Posts tagged #sub

How To Play Mortal Kombat (MK9)


Since I need more people to play Mortal Kombat with, I’m gonna create a tutorial on how to get started playing the game. I’ll introduce you to fighting game terminology, strategies, combos, and general fighting basics in what I hope will be the easiest guide you’ll ever read.




Button Layout:
First off, we’ll need to explain the controller and the normal button configuration. I’ll be referring to the buttons in numbered format so things will be a little easier to understand. This button setup applies to both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.

360/PS3 – Number which applies to both consoles (and most non-Capcom fighting games)
X/Square – 1
Y/Triangle – 2
A/X – 3
B/Circle – 4
Forward - F
Back - B
Down - D
Up - U
Block – BLK (Right Trigger)
Throw – (Right Bumper)
X-Ray – (Left & Right Trigger Simultaneously)
JiP – Jump in Punch (pressing 1 or 2 while jumping toward an opponent)
JiK – Jump in Kick (pressing 3 or 4 while jumping toward an opponent)
NJP – Neutral Jump Punch (pressing 1 or 2 while jumping straight up)
NJK – Neutral Jump Kick (pressing 3 or 4 while jumping straight up)
Dash – Press ‘Forward’ twice and your character will dash forward. This is effective in juggle combos (keeping the opponent in the air) and Dash Blocking. Dash blocking can be used as a safe way to move toward your opponent faster than either normal dashing, jumping, or walking. To dash block, press FF, BLK, F, BLK, F, BLK, F, etc. After the initial dash, you only need to press forward once in between blocks. You’ll know you’re doing it properly when you see your character scoot across the screen at an extremely fast rate.

Buttons 1 & 2 are both punches, while buttons 3 & 4 are kicks. If I were to explain how to perform Sub-Zero’s freeze move, I would say “DF3.” This would mean that you would kinda roll your thumb from down to forward, then press “A” on the 360, or “X” on the PS3 pad.

Note: Personally, I prefer using a PS2/PS3 pad for playing MK. There are a wide variety of arcade sticks made especially for fighting games (even one specifically for MK), but my opinion is that the game plays better on a normal gamepad. It’s really all a matter of preference. Some are more comfortable using a stick, others a gamepad. The 360 controller’s directional pad is atrocious for fighting games, so I use a converter that allows me to use a PlayStation 2 controller on the 360. You can pick one of those up for about $40 at this website: www.etokki.com



Now that you know the button layout, let’s move into some basics:
All the characters in the game have special moves such as fireballs and other moves that are done by entering specific commands like Sub-Zero’s freeze mentioned above. Throughout most of this tutorial, I’ll probably be referring mostly to Sub-Zero since he’s the character I know the best and is, in my opinion, the easiest character in the game to use.

Let’s look at a few of Sub’s special moves:

DF3 (Freeze) – Sub creates a ball of ice projectile that travels along the screen and freezes the opponent, leaving them open for a combo, or free hit.

BF4 (Slide) – Sub slides across the screen, knocking the opponent down when it hits.

DB1 (Ice Clone) – This is probably Sub’s best move. He creates a clone of himself that, if touched, puts the opponent into the same frozen state as his freeze projectile.

You might be asking yourself, “If Sub-Zero has a projectile that will freeze you, why not do that over and over again?” And here we get into some fighting game principals! If you’ve ever played a fighting game with your buddies, they might sometimes use projectiles constantly just to annoy you. They’ll stay across the screen firing projectile after projectile which will frustrate you, forcing you to learn some specials just to be able to compete with them. While to the uneducated this might seem “cheap,” it is actually a tactic called “zoning.” Zoning is a term that is used when a character uses his projectiles over and over in an attempt to force you into trading projectile for projectile, or jumping over them in which he or she can hit you while you’re in the air (anti-air). But again, “Why not just do that all the time?” Simple answer: Projectiles are usually unsafe at certain distances. If you jump over the projectile and are at close enough range, you can do a JiP and start a combo, effectively punishing your opponent’s zoning game.

The word “unsafe” is a term you’ll hear quite a lot when talking about fighting games. This means that if you block a move that is unsafe (such as a projectile), you are at an advantage and can “punish” your opponent for throwing that move out there. Not only are certain special moves unsafe, but some normal moves are as well.



