Friday, 27 April 2012

How-to-Slash: Part 1 - Normals and Jumping Normals

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I figured before I start on match-ups, I better get a good Vega-base going. So I'll be doing a 4 part series on strictly VEGA before the matchup sections begin. Then, there will be a surprise fifth part...

For the first three parts though, this is what you can expect -

This post - Normals! Vega has amazing normals, and here I'm going to help break them down. If you're new to Vega, try giving this a read. The key to a strong Vega is strong fundamentals, and normals are an absolutely essential part of that. Understanding each and every one is key to your success.

Next post - Special moves, command normals, grabs, and FADC!

Third Post - Safe jumps, and set ups!

Fourth Post - Put it all together - The Vega Gestalt!

Fifth Post - ???

So - begin first part!


Vega, like all other characters in the game, has a set of 12 standard normals. Six moves for standing, from light to heavy, for both punch and kick buttons. He also has six for crouching, light to heavy, just as standing. In addition, he also has five "close" normals, for light, medium, and heavy punch, and light and medium kick. Roundhouse is the same move for both close and far versions. 

So for each of these different kind of moves, I'll be using different notation to denote them.

Far, or 'standing' moves = st.
Crouching, or 'low' moves = c.
Close moves = cl.

And the strengths of each move will look like this -

Light = lp / lk
Medium = mp / mk
Heavy = hp / hk

So if I say, use crouching medium punch, it'll just look like this - use c. mp.

I'm also going to be talking about jumping normals in this post. Vega is one of the kind of characters in this game who got two different sets of jumping normals - vertical, and diagonal. So I'll be calling a vertical jump a "neutral" jump and denoting it with "nj." Diagonal jumps will just be "j." They're alot more common, so it makes sense to use them as the standard.

Standing Normals

St. Lp 

Vega's st. lp is a situational poke that is rarely useful. He does a jab that sticks straight out at his shoulder level. It won't hit crouchers, and it has pretty bad frame data and low range. Basically, this move is one of your situational anti-airs against dive kicking characters as there's no other reason to use a move like this that often. You can also anti-air someone by walking under and using this from the other side, but as far as a ground-based poke goes, it's outclassed by many of Vega's other moves.

St. Mp

Basically a bigger version of st. lp. It reaches further, and can't be combo'd off of or into in most scenarios, so it's best used as a stand-alone poke. With that said it's not without its faults as a move used in that way, since it doesn't hit crouchers in most scenarios and it doesn't have the fastest start up. However, think of it this way. Most of Vega's best pokes hit at a low area, like c. mp and c. mk. If you want to throw something out there thinking that someone might jump over your pokes, then st. mp is a good candidate. It has a LOT less recovery than st. hk despite a slower start up, so it's a bit safer on whiff. An interesting aspect of st. mp is that it does 90 damage as a medium move, while most of Vega's medium moves do around ~70. A counter hit st. mp will give you 112 damage, which is pretty huge for one medium move.

St. Hp

If you ask me, this move is best understood as a situational alternative to st. mk, a move that is largely similar in properties. They have the same start up although st. hp has a lot more recovery, but that's warranted considering the huge 120 damage it does. St. mk and st. hp are both used to accommodate that space where c. mp juuuust won't reach, so they're excellent tools against shoto characters to stop them from counter poking your c. mp with c. mk, or fireballs. However, if someone jumps over st. hp as opposed to st. mk, you're going to get hurt. Ideally, st. mk is better since it's less risky, but if you're absolutely certain a st. mk would hit, just use st. hp instead. It does more damage and has the same start up, and basically identical range.

St. Lk

One of the best pokes in the game and an absolutely necessary tool for Vega in some matchups. St. lk is just all around amazing - great range, great frame data, and great combo potential. It comes out in 5 frames and can also combo into itself, and most importantly, c. mp. This move is amazing for tick throw pressure with Kara throws and generally is an amazing move to use in just about any scenario. Just be sure you aren't spacing it poorly enough that you get cl. lk, because that move is vastly different and if you ask me, designed to punish you in some situations for not spacing your st. lk properly.

