This section explains the mechanics of an attack. The system of Virtua Fighter is such that any attack can be uniquely described by its phases, level and class. These will be detailed in the following sections.
- Attack Phases
- Start Up
- Basic Attack Analysis
- Active First Wins
- Attack Trades
- Attack Tracking
- Attack Levels
- High Attacks
- Mid Attacks
- Low Attacks
- Special High Attacks
- Special Mid Attacks
- Special Low Attacks
- Attack Classes
- Side Kick vs Mid Kick
- Circular Kick
- Double Punch
- Double Kick
- Return Attacks
- Application of Return Attacks
An attack transitions through three phases from start to end. The duration of each phase is measured in frames. The game runs at 60 frames per second, so knowing this it is possible to calculate how fast, in real time, something occurs. But, the absolute speed of something isn't particularly interesting. What is interesting, is how fast one thing is compared to another. Thus, frames are used as a unit of measure by which we can compare. This will all become apparent later.
For now, you just need to know that our smallest unit of measurement is one frame (1f). If Event A takes 5 frames to complete, and Event B takes 10 frames, then we know that Event A is faster than Event B (twice as fast, in fact). Let's not digress any further, and get back to the topic of Attack Phases.
The Attack Phases are illustrated in the chart below, which represents the anatomy of a basic attack.
When you press , a punch is initiated and it takes some time for the arm to fully extend and hit. This time it takes from the start up until the first frame hit detection is known as the Start Up . Generally, the Start Up frames for an attack have no practical application. More commonly, though, we refer to the Execution of the attack. It's a subtle difference which is explained in the next section.
In the VFDC Command Lists the Execution speed of every attack (if known) is provided in the Exe column.The chart above shows 11 frames of Start Up for the punch. But this actually represents a punch that executes in 12 frames, and we more commonly refer to this as a 12 frame punch. Why isn't this an 11 frame punch? The answer is because hit detection doesn't begin until the 12th frame where the attack becomes Active. So, simply referring to the 11 frames where nothing has really happened yet doesn't mean much to anyone. We're only interested in when something happens, on the very next frame.
The simple relationship between Execution and Start Up is:
Execution = Start Up + 1
It's a subtle, but important detail, especially when you're analysing the frame data.
In the VFDC Command Lists the duration of the Active phase of every attack (if known) is provided in the Act column.When a punch has fully extended, hit detection usually lasts for a small amount of frames, typically 1 or 2. This is commonly known as the Active phase, during which time the opponent can be either hit by, guard, or even reverse the attack.
The chart above shows 2 Active frames.
When the hit phase ends, the punching arm begins to retract until the entire attack has ceased and the player is free to move again. This final phase is known as the Recovery.
The chart above shows 14 frames of Recovery .
The duration of the Recovery phase is not usually documented as it has little, to no, practical value. However, you can calculate the Recovery of an attack if you know the durations for Execution, Active and Total phases:
Recovery = Total - Execution - Active + 1
In the chart above, 27 (total) - 12 (execution) - 2 (active) + 1 = 14 frames.
In the VFDC Command Lists the Total duration of every attack (if known) is provided in the Tot column.The length of the entire attack, from start to end.
The chart above shows an attack with a total of 27 frames.
Basic Attack Analysis(top)
This section will briefly look into cases where Player 1 and Player 2 are executing attacks at around the same time, and the factors that determine which attack will succeed. Basically, when opponents execute attacks near the same time, and within range of each other, the attack that reaches the Active phase first will win.
Active First Wins(top)
Consider an example where Player 1 and 2 attack at the same time:
Player 1's attack wins because it's faster. That is, it reaches the Active phase first and therefore is said to Execute faster than Player 2's attack. So even if Player 1 attacks after Player 2 (1 frame later to be exact), Player 1's attack still wins because it becomes active first due to its faster execution.
The rules for attack trades is what makes 'crushing' a rising attack possible!What happens when two attacks reach their active phase at the same time? In this example, Player 1 attacks two frames later than Player 2 such that both attacks become active on the same frame.
The rule for when two attacks collide, or trade, at the same time is as follows:
- The attack that does the highest damage wins.
- If the damage is equal, then the attack with the slower execution wins.
- If the damage and execution are equal, then the player with 50 pts life less than the opponent wins.
- Otherwise, you'll get a double hit.
There's a common misconception held by many players in how tracking works, so let's clear one thing right off the bat: Attacks do not hold any special tracking properties .
Whether it's a , a jumping kick, or a charge attack, any and all attacks in the game have the potential to track the opponent. The primary factor that determines whether or not an attack will track is the action of your opponent.
That is, if your opponent is doing something while your attack is executing, then your attack will track.
I'm sure there have been many times when you thought you successfully dodged an attack but still got hit out of it. This is because you recovered from the dodge, tried to do something , all the while the attack was still executing, and thus it tracked and hit you.
