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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future/Alessi/Strategy
How to learn Alessi
Alessi is a weird character and it can be difficult to get a grip of his learning curve. He's a surprisingly easy character to learn but optimal play at higher levels require more abstract solutions to his glaring problems. This section isn't a definitive "how to play alessi" but rather a starting point for people picking up the character.
Things to know
Alessi is Capcom's magnum opus. He is full of weird bugs and oversights that will plague you throughout your entire time playing him; like a bad knee always making its presence known as you bend down to pick up the morning newspaper off your doorstep. It's important to keep these things in mind when playing as they'll shape how you play the character.
1. Alessi's stand extends after grabbing. Having an extended stand gives you more reach but opens up a deadzone right in front of Alessi where moves and combos may whiff entirely. After grabbing you should prioritize resetting Sethan's length as soon as possible. You can reset it by turning Stand ON without holding any directions (it also works if you're mid air) or doing s.63214A/B/C.
2. Alessi's landing is always vulnerable while he is Stand ON. Normally characters in HFTF are all able to block on landing if they haven't performed any offensive aerial actions (such as attacking or turning their stand on/off) but Alessi's Stand ON landing (and in some rare circumstances his stand off landing) is always vulnerable. Be careful when jumping or turn your stand OFF when you do it.
3. Some child modes cheat with iframes and are generally annoying to pin down. Consistently getting the most out of your Alessi mode is important but some child modes like Baby Vanilla Ice are more difficult to meaty than others.
4. Alessi has no anti airs. You have to force your opponent into an air-to-air exchange, guard cancel their jump in or be patient and block. A core aspect of your gameplan is to position yourself in a way to minimize how vulnerable you are to consecutive jump in pressure.
5. Alessi is mechanically janky. Stuff like large preemptive hurtboxes, not being able to have a crouching hurtbox on wakeup, characters randomly falling out of your supers, stand ON characters airteching out of your gun, Alessi's dash having inconsistent framedata depending on which direction you're dashing, proximity normals not caring about vertical distance etc. are all poor quality of life stuff you have to deal with. But it gets slightly easier to manage with time.
2C - Can cancel into a roll and gives you a knockdown into okizeme. Very strong move but be careful as it'll whiff on most prejumps. If anyone reverses through your 2C with a super just mash roll. You can also cancel it into 214S for a potential punish but it's character/move specific.
s.5C - Long range poke primarily used for controlling the ground. Also whiffs on most prejumps so don't mash it out if you expect your opponent to jump. It has large preemptive hurtboxes so if your opponent is throwing out moves be careful when counterpoking with s.5C.
d.s.5C - Dashing version of s.5C. More recovery and generally more punishable but extends your effective range and may catch people off guard. Good poke for when your opponent is careless when standing outside Sethan's range.
s.6B(far) - Quick overhead that doesn't lead into much damage but stops your opponent from holding down-back on top of your shadow. You can't abuse it but startling your opponent once in a while helps you aggravate them in neutral.
s.5B - Decent. Use it similar to s.5C except it deals less damage but makes up for it by having more vertical reach. Throw this out instead of s.5C if you expect your opponent to jump.
j.A - Good jump in that confirms into your BNB and can cross your opponent up. Also a decent air-to-air if you're above them.
j.C - Better horizontal air-to-air. Also works for jump ins if you're further away. This is your primary tool for controlling the aerial space.
41236A/B/C - Gun. Alessi's most useful move as it does a huge amount of chip damage. It's prone to getting punished so be careful, but you can cancel it early by pressing S and pray you recover in time to block. If your opponent is turtling, knocked down or predictive in general pull this out and blast them.
a.d.5C - Alessi mode exclusive move. Your primary means of doing damage.
j.A/5A 5C 214S (s.5A s.5A s.5A s.5B s.5C xx s.63214A/B/C) The easiest confirm into the most reliable custom combo string. Note that it doesn't really matter what you do during CC as long as you end it with s.63214A/B/C. If you get s.5B(far) during the custom combo and it whiffs you need to either be slower when pressing the buttons or reset Sethan's length. The general basic idea of Alessi's combo game is to confirm buttons into 5C and cancel it into 214S. Some other variants include:
d.2A 5A 5C 214S(CC). A dashing low confirm that is relatively safe on block. d.2A 5A however is a 1f link. Another low approach option is:
d.2C 214S (CC). Bit harder to confirm on hit on reaction but is easier to execute than confirming with d.2A. Note that you can also do d.2C d.2A 5A 5C.
An alternative CC string if your opponent blocks your confirm is 214S (s.6B s.6B s.6B s.6B s.63214A/B/C). s.6B(far) is an overhead that combos into itself during CC while s.6b(close) is a low that combos into itself. Mashing this out during a bad confirm may salvage the situation and give you an (undeserved) Alessi mode.
