A normal attack is an attack that is executed by pressing either one button only, or by pressing the joystick in one direction and pressing an attack button.
In most Street Fighter games, there are six basic normal attacks.
- Jab (light, fast, short-range punch)
- Strong (middle of the road punch)
- Fierce (crush your cranium punch)
- Short (light, fast, short-range kick)
- Forward (middle of the road kick)
- Roundhouse (collapse your ribcage kick)
The type of normal that is thrown is also dependent on other factors, such as whether or not a character is airborne, whether or not they are crouching, how close they are to their opponent, and the direction pressed on the joystick when the attack was thrown.
A special attack is an attack that requires a certain command sequence be entered to execute. For example, to throw Ryu's hadoken, a character must press down on the joystick, roll it towards their opponent until they are pressing torward, then press a punch button.
A lesser known point is what is known as the "negative edge". Basically, the same move as above could be executed by holding down a punch button, going through the joystick motion, and then releasing the punch button. This allows some amount of flexibility in buffering together normals and specials.
Specials are also differentiated by the fact that they cause a small amount of damage to a character, even if they are blocked.
A super is a specific type of special that requires that a meter be filled to a certain extent before it can be used. Also, the command sequence for a super tends to be more complicated.
Supers and super meters sometimes are differentiated in levels. For example, a level 1 shin-shoryuken may be worth about 3-4 hits, while a level 3 shin-shoryuken would be worth 9-10 hits, and cause far more damage.
The hit box and priority of supers are often insane, with the hit box sometimes being several times larger than the character, and taking up a good portion of the screen.
There are several ways to fill one's super meter, including connecting with attacks, parrying, just defending, being taunted, and in some cases, by manually charging the meter.
Supers generally come with a few frames of invincibility, meaning that a well-timed super can be used to go through a fireball or other attack, allowing a player to avoid an opponent's offense and punish them for the attempt.
Supers do not cause stun damage to an opponent.
Throws are a very important part of a Street Fighter's arsenal. In the world of fighting games, every possible action needs a counter. In Street Fighter, since you cannot block a throw, it is the perfect counter for blocking.
A throw is executed by pressing toward or away from the opponent, and pressing the appropriate attack button. With very few exceptions, you must be very close to your opponent to throw them. In some incarnations of Street Fighter, you cannot throw a character who is in a blockstun or reel stun frame. YMMV.
A few characters have air throws, which work just like regular throws, except they are executed during a jump. Very few characters have air throws. Far more don't than do.
In some incarnations of Street Fighter, counter throws were implemented, which are called "tech hits". Basically, if you anticipate a throw, you can negate it with a throw of your own. When this occurs, a bright flash of light appears between the two characters, they will be pushed away from each other with arms in the air, and neither character takes damage.
In some Street Fighter games, such as Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, throws were instantaneous, which changed their flavor drastically. They could even be used as wake-up attacks! However, in other games, such as Capcom vs. SNK 2, throws are not instantaneous, making their application very, very different.
Some characters have what are called command throws. These are throws that are actually specials. A good example would be Zangief's spinning piledriver. These throws act a bit differently. For example, you cannot tech hit a command throw.
Some characters also have grab supers. These are throws that are classified as super attacks. These tend to hurt to an extremely epic degree, as well as having the tactical advantages of command throws.
A "reversal" is the ability of a character to go straight from a non-hittable frame (such as being knocked down), directly into an special attack, with no delay or events in between. As an example, if Ken is knocked onto the ground, the player may enter the command for a shoryuken as he is getting up, which Ken will then execute in the very first frame after getting up from the ground.
There are four situations where a character may perform a reversal attack. The first is after getting up from being knocked down. The second is directly after exiting a blockstun state. The third is directly following your character landing from being hit in the air with a non-knockdown move. (The first frame after landing will be the special.) The fourth is directly after exiting a stun state. (Although technically a stun state isn't a non-hittable frame.)
A term that is commonly associated with reversal is a "meaty attack". A meaty attack is an attack that is timed to strike a character just as they get up from the ground. So if a character successfully performs a reversal against a meaty attack, and the reversal is high enough priority, the character performing the meaty attack will eat the reversal instead.
The window to perform a reversal is very small, and is practically impossible to successfully perform 100% of the time. However, a reversal that uses a special with invincibility frames will *always* beat a meaty attack, so this is a very good skill to hone.
