One player may compete against the computer, or two players may simultaneously compete against each other. Each player has an 8-way joystick and 6 buttons.
The buttons on the arcade are typically laid out in the following fashion:
The L, M, and H stands for light, medium, and hard respectively. In general, light attacks are less powerful and faster, and hard attacks are more powerful but slower, with medium attacks in between.
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 instructions are given with respect to forward and backward since the left and right directions change purpose when your character switches directions.
The following directions assume that your character is facing right, the starting direction of every fight for player one, who begins on the left side:
How to Play
Each battle consists of best-of-three round match 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. The first player to win two total rounds wins the match and moves on to the next opponent. 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 or attacks known as overhead attacks which start high and travel down (such as Ken's axe kick).
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. For example, Ken and Ryu's fireball attack, called Hadouken, is performed by sliding the joystick in a circular sweeping motion from down to forward, and finished off with any punch button. In this example, the strength of the punch button used happens to dictate the speed at which Ken and Ryu's fireball attack travels across the screen. 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".
In addition to the health bar shown at the top of the screen, each player has a super meter at the bottom. As the player attacks and damages the opponent, and as the player takes damage from the opponent, the super meter fills up incrementally. The super meter fills up to three distinct levels of power. A player may execute a Super Combo as long as the super meter is filled to at least one level of power. Super Combos are activated by inputting slightly more complex motions than special moves. When they are successfully executed, the game will freeze for a brief moment, and then the animation and attack associated with the Super Combo begins. If the Super Combo connects and is not blocked, it will do substantial damage to the opponent. Super Combos can be used to turn the tide of a battle. Every player has more than one unique Super Combo.
Also known as Meteor Combos, these are combos that require a full super meter (all three levels) before you can perform them. They will empty the entire gauge as soon as the move is initiated. While some characters have moves like this prior to Street Fighter EX2 Plus, every character is given access to at least one Meteor combo in EX2 Plus and EX3. Successfully defeating an opponent with a Meteo Combo automatically counts as a level 3 Super Combo finish.
Canceling is the act of immediately interrupting one attack with another. Only certain moves can cancel in to other moves. Canceled moves are very difficult to block if the first move connects. Normal and command attacks can cancel into other normal or command attacks, special moves, and some Super Combos. Special Moves can also cancel into Super Combos. To cancel one move into another, you must input the motion required for the next move while the animation for the first move is still going. If performed correctly, the animation for the first move will instantly stop, and the animation for the second move will instantly start.
Just about all Super Combos can cancel into other Super Combos (known as super canceling), provided all preconditions are met (i.e. you can't super cancel into a Super Combo that must be performed in the air unless you are off the ground when you input the motion.) All non-Meteo Combos use only one level of super power, so level 2 or level 3 finishes can only be accomplished by super canceling one Super Combo into one or two other moves. If you defeat your opponent with a Super Combo, you will see a different animation involving meteors depending on whether you super cancel or not. A level 1 finish involves a few meteors hitting the earth, while super canceling once into a level 2 finish is more dramatic. If you super cancel twice and defeat the opponent (or use a Meteo Combo), you will see the most dramatic level 3 finish animation.
One final note, if for some reason, you have an infinite super meter (such as when you successfully complete the satellite bonus round in Street Fighter EX2 Plus), you can in fact cancel from Super Combos into Meteo Combos.
Guard Break/Surprise Blow
In all EX games before EX3, players can execute an attack known as a Guard Break by pressing the same strength punch and kick button together as long as the player has at least one complete gauge of super meter. This means that either +, +, or + will work. If these buttons are pressed, one level of super meter will be consumed. The character will enter an attack animation that is somewhat slow and flashy. If the move connects, the opponent will be instantly stunned for a considerable amount of time, allowing the attacker to follow up with just about any combination of attacks. If the move connects while the opponent was in the air, it will cause the opponent to drift back through the air at a slower pace, completely defenseless. In EX3, the Guard Break is replaced with the Surprise Blow. Read below for more information.
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 a punch or kick button. (The sole exception is EX3, in which throws are performed by pressing +. Some characters can perform a different throw by holding the joystick back as well.) Some characters are even capable of performing throws in mid-air. 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, so while some characters can throw with the medium or hard kick button, not all characters can. In general, every character can throw with the medium or hard punch button, and no character can throw with the light punch or light kick button. Throws are unblockable, but they are escapable (see Tech Hits below)
Tech Hits are performed by pressing back or forward and any medium or hard attack button at precisely the moment you are about to be thrown by your opponent. If you enter this command at just the right time, you will interrupt the throw attack being performed on you, and push the opponent back, preventing them from completing the throw. You can not Tech Hit out of air-throws, or throws that are considered Special Moves (such as Zangief's Spinning Piledriver).