If you press any button at all, even if it's , then that equates to you doing something .
So with charge attacks that have long execution times, the chances of it tracking the opponent are increased since during this time, the opponent is likely to do something .
For a more detailed look at how tracking works, refer to the Frames Guide under the section Why did I get hit out of my successful evade?
An attack's level determines where it hits. In the Virtua Fighter system, there are three main attack levels:
There are also Special (or EX) variants of each attack level with their different properties discussed below.
In addition to the above three attack levels, there is also the Down (or Ground ) attack level. All characters have Down Attacks (typically , or ) which can only be used when the opponent is in a downed state.
High attacks will hit standing characters who aren't guarding or are hopping, but will whiff crouching characters and leave the attacker vulnerable. High attacks can be guarded while standing. The most basic high attack is the punch
Middle attacks will hit standing and ducking characters who aren't guarding and will also hit hopping characters. They can be guarded while standing but not while crouching. Some mid attacks, such as an elbow or sidekick will cause a crouching opponent (guarding or not) to stagger on hit. This stagger typically won't occur if the same attack hits a standing opponent. Different frame advantages result.
Low attacks will hit standing and crouching characters who aren't guarding. They will hit opponents who are standing and guarding, but not crouching and guarding. Low attacks will also whiff hopping characters if the hopping character is airborne while the attack is active.
Most* low attacks enter a crouching state on their first execution frame, so in the example below wins because it crouches under the high and causes it to miss:
*exceptions are standing low attacks like Jeffry's
Special High Attacks(top)
Also known as EX High. In the VFDC Command Lists, these are denoted by H* in the Lvl column.
Special High attacks will whiff characters that are merely crouching. However, they can hit characters that are executing or recovering from a crouching low attack. Consider this scenario:
If Jeffry's was a normal high attack, then the would have been successful. However, since Jeffry's is special high and reached the active phase first, then it beats the low attack.
Aside from this property, Special High attacks do not afford any additional protection against low attacks during their start up, and can still lose out (i.e. get Counter Hit by) a low attack. Consider the following:
In this scenario, the wins because it reached active phase first, even though the is a Special High.
Therefore, Special High attacks will only beat a low attack provided it reaches the active phase first.
Special Mid Attacks(top)
Also known as EX Mid. In the VFDC Command Lists, these are denoted by M* in the Lvl column.A Special Mid attack is a mid attack that can be safely guarded while ducking or standing. An example is Shun's Chouwan or Akira's . This makes the attack less powerful as special mids are easier to guard than other mid attacks.
A Special Mid forces a crouch guarding opponent to stand while breaking their guard. Some special mid attacks have a followup attack. Against a crouch guarding opponent, this followup to the special mid will be a guaranteed hit.
An example of this is Akira's or . If the is guarded by a crouching player, then the followup or is guaranteed to hit.
Special Low Attacks(top)
Also known as EX Low. In the VFDC Command Lists, these are denoted by L* in the Lvl column.A Special low attack is a low attack that can be guarded while standing. An example of this is the low punch . This makes the attack less powerful as special lows are easier to guard than other low attacks.
Attacks can be classed by the body part(s) being used to strike. This is important for understanding how Reversal, Sabaki and Inashi skills work since they only apply to specific Attack Classes at specific Attack Levels. The Attack Classes currently defined in Virtua Fighter 5 are:
- Circular Kick
- Double Punch
- Double Kick
An attack using the a single hand or fist. Attack Levels for Punch attacks can be High, Mid or Low along with Special (or Ex) variants. The different types of Punch class attacks are:
An attack using the foot. Attack Levels for Kick attacks can be either High, Mid or Low along with Special variants. The different types of Kick class attacks are:
Side Kick vs Mid Kick(top)
A subtle but important point needs to be made about Side Kicks and Mid Kicks. Even though both are Kick attacks that hit in the middle region, the game engine distinguishes between these two classes. Generally speaking, Side Kicks are long protruding kick attacks where the foot impacts the mid region. Most character's is a Side Kick class attack. On the other hand, Mid Kicks are usually any other middle hitting Kick attack where the foot may sweep across the mid region vertically, but not necessarily stop or impact there. An example of this is Jacky's High Angle Kick, , which has his foot sweeping in an upward direction, kicking through the mid section.
An attack using the elbow. Elbow attacks can be either High or Mid, and Mid Elbows are commonly performed with the command. The different types of Elbow class attacks are:
An attack using the knee. Knee attacks are Mid and are commonly performed with the command.
Also known as a Kick Flip, or Flip Kick.A kicking attack performed by a backward somersaulting or flipping manoeuvre. All Somersault attacks are Mid and are commonly performed with either a or command.