The five big fighting game terms:
Safe – Moves that, when blocked, put you at advantage
Unsafe – Moves that, when blocked, put you at disadvantage
Punish – What you do when the opponent throws out an unsafe move.
Advantage – You can react before your opponent can, allowing you to block or throw out another move or set of moves.
Disadvantage – You cannot react before your opponent, therefore opening yourself up for punishment.

Most fighting games are based around these terms. It’s been my experience that once you learn these, learning the rest will be a piece of cake.



The Main Screen:
During a match you’ll notice your basic HUD (Heads Up Display) which presents you with both character’s life bars at the top and their respective “Super” meters at the bottom.


  1. Life Bar:
    The life bar is located in either the top left, or the top right of the screen, depending on which side you are on. Green on the bar indicates your remaining life, but when you see red, it means that you’re taking damage. As combos connect, the red on the bar will all stay consistent and there’ll be no breaks in between, meaning that all the hits of the combo are connecting and the opponent cannot block between them. This is important as you create combos, to know that your combos will connect during a match.
  2. Super Bar:
    This is the absolute most important thing in the game and the basis for MK9’s fighting system. As you look at the super bar, you’ll notice that the entire bar is divided into 3 segments. Over time, the segments fill up, until the entire bar is filled. You can spend these segments for either enhanced special moves, breakers, or an X-Ray.


  • 1 Bar - Enhanced Move: Enhanced moves are performed the same way as normal special moves, but you press block at the same time as the button command. For example: Sub-Zero’s enhanced slide is done by inputting, BF4+BLK.  Press back, forward, and then 4 and block at the same time. Enhanced moves usually have different properties and should be used for different situations than normal specials. Sub-Zero’s normal slide, while costing absolutely no meter, only knocks the opponent down. The enhanced version of the slide goes under the opponent, and flips them into the opposite direction. Since Sub-Zero’s playstyle involves keeping the opponent in the corner, this is an effective move if Sub needs to reverse positions and get the opponent where he needs him to be.
  • 2 Bars – Breaker: If you have 2 bars for meter built up, you can perform a combo breaker. After the second hit of an opponent’s combo connects with you, you can hold Forward and press BLK to break their combo, pushing them off you and allowing both characters to return to neutral ground. Characters DO NOT take damage from breakers.
  • 3 Bars – X-Ray: A full super meter means that you can perform an X-Ray move. X-Rays are mainly used as unbreakable damage, usually dealing around 35% damage to the opponent. When I say unbreakable damage, I mean that the opponent cannot break a combo that ends with an X-Ray, or break during the X-Ray.



How To Build The Super Meter:
You can build the super meter by both taking damage and using special moves. You also build meter while hitting an opponent that is blocking. Rush-down (characters that need to be close to be effective) characters (Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, etc) build meter very quickly when they get close – since a lot of their moves will usually be blocked - and zoning characters (Kenshi, Noob-Saibot) build meter when they use moves like their projectiles. You should always pay attention to how your character builds meter the best and how your opponent builds their meter. You can always crouch to avoid most projectiles, but you have to take into account the fact that your opponent is building meter while they throw them at you. Watch and pay attention to both your opponent’s meter and yours.

Yet again, the super meter is the most important tool in MK9. A well thought out breaker can turn the tide in a match, as well as an enhanced move at the end of a combo to cause a little bit of extra damage. Use the meter wisely. Don’t just throw out an X-Ray at random. It could be blocked, leaving you with no meter and the opponent able to get you into a combo that you don’t have the meter to break. X-Rays should only be used if you absolutely need the unbreakable damage, or if your character builds meter quickly. As tournament player Tom Brady/Bill Menoutis says, “The meter at the bottom of the screen is more important than the meter at the top.”

Moves That Have Armor:
Another important feature of MK9 is armor. Some enhanced special moves have armor that allows the player to absorb a hit(s) and go through an opponent’s combo string. This can be used in several different ways. If the opponent is pressuring you (hitting you with several strings while you block, trying to open you up to take damage), a well timed armored move can break their pressure and put you both back on neutral ground. Armored moves are also a good way to get through zoning attempts. If Noob-Saibot is constantly throwing out shadow clones at Sub-Zero, one way he can get through the barrage of projectiles is to use an enhanced slide. Sub will absorb one of the hits (still taking damage), but he will go through the projectile, hitting Noob.

