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 in the arcade are laid out in one of six types chosen by the player:
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 a three-on-three match between your team and your opponent's team. At the start of each match, every fighter's life or health bars are full. In each round, one of your characters fights against one of your opponent's characters. If a fighter's health is driven to zero, they are removed from the match. Another round begins with the next character from that team, while the winner stays with some of their health restored. The first player to defeat all three members of the opponent's team wins the match and moves on to the next team. 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.
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 five distinct levels of power. A player may execute a Super Move as long as the super meter is filled to at least one level of power. Super Moves 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 Move begins. If the Super Move connects and is not blocked, it will do substantial damage to the opponent. Super Moves can be used to turn the tide of a battle. Every player has more than one unique Super Move.
EX Specials/Max Supers
Most special moves have EX versions which are faster and/or stronger. These can be done by pressing both punches or kicks when performing the move, and take up one stock of the power gauge. Super moves can be upgraded the same way, using two stocks instead of one.
The Climax Super Move requires three stocks of the power gauge.
Max Mode is activated with + (or the default shortcut / on PS4/Steam) with at least one stock of the gauge. During Max Mode, EX specials can be done freely, Max Supers for one stock instead of two, and Climax Supers for two stocks instead of three. Max Mode may also be triggered while attacking, which cancels the attack animation and has the character run forward to continue the combo, but then the Max Mode starts only half-full.
Throws are executed by standing immediately next to your opponent, pressing the joystick either towards or away, and pressing to throw forward or to throw backwards. 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 might have a different array of throws with more complicated commands associated with them. Throws are unblockable.
Your character can perform several kinds of jumps: