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- Block - Hold back. While blocking, you take no damage from normals and a single pixel-per-hit when blocking special/desperation moves. You can also block in the air while jumping up or back. Ground normals cannot be air guarded.
- Short Hop - Performed by quickly pressing up-back, up-forward, or simply just up and then inputting a neutral or any non-upward motion. Performing a short hop can be difficult at first but being able to select from any jump option at a moment's notice is absolutely vital to KOF. One trick is to quickly move from an upward direction to down in order to avoid holding up for too long and causing a jump. Short hops are fast and possibly the least vulnerable of all jump types (the hopping player moves forward under 1/3 of the screen's length) which make them difficult to react to when under pressure. Using air-to-ground attacks from short hops is a quick way to keep the opponent blocking while gaining frame advantage afterward. Once used to seeing short hops, they become easier to anti-air when an opening presents itself. Short hops are great for baiting and then punishing sweeps. This forms part of the basic RPS system of KOF where hops beat low attacks, standing attacks defeat hops, and low attacks win against standing attacks.
- Hyper Hop - performed by first pressing any downward direction, quickly pressing up-back or up-forward, and then releasing to a non-upward directional input. They can also be done by running and inputting a short hop. Note that hyper hops cannot be done neutrally upward. Hyper hops are even faster and travel further than normal "Short Hops."
- Jump - The option that should be the most familiar with most fighting game players. Jumps in KOF are performed the same way as in any game: just hold up-back, up, or up-forward. Jumps reach a high vertical height which suits them for maneuvering over large specials or challenging the other player in the air. Jumping carries a longer aerial hang time which gives the other player more substantial time to anti-air or air-to-air. Additionally, a normal jump covers the same horizontal distance as a hyper hop. Jumps end up getting punished more often than either hop, and so much like in any fighting game the player should have a set reason or strategy in mind before jumping heedlessly.
- Super Jump - Super jumps are done by pressing any downward direction and followed by up-back or up-forward. Players cannot super jump neutrally upward. A super jump travels a bit further than 1/2 of the screen length. Combined with the widescreen ratio this creates more safety from fullscreen against being jumped on. A super jump travels faster and further than a standard jump although tall vertical height of the jump arc makes this the easiest of all air options to anti-air.
- Back Dash or Back Step - Tap back twice quickly. During a back dash, you can perform air command normals and air special moves. Using a command normal will cause the trajectory and recovery period of the back dash to change.
- Guard Cancel Strike (CD counter) - Press C and D simultaneously while guarding a move. This uses one power stock.
- Taunt - Press Start
The Power Gauge is now located below your Life Gauge. It fills up in several ways: by taking damage, performing special moves, and hitting your enemy. Taking damage earns you the least energy, while performing a special which hits your enemy earns you the most. Command attacks, normal throws, (S)DMs, Striker attacks, and certain special moves will not add energy to your Power Gauge, though.
Once the gauge is full, you gain one stock, and the gauge empties. You can hold three stocks total (1 - green, 2 - blue, 3 - red). Stocks can be used to perform DMs (Desperation Moves). There are also SDM attacks--these are performed just like DMs, but in addition, your Life Gauge must be extremely low (you can tell when it's low enough because it will flash red). When your Life Gauge is flashing, you cannot perform DMs, only SDMs.
Just having a flashing gauge doesn't give you any special abilites, either--you must have at least one stock to make your flashing Life Gauge useful. Power Gauge energy and stocks aren't carried over rounds if you lose, only if you win. For this reason you will take characters who built fast meter in first or second.
KOF 99 introduces several new game mechanics, most notably the Striker system. For those unfamiliar with it, now you choose 4 characters, where 3 of them fight and one of them is the Striker, similarly to assists in Marvel vs. Capcom. At the bottom of the screen, your striker name is shown, with the stocks available. At the start of the match you have three striker stocks, and whenever you lose a round one stock will be added. Pressing B+C will call your striker, he will perform his specific action (note that it's not always an attack, Kensou restores a bit of your life for example), and will cost you one stock.
Notable strikers (best in the game) : Kasumi, Clark, Andy, Leona, Yuri
- Use neutral hops(and jumps) attacks as means sometimes to defend yourself. In the Fatal Fury and KOF games it can look like your ground normals are terrible/not as strong. Using neutral hops and jumps this can make the difference for stopping air attacks where your ground attacks wouldn't do the job. As well as tag grounded attacks with hops. Finding the sweet spot and timing for certain air attacks will take practice.
