SF4 Game Mechanics: Option Selects
Table of Contents:
Option Select Flowchart
Option Select Concepts
Option-Select Block/delayed DP
Focus Attack O/S Crouch-tech Backdash
Overlapping Input Priority
Projectile Option Selects
Testing Option Selects
Boxer O/S 1 - Meaty jab O/S Sweep
Boxer O/S 2 - Safe Jump O/S TAP
Boxer O/S 3 - Meaty normal buffered Super/Ultra
Boxer O/S 4 - Ground normal cancelled Super
Boxer O/S 5 - Modified Crouch-techs for dive kick throw mixups
Boxer O/S 6 - Safe Jump/meaty cr.lp buffered st.hp (C. Viper)
Boxer O/S 7 - Safe Jump buffered normal throw (Makoto)
Opp O/S 1 - Akuma - Safe Jump demon-palm buffered cr.hk/U1/U2/Super
Opp O/S 2 - Ken - blocked f+mk, cr.mk cancelled dp/super | buffered U1/U2/tatsu
Opp O/S 3 - Gen - Safe Jump O/S Crane Super/Ultra
[*]Opp O/S 4 - Sagat - lk.ts buffered kara ex.k-ts]
An option-select is used to create a situation where you can nullify the effective options of your opponent to a 50/50 guess, force them to only take a single option or put themselves in an unfavorable situation. The most well-known option-selects are offensive option-selects, such as buffers. There are also defensive option-selects like crouch-techs and option-select blocks, which can be used while under pressure or to generally return the match to neutral. The best kind of option-select is where all of the options your opponent can do are in your favor in terms of damage, positioning, and frame advantage. An option-select consists of two parts: a setup and a the actual option-select. A setup will force a situation that otherwise wouldn’t be present such as meaties after invincible recoveries, safe jumps after knockdowns as well as character specific setups (e.g. Ken blocked f+mk, cr.mk); usually nullifying 70% of their options (e.g. safe jump) while the option-select is what creates the unfavorable situation which accounts for the other 30%. Option Selects are heavily depending on the opponents access to meter, as well as the properties of their movesets.
Option Select Flow Chart:
Ultra freeze suspends input other than block
A Block can only be characterized as an actual block, whether crouch blocking or stand blocking, the end result is that the opponent sustains chip damage if its a special, and enters block stun for a certain amount of time depending on the attack.
A Hit is characterized by anything that causes base damage (not chip) as well as some counter attacks (e.g. Dudley’s and Juri’s special counter as well as Fei Long and Cammy’s counter ultra). The “absorb” associated with focus attacks and armored attacks will also count as a hit.
A Whiff is characterized by the attack not coming into contact with the opp, this outcome can be activated by the use of a backdash or invincible special.
A Normal throw is characterized by the opponent standing and hitting light punch and light kick together.
3-5f DPs are listed because they can be safe jumped and frame trapped to some degree, but they either beat most setups, or can’t be option-selected.
Option-Select Block/Delayed DP
This is a VERY basic option-select that allows a person to block primarily and counter-attack. This kind of option-selects is heavily based on reactions (and character knowledge to some extent). This is most useful for characters who have invincible specials that allow them to maintain a defensive crouch.
An option-select block is setting up a situation that entice a character to reversal and performing a delayed invincible (or blocking). For example, as Fei Long, you knock your character down (techable or untechable), and you stand over the character and do the wiggle dp shortcut motion, look for the reversal signage, and press the buttons necessary for a dp. The only thing that can beat a delayed invincible is block or an attack with greater invincibility (but not a screen freeze). The invincible special HAS to be executed AFTER the opponent wakes up (at least one frame after the opp wakes up), not before.
Screen freezes occur during specific specials, noteably Ultra’s Supers, and very specific specials (Sagat’s tiger scar). During a screen freeze the only input that is accepted is block. Also any type of buffer is negated, whether through the attack itself whiffing or because the actual whiff buffer is cleared (more on this later). Thus if you block a split second before inputting a dp on an opponents wakeup, if they perform a reversal with an ultra freeze, you’ll block, and if they do an attack with a similar number of invincibility frames on startup you’ll beat them.