Don't worry about dashing loops or double stand attacks. They're optimal and stylish but entirely optional and doesn't offer enough of a reward to practice until you've gotten a full grasp of Alessi's fundamentals. Practice them if you want/find it fun but don't be scared off if you're having trouble executing them.
You have a weak high/low game with 2C and s.6B(far). Alternatively you'll more often than not cancel whatever you are doing into gun on knockdown and either set up a gunblockable(ideally if the shots will kill) or just mash out all 13 shots on their block to benefit from chip damage. The damage from chipping with gun quickly adds up.
Be patient and expect to be put under pressure due to your lack of anti airs. Use Stand OFF for approaching and Stand ON for poking/footsies/defensive play. j.A, j.C, d.2A and d.2C are all decent approach options. If you have to approach try to consider if you can use gun instead. If they're stand OFF/passive stand and not moving erratically you might gain more from shooting their block through chip than to risk your life approaching them.
During footsies throw out s.5C. Take note of when it works and when it gets stuffed out and use this to determine when you should press it. If they're gonna jump press s.5B instead. If you block their jump in, you can pushblock into 2C to outrange their grounded followup or roll cancel if your 2C whiffs because they went for another jump. Ideally avoid having your opponent jump at you for free. Use your movement to space yourself to meet them horizontally in the air with j.C or run away if you're not cornered. If they get super obvious with their jumps you can do 214AA/236AA but it'll be a callout move so be careful. Your short height helps versus jump ins because your opponent may overshoot their aerial trajectory and land behind you, opening them up for a 5A 5C into CC (even when you're stand ON).
A good option select to practice is s.4ABC versus jump ins. If they do a move they'll hit your block and you'll pushblock, opening them up for a potential counterpoke if they whiff a grounded move afterwards. If they empty hop you'll get s.4A(close) (since A has more priority than both B and C. Also you won't roll while Stand ON) which may poke them out of the air or jab their landing where you can confirm it into s.5C(close) 214S. If they land/grab you'll get s.4C which will countergrab/tech their grab. This is a powerful option that allows Alessi to deal with multiple jump ins but is susceptible to moves that stall or delay their air momentum (such as passive stand j.S, double jumps, air supers etc).
Alessi has a pretty quick wakeup and prejump. When you're feeling overwhelmed either to pressure or waking up and facing okizeme, just hold up+back and hope for the best. Getting hit in the air and teching out is much better than eating a mixup. Be careful of where you airtech as Alessi has no way of altering his jump arc, meaning you're open to tech chases. Read up on the different tech directions and what advantages they give and keep them in mind.
If there is anything you should lab it's this. Alessi mode makes up a huge chunk of your damage and it can be tricky to get the timing down. For most child modes your goal is three axes (a.d.5C) into gun. Exceptions are Rubber Soul, DIO, Khan, and Iggy who are all characters you can squeeze in four axes due to them having a slower prejump. (Note that you can get 4 axes on some other child modes like Hoingo or the Kakyoins but they are generally a bit harder to nail down.) The first axe may catch the child airborne where they'll bounce up and land. Meaty their landing with another axe and then do yet another axe into gun. If your first axe hits them grounded your second axe might hit them airborne instead where you'll meaty their landing into gun. When transforming your opponent with s.63214A/B/C (during CC) 236AA and 214AA you should always have time for 3 axes into gun without playing neutral vs their child mode.
Press s.5C, s.5B and 2C in neutral to keep your opponent away. Jump and press j.C to keep them away when they jump over your other buttons. Approach with j.A, j.C, d.2A or d.2C and confirm it into your BNB. Learn the BNB, some confirms into it and practice child mode a lot. You'll naturally get child mode practice in real matches so don't worry about spending a billion hours labbing it out. When in doubt either mash 2C or jump out with up+back. Use gun to annoy your opponent and for okizeme.
Alessi should be taking advantage of his normal moves trying to control space as much as he can. Both Stand ON and Stand OFF. Your stand off standing normals are embarassingly stubby, but function as fast counterpokes that you can confirm into your BnBs out of. 5C is your main confirm tool: it's 4 frames startup, and has an abnormally long cancel window, so it combos into Custom Combo from most ranges. 2B is also 4 frames startup and confirms into 2C and your loop, as well as building meter really fast. 2C itself is absolutely fantastic, 6 frames startup and 5 active, safe on block and it keeps your low crouching height: it can also be canceled into 41236+C on reaction giving you absolutely free chip damage. j.A crosses up with ease and can be used to set up ambiguous crossups after a 2C knockdown, j.C is best used when hopping to space it properly on the ground, and to air to air or even as instant overhead: both are nice to tick-throw with. 5C, 2B and 2C are all good to interrupt strings after pushblocking, but should be used smartly and not mashed. Your dashing 2A and 2C are an important spacing tool, as they can be spaced so cleanly it is difficult to beat them. They also confirm into pretty much everything. Using your run to then dash back in with them or set up jump-ins/tick-throws/counterpokes/stand on pokes can be enough to win in neutral.
