one which side of the stage you are in.
Round Start Advanced Input
It is possible to hold down any combination of buttons before the beginning of the round and they will be executed instantly the moment it starts. For example, if you are holding down C and D, you will perform a Banishing Strike as soon as you are able to act. This technique is especially useful when combined with Boost attacks like 2A+E or 2B+E, allowing you to go on the offensive the moment the round starts.
Exceeding the '3-Star Limit'
As stated in the Basic Mechanics section, the amount of stars you can take off in any given combo is capped at 3. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, the first and most common being combos from BD grabs. The BD grab itself takes off 1 star, but this is not included in the 3 star cap, which allows you to take up to 4 stars in a single combo. Another way to remove more than 3 stars is done by making your opponent guard a max-charged Banishing Strike. This causes them to wall-bounce and takes away a star that is similarly not included in the 3-star limit. Finally, if you end a combo on a dizzied opponent with a Banishing Strike, your follow up combo will be able to remove 4 stars. Thus, the most stars you can take off at once is 5, which is done by doing a BD grab combo on a dizzied opponent.
Although the 3-star limit can be exceeded, the rule that each specific star-taking move can only take 1 star per combo stays intact, meaning it is necessary to use 4 or more distinct moves(or utilize Grave Install).
Grave Install is a technique done by performing the input for a special move plus an up direction and E during the hit stop of a Grave Shoot. Aside from allowing the use of ground moves after a Grave Shoot, with Grave Install moves that take off 1 star under normal circumstances will take off 2. Depending on whether it is used within a Banishing Strike wallbounce combo or not, Grave Install has one of two effects. When used within a Banishing Strike combo the move executes as normal and has the bonus star-taking effect. The second and more infamous effect, which happens when the Grave Install is done outside a Banishing Strike, causes the character to execute the ground move while rising slightly into the air. Besides looking fancy, this use spawned two of the most well known bugs in Hokuto no Ken: Shin's Muteking and Rei's Bug Shouryu.
Also, Thouther's close C has a special "Grave Strike" property, and can perform Grave Install without the use of boost.
Normally, once you press the Boost button your character shoots forward and will be unable to perform any action except an attack until the Boost comes to a stop. However, by first dashing and then pressing Boost, you are able to stop the Boost at any time and jump, guard, or throw. Generally this technique is not very useful, but does allow for some interesting gimmicks, such as doing a Boost throw at the start of the round.
The 'Chikuseki', or 'Accumulation' bug occurs after a long uninterrupted combo that results in a knockdown, and causes the subsequent wakeup attack to increase the rate of gain of all gauges exponentially based on attack time prior to the knockdown. This includes both the Aura and Boost of the attacker, as well as the Guard Crush and unseen Dizzy Meter of the victim.
Specifically, Chikuseki is reset once the victim takes a neutral state upon waking up - blocking an attack or doing a reversal(backstep/jump included) continues the Chikuseki state. If while in this state the player blocks or is hit while in a blocking pose(ie. being hit with a low while guarding high), all gauges will increase at an accelerated rate for the duration of the attack string. This can be especially disastrous for characters with a guard gauge, as even if they block the wakeup attack, not only will their opponent end up with max aura and boost, but they will be almost instantly guard crushed and then dizzied. For these characters the only escape is using a Guard Cancel, reversal, or in some cases a neutral wakeup(choosing not to guard and die, usually done at low health to prevent the opponent from starting the next round with max Aura and Boost).
It is also important to note that Juda is immune to Chikuseki for the most part - he is only affected by it when he uses a reversal(and is then hit before recovering).
First Round Boost Gain
Normally at the start of each round Boost cannot be gained for roughly 8 seconds - however there is one exception to this rule. In the first round before the match actually starts there is a short intro where each character says a few lines. This intro sequence can be skipped by either player by pressing any button, but if it is left to play out, both players will be able to gain Boost from the very start of the round.
More on 'Movement Boost'
As explained in the Boost section, a 'Movement Boost' uses only 20% Boost, as opposed to the 50% used by a 'Cancel Boost.' When Boost is used during the recovery frames of a move, you get a Cancel Boost, however it is also possible to Boost during the startup of a move. This results in a Movement Boost being applied to the move, making it advance forward while executing. This type of Movement Boost is very important as it costs less to use and often functions similarly to a Cancel Boost. The use of Movement Boost on normal moves like 2A and 2B especially is a critical skill to master as it is used extensively in combos and for hit confirms.
Hitstop Cancel, often abbreviated as HSC, is a technique that allows for super moves and some special moves to be canceled into during the hitstop of normal moves. This is done by pressing E at the same time as completing the moves input, and results in the move being executed faster than normally possible. While performing a Hitstop Cancel does not use any boost, it does require you to either have at least one bar stocked, or be using boost(have a bar in the process of draining, such as after a Banishing Strike) at the time of executing the HSC. Hitstop Cancel is made use of by many characters, Juda foremost among them.