St. Mk

I already talked about this move briefly in the St. Hp section since these two moves are actually pretty similar. But to reiterate, st. mk is a move that is used to accommodate that tiny space where c. mp just won't reach but st. mk does. It's a lot slower than c. mp (twice as slow start up), but it gets the job done when your c. mp is being out-footsie'd, which can definitely happen if you rely on it too much.  Just don't rely on st. mk too much. If someone jumps over it, you could be in trouble.

St. Hk

An anomalous move, to say the least. Amazing on the surface, but incredibly situational in an actual match scenario. It comes out in 4 frames, which is incredibly fast for a roundhouse - especially one with as much reach as Vega's st. rh - and hits twice, smashing armored attacks like Balrog's EX Dash Punches and Abel's EX Change of Direction. You can combo into it off of c. lp, st. lk, and c. mk, too, which makes it a good alternative for meterless RCF block strings or combos. You just have to be extra careful that this move doesn't whiff, because if it does, you could be in major trouble. Spacing this move and using its situational properties for reactive purposes are ideal. It would make a good footsie move if you could read your opponent perfectly every time, but that's unrealistic - it's also unsafe on block, so precision is absolutely necessary when trying to integrate this move. This move also does make a situational anti-air, but to think that you can get away with abusing it would be utter insanity. It just doesn't get the job done all the time. Mixing up with your air-to-airs to beat jumping opponents is essential.

Crouching Normals

C. Lp

One of Vega's most important moves. This move is great because for a c. lp, it has very long range and it combos into c. mp, which is absolutely important for hit confirming combos into highly damaging EX FBAs. It comes out in 4 frames, which while not ideal for a jab, is great considering it's range and it's combo potential. You just have to be an ace to make sure you can nail the combos into more c. lp's or c. mp, but the payoff for mastering those links is enormous. C. lp might give you the impression that it's a "frame-advantage" move since it's a light, but it doesn't have much + on block at only +1. It's best use is, like every one of Vega's other moves, as a poke, especially since it can combo into c. mp at any distance. Walking around and pestering people with a mixture of light pokes is absolutely essential to strong Vega footsies.

C. Mp

One of Vega's two "bread and butter" moves. Without c. mp, Vega would be nothing. This move is huge, reaching almost half-screen in 4 frames and being special cancelable, basically designating it as your number-one go-to combo bridge into EX FBA and also your number-one long-range poke. It is amazing at chipping away at your opponent and forcing them to make mistakes because of its huge range and speed, but it can't be abused since whiffing a c. mp against a jumping opponent basically eliminates your potential to anti-air them. Regardless, it's among the best pokes in the game and learning how to use it in all of its ways is essential for success with Vega. In addition, c. mp lowers your standing hitbox drastically. You can actually crouch under jump-ins with this move and surprise them with a kara throw or low normal!

C. Hp

A highly situational move that I'm actually quite fond of. Against characters who can't crouch it, it's an exceptional poke, being fast for a c. hp at 5 frames. However, it's at best a mediocre anti-air being that it loses to a ton of jump-ins and is only rarely useful in this capacity. It is a good combo ender in some situations though, because of it's big damage - it won't hit most crouchers unless you hit with cl. hp first though. 

C. Lk

An often overlooked move, c. lk is a good way of mixing up your tick throws with a move that is actually a little less advantageous than c. lp and st. lk on block. On counter hit, it does combo into c. lp, which can definitely work to your advantage during frame trap pressure, but as a stand-alone move, it won't combo into anything. It has its uses as a poke and is also your go-to throw-tech move, but it remains a situational move. Regardless, it can easily find your way into your moveset if you allow it.

C. Mk

Vega's other "bread-and-butter" move and if you ask me, the best footsie move in the game. C. mk is just amazing. It comes out in 6 frames, which is hella fast for its range and also the fact that it's +5 on hit, allowing you to hit confirm into c. mp, c. hp, and st. hk, among others. It also has a very low number of total frames, basically making it a super-powered jab. It's an amazing move that I honestly think everyone should abuse. It's absolutely key for Vega's damage and kara throw game because of it's amazing frame advantage and combo potential. 

