The King of Fighters XIII/Hwa Jai
In a nutshell
Hwa Jai stopped drowning his Fatal Fury sorrows from defeat in alcohol and makes his first appearance KOF. Hwa Jai shares an almost identical set of normals with Joe, but his options form his special moves allow him to play much different than his Muay Thai predecessor. Hwa has a tricky set of tools that allows him to set up aerial traps akin to Mai's 'gimmicky' techniques. He can easily alter his aerial trajectories and his specials have been considerably improved across the board, which includes his damage power up and command grab DMs.
10% damage increase, increased velocity on special moves, opponents float higher during juggles
- Standing CD now moves forward and has lower-body invincibility.
- Heavy Dragon Tail (qcb+D) has faster recovery; it can be followed up with a normal move after it hits.
- Light Dragon Tail (qcb+B) has faster startup and can be comboed from heavy attacks.
- EX Dragon Tail (qcb+BD) does less guard crush damage.
- EX Air Dragon Kick (Air dp+BD) now hits 3 times like its ground version and does 154 damage (previously 35×3).
- All frames on Drink Nomi (qcb qcb+P) have been changed. It recovers faster now.
- Light Dragon Backbreaker (qcf hcb+A) is now a 1F throw instead of a leaping throw.
- Standing Light Kick () - Quick with good range and it combos into the slide. Good way to start a punish if there isn't much time and you need to make up distance. Chains from crouching Light kick easily.
- Standing Heavy Punch () - Good range and special cancellable (try the heavy Dragon Kick), helps Hwa confirm a combo from a greater distance. Also works as a far anti-air.
- Close Heavy Kick (Close ) - Close knee attack. Seems to have a smaller window than close Heavy Punch to combo afterwards.
- Crouching Light Kick ( + ) - Quick prod, chains into itself, crouch Light punch and stand Light kick or even the slide. Hwa's main low combo starter aside from sliding.
- Crouching Heavy Punch ( + ) - Great horizontal reach but has little verticality. Doesn't work well as anti-air.
- Blowback Attack ( + ) - Use when you detect a sweep or slide. More utility than most blowback attacks due to the lower body invulnerablity.
- Jumping Heavy Punch (Air ) - Cancelling this deep into light aerial Dragon Tail allows you to link a close heavy punch afterwards.
- Jumping Heavy Kick (Air ) - Good, deep diagonally angled kick that's great for jumping in with, though maybe not as much hit stun as the heavy punch. Use interchangably.
- Jumping Blowback Attack (Air + ) - Hangs out for a while and is ok in an air-to-air situation. Possible to block it low like all aerial blowback attacks.
- Sliding (+ ) - A great cancellable slide. Superb range for a combo starter or to put inbetween a close normal and a special. Cancels into DMs. Doesn't go under projectiles unfortunately.
- Shushouboku ~ Hiza Jigoku ( or + or [while close]) - Standard throw. Heavy kick switches sides, Heavy punch doesn't. Bear this in mind when you have the opportunity to put or keep your opponent in the corner.
- Bakuretsuken ( + ) - Combos from close normals but not mid-screen after a slide. The follow up launches. Cancel it into a Heavy Dragon Tail and the opponent is still airborne for further punishment with a Dragon dance or Ex Dragon dance. Not a great hitbox on this (the hurtbox seems huge) so it's for combos only.
- Dragon Tail ( + ) - Not an overhead. Outside of combos, this is a move for keeping the pressure on. Heavy travels much higher in the air. The light is pretty damn safe against most of the cast.
- Air Dragon Tail (Air + ) - The light allows you to continue moving with jump momentum while the heavy moves you backwards. The light combos from a jumping Heavy punch.
- Dragon Kick ( + ) - Heavy has horizontal range, Light is the anti-air. Heavy can be cancelled on either hit which is important to bear in mind when working on combos in the lab. Both are punishable on block or whiff, particularily the Heavy.
- Air Dragon Kick (Air + ) - Heavy is very similar to the grounded version, light is angled 45 degrees downwards and great for altering jump trajectory.
- Drink Nomi ( + ) - Increases damage done by 10% (substantially more with Dragon Backbreaker) and specials have more lift to them, allowing you to keep juggle combos going longer. Lasts 10 seconds on the in-game timer.
- Dragon Dance ( + ) - A smashing move for finishing juggle combos. Bugger all priority. Don't expect to hit with this raw very often.
- Dragon Backbreaker ( + ) - Light is a close one frame grab, Heavy a far jumping one. Use the Light either in combos or when you're opponent is right next to you at a frame disadvantage. Be consistent with the input and your opponent will be hesitant to do anything unsafe. Empty jump/hop and rolls are also a decent method to get in range. The Heavy can be worked into quite a few natural setups or you can simply wait for your opponent to make a mistake and punish it. Has startup invulnerability. Keep the pressure on with a flurry of physical attacks and condition the opponent to block or move predictably, then strike. Gets a hefty damage boost from 'Drink Nomi' which makes it really something scary. An excellent DM overall, maybe one of the best in the game.
- Final: Dragon Kick ( + + ) - Big damage if it connects properly and goes into the black screen animation, reduced damaged if it it doesn't connect fully. This second version can be followed up given the right circumstances.
Tips and Tricks
Hwa initially appears to be a straightforward rushdown character, but he also has great defensive options. The Light Dragon kick proves excellent as a fast anti-air, reversal or occasional wakeup 'get off me' attack and the Light Dragon backbreaker allows him to punish any unsafe move for very respectable damage. When in the 'Drink Nomi' state the Dragon backbreaker is further buffed and his his juggle options go through the roof without even necessarily going into HD mode. Pester the opponent with unrelenting pressure (mix up your normals high and low and make sure to abuse the fairly safe Light Dragon tail) and look for one of his simple hit comfirms into a nice beefy combo. Far standing Heavy punch and the slide have impressive range on the ground, Heavy Dragon kick in the air is a good confirm too. You don't really need to save meter exclusively for HD mode combos to do big damage with Hwa; a couple of HD cancels can allow some pretty devastating combos on they're own. Standing Heavy kick is good for stuffing attacks if you lose offensive momentum, use it when you need to keep the opponent away.
If your opponent has solid defenses then there's always the option of a Dragon backbreaker to break through it, so learn your opponents movement patterns and habits well and an opportunity will present itself. Try to always take advantage of opportunities to punish your opponent with Light Dragon backbreaker when you block something up close which leaves them in recovery, or the Heavy version when they whiff from further away or empty jump. Accurately judging the distance that Hwa jumps forward is handy because it's punishable on whiff. Hwa is good in the air but some characters (like Maxima) negate this to a large degree, so make sure you know you're grounded options well too. Utilise the lower body invulnerability of the standing blowback attack when you sniff out a low or sweep to score an easy knockdown, then get right back on top of them. He works much better with meter than without so might not be the best choice for a point character.
- High level Muay Thai tactics.
- Always listen to this while fighting. Bonus points if you're drunk while hearing it.