Let us look at an example: Ken versus Boxer. Ken sweeps boxer, empty jumps and does a delayed ex.dp a few frames after Boxer wakes up. If boxer does a reversal non-ex.hb, Ken’s dp will beat every headbutt except ex.hb. If Balrog does a reversal Ultra/super (with a screen freeze), the dragon punch input will be dropped and Ken will be able to block or counter-attack. The longer Ken delays his dp, the easier it will be for him to beat a reversal headbutt.
Option-select block/delayed DP:
Wins : Some reversal DPs (doesn’t give
CH and is character specific)
Invincible reversals with freezes
Loses : block (but some can still dp FADC fwd.dash)
Characters with invincible specials possible from defensive crouch or stand
Boxer - lp/mp/hp/ex.hb, TAP
Honda - ex.ss, lp/mp/hp/ex.hb
Fei Long - lk/mk/hk/ex.fk
C. Viper - hp.tk
Dee Jay - lk/mk/hk/ex.jm
Blanka - lp/mp/hp/ex.vert-ball
Chun-Li - ex.sbk
Cody - non-ex/ex.zonk
Guy - ex.hk
Ibuki - lk/mk/hk/ex.dk
Guile - lk/mk/hk/ex.fk
Makoto - ex.chop
Dictator - ex.headstomp, ex.devil reverse
Rufus - ex.mk
[*]Zangief - double lariat
This is a tactic I used a lot, most characters don’t have an answer for delayed ex.hb in the corner on their wakeup when they only have chip damage left. For these types of attacks, backdash is never an option, and for about 3/4 of the cast, ultra isn’t an option either because ex.hb can go through or beat most ultras outright. For characters who can make this type of guess/setup safe with fadc fwd, this can really open their opponents to all kinds of things that otherwise wouldn’t be possible because they’re afraid to do reversals on wakeup. Balrog can get a similar effect with delayed ex.dash punches (delayed long enough to avoid the reversal window because they break armor).
Focus Attack O/S Crouch-Tech backdash
Wins : Normal throw (tech)
Non-Armor breaking strike/projectile (multi hits YES, multi projectiles NO)
Loses : Attacks that break armor
Some command throws
For more information about crouch-techs look at the section at the bottom of this post.
Another defensive option-select is focus attack O/S crouch-tech backdash. It sounds really complicated but it’s extremely useful against some opponents who try to put you in a 50/50 mixup. For example lets say that Sagat does DP FADC dash.fwd. On block he’s positive (he can block chun-li’s reversal super). So you can effectively be 50/50’d with normal throw or another DP. In some cases backdash isn’t as safe an option, in some cases DP will outright beat backdash (especially in the corner).
In general, the only DP that breaks armor is Sagat’s powered up tiger uppercut (Angry Scar) and reversal DPs. In the above situation, Sagat would have burned the powered up tiger uppercut and can’t reversal since he recovers first. So if Sagat goes for another DP, you absorb the first hit and backdash, if he goes for a normal throw, you tech the throw. Obviously this isn’t full proof, Sagat can beat the O/S with tiger knee, but that CAN be thrown on startup.
This defensive O/S also incorporates option-select block. The mechanics of a crouch-tech dictates that it has to be delayed a certain amount of time since the window for teching throws is much smaller for crouch-techs versus stand-techs. Thus you’ll have an opportunity to block if he doesn’t delay his Ultra. Also unlike a crouch-tech, you can’t have your normal CH or hit by some invincible reversals.
