I have written this in Portuguese in my constant attempts to make the game more popular in my country and at the same time make people see that cheating is not the way to go. More and more, I have seen less people cheating online, which is always a good thing. The text is aimed at beginner players: the average reader of the ST section certainly knows what is here.
The will of obtaining better results at all costs has led people to searching and making use of shortcuts so as to achieve such objective. On the other hand, a skewed view of what competitiveness means and the search for improvement often serve as an excuse to choose dangerous or anti-ethical means. Erythrocyte multiplication drugs, for athletes that depend on the cardiovascular system; anabolic steroids, for the ones that depend on muscle mass or strength; amphetamines and other stimulant drugs, for activities that depend on concentration; cheating in academic papers or tests: all are part of a long list of non-recommendable shortcuts, at least in competitions.
The most efficient shortcuts are exactly the ones related to crucial activities for the given task. A runner must have breath to keep up his rhythm just like a bodybuilder needs his muscle mass, low fat rate and definition. A gamer needs to press buttons and perform motions with joysticks or directional pads. This article is about button pressing and mashing, and the shortcut of preference for it is the turbo (or rapid-fire) function from some controllers. Such a feature provides a number of advantages, e.g.:
escaping tick-throws when the enemy is in range and forcing him to have perfect timing and distance for a chance of success;
always cancel he start-up of normal attacks into specials (kara-canceling) when the attack button is pressed too early;
obtain successive button-press specials (electricity, lightning legs, 100-hand slap) easily and fast;
applying special attack tick-throws that do not have error animation (Oicho or Typhoon);
easily obtain link combos;
obtain rapid-fire attacks (jabs or shorts than cancel into themselves) or other moves at the highest possible rate;
[*]easily obtain reversals (particularly for special attack ones).
Besides turbo, other feature that provides advantages are macros. The most simple ones, like binding many keys or buttons to a single one, allow players to nullify the chance of making a mistake when performing Blanka’s hops, Zangief’s lariats, Claw’s backflips and Hawk’s dive. That an also be combined with turbo, which helps when trying a reversal or using the move right after a previous attack. Boxer also greatly benefits from this, as he no longer needs to use only the tips of his fingers to tap buttons, but loses the ability to do negative-edge kick rushes (more on that later).
Players often press buttons in a completely disorganized manner in desperate situations, say, dealing with tick-throws of unknown strength after an unknown number of attacks (Zangief can often try from one to three jabs before trying a sweep or a throw). Or mashing a single button when trying link combos or reversals. However, at least without some technique, this does not provide the best possible legitimate results, that is, the ones which can be obtained without turbo or macros.
At first, the task of pressing a single button will be covered. The most common way of doing that is pressing it with a single finger, or using two fingers side by side, then pressing the button once. After that, one moves the wrist or the whole arm up, then presses it again. And so on. A Final Burn replay file in which I press a button at the highest rate I could using the method I have just describe follows.
one finger (SSF2X replay)
Some are able to obtain much higher rates*, and not depend on any other technique. On the other hand, most will not perform much better, specially if they need to do it repeatedly. Fortunately, there exists a more efficient way, which consists of using two fingers. One puts the middle and index fingers above the button, without moving his or her palm. Then presses the button using the middle finger alone, then as this finger moves away from the button, the player pull the index finger down, pressing the button again. After that, as the index returns to its original position, the button is again pressed by the middle finger and the processes is repeated. I can only do it with the index and middle fingers, but I believe experienced piano/keyboard players can do it with any adjacent fingers, as they use it for trills.
One can combine a wrist movement so as to press smaller buttons. The video features large buttons, though.
In order to deal with tick throws, some players may consider that even this technique is not good enough. For a single button, 30 presses a second - which is the highest rate for the game - would be needed for the maximum efficiency of the technique, but even so the chance of escaping a perfect attack would be only 50%, as throws are only activated when the button is pressed. Some players are precise enough to obtain better results trying to time the press at the exact instant the character recovers, but by the inherent game delay. This is particularly interesting for characters that can throw with more buttons. Characters such as Ryu, Ken, Dee Jay, Fei Long and Zangief, which do not have throws only on the jab and short buttons, can try something much better. Besides waiting for the exact moment, they can use the ring finger to hit roundhouse; the middle one for fierce; the index finger presses the strong punch and with the thumb one presses forward kick. Thus, one obtains four inputs in a quick succession, and it is possible to adjust the timing so as to hit one button a frame, or in the very least to try to make the interval between presses much shorter (between 1 and 3 frames, I believe). Characters with just two throws, such as Dictator, Guile and Boxer, can use the index and mid for two inputs.
