The King of Fighters XII

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Character Sections


The King of Fighters XII the newest installation in the KOF series from SNK. It starts the KOF series anew in some ways, such as redrawn sprites and a back-to-basics approach. While some old moves, characters, and mechanics are gone, there are plenty of new systems as well. Critical counters, CD guard breaks, clashes, and a very free-form juggle system separate KOFXII from the rest of the series.


Joystick Notation

                    .- up (u)
  up-back (u/b) - 7 8 9 - up-forward (u/f)

       back (b) - 4 5 6 - forward (f)

down-back (d/b) - 1 2 3 - down-forward (d/f)
                    `- down (d)

Note: These numbers can be easily referenced by looking at your keyboard numpad. Think of it as a joystick/controller that is facing to the right. "5" is used to signify "neutral".

Motion Abbreviations

qcf - 236 - Quarter circle forward/Hadouken/Fireball motion - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-forward -> forward.

qcf - 214 - Quarter circle backward - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-back -> back.

hcf - 41236 - Half circle forward - In one smooth motion move to back -> down-back -> down -> down-forward -> forward.

hcb - 63214 - Half circle backward - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down-forward -> down -> down-back -> back.

dp - 623 - Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down -> down-forward.

rdp - 421 - Reverse Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to back -> down -> down-back.

Charge - Hold the given direction (usually back/down) for around 1 second, before moving to the next command (usually forward or up a button).

tk - 2369 - Tiger Knee Motion - qcf, then move to up-forward.

Attack Notation

A - LP - Light Punch

B - LK - Light Kick

C - HP - Hard Punch

D - HK - Hard Kick

CD - Blow back attack, press C and D simultaneously.

P - Any punch

K - Any kick

Other common abbreviations

j. - Jump/jumping - Press up-back, up, or up-forward.

sj. - Super-jump - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly press up-back or up-forward.

sh. - Short hop - Lightly tap up-back, up, or up-forward.

hh. - Hyper hop - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly and lightly tap up-back or up-forward.

h. - Any hop - Either short hop or hyper hop can be used.

cl. - Close, as in a close normal attack.

cr. - Crouching, as in a crouching normal attack.

st. - Standing, as in a far standing normal attack.

Other useful terms

Whiff - an attack that completely misses; does not come in contact with the opponent altogether.

Connect - an attack that coming in contact with the opponent (hit or blocked). Not to be confused with actually hitting the opponent.

Counter-hit - interrupting the opponent's attack with yours before your opponent's hits you. Usually the result of using a faster attack, having a timing advantage (frame advantage), or a combination of these.

Tiger-knee - not to be confused with the actual move. To 'tiger-knee' or 'tk' a move, it means to perform an air special/super move very close to the ground, by performing the move's motion on the ground, then pressing u/b or u/f+button to execute the move in the air, but very close to the ground.

Gameplay System


Blocking - Simply hold back to block high and mid attacks, or diagonal down+back to block low moves. Like most 2D fighting games, you will still take a tiny bit of damage from special and super moves.

Backdash - Tap back twice quickly. Normally, backdashes in KOFXII are quite long, but most characters' can be controlled. During a backdash, press any direction other than u, u/b, or u/f, and your character will stop early. Depending on when you press a direction, the backdash can cover many different distances. Some characters do not have a controllable backdash.

Run - Tap forward twice quickly. Hold the second tap to keep running. In KOFXII, when you simply tap f,f to run, you will run a certain distance before you stop. This can be canceled by jumping, crouching, or attacking, but not by blocking. You can use this period to buffer moves such as command throws. For example with Ralf or Clark, you can tap f,f, then do the hcf motion for their command grab while you are moving forward, without having to keep holding forward over that first couple character spaces.

Also, there is a small recovery when you release f to stop a run. When running in to attack, keep holding forward if you're going to do a standing attack, or move to d/f for a crouching attack. This makes attacking from a run seamless. You can also hold d/f to keep charge a charge-down special move while running.

Throws - In KOFXII, throws are performed by pressing f+A+C or b+A+C. The direction will control the direction in which the opponent is thrown. Like most 2D fighters, they cannot be blocked. There is a whiff animation if the throw misses, during which you are vulnerable. Some characters have special and/or super command throws, which are performed with various motions depending on the character.

