The Focus Attack Debate


I’m not going to get into this in much detail because everyone has already made up their minds (haha) on this. But once again like I said earlier, what people think passes for “mind games” makes me cringe.
What focus attacks do to the overall mind game of SF reduces the game to “I thought he was gonna do this, but he did that and I was surprised”. This is to SF/2-D fighting mind games what Green Eggs and Ham is to literature. The positional aspect of mind games is negated (poking to prod a jump/dash/run/crouch/lay down) because the strongest defensive aspect is still there. The distance element of mind games is mostly negated since the whole cast fights at the same distance.
Also to eliminate some common misconceptions in this thread.

–Focusing does not help balance. SF4 has a rigid top tier. SF4 has been horribly unbalanced almost solely because the #1 & 2 characters can use focus attacksbetter than all the others. Were you to play CvS2 in all P groove (don’t do that), the top tier would be very rigid also (Cammy/Sagat then a 5-6 character 2nd tier). This is merely an excuse for laziness in game design and is completely wrong. People need to stop going there.

–Focus does not help character variety. The variety of character types is completely negated because focus attacks would solve the character too completely. These character archetypes are completely eliminated and in their place, more semi grappler characters are inserted. Focus attack does not promote character variety, it promotes homogenity.

Like I said I’m not going to get into too much detail here mostly because everyone’s minds are made up and not willing to listen to logic. It’s just like I said earlier. What people think passes for “skill” and “mind games” are why there will never be another great 2-D fighter.

Once again, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This is something I’ve been saying for years, but I don’t think people even know the definition of mind games anymore. “I thought you were going to do this but you did that” is a mind game in the same way that Green Eggs and Ham is a book. In other SFs/other 2-D fighting games a distance character will make sacrifices of damage (either for or against) in order to achieve the desired position. In almost all versions of SF2, playing Dhalsim involved a fair amount of getting hit on purpose just to get some kind of other objective. This is not in any game with focus attacks. Why would it be?

Also even in the mid-range game, there are FAR fewer multi-level setups. For example, ST Vega. A lot of the time I’m poking, I’m not trying to get any damage. If you happen to run into something, that’s fine. I’m just trying to move you out of that space. In 4, this doesn’t exist. Why would you back up? You can’t damage me from back there. What would I gain by you jumping? You still have access to your strongest defensive option in the air and for some characters, you have multiple offensive options in the air also. I gain nothing from moving you. This is why there is no viable Vega-type character in SF4. He’d be less than useless. These are the types of things that this kind of game eliminates.

Also, even the most basic element of position is useless in this game except for combos. Because fireballs are mostly useless, you can’t really use the stage as a weapon in this kind of game. For example in ST, on Ken’s stage if I have a dominating FB, half the fight for me is trying to put you in the corner and then trying to stand on the dock pillar. By ceding that position to me, you probably lost the round right there. There’s nothing even REMOTELY close to that in any game with a focus attacks. This dumbs the game down tremendously. You no longer have to worry about stopping my drive for position and avoiding this kind of strategy. You no longer have to think about whether or not I’m sacrificing damage for position or going out of my way for some kind of throw/move that will put you in the corner. This strategy is dead.

And on the topic of character variety, you completely missed the point. For the sake of argument, let’s say I agree with you. (You’re wrong by the way since 3 of the 4 characters you listed play as semi-grapplers, but again, let’s say for the sake of argument that I agree) These character archetypes are in other 2-D games, but all those other types of characters that can’t be put into a game with a parry are in too. Even pretending I agree with you, that’s less than 1/2 the character variety that shows up even in half-assed 2-D games like CFJ and CvS1. For better games like ST, CvS2, a couple versions of KoF, that’s probably less than 1/3.

As I’ve been saying before, this is why 2-D fighting is mostly dead. Why would you even bother putting out another 2-D fighting game when even the enthusiasts of the game don’t really understand what makes 2-D fighting work.


Take a stab at SF4, fair enough, but ‘Green Eggs and Ham’? That’s a real classic.

“Adults are obsolete children, and to hell with them” - Theodore ‘Dr Seuss’ Geisel

True nuff.


Perhaps I’m stupid but what exactly is the debate here?

From that post I got “Focus negating options and offence”.


I’m pretty sure I’ve read this elsewhere, but you s/parry/focus attack/ …

EDIT: oh hay


Lol just brightened up my day at work from that laugh. Good stuff :confused:


This would have been a good troll post if you took the time to write something new instead of copy/pasted actual posts. You sir, have let good trolls down.


It’s not really much of a debate if you’re asking questions and then answering them yourself. Take a lesson in critical thinking or just general common sense please.


I read this…then i scrolled down…then i lol’d

didn’t read it though…


if you didnt ‘get’ what he was doing here as soon as u read the first line youre a noob


A parody on parry rants.

I like it.



Well Focus Attacks are both better and worse than parries. they’re better in that they require a “sacrifice” of life to perform, and they’re good/bad/worse depending on which character’s focus attack is being discussed.

Like Sagat, Akuma, and M.Bison have really good focus attacks. Sagat’s focus increases his hitbox so he can hit people jumping in with it while they’re still airborne. Akuma and M.Bison’s are good because they can evade an attack while saving the actual hyper armor.

But some characters like Rose and Balrog, have terrible focus attacks. Rose’s is probably one of the worst in SF4, small hitbox, deceptively small range, and very inconsistent. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve baited somebody into attacking me, and I let the focus attack go right after they hit. And what do you know? They landed behind me and I’m stuck in terrible recovery, awaiting punishment.

I use her focus attack mostly defensively. Meaning I skip the attack and just backdash, since Rose’s dashes are so good. Even that application can sometimes be inconsistent. if I get crossed up, I have to time it so auto-correct doesn’t turn my backdash into a forward dash.

The focus system might not be as abusable as the parry system, but it’s by no means an excellent universal tool.


Focus attacks are fine. They provide a great tool at a decent risk. And against some characters using the FA is a death sentence. For instance, if you try to focus any of Akuma’s attacks when he has Ultra he can cancel the attack into the Ultra and 90% of the time it is inescapable.

Also if you focus the wrong attack you can end up eating a huge combo at highly unreduced rates.

It is a risk and reward system that is well balanced.