Another concept that is related to reversals are "wake-up" attacks. A wake-up attack is *any* move, not just a special, that is executed immediately after getting up from being knocked down. The terms are occasionally used interchangeably.
The counter attack system was present in both Street Fighter Alpha and King of Fighters. It is basically the ability to go straight from a blockstun state to a predetermined attack. This flexibility does not come without a price, however: The attack comes at the cost of one level of your super meter, and a good chunk of your guard meter. You can perform a counter attack without available guard meter, but you cannot perform a counter attack without the available level in your super meter. A counter attack is performed by pressing toward and MP+MK during your blockstun phase in most Capcom games.
In Street Fighter Alpha 2, each character had a couple of counter attacks, but in Capcom vs. SNK 2, each character only gets one. In Street Fighter Alpha 3, the use of a counter attack drained the maximum level of your guard meter, but this is peculiar to that particular game.
Counter attacks, in general, do very, very little damage. So they aren't very good for defeating an opponent in itself, although it may help to regain lost momentum in a bout. Also, you cannot defeat an enemy with a counter attack. This is because in a close match, someone who has three levels on their super meter would be able to defeat you off of any blocked attack. This is a bad thing, so the developers at Capcom prevented it outright.
Some characters, however, have counter attacks that are fast enough to be used as an opening for a combo! If you have a super that can juggle, you can actually turn a counter attack into an up to 50% damage combo. This is very dangerous, and any serious player would do well to learn which characters can accomplish this, and how to avoid it.
In Street Fighter Alpha 2, counter attacks were called "Alpha Counters".
A crossup is any attack or movement option that leaves the direction from which your next attack will be coming ambiguous to the opposing player.
A classic crossup is to use a deep jump-in attack whose hit box extends below and behind your character against your opponent so that, for example, if you were attacking from the left side, you will land on the right side. Since your opponent is (probably) still pressing their joystick to the right, they will not block the next attack in the series, which, naturally, will lead to a combo.
A good crossup game is essential to the mind game factor of Street Fighter, as your opponents inability to predict where the next attack is coming from will lead them into making mistakes.
A combo is a series of attacks that, once the first attack connects, cannot be blocked or escaped by any means.
Combos are a hugely important part of any fighting game, not just Street Fighter. Since they are so important, differentiating between different types of combos is common.
A chain combo is a series of normal attacks cancelled into other normals to form a combo. LP -> MP -> HK would be a chain combo.
A super combo is a combo that is activated by one command string (such as QCFx2+P), and requires a super meter.
In short: Why the Vs. games based on the Marvel Hyper Fighting Engine suck ass. For an example, see: 79 hit! Marvelous!
Basically, an infinite combo is a combo that has the potential to hit an endless number of times, and kills the player on the receiving end. Er. The character, rather, not the player. They aren't *that* brutal.
Infinite combos look cool as all hell, admittedly, but since the movements to do them are often the same movement repeated over and over again, they require little actual skill to execute. And due to the unbalancing factor of a single combo being able to end the battle, just about any game featuring infinite combos is universally sneered at except by 14 year old scrubs. The ability to link into a match-ending combo from a single crouching short kick is just blatantly ridiculous.
Custom combos are a system that was implemented into the Street Fighter Alpha series, where they became dominating to the point where the game was jokingly referred to as "Custom Fighter Alpha". Custom combos are also present in Capcom vs. SNK 2.
Custom combos are handled differently in each of the games in which they are present, mainly due to attempts to fix the unbalancing nature they presented, so in the interests of not being CvS2-centric, I'll try to describe the custom combo system in as general terms as possible.
Basically, custom combos allow you to burn your super meter in exchange for the ability to cancel any attack into any other attack, along with granting infinite juggling ability. This means that you can set up huge combos, because the main combo-limiting factors of the game engine have been temporarily lifted.
This dry, technical description, however, does not even begin to describe the sheer barrel of whoop-ass that is unleashed when a proficient player opens up with a custom combo. It is, for lack of better vocabulary, goddamn cool looking.
A notable custom combo has become known in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as the "Valle CC", named after Alex Valle, the first man to discover and use it. It is basically a custom combo that begins with a low HK sweep into the corner, which is then cancelled into a repeating series of juggle attacks, allowing the attacker to continue pounding through their now airborne and defenseless opponent.