When Stand ON, the range of his attacks is enough to keep the opponent away cutting off their offensive tactics. s.5C is 8 frames startup, big and safe. s.665C covers more space, and can be made really + on hit, letting you combo if close enough or simply press s.5C again with impunity. If it gets whiffed, you can be punished on reaction. Don't abuse it too much. s.5B is a great anti-air. The only disadvantage is that it can't be used in close range. It must be done at a sweep distance, which is almost half of the screen. s.6B is a reliable overhead and you should use it, get used to switching to an instant s.6B to surprise people holding down-back.
Although Alessi has several "Stand" attacks (meaning they can break Kakyoin and New Kakyoin's 214 nets, Mariah's 623 wire, and slow down Abdul's 214 projectile) only s.j.A is useful for "Stand" purposes, really. If you are in proximity to hit the other ones the benefits aren't gonna matter at that distance, and even for nets where it would show promise, either of the Kaks would already be in range to either block the hit and prevent it from destroying the net, or get hit and have it disappear anyway. The only real situation where you could use the proximity normals to break stuff is if the opponent is jumping and within proximity, so good luck applying those...
Keep in mind your opponent can use any fast counterpoke with enough active frames to easily hit you out of the startup of these normals, so remember to not be predictable and whiff punish.
Alessi's Movement options are pretty good, his run and dash can be canceled into blocking and crouching at any point, giving him a much more fluid and precise spacing game than other characters, which is important for him given his set of normals: most of them keep your forward/backward momentum, so remember to always account for that, or to crouch cancel. Be particularly careful to not mistakenly input half circle motions while dashing around, as unwanted specials will leave you open for a long time.
41236+C should be used occasionally when the opponent is waiting for you to make a move. You have to be at a near full-screen spot in order to safely shoot the enemy. It does the same damage on block and hit. Don't use it often, or you'll get punished.
Alessi's biggest damage comes from CCs. This is what you'll be using every chance you get. The best part about it is if you find a Stand Crash method against different characters, you should be able to do another CC right afterwards.
Alessi also has a good guard cancel. So when your opponent is trying to pressure you, don't be afraid to use it. It'll come to good use if you don't want to pushblock.
You are quite limited when it comes to anti-airs, jumping back and responding with a normal or timing a sweep to low profile their jump-in can work decently well, though. If you are a true galaxy brain you can dash back and use s.63214C: it can be effective, especially because it is air-unblockable.
Alessi's faults really come to light when fighting against a character that can easily stop dash-ins, hops and can counterpoke his stand on normals. In these matchups he unfortunately can be pretty helpless, because aside from loose frametraps and ok tick-throws he really struggles to create himself an opening. His restricted aerial presence can be a limiting factor as well, as he can have immense difficulty getting within reach of his opponent with his low jump height and bad anti-airs.
The majority of child forms have 1 frame jump startup, meaning it can be difficult to time your attacks to keep them on the ground and not in an invincible falling state. Some children are so small they can dodge certain attacks, sometimes only at specific distances.
When Stand ON moves that go in Alessi Mode DO NOT guarantee damage on the transformed opponent depending on the character. For example, if you transform the opponent with a s.63214 outside of Custom Combo, the recovery is enough that some characters will be able to jump away and press buttons to stop Alessi from approaching altogether: in these cases, you can wait and try to whiff punish them but if they attack jumping, it becomes very difficult especially against some child forms. It is then recommended to transform these characters with an s.63214 while still inside 214S to skip recovery and foregoing links out of it. It is best to try to use s.66C and s.[AA] to hit them from far away. [AA] is always worth holding if you plan on using stand on normals to chase a child form opponent as it has the best chance of hitting while they jump. If you land an anti air with s.[AA], the extended falling animation becomes a great opportunity to go Stand OFF and catch up before they land. The characters that can fight back best in transformed form are Avdol, Midler, Polnareff, Young and Old Joseph, Chaka, and Black Polnareff. It is up to you to gauge the risk/reward of the situation: if getting extra damage while chasing an opponent in Alessi Mode is feasible even with less time available then the right decision is to link out of CC to optimize. If the opponent may run away if you give them the time and distance, then opt for a command grab during the CC or for a link into gun instead.