Wakeup Moves:
Most special and enhanced moves in MK9 can be used as ‘wakeup moves.’ These moves allow a player that has just been knocked down to get up quickly with a move. Be careful, though: Opponents will attempt to bait your wakeup moves so that they can block and punish. Be wary of this tactic, as it can dramatically change a match.
Wakeup moves also have ‘invincibility frames.’ This means that the opponent cannot hit you while you are performing a wakeup move. To perform a wakeup move, simply input the special move command like normal, just as your character is about to get up off the ground after a knockdown.
Another wakeup tactic is rolling backwards. Sometimes, rather than doing a wakeup special, a roll back might be in order. To roll backwards, simply hold back as your character is getting off the ground after a knockdown.

Throws:
Throws are very important. Throws always take away 12% of your opponent’s life bar and can be a good tool when it comes to positioning. To throw an opponent, press the throw button (or 1+3) while holding the direction you want them thrown. If you use a zoning character, throwing the opponent into open space is mostly the best option. Most rush-down characters are more effective if their opponents are thrown in the direction of the corner. Crouching always avoids throws, if your character is either blocking, or crouch blocking, you are always at risk to be thrown.
While extremely hard to time properly, throws can be broken the moment the opponent grabs you before the throw. Throw breaking is also a guessing game. You have to guess which way the opponent is going to throw you. To break a throw that will send you behind the opponent, press either 1 or 3. For a forward throw break, press either 2 or 4.

Anti-Air:
If your opponent is jumping toward you, you have a few options. All characters have a built-in anti-air move in the uppercut (D2), but some characters like Johnny Cage have fast enough jabs to, when properly timed, start a juggle combo. Sub-Zero can use his Ice Clone (DB1) as an anti-air. This particularly comes in handy if the opponent has just knocked Sub down and is jumping in for more pressure. Sub can use the Ice Clone as a wakeup move and anti-air the opponent, leading to a full combo.

The Combo System:
MK9 uses what most people refer to as a “dial-a-combo” system. This means that if you input 2,1,4~Slide with Sub-Zero, you do it all at one time, regardless of what is happening on the screen. Doing this, will send Sub into a full combo rather than inputting each individual command for each individual hit. With games like Street Fighter, you input each command in real-time as it’s happening on the screen. The only combos in MK9 that don’t follow the dial-a-combo system are combos that require you to dash and juggle, or juggle combos in general.
MK9 also uses a “create-a-combo” system. This system lets you create your own combos as long as the strings you use will link with others. A list of each character’s strings can be found in the move list on the pause menu. Go into training mode and try ‘em out!

Canceling Into Special Moves:
For the longest time, I had trouble figuring out what this meant. Canceling into a special move is quite simple, actually. One of Sub-Zero’s combo strings is 224. During this combo, Sub will punch once, hit with a sword made of ice, then do a roundhouse kick, sending the opponent away from him. If I were going to cancel this string into a special move, I would simply press 22, and then do a special move. Examples: 22~Freeze (DF3), 22~Slide (BF4), etc. All canceling really means is that you use a special move to end the string instead of the last input. Simple enough?

Hit Levels:
All moves in MK9 have different hit levels that effect where the opponent is hit and what happens afterwards. These are divided between High, Mid, Special Mid, and Low. High attacks will whiff (miss) crouch blocking opponents, Mid attacks will hit characters that are crouch blocking and usually cause them to be popped up off the ground, leading to a possible juggle combo, special mid attacks register to the game as high attacks, but will actually connect vs. crouch blocking characters, and lows connect against characters if they’re blocking while standing. Also, remember that all jumping punches are considered mid attacks. You must block those standing. Knowing these hit levels is a key factor to success in MK9.
By knowing the hit levels, you can do what is referred to as a “mixup.” Mixups are combo chains that have more than one optional hit level to end the string.
For example: Remember Sub-Zero’s 2,2,4 sting? The first hit is high, the second is a special mid, and the fourth is also a high (H,SM,H). If you cancel the string with a slide, the hit levels change to H,SM,L because the slide is a low attack. If you see that your opponent is constantly blocking high, try canceling the string into a low attack such as the slide to knock them off their feet. Also, 224 can be done as 222 (H,SM,M), which ends with a mid attack. This way, when your opponent starts expecting the slide after 22, they’ll crouch block on that hit, allowing you to end the string with 2 rather than the slide. This is why it’s called a mixup. Your opponent must guess what hit level you’re going to choose as your attack.