C. Hk

A standard slide attack. It has its uses, but I would never recommend making a habit of using this move. It's best used as a totally situational counter for c. mp and st. mk. St. mk and c. mp can out-range most moves and fireballs, but in the event you need a move to counter the kind of moves that counter both of those aforementioned pokes, c. hk is usually a good candidate. It reaches far and is safe on block ONLY if you space it perfectly, but it remains a useful move. It's just major, major focus bait, and if you space it poorly, prepare to die. Precision is of utmost importance as a Vega player and this move only makes it more apparent.

Close Normals

Cl. Lp

Like st. lp, this move doesn't have much use. It rarely hits crouchers, which is pretty bad, but it doesn't really combo anyway, unless you cancel it into a jab RCF. It does allow you to mix up point-blank range kara throw pressure, but it doesn't even combo into c. lp on counter hit, so it's a hard move to recommend. Like with st. lp, it's more likely to be successful as an anti-dive kick or walk-under anti-air.

Cl. Mp

A situational move that doesn't have much going for it. Cl. Mk is better in most regards, but cl. mp is one frame slower, so you might just catch someone pressing a button using cl. mp that you wouldn't catch if you used cl. mk. Regardless, that's extremely rare. However, Cl. mp does seem to make a good candidate for a higher-damage walk-under AA than cl. lp and st. lp. It has a 7 frame start up which is a little slow for an AA, but in the event you do make that sort of read, cl. mp should work for you.

Cl. Hp

A great move that is incredibly fun to be creative with. It's got a 9 frame start up which is the slowest normal move Vega has access to, but that does not in any way detract from its usefulness. It hits twice and is +5 on hit, making it an excellent move for hit confirms. Off of jump-ins, it's a great move to use as a frame-trap and if it hits, you can almost always combo into c. mp for an EX FBA combo. C. hp and st. rh will also hit, depending on the character. Because this move is so slow, it actually does make a pretty decent frame trap move. Use this after a c. lp point blank, and you might be able to catch someone late-teching - if it trades, you can still hit confirm into a combo!

Cl. Lk

A move that has almost less going for it than cl. lp or st. lp. However, it is pretty decent. It's unsafe on block but it does come out in 4 frames and hits crouchers most of the time, unlike st. lp and cl. lp. It's also a decent move at walk under AA, and can do OK against dive kicks. Aside from that, it is a move that is best avoided. However, because it does have the biggest vertical hitbox of any of Vega's light normals, it can be a decent choice to use to catch dive kickers jumping off the ground to start offense.

Cl. Mk

A move that is nearly identical to cl. mp if not for the fact that cl. mp hits at chest level and cl. mk hits the enemies' feet (despite not hitting low). You can get combos off of it on counter hit and it has -1 so it's another way of using unorthodox moves to frame trap someone and get a fat combo. What cl. mk and cl. mp do that c. mk doesn't is it pushes you back a lot less. This means that you'll never be out of range after a cl. mk or cl. mp to do a c. mp, or even a c. lp, while for c. mk, that guarantee is never there. However, it's necessary that the move is a counter hit for it to combo - it is special cancellable, but you can't link out of it normally. 

Neutral Jumping Normals

Nj. Lp

This move is pretty cool - it's actually the furthest-reaching horizontal move Vega has for neutral jumps! It also balls Vega up in the air so he becomes really short. This makes it really useful for jumping over fireballs, since it stops his legs from hanging far down like his other moves, or the neutral jump animation. It's a decent air-to-air because of it's range but has low damage and is generally not a great move to use air-to-ground because it doesn't have much of a vertical hitbox. Regardless, a situational move that I think is pretty useful for the most part.

Nj. Mp

A great move that, like most neutral jump normals, is very situational. It hits at about a 45 degree angle above Vega, which is pretty useful as an air-to-air, but not at all as an air-to-ground in most scenarios. For enemies that are slightly above you, use nj. mp. That's basically it's only use. Generally, if you do an anticipatory neutral jump and your opponent jumps slightly late, nj. mp on the way down should beat him. Between all of Vega's neutral jump normals and air grab, it's pretty much impossible to lose air-to-air if you're neutral jumping and make the right read.

