Normals │Specials │Supers │Combos│ Strategy
• General Strategy
Alright guys, it’s time to leave the technical things and get into the core of Akuma and discuss your game plan when maneuvering this demon. As mentioned before, Akuma has the lowest health in the entire game. This means that taking a few heavy blows from your opponent can leave you at a huge life deficit in the blink of an eye. As much as I’d like to tell you that this situation is easily surmountable, it isn’t. When you get down on health with Akuma, climbing back is tough, because your opponent will soon recognize that you need to come to them. Penetrating your opponent’s defense becomes much harder at that point, especially against good turtling characters. Also, when you get close, some things are now extremely risky, like taking a throw or going for a parry, because you don’t have much life to work with. That I feel is the key with Akuma; life to work with. Although I’m by no means a good Akuma player, I’ve learned a lot over the past almost year of playing him exclusively, and one thing I’ve realized is that the amount of life you have should dictate your play. This probably relates to every character, but with Akuma, I feel this is especially important. Now I’m not saying switch your game plan completely whenever you start losing, but your mentality should shift a little in the way you approach your opponent. When my health bar is green, I tend to take a ton of educated guesses on what my opponent is going to do and which reaction I’ll get out of certain situations and set-ups. This moment in the match is the most comfortable, as your opponent has no idea what you’ll be unloading on them, but as the match progresses, they start to get a feel for your game plan, and sort of wake up to your demon flips, air fireballs, pokes and other things. With that, we get into the two things you’ll hear from Akuma players when asked about his general play style, and that’s…
1.) Play with near perfection and…
2.) Kill quickly or die quickly
With these two tips in mind, you might think that Akuma is too advanced for someone just starting out to play, but you have to look at it this way. No matter who you pick to start, you won’t be winning a ton of matches, especially in a game that’s been out for over a decade, so why not take those losses with Akuma? I absolutely guarantee you it’ll be worth it in the long run, but the journey will be tough.
Now to get back on the first tip. When I have full health, I feel really relaxed and know that I can get away with taking some risks, which is fine and dandy, but when push comes to shove, and you’re down on life, it’s time to take things into consideration. The wider the gap becomes between you and your opponent’s health, the more you have to slow down your game and observe your opponent closely. This is where you have to found out how your opponent is going to react to this situation. If they’re playing back and waiting for you to come to them, slowly approach them and walk them to the corner. Try to stay on the ground during this process because they’re most likely looking for a jump-in to close the gap. If they start becoming more aggressive and want to kill you off, you’ve got to play solid defense until they make a mistake. You’re looking for one hard knockdown, just one, to get your mix-up game going, but getting it will be tough, and it should by no means be forced. Take your time and look for the gap in your opponent’s game. If they’re playing differently now that they see they have the life lead, then they aren’t the same opponent that got you down to that low life in the first place, which means you can get them out of their comfort zone with just one or two good reads and a few nice mix-ups. Just keep your head and win the match. It’s way easier to say than done, but your Akuma should essentially become more… tame the more the life gap increases.
Now on to the second tip. This is a code that you should live by with Akuma. When you’re playing the demon, long matches are definitely not in your favor. The longer the match drags on, the more those little hits you take add up, and you’ll die before your opponent does, because bottom line, your opponent has more life than you. If at all possible, try to get the jump on your opponent early. I know this is also easier said than done, but try to feel your opponent out for a little, and then base your next attack of off the little information you’ve gathered. They’re only going to download you as much as you’ve downloaded them, so you have to break out of the comfort zone and attack first, since most people might want to get a little more comfortable with your play style before they start going in. With Akuma, you’re going to have to take some risks, especially when you’re just starting out. To be honest, a lot of wins I got early on were from being as completely random as I possibly could and going for things that had a lot more risk than reward. Although as you progress, you’ll start to minimize the risks and see a lot more reward. So remember, play near perfectly. Too many mistakes will get you killed a lot faster than any other character, but don’t be too hesitant, as you have to remember to kill quickly or die quickly as well. So ultimately, Akuma is all about finding that balance between recklessness and caution. It’ll all come with time though. Just be patient, take your licks, and keep learning.
Let me start off by saying Akuma’s pressure game is insane. It might not be the best in the game, but it’s close to it. Akuma revolves around pressuring his opponent with his zoning tools and keeping them in place wherever he likes. With good normals, an air fireball, and demon flips, he can keep an opponent guessing constantly, and have them holding down-back long enough for them to make a mistake. That’s what your pressure should revolve around with Akuma, minimizing your opponents chances of doing damage while increasing yours. No other place is better suited for this than the corner. With your opponent’s back to the wall, they’re stuck in place and have to guess correctly on the many mix-ups Akuma has to offer. Getting your opponent in the corner should be a major focus throughout the match, even if that means taking a little damage and risks to do so. Since Akuma’s air fireball and normals have already been lightly discussed, I’ll get started with explaining his Demon Flip and the various mix-ups that can stem from it.