Hit Boxes:
Certain characters in the game have different hit box properties. Hit boxes are what the game uses to recognize a character as being hit or not. Think of it as if your character had actual boxes around him on different parts of his or her body. You may have one on your head, shoulders, torso, feet, etc. Characters like Kung Lao, Jax and Mileena all have low hit boxes. This means that when they crouch, certain attacks that hit mid and special mid might whiff. Always keep in mind what characters you’re fighting against and keep in mind what their hit boxes properties are. It may be the case that you have to change up different combos depending on the character you’re fighting.

Pressure:
Here’s the part of the game that’s extremely difficult to get down. Not only is it something that takes practice to learn how to implement effectively, but it also takes practice to learn how to get out of properly when your opponent is pressuring you.
I once heard pressure referred to as “hunting for damage.” That is, indeed, the perfect way to describe it. You are hitting your opponent with the starters of combo strings to see if they’re blocking and also trying to get them to counter what you’re doing so they’ll take the hit and you’ll get some damage off of them, or a full combo.

Also, in MK9 when you or the opponent is hit while blocking, you take “chip damage.” This cuts normal hits down to a small percentage of their actual damage, but you still take damage. For characters such as Johnny Cage and Kabal, this is where they actually acquire most of their damage. Sometimes you can get a good amount of damage by pressuring, but mixing that up into a throw. With Cage, you could perhaps do F33~Throw because the opponent might continue blocking, thinking that you’re going to continue with your pressure.

To get out of an opponent’s pressure, you can attempt to poke out during the string. Usually, poking out is done by performing a character’s D1, D3, or even D4. Kitana has one of the fastest D1s in the game, so it’s extremely hard to pressure her.

Examples Of Combos and Strategy in MK9:
Here, I’ll give some examples of combos in the game, using Sub-Zero as an example. Keep in mind: All combos should be used in a situational manner. Meaning, don’t just throw out any old combo. Always have a reason for doing what you’re doing. While giving these combos, I’ll explain the reasoning behind them. Also, no, I did not create these combos. These combos and strategies are things I’ve learned by both playing against human opponents and watching high-level, tournament play. Keep in mind: All combos are notated as if your character is facing right.

Let’s start with an easy one -
214~Slide: This is one of Sub’s bread ‘n butter combos. It’s not very high damage, but it is effective for a little damage. What’s really effective is the next combo…

JiP,214~X-Ray: This will take 50% of your opponents life bar. Only use this combo for the unbreakable X-Ray damage and if the opponent DOES NOT have a breaker. It should be used mainly to end a round. There’s a little trick to getting the X-Ray to land properly. Sub’s X-Ray can be charged by holding down both triggers, or 3+4+BLK on a stick. The X-Ray will not hit until you’ve released the buttons. In order to get the X-Ray to connect in this combo, you must charge the X-Ray for a spit second before you release it.

Here’s a bit more complicated one –
22~Freeze, backup, JiP, 214~Slide: This is Sub’s absolute best open space combo. Your entire goal while playing as Sub-Zero is to push the opponent to the corner and keep them there. This combo pushes them a good chunk of the way there. Also, let’s take a second to talk about hit confirming.

Remember what I said about mixups? Usually when doing that, you’re actually confirming off of the first few hits what you want the final hit level to be. If the opponent blocks the first 2 hits high, then you can try going for the low slide.
You can do something similar with Sub-Zero’s ice clone. The timing is tricky with the 2,2 string, but it can be done. If you see that the opponent has blocked 22, quickly hit 4~ice clone. This will push Sub back and create an ice clone that the opponent now has to jump over, or armor through in order to get to you.