Overlapping Input Priority O/S
-Throw, Focus Attack, Taunt
-Chain, Cancel, Link
Special move order priority
Overlapping input priority uses the SF4 engine’s method for dealing with simultaneous input. If buttons are pressed at the same time, the higher input takes priority. For example if you press LP+HK you get HK. Since LP has the least priority, it means that normally you can never press two buttons together and get LP (although i’ve been told you can plink jab with the select button or other buttons without function). This is what makes p-linking (priority linking) possible. This is also the basis for a crouch-tech since you can only throw standing, but can tech both crouching and standing. Conversely hitting LK+LP while standing always results in a normal throw and hitting HK+HP while in neutral will always result in a taunt. Thus if an opp taunts, they have to forfeit any stored charge. As far as the special functions (throw, focus attack, taunt), Taunt has more priority than focus attack and if you input them simultaneously while being hit you can “cancel” a focus attack into a taunt.
In general, you can only cancel a focus attack into a select number of special functions which include taunt (not the special taunts like Dudley’s Rose or Guile’s Shades), and Gen’s stance change (which has useful applications as it allows you to recover from a focus attack in 5f versus the 15f-25f associated with a forward dash or backdash). Focus attack cancelled into taunt has a single other usage aside from trolling. Dan’s super-taunt is considered a taunt and not a super so Dan can actually focus attack cancel into super taunt into Ultra 1 (or Ultra 2).
Special move input priority which translates mashed/overlapping inputs into what you were most likely doing, kind of like auto-correct for text input engines. Thus when you have input that’s ambiguous enough to be interpreted as two specials, depending on the character, a special is assumed. When you hold down back and wiggle the stick, it’s more likely that you’ll get rush upper with kicks and dash straight with punches because they have the most priority out of horizontal charge specials with punches and kicks.
An armor cancel allows you to cancel a special with ex.armor into a higher priority special. The only situation in which an armor cancel does not burn meter is when you cancel an ex.dash into TAP. These inherently lose to attacks that break armor, grabs (unless the initial attack is throw invincible), and attacks that recover before the high order special goes active. Keep in mind that armor cancels (like kara grabs) have more startup than just doing the move itself, so at times it can make a punish more difficult/impossible. These can be used as loose option selects where you gamble an EX meter with a relatively safe special on block that can lead into into Ultra. For example, if you read that your opponent is going to throw a fireball (e.g. Maeda Taison Ultra Setup) you can ex.ru with AC input and if you read correctly you punish with an ultra, otherwise you hit the opponent with an opportunity for an ex.ru loop, safety on block, or worst case scenario, get hit with whatever horribly demoralizing combo your opponent can come up with.
Uses for Armor Cancels
AC laggy meaties, for example, if Balrog does a meaty far st.hp, which has a lot of active frames you can ex.ru AC Ultra 1. If he does it too early, you can tag him during his recovery for ex.ru loop combo, but if you do it during the meaty you get a cancel into ultra.
This can also be useful for punishing Dhalsim’s bait into U2 (in specific instances). e.g. full screen lp.fb j.teleport/tk U2 when you ex.dash/TAP to avoid it. You can ex.dash ac ex.hb and have enough back-charge to link U1. This can be baited and punished with teleporting in place, but its an option.
[*]Hit-confirming: If you think you’re opponent is going to press a button, you can ex.ru AC Ultra, this will give them an opportunity to press a button and if they do, you cancel into Ultra and you have no need to hit-confirm or have your ex.hb low profiled
A generic crouch-tech is holding down and pressing jab and short together. This O/S is only activated if the opponent attempts a normal throw (which they have to do standing). This does two things: allows teching of throws AND performs a crouching short if the op doesn’t perform a normal throw. For some characters with really good crouching shorts (e.g. Chun-Li, M.Bison, Ken), crouch-teching can be combined into block strings to combat tick throws. It can also be applied defensively with modified crouch-techs which involve three button presses, two being the jab and short and the third being a button of a higher priority to get that normal instead of a short. Crouch-teching is one of the most well-known defensive option-selects. Crouch-teching is very susceptible to frame traps, more so than stand teching. If a throw is interrupted during startup, it doesn’t yield a counterhit, while a crouch-tech will. In some instances crouch-teching is more unsafe than stand teching because of the risk of frame traps and counterhits as well as telegraphing what you’re trying to prevent.