Boost Bug is a very annoying bug that can occur in various situations, such as when canceling a normal move into a special with Boost or using Hitstop Cancel with a super move. When the Boost Bug occurs, the next time you use Boost 50% will be consumed even if it is a Movement Boost or special Banishing Strike follow-up Boost - this often causes combos to fail due to lack of Boost. The Boost Bug ends when you use Boost again or the round ends. For an extremely in-depth explanation of the bug, see here and here(explanation is in Japanese but you can still probably get the gist of things).
Banishing Cancel is a technique that allows the Banishing Strike's follow-up Movement Boost's startup to be canceled, and the free boost bar stored for later use. Specifically, there is a 1 frame window at the beginning of the follow-up Movement Boost in which a Banishing Cancel can be performed by doing a special/super move or Fatal KO. Raoh only is able to extend this window of time to 2 frames, by doing the Banishing Cancel when the opponent is stuck to the ground by his 'Sai' move. If successfully executed, no boost will be consumed and the free bar of boost will remain unused. Because of his ability to double the input time, Banishing Cancel is generally considered a Raoh-specific technique, although any character(except Mr. Heart who has no Boost Gauge) can perform it.
A 'Dribble' combo can be performed after a roughly 31-hit air combo by repeatedly dashing and hitting and opponent just as they rebound off the floor, much like you would dribble a basketball. At the beginning the 'dribble' only causes the opponent to bounce a little and the timing can be very severe - however, as you keep following up with more hits, the victim starts to bounce higher and higher, eventually reaching the Basuke state. Dribbles can be performed with very little gauge and are often the most practical 100% combo starters, but they are usually harder to perform than Hyakuretsu combos. See here for an example of a Dribble combo.
'Hyakuretsu' combos involve hitting an opponent in the 'down' state over and over using Movement Boost, until eventually they enter into Basuke mode. Specifically, it is necessary to perform an air combo of roughly 25 hits or more, repeatedly follow up with 2B or B and a Movement Boost when about to be pushed out of range, and then shift to 2A after a certain amount of hits. Against Shin and Mr. Heart only it is possible to use 2A from the very start, which makes it possible to perform Hyakuretsu combos on them with less meter. As a great amount of Boost is required, Hyakuretsu combos can only used by certain characters in specific situations, but are generally easier to perform than Dribble combos. See here for an example of a Hyakuretsu combo.
'Traveling' is a technique done by ending a 55 or more hit air or ground only combo(if you switch from ground to air mid-combo the count resets) with a Banishing Strike, and then rapidly hitting the opponent while they are down. While this technique can be performed by several characters, for practical purposes only Raoh uses it. Traveling is extremely powerful in that it allows for great gauge recovery while at the same time giving the opponent almost none - the name, keeping in line with the basketball theme of Hokuto no Ken jargon, implies that the technique is breaking the rules of the game. See here for an example of Traveling in action.
In Hokuto no Ken, when a combo reaches a certain amount of hits, the victim of the combo will begin to rebound off the floor at extreme speeds. As the player on the receiving end comes to resemble a basketball being bounced off the floor, this has become known as the 'Basuke' phenomenon. Once the Basuke state has been reached it becomes extremely easy to continue the combo infinitely until the other player dies. The combo types explained above are all methods designed to achieve this state.
Ironically, the Basuke phenomenon is actually the side-effect of a system designed to prevent the creation of infinite combos.
For a game where every character has 100% combos, Hokuto no Ken has surprisingly few true infinites. Generally all infinites fall into one of the below categories. See the Characters section for specific recipes.
- Mr. Heart's infinites with BD and anti-air grabs(very important to Mr. Heart but can be difficult)
- VS Crouching Rei infinites(several characters have them, some are very practical)
- VS Midscreen Mr. Heart infinites(impractical, combo video material)
When a super move is executed in Hokuto no Ken, both players freeze and are unable to act, but everything else(projectiles, the time clock) continues to move as normal. Using this, it is possible to create an unblockable setup by performing a super move quickly after firing off a projectile. Technically speaking they are not truly unblockable as an opponent already guarding is able to block them - the super freeze simply makes it so trying to guard after the super flash will have no effect. For this reason there is little use in attempting this technique while already on the offensive, but it can still be a very powerful tool none the less. Juda especially can make deadly use of this and score a guaranteed combo against advancing opponents by combining a Dagar Rush with his dam super.
The super freeze time stop also has a few other uses such as in some showy combos, or slightly more practically, to kill time when the round is soon to end by time up.
Atomiswave Hardware Lag
Supposedly the result of the the Atomiswave's Netplay function using too much memory, there are several issues in the game caused by hardware lag. The first and most critical is that there is in fact a slight delay in switching guard from high to low or low to high. As a result of this, certain characters air dash overheads can be extremely hard to guard. This is even more so the case for the two 'tall' characters, Raoh and Mr. Heart - in some cases it can actually be impossible for them to guard a low air dash move on reaction, making it necessary to stand before the opponent starts to perform the overhead. Another issue is the stage lag that occurs while performing certain moves(Supers, Guard Cancels, anything involving Boost) on some stages, the most common being Shin's stage and the left side of Toki's stage. This lag can easily mess up the timing of your combo, so it is important to keep in mind when lag is likely to occur and prepare for it when playing on these stages.