Hokuto no Ken/Basic Game Mechanics

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This page covers the general systems and game mechanics, such as you would expect to find in an instruction manual. For information regarding advanced game mechanics, see here.

Seven Stars of the Hokuto

Underneath the life bar is a gauge consisting of 7 stars. Being hit with certain moves will deplete stars - once a character's star gauge reaches 0, a distinctive animation will play, and a shining 'death star' will appear below the normal star gauge. Players with zero stars become vulnerable to "Fatal KO's," which are Hokuto no Ken's version of instant kills. Unlike some other games such as Guilty Gear, it is possible to combo into a Fatal KO, which makes them a very central part of the game.

Once a player connects with a Fatal KO they win the round, and the other player gains all of their stars back(assuming it wasn't the match point, in which case the match is over). If a player executes a Fatal KO but it misses, they lose all of their Aura and Boost, and the other player gains back one star. Also, after every round both players recover one star.

The most stars that can be taken off in a single combo is 3, although there are some exceptions to this rule, and 4 and even 5 star Fatal KO combos exist for some characters. For more information regarding this see the Advanced Game Mechanics section.

Aura Gauge

The Aura Gauge is the bottom-most bar on the the screen and is essentially a Super Bar, functioning almost identically to the Tension Gauge in the Guilty Gear series. Up to 2 bars of Aura can be stored, which can be used on Supers, Guard Cancels, Aura Guard, and Stun Cancel. The first bar is blue, and the second gold, overlapping the first once it is full.

Aura Guard

Aura Guard can be performed by holding the boost button while guarding. The mechanics are exactly the same as Faultless Defence in Guilty Gear - it causes more push-back when guarding, protects you from chip damage, and allows you to guard anti-air moves while airborne. The negative effects of Aura Guard are that it causes longer block stun and uses up your Aura at a steady rate.

Guard Cancel

A Guard Cancel is done by pressing forward and CD while guarding. Executing a Guard Cancel will use up 1 bar of Aura and perform an invincible attack that will knock your opponent down if it connects. Guard Cancels in Hokuto no Ken are very strong and will generally never lose outright or 'trade' with other moves. However, they can be beaten by moves with long start-up invulnerability or guard points like Raoh's Chop and Rei's Koharyu, or simply guarded if the opponent is able to recover before the Guard Cancel connects. Being able to predict and deal with Guard Cancels when applying pressure and choose safe spots to use them when defending are both necessary skills in intermediate level play. For more detailed information on Guard Cancels see the Strategy section.

Stun Cancel

A Stun Cancel is used to cancel the 'stun' state caused by certain moves such as Heavy Strikes and Kenshiro's Seieikou. Pressing any button while stunned will use up half a bar of aura and allow you to act again. If you have the available gauge to use a Stun Cancel you generally should always do so.

Boost Gauge

Whereas the Aura Gauge can be easily related to similar systems in other games, the Boost Gauge and its uses are rather unique. Two uses for boost exist - the first, which we will call 'Movement Boost,' costs 20% of a bar per use, and causes the character to rush forward at an extreme speed. The second type is 'Cancel Boost,' which can be used to cancel the recovery of normal or special moves, and costs 50% of a bar to use. Boost can be performed by pressing the E button at nearly any time, provided the lever is not in a backwards position - this lever requirement applies not only to the basic Boost function, but also to all Boost-related techniques, such as Hitstop Cancel and Banishing Cancel

Boost is gained in many ways, both when attacking and defending, and each player can store up to 3 bars of Boost. It is possible to use Boost when you have a minimum of one bar, and once used the remaining Boost will begin to drain slowly to the end of the bar. For example, if you have 2.0 Boost and use 20% for a Movement Boost, the bar will continue to deplete until you have 1.0 Boost left. If you have 1.25 Boost and use 50% in a Cancel Boost, the remaining .75 Boost will drain and you will be left with 0 Boost. Once Boost has been used by either character, neither player will be able to gain Boost for roughly 8 seconds - Boosting before comboing a dizzied opponent or in the middle of a long combo can be used to limit your opponent's Boost gain. For these reasons, Boost management plays a critical role in Hokuto no Ken.

It should also be noted that when you connect with a Banishing Strike either in a ground combo or as the first hit versus an airborne opponent, you are able to use a special follow-up Cancel Boost that grants you one free bar of Boost that begins draining when executed. This is provided that you had less than 1 full bar of Boost prior to the start of the combo - if for example you had 3 full bars, 1 of them will drain as normal upon using the follow-up Boost. A technique called "Banishing Cancel" can be used to gain this free bar of boost but cancel the follow-up dash and thus subsequent use of the Boost also exists, and is covered in detail in the Advanced Game Mechanics section.

Mr. Heart has no Boost Gauge.

Agility Defense

AKA Agility Guard. Agility Defense is a guarding technique identical to Instant Blocking in the Guilty Gear series. Agility Defense is done by inputting the guard command directly before being hit with an attack. When performed successfully, the character will flash white and a unique sound will play. The benefits of Agility Defense are a decrease in block stun, less knock-back, and an increase in Boost and Aura. Agility Defense is also the only way of guarding a max charged Banishing Strike, so it is an important skill to master.

Banishing Strike

Pressing C and D together will execute a Banishing Strike, which is a special attack that takes one star and causes the victim to fly towards the corner and enter into a 'wallbounce' state when it connects successfully. As explained in the Boost Gauge section, any ground hit or the first hit on an airborne opponent will result in a successful hit - used in a combo versus an airborne opponent it will simply take one star and cause a knockdown. Upon a successful hit, a special Movement Boost can be used by pressing forward, and will cause you to chase after the opponent. This boost uses 20% as normal for a Movement, but is unique in that if you have less than one bar Boost, you will gain a free one which will begin to drain as normal. Other than this special automatic movement boost, any manual Boost performed off a Banishing Strike, including when guarded, will also cost only 20%.