Nj. Hp

An amazing air-to-air that should not be overlooked. It hits directly across from Vega, at about a 90 degree angle, and has huge range - not as much as nj. lp, but just about there. Regardless, it does a lot more damage and is a lot more rewarding as an air-to-air. Use it when you are directly level with your opponents in the air - it comes out fast and basically creates a frontal "shield" for Vega that is very tough to beat.

Nj. Lk

A very cool move that gets the job done if your opponent is directly above you. It hits essentially straight upward, which is both good and bad - it's not a great air-to-ground move in most scenarios, but it can surprise an opponent if you're tricky with it. It's just not a reliable move in that capacity. Additionally, it's really rare to have enemies come at you from above you if you're in the air, but if you ever find yourself in that situation, nj. lk will rarely lose. 

Nj. Mk

A very useful move as both an air-to-air and air-to-ground. It has a big horizontal reach - not as much as j. lp - but it hits at a downward angle so it's great as an air-to-air when you're above opponents and generally makes a good air-to-ground under any circumstances. You have to be slightly careful with all of Vega's neutral jump normals since not many of them have an overabundance of active frames, allowing you to just press buttons whenever and hope people run into them, and this move is a good way of demonstrating that since it's tough not to abuse it's big hitbox anticipating both a grounded block and an attempt at air to air by the other opponent. It does both jobs so well that it's easy to get carried away with this move, but as long as you are smart with it, it will definitely cause headaches. Beware of what it does to Vega's hitbox though - because his legs stretch out at the angle it does for the kick, it's very easy to land on fireballs with this move if you aren't careful.

Nj. Hk

The coolest move ever. Call it "The Dolphin Kick". This is literally the only move Vega has that you can throw out in anticipation of a wide variety of situations - as opposed to a few - and get away with it. Its hitbox shields Vega from basically any direction, making an awesome air-to-air that is rarely trumped. All you have to do to allow it to succeed is to use nj. Hp or one of the other moves once in a while to check people into being scared of your neutral jump game again, because it can be beaten or trade in certain scenarios and certain moves. However, it's just an all-around awesome move. It also comes out in 4 frames which is very fast for an air move, and if you hit it air-to-ground, it's very difficult for enemies to uppercut you out of it since the first active frame has Vega's legs going basically straight down and his body arced totally behind it, free from harm. The legs flip up, which, if you are adept at using this move, are a great way of hitting opponents who jump at you from above - that's similar to j. lk, but this move does a lot more damage, and is better to use on the way down because it has a wider hitbox overall, hitting opponents regardless of what they're doing.

Diagonal Jumping Normals

J. Lp

Like nj. lp, this move has a ton of horizontal range. Unlike nj. lp, though, j. lp actually makes Vega taller in the air so it's not useful to jump over fireballs with. Instead, it's an incredibly rare situational counter to opponents who neutral jump at a distance that j. hk and hp would whiff, and the opponent would come down on top of you while you're landing. That's a rare scenario since your jump-ins should never be that telegraphed as Vega, but the move exists to win in that situation regardless.

J. Mp

This move has a huge diagonally-downward hitbox that, while having big horizontal range, doesn't have much vertical range, so it struggles to hit crouchers. However, it makes a world-class air-to-air, especially when you're jumping back against a forward-jumping opponent. It does decent damage, but the best quality of this move is simply the big range. It's also used as a safe jump move in some scenarios, which I will come back to later on in the blog.

J. Hp

One of the best jumping normals in the game, J. hp is very scary even for the likes of Guile and Dhalsim, who have world-class normal anti-airs. This move has a massive hitbox while you have the claw and is actually a little disjointed - meaning, the hitbox for your move to hit them actually exist outside of the hitbox where your opponents can hit you, which is a rarity in Street Fighter. This distinction provides this move with a special characteristic - it can actually win against even the best normal anti-airs. It also has a huge vertical hitbox which means with Vega's fast, narrow jump arc, you can force enemies to block your jump ins earlier than normal, essentially making your jumps harder to react to. However, it doesn't have many active frames and has a very narrow horizontal reach, which means you still have to be very careful with it. However, the payoff for being smart with j. hp is absolutely enormous. Lastly, you can cross up some characters with this move - more to come on that later.

