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Ultra Street Fighter IV/Basic Elements
The Life Meter
We all know what the Life Meter is. It's that nice bar on the top of the screen that tells you how close you are to being defeated. Not too hard to figure out for even the most casual of Fighting Game fans. "Duh! We all know what the Life Meter is! So why bother talking about it?" you may want to ask me.
Well, there are a few things worthy to note about Ultra Street Fighter IV's Life Meters. There is a lot of good information that you can ascertain about the Life Meter thanks to the Training Mode in the home versions.
The main thing to note is that every character has a set amount of "Hit Points" and it's not always the same amount. Even though the Life Meters have the same length on screen, the amount of Hit Points in them are actually different between characters. So while it's easy to say things like "C. Viper takes more damage than Ryu" or "T. Hawk takes less damage than Guile," it's worth noting that this isn't actually true: every character takes the same amount of damage! The only difference is how many hit points they have total, and those with lesser amount of Hit Points just seem like they take more damage.
And this is because, as said earlier, the Life Meters are one fixed length visually on screen. So draining half of C. Viper's Life Meter means she has lost 450 Hit Points whereas draining half of Ryu's Life Meter means he has lost 500 Hit Points. But graphically, it will look like the same amount of life.
The average character has 1000 Hit Points. Characters with 1100 are considered characters with high health and characters with 900 Hit Points are considered characters with low health.
Hit Point Charts
Here are the Hit Point counts for every character in Ultra Street Fighter IV:
Health Damage Reduction Stages
The second thing to note about the Life Meter is that there are 4 stages in a character's Life Meter. The first stage is when you have 100% of your life: your Life Meter is pure Yellow. As soon as you take damage, your Life Meter changes to a gradient of red (low life) to yellow (full life). For the first 50% of your Life Meter, you will take 100% damage from all non-Damage Reduced hits. As soon as your Life Meter drops below 50%, you will begin taking 95% damage of all non-Damage Reduced hits. When your Life Meter drops below 30%, you start taking 90% damage of all non-Damage Reduced hits. And finally, once your Life Meter drops below 15%, you start taking only 75% damage from all non-Damage Reduced hits. So the closer to being defeated you are, the more resilient you become.
0% 15% 30% 50% 100% _________ _________ ____________ _______________________________ | | | | | | 75% | 90% | 95% | 100% | |_________|_________|____________|_______________________________|
You can see all these numbers easily in Training Mode, which presents to you the percentage of damage the move is doing. These values are also rounded up, in case anyone is wondering why sometimes in Training Mode you'll see some odd percentages like "76%" instead of "75%".
Obviously, these percentages are the percentage of total Hit Points you have. So for Ryu, who has 1000 Hit Points, his first damage reduction kicks in at 500 Hit Points. For Dhalsim, who has 900 Hit Points, his damage reduction kicks in when he has 450 Hit Points.
Also, keep in mind that damage reduction doesn't kick in until the meter drops below those percentages. In other words, let's just look at Balrog's Final Punch. The move does 560 damage. Now, Ryu has 1000 Hit Points. Once he drops below 500 Hit Points, he'll start taking only 95% of the damage of normal moves. Since Balrog's Final Punch drains more than half of Ryu's life, will the 60 points that it goes over be reduced by 95%? The answer is no: all damage calculation is based on how much life the character had before taking the hit. So Ryu will receive all 560 points of damage is he has anywhere between 501 and 1000 Hit Points.
Last but not least, this Life Meter damage reduction ignores any White Health (see White Damage section in Game Systems). So if your Life Meter is at 49% and you have a large block of White Health that extends passed the 50% mark, you'll still take 95% damage.
The Super Meter
Every character in Ultra Street Fighter IV has a Super Meter at the bottom of the screen. As a match continues forth, certain actions performed by the characters will start filling up the Super Meter.
At the start of every fight, you start with an empty Super Meter. However, between Rounds, you retain whatever amount of Super Meter you had at the end of the Round. So if you have a full Super Meter at the end of Round 1, you will start Round 2 with a full Super Meter.
