The importance of the combos system freedom when there will always be an optimum combos


I was messing around with KOF 14 lately and while the combo system is fun it has me wondering about the reality about combos.

Now let us talk about the more open ones like MvC 3 for example and another like SF5.

Some of the more common complaints i hear about SF5 is that the combo system is limited. The point i want to address is that there will always be an Optimum combo that you should be doing to make the best out of the situations during matches. Why would you go to different variants when at the end of the day there will always be a " Best option " ?

Now in light of this, would it matter if you have 10 different combo routes instead of 3 ones. Wouldn’t you want to just use the best one ?

I get that a more open system make for a fun training mode experience but does it affect having fun while playing the game itself and trying to do your best to win ?


Because sometimes you just gotta style on fools. Ain’t nothin’ in SF5 stylish.


No, there’s not a 100% optimal combo you should always be doing in games with good combo systems. Sometimes you’ll want to sacrifice damage for positioning, reset for mixups, go for damage using bar or keep the bar for utility, etc.

A good combo system gives you more than just damage.


Basically this.

Take someone like Ky in Xrd. He has a huge bunch of combo enders, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so you get to make actual decisions while you combo people, which makes the combo system more interesting imo. Deciding between if you want to optimize for damage, pressure, oki or meter building depending on matchup and situation means there’s no set answer, and maybe not even a correct answer, to which combo route you’d want to take.

That, and having different combo routes adjusts the learning curve of the game to some degree. If a character has both simple entry-level combos and difficult optimized combos, it’s easier to grow with the character than if all their combos are really hard, while also keeping things more interesting for more advanced/technical players who want to optimize their conversions.


Spacing at the start of the combo also affects what the optimum route is. It’s kind of why SFxT got a little bland after a while for me, the chains automatically pushed you forward so they’d always connect into launcher.


Just look at SFIV Ryu. Want wall carry? End in tatsu (and you can change the strength depending on whether or not you want to start a zoning game). Want safe jump? End in LK tatsu or sweep. Want x-up oki? End in sweep. Want meter? End in LP DP. Want damage? End in HP/EX DP. Don’t have enough for super or ultra in the corner? EX Tatsu EX Hadou EX Tatsu. And all this is without even considering FADC…


Well said. When Capcom announced they were going to dumb down the combo system in SFV I heard a lot of people saying “combos don’t add any depth to the game anyways!” which really irked me.


Even discounting meter spending, bursts, and combo difficulty you generally have combos that have better meter gain, more damage, better setups, more corner carry, reset opportunities, and style. Granted, you’ll rarely have to pick between all of them and rather tend to have 2-3 options. Like right now I’m playing Raven in Xrd. I can do my combos such that I either get a chance to sneak in a command grab reset, a corner carry and more damaging option, an oki option, or build some Excitement gauge. Granted I find the oki option to be superior 90% of the time because he’s a vortex character but the other options are perfectly valid if I either think they won’t catch onto my reset, or perhaps am willing to spend 25% meter for the oki after the corner carry, or have been landing all my dunks and want the last tick of Excitement to get free combos after a command grab.

Now, Raven doesn’t really have any hard combos, but my other character, Axl, does! He’s got all sorts of shenanigans he can go for with TK Bomber. That lets a more execution heavy player get better oki or damage against some characters in certain situations. But he doesn’t need to do it; it’s a bonus for the character and he works perfectly well without it. This is good combo design. Everyone can play the character and scale what they get out to how confident they are in their own combo skill. Axl also has the choice of combo enders for his juggles midscreen, going for either damage + tech traps, full screen push and burst safety, or a hard knockdown for oki. They’re all damn useful in their own ways.

Eh, combos in SFIV tended to add execution depth but they didn’t really give you the same choices you get in Xrd with some characters. Like with Sakura the entirety of her combo choices generally came down to “am I confident I can hit these links” and “do I want to spend meter for the EX Tatsu juggle to charged fireball setup.” I guess you could also use MP Shouken over HP for the auto-5f safejump? That and the link/FADC system meant that the barrier to entry for doing combos was really high. It wasn’t very good.

Not to say that SFV has a great one. With Necalli you really get a choice of oki + V Gauge vs corner carry if you can confirm super quickly, otherwise it’s really “spend meter” vs “don’t spend meter” because there’s no reason to go other routes. It’s easier to pull off (which is good) but there’s not really any difference in depth.


Sounds like i’ve been doing combos all wrong op…
Every game has its own structure for combos and what you can do with them, but as a rule, a combo comes out of a setup, and you’ve got to be ready to
A) pick the right normal (sometimes a special) to beat them in whatever situation you’re in
B) know the best set up for following that normal
C) know how to end the setup (sometimes this involves a frametrap, bait etc, rather than diving straight in) with the “optimal” combo for that set up
D) know a handful of mixup scenarios that are similar to that combo, but misleading enough to plant the seed for your next setup and maintain pressure
E) know a safe exit to that combo in the event that you mess up and end up in a blockstring scenario, so you can close it off without being punished

If all you’re doing is waiting for your turn so you can get your bnb out then you’re a Ken player.


With a lot of teams/good characters in SFxT comboing to launcher isn’t actually optimal. Leaving 100-200 damage on the table with characters like Raven or Kazuya is very very possible if you just boost.


That’s a bit disingenous because you can also pick “non-combo-variation” characters in Xrd and compare them to characters in SFIV that do have practical options and you’ll get the same thing. But in general, anime fighters do tend to have better combo variation than not just stoic fighters like SF, but basically any other FG genre. That’s because, in general, anime fighters tend to have a bigger emphasis on combos. This is reflected in their mechanics with stuff like RC’s, dash and jump cancels, magic series (or gatlings), launch follow ups etc.

It comes down to personal choice, but I personally dislike the Goldilocks style combo system found in many anime games (don’t dash too fast or too slow, don’t hit too high or too low, don’t cancel too quickly or too slowly… do it juuuuuuust right otherwise the combo won’t work. On this character) To me, personally, that system combined with gravity etc is a much higher barrier to entry than learning the rhythm of a simple universal link.

On the topic of GG and “optimum combos”, Baiken in the older GGs is probably a good example of a character that goes against this idea completely. She has relatively few universal combos. A corny way to look at it is that her moves are “words” and combos are “conversations”. You construct a conversation relevant to the current situation. To a Guilty Gear Baiken player, her combos are “intuitive”, but they only become intuitive after hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of experience. A combo that may be optimum in one situation may probably not even work in another, very similar situation.