By James Xie - PR Coordinator, Aksys Games . April 22, 2011 . 7:43pm
Table of Contents
Now that we’ve got all the parts down, we can finally start talking about combos and how they work. Taking your opponent to zero health will be a breeze if you can land your combos consistently!
Basic Combo Theory – Keeping your opponent in Hitstun
When you hit an opponent with an attack of any sort, it hits your opponent in a state commonly referred to as “Hitstun.” When your opponent is in Hitstun, they cannot do anything, such as block or attack, so as you continue hitting them indefinitely, so long as your attacks keep them in Hitstun long enough for the next attack to hit. As you continue to do this successfully, your combo counter, the blue number that appears, will rise.
While this sounds extremely broken at first, Arcana Heart 3 has a system similar to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift where the damage scaling of the combo is proportionate to the amount of Hitstun that is inflicted per attack. Put in simpler terms, the more you hit your opponent, the smaller the Hitstun is for each attack, and the longer your combo is, the greater the difficulty to continue it.
If your opponent leaves Hitstun, they will either return to a state where they can attack or block again or they will be able to perform a maneuver like an Aerial Recovery to escape further attacks. This marks the end of your combo, as you won’t be able to continue hitting your opponent for free.
One thing to note is that if your opponent has the opportunity to perform an escape maneuver but does not, you will be able to continue hit them as if they were still in Hitstun. If this happens, the combo counter will appear Red instead of Blue.
Basic Combos– Learning how to “Cancel”
Cancel – A “Cancel” is a basic term that describes interrupting the animation of one attack with another attack. In general, this is done by performing the maneuver you want to cancel into as your first one makes contact with your opponent. As you would expect, this greatly enhances your ability to perform combos, as it will greatly cut down the time between your attacks and allow you to keep your opponent in Hitstun much more easily. Note however, that most attacks can ONLY be canceled if they connect with your opponent and most of them CANNOT be canceled if they whiff completely.
Normal Cancel – A Normal Cancel is similar to the attack chains you can perform in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 or BlazBlue, you are able to cancel your Normal Attacks into one another in a set pattern. Similar to both of the aforementioned games, these attacks generally chain together from A to B, to C, to E (skipping D, since it’s not an attack). Simply by pressing these buttons in a row, you can perform a basic combo and it’s generally the starting point for most combos in this game.
Special Cancel – A Special Cancel is where you cancel some form of attack into a Special Attack. Most Normal Attacks can be Special Canceled, so this gives you a way to extend your combos.
Super Cancel – A Super Cancel is very similar to a Special Cancel, but instead of canceling into a Special Attack, you cancel into a Super Attack. Most Normal AND Special Attacks can be canceled into Super Attacks, so this is another way to extend your combos, albeit at the cost of your Arcana Gauge.
Jump Cancel – A Jump Cancel is exactly what it sounds like. It is the ability to cancel an attack of some sort into a Jump or High Jump. This maneuver is very useful in changing your ground combos into air combos or extend air combos, so make sure to find out which of your attacks are Jump Cancelable to maximize your damage.
Homing Cancel – A Homing Cancel is performed by performing a Homing Dash after your attack hits or is blocked and costs one meter of your Arcana Gauge. A Homing Cancel allows you to cancel an attack into a Homing Dash. As you may remember, most Homing Dashes can be canceled into attacks after a brief period of time. Combined with the fact that the recovery of your attack has already been canceled into this dash, this makes the Homing Cancel one of the most powerful tools for pressuring an opponent or making advanced combos. A common pathway for using the Homing Cancel is to Homing Cancel an attack with a ton of hitstun, but low high recovery to continue a combo.
For example, Heart’s 2c will knock an opponent into the air, but they will hit the ground long before she actually recovers, but using a Homing Dash will negate this problem.
Arcana Homing – This is exactly the same as a Homing Cancel, except that it applies only to Arcana Special Attacks. This can be done even if the Arcana Special Attack whiffs completely, allowing to more options to use Arcana Special Attacks.
Extend Force Cancel – Very similar to the Rapid Cancel in BlazBlue, an Extend Force Cancel is canceling an attack into an Extend Force. Like the Extend Force, this will consume your Force Gauge and it can only be performed on the ground. The Extend Force Cancel is awesome because it acts as a true cancel and will immediately interrupt what you’re doing and put you back in a neutral state while applying the abilities of your Extend Force as well. During the Extend Force Cancel, the Force Gauge drains somewhat faster than normal, but the power of the Extend Force Cancel makes it very powerful for creating combos or pressuring an opponent.
That’s it for basic combo theory. Tune in next time, for when we’ll go over how to create mix-ups, and how to defend yourself!
From here on out, the concepts will get more and more difficult, so I’m opening the floor to questions of any kind. Ask away about strategy or anything Arcana Heart in the comments!