The Super Meter is divided into four equal blocks. As soon as a block fills up, it begins glowing blue, which mean the block is ready for use. There are a set number of actions in Ultra Street Fighter IV that cost these blocks of Super Meter to perform. As soon as you perform any of these actions, you will drain the appropriate number of blocks from the Super Meter and have to begin filling up the Meter again.
Each block in the Super Meter requires 250 "points" to fill. And unlike Life Meter, this is the same for every character in the game. So everyone has the same 1000 point Super Meter divided into 4 250 point blocks.
Building Up the Super Meter
Below are a list of actions that actually build Super Meter:
- Hitting the Opponent with a Normal Move Attack
- Getting the Opponent to Block a Normal Move Attack
- Performing a Special Move Attack
- Hitting the Opponent with a Special Move Attack
- Getting your Opponent to Block a Special Move Attack
- Hitting the Opponent with a Focus Attack
- Getting your Opponent to Block a Focus Attack
- Getting Hit By Your Opponent's Attack
- Blocking an Opponent's Attack
- Focus-Absorbing an Opponent's Attack
- Throwing the Opponent
The amount of Super Meter you build up for each of these actions are pre-determined by the developers. Each move is assigned an arbitrary amount that it builds up. For example, Ryu's Close Hard Punch just happens to build up 60 points on the Super Meter. Same goes for the amount of Super Meter gained from whiffing and landing Special Moves. Ryu's Light Punch Shoryuken, for example, gives you 30 points for performing it and 40 more points for hitting your opponent with it. Again, these values are arbitrarily decided by the developers of the game.
However, the values for all of the other actions are based off the core values assigned to each of these moves. For example, it was stated earlier that Ryu's Close Hard Punch gives you 60 points when you hit the opponent with it. If your opponent blocks the attack, however, you gain 50% of that value. So if the opponent blocks Ryu's Close Hard Punch, Ryu gains 30 points instead of 60.
When you get hit by the opponent's move, you gain 50% of their points. So if Ryu hits you with the Close Hard Punch, you gain 30 points of Super Meter yourself. However, if you block the opponent's move, you gain 25% of their points. So if you block Ryu's Light Punch Shoryuken, you gain 10 points as Ryu's Light Punch gives Ryu 40 points for connecting it as said earlier (the 30 points Ryu gains for performing the Shoryuken isn't factored in).
When it comes to absorbing attacks with a Focus, the behavior is exactly the same as if you got hit by the move. In other words, when you absorb the move with a Focus, you gain 50% of the Super Meter points gained by the opponent and they gain 100% of their Super Meter points.
There are some extraneous methods to gain Super Meter, but they are character specific, such as Rose's Light Punch Soul Reflect, which absorbs Projectiles and converts them to Super Meter.
Using the Super Meter
Below are the actions that drain Super Meter, including their cost:
- Performing an EX Special Move (1 Block)
- Canceling a Normal Attack into a Focus Attack (2 Blocks)
- Canceling a Special Attack into a Focus Attack (2 Blocks)
- Performing a Super Combo (4 Blocks)
There is one exception to the EX rule listed: Seth's EX Tandem Engine costs 2 blocks of Super Meter, as it seems Capcom decided the move was a bit too potent to only cost 1 block.
The Ultra Meter
Along with the Super Meter, every character in the game also has an Ultra Meter. The Ultra Meter serves one and only one purpose: to allow you to perform the Ultra Combo for your character. And unlike the Super Meter, there is only one way to build up the Ultra Meter: taking damage.
You start every Round with an empty Ultra Meter. Ultra Meter does not carry over to the next Round. So if you end a Round with 50% of your Ultra Meter filled up, you will lose all of that and start the next Round with nothing in the Ultra Meter.
Stages of the Ultra Meter
The Ultra Meter is divided into halves. As you continue to take damage throughout the Round, the Ultra Meter fills up. As soon as it fills up halfway, the Meter begins to glow with flames coming off of it. Once it reaches this point, you are allowed to Perform your Ultra Combo.
Once you perform an Ultra Combo during a Round, you will still continue to build up Ultra Meter during the rest of the Round. That means if you use the Ultra Combo the instant you get it, you will most likely build up another one before the Round ends.
