Ultra Street Fighter IV/Controls and Terminology

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Ultra Street Fighter IVUSFIV-Header.png
Ultra Street Fighter IV#CharactersUltra Street Fighter IV/Controls and TerminologyUltra Street Fighter IV/Basic ElementsUltra Street Fighter IV/Universal AbilitiesUltra Street Fighter IV/Game SystemsUSFIVHeaderButtons.png

Joystick Controls

Here is a diagram of the controls in Ultra Street Fighter IV when used with the standard MadCatz Tournament Edition Joystick. The joystick has been labeled as if you are on the left side of the screen. If you are on the right, Towards becomes Back, Offensive Crouch becomes Defensive Crouch, etc. The buttons remain the same.

          JOYSTICK POSITIONS            |           BUTTONS
          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^            |           ^^^^^^^
                 Up                     |           PUNCHES
                  o                     |
    Back Flip o   |   o Forward Flip    |    o         o         o
               \  |  /                  |  Light     Medium    Hard
                \ | /                   |  Punch     Punch     Punch
     Back o ----- o ----- o Towards     |
               Neutral                  |    o         o         o
               /  |  \                  |  Light     Medium    Hard
    Defensive o   |   o Offensive       |  Kick      Kick      Kick
    Crouch        o        Crouch       |
                Down                    |            KICKS
             (or Crouch)                |

Motion Notation

Also, there are some motions for the joystick that will be referred to by the common nicknames used for them. Here's a listing of the ones that may be most commonly used in this guide:

  • QCF (Quarter Circle Forward):

Qcf.png Down, Down/Towards, Towards

  • QCB (Quarter Circle Back):

Qcb.png Down, Down/Back, Back

  • DP (Dragon Punch):

Dp.png Towards, Down, Down/Towards

  • RDP (Reverse Dragon Punch):

Rdp.png Back, Down, Down/Back

  • HCF (Half Circle Forward):

Hcf.png Back, Down/Back, Down, Down/Towards, Towards

  • HCB (Half Circle Back):

Hcb.png Towards, Down/Towards, Down, Down/Back, Back

  • 360 (360 Motion):

360.png Rotate the joystick in a full circle in any direction

Japan Vs. USA Naming

Many Street Fighter fans are already aware of this, but the names of the three of the characters are actually switched around when you are looking at the game from the U.S. or the game from Japan. When Street Fighter II was first originally released, there were four boss characters: the boxer from the U.S., the Spaniard with the mask and claw, the Muay Thai kickboxer, and the evil dictator with the hat from Thailand. In America, we know these characters as Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison.

However, in Japan, these characters were originally names M. Bison, Balrog, Sagat, and Vega in that order. So the boxer was M. Bison, the Spaniard was Balrog, and the dictator was Vega. Apparently, someone feared a lawsuit from Mike Tyson, since the boxer looked exactly like him and had such a similar name in M. Bison. So they swapped the names around... you know, it wasn't a big deal, right?


Who knew Street Fighter would have become the cultural phenomenon it did? As a result, this name mix-up has been plaguing the Street Fighter community for years and years. Some people don't know who you are referring to when you say, "Vega." Do you mean the guy with the claw? Or the dictator?

And so, to make things easier on people, nicknames started making their rounds throughout the Street Fighter culture, mostly started by NKI when discussing Super Street Fighter II Turbo. The three characters who had their names swapped were now referred to as Boxer, Claw, and Dictator as opposed to their names. This made sure you knew who anyone was talking about when they said "Vega" or "Balrog."

Some people have gotten very used to these nicknames. This is being brought up mostly because:

This guide will not use those nicknames.

Instead, the U.S. names that we are familiar with will be used because most people who are just getting into Street Fighter, and a lot of Street Fighter IV players are relatively new to the scene, do not know about the name swap. So this is a warning to everyone: characters will be referred to by their American names throughout this FAQ. This includes Akuma, who is known as "Gouki" in Japan. So please just be aware of this. Thank you.

Hit and Block Stun

Two terms will be used a lot in this guide: Hit Stun and Block Stun. Those of you playing Street Fighter are well aware that the game is all about hitting the opponent right?

Well, if you notice, whenever you land an attack on the opponent, the opponent gets "stuck" in a state. When you hit them, they go into an animation of reeling from getting hit. When they block your attack, they get stuck in a blocking pose for a fixed amount of time.

These are what are referred to as Hit Stun and Block Stun. Hit Stun is the concept that, when hit, you are stuck in the reel animation for a while. Any hits that connect during your Hit Stun are considered a hit that combos on you. And Block Stun is the concept that, when you block an attack, you are stuck in the block pose for a while. Any attack that connects on you during Block Stun is considered a true Block String. These are very important concepts to know about, and they will be talked about a lot throughout this guide.


The word "Frame" is going to be used a lot in this guide. We're going to be talking about Active Frames, Frame Advantage, animation frames, etc. etc. So without understanding what a frame is, you're going to get very lost very quickly.

The easiest way to understand frames it to think about everything that happens on the screen as a cartoon. In a cartoon, you have to draw one picture at a time so that, when played in rapid succession, each picture creates an animation. Each of these pictures can be called an animation frame.

That's what happens on the screen in Street Fighter. Every movement a character makes, every attack they perform goes through a set of what you can call an animation frame. So some moves are made up of 20 animation frames. Some moves are made up of as many as 200 frames.

This is all we are referring to when we mention frames. And keep in mind that Ultra Street Fighter IV is a game that outputs 60 frames per second. So if we say something like "there is a 6 frame window you can perform this action," that means you have 1/10th of a second to perform the action.

Move Stages

Remember what was just said? That every action in the game, including attacks, are "animated" frame by frame? Well, with regards to attacks, every attack in the game has three phases: a startup phase, an active phase, and a recovery phase.

You can see it in every move. Hit a button, and your character will start a move, hit the opponent, and then finish an animation. That's all these phases are: the period of time before your move hits the opponent, the period of time the move is hitting the opponent, and the period of time after the move hits the opponent.

So take those periods and break them down into those "animation frames" we just talked about. The start of your attack before it can hit the opponent is made up of Startup Frames. The animation frames during which your attack can actually hit the opponent are known as Active Frames. And everything that comes after those Active Frames are considered Recovery Frames.

Cycle de vie.jpg

These three types of frames make up the skeleton of every attack, and all three types are super important to various aspects of the systems and concepts that make up Ultra Street Fighter IV. So become familiar with these terms and keep them in mind throughout the guide.