The King of Fighters '98/Athena

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Introduction

Gameplay Overview

Athena is a solid zoning / runaway character. Her fireball has fast recovery, which is nice both for pure zoning and to put pressure on your opponent by running up and poking. Her DP is not as good as you would expect from a zoning character, though. She also has great mobility with super backdashes, triangle jumps, teleports, etc. that allow for an annoying runaway game.

Combos

Athena isn't very combo friendly. She does have some useful ones, though

  • hcf + P, Shining Crystal Bit
  • corner only cl.C / cl.D / cr.B, f + B, Shining Crystal Bit / Phoenix Arrow / SDM Phoenix Fang Arrow (DM can be blocked after the first Arrow).

Doing a Shining Crystal Bit (SCB) after the command throw can take some time to master. If you are in the corner, just walk a tiny bit and do the DM. Outside of the corner it's more complicated; you have to jump towards the falling opponent and do a mid-air SCB. To make this easier, start doing uf during the throw animation, and do hcb x 2 from that position as soon as you see she's starting to jump.

In-depth Analysis

Normal Throws

b or f + C -

b or f + D -

b or f or d + C/D in air -

Normal Moves

Standing B -

Standing C -

Standing D -

Close C -

Close D -

Crouching A -

Crouching C -

Jumping C -

Jumping D -

Standing CD -

Jumping CD -

Command Normals

f + B -

In air, d + B - One of your best runaway tools. If you do it during a backdash, the backdash will be much longer and faster. The earlier you do d + B, the more distance you will cover; do it as b, db + B to get the best results.

For offensive situations, take into account that if you hit your opponent high you'll bounce back leaving you completely open for a lot of time. To solve this, either cancel it from jumping A (d + B will generally hit down this way) or cancel into a B Phoenix Arrow (do it quick or you'll bounce anyways). It causes a rollable knockdown.

Special Moves

Psycho Ball (qcb + P) - A version comes out faster and travels slowly, C is the opposite. You recover fast from the A version, which is ideal to keep an opponent in the corner and punish attempts to escape via air (Psycho Sword / Shining Crystal Bit), roll (Psycho Throw / Far Standing C) or retaliation (Far Standing C). You can also use it to gain positional advantage (running or teleporting) and push your opponent to the corner, the place where Athena becomes more dangerous.

Another great property of this move is that you can make it unblockable by doing hcf + P or the teleport just when your opponent is about to block it. After a knock down, this means free damage unless your opponent manages to reversal roll.

Phoenix Arrow (In air, qcb + K) - B version has much better recovery but deals less damage, D version is the opposite (it finishes the rolling dive with a kick -which doesn't hit low-).

B is preferred; it works as a good meter builder (by tiger-kneeing it or doing it during a backdash) and does nice chip damage while not being as unsafe as the D version (it does leave you at frame disadvantage, though). Both versions can be comboed from air attacks (A, C, neutral A and C. You can cancel it from d + B too but it won't combo).

Psychic Teleport (qcf + K) -

Psycho Sword (f,d,df + P) - A version has no invincibility, C version completely invincible on the first hit. Poor damage and startup hitboxes, but the last hitboxes have lots of vertical range and priority, making this move quite useful to keep the opponent zoned.

Use the A version for zoning, and the C version as a reversal.

Psycho Reflector (hcb + K) - B version is a Rugal-style reflector (reflects any non DM projectile except for Yamazaki's counter-projectile), D version is a much slower, unsafer, bigger and meatier version which hits three times and has the same reflective properties.

The way the reflected projectiles deal damage seems to be random; most of the time they will deal only a tiny bit of damage, but some times they will deal full damage. Full damage seems to be more common if you get a counter hit (when you reflect something somewhat close to your opponent), though.

Just stick with the A version, C version is too risky and does not offer any real benefits.

Psychic Throw (hcf + P) - A command throw that puts the opponent in a 'launched' state. The fall is unrollable, and has invincibility at startup. The move itself only deals damage if you let the enemy touch the floor, which means that you can enter in MAX mode before he lands to get the damage bonus for it (and for the unblockable Psycho Ball that will follow).

Useful to mix-up, do run-up throws, reversal and to set up unblockable psycho ball loops (more on that in the strategy section). Activates the unblockable projectile bug. Can be comboed from light hits (you have to be at point-blank range, though).

Desperation Moves

Shining Crystal Bit (hcb,hcb + P, ABCD to cancel, qcb + P for Crystal Shoot) -

Phoenix Fang Arrow (In air, qcf,qcf + K) -

Strategy

Unblockable Psycho Ball loops

You can set up this after a Psychic Throw. While your opponent is falling down, get around half screen away and do a meaty A Psycho Ball. Then do the unblockable bug with a Psycho Teleport (B if in corner situations, D anywhere else), and Psycho Throw again while the opponent is still in hitstun.

Unless your rival reversal rolls the Psycho Ball, which is rather difficult (and will still leave him at a disadvantageous position), you can repeat this forever. The timing is tricky (especially when not in the corner), but it's a powerful tool.

Stalling

Besides her normal runaway tools, Athena has a nice little trick when she's at life advantage and the clock is running out. Triangle jump, and when Athena's body is completely outside of the screen, do a Shining Cristal Bit. After a while do a Crystal Shoot and hold down the punch button to delay it as much as possible. This way you'll be completely invulnerable for around 5~7 seconds, which can win you a match in these situations.

Attack Info and Frame Data

Hitboxes