Ultra Combos have varied damage depending on how full the meter is. The only way an Ultra Combo can do full damage is if it is 100% full. However, a half full Ultra Meter actually doesn't do 50% of the full Ultra's damage. It actually does 67% of the total damage. From there, it's a constant percentage increase in damage from 67% to 100%.
And yes, that means if you land two 50% full Ultras in a round, you get more damage than by landing one full Ultra Combo.
Ultra Meter Lengths
The length of everyone's Ultra Meter is essentially 90% of their Life Meter if you think of it as damage being directly converted into Ultra Meter. So for Ryu, since he has 1000 Hit Points, his Ultra Meter has 900 points. So if Ryu take 450 damage, that will be 450 points added to his Ultra, which makes it half full. Thus, at 450 damage, he can perform an Ultra Combo.
Focusing On Building the Ultra Meter
Absorbing attacks via a Focus also adds to your Ultra Meter. Whenever you get hit during a Focus, the game essentially behaves as if you got hit, so you'll build up exactly the same amount of Ultra Meter as you would had you actually gotten hit by the move.
The Stun Meter
The concept of Stun, or "falling dizzy" as it is commonly referred to as, has existed since Street Fighter II Classic. Basically, if your character is struck too many times in a row, your character will fall dizzy. As soon as this occurs, even in the middle of a combo or if the move that knocks you dizzy is just a Normal Move, your character be knocked over and fall down onto the ground. While they are falling, stars, chicks, or skulls will appear and rotate around their head. When you get up, your character will be in Stun, and you cannot perform ANY actions. Your character is thus susceptible to anything the opponent chooses. To put it more bluntly, the instant you become Stunned, the enemy gets a free combo.
Once your character falls dizzy, he/she won't stay dizzy forever. After a certain amount of time your character will recover and return back to a normal condition, but it takes a while. While you are dizzy, however, you can try to come out of dizzy faster by shaking your controller and mashing on the buttons as fast as you can. Doing this will make your character recover quicker than normal, but be careful not to go overboard with the shaking... If your character does shake out and you are still wiggling the joystick, you may eat the combo your opponent is going for anyhow and end up taking more damage than if they had hit you while you were still dizzy. So shake as much as possible, but right before your enemy strikes you, just hold Block. If you shook out, you'll Block their attack and be safe. If you didn't shake out, wiggling the controller right before the enemy hits you won't make a difference anyhow. It should also be noted that unlike previous Street Fighter games, the different objects that appear around your character's head as they fall to the ground do not make an impact on how long you are stunned for. Be it skulls, chicks, or stars, they are just a cosmetic effect at the end of the day.
The Stun Meter cannot be seen anywhere on the screen during a normal match, but is kept track of "internally". The only place you can see it is in Training Mode. The Stun Meter is just a counter with a max value, and every time you get struck, the counter increases. This is referred to as taking "Stun Damage". And once the counter reaches the max, your character will fall dizzy.
Every move in this game gives different amounts of Stun Damage, and there's no formula to it. It's pretty much an arbitrary value assigned by the developers of the game.
Almost every Super Combo and Ultra Combo in the game do not cause any Stun Damage. In past games, where they did, characters falling dizzy in the middle of Supers was always more of a nuisance than anything. So in later games, Supers (and now Ultras) cause no Stun. There are the couple of exceptions, of course, such as Balrog's Dirty Bull and Gouken's Denjin Hadoken. And in the case of the Denjin Hadoken, you even gain Stun Damage while blocking the move!! However, even if your Stun Meter fills all the way up while blocking, you won't fall dizzy until the opponent hits you one more time.
The Stun Meter does start to go down after a fixed amount of time. Basically, if your character is not hit for a about one second on the game clock, your character's Stun Meter will start draining back down to "zero". But anytime an opponent connects a move on you, whether it hits or is blocked, the Stun Meter will stop draining and you'll have to wait that same fixed amount of time before it starts to drain again.