There is yet another technique, in which one scraps the fingers one after the other. I am quite bad at it, as the buttons on the local arcade are quite hard and Sanwas have sort of a “slow” (loose) spring. It is easier on my old Lorenzo/Happ one, but I do not use it anymore. One can obtain from one to three extra inputs (if one uses the ring or - even harder - pinky fingers) so as to enlarge the window for single button throws or specific button reversals (Honda’s jab headbutt, for instance). One can find Japanese players using this in just about any ST video where you can hear the buttons. The video linked shows boxer specialist Tsuji using Fei Long, his sub-character, and using the referred technique to more easily time rekka punches. This also helps when dealing with the slowdown which follows when a character is hit by a projectile.
For combos, correctly timing the attacks also gives good results. It is particularly useful for characters with moves that have high frame advantage or several or important attacks, such as Boxer, Chun Li and Dictator. By pressing the button and advancing just a little bit, one can make combos longer, get more attacks landed, punch the enemy closer to the corner or even across the whole screen just so he gets hit right away if he or she tries to jump or counter-attack.
When it comes to characters that possess three punch of kick button specials, the most used technique the players who specialize in those characters use is to move not the fingers, but the wrist. One spaces the index, mid and ring fingers according to the button layout, moves the wrist down and all buttons are pressed so as to obtain the move.
Boxer, who is named M. Bison in X and Balrog in ST, has some idiosyncrasies. Unlike other characters with 3K/P specials, his turn-around punch (TAP, for short) is activated only when the buttons are released, while other 3K/P attacks are only obtained when the buttons are pressed. A few online players decide to use macros in order to easily press all kick buttons while playing with him. It may come as a surprise to few that there exists a technique that not only allows you to play decently while holding the kick buttons, but once mastered, brings benefits that macros do not provide. The difference relies of the fact that Balrog unleashes his TAP if the player releases a kick button, or loses charge for it if the move can not be used (e.g., while jumping). This is not necessarily bad: by releasing a single kick button, the player can activate a kick rush, which is not possible if the buttons are “held” with macros. The technique is to hold the kick buttons with the phalanges which are closer to the palm, and use the finger tips to play with the punch buttons. When a kick rush is to be used, one can just released that kick button while moving the stick to (down-)forward, and obtain the move through negative edge. IIRC, Afrolegends has posted about it, but I could only find a Tamashima holding buttons that way. This must be a great way of getting a tendinitis: check how the dude goes shaking and stretching his hands between rounds!
Obtaining reversals at clutch moments makes a big difference in Super Turbo. One button pressing technique for this is known as “piano”. It consists of pressing one button after the other and then releasing them in a quick succession so as to increase the chances of getting reversals when the strength of the move is not that important. It is better explained in this video. In a nutshell: one does the stick motion and presses jab with index, strong with middle and then fierce with the ring finger, trying to obtain the attack on the rising edge; then release jab, then strong, and finally fierce, trying to obtain the move on the falling edge. One can also start with fierce and end with jab. The piano technique and finger scrapping/tapping can also help Zangief players get more throw attempts during the Spinning Pile Driver window. Each punch press and release gives a throw attempt, up until 13 later (before frame skipping).
Another technique is to use only the negative edge (button release) to obtain safe reversals. It consists of doing the stick motion, getting back to down-back as fast as possible, and release the appropriate buttons. If the move comes out, great. Else, the character is safely blocking the attacks directed at him. This is also explained in . Neoray also made a few videos displaying this and other techniques for T. Hawk. Djfrijoles kindly hosts a few more, like this one.
I hope that being aware of these techniques will reduce players interest towards macros and turbo, which are features that are not inherent to the game. In addition to it, it is interesting to know they exist, even if you are not willing to dedicate enough time to apply them, which I believe is the case of many of the casual players like me when it comes to the optimal use of boxer or Hawk’s ticks. They are not trivial and demand some training which gives negative results on your gameplay in short term. Finally, some of them may add a random aspect to the gameplay, making it harder for the enemy to predict your actions. If even the player himself does not know if he will obtain the reversal (from negative edge), certainly his opponent will not.
*Thanks to Ganelon for this.
**grammar correction, thanks a bunch to jpj and Rufus.
***Tamashima video thanks to minty, from this forum.
PS: the original article is in another language. I have certainly made mistakes while translating, so please point out the ones you find so I can correct them.