All throws in KOFXII follow a couple rules. First, no throws can be broken (escaped after they connect), not even normal throws. Secondly, all attacks are invulnerable to throws during their start-up time. This means that even if your throw is just about to connect, if your opponent starts a very slow heavy attack, your throw will not connect and you will be hit. This is similar to rules in the 3D fighting game Virtua Fighter. So keep in mind that throws (outside of combos) should be used exclusively vs an opponent is blocking. Also, you cannot be counter-hit during any part of any throw, so don't be especially afraid to throw when your opponent has CC stocked.

Roll forward - Press A+B, while neutral or holding forward. Rolls are invulnerable from the very start, and vulnerable at the end. You can be thrown out of rolls as well. Since they are invincible at startup, you can use rolls as a wakeup 'reversal'. Running and then rolling will cause you to roll a greater distance.

Roll backward - Press b+A+B to roll away from your opponent.

Recovery roll (tech roll) - Press any button as you are touching the ground from getting knocked down. Some moves/knockdowns are not rollable. You can mix this up with staying on the ground to mess with your opponents setups on wakeup.

Guard Attack (CD Counter) - An old mainstay of KOF's defensive system, now altered for KOFXII. Press back b+C+D to perform it. Unlike in the past, it requires no meter to perform. This is used to absorb your opponent's attack, then hit them back, getting them off you. There are 2 parts to the GA. The first is the actual 'parry', during which attacks can be absorbed. The second part is the actual attack, which is similar to any other attack, in that it has startup time, recovery, etc. It cannot be canceled, knocks down, is unsafe if blocked (or whiffed), and can even be interrupted. The attack will always come out when you execute the GA, no matter if it whiffs, or under any other condition. It cannot be comboed from in any way (except during a Critical Counter combo).

Roll Cancel (no, not like CvS2) - Any attack that can be normally canceled or chained can also be canceled into a forward roll by pressing A+B when the move connects. This can be used to bait a GA, by canceling the move that is absorbed by the GA into a roll, thus avoiding the followup attack and allowing you to punish.

System Mechanics

CD attack properties - CD moves can be performed by simply pressing C+D on the ground or in the air. These are kind of a 5th normal move that have always been in the KOF series (sans 2003), but now have a few new properties. First of all, CD attacks both on the ground and in the air will always knock down on hit. Unlike other jumping attacks, jump CD can be blocked crouching. They typically have very high priority and are used for pressure, and not specifically just to hit the opponent. Ground CD attacks can be canceled into specials/supers if they connect, and some jump CDs can be canceled into air moves, but it depends on the character.

There are 2 new properties of CD attacks. The first is that they can now be chained from any cancelable normal move, similar to command normals. This adds a very useful combo option, especially in the corner where specific juggles can be performed.

The other new property is that they can now be 'charged' by pressing and holding CD. It it is charged all the way, the move will crumple stun the opponent and allow you to perform a free combo. If it is blocked, it will cause a guard break. The CD attack remains cancelable, so you can cancel into a special/super for free damage, or even run up and get a free combo if you have time.

During the charge-up, the CD attack can be released at any time, though if it is anywhere below a full charge, it will retain its normal properties. It can also be canceled mid-charge with any special move. This leads to character-specific traps against opponent's trying to avoid getting guard-broken.

An extra note about the crumple stun caused by the full-charge CD on hit. The next attack you hit the opponent with will knock them into the air and allow you to continue a juggle. Even moves that normally would reset the opponent into their feet from mid-air (most normals), will cause a normal knockdown. This allows for something like:

Full charge CD, run in, C,CD xx whatever, and the opponent will be higher than usually due to both the C and the CD knocking them into the air, allowing for more damaging juggles than usual.

Command normals - You will be familiar with this if you have played any older KOFs in depth at all. In KOF, there are some attacks that are performed with a direction+button, such as Kyo's f+B overhead. All command normals can be chained from any cancelable normal attack. This means that command normals that are cancelable themselves can be used in the middle of a combo. Let's use Terry's d/f+C for example. He can do:

C,d/f+C xx qcb,qcf+P

So that's a normal (C), chained into a command normal (d/f+C), then canceled into his super (qcb,qcf+P).

