Posted by: Leek | April 1, 2014

Memetaa TV Episode 5: Jojo: ASB – Movement and Sidesteps

After a long vacation it’s time to continue the basics. Today we stay in the simple area as I talk about movement and give a lot of in-depth explanation on where you do what. The bulk of it will come as I discuss how the sidestep (aka 3D movement) works and how to implement it effectively into your game.

By the way from now on there’s a good chance I might slip into number notation for a lot of these articles. In case you overlooked it I gave a brief explanation in this article. So if you’re confused then go ahead and check that out if the numbers don’t make complete sense to you.

Basic Movement Types and How to Use Them
While executing movement in ASB is on a simple level, the ways you implement movement will become key to your game. There will be matches you can exploit all your movement types and other times you’ll need to avoid others. So be sure to keep in mind what leaves you vulnerable and what keeps you the safe before you go too crazy.

Walking – Either executed by holding forward on your control stick or backward, walking is as simple as it gets. However, it’s important to remember that walk speed is atrociously slow. So why use it? It’s the safest way to move around. If you’re walking forward you can instantly go into block by switching your control stick to the back position. There won’t be any delay in doing this so if you’re trying to approach someone who is projectile happy, it’s the classic and safest way to approach them. Of course you won’t be getting there very fast but sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Forward Hop – Executed by double tapping forward aka 66 on one player side. Forward hops, thanks to the 1.02 patch, are actually really quick and you can actually cancel one forward hop into another. But once you commit to doing a forward roll there’s nothing you can do until the animation ends. Certain characters have decent recovery from them but others like Diavolo can get locked into them for awhile. However, certain forward hops have special properties (Diavolo has invincibility during the middle of his) that you can exploit. Just remember that for most of the cast you’ll be completely defenseless during your forward roll so if you time it wrong you might find yourself running into an opponent’s projectile or a full combo if you’re not careful.

Forward Run – Executed by double tapping forward and holding it on the second motion (aka 66 and hold the second 6). Forward runs are much like walking but you do need to trigger the starting animation before you’re in the running state. So for many characters you’ll enter a short forward hop before you go into the running motion. This (as you could figure) means you’ll vulnerable during that first hop but once you enter the running motion you can instantly revert to guarding or cancel into whatever you feel like (jumps, attacks, etc.). And sorry Wham players but you’re the only character who doesn’t have access to this option. You cannot cancel forward hops into anything but canceling a forward hop into a run and then performing a move can often allow you to do combos you usually couldn’t.

Backsteps – Executed by double tapping back aka 44 on one player side. The opposite of forward hops, backsteps are how you can try and make a quick retreat from your opponents. Unlike forward hops, they can’t be canceled into one another and are quite slow in comparison to most forward hops. However I feel they’ve gotten better over time and generally their speed, distance, and overall use will depend on your character. But the safest method of using them is if you see an opponent performing a slower move and think you can escape in time with a backstep to cause a hefty whiff. Generally, if your opponent has a lot of meter it might be safer to retreat via backsteps (vs jumping) but just make sure there’s a decent distant between you and your opponent or they can easily jab you out of it. But despite the lack of any real invincible frames it’s best to use them like you would in any other game to avoid hanging yourself. Scout out how your character’s backstep motion is and find what you can and can’t dodge.

Back Runs – Executed by double tapping back and holding the second input (aka 44 and hold the second 4). Limited to certain characters (Young/Old Joseph and Hol Horse are the characters I can remember off the top of my head with them), back runs are a great escape tool as they work just like forward runs albeit you’re already holding back. So you will have to cancel it to properly guard or perform any other action. While they’re not particularly fast, they activate fairly quick and are all around superior in comparison to relying on multiple backsteps or even jumping. Only a limited amount of characters have access to this tool but be sure to use it if you have it. But many of these characters have formidable range games and using these will be a great way to get the space you want between you and your opponent.

Retreating and Approaching Jumps
I had talked a bit about jumps in the previous tutorial but I’ll go into them again in regards to movement alone. So let’s talk about jumps you’d use to approach an opponent (aka holding up and forward / number notation 9). Now in just regards to doing empty jumps to approach the opponent I’d vote it as a little risky. With the presence of sidesteps you don’t have to rely on jumping over projectiles too much and I’d only recommend it when the situation really calls for it. As I said there’s no air-guard in the game and simply jumping at an opponent without any real reason can mean a few bad things. The most important being that moves properties will change based on if they hit you in the air. So a move that wouldn’t do anything particularly special on the ground may cause hard knockdown if it hits you while you’re in the air. This means you go from being in a neutral situation to having to deal with your opponent now at advantage over you. And, of course, if your opponent has gauge then a stupid jump is asking to be hit with an HHA or, worse, GHA. Since many lock and activate almost instantly it means you’ll be eating a healthy amount of damage for one bad jump. So be aware and be planning ahead if you’re using a jump to approach. AKA, just be aware that if you’re jumping over a move if it can cancelled into something that will hit you or if the opponent has enough gauge to spend to get an advantage on you.