As previously mentioned, Akuma’s Demon Flip has three different strengths that take him three different distances. Each one plays its own role in his game plan and can be set up in numerous ways, but before we get into that, let’s discuss the options you have while performing a Demon Flip.
• The first is a dive kick. The safest of all Akuma’s options, this is the follow up you’ll be using the most. It’s good for damage as it can lead into hefty combos when performed late, but can also stuff anti-airs when performed early. Another neat trick this follow up has is that if it is performed close to the ground, Akuma will just land with almost no recovery. This sets up a throw, a Crouching Light kick hit confirm, or even a kara Raging Demon. You can also perform a dive kick that hits high/mid and then buffer a back dash just before you land to try to bait out a throw tech, and then punish with a Crouching Forward into whatever you like. The Demon Flip dive kick is the ideal attack to continue pressuring your opponent and keeps them guessing as to what comes next. This move can also be used to cross up. Although the spacing and timing is pretty specific, a cross up is dangerous and adds to your array of mix ups. Just remember to vary the timing of your dive kicks, or they will be parried easily. Going for a late dive kick to get a combo is usually what your opponent is looking to parry, so try an early one to throw them off, or go for an empty one as stated above. This move is easily the best follow up of the bunch, but it still has to be used properly to maximize its advantages.
• The next move to be mentioned is the palm strike. This follow up is the only one that hits high, and causes a hard knockdown as well. Unfortunately, this attack has little uses and will probably be your least used follow up. To be honest, I’ve never used this in a match. This is ultimately because there are better ways to deal with a crouch blocking opponent, like an empty Demon Flip into a throw, a Demon Flip throw, and a few others. It also has some bad recovery time if you whiff and isn’t very effective at stuffing anti-airs. All in all, this is a good option to have, but it’s overshadowed by Akuma’s more versatile follow ups.
• Next on the list is Akuma’s slide. This move is solid, but if it’s abused, you’ll find yourself losing matches rather quickly. If this follow up is blocked, it’s easily punished, so pick your spots wisely with this one. It’s strong in that will hit opponents who are looking to parry a dive kick or palm strike, and it works well after air resets. Unfortunately, it’s easily anti-aired as the move won’t come out until Akuma lands, so even a Standing Jab will hit him out of it. Also, after a full screen Shakunetsu Hadouken, uses the Hard version of the Demon Flip in the slide is a good way to throw off your opponents timing, but this is easily parried by more skilled players, and there are many better setups you can perform after a knockdown instead of this one. Still, when used sparingly, this attack is a good tool to have in your arsenal and can psyche out your opponent if it hits.
• Last is the Demon Flip throw. This move is the second best follow up in my opinion, and is difficult to stop when your opponent becomes hesitant. This throw is great to use when your opponent is anticipating another attack and starts to block, resulting in a guard break, which will most likely make them try to beat out your Demon Flip the next time, repeating the process. It also sends the opponent a good distance across the screen, providing some nice position. Unfortunately, this follow up’s recovery time is substantial, and if your opponent walks away when you Demon Flip, you’ll be wide open to a punish. With that being said, don’t become too obvious with your throws and only use them when you’re confident in your opponent’s fear to move. All in all, A fantastic compliment to the other Demon Flip follow ups, kind of like the icing on the cake when your opponent thinks they’re finally going to block/parry accordingly.
Well, now that you have a good understanding of what each follow up is capable, let’s get into the different strengths to use in different scenarios, what follow ups they can set up, and how to set them up in the first place.