- Pokes moves like Terry's Close A for example are generally very good in kof overall.
Use it when you want to pressure your opponent or slow down aggresive opponent on the other hand. However, there're many techniques to counter pokes : You can use autoguard moves or Reversal moves like Kyo's qcf+A or Iori's DP for example.
- CD Counter is also one of better basic strategy in KOF cause you can regain the initiative when playing aggressive and to counter uncouterable moves in KOF when being on a defensive moment. The best KOF99 players often use CD Counter.
- Roll : Press A and B simultaneously. You can cancel the rolls.
Cancel roll back (4 + AB) with a special move (qcf+P of Iori for example).
Cancel roll forward ( 6 + AB) with any normal attack (A, B, C or D). During cancelling roll forward, you can connect some moves (2B, hcf + C with Whip for example).
- Recovery roll (tech roll) - Press A and B simultaneously as you are touching the ground from getting knocked down. Some moves/knockdowns are not rollable. You can mix this up with staying on the ground to mess with your opponents setups on wakeup.
- Throw break - Press back/forward with any button immediately after you are thrown. Some mashable throws are not breakable, and instead you can mash all the buttons and directions to lessen the damage and get out faster.
- Counter Mode : Press A, B, and C simultaneously. While in Counter Mode you get a damage bonus (25% increase), more pushback on hit for all attacks and you can do super cancels (cl.C, hcb+B xx qcf*2+P of Kyo for example). Special moves connect after a cancel roll forward. Counter Mode lasts 20 seconds.
Some effective characters in counter mode : Jhun, Bao, Kyo, Mary, Chang
You have more time to use Counter Mode to its full potential comparing to Armor Mode
- Armor Mode : Press B, C, and D simultaneously. While in Armor Mode you get a damage bonus (25% increase), more pushback on hit for all attacks and you can counter attack your opponent (all moves get auto-guard). Armor Mode lasts 10 seconds.
Some effective characters in armor mode : Ryo, Shingo, Iori, Benimaru, Kensou , Kyo
Because Armor Mode only lasts 10 seconds, you will have to play aggressively when you're in this state
- Reversals - Reversals in KOF99 work mostly the same as in other games. There isn't a reversal message, but the window is very large (about 5 frames). The main difference between this game and others is that most 'invincible' moves aren't completely invincible. A lot of the time they are only invincible up to the hit, in which case they will trade with meaties. You will have to refer to the character-specific sections concerning which moves do what. Universally speaking, rolls, instant command throws, and super instant command throws can be used as reversals.
- Alternate Guard - This is a technique to avoid being thrown while blocking. First, you must block an attack or be put in blockstun by an attack (ie by it being whiffed close to you). Then you must alternate between back and down-back very quickly. This will keep you in perpetual blockstun and unable to be thrown by any throws, including proximity unblockables. To beat alternate guard, you must be able to hit the opponent by using fast lows/overhead mixups etc. to break their defense. Tactics like repeated/delayed cr.Bs can be hard to alternate guard without thinking.
Another side effect of KOF99's blocking system that you need to be aware of is whiffing jumping attacks into a throw. When you are performing an empty jump, then landing and throwing, you should not perform any attack during the jump. If you do, it will put the opponent into blockstun and your throw will whiff. It is possible for this to work though, if your opponent tries to attack or roll after they are put into blockstun but before the throw, or if they do not attempt to block at all.
- Proximity Unblockables - This is a special type of throw that is exclusive to KOF. Some examples of proximity unblockables are King's hcf+P throw, Andy's hcf+P throw, Takuma's qcf,qcf+P super and Kasumi's hcb+P throw. Unlike command throws, they can only be performed when close to an opponent who is in a throw-able state (ie in hitstun or not in blockstun). Because of this, it is usually impossible to whiff a proximity unblockable, making them safer in some situations than command throws. You will simply get a normal move if the opponent is not in a throw-able state, or a different command normal/special if you tried to combo into one. On the other hand, they do have startup, and it is possible to trade hits instead of simply throwing. It is also possible to whiff a proximity unblockable if you combo into one in such a way that it pushes the opponent out of range after the proximity unblockable has started. As for rolls, in most cases they will be stopped by a proximity unblockable as if you were a wall.
