Controls and Notation
Skullgirls uses directional inputs and 6 default attack buttons for gameplay. The six buttons are light punch, medium punch, heavy punch, light kick, medium kick, and heavy kick. All characters have standing, crouching, and jumping versions of their normal moves associated with the 6 buttons. Button and directional inputs combine for command normals, special moves, super moves, and other universal commands.
In character move lists, this guide will use the Shoryuken.com Wiki's default symbols to represent button commands. For written sections LP, MP, HP, LK, MK, and HK will abbreviate the buttons. Street Fighter series players may know these buttons as jab, strong, fierce, short, forward, and roundhouse, but those terms will not appear in this guide.
For directional inputs, this guide will use the default wiki symbols whenever possible. For written sections, unicode arrows will represent the 8 vertical, horizontal, and diagonal directions. Many Street Fighter, King of Fighters, and Tekken series players use f, b, d, and u to abbreviate forward, back, down, and up directional inputs. Many Guilty Gear, Blaz Blue, and Virtua Fighter players prefer a keypad based notation to represent all 8 directions and neutral. Both are shown here for new Skullgirls players with experience in other fighting games.
This guide will also use the Shoryuken.com Wiki symbols for directional motions required by special and super moves. All of these commands are common to 2D fighters.
Universal commands are moves available to all characters.
- Hold ← OR ↙ = Block
- ↖ OR ↑ OR ↗ = Jump or double jump
- ↓ then ↑ = Super jump
- →→ OR PP = Dash, run, or airdash
- LP+LK = Normal throw, tech throw
- while in blockstun, PP = Pushblock
- when knocked down, hold ← or → and press any button = Ground recovery
- MP+MK = Tag Out attack from the second-in-line character
- HP+HK = Tag Out attack from the third-in-line character
- LP+MK OR LK+MP = Call an assist from the second-in-line character
- MP+HK OR MK+HP = Call an assist from the third-in-line character
- QCF + MP+MK OR QCF + HP+HK = Snapback
- while in blockstun, → + MP+MK or → + HP+HK = Stunt Double
- During a super, perform any super from the the next-in-line character = Co-Star Combo
- Attacks that are high must be blocked high by a standing player (←) and attacks that are low must be blocked low (↙). Everything else is mid and can be blocked either way.
- Jumping normals are typically high.
- Air specials and supers are all mid.
- Not all crouching attacks are low.
- For multi hit air normals, the first hit that contacts the opponent must be blocked high. Any additional hits are considered mid.
- When air blocking, holding either block direction covers everything. There is no "unblockable vs air". Ground based attacks are always air blockable.
- Chicken blocking, or deliberately blocking during a low to the ground jump, works like it does in other 2D fighters with air blocking. Getting off the ground means high and low attacks can be blocked with the same direction. If the defending character hits the ground in the middle of normal block stun the block stun ends immediately.
- The defending player gets a brief period of unblockable protection after blocking any attack that forces a specific block direction. This protection lasts between 4 to 12f depending on the attack. All attacks requiring a change of block direction that hit within this period get blocked automatically. The fearsome left/right or high/low unblockable setup, as seen in many other 2D fighters, does not guarantee a successful hit as long as the defending player successfully blocks the first hit.
- After blocking an attack standing or crouching, the defending player will remain in their initial position even if holding the other block direction. The defending character will only change position when blocking an attack that requires the other block direction. The "fuzzy guard" tactic, which exploits this small detail, will work in other 2D games.
- When the attacking player whiffs a move, an opponent within a reasonably close range will show a blocking animation if holding a block direction. This range varies per move. Projectiles and any attack preformed as an assist will not cause a blocking animation on whiff. The blocking animation prevents the defending player from walking backwards, but will not prevent any other action.
Any up direction jumps (↖ or ↑ or ↗). You'd just love to jump all day, wouldn't you? Scrub!
If a character is in the air and not in hit stun, block stun, being thrown, or preforming any move, they are in a normal jumping state. In a normal jump state characters can preform as many normals, command normals, and throws as they can before they hit the ground. The momentum of a jump is set at the start of the jump. Holding a direction in the air does not influence the speed and direction of a jump. Changing a character's jump arc requires an air dash, double jump, or a specific move that changes the character's momentum in the air.
Characters with an air dash can use it once per jump at any time during jump state. Most air special and super moves can only be preformed once per jump. Characters with double jumps will double jump by hitting any upward direction in jump state. Holding an upward direction at the end of any other action will not cause a double jump. Most ground normal and all air normal moves can not be cancelled with a jump.
The defending character will return to normal jump state immediately at the end of an aerial hit stun. Players do not need any button inputs to recover from hit stun in the air.