J. Lk

This is a great move, and one that I always figured Vega couldn't live with out. Among Vega's diagonally jumping normals, this move hits the one place all his other moves are practically begging him to hit - just like Guile's j. rh, it hits at roughly a 30 or so degree angle downwards, which makes it a great air-to-ground for quelling jump-outs and also makes it a decent-air-to-air against opponents jumping up at you. It also has the second most active normals out of all of Vega's jumping normals, meaning you can throw it out a little earlier than normal and cover a little more ground air-to-ground and air-to-air than you could with others. Additionally, it actually makes Vega's grabbable hitbox in the air smaller than normal! Plus, for a safe jump move, it is an excellent move to use since it has less blockstun than j. hp, meaning you can throw people earlier out of the blockstun and hence surprise them with more mixups.

J. Mk

Like j. mp, this move has good horizontal reach but not much in the way of vertical reach. That said, it's a little better equipped as an air-to-ground and hits out at a straight arc from Vega's waist. It's a good move to use among all of Vega's other jumping normals because it hits straight out at a lower height than j. lp, which is a little too high to really be of much use in most situations. Plus, it does more damage, and since it's better air-to-ground, is more useful to mix up with your other safe jump moves than something like j. mp.

J. Hk

This move is nearly identical to j. hp, except for a few differences - J. hp has a nearly undefeatable hitbox air-to-ground, but J. hk is a little more susceptible to anti-airs. However, it has slightly more horizontal reach and also vertical reach, especially if you don't have the claw. It's a little more of an all-purpose jump-in, as opposed to J. hp which can really punish someone for just standing there, even on block. It's very useful and sometimes overlooked, but I suggest using this over J. hp for the most part, just because it is more adaptable to change than J. hp.

A common theme among Vega's normals is of course, range. Secondly, speed. Without those two attributes Vega would be utterly useless. The whole gameplan behind Vega is often just to pester opponents with superior range and footspeed and without moves like c. mp and c. mk, this would be impossible - the entire reason Vega is good relies on how good those pokes are, especially, again, c. mp and c. mk, which are absolutely amazing and pretty much number 1 and 2 as far as "best pokes in the game though" if you're asking me. 

As soon as we get more into kara throw data and moves like cosmic heel, it'll become more apparent why some of those close normals are useful, as well as the crouching normals. But as a general rule, getting right in there with Vega is not useful. You need to space everything, and have a goal in mind for everything you do. Without that calm, precise mindset, you're as good as dead against even some of the more careless high-level players. Vega requires accuracy - like an archer. Archer's can't have shaky hands! Neither can your Vega have a shaky mind.

The jumping normals are by definition situational, but the benefit of Vega is that since j. hp and hk are so good, you can actually paralyze people who don't react fast enough to jump-ins. Get a ton of frame advantage from those and your mix up game can get going easily. Other good air-to-airs, as well as air grab, which I'll talk about in a later post, make Vega a strong character air-to-air.

Overall, with Vega, normals is power. Start here, and with each post, you'll learn more about other things that incrementally increase the strength of your Vega. But learning how to use your normals first is of absolute, absolute importance. 

With that said, PEACE! Next entry shouldn't be too long away. 

Again, stay tuned for the first matchup entry, which I have already decided will be Blanka. Lots of people are telling me Blanka gives em trouble, so I figure it's in my power to deliver, I must deliver. 

Aaaaaand follow me on twitter guys! Thanks! 


  1. Thank you on your post, I found it very helpful. I've been playing vega since vanilla and I can say that I have decent knowledge in his normals but I learned three huge things from above,that I have to use to cover my other weakness:
    1. st.lp, basically I never use it and if it comes out it comes by mistake :P. now I can use it at circumstantial situations, like the dive kicks ..etc.
    2. st.hp, I always get bugged by ryu's Jesus kick. I do sometimes, use but more damage is welcome at anytime
    3. nj.lp, never knew that hurt box become smaller for fireballs

    Thank you again, will apply these things in my game now on.. Vega player from the middle east ;)

    1. Yep, glad you could learn more about each normal. All of them have a use SOMEWHERE, just tough to figure out exactly where. Hello from Canada!

  2. Yeah, I had no idea about nj.lp, pretty interesting. This was a good read and definitely shows your understanding of the character; can't wait to read your take on the Blanka matchup. Keep it up!