• First strength to be discussed is the Light version. This version moves you the shortest distance, and is great to keep the opponent under pressure. There a few ways to set this up, but the most useful one would have to be canceling it from normals. This actually goes for all strengths of the Demon Flip, as the normal leaves them in block stun while you go airborne, and it gives your opponent less time to react to it since a few frames ago they were dealing with blocking your attack, and now you’re already in the air ready to strike. An air fireball can also be used to the same effect when you neutral jump from the right distance, usually one your opponents wake-up. Canceling into a Light Demon Flip gives the ability to keep pressure constant with dive kicks. You can then go for a hit confirm, and if it fails, dash or cancel into another Light Demon Flip. You can also slide after one if you’re feeling confident, but remember to use this sparingly. A mix up I like to use from time to time is going for a dive kick that hits high on the opponent’s body, and then buffering another Light Demon Flip so that I flip again and soon as I land. This is an attempt to bait out a throw tech, and if they try to, they won’t recover fast enough to avoid your Demon Flip throw. Keep in mind that if your opponent doesn’t throw tech, the slightest movement will put them out of your throw range. Canceling from a Crouching Short, Standing or Crouching Jab, or a Close Standing Strong will also put you in range for a Demon Flip throw. You can also use this version after a you force an air reset. Using a Standing or Crouching Jab will put the opponent right in front of you, but unless you do an early dive kick, your opponent lands well you do. Using a Standing Fierce is probably your best bet, as it leaves your opponent in the air longer, giving them less time to defend against your follow up. A Standing Forward can be used, but to get a dive kick to connect, you have to input it as soon as possible, and you will hit the toe of your opponent. I believe this set up puts you at the dive kick’s max range. This might surprise your opponent as they may think the dive kick will whiff. These set ups help you further apply pressure and can surprise your opponent if they are expecting a combo ender and instead get reset. You can also use a slide after these set ups, which will do some decent damage and score you a knockdown, but is risky to use. Another way to use a Light Demon Flip is when you’re playing footsies with an opponent. If you predict your opponent is going to throw out a normal, you can Demon Flip and force them to make a quick decision after their move recovers. Most skilled players will go for a parry after they recover, so an empty Demon Flip would be ideal here, along with a slide. Players with less experience usually will try to block, which sets up a dive kick for more pressure. Although this tactic is a small part of the Light Demon Flip’s role, it’s still good to have in the back pocket of your footsie game. As you can see, the Light Demon Flip has many uses and purposes, and all of them can be incorporated into your game to constantly provide pressure on your opponent.
• Next up is the Medium Demon Flip. This variant is also a great pressure tool, but it works best to set up Demon Flip throws. Same as before, canceling this move out of a normal is the way to go. For dive kick pressure, this move isn’t great to cancel into if your opponent is on the ground because you will end up flipping right over them, leaving you unable to connect with a dive kick. The good news is that it’s great for air resets. If you use a Medium or Hard normal to air reset your opponent, the Medium Demon Flip will travel with the opponent at almost the same speed and distance. In my opinion, a Standing Fierce is best to cancel out of because you almost travel exactly with your air resetting opponent, making it difficult to see whether you will dive kick, use a slide, or go empty. It should be noted that each normal makes the opponent air reset differently, and that Light attacks are not useful to air reset with because the Medium Demon Flip will go right over their head. It should be noted that you will never be in range for a Demon Flip throw when you’re opponent air resets, but canceling a normal into a Medium Demon Flip on a grounded opponent is very effective for landing one. Normals you can use for this include Close Standing Forward, Crouching Forward, Crouching Strong, Crouching Fierce, and Standing Fierce. As you can see, you have a lot of options when you’re trying to set up a grab. Again, Standing Fierce seems to be the best for this set up because the push back from it lines you up perfectly to throw the opponent. A Medium Demon Flip can also be used after you use a Standing or Crouching Jab to air reset your opponent. Now I know you maybe be confused because I said canceling out of a normal will never leave you in range for a throw, but the trick to this is you’re not actually canceling either Jab. Instead, you perform a Medium Demon Flip right after either attack finishes, leaving you in perfect range to grab your opponent. Overall, the Medium Demon Flip can bring some good pressure, but I feel it’s strongest asset is its ability to set up throws.
• Last up is the Hard Demon Flip. This version is takes a little bit of both previously mentioned variants, as it’s good for dive kick pressure and setting up throws. The Hard Demon Flip’s strengths come from air resetting opponents, as the trajectory allows you to travel with the opponent through the air, similar to the Medium version. The plus about using this version is that it travels the farthest across the screen, so using this to air reset is great for positioning. The best normal I feel to use with this version is a Standing Forward, as it travels almost exactly with the flip, and sends the opponent the farthest away. Setting up throws with this version is a little trickier and doesn’t have nearly as many options as the Medium Demon Flip, but they are still good to know. These include a max range Far Standing Forward, which is good to really catch your opponent off guard, and a Crouching Light > Crouching Jab > Crouching Light hit confirm. this set up is good to use because skilled players will be looking for you to dash in and throw them after they block this ht confirm, so mixing it up with a Demon Flip throw is a good way to keep them on edge. It should be noted that any normal canceled into a Hard Demon Flip will put you in range for a throw if you’re in the corner. This next use is pure theory, as I’ve never used this in match before, but if your opponent is immediately doing a Shoryuken (or any other DP) when you Demon Flip, and you’re having a tough time beating it out, canceling into a Hard Demon Flip from a Jab after an air reset will send you over the opponent’s head, causing a reversal to whiff. Unfortunately, if the opponent does not reversal, their anti-air could auto-correct and still land, so experiment with this tactic as I don’t know the ins and outs of it quite yet. All in all, the Hard version may not be used as much as the other two, but it still has great uses and should be mixed in with the others when possible.