Retreating jumps are a different story and, as you could figure, are done via up and back (7 in number notation). Now in many situations you want to get away from your opponent it may seem too close quarters to try and backstep. In this situation even if you can’t guard in the air it might be worth using a backwards jump to try and retreat. It won’t create a large amount of room but chances are if your opponent isn’t expecting it the next attack they plan will either whiff or scratch you. And if they happened to be going for a grab then you avoid it entirely. Again, this strategy isn’t full proof and I’m not saying it’s the sure fire way to escape. Because chances are there’s still a high chance you’ll eat minor damage. If you happen to jump away too late then you won’t get off the ground fast enough and your opponent will hit you out of your jump and get a full combo (this is fairly rare though). So it’s not the best escape method if you have a fraction of life left but if you’re trying to create some space and have some life to spare it might be your best way out. Also remember retreating jumps can be used to escape various setups. But it’ll be up to you to figure out what opponents are capable of and if you getting hit by a certain move will put you in hard knockdown again (in which case you took damage for nothing). But learning when to jump away and when you can jump away is a good thing to research.

Sidesteps
The bulk of today’s tutorial is meant to cover how sidesteps work and what your primary use of them should be. For starters sidesteps are performed by hitting a designated button (X is default). This will cause your character to move towards the background of the stage. If you do it multiple times you’ll realize you’re effectively circling your opponent. You can essentially do this as much as you want unless there’s a wall in which case attempting to sidestep into it will trap you on the same axis (and all you did was make yourself incredibly vulnerable). In this scenario you might have to hit down + sidestep (2 + X for default). This moves your character into the foreground instead. The animation for various characters is a little longer and you’ll find yourself not using this as much simply because it’s slightly slower then a step into the background.

Another small trick to remember is during a normal sidestep (aka when you’re not holding down) you can hold either back or forward (4 or 6) to cancel the sidestep slightly faster than if you just pressed the button. Not only does this allow for successive quick sidesteps but you’ll slowly (very slowly) either inch backwards or forwards while doing this. Remember though that this can only be done on sidesteps towards the background so it’s use is limited if you are near the walls. But in a scenario you quickly want to sidestep a projectile it’s a great tool as you can quick sidestep once and go straight into moving forward without too much delay.

So why are sidesteps useful? I mentioned the best example just a bit back in avoiding projectiles. While there are some troublesome projectiles that will track across axis (Johnny, Kakyoin, and Vanilla Ice are some of the offenders), most projectiles can be simply avoided by sidestepping once. This means that you don’t have to worry about guarding or jumping over them and can get out of the way with the press of one button. This gives you a reliable way to get in on zoning characters without too much risk and forces these types of characters to plan their attacks more carefully.

While sidesteps are useful in long range game, they become less and less useful as you get close to your opponent. Why? They have the same vulnerability that backsteps suffer from and initiating them too close can easily lead to you getting jabbed out of them. Throws also have a bad reputation of grabbing sidesteps (even if it looks nowhere close to grabbing your character). Because of this, you should only use sidesteps in proximity of your opponent if you see them performing a slow move you can react to. For example, Jotaro’s Star Finger (Stand On 623+ATK) has a large amount of start up frames and sidestepping it takes away any real threat. Outside of situations like this though you should avoid sidesteps when standing in your opponent’s attack range.

Another cautionary note is that even if attacks don’t track you across axis, there are certain attacks that have funnel like hitboxes. Using Jotaro as an example again, his Oraora rush (236+ATK) can hit you even if you try to sidestep and approach. So you actually need two sidesteps before you can run in safely or you might just find yourself taking Star Platinum’s fist to your jaw. Again, these are just attacks you’ll have to scout out and most of the ones that have these types of hitboxes look similar (or you can just eyeball them funneling out).

So taking this all into account how should you work sidesteps into your game? Outside of zoners using projectiles you’ll find a lot of characters that set traps on the ground. Most of these traps become useless once you sidestep even once and thus you can force your opponent to either set them again or have to deal with you coming in. Now say you’re on the other side of the match up and you just saw your opponent sidestep. At this point you can sidestep in the other direction and your trap is once again standing between you and your opponent. So remember if you’re playing characters with these types of traps that you can utilize sidesteps just as much as your opponent. Don’t simply let your opponent walk in on you and force them to work their hardest to get around. More often than not you’ll frustrate them long enough that they’ll ignore sidestepping and simply deal with your traps. Or if you lack traps remember you can always lead your opponent so that one of their sidestep routes is near a wall. In this scenario you can easily cut off at least one of their escape routes and force them to sidestep in the other direction. In this way sidesteps can often turn into a battle of its own. And if you see a lot of sidestepping between opponents in matches then this might give you an idea what exactly is going on.

Conclusion
I’m sure there are plenty of points on movement that I’ve forgotten in this talk but this is the most I think you have to know from the get go. While movement is not hard execution wise, it’s important to know what tools you have and how safe/unsafe they them are. And while you’ll find movement isn’t an important factor in all matches it can make and break others. So never forget what you can do to make those match ups that much easier on yourself.

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