Bison always seemed strong in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (ST) because he can suddenly win matches out of nowhere, and he can keep up the pressure against most characters...if he can get things going his way. If he lands a solid jumping roundhouse, he can combo into low forward, then psycho crusher for a dizzy, then follow up with another combo for the win. If he lands a cross-up attack, he can do a different (admittedly difficult) kill-combo. His standing kicks and scissor kicks let him keep up the pressure.
But Bison can’t always put that offense together. Getting out of Ryu’s fireball trap in the corner once it starts is extremely hard. Even getting near Old Sagat is extremely hard. And Honda has a huge advantage over Bison because Bison has no way out of repeated Ochio throws other than his super. In short, Bison lacks defense. He’s the only character in the game with no special move that can be used as a reversal. Even Dhalsim has a teleport to get out of trouble.
I always liked Bison’s character design though. In theory, a character who is all offense and no defense is an interesting addition to the game. In practice, he just has too many matches of disadvantage and he’s not used that often in tournaments. He’s not even considered a second tier character. What to do about it?
A few people suggested that his psycho crusher become a reversal attack (some invulnerability and/or active hitting frames at the start of the move). This is way too powerful and mostly just turns him into Honda. The most common suggestion was to make the headstomp a reversal that can go through fireballs. Even this is too powerful because it means an attempted fireball trap against Bison leads to Bison getting guaranteed damage (the headstomp is fast and would hit fireball throwers during their recovery). Yet another common suggestion was to give Bison a teleport because he has that move in later games. This would allow him to escape from trouble, but not get any free damage. Even that is too strong, in my opinion. Yes he needs a way to get out of trouble, but it should not lead to guaranteed damage and it should put Bison at some risk.
Reversal Devil’s Reverse
The devil’s reverse is that move that hardly anyone uses where you charge down, then up + punch. It makes you leap into the air, then you can press punch again to fly around with your blue fiery arm extended. In HD Remix, this move now has a few invulnerable frames on startup. Bison can use it to escape a fireball trap, but he’s also committing to a devil’s reverse, and gets no guaranteed damage. He can try to reset the situation with this move.
A couple notes about the new Devil’s Reverse. Bison is as vulnerable as ever as he leaves the ground, so you can jump kick him as he leaves the ground to stop him. Ryu can actually still keep up a trap against Bison by alternating fireballs and then jump roundhousing (or jumping strong for juggles) when expects Bison to try to Devil’s Reverse out. This is preferable to the situation in ST though, because it requires both players to make careful decisions, as opposed to the fireball trap just winning flat-out.
In fact, it can’t escape jumping attacks very well at all. Earlier versions in development did allow Bison to avoid cross-up combos most of the time, but this was really never supposed to the be reason for changes to the devil’s reverse. I rolled back the invulnerability to be about as little as possible while still allowing him to escape fireball traps with it.
For many months of development in HD Remix, the devil’s reverse put the opponent into a juggle state if it actually hit. That means you could follow up with two jumping strongs and then nick them with one hit of a super if you have super meter. On the one hand, no one should really get hit by devil’s reverse because it’s enormously telegraphed. On the other hand, the entire sequence (with super) did more than 40% damage, and it was just uncomfortably much. You’ll have to live without this one.
Bison also has a new move: the fake slide. His regular slide from ST is unchanged, and you can still hold down/back to charge up as you (regular) slide up to your knocked-down opponent (a common Bison maneuver). The command for the new fake slide is hold diagonally down/forward and press roundhouse. This means you are charged for a headstomp or devil’s reverse, but you lose your charge for psycho crushers and scissor kicks when you fake slide. I actually originally wanted the fake slide to be performed by holding the roundhouse button down for X frames when you slide, which would have allowed him to keep all four special moves charged. We had technical difficulties with this, but maybe it’s for the best, because the move is good enough as it is.
Why have a fake slide at all? Bison is about offense, so here is one more offensive tool. This move isn’t really intended to change his position in the rankings though. I don’t think it allows him to beat characters he couldn’t beat without the slide. It’s more to reinforce what Bison is about. When you pressure the opponent with standing forward and standing roundhouse, you are also at just the right range to fake slide, then throw. The fake slide recovers much more quickly than the real slide, travels a shorter distance, and it does not put the enemy into blockstun because it can’t hit at all. It’s just a way to travel quickly (and then usually throw!).
I actually call this one of Bison’s “circus tricks,” meaning it’s something you can randomly throw into an attack pattern and hope for the best. Though it’s not a super-solid lock down (it can’t even hit!), it will catch people off guard and we already know people will call you cheap when you use it to throw. It should be great fun.
Miscellaneous: Jump up Strong and Stand Jab
Two other odds and ends. In ST, Bison’s jumping strong punch can air juggle for 3-hits. This is true for his jumping toward and jumping away punches with strong, but not true for his jumping straight up strong. This always seemed like an oversight to me, because his fist has that same blue fiery graphics during the jump straight up version. Now the jumping straight up strong punch has the same ability to juggle.
Finally, Bison’s standing jab is slightly higher priority. This does not give him any extra air defense (the new anti-fireball startup of the devil’s reverse is quite enough defense for him). The purpose of this change is to let his standing jabs reliably hit Honda’s torpedo and Blanka’s roll. Bison has trouble against Honda, so any tiny advantage like that helps. Besides, Balrog’s standing jab beats both of those special moves easily, every time, and it really looks like’s Bison’s should, too. I just extended the hitbox slightly so that you can now jab incoming Honda torpedos and Blanka balls.
The new Bison can still practically kill you with a solid hit, if he ever gets one. He can still perform various “circus tricks” such as randomly jumping around with strong, or headstomping, and now we can add fake sliding and devil’s reversing to the list. He now has at least some way to attempt to get out of lockdown traps, but not without risk. In HD Remix, he feels like even more of a pressure character (yay for fake slide), and a slippery fish when he’s forced into devil’s reversing on defense.