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Wednesday
Nov122008

Street Fighter HD Remix: Guile

Guile is a solid mid-tier character in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (ST), but it takes quite a bit of player-skill for him to fulfill that potential. As a mid-tier character, he was eligible for a few upgrades, especially in his bad matchups. More than that, was eligible for some fun.

Crazy New Flash Kick

Guile’s roundhouse flash kick goes straight up very high in ST, and has no use I’m aware of. I’ve never seen a good US or Japanese Guile player use it in a real match, so was a ripe place for some new spice. Instead of traveling straight up, it now travels very far forward and diagonally up just a bit.

Guile players salivate at this newfound range, but it comes with a price. Great flash kicks come with great recovery. If blocked, it’s the most vulnerable move in the game. A fierce Dragon Punch is pretty vulnerable if you block it too, but Guile’s roundhouse flash kick leaves him pushed right up against you so that it’s very easy to time a combo as he recovers.

The new flash kick means you can’t jump straight up and down at mid-range versus him anymore. He can use it as an escape if you try to cross him up. He can use it to trade or even clean hit Dhalsim’s yoga fire at mid-range. He can use it easily hit Vega’s slide, while his old flash kicks often missed in that situation.

Over the course of testing, I had to tone down this move twice, each time removing more of the bottom part of the hitbox (for the roundhouse version only). Guile’s flash kick actually has three different hitboxes over the course of the move. The first two I didn’t change at all, and the Guile’s new forward movement is why these first two hitboxes are better able to hit Vega’s slide now. The third hitbox is the one that’s out during the big flash of the flash kick. In development versions of the game, this hitbox could hit a crouching opponent from about half screen away, and could even punish whiffed sweeps from that far. A lot of the new uses of this move were fine, but hitting crouching opponents wasn’t. In the final version of HD Remix, this move will only hit standing opponents from that far away--still substantially better than hitting nothing at all in ST.

Upside-Down Kick

The upside down kick (hold toward or away + roundhouse while close) always looked like an overhead attack…and now it finally is. The opponent now must block this move high. In addition, you can now also activate it from any range by holding toward + roundhouse (it still has really long range). This kick had 15 frames of startup in ST, which would make it the fastest (and longest range) overhead in the game. I slowed it down to 20 frame startup which puts 2 frames faster than the slowest overhead in the game (Fei Long’s).

Guile is such a defensive character that it’s a breath of fresh air to have a new offensive option. The opponent really should be able to block this overhead most of the time, but Guile can tack it on after making the opponent block a Sonic Boom almost any time he wants, as long as he’s willing to lose his charge. (You have to be pretty close to get the overhead to come out when you’re holding back, remember.)

I also had to monkey with the hitboxes for this move. After the first pass, we realized that he could cleanly upside down kick over Sagat’s low fireballs every single time on reaction. It was too crazy for me, so now those low fireballs will hit Guile in this situation.

Then toward the end of development, playtesters started using this move as a long-range poke and discovered that it was extremely high priority. Even when you knew it was coming, it was very hard for most characters to hit with anything. I think giving Guile some fun offense is in order, but not unstoppable-poke offense. In response to this, I had to lower the priority of the move all around. This has virtually no effect when you use the upside down kick as I intended (sneaking in an overhead here and there, after a Sonic Boom or a knock down), but it put an end to the uber-pokes.

Finally, note that even though Guile appears to be off the ground during the upside-downkick, he can still be thrown. I didn’t change that; it was true in ST also.

Super

Guile’s super move fails to connect correctly all the time in ST. It took about four tries to fix this, but it finally works as it seems like it always should have. The super move consists of two consecutive flash kicks, and the second one has a bit more range now. All the hits also knock down and juggle now, and I even had to do some subtlety about changing how fast the enemy falls when he’s hit by this move. You won’t notice that, but without it, the super would miss air juggle hits on certain characters only. Vega was one of those characters, but now Vega gets juggled like everyone else.