Jumping has a few frames of start up before the character actually leaves the ground. The character will remain standing if hit during this time, but have the same throw invulnerably they would have when actually in the air.
Each character has a specific "weight" that influences their motion in the air. A "heavier" character might fall faster than a "light" character, causing some specific combos and attacks to work differently against different opposing characters.
All characters can super jump, a longer, higher, and faster moving jump, by tapping any down direction before any up direction (↓ then ↑). Assists cannot be called during a super jump, but everything else works the same as a normal jump. Launchers, the only jump cancelable normal moves, can be canceled into a super jump in any upward direction by holding up during the attack or tapping any upward direction after it hits.
All characters have a normal throw and air throw with LP+LK. Normal throws will miss aerial opponents and normal air throws miss opponents on the ground. A back throw (← + LP+LK) switches sides with the opponent. All normal throws are unblockable, but have start up, active, and recovery frames on whiff like any other move. On hit, a throw starts animation that cannot be interrupted by any other characters or attacks on screen. Both characters in the animation are invincible, even if it is an assist character throwing a point character. Throws deal 100% recoverable damage and are subject to the same damage scaling and meter gain per hit as any other move. Recovery after normal throws, or the animation after the hits, cancels into special and super moves.
All normal throws will miss opponents while they are in hit stun or block stun, meaning combos into a throw are not possible under most circumstances. Opponents in a stagger or crumple stun can be hit with a throw as a combo. Characters are vulnerable to throws on the first frame after hit stun or block stun. There are no additional frames of throw invulnerability, but holding up will avoid ground to ground throws that hit on the first frame after the stun.
Defending players can break incoming throws with a throw tech (LP+LK while being thrown). When teching a throw both characters go through a break animation that deals no damage and recover on the same frame. Teching is unavailable whenever the character could not otherwise throw, such as during the start up or recovery frames of another move. Characters cannot preform normal ground throws and techs while holding any down direction (↓ + LP+LK). This input gives a crouching LP. The popular option select throw technique, as seen in many other 2D fighting games with a 2 button normal throw input, does not work.
A typical throw has a 5f start up, but some characters are slower. A normal throw's 8f tech window starts 2f before the throw hits and ends 6f after it hits. If two characters to start 5f normal throws 1f apart, the faster character's throw will land with the slower character's LP+LK command outside of the window to tech. If a character has a slower throw, throwing on the same frame or slightly before can lose to an opponent's faster throw. If throws connect on the exact same frame, one randomly chosen throw will succeed. For any of these cases, a throw that lands as counter hit against another throw does not prevent a throw tech for the defending player. The tech will require a separate LP+LK input.
It is possible to cancel the start up frames of normal move into a throw, but only LP and LK. The popular kara throw technique, as seen in other 2D fighters with a 2 button normal throw command, is possible but considerably more restricted than in older games. Throws cannot cancel the active or recovery frames of any move.
Special moves that are also throws usually have a LP+LK in their command. Most cannot be broken, but if they can it's also with LP+LK. Many command throws can be blocked (Throw On Hit) and you can even combo into some of them. If two special or super throws connect on the same frame, one randomly chosen throw will succeed.
All characters can dash or run forward by either double tapping the forward direction (→→) or pressing PP. ←← or ← + PP will dash backwards. For characters with a run, holding the appropriate direction after either input will continue the run. All characters can interrupt their ground dash or run by blocking, jumping, or preforming any attack. Characters with runs will immediately end their run and crouch with any down direction input during the run. Dashes cannot end early with a crouch, making dashes significantly more vulnerable to low attacks than runs. When ending a dash or a run in an attack, the character keeps some momentum and may slide a short distance while preforming the move.
During a jump, either dash command will preform an air dash. Not all characters have an air dash, but those that do can use the air dash once per jump. Possible air dash directions and the minimum height for an air dash are specific to the individual character. Air dashes can be interrupted by attacks only. Blocking or double jumping cannot interrupt an air dash.
Characters with an air dash can instant air dash as both an offensive tool and a way to increase overall mobility. Instant air dashes are preformed by either double taping an angled jump then the horizontal direction (↗ then →) or by jumping then immediately hiting PP (↗ then PP). Both will result air dashes as low to the ground as possible. All characters with an air dash also have a character specific minimum height to air dash, or a period of IAD lockout between jumping and the start of their dash. The lockout period effectively gives different air dash characters different minimum heights for their IADs. The shortest lockout, resulting in the fastest possible IADs, is 5f.