While comboing an opponent after connecting with a Banishing Strike, they will bounce off the wall after every strike, which allows for long and powerful combos. However, as the combo grows in length, the pushback of each hit also increases, becoming larger and larger. Eventually the pushback will become too great, and it becomes necessary to end the combo before being pushed out of range. However, this pushback can be reset by taking the victim out of the wallbounce state, which can be achieved by using another Banishing Strike. This Banishing Strike is treated as an air combo hit and thus will not result in a 'successful' hit, and requires a boost followup to continue the combo. Raoh is also capable of doing this with his 'Sai' move, and this forms the basis of his 100% combos. Also, although as a rule Boost cannot be gained for 8 seconds after being used, a bug exists where you are able to gain 20% boost when using a Banishing Strike while doing a Banishing Strike wallbounce combo(you gain the boost while it is draining, essentially allowing you to use 120% in a single bar).

Also noteworthy is that the amount of Boost gained from hitting or making your opponent block a Banishing Strike is very high - 50% when guarded and 20% when it connects, specifically. Ending a string with a Banishing Strike, and then either using the gained boost to continue the pressure or stopping and re-evaluating the situation is a common attack pattern.

Grave Shoot

Grave Shoots are a special type of move used to perform aerial combos. Done by pressing A and C, a grave shoot launches the victim into the air and can be followed up by a jump only when it connects, and any special move used in the aerial will take off a star regardless of whether it is a star removing move or not. However the maximum number of stars that can be taken off is just one, and there is no added bonus for using a move that would normally take off a star. This one star limit can be circumvented by using a technique called Grave Install. Grave Shoots are generally only used in combos, although some characters, such as Raoh and Rei, can use theirs as an anti-air move in certain cases.

Mr. Heart has no Grave Shoot. Also, Jagi's Grave Shoot is an overhead, and Rei's can reflect projectiles.

Heavy Strike

A Heavy Strike is an unblockable attack that can be performed by pressing A and B together. Once executed, the player does a short charge up, then springs forward and attacks. If the Heavy Strike connects on a grounded opponent, they will lose one star and enter into a stunned state. When a Heavy Strike hits an airborne opponent it is still unblockable and takes off a star, but simply causes knockdown. While it is possible to continue into a combo without using gauge, the victim will usually be able to recover with Stun Cancel or lever/button mashing before you are able recover yourself and begin attacking. For this reason Heavy Strikes should always be used in conjunction with Boost, as the attack itself does little damage - the main advantage is the ability to follow up with a big combo. The exception to this is Mamiya, whose Heavy Strike has both very fast start up and recovery and thus does not require the use of Boost to follow up.


Normal Throw

Normal throws can be executed by pressing either 4(to throw backwards) or 6(for a forward throw) and C when near the opponent. It is very important to note that throws in Hokuto no Ken have a slower start-up than in most games and thus are not suited for reversals.

Mamiya has no throw.

BD Throw

BD throws are a special alternate throw that can be performed by pressing B and D together. Unlike a normal throw, pressing BD will play a grabbing animation regardless of whether or not you are able to connect, as in Street Fighter 3 and Blazblue. They have faster start-up than normal throws, a larger range, and take off one star upon use(and, in fact, remove the 3 star limit from combos). On the negative side, BD throws only connect on standing opponents, making them not viable for use in a low/throw style mix-up.

Mamiya and Toki both have no BD throw. Also, Mr. Heart's BD throw can be used on both standing and crouching opponents.

Air Recovery

Air Recovery, or Ukemi, allows you to recover after taking a hit in mid air and prevent being knocked down. Air Recovery can be performed by pressing any button other than E, provided that you are not in a non-recoverable state - depending on the move you were hit with you may be unable to recover before hitting the ground.

Quick/Delayed Standing

Using Quick/Delayed Standing, it is possible to delay or extend the time you stay knocked down. These techniques can be useful for throwing off the timing of your opponents setups. Inputing an upward or downward direction when knocked down will perform Quick and Delayed Standing, respectively. For Delayed Standing it is possible to simply hold down as soon as you see you will be knocked down, but when using Quick Standing it is necessary to input the up direction during a specific window of time.

Guard Gauge and Weight System

Depending on the characters being played, a Guard Gauge sometimes appears. Similar to Street Fighter Alpha 3, constant blocking and defending decreases the meter. When it reaches zero, a "Guard Crush" occurs and the defending player becomes temporarily vulnerable to attacks. This gauge only appears when characters of the same weight class have a match, with the exception of middle-weights.

For instance, two heavyweights fighting each other will have a Guard gauge, as will two lightweight fighters. On the other hand, two middleweights will not. When there is a mismatch in terms of weight, only the lighter character is given a Guard Gauge. For example, in a match where Mr. Heart (a heavy-weight) is fighting Mamiya (a light-weight) only Mamiya has a Guard Gauge.

The game's weight classes are as follows:

Heavyweight: Shin, Mr. Heart
Middleweight: Kenshiro, Raoh, Toki, Rei, Yuda, Jagi
Lightweight: Thouther, Mamiya

Recovering Life Gauge

The orange colour on the life gauge indicates current life energy. The blue bar underneath the orange represents the amount that can be recovered. Recovery only occurs when a character is not being attacked or high-jumping.

Back to - Hokuto no Ken
Kenshiro - Raoh - Toki - Jagi - Shin - Rei - Juda - Thouther - Mr. Heart - Mamiya
Basic Mechanics - Advanced Mechanics - General Strategy - FAQ