The King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match/Mechanics and Notes

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The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate MatchKOF98UMLogo.jpg

Mechanics and Notes

Some additional things you should know about KOF98.

  • Reversals - Reversals in KOF98 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.
  • Reversal Buffers - Specials, DMs, and rolls/evades can be buffered on wakeup by holding down the final button input. The game will continue to input the button press over multiple frames, which combined with the loose reversal window makes it easy to wakeup DP or buffer an instant special move for a juggle. By holding AB during a super flash, you're guaranteed a reversal roll if you were at neutral during the flash. This makes avoiding certain safe DMs easier.
  • 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 (i.e. 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 anything, including proximity unblockables. To beat alternate guard, you must be able to hit the opponent by using fast lows, overhead mixups, and so forth to break their defense. Tactics like repeated/delayed cr.Bs can be hard to alternate guard without thinking.
  • Another side effect of KOF98's blocking system that you need to be aware of is whiffing jump 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 characteristic of KOF. Some examples of proximity unblockables are Robert's hcf+K throw, Kensou's dp+P throw or qcf,qcf+P super, or O.Chris's hcf+K throw. Unlike command throws, they can only be performed when close to an opponent who is in a throwable state (i.e. in hitstun or not in blockstun). Because of this, it is nearly impossible to whiff a proximity unblockable, making them safer in some situations than other command throws. You will simply get a normal move if the opponent is not in a throwable 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 jump attack, special move, or super move, you score a counter-hit. This causes a screen flash and a "counter-hit" message to appear. The hit gets a 25% (usually) damage bonus, pushes back further (à la 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. Attacks that cause a hit reset can lead into combos on counter-hit, but the window for a follow up is very short so you need to know when they're coming or use a move that naturally has two hits which will then auto-combo (see: Mature's j.B on air-to-air counter-hit). Perhaps most important though is the ability to Quick Max cancel jumping attacks in order to land and link a ground combo from further heights. The reduced recovery lets characters like Mary hop in with an extra early j.D, activate, and convert a combo on hit.
  • Quick Max - Exclusive to Extra Mode's meter, Quick Maxing to shorten the recovery of attacks allows for three new major tactics in 98UM. One obvious setup is to cancel a normally unsafe move (Kyo's qcf+C rekka series) to stay safe. Combos can be buffed by either QMing specials to extend juggles (Iori: (corner) cl.C f.A xx qcb+C qcb+C ABC qcf,hcb+A), or by activating during a cr.A/cr.B attack and then linking a C/D strength normal which generally opens up better combo finishers (for Krauser, cr.B cr.A ABC cr.C xx hcb,f+P becomes possible).
  • Corner cross-ups - You might have seen in a video or something, someone crossing up another player in the corner after a knockdown. This true corner cross-up ability is only available on the 2P side (i.e., only available to the player who's life, super bars, and teammates are on the right-hand side).
Although this may seem like an unfair advantage, the 1P side also has it's own corner cross-up ability. Whenever the opponent is knocked down in a back turned state (i.e. face up, head toward or face down, feet toward), you can perform a pseudo cross-up. Simply jump toward (superjump preferred) their head and time/position a move that has some cross-up ability the same way you would normally perform a cross-up. This must be blocked in the direction away from the corner. In some ways this is more difficult to block than the 2P side bug, because you remain on the same side no matter which direction the move has to be blocked.
  • Unblockable projectiles – it’s considered a bug in OG, but it’s been kept as a feature in UM; even the AI uses it. Certain moves, most of them command throws, 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.
  • EX Yuri (Koōken / Haō Shōkōken > Hyakuretsu Binta)
  • Athena (Psycho Ball > Psychic Teleport / Super Psychic Throw)
  • Kensou (Chō Kyūdan > Nikuman Kuu)
  • EX Andy (Hishōken > Bakushin)
  • Iori (Yami Barai > Kuzu Kaze)
  • Takuma (Koōken / Haō Shikōken > Shōrankyaku)
  • Krauser (Blitzball > Phœnix Throw / Lift-Up Blow / Kaizer Suplex)
  • Heidern (Crosscutter > Killing Bringer / Stormbringer)
  • EX Geese (Reppūken > Shinkū Nage)
  • Rugal (Reppūken > Dead-End Screamer)