EX2 introduces Excel Combos. Custom Combos are initiated by pressing a punch and a kick button together that are of different strengths (e.g. +. Any combination will work, and they can be initiated in the air as well. When initiated, the background will change, and your character will increase in speed tremendously for a short period of time (roughly 5 to 8 seconds). You will be able to perform multiple moves in rapid succession with no pause between them (that is to say, every move will cancel into any other move, including Super Combos). Excel Combos cost one level of super meter to use.
If you perform a Special Move or Super Combo, and your opponent is successful at blocking it, you may cancel your current attack to perform a Guard Break on your opponent by pressing the same strength P + K. All of the standard rules concerning Guard Breaks apply (e.g. you need at least one full level of super meter to perform it.)
Surprise Blows replace Guard Breaks in EX3. Like Guard Breaks, they are performed by pressing +. However, unlike Guard Breaks, they do not require any levels of super meter to perform, but these moves can be blocked (when standing, or in the air). They are still somewhat slow, and if they are used against a standing opponent, they are considered a normal attack. They only have special properties if used against a crouching opponent, or an airborne opponent. Hitting a crouching opponent causes them to be stunned momentarily, just as old Guard Breaks used to, but hitting an airborne opponent knocks them immediately to the ground rather than popping them up in the air.
EX3 borrows the partner concept made famous by the Marvel vs. Capcom series. To switch your current fighter out of the arena and have your partner enter in the current fighter's place, press +. This will cause your partner to appear and perform an attack while the current fighter is swapped out. Once the animation is finished, your partner becomes your current fighter and you will be in control of them. Note that getting hit just as you attempt to initiate the change will cancel the change, and your current fighter will remain in the arena. After you swap fighters, a gauge will fill up beneath your fighter's portrait. When that gauge is full, it will say "Stand by" and you can swap fighters again. Until that gauge is full, you will not be permitted to swap. While a fighter is swapped out, he will slowly regain a bit of health, up to the end of the red bar and no more than that.
In order to perform a Critical Parade, both your current fighter and your swapped out partner must have two full levels of super meter each. If that is the case, you may initiate the Critical Parade by entering ++. Once a Critical Parade begins, both partners will enter the screen at the same time for a limited period. During that time, they will have access to an infinite level 1 super meter (meaning they can perform any regular Super Combo, but not Meteo Combos). In addition to this, Super Combos that normally require a charge in the beginning (e.g. hold back for two seconds) will not require the charge. When the Critical Parade ends after a few seconds, the original fighter will leave and the swapped in fighter will remain.
Your control over the swapped in fighter throughout the Critical Parade is dependent upon the setting you chose when you selected your partners. If you chose Manual, you will be in control of both fighters. If you chose Semi-Auto, the computer will control the swapped in fighter until the current fighter leaves. If you chose Manual 2P, the second player will control the swapped in fighter, and remain in control of him or her until another swap occurs.
Meteo Tag Combos
Also known as Meteor Tag Combos, these are Meteo Combos that are performed by two particular partners. Not just any combination of fighters can perform Meteo Tag Combos. There are precisely 10 specific Meteo Tag Combos. In order to perform one of them:
- You must select the precise combination of fighters that can perform them (e.g. Ken and Ryu)
- The move must be executed by the one partner who can initiate the move (e.g. in the case of Ken and Ryu, the move can only be started by Ken. The only exception to this is Darun and Zangief.)
- The fighter who initiates the combo must have a completely full three levels of super meter
If all of these conditions are met, the Meteo Tag Combo will begin. Meteo Tag Combos are blockable, so if the first hit of the combo is blocked, the tag combo will fail. If they connect, they tend to be somewhat cinematic to watch and inflict massive amounts of damage. A Meteo Tag Combo will only be listed under the character who can initiate the move, and which partner the move must eb executed with.
In a partner match, when one partner is defeated, all of the accumulated super meter gauge of the defeated partner is inherited by the remaining partner. During that time, the partner can accumulate up to six levels of super meter, making it possible to cancel from Super Combos to Meteo Combos as well.
Momentary Combos are special inputs that permit a character to immediately cancel one Special Move into another Special Move with a single or attack. Every character has two Momentary Combo assignments. Using Guile as an example, he will execute a Sonic Boom if you press after a Special Move and a Somersault Kick if you press after a Special Move. Therefore, it is possible to cancel from a regular Sonic Boom directly into a Somersault Kick by press kick as soon as the Sonic Boom hits (must be performed up close). However, you cannot use a Momentary Combo to follow up the same move, so you cannot follow the Sonic Boom up with a punch to get a second Sonic Boom. The timing for Momentary Combos is extremely difficult.