Learning a New Combo

So lately I’ve been playing Under Night In-Birth EXE: Late [st]. I decided for this game I wanted to play a more challenging character than I usually pick, and I heard Vatista was on the more challenging side, being a charge character that lets you charge in ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS and with button holds on 3 different buttons. Oh yeah, this article will include a lot of fighting game notation, so be sure to brush up: http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Notation

Vatista’s toolset is pretty standard for UNIST, she launches by sweeping with 2C, then hitting them with 5C to launch, then does an air chain into a divekick that carries her opponent down, then hits them off the ground into a finisher. The trouble is fitting her charges into the combo, especially the button charges. When Vatista holds a button for 1 second, she can release it, canceling any normal move, producing a crystal that will explode for a lot of damage when struck. So Vatista’s optimal combos involve getting a launcher, doing an air chain, then in the process of OTGing them, creating crystals and detonating them as the ender. Since the crystals require buttons to be held, you need to hold the buttons used in earlier attacks to release crystals later.

The other parts of Vatista’s moveset are a lot like Guile’s. [4]6 is a fireball, [2]8 is a flash kick. [8]2 is a divekick, which involves holding up for slightly longer than a regular jump.

This is made harder because I play on pad, so if I were to hold a button, I’d need to then fat-finger my thumb onto other buttons to press them to continue the combo. Alternatives are holding the pad with my left hand so my right hand can be turned so I use my index finger to manipulate the buttons, but that isn’t comfortable for me. Luckily, I own a Hori Fighting Commander 4. This contoller has R1 and R2 both on the face, and the shoulder. Fighting games don’t normally let you double bind buttons, but this controller gave me an exception. By binding B and C to R1 and R2, I now had them on the face and shoulder at the same time. This means I can hold a shoulder button while pressing the face buttons freely, and if I ever wanted to hold A, I can use the shoulder buttons to attack instead.

So I started the game out by learning an extremely basic combo, 2C 5C j.B j.C [8]2A 2C [2]8B. In this combo, 2C 5C launches, j.B and j.C buy time for me in the air so I can charge [8] for the divekick, which otherwise would take longer to charge than a whole jump. The divekick knocks them down, then I can OTG with 2C, and cancel that into a flashkick to end the combo.

Not so tough, I picked it up in a few training sessions, then eventually moved up to 2C 5C j.A j.B j.C land j.A j.B [8]2A 2C 2B [2]8B, which is basically the same combo, except you use the leftover hitstun from j.C to give you enough time to land and jump again to connect another j.A.

Then I moved up to using crystals, which meant finally using the shoulder buttons I had double bound. So the combo now looks closer to 2C 5C (delay) j.[B] j.C land j.A [8]2A 2C ]B[. This doesn’t have a real ender, but it sets up a crystal at the end. My first attempt at this, I decided to press j.B on the face, then immediately transfer my hold to the shoulder button, which worked, but eventually I realized it would be easier just to press the shoulder button directly. Another pain point was that I’d do 2C at the end, and release B, but no crystal would come out. I was releasing too quickly. I had to delay my release slightly to actually get the crystal out. That wasn’t so hard though. Easily enough, I had a crystal setup. It dealt less damage than my normal combo, but it was the first step, now I needed to learn the real combo.

2C 5C (delay) j.[B] j.C land j.A [8]2A 2[C] 2]B[ 2A 2B 5]c[
This is the combo I’m still working on. First thing to note is that I can skip the delay at the start if I’m willing to do j.A after launching (scales the combo, making it deal less damage), but that’s not really important. If I don’t delay properly, or use j.A, then the land into j.A later on won’t connect, they’ll be able to tech out after my j.C. The delay makes it so j.C happens later in the jump arc, as I’m landing. The next problem is the ender. It’s hard. So hard I decided to practice the ender by itself before integrating it into the combo. First I’d do this by holding down B for a second, then doing 2C 2]B[.

The first problem I had was doing 2A after the crystal release. I’d miss the link, then do a 2B that wouldn’t combo. Or I’d mash and get 2A 2A which wouldn’t combo. Eventually I fixed this by watching vatista’s crystal release animation for when she would retract her hand, instead of watching the opponent’s character (which I normally do during the juggle).

the next issue I had was releasing C to get the second crystal out. The second crystal needs to be released before the first one is done exploding. This means it needs to be released on the first hit of B and no later. My technique at the time for getting the C hold was pressing the C face button, then releasing the B shoulder button, then holding the C shoulder with the same finger, and then doing A and B with my thumb on the face buttons. But this technique had a problem, I was releasing C when I was transfering my hold from B to C on the shoulder buttons. So I’d do the pickup correctly from the first crystal release, and oddly find I could not release the second crystal off the first hit of 2B. I needed to wait a little, and waiting at all meant the second crystal would not be released soon enough to detonate.

Eventually I realized that I needed to continuously hold C from when it was first pressed, but this has another problem, I can’t hold down the C face button because that means I can’t press A to do the OTG. And I can’t just press the C shoulder button, because that would mean releasing B shoulder, so I couldn’t release the first crystal (I could use 2 fingers, but I don’t want to). So my solution was to hold face C a bit longer while I transferred my hold from shoulder B to shoulder C, before I needed to press 2A for the OTG. With a bit of experimentation, I found this worked and I could now do the entire ender! Now that I could do that consistently, I just had to put it together, but that’s where I ran into another problem.

I’d do the entire air chain successfully into the knockdown, then 2C and the crystal release, but couldn’t do the 2A to follow up. It wouldn’t combo! This seemed similar to my issue of timing from earlier, but that wasn’t it. I could do the link fine when practiced by itself, but I can’t do it in the middle of the combo, because I was canceling 2C into crystal release too late. Why’s that? because when I practice just the ender, 2C is my first input, and I only press it once. When I was doing it in the middle of the combo, I was mashing 2C to make sure it came out, but this meant I didn’t know when it was actually coming out, and I couldn’t cancel into crystal release at the correct timing on reaction. So I needed to reduce my mashing to one single press at the right moment in order to do the whole ender.

And that’s about where I am. I can do every part of the combo individually, and I have landed the whole thing in a match once before, but I still need to practice to actually get consistent at it. The hard part is, there’s so many little parts that make this difficult, it’s hard to keep consistent at all of them simultaneously. Also obviously playing on Pad makes this a lot harder than it normally should be, but I’m having fun with it, and nothing is impossible to pull off, even with my ridiculous limitations, which fits the bill for trying out a higher execution character. Plus Vatista is insanely fun, she’s the charge queen with a crazy amount of footsies play too.

Overall, I think there’s something really special in coming up against hurdles, experimenting to figure out the nature of the system, including the actual game, my controller of choice, and my own physical and mental processes of execution.

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