Today, we’re going to explore the fundamentals of combos in Melty Blood. Melty is a combo-heavy game where fully understanding a character requires knowing how their moveset works and forces the opponent into specific situations. Some characters are heavy on setups and mixups. Others deal raw damage with poor options afterwards. Many lie somewhere in between. When practicing combos, it’s important to have a full array of openers and closers so that you can adjust on the fly for the situation at hand.
To start, let’s take a look at the three basic building blocks of Melty Blood combos: the Opener, the Body, and the Closer.
This is how you start your combo, obviously. Many training mode warriors practice combos that open with 2A because — well, let’s face it, a lot of combos in Melty open that way. However, this is not all that is required. In order to fully optimize, we need to examine every possible category that a combo opener can fall into.
Ground to Ground
Just as it says: both you and the opponent are on the ground. The typical opener here can be a 2A, so let’s move past that and look at some of the other choices available. Let’s say that your opponent made a huge mistake and whiffed a move in front of you. You have all day to punish. What will you do?
If you said 2A or 5A -> combo, your answer is wrong. Every A attack in Melty Blood prorates combos a fair amount in order to make up for their speed, so on full whiffs the best opener will almost always be a B attack of some form to maximize the damage you can do. The primary exception to this are whiffs where a non-A attack won’t make it in time, either due to distance or poor timing. For these, you’ll want to bite the bullet and take your A punish since reduced damage is better than none.
Air to Ground
Of course, combos can open with jump-ins too, and in Melty most characters can do two attacks in a jump-in for a double overhead. The main points to touch upon with Air to Ground openers are as follows:
- You may need to dash in a bit after the jump-in to close the distance.
- You may need to delay the jump-in so your followup A attack doesn’t reverse beat.
- Your opponent may be standing.
This last point is one I didn’t mention in the Ground to Ground section: for every openers where the opponent is grounded, there’s a chance that the opponent may be hit while standing. This doesn’t affect some characters, while for others it can add quite a bit of damage. Being able to confirm standing-only combos is character-specific, so make sure to practice them if your character has them in order to maximize your conversion.
Air to Air
Melty Blood, being an anime game, has a lot of air movement. As such, there will be situations where you land a hit air to air. These are usually the most difficult situations to convert properly since they require a decent amount of reaction or anticipation on non-counterhits. While the damage for air to air confirms is not always the highest, the resulting Closer utilized can shift the momentum of a match drastically. There’s almost no realistic way to practice these without actual playtime and experience, since there are so many permutations that can occur, so all I can really say is to put your hours in.
Counterhit / Air Counterhit
A major change in Melty Blood 1.07 is a large increase in counterhit stun time from previous versions of the game. Anyone who’s played Street Fighter Alpha 3 will be able to relate: now, almost every counterhit acts like a high counter that places the opponent in hitstun for at least half a second while freezing their trajectory. Airborne opponents will hang in the air briefly before falling, making it extremely easy to confirm a combo.
This shift in mechanics alone has made reckless aerial movement a much more dangerous proposition than previous games. The extra hitstun allows certain characters, such as C-Warcueid and F-Ries, to confirm combos previously impossible or next-to-impossible quite easily. There are also extended combo openers that work on counterhit, such as H-Len’s j.C airdash j.C (this is a standard blockstring for her so confirming isn’t even strictly required most of the time). Counterhit-only combos on the ground aren’t going to be as crucial as they are in Capcom games, like Capcom vs SNK 2, but air counterhit combos are definitely required pratice material.
Finally, we touch upon the last possible opener: “something random”. Sometimes, your opponent will just get hit by something: a stray projectile, a loose unexpected part of your blockstring. These may not net the most damage but remember the law of Melty: momentum is life. Any damage and momentum you can squeeze from a situation is worth it, so having the reaction to convert any hit you land is essential.
This is the meat and bones of every combo you will do in Melty Blood. Every character has different moves utilized and every combo serves a different purpose, so let’s break this down.
Combos have four primary factors when you weigh decisions on their utility: Damage, Carry, Meter, and Practicality.
Damage. This is, of course, the amount of damage a combo deals. There’s no reason to do a low-damage combo when you can do a better one (unless you want to be “special”, in which case this article probably isn’t for you.) This, of course, is tied into the Practicality factor, where sometimes the best damage combos may be out of your personal execution ability. More on that later.
Carry. The second factor to consider. Many characters have multiple combos that deal similar damage, so why would you use one over another? The answer is corner carry. Placing the opponent in a corner puts them in a highly disadvantageous position, so any combo that places them closer is almost always more desireable. Some characters don’t have to worry about this, such as C-Seifuku who has near full-screen corner carry off almost everything she lands. Others, such as F-Akiha, are given a choice of going for one combo with very poor carry, and another with slightly lower damage, harder execution, but much better carry. F-Akiha in particular is a strong corner pressure character, so it’s almost always in her interest to utilize the highest carry combo whenever possible.