- Counter-hits - Whenever you interrupt a jumping attack, special move, or super move, you score a counter-hit. This causes the screen to flash white and a "COUNTER!!" message to appear. The hit gets a 25% (usually) damage bonus, pushes back further (ala MAX mode hits), and allows you to juggle with another hit if the attack knocks down. For example, if you score a jump CD counter-hit, you can hit the opponent while they are in the air. Other examples are Chang's Ball Swing or A Belly Flop hitting twice on counter.
- Unblockable Projectiles
Certain moves will undo the opponent's blocking status, rendering the projectile unblockable. This is generally used to give the opponent a hard time on wakeup. Use the slow version of the fireball (makes it meatier), then render it unblockable when they do their wakeup. The following is a listing of the known unblockable projectile setups, though not all of them are useful or even usable in every situation that an unblockable would help.
- Athena (Psycho Ball > Psychic Teleport)
- Iori (Yami Barai > Kuzu Kaze)
- Takuma (fireball > Shouran Kyaku)
- Takuma (SDM Ryuuko Ranbu > Haou Shikou Ken > Shouran Kyaku)
- Guard Cancel Roll:
The guard cancel roll, has some differences compared the normal roll:
- Thanks The characters has trailling shadows during Guard Cancel Roll (so you can visually differentiate between both rolls).
- The Guard Cancel Roll is faster and slide a longer distance (similar to the normal roll during a run).
- The Guard Cancel Roll is imune to throws (the normal roll is vulnerable to throws on all frames).
- Guard Cancel Roll has no vulnerable frames (the normal roll is vulnerable on the last frames).
- You can cancel the Guard Cancel Roll into another roll. The new roll may be a forward or back roll (no matter the direction of the previous roll) and the new roll will retain all properties of the Guard Cancel Roll, in special it may be cancelled in another roll and so on without limits. If you miss the time of the cancel, you may end up doing a normal roll after the Guard Cancel Roll had ended, so pay attention to the trailling shadows to be sure that you've cancelled. (the normal roll cannot be cancelled on any move.)
If you press a button during a neutral state the game will wait four frames before beginning the attack. This is because it's waiting for button+button/button+direction combinations. If it detects one it will execute it immediately without waiting further (e.g. if you press C and then press D two frames later, it will immediately begin the CD animation.) One of the combinations it looks for is f/b+C/D so if you're trying to cancel a close C or D into a command normal, don't be too quick with the direction input or you could end up doing a throw instead.
General Character Info
It's important to know the height of each character's hitbox because not all normals/special moves will connect on all crouching opponents. Generally the hit box heights can be put into three groups - low, medium, high. In almost all cases, if a move whiffs against someone that is in the low hit box group, it will whiff against all other characters in the low group.
In the character specific pages, it is noted if a certain move whiffs against a certain group of characters. Some examples would be Terry's Close A whiffing against low crouchers but not against medium and high crounchers.
- Complete list of Crouching Hitboxes :
Low : K', Benimaru , Andy , Joe , Mai , Yuri , Iori , Leona , Athena , Kensou , Chin , Bao , Xiangfei , Kim , Choi , Jhun , Krizalid
Medium : Shingo , Terry , Ryo , Robert , Takuma , Kyo 1 , Kyo 2 , Kyo Kusanagi , Ralf , Clark , Whip , King , Mary , Kasumi
High : Maxima , Chang
It's when your're doing a "special input blocking".
For example, if you want to do this combo of Iori easily :
cl.C/cr.C, f+A xx qcf,hcb+P.
You can proceed like this
cl.C/cr.C (hold C) xx qcf+A , release C , hcb+P
Because you hold C, you can no longer do specials, and qcf+A simply registers only the f+A part since this is a command normal. Then you release C to allow specials and supers again, then you do hcb+P and the input parser will see that you have done qcf,hcb+P and register it as a super.
Same Thing with this combo of Takuma :
cl.C/cr.C, f+A or f+B xx qcf,hcb+P
With special input blocking :
cl.C/cr.C (hold C) xx qcf+A or qcf+B , release C , hcb+P
Unlike in most fighting games, if a move is cancellable, it can be cancelled regardless of whether it hits or not. Therefore it is possible for Kyo to do cr.D xx qcf+A with or without hitting .
This opens up several strategic possibilities that are not normally available in other fighting games. If you whiff a move that has a good hitbox, but has bad recovery, you can either shorten this recovery or cover the recovery with a safe special.
This allows you to cover several options at once during neutral game. If you whiff cancel a sweep into a special that has a more upward hitbox you are essentially covering the full space in front of you.
