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Basic Game Mechanics
Tap to perform a fairly quick hop backwards to retreat. It doesn't grants invulnerability, but makes character airborne for it's whole duration. Backdash lasts 12 frames (or 13 frames for Ryoko, Jean, Mars and Zazie).
Throws are performed pressing / + (some characters also have additional throws with or /). Regular throws can not be softened or escaped in any way. As in the old SF2's, throws can be performed on reversal frame on wakeup if the opponent is close enough. Throwboxes in this game are all the same for all characters and they are ridiculously big. They're even extends to the characters' backs and this allows to do throws from your spine (actually CPUs in this game using it constantly).
Clown and Samchay have hold throws in which you can do more damage during the grab by mashing the joystick/buttons. The opponent can also counter-mash and break out faster. Clown can do over 25% damage with enough mashing, giving him the best normal throw in the game.
Ray, Jean, and Ryoko have air throws. Air throws do slightly more damage than regular throws, but generally aren't seen too often in play. Unlike normal ground throws, aerial ones have different throwboxes and so different ranges.
Marstorius and Ryoko have command throws. Some can be done with / and some can be done with /. The last one looks odd at first glance, but it's doable. Unlike regular throws, special throws can actually be comboed out of regular attack if you're in range. Special throws have no whiff animation - if you buffer into a special throw off a blocked normal attack, you will instantly interrupt the animation of the previous normal attack with another normal attack (the button you just hit). You can continually repeat this as long as your attacks are in range, creating a blocked hit string to keep the pressure on the opponent. For this reason it's usually best to stick to performing Marstorius' and Ryoko's special throws with , so you don't cancel into a that might whiff and put you in danger.
Dizzies work differently from most other games. Each character has a unique piece of clothing on their body, which is damaged when hit, indicated by the object flashing. Once the object takes three hits it will fall off and the character will become dizzy. You can only lose the item once per round, so there's no fear of multiple dizzies or re-dizzies. Clothing is positioned in different places depending on the character, so some characters (depending on their attacks) will have an easier time dizzying certain other characters. When character gets dizzied, player can mash to get out of it faster. But unlike other FGs getting rid of dizzy is hard in this game. Even with really hard mashing character will be vulnerable for at least ~1.5 seconds and opponent will have a time to prepare his best combo. Therefore after a character has been dizzied, any further attacks to that character's weak spot will deal 1.5x damage for the rest of the round. Thus, for the many of times getting dizzied can mean a round loss.
Each character's weak point will be listed in their individual section.
A popular misconception is that there are super moves in the game, which is not true. Some characters DO have secret moves which can be performed at any time, but they're only considered secret in the sense that they did not show up on movelists distributed with the game and CPUs doesn't use them. The secret moves tend to have input motions that aren't as "obvious" to discover as other moves.
It's a common thing for all fighting games. In case of FHD the overwhelming majority of normals are cancellable, giving more options for combos. Most ground normals are cancellable, sweeps are cancellable, aerial normals are cancellable (if the character have an aerial special move to cancel into) and some command normals are cancellable. Both on hit and on block.
After blocking an attack, you're automatically able to block every following attack automatically as long as you're still in the original blockstun. So you can hold Back to block a jumping attack, and if they do any low attacks afterward you can automatically block them even if you remain in high block. Once blockstun has ended, you must then block the next move in the correct direction.
When in either blockstun or hitstun, it's possible to switch from a standing to crouching position (and vice versa) between hits of your opponent's combo or block string. You might think it would be better to always go into crouching position once you are being hit, as going into crouch could make some high attacks whiff. But there is a very important additional factor in play in this game - when you go into a crouching position, it changes the hitbox for your weak spot too. Attacks that might not have hit your weak spot when you were standing could very well register when you're crouching instead!
Example: if Ray does his Thunder Dynamite Tackle against a crouching Karnov, three hits will register on his weak point and dizzy him instantly! But, if Karnov remains standing, none of the hits will connect against his weak point and he will not be dizzied. It's very important to learn how your character's hitbox changes in crouch - don't assume it's always a good idea to hold Down-Back once a combo starts!
Charge Motion Tricks
Charge time for the majority of charge-based special moves are very short - 40 frames, roughly two-thirds of a second. Some moves require double the charge time, however. They are:
- Ray's Thunder Dynamite Tackle - 64f
- Marstorius' Dash Lariat - 80f
- Marstorius' Kneel Kick - 80f
- Jean's Rondato - 64f
Charge buffering exists in this game too. Instead of doing a move as just Charge , + Button, you can instead do it as Charge , + Button. This allows you to immediately start charging immediately after the move is performed. You can also substitute the last press of with as well. You can even charge immediately after a flash-kick type move by doing Charge , + Button, but you have to be fast!
The input system shows some leniency for the last motion of charge moves - Charge , + Button moves can be finished with or , and Charge , + Button moves can be finished with or . Since you can also charge by holding , this makes some charge moves even easier to do - you can perform the ones that require a charge by simply starting the charge in , and then slide the joystick to and hit the button.
In the original FH even some easy combos on exposed weakpoint could lead to an inadequate damage. In a matter to fix this, FHD introduced two simple systems to scale down damage output, though in certain cases it doesn't really helps.
First one: when character is down to less than 20% health (not the same time the music speeds up, but a little after that), all damage from attacks is reduced by 50% (except normal and command throws). This makes it harder to kill with a chain combo that isn't cancelled into a special move near the end of the round. The best visual clue to see the threshold is character's name under the healthbar, look at the three letters that are closer to the timer.
Second one: also FHD includes a damage scaling system for combos, but it's rules are confusing at first. The game have two separate scaling systems for normals and special moves. Each of these have their own scaling values:
- Normals: 100% → 75% → 75% → 75% → ...
- Special moves: 100% → 50% → 50% → 50% → ...
- Note: command throws are never affected by scaling
Two separate systems like these also means that they works independently from each other. That fact leads to damage outputs like these:
- Karnov: cr.LPx3 xx 100-kick(3 hits)
Output: 8 → 6 → 6 → 24 → 12 → 12
- Yungmie: jump-in HK(1st hit) xx Aura smash, cr.HK
Output: 20 → 16 → 21(instead of 28)
Player Side Differences
FHD does have differences between Player 1 and Player 2, though it's not uniqe for earlier Neo Geo titles. Detecting all specific differences is hard, here's a list of known ones:
- P1 Lee can crossup foes in the corner with HP version of quick lunge punch, whereas P2 Lee cannot;
- P2 always have 1fr more of frame advantage than P1 (a.k.a. "+1"), thus making some links easier. It happens because of a bug that P1 always suffers on 1 frame of impact freeze more than P2. This applies to normals, special moves (except fireballs) and trades;
- Also pushback starts on this particular bugged frame, thus P1 suffers more pushback than he should. It's especially noticeable at chain links and multi-hits.
Due to such differences, players on tournaments tends to use coin flip or rock-paper-scissors to determine who can choose the side.
Hitstun, Blockstun, Impact Freeze
A very loose ground combo system is in place. Every character has at least one light attack that can be chained into itself or other light attacks, or you can chain into a hard attack. Most combos consist of an optional jumping attack followed by a couple light attacks, chained into a hard attack, buffered into a special move. Nearly every normal move is bufferable into special moves too, with the exception of some command normals (such as Samchay's f.HP or f.HK). There is no juggle system.