One player may compete against the computer, or two players may simultaneously compete against each other. Each player has an 8-way joystick and 4 buttons.
The buttons on the arcade are typically laid out in the following fashion:
Though they might as well be laid out like this:
The joystick works intuitively in that pressing left will generally move your character left, and pressing right will generally move your character right. But it is more important to think in terms of relative direction.
- If your character is facing to the right, then pressing left on the joystick means backward, and pressing right on the joystick means forward.
- If your character is facing to the left, then pressing left on the joystick means forward, and pressing right on the joystick means backward.
For this reason, all movelists assume that your character in standing on the left side, facing right. If you are standing on the opposite side, reverse directions.
How to Play
Each battle consists of certain number of rounds (depending on the settings, standard setting is 3 rounds) between you and your opponent. At the start of each round, both player's life or health bars are full. The first player to drive the other player's health bar to zero wins the round. In a 3 round game, the first player to win 2 rounds wins the match and moves on to the next opponent. In a 5 round game, a player has to win 3 rounds and in a 1 round game only 1. If a single player loses to the computer, the game is over and the player must continue to rematch the recent opponent.
To win a round, the player must use his or her character's attack moves to damage the opponent, and block or dodge the opponent's attacks. Each player may attack from a standing or crouching position, or they may jump in to the air and attack. To attack from a standing position, press any single attack button. To attack from a crouching position, pull the joystick in a downward direction (including both diagonals) and press any single attack button. To attack from the air, direct your character to jump straight up, or jump in a diagonal position, and press any single attack button in mid-air.
To block an attack, a player must push backwards on the joystick when the opponent attacks (otherwise, pressing back on the joystick moves the player away from the opponent.) Blocking can be done standing which blocks middle and high attacks, as well as attacks in the air, but does not block attacks which are low to the ground. Blocking can also be down crouching by pressing the joystick diagonally down and back. A Crouching block will successfully block low and middle attacks. High attacks will usually go over your character's head if they are crouching, but a crouching block does not defend against air attacks.
In addition to normal attacks there are attacks known as command moves and special moves. Command moves are special combinations of a joystick direction and a particular attack button that produces a different attack than when the button is pressed alone. A special move is a move that requires a more complicated joystick motion and an attack button to perform. Special attacks can be blocked like any other attack, but they do what's known as "tick damage." That is, even when blocked, they removed a single hit point from your health bar. Most special moves have a pause associated with them that leave you vulnerable to attack if you miss the opponent, or "whiff".
The last form of attack available in this game is a throw. Throws are executed by standing immediately next to your opponent, pressing the joystick either towards or away, and pressing the C button. If performed correctly, your character will grab the opponent and toss them to the ground in a manner specific to your character's fighting style. Different characters have a different array of throws and throws are unblockable.
Underneath his life bar, each fighter has another energy bar: the spirit bar. Each match starts with a full spirit bar for both fighters. Each time a character uses a special move, a certain amount of his spirit energy will be consumed. As your spirit energy drains, your special moves look less and less impressive and do less and less damage. Special Moves can only be performed as long as your character has enough spirit energy. Spirit energy can be recharged by holding down the certain buttons depending on the exact game, but recharging energy leaves you vulnerable for enemy attacks. The spirit bar will be in one of three colors (green, yellow or red) depending on how much spirit is left.
By pressing the D Button, you can taunt your enemy and steal part of his spirit bar. But taunting always leaves you vulnerable for enemy attacks, so it should be used with caution.
By pressing the Joystick in the forward or backward direction twice, you can either dash forward (to make a surprise attack) or make a fast retreat (to get out of a dangerous situation). The joystick must be pressed pretty fast for the dashing to work.
After the player character lost a certain amount of life energy, his life bar (or his playermodel in AOF3) will start flashing red. This allows you to perform a desperation move. Desperation moves are very deadly, but they also take away 75% of your spirit energy.
Ultimate KO (AOF3 only)
An Ultimate Knock Out occurs when you finish an opponent who has very little life left (10% or less) with a desperation move. An Ultimate KO always leads to the win of the whole match, not just the single round, independent of who won how many other rounds.