Critical Stun (DoA4)
Some moves on normal hit (and most on counter hit, and all moves on hi-counter hit) induce what is known as critical stun. This is similar to other stuns and staggers seen in other fighting games, but is a much more pronounced.
You will know when you have induced a critical stun when the game flashes the words "critical stun" on the game HUD when the move connects.
A character's only options once put into a critical stun is to either execute a defensive hold to cancel the stagger, or to struggle escape the stun to shorten the length of the critical stun.
A character, once put into a critical stun, can be restunned by being hit while in the critical stun. However, a character can not be kept in critical stun indefinately -- there is a damage limit that a character can take in one sequence of critical stuns. Once that damage threshold is reached, the character will (usually! -- see the section on critical limit breaks below) go into a different stun animation (usually falling down) and no follow-up hits are possible.
The damage limits are as follows:
- Stun induced via a normal hit: 25 points of damage.
- Stun induced via a counter hit: 35 points of damage.
- Stun induced via a hi-counter hit: 45 points of damage.
Launchers and Critical Stuns
Normally, the height a character is launched is dependent on two states -- if they are standing or crouching, and if the move hits in a normal, counter, or hi-counter state. The first still applies to launches hitting characters in critical state, but the second is not possible. However, there is another way the game determines how high a character is launched. This is based off the amount of damage done during the stun before the launcher connected.
It should be noted that a lot of launchers have a normal-hit launch height that is not reproducable outside of critical stuns. This is to say that a lot of launchers will launch a critically stunned character, but will not launch a neutral character without hitting as a (hi)counter hit. The amount of damage required for each state changes with the type of stun induced.
During a critical stun induced by a normal hit:
- 0-10 points of damage induces a normal launch height.
- 11-20 points of damage induces a counter launch height.
- 21-25 points of damage induces a hi-counter launch height.
During a critical stun induced by a counter hit:
- 0-12 points of damage induces a normal launch height.
- 13-25 points of damage induces a counter launch height.
- 26-35 points of damage induces a hi-counter launch height.
During a critical stun induced by a hi-counter hit:
- 0-15 points of damage induces a normal launch height.
- 16-30 points of damage induces a counter launch height.
- 31-45 points of damage induces a hi-counter launch height.
(Remember, doing more than the amount of damage listed for a hi-counter launch will result in either a critical stun finish or a critical limit break.)
Examples of Launchers and Critical Stuns
(Credit to Trag for the following examples.)
Tina versus Hayate -- 9P, P+K, 66G, PP, 8P, BT PPP, PP6PK. The initial Critical Stun hits on a Normal Hit. The P+K inflicts 12 stun damage. The following PP inflicts an additional 10 damage (+22 total). The opponent is now primed for max height launch, and the 8P performs as expected - it allows the BT PPP, PP6PK follow-up. Quite awesome seeing as there was no counter-hit OR high-counter needed!
Tina versus Hayate -- HC 9P, 8P, BT PPP, PP6PK. This sequence will not work! You may score a Critical Stun on a HC attack. If you then try to launch with 8P (without doing any additional Critical Combo damage), the opponent will now launch at the lowest height! Even though you scored an awesome high-counter, the follow-up launcher was performed too early and resulted in a low height/damage juggle. Keep this in mind!
Defensive Holds and Critical Stun
Doing a defensive hold instantly ends one's critical stun. So what are the problems with doing this? The first problem is simply, you have to guess that your opponent is going to attack at a given height and at a given time. Guess correctly and you get some damage, and you get out of the stun. However, if you guess wrong bad things can happen, from getting hit again to getting thrown (at hi-counter rates -- ouch!). Not to say that doing defensive holds out of a critical stun is always wrong, but the strategic implications are beyond the scope of this page (that's for another entry).
The other problem is that if you counter incorrectly and get hit, the stun continues with all of the properties as it had before -- counter state, stun damage accumulated, everything. The only state that changes is is you were in a low-state stun and counter high or mid, you end up standing. The reverse applies too -- if you were in any stun and you do a low counter, you are considered to be in a low state, and any effects thereof (like higher launch heights from launchers) now apply.
Examples of Defensive Holds During Critical Stuns
(Credit to Trag for the following examples.)
Hayate: 9P, PP, PP, P, 8P (max limit) - In this example, Hayate achieves max limit for default state (standing) and then launches with 8P.
Hayate: 9P, PP (opponent mid-holds), PP, P, 8P (max limit + avoided hold attempt). - In this example, Hayate does the exact same sequence as the first example except the opponent tries to mid-hold after the first PP sequence. The 8P in both examples launch the identical height.
Hayate: 9P, PP (opponent mid-holds), PP (opponent mid-holds), P, 8P (max limit + 2 avoided hold attempts). - In this example, Hayate continues with the same sequence but the opponent tries to mid-hold out twice. The 8P still launches the exact same height as it would had if the opponent never tried to counter-hold out.
Many players are under the impression that counter-holding out resets the stun limit, but this is not true. With a second player, you can easily test it. Let's use the same Hayate example:
Hayate: 9P, PP, PP, PP (or P, P) - We know that after 25 dmg on a normal hitting stun that Hayate has 25 points to work with until the opponent passes the stun limit and falls over. After the 9P stun, PP, PP, P inflicts exactly 25 stun, so the second P in the third PP sequence (or the second solo jab) will always knock down. Try it for yourself. 9P, PP, PP, PP (second hit here knocks down). Now try this sequence:
Hayate: 9P, PP (opponent mid holds), PP (opponent mid holds), PP - Note that the opponent STILL falls over after the second hit of the third PP sequence.
When an opponent hits the wall flush and bounces off (not when they stick to the wall, nor from a glancing wall hit) they go into a normal-state critical stun. They can counter from any point in this stun (as opposed to DoA3, where the first hit after a wall bounce was guaranteed).
A weird exception to these rules is Gen-Fu's air grab (P+G on an airborne opponent). All guarnteed followups (P, K, 6P) induce a critical state with a cap of 25 points, but the damage modifier (for whatever reason) is not adjusted. So if you land a hi-counter stun into a launch which ends with this grab, you will hit the damage cap very quickly.
The offical Japanese DoA4 Strategy Guide