Pushblock by pressing PP at any time during a blockstun. Pushblocking pushes the attacking character away and prevents the recoverable portion of chip damage. If an attack from an assist character gets pushblocked, the assist character gets the push back with no effect on the point character. Pushblocking a projectile pushes the projectile's owner away.
Pushblocking starts a 25f animation and a well timed pushblock can reduce the overall block stun of a sequence of attacks. When a single hit gets pushblocked, that single hit will always cause this minimum 25f block stun even if it would have less against a normal block. It is very possible for the defending player to actually lengthen block stun by pushblocking at the very end of normal block stun or by pushblocking a move with a very short blockstun. If any additional hits land during the pushblock animation the additional hits deal the same softened chip damage, inflict only 25% of their normal block stun, and stop the push effect on the attacking character. There is always a 25f minimum animation after a pushblock, even when normal blockstun is shorter than 25f.
There are several strategies to efficiently use pushblocks:
- Rapid fire pushblocks to reduce chip damage from specials and supers with many rapid hits. This means pushblocking the first hit then mashing PP until it's over.
- Strategic pushblocking on single hit pokes, projectiles, and the last hit of block strings to create space. This is useful when the defending player doesn't want the attacking player anywhere near them for any reason.
- Timed pushblocking during a sequence of attacks to reduce overall block stun and create opportunities for a reversal. This requires careful timing by the defending player. For example, if the defending player pushblocks the first hit of an opponents MP, HP sequence, pushblocking on the first frame of the MP's blockstun will get the fastest recovery. The 25f pushblock animation will start and the push back on the attacking character will stop when the HP lands. The HP's block stun will get cut to 25% of it's normal length. The defending character will be free to act after the minimum 25f of pushblock or after the HP's reduced blockstun ends, whichever is longest. In either case the defending character will be left close to the attacker and free to punish their opponents block string faster than holding a normal block.
After getting knocked down hitting either forward or backward and any button will preform a ground recovery in the chosen direction and remains invincible until they are free to take another action. During a ground recovery a character quickly returns to standing during an invincible animation. Ground recoveries are available in 12f window during a knockdown. In a typical knockdown, the defending character first hits the ground with a red impact effect. Depending on the knockdown attack, the character may briefly stay on the ground or bounce before showing a blue impact effect. The blue impact effect signals an available ground recovery. In a combo, any knockdown after the first shows the blue impact effect and allows ground recovery immediately.
- Sweep knockdowns allow immediate ground recovery and cannot start a combo if the defending player uses a reasonably quick ground recovery.
- Ground recovery does not work during slide stun. Similar to normal knockdowns, any slide stuns after the first in a combo will show a blue hit effect and allow ground recovery.
- Crumple stuns never allow ground recovery.
The Tag Out command on MP+MK or HP+HK exchanges the point character with the second or third in-line character on the team, who enters the screen with a character specific attack. Upon Tag Out the point character preforms an invincible, unique taunt animation before exiting the screen. The next character enters the screen with the attack and becomes the point character. Individual tag in attack direction, speed, and uses in a combo vary across the cast. Tag in attacks have no invulnerability. They always contain an extended recovery, taunt, or start up animation that make them unsafe against a cautious opponent. No matter the character, the classic random Tag Out strategy is never safe on block.
Tag Out is not available when there are no other characters left on the team. Either Tag Out command can be used if there is only one other teammate alive. The ability to Tag Out and recover life is a significant advantage to a 2 or 3 character team and the strongest argument against playing a solo character. Some Tag Out attacks are useful in combos.
Pressing LP+MK or LK+MP calls an assist from the second-in-line character on a team. MP+HK and MK+HP calls the third-in-line character. Assists cannot be called during hit stun, during block stun, during a super jump, while preforming a special move, while preforming a super move, or while preforming a throw. As soon as an assist character leaves the screen assists can be called again. The assist indicator in the HUD shows assists availability during the match with small green and red lights. Each assist can only be called once per combo.
During an assist, the assist character enters from the side of the screen invincible, goes through 3f of vulnerable start up, and executes their assigned assist attack. After the 3f start up, the assist attack executes as fast as it would if preformed by a point character. After the attack is over, the assist character preforms a brief taunt before exiting the screen. Any invincibility in the assist attack still protects the character, but will not cover the minimum 3f of assist start up. Assists won’t preform their attack if the point character gets hit while the assist is on the way in. If the assist get character gets hit at any point it will leave the screen immediately after recovering.
All damage dealt to assist characters gets a 6% increase, but is dealt as 100% recoverable damage. Assists cannot be thrown.
Assists are not available when there are no other characters left on the team. Either assist command can be used if there is only one other teammate alive.