Meter. This is the amount of circuit gained for doing a combo. Typically this is not a factor for most characters, mostly a side consideration; however, certain situations merit close attention to this detail. For example, let’s say you’re at 120% meter in Half Moon and desperately need to regain life. Given the choice between a combo that nets 70% meter and 90% meter, the choice should be clear: if you can enter Heat mid-combo and start regenerating, this is a much better alternative than ending at 190% and potentially lose the round because you couldn’t reach 200%. Most meter combos are a little harder to do because they’re a little fancier, which leads me to the last point…
Practicality. Let’s face it: if you can’t consistently do a combo, you probably shouldn’t use it. Not everyone has great execution, which isn’t a problem; however, conversion and momentum are so absolutely vital in Melty that if you’re losing either or both due to dropped combos, the better alternative would be to utilize a practical combo until you can do the harder ones. Almost every character has “stable” and “optimal” versions of their combos, and depending upon your level of execution, confidence, and the flow of the match you should adjust your combo selections accordingly.
And so at long (or not-so-long) last, we arrive at the end of the combo. Combos can end in a number of different ways according to what you need for the given situation you’re in. The decision making process involved in selecting exactly what combo you utilize on a given opening is another topic entirely; for now, we’re going to focus on the four types of possible enders available.
The neutral option is just that: it leaves both you and the opponent in a neutral situation where both players return to vying for position. Typically, this is an airthrow for most characters, but there are many exceptions. For example, White Len’s airthrow leaves her at plus frames on knockdown and is untechable; this is clearly advantageous for her. V.Sion’s airthrow is groundtechable, but near the corner she has options to punish groundtechs which discourages reckless teching; outside of the corner, however, her options are reduced. In certain cases, some characters’ combos simply don’t end in airthrow unless absolutely necessary because there are so many better options available; C-Kohaku is a prime example of this.
Airthrow enders are extremely common in Melty Blood, so make sure you fully understand the positioning and timing on your character’s airthrow and plan your combos and gameflow accordingly.
This option typically sacrifices damage for a knockdown into a setup. On the base level, this option is typically utilized when you’re in a good position and want to ride the momentum further. This concept should be fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t go into more details. However, okizeme enders can also be used for denial. Many beginner players do not understand the concepts involved in this, so I will explain briefly.
In certain situations, forcing the opponent to take a mixup or making them block is more powerful than taking the other available choices. Let’s say, for example, your opponent just activated heat and is regenerating life, but you manage to catch him in a combo. The first reaction may be to deal as much damage as possible to counteract the life gain, but this may not always work out for a number of reasons. Since the opponent cannot regain life in C/H-Moon Heat while blocking or knocked down, the best way to seal off the life regain is to force them into a blockstring and potentially mix them up once more for additional damage.
Some characters are nothing but okizeme enders even with their “normal” combos (see: H-Sion vs C-Sion), while others have more diversity involved. The options for okizeme enders very quickly determine your character’s gameflow — case in point, H-Sion plays quite differently from C-Sion — so be sure to break down the possibilities when practicing.
The damage option should also be self-explanatory: this usually involves using meter to deal a bit of extra damage. Damage enders are typically categorized with other enders as well: for example, Ryougi’s J.236B damage ender is also a reset ender, since it allows her to look for airteching opponents. C-Sion’s J.623B ender, C-Wara’s J.236B ender, and H-V.Sion’s J.236A ender all have the same purpose, as they leave the opponent in the air forced to choose between coming down at an opponent ready for them or accepting their knockdown.
Damage options are rarely utilized in characters that have better options. Case in point: Miyako can end combos with J.623C for damage, but also has J.22C in C-Moon and J.421C in H/F-Moon. J.623C deals the most damage but leaves Miyako in an extremely poor position to do anything afterwards. Comparatively, J.22C and J.421C are both hard knockdowns which give her advantage. Therefore, the logical choice would be to utilize damage in situations where you are guaranteed to kill and take the knockdown for momentum otherwise.
The basic reset enders leaves the opponent in a situation where they are forced to make a decision, such as the enders mentioned above. However, there are also resets mid-combo which “end” the original combo in favor of doubling down on damage. Characters such as Satsuki and Roa can utilize this due to their quick and low air movement by starting a combo and using an instant airdash halfway through to reset and attempt a sneak attack.
This second form of reset is obviously risky for a number of reasons. On opponents who are paying attention and able to react, a reset is guaranteed to result in being punished and losing your damage as well as possibly being forced to deal with the opponent’s momentum. However, if a reset goes through, the payoff is usually huge, around 150% of what you would’ve normally dealt. Keep in mind most characters can’t effectively reset this way due to their movement unless the opponent isn’t paying attention, so this option is definitely not available across the board.
The next time you practice combos, please make sure to keep all these factors in mind so you can not only know what combo you’re doing, but why you’re doing it.