Thus, you can be 100 points away from being Stunned, and continually block attacks for 20 seconds on the game clock, and then get hit by one more move and still be Stunned. Since you never avoided attacks for that fixed amount of time, your Stun Meter never had a chance to start draining. Thus, if you know you're close to being Stunned, do everything you can to avoid getting hit to prevent yourself from falling Dizzy within the next few hits.
Also, that one second delay before the Stun Meter starts draining is actually one second after you can perform your first action. In other words, if a move knocks you down and you lie on the ground for more than a second, your Stun Meter doesn't start draining while you lie there. The game will wait until you get up before the one second count begins.
As soon as you are knocked dizzy, your Stun Meter drains to zero. Then, any further hit in the combo (falling dizzy does not reset the Combometer) will not add any Stun Damage. So after the enemy finishes comboing you from a Stun, you will start up with zero Stun Damage. Also, when you recover from a dizzy, your Stun Meter increases it's max by a 20% value. For example, Dhalsim, who has 900 Stun Points, will go up 180 points to 1080 Stun Points if he recovers from a stun. So after getting dizzy once, it becomes harder to get dizzy again. However, the next Round, things reset to their defaults, so the fact that your Stun Meter increases rarely makes any impact on the game at all since it's very difficult to get stunned twice in one Round.
Stun Meter Lengths
Again, every character has a different sized Stun Meter, just like they different sized Life Meters. Again, 1000 Stun Points is the average for the characters. If you have 1100 Stun Points, you are hard to knock dizzy. If you have 900 Stun Points, you are more easily stunned.
Here are the Stun Point counts for every character in USF4:
There is not much to discuss on the Timer. The Timer is the same thing that you know from practically every Fighting Game in existence. The Timer starts at 99 at the beginning of a Round and quickly counts down to 00.
Time Out Win
Once the timer reaches 0 the player with the highest percentage of health wins. For example, if Seth and Hugo were to time out, Hugo was at 250 HP and Seth at 200 HP, then Seth would win, even though he was a full 50 HP closer to dying:
Hugo Max HP: 1100 Hugo Remaining HP: 250 Seth Max HP: 800 Seth Remaining HP: 200
Hugo Percentage: 23% [250 / 1100 * 100] Seth Percentage: 25% [200 / 800 * 100] Seth Wins
If both characters have the exact percentage of Life left, the Round is considered a draw. If that happens to be the final round of the game, both characters lose. There is no sudden death, and the game ends for both players.
The word "Frame" is going to be used a lot in this guide. We're going to be talking about Active Frames, Frame Advantage, animation frames, etc. etc. So without understanding what a frame is, you're going to get very lost very quickly.
The easiest way to understand frames it to think about everything that happens on the screen as a cartoon. In a cartoon, you have to draw one picture at a time so that, when played in rapid succession, each picture creates an animation. Each of these pictures can be called an animation frame.
That's what happens on the screen in Street Fighter. Every movement a character makes, every attack they perform goes through a set of what you can call an animation frame. So some moves are made up of 20 animation frames. Some moves are made up of as many as 200 frames.
This is all we are referring to when we mention frames. And keep in mind that Ultra Street Fighter IV is a game that outputs 60 frames per second. So if we say something like "there is a 6 frame window you can perform this action," that means you have 1/10th of a second to perform the action.
Remember what was just said? That every action in the game, including attacks, are "animated" frame by frame? Well, with regards to attacks, every attack in the game has three phases: a startup phase, an active phase, and a recovery phase.
You can see it in every move. Hit a button, and your character will start a move, hit the opponent, and then finish an animation. That's all these phases are: the period of time before your move hits the opponent, the period of time the move is hitting the opponent, and the period of time after the move hits the opponent.
So take those periods and break them down into those "animation frames" we just talked about. The start of your attack before it can hit the opponent is made up of Startup Frames. The animation frames during which your attack can actually hit the opponent are known as Active Frames. And everything that comes after those Active Frames are considered Recovery Frames.
These three types of frames make up the skeleton of every attack, and all three types are super important to various aspects of the systems and concepts that make up Ultra Street Fighter IV. So become familiar with these terms and keep them in mind throughout the guide.