Some command normals are not cancelable, such as Terry's f+A.

Additionally, some command normals change properties depending on if you chain into them or perform them by themselves. For example, Kyo's f+B is not cancelable on its own, but it has to be blocked standing. If you chain into it however, it becomes cancelable, but loses its overhead property (can be blocked crouching).

Finally, there is a technique called 'slow canceling' that enables you do chain into a command normal, but have it retain its properties as if it was done alone. You simply delay the input from whatever normal you are chaining from. For example, you can do Kyo's C into f+B. If you wait until after Kyo's fist raises into the air and then input f+B, it will be overhead, but not cancelable.

It may also be confusing to determine which moves are command normals, and which moves are just close/far versions of normal moves, since in KOFXII, some characters have close/far versions of normals that are now controlled manually by holding or not holding f. To see what command normals your character has, simply look at the command list in-game and look under 'Command Moves'. Any moves listed there are the only command normals the character possesses. Alternatively, you can refer to this wiki, once the specific character sections are finished.

Counter-hits - As mentioned above, a counter-hit is when you interrupt your opponent's attack with your own. In KOFXII, a counter-hit will cause your attack to do a bit more damage, and for heavy attacks, it will stun your opponent, sometimes long enough to perform special combos. Here are all the conditions that will give a special stun for a counter-hit.

Ground C or D vs ground: Special spin-stun, ala Garou. Allows a lot of time to continue a combo.

Ground C or D vs air: Knocks the opponent down as opposed to flipping (resetting) them, and allows you to continue to juggle as they fall.

Jump C or D vs ground: Longer stun than normal, about enough time to run up close if needed, as opposed to continue the combo immediately upon landing.

Jump CD vs air/ground: Knocks the opponent down as usual, but allows you to juggle as they fall.

Counter-hits are very important in general in KOFXII, not just for Critical Counter. Especially for far normals like Kyo's D or Iori's f+D, these are great pokes that yield a lot of damage on counter-hit, so look for it.

Critical Counter - A new addition to KOFXII that has also become a little infamous. At the top of the screen, there is a green gauge with 'Critical Counter' displayed above it. The meter fills up in reverse amounts as opposed to a super meter; from most to least, it fills from: getting hit > blocking attacks > getting your attacks blocked > hitting the opponent. In this way it is sort of a take on the 'perpetual comeback' concept like the Samurai Shodown/CvS2 K-Groove 'Rage Gauge' or Street Fighter IV's 'Revenge Gauge'. Unlike these, however, you can fill the bar by blocking and hitting the opponent, and not just by getting hit. It also resets from round-to-round, unlike the super gauge.

When the meter fills, your lifebar will flash green and the gauge will begin to drain. During this time, whenever you perform a C or D attack (it differs per-character), you will flash yellow. If you land a counter-hit with this move vs the opponent, you will be able to perform a guaranteed 'Critical Counter' combo, a sort of 'custom combo' that is not too dissimilar from custom combos in Street Fighter Alpha 2. Typically these combos can do anywhere from 50% to 70%, depending on character, position, and meter. You can also immediately input a super if you have a full super meter, and it will do more damage than normal (though never as much as a real CC combo). There is a special super flash that occurs if you do this correctly. If you land a CC, the meter will immediately empty, though it does not matter how much meter you had left when you land the CC; you get the same amount of time to combo regardless. If the gauge empties before you can land a CC...well, nothing happens and the bar can start to be filled again.

The best CC combos will be listed in the character-specific sections in the future, but there are some useful things to know if you want to come up with your own CC combos. First of all, Specials and supers do the most damage in CCs, followed by command normals, then Guard Attacks, then normal moves (including CD). So if you want the most damage, try to only use specials and supers and stay away from normals if possible.