Cancellable normals, and some character’s CD attacks, can be cancelled into command normals. If these command normals have special properties such as hard knockdown, overhead or both, these special properties are lost when you cancel into them. In return, if you cancel into these command normals, they usually become cancellable.
But there is a way to retain these special properties. You do this by cancelling into the command normal late.
Whenever a move connects, either on hit or block, both characters freeze for a short time this is called ‘hitstop or hitfreeze,’ a late cancel is done by inputting the command normal just after this hitstop, just when the opponent starts moving backwards from the knockback.
This is a useful technique, especially for overhead command normals which tend to have a very long startup, which makes them prone to counterpokes. By late cancelling into a command normal, you will at least secure part of the startup to be covered since the opponent will still be in blockstun, essentially creating a frametrap from a normal into a command normal.
Examples where Late cancelling is useful :
cr.D , f+A with Ryo , Robert, Yuri
cl.C, f+A with Chin, Maxima, Ryo, Robert , Yuri
cr.D , f+B with Kyo, Shingo, K', Kim
It permits to alternate low cancel attack with an overhead attack thus try to guard break opponent.
There are some exceptions, but in general, the hit stun of the moves work as follow:
- weak attacks: 11 frames
- air hard attacks: 11 frames
- ground hard attacks: 19 frames
- command attacks / specials / (S)DM: 19 frames
Because of this, in general, no move with more than 10 frames of startup will combo when cancelled from a weak attack (or an air hard attack). In a similar way, no move with more than 18 frames of startup will combo when cancelled from a ground hard attack (or a command attack).
Keep in mind that the window is even shorter when you want to follow an air attack with a ground move after you land, as the frames where you are still in the air after the air attack hit will count against you. Example: you hit with an air C and after 3 frames you land, you have to do a move with 7 or less frames of startup if you want it to combo.
There are some exceptions, but in general, the block stun is 2 frames short than the hit stun:
- weak attacks: 9 frames
- air hard attacks: 9 frames
- ground hard attacks: 17 frames
- CD attacks: 21 frames
- command attacks / specials / (S)DM: 17 frames
What is said above about combos, is valid for block string too, except that block stun is shorter. So, no move with more than 8 frames of startup will make a block string when cancelled from a weak attack (or an air hard attack). In a similar way, no move with more than 16 frames of startup will make a block string when cancelled from a ground hard attack (or a command attack). And no move with more than 20 frames of startup will make a block string when cacelled from a ground or air CD.
The formula used to calculate advantage in general is:
Advantage = "hit/block stun" + 1 - ("active frames" + "recovery frames")
- A weak attack with frame data 3/5/5 will have +2 on hit and +0 on block
- A hard attack with frame data 12/2/17 will have +1 on hit and -1 on block
Just after recovering from block stun, hit stun, air reset or knockdown (wake up), the character has some frames of throw invulnerability (in general 9 frames).
Because of this, tick into throw in KOF99 is much less usefull/abusable than in other games where you can be thrown just after the hit/block stun (like SF2).
Thanks to throw invulnerability you don't have to worry about doing a normal throw by mistake when you try a close C/D just after an opponent recover from block stun, hit stun, air reset or knockdown (in those situations f/b + C/D will always trigger close C/D instead of a normal throw).
While they are not real throws, proximity unblockables will never trigger during the throw invulnerability simply because the opponent is not in a "throwable state" during this period. Keep in mind however that once the proximity unblockable is triggered it will hit normally if then the opponent enter in throw invulnerability (which will happen only if the opponent end up recovering from hit stun between the trigger and the first hit).
If a character get hit during the throw invulnerability, the invulnerability ends immediately. Example: you do a meaty cl.C, and hit opponent on the 1st frame after wake up, you will be able to cancel in an instant throw and it will hit the opponent, because the throw invulnerability wears off just after the cl.C hit.
There is no universal cancellable normal moves, but every characater (except Clark) can cancel at least three of theses four moves:
- close A
- close C
- crouch A
- crouch C
In fact, almost all characters can cancel all these four moves, except for seven characters:
- Ralf & Clark: cannot cancel close A.
- Chang: cannot cancel close C.
- Mai, Whip & Iori: cannot cancel crouch A.
- Joe & Clark: cannot cancel crouch C.
No character is able to cancel far D.
All other normal moves (far A/B/C, close B/D, crouch B/D) are cancellable for some characters.
Jhun and Bao have uncancellable CD