All characters have access to a Snap Out with ↓↘→ + either Tag Out command. Snapbacks all use one level of super meter, deal no damage, have 12f of start up before the super flash effect, the have 3f of invincible start up before they are active. When hit by a snapback, the defending character gets forced off the screen for a teammate to take their place. Using MP+MK or HP+HK tag commands for the snapback will bring in the second or third-in-line character on the opposing team. The teammates always appears on screen in normal jump state, similar to entering the screen after an teammate death.
Either snapback command will work if there is only one character on the opposing team. Snapbacks against solo characters, or a character with no teammates left alive, causes a wall bounce instead of forcing the character off the side of the screen.
During block stun, any character can call in a Stunt Double with → + a tag command. A Stunt Double uses 1 stock of super meter, tags out the point character, brings in the teammate with 13f of invincibility, then immediately preforms the assist attack of the teammate and new point character. Using MP+MK or HP+HK chooses the second or third-in-line teammate for the move. Blocking standing, crouching, and in the air all allow a Stunt Double.
Stunt Doubles are not available when there are no other characters left on the team. Either command can be used if there is only one other teammate alive.
Super moves can be cancelled with a Co-Star Combo by preforming any super move command for the next-in-line character on the team. During a Co-Star Combo the point character leaves the screen as the teammate enters by with the chosen super. Co-Star Combos are available starting immediately after the super flash and at any point during the super animation. The chance to cancel ends when the background color shift effect from the super ends.
Co-Star Combos use the expected additional level of super meter for the additional super move. Canceling a level 1 into a level 3 super will consume only 2 levels of meter. A level 3 into another level 3 will use only 5 levels. A team can continue to Co-Star Combo until it runs out of meter and as long as it has at least one teammate alive off screen.
Co-Star Combos are the only way reverse damage scaling. If scaled below 80%, the Co-Star Combo resets damage to 80%.
Cancel and Movement Properties
General Fighting Game Terms
These terms are all common to fighting games. Skullgirls and this guide uses them freely.
|Anchor||The last character on a team, expected to be able to fight with no teammates left alive.|
|Battery||A character who gains super meter never uses it, saving it for a teammate instead.|
|Command grab||A special or super move throw.|
|Command normal||Any standing, crouching, or jumping attack preformed with a simultaneous attack button and single direction input.|
|Cross-over||Any attack made while switching sides with an opponent over their head, forcing a change in block direction.|
|Cross-under||Any attack made while passing under and switching sides with an aerial opponent, forcing a change in block direction.|
|Fireball||Synonymous with a projectile, usually one that travels horizontally across the screen.|
|Grab||Synonymous with throw.|
|Grappling||A style of play, specific to the player or the character, that centers around constantly threatening the opponent with high damage throws.|
|Hard Tag||The only way Socal knows how to win games.|
|Mashing||Hitting buttons and directional inputs at random and as fast as possible. While no move or technique explicitly requires this tactic, some players find it's use the easiest method to preform special and super moves. Use at your own risk.|
|Normal||Any standing, crouching, or jumping attack preformed with an attack button and no other input.|
|Overhead||A standing normal move that must be blocked high.|
|Point||The active, currently player controlled character on a team. Can also refer to the character selected to fight first on a team.|
|Reversal||Preforming an attack, typically an special or super move with start up invulnerability, on the first frame a character gets out of hit stun, block stun, or gets up from the ground.|
|Runaway||A style of play, usually specific to the player, that centers around staying as far away from the opponent as possible to the point where they are out of range to attack back.|
|Rushdown||A style of play, specific to the player or the character, that centers around going to the opponent and attacking as fast as possible.|
|Safe||Believing in yourself wins less games than being safe.|
|Special move||Any move preformed by a specific directional motion or sequence before pressing a single attack button.|
|Super move||A move preformed by a specific directional motion or sequence before pressing two of the same attack button. Supers consume one or more stocks of super meter and create a super flash effect before their active frames.|
|Taunt||Any meaningless, harmless, or counter productive movement or action that intentionally gives the opponent an opportunity to hit the taunting player for free.|
|Turtling||A style of play, usually specific to the player, that attempts to win with as much defense and as little offense as possible.|
|Whiff||An attack that does not hit the opponent or the act of missing an opponent with an attack. A "whiff cancel" will typically reduce the recovery on a whiffed normal move by canceling it with special move.|
|Zoning||A style of play, specific to the player or the character, that centers around restricting the opponent to a specific distance or position on the screen.|
Terms From Other Fighting Games
These terms, concepts, and techniques all appeared in other fighting games first, but can be useful when talking about Skullgirls. Players with experience in older games may find themselves more comfortable using the older vocabulary.