In equally big news, there’s now an optional new motion to perform the super. You can still do the old motion, but the new one is hell of a lot more practical: charge down/back, then down, down/forward, forward, up/forward. In other words, charge down/back, then do the old Tiger Knee motion + kick. Ironically, I removed all other Tiger Knee motions, but it seemed appropriate here considering how complicated the old motion was. (The old motion could be performed charge db, df, ub OR charge db, df, db, any up.)

You might ask, “Won’t I get the super to come out accidentally?” I have never had this happen even once, so I don’t think so. You might also worry that Guile can now easily combo into this super. For the most part, comboing normal moves into supers is not practical in ST (yes, I know you can do it). We could have made it very easy for everyone to combo normals into supers, but the lack of this feature is, in my opinion, one of the nice and defining qualities of the SF2 series. It’s not about poking with safe attacks and comboing into a super. Supers are, for the most part, an additional move in your arsenal rather than a combo ender.

So doesn’t Guile break this rule by easily comboing low strong into super with his new motion? You’d think so, but some deep mysterious property of ST’s engine saves us. I cannot figure why this is true, but you cannot combo normal attacks into Guile’s super using this new motion. If you try, you will always get a flash kick instead. Even more deeply mysterious is that if you try to combo a normal move into super using the old, difficult motion, you CAN. This really shouldn’t be true, but somehow it is. So combing into super is no easier or more difficult than it ever was for Guile. We may never know why.

Yet another strange thing is that you can’t use the button-up technique to do Guile’s super, making it the only special or super move in the game with that property. This is a bug, but I was pretty sure that if a programmer fixed this, he would also have made it so comboing into the super was easy, so I never reported this bug.

The damage on this super also took some tweaking. For most of development, it did substantially more damage against jumping opponents than it did in ST (because it actually juggles correctly). Because Guile gains super meter so quickly, and because the motion for the super is very easy now, players were just getting too much damage of this move too often. I reduced the damage quite a bit. Even with this reduction, in the final version the super still does a little more versus jumping opponents than ST, but not a huge amount. The ground version actually does quite a bit less damage than in ST, but the easy motion, knockdown property, and slight extra range on the second part of the super means that it’s much, much more practical to use in real gameplay, so in the end, this is a buff rather than a nerf.

Things That Didn’t Change

One of the most common requests from players was to change around the commands of Guile’s standing kicks. In ST (and HD Remix), the kicks are:

• Back + short = knee (advances Guile while charging)
• Back + medium kick = backward sobat (Guile jumps slightly off the ground and moves back while kicking)
• Back + roundhouse = lunging kick (Guiles moves forward a bit while charging and kicks)

The common request is to find some way to make back + short into Old Guile’s rapid fire kicks. This would allow Guile to rapidly standing short to stop incoming slides while keeping his charge. I admit, this would be useful against Blanka, and Blanka is a bad match for Guile, but we can’t fix everything. The new roundhouse flash kick hits the other slides anyway.

More to the point though, no one could ever agree on which move Guile should lose of the above three. The knee is incredibly useful and basic to his gameplay, so that needs to stay for sure. The back sobat is not used much by most players, but the experts find it indispensable because of a few important, specific things it counters (Dhalsim’s drill at a certain range is one, and there are others). And Guile players were not willing to lose the back + roundhouse lunge kick either. Rather than assign the knee to back + jab + short (strange for a normal move), I just left all those kicks as-is.

I hope Guile players won’t complain about that, because with a huge new flash kick, a long range overhead kick, and an easier, better super, Guile players should thank their lucky stars.

Bad Matchups Mostly Gone

Vega was a very bad match for Guile before, and a lot of it had to do with how hard it is to counter Vega’s slide. It’s good news that he now has a better answer. Sagat was a very tough mach as well, though not so much anymore due to Sagat’s slightly worse fireball recovery. Guile’s worst match was probably versus Dhalsim, so his ability to do *something* at mid-range now combined with Dhalsim’s inability to low punch cleanly under Sonic Booms brings this match from near-hopeless to near-fair. Blanka is still a tough match for Guile, and it's unfortunate that this bad matchup isn't any better for Guile in HD Remix. That said, Guile players should be very happy that three out of his four bad matchups have been addressed. Practice that Blanka match and you'll be very hard to counter indeed.

–Sirlin