Also there is a set amount of time you get to perform a CC combo. During this, you and the opponent are in a special state. All normals you perform will be followed by an auto-dash unless you cancel them into something else, all attacks will cause much more stun, and if you knock the opponent into the air, they will fall very slowly, allowing for long juggles. There is another hit effect that will occur when the CC 'state' ends; it looks like a green spark and has a different sound effect from other hits. The hit that causes this effect will be the last attack that causes long hit stun/slow falling, etc., and whichever move hits next will behave as it normally would. So, back to normal hit stun, normal falling speed in the air, etc. This does not mean the combo is over, as characters have moves they can use for juggles, it just means the special conditions of the CC have ended. This also creates an odd side effect for jumping moves vs grounded opponents. If the CC state ends on a jumping attack, you will be able to perform another jumping attack before you land. Some characters rely on this to get the maximum damage out of a CC. For example, here is an Andy CC:

[C] xx f+A xx qcb+P, f+A, hyper hop [j.D],j.D, C,f+A xx qcb,qcf+K

The brackets represent where the CC state starts and ends. You hyper hop and perform the first jump D early, which causes the green flash, then perform another jump D right after within the same jump. You can also just perform the first jump D early, then land and still continue to combo, but it won't be max damage. This isn't necessary to know for all characters, but gives some insight into CC mechanics in general.

Deadlock/Sousai/Clash - This is another new mechanic to KOFXII, though not to fighting games in general. When two heavy (non-light attacks) moves of the same strength connect at the same time, a clash (deadlock, whatever) occurs. If nothing is pressed, both characters will back away. If desired, you can cancel this clash into anything, be it another normal, a special, or super. You can even cancel it into a dash by simply holding forward, or a jump. In the air, you can change your momentum after the clash by pressing back or forward. You can also clash heavy (C, D, CD) normals or specials against projectiles, which leads to some interesting zoning tactics.

Also, it seems that a CC starter has priority over other attacks. So if one player has an active CC bar and the other does not, the player with a CC bar will get their CC instead of a clash occurring. In this case, a clash will only occur if both players have or do not have CC bar. If one has it and the other doesn't the player with CC active will win (further testing needed).

Tips and Tricks

Baiting the Guard Attack (b+CD) - There are lots of ways to bait the CD Guard Attack, especially since now it has to be done on a guess and not while blocking. Here's a list of common setups:

Throw - Well, this one is basic and obvious. Throw will beat the first part (parry) of the GA, though not the attack. This isn't something that can be done on reaction really, but just be aware that beginning of a GA can be thrown.

Attack xx roll: Here is a basic one using the roll cancel mechanic of KOFXII. You perform a cancelable normal move (other than CD), then cancel it into roll by pressing A+B. If the opponent uses b+CD vs the attack, your attack will get parried, but then you'll roll through their followup attack, allowing you to punish.

Deep jump-in: If you time a jump-in very late (close to the ground), you can land, block, then punish their GA followup, even though they parried your jump attack with it. Note that it does not matter what strength of attack you use here, only the timing between the attack and when you land.

React and attack: Any time you are on the ground and your opponent uses a GA, you can simply wait for the parry animation/sound effect, then attack. Since this will result in a counter-hit, using C or D will yield best results, especially if you have a Critical Counter stocked!

Empty jump-in: Another setup that is a combination of the above. If you think the opponent will time a GA vs your deep-ish jump-in, you can simply jump without attacking, then immediately attack with C or D upon landing to counter-hit the GA attack followup. This works because you will not 'freeze' in the air from the opponent parrying your attack.

Delayed CD cancel - As noted above, you can now chain other normals in CD attacks, and CD attacks are also chargeable. There is a bug in KOFXII which makes it so that if you chain into a CD from another move and charge it even slightly, any attacks you combo afterwards will do more damage than if you simply tap CD, due to reduced damage scaling. For example look at this Iori combo:

C,CD xx qcf,qcb+P

This is Iori's C, chained into CD, canceled into his super. If you tap CD normally, the combo will do 323 points of damage. If you press and hold CD for just a moment before releasing it, the combo will do 352 points of damage. This technique is not particularly hard to use, but it can be difficult to think about using it in the middle of a match.

Note that this bug does not apply to CD attacks done by themselves. It only works if they are chained into from another normal attack.