A spinning kick that travels in a circular motion. Circular Kicks can be either High, Mid or Low and are commonly performed with a command. The different types of Circular Kick class attacks are:
To help visualise the circular, or sweeping, movement of the attack, refer to the following figures:
A simultaneous attack with both hands. Double Punch class attacks can be either High or Mid. The different types of Double Punch class attacks are:
A simultaneous attack with both feet. Double Kick class attacks can be either High, Mid or Low. The different types of Double Kick class attacks are:
An attack with the head. Head class attacks can be High, Mid or Low. The different types of Head class attacks are:
Goh's Guard Break?
Mid Head (HHD)
An attack with the shoulder. Shoulder class attacks are Mid.
An attack with the back. Back class attacks are Mid.
Return Attacks are the next step in standard defense and fall under four categories:
- Inashi (Parry)
- Sabaki (Parry)
Only one character, Jeffry, in VF5FS doesn't have some kind of Return Attack, whereas every other character has at least one of the skills. If used properly, the opponent's momentum is lost and matches can be won.
But with that in mind, these aren't "instant win!" moves in any way. Like nearly all moves, they must be used in a wise manner, or rather, by predicting your opponent's actions.
A Reversal is a motion that when successful will stop an incoming attack and automatically hit back , usually inflicting damage and resulting in a knockdown. However, there are some cases where the reversal inflicts no damage, doesn't knock down and instead sets up for another followup, such as Aoi's circular kick reversals.
Reversals are specific to Attack Class as well as Attack Level . For instance, Pai can reverse a mid hitting Punch with , but she cannot reverse a mid hitting Double Punch.
Common inputs for reversals are:
- High Attack Reversal
- Mid Attack Reversal
- Low Attack Reversal
Reversals are unique to the characters that have them. That is, not every character has them, and those that do can't necessarily reverse every type of attack.
An exception to the universal input for reversals is Lei-Fei. He has an automatic (or passive) reversal during his stance. While he is neutral in this stance he can reverse high punches, mid punches, low punches, and even elbows, without the need of further inputs (passive).
Reversals are detailed, with damage and attack class/level, in the VFDC Command Lists for characters that have them.
An Inashi is a motion that when successful will parry or deflect an incoming attack. Aoi is the only character that have moves () categorized as an inashi. Inashi are specific to Attack Class as well as Attack Level. An inashi does no damage directly, and instead of knocking down the opponent, will result in some frame advantage to guarantee a followup attack:
A Sabaki is a regular attack or motion with attack-deflection properties. The main difference between Sabaki and Reversal/Inashi is that the Sabaki will always animate regardless of the opponent's action, whereas a Reversal or Inashi will only activate when it connects successfully against an opponent's attack.
Sabaki are specific to Attack Class and Attack Level .
Sabaki can be further classified as two types:
Sabaki-attacks are just like regular attacks, but with some built-in deflection property. If used at the right time, they can successfully deflect the opponent's attack and hit for good reward. Sabaki-attacks can also be useful during Nitaku situations. For example, Aoi and Lei Fei's have the ability to beat throws and Sabaki elbow class attacks.
Sabaki-reversals are a deflecting motion that inflict no damage. When successful, some allow for a continuation attack. An example is Goh's . It can Sabaki high and mid punches and elbows and gives Goh two options: use the frame advantage, which is based upon the timing of the input in relation the the opponent's attack, or to lead to Tsukami ( > ).
Another example of Sabaki-reversal are Goh's . When successful they give frame advantage. Even if the Sabaki isn't successful, he will be in a crouched position, where he can mix up his offensive.
Finally, Akira has which will Sabaki high Punches, high Kicks and low Punches. When successful, he can apply a continuation attack , which will crumple the opponent, allowing for a combo opportunity.
Note, however, that Sabaki-reversals are generally vulnerable to throws. The one exception to this is that Goh's has the unique ability to deflect any throw when performed with the correct timing.
In summary, due to their deflective properties, Sabakis can be applied when you're disadvantaged where you wouldn't otherwise use a normal attack. Turn the tables on your opponent!
Application of Return Attacks(top)
While you are performing a Reversal, Inashi or Sabaki-reversal, you're vulnerable to being thrown! So while performing it, a good habit to develop is to buffer in a Throw Escape. This is discussed in more detail in the Defensive Techniques section.With the need for you to correctly guess not only the attack class but also the attack level, coupled with the unpredictability of a human opponent, Return Attacks in general can be seen as more of a burden than an asset to your character's movelist. They certainly aren't "instant win!" techniques.
But not all is bad, they have their place if you choose to use them wisely!
If your opponent uses a string you know well or abuses the same attack or setup, it becomes a useful "Stop That!" Some lead to quick knockdowns or guaranteed advantage for further, sometimes large, damage.
Several may even have a niche of usage and could even be anti-character.
In summary, Return Attacks can be high risk for little reward, but with good reads and some character knowledge, they can find their way into your game and help you shut down a predictable opponent.