“So I’ve thrown out a clone and the opponent jumped into it. What do I do now? Uppercut?” Actually, you can do a full combo to get a whole lot more damage than a 12% uppercut. This also applies to any time an opponent is frozen in the air.
Simply walk up to the opponent and -
NJP, DASH, B12, 212~Slide

Stagger State:
One thing I haven’t touched on is the stagger state. Several characters have combo enders or moves that leave the opponent briefly staggered. This can lead to more pressure, a throw attempt, etc. The main thing it does is shut down their wakeup game. When put into this state, the opponent is automatically at a disadvantage, leaving you to decide how it is you wish to proceed. Again, since Sub’s playstyle is based on getting the opponent into the corner, using his stagger ender is a great tool. After you’ve frozen a standing opponent (either during a combo, or from a naked freeze), try this –
JiP, B121: This will leave the opponent standing and you can continue pressure or throw. One good tactic is to immediately try –
212~Freeze, DASH, DASH, 2,2~Slide: This pushes the opponent nearly all the way to the corner if started at mid-screen. The 212 part can actually be rather easily hit confirmed into an ice clone if the opponent is blocking.



Corner Traps:
Sub-Zero is the king of corner trapping. By setting up an ice clone in front of a downed opponent while they’re in the corner, Sub has eliminated all of their options except for 2: Jumping out and armoring through the clone. If they attempt to jump out, Sub is at just enough range to use his 22 string as an anti-air, which against some characters (depending on their hitbox size), can make them fall back onto the clone, freezing them, and allowing Sub a full combo. After the combo, Sub can end the combo prematurely by canceling into another ice clone and the trap starts all over again.
Some characters can get out of this trap by armoring through, but there is a way to get around this. One way is to simply block. Another is this –
214~Freeze, 4, 222: This will splat the opponent on the ground and give Sub enough time to put up another clone before they can get out a wakeup move. For example: If Kung Lao decides to wakeup with an enhanced spin which advances forward, has armor, and can go through the clone, Sub has enough time and space between himself and Lao that he can block the advancing spin and punish, sending Lao back into the corner and set up for another corner trap. If a character such as Kabal uses a wakeup ground saw, the move pushes him forward, which will freeze him immediately. If Kabal tries to use an enhanced nomad dash to get through the clone, just like in the situation with Lao, Sub has enough distance to be able to block and punish accordingly.



The Ice Clone:
While Sub-Zero may not be the best character in the game, the ice clone is definitely the best move. Since it’s primary use is anti-air, the best way to get someone to jump into it, is to bait them into it. Make them think you’re going to advance forward, then immediately pop out the clone. This will sometimes trick the opponent into trying to jump across you, but instead they get frozen and leave themselves open for a full combo. Sub can also use the ice clone during a jump, which can lead opponents to believe they can catch you in the air, when in fact, they’ll be eating a mid-air clone.
The ice clone can also be used a shield. If Sub pops out the clone while in mid-screen, he can use the shield to advance, shut down characters with teleports by moving and also sit behind it and trade projectiles. DO NOT trade projectiles with Sub-Zero. If you trade and the freeze hits you, you are asking for a full combo. People who know what they’re doing with Sub can trade with the fastest projectiles due to expert timing. You have to ask yourself, “Is throwing out an 8% damage projectile worth eating a 30% combo?”



That’s about all I have. Hopefully you’ll be able to use this knowledge to get good at the game and perhaps even branch out into other fighting games. I can’t take credit for all that’s here, though. Again, most of this is knowledge I gained by playing against friends, sitting in training mode, and going to a major tournament. Also, for those of you that want a more in depth look into each individual character, check out Tom Brady’s Living Guide. It’s available as an app on the Android Marketplace and on the Amazon Kindle for only $2.99. The info provided in there is definitely worth more than that.
Also, though the online is terrible, my gamertag on Xbox Live is Tang94, so hit me up if you want to play some laggy MK9. If you want to play some nearly offline perfect MK9, hit me up on the PlayStation Vita. My tag there is DarthTanger.

Peace out everybody!

-Josh