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Mortal Kombat 9/Universal Abilities/Normal Moves
Normal Move Classes
These are your basic attacks that you perform when simply hitting one of the four attack buttons. Front Punch is typically a quicker, weaker punch while Back Punch is typically a slower and stronger punch. The same goes for the kicks, with Front Kick being the weaker, faster kick and Back Kick being the slower, stronger kick, though more so with crouching attacks. When standing, the Normal Moves are fairly varied between characters.
There are five main classes of Normal Moves. There are the standing attacks (hitting an attack button while your character is standing at a distance from your opponent), crouching attacks (hitting an attack button while you are also holding any of the Down positions on the joystick), angled jumping attacks (pressing an attack button during a Forward or Back Flip), straight-up jumping attacks (pressing an attack button during a Straight Up Jump) and directional attacks (standing attacks that require you to hold Left or Right (and sometimes tapping Up) on the controller).
The Common Moves Set
Between all of the characters, however, there is a group of Normal Moves that all behave similarly regardless of which character you choose. This Common Moves Set includes all the crouching attacks and jumping attacks, as well as the Sweep Kick. Here are the list of Normal Moves that fall under the Common Moves Set:
- Crouching Front Punch - A quick, short-ranged punch to the gut. Low damage and low range, but great for interrupting attack strings. Can be buffered but, outside of Juggles, will never combo into anything.
- Uppercut (Crouching Back Punch) - The signature Mortal Kombat uppercut attack. High damage, but unbufferable and extremely punishable on block and whiffs against crouching opponents. Also, hitting the opponent out of the air with this attack, while they are in the corner, will bounce them out of the corner a decent distance, so follow up attacks are extremely rare.
- Crouching Front Kick - A very, very weak but extremely quick crouching kick. Very small range, but must be blocked low. It's also a great move for interrupting attack strings or annoying characters with a low attack that recovers quickly and allows you to continue an attack sequence. It is bufferable, but like the crouching front punch, it will never combo against a grounded opponent.
- Crouching Back Kick - A longer ranged low attack, but slower than crouching Front Kick. Quicker than a Sweep, but does not knock the opponent down. Can be buffered into a Special Attack, but the Special Attack cannot combo against grounded opponents. However, it gives you good block strings, such as Kung Lao's crouching low kick into Ground Hat, that can be used to prevent opponents from blocking high constantly.
- Angled Jumping Punch - When performing an angled jump, both punch buttons perform the same attack. As with any jumping attack, these must be blocked high. Upon connecting with the angled jumping punch, your character falls quickly to the ground, allowing combo continuation after connecting against a grounded character, though the follow-up attack must be pressed before landing for it to combo. When hitting the opponent out of the air, however, the move behaves similarly to angled jump kicks. It does not push them quite as far away when it connects, but the difference is almost negligible.
- Angled Jumping Kick - When performing an angled jump, both kick buttons perform the same attack. These kicks knock the opponent off of their feet onto the ground. Much higher damage than the angled jumping punches but do not lead into combos on the ground for most characters (there are obviously some exceptions). Must be blocked high. When hitting an opponent out of the air, it causes the same sort of knockdown, but typically because the opponent is higher up in the air, it is possible for many follow up attacks due to the increased time it takes for them to hit the ground.
Straight Up Jumping
- Straight Up Jumping Punch - When performing a straight up jump, both punch buttons perform the same attack. This punch bounces the opponent off the ground and is very useful as a set up for Juggle Combos or to extend combos hitting opponents high up in the air. Even when hitting the opponent out of the air causes the ground bounce, though the max number of these punches that can be put into a combo is two. At later points in the combo (or after two of these punches in one), the opponent gets flattened to the ground when hit. Must be blocked high. Also, if you perform this punch very early in the jump, it causes your character to speed up the jump arc. The character will go up and down much quicker than a normal straight up jump, and much quicker than if you hit the punch button later in the jump. The window is fairly small to cause this to happen because there is a window where you can't punch immediately after you jump, but it is pretty easy to time properly knowing that you can piano both punches as both buttons cause the same punch to happen.
- Straight Up Jumping Kick - When perform a straight up jump, both kick buttons perform the same attack. This attack makes your character kick straight out in front of them. If you hit the button on your way up, your character continues their upward momentum. However, if you hit the button on your way down from the jump, your character will freeze in the air and perform the kick. Once the kick is done, you'll continue falling. It's very hard to hit opponents on the ground, even while they are standing, so it's more useful as a defensive air-to-air attack.
- Sweep Kick - This move is the only standing move that all characters generally possess. It is performed by holding Back on the controller and pressing Back Kick. This has longer range than the two crouching low kicks, and also knocks the opponent down to the ground. However, it is unbufferable and is slower to come out than the other low kicks. Some characters have unique sweep attacks, such as Reptile, but every character's Back + Back Kick will perform a Sweep Kick of some sort that knocks the opponent to the ground. However, Sweeps always result in the end of a combo so it's a good low attack that sets up wake-up games, but never gets you more damage (outside of the exceptions such as Scorpion's Hell Fire, which hits grounded opponents).
Common Moves Set Differences
Even though the Normal Attacks in the Common Moves Set all have similar behavior between the characters, they will vary slightly on speed, range, and recovery. For example, let's look at Liu Kang's Uppercut. Liu Kang's hits much higher than, say, Kano's Uppercut. Also, it recovers much quicker than Mileena's Uppercut. And so on and so forth. So even though the common moves will all behave the same, there are many subtle differences between the characters' Common Moves Set.
Uppercut Speed Differences
According to the Prima Guide, the uppercut speed tier is this:
The Rest of the Normals
Outside of these Normal Moves listed above, all standing and directional attacks are unique to the character in their behavior. Some moves are bufferable, others must be blocked high, others must be blocked low, etc. etc. Experiment with your character to see how the other Normal Moves behave.