This post looks long, but I promise you it’s going somewhere constructive. Plus, there’s videos of some good Cody play if you stick around.
As a V-Cody main coming from A3, I think Cody’s got a lot of tools that are useful on a competitive level in SSF4, and I do think he’s got potential, but in terms of Cody’s zoning game, Capcom got one very important thing wrong. They don’t understand what his rocks were meant for and how they’re supposed to function. Where do I get the authority to speak on this? Well, I can’t offer any video credentials, but anyone who played a lot of tournament level Cody in Alpha will probably agree with me.
Rocks have very slow start-up, we all know this, but this was offset by one fact in A3: The rocks had a very high arc (especially the FP one), so they went up and over the opponents head. This meant that if they tried to jump once the rock start-up finished, they would jump directly into the rock no matter how close they were.
Now, Cody’s rocks in SSF4 actually recover fairly quickly and come out at around the same speed as they did in A3, so Capcom got that part right, but where they made their biggest mistake is in making the trajectory of the rocks almost straight like a fireball.
Cody’s rocks are not meant for covering horizontal space the way Ryu or Guile’s are. They’re way too slow to function like that because people can just jump the rocks when they see the start-up – even pretty late into it. With someone like Ryu or Sagat, you have to jump their fireballs IMMEDIATELY upon release, or you’ll get DPed, and, as a charge character, Guile’s recovers fast enough that he can s. FP, c. FP or air-to-air you before you get on top of him if you jump late. All their fireballs come out quick as well, so they cover them much better against ground attacks.
In short, the whole reason why the rocks had slow start-up in the first place was to balance the fact that it functioned like a long range preemptive anti-air. It put them into block stun safely from mid-range, giving him room to use his other tools like his ruffians. The slow start-up allowed an opponent to walk in and hit Cody on the ground (since it would go over their head) if they were close enough, but a good Cody player would be able to offset this by using his other tools to create space and allow him time to throw the rocks (at which point, they’d be forced to block them). The rocks themselves work to stop their approach and create frame traps from a distance.
The start-up also prevents Cody players from just doing them on reaction when they see a jump since they have to guess and do them early.
Some examples of how they worked in A3:
Watch how VER and Eipacchi (top Japanese Codys) keep Chun’ and others grounded at a distance with their rocks. VER uses the LP and fake rocks more against Chun’ because she walks fast enough to go under the FP rocks most of the time.
Notice how it’s hard for them to jump Cody’s rocks on reaction, and if they try, they usually get pushed back. This is how the rocks should work.
V-Cody’s rocks were even better because his dodge allowed him to go through a sonic boom or hadouken and then throw one of his own rocks back in retaliation (negating some of the disadvantage from the slow start-up). Not advocating that they put his dodge back in though - unless they added a guard meter for him, which would be interesting.
As they are now, rocks are only really good from full screen or when the opponent is at big frame disadvantage. In terms of actual zoning, they’re barely functional anymore from mid-screen even if they do recover or start-up a bit faster.
Bear in mind, this is not a thread I made to complain. This is a fundamental issue with the way one of his moves works. When a character is translated over from another game, the game designers need to understand what each move is meant to be used for and re-tool them accordingly to fit the new engine, but they totally missed the boat on his rocks. They probably thought they were doing him a favor by lowering the trajectory, but Cody’s rocks should be like his b. MP or s. FP moving across the screen; they shouldn’t function like a hadouken. They should travel in a curved arc that starts really high then falls down as the move progresses. You should be able to walk under the FP one if you’re close enough but not jump over it.
*(Another smaller but significant issue is that if you hold his rocks, there’s a pretty big delay before they get released when you let go of the button, which means you’re stuck guessing instead of reacting if you delay them. Fake rocks have a weird recovery at the end of them too, but they still work the way they should for the most part. No idea why they made the start-up on the fake rock slower than the normal rocks though.) *
This post is probably futile, but I’m at least putting this out there on the horribly slim chance that somebody might see it and do something about it in a patch or something. Some of you might say it’s only one move, but if you played him in A3, you’d realize how crucial it was to his game, and how much it could still help him now (especially in a zoning oriented game like SF4). I don’t care if Cody’s low or high tier, I just want his moves to work right. Ryu has his hadouken and shoryuken, which, together, form the backbone of his spacing game. With Cody, it should be his rocks and his ruffians.
As it is now, they don’t really compliment each other the way they did in A3. He can’t keep them from advancing past his ruffian range safely right now: that’s his biggest issue. That’s why you see most Codys so far playing a rushdown game to capitalize on his strong mix-up instead.
TL;DR - Rocks should go much higher up, making him vulnerable to dashes/walk-ins closer-up but not jump-ins from that range. This gives him room to frame trap and space with his ruffians.