Intro to Honda
I plan to blog about a set of GGPO matches I had while playing Honda. In the mean time, I figured I’d write a little bit about Honda in general.
A3’s Honda, general overview.
…not great. Honda is a defensive character by design, but when it comes to A3, he’s in a game where you are penalized for blocking.
His command throw isn’t nearly as good as in ST (instant, sets up traps, good damage), and air blocking damages the utility of the butt drop (Sumo Drop). Sumo Drop is also slower due to game speed and, and has more recovery time.
Hundred-hand Slap is worse than ST in every conceivable way (less damage, builds less meter, does no stun etc), and is substantially harder to combo into than in SF4 or the CvS games. It also takes another input than in CvS2, so the old shortcut doesn’t work. The command throw (Oicho) has several frames of startup, and the range isn’t very good.
His supers do decent damage, but nothing amazing. His combo ability is, compared to ST, CvS2 and the SF4 games, is relatively limited. He doesn’t have the high-damage/high-stun links from the SF2 games, and his only cancellable normal in A3 is his crouching Short.
And the best part, probably as an overcorrection from ST (the last game Honda was in before A3), none of Honda’s specials do any stun damage.
Normal Attacks & Throws
Honda does have a few things going for him. He has a few good normal attacks on the ground- standing Fierce is a good poke and works as a decent fireball counter when in close, standing/crouching Strong are good pokes, etc.
In the air, jumping Short (must be forward/backward jump in X-ISM) has good priority and raises the area where he can be hit. Jumping Fierce and Roundhouse also have pretty good angles, and you can do a deep jumping Roundhouse and have it be impossible to punish with anti-air moves- but if they do nothing it will still have to be blocked. Jumping Strong has a unique angle which catches things above Honda’s body, which is useful even if the opponent blocks. Jumping medium body splash (Forward Kick in mid-air, or d+FK in X-ISM) crosses up, and is at least adequate for that purpose even if it isn’t anything special.
The air throw is also useful, though it only throws the opponent behind Honda. His ground throws can throw in either direction, but Honda can also throw by using down/back +PP instead of just towards or away +PP or KK like most characters; this means that he can charge his meter by whiffing throws repeatedly, while allowing him to defend himself by being able to charge for either the headbutt, the sumo drop, or a super.
(Charge b, f + Punch)
And while the headbutt isn’t as good as in the SF2 games- and can’t be roll-cancelled like in CvS2 and won’t auto-correct vs crossups like in SF4- its fundamental properties are the same. Jab headbutt is good anti-air, though Honda is vulnerable at the knees and below, so you can’t use it vs exceptionally deep jumping attacks on wakeup. All versions of the headbutt have invulnerability at startup, but the Jab version has the most (4 frames of total invulnerability followed by 7 from the knees up), and it is the only version where the invulnerability overlaps into the hitting frames (9 frames of startup, invincible for the 10th and 11th frames).
The medium headbutt does a negligible amount more damage (Jab does 10 to 12 points of damage depending on when it hits, Strong does 12 or 13), and the invulnerability timing is different- only 3 frames of total invulnerability instead of four, but 8 frames from the knees up instead of 7. Strong headbutt has 11 frames of startup as opposed to 9. I don’t know if the hitting area is any different, but Jab would be my version of choice vs jumping attacks.
Fierce does the most damage if you land both hits (6+12 points), but like the Strong version, all of the invulnerability frames are gone by the time it actually hits, so you’re relying a bit more on the priority of the attack (it has 1 frame of total invulnerability and 5 of upper-body). Fierce has the least startup time (6 frames, as opposed to 9 and 11 with Jab and Strong), and also travels the fastest and furthest. I use this version mostly as a poke or to counter pokes, punish whiffed attacks etc. It is also useful for flying under high Tiger Shots vs Sagat, though AFAIK that’s the only projectile it will travel under.
All versions of the headbutt can be air-blocked, unfortunately, but it can’t be punished unless Honda (or the opponent) has his back to the corner of the stage and the opponent has an attack that reaches far enough. Honda can fire off a headbutt and immediately start charging, so that if the opponent air blocks it and then jumps again, Honda can headbutt again, or do a super etc. The priority of the headbutt isn’t very good after startup, however- most characters can beat the attack from far away pretty easily by jumping backwards with an attack, and many characters can stop it with rapid-fire standing Jabs like they can with Blanka’s Rolling Attack in A3 or Balrog’s rush punches.
It should be noted, however, that because of the damage trade that Honda/Blanka/Balrog etc are not necessarily at a disadvantage because these special attacks do over twice as much damage as standing Jabs (in Blanka’s case thrice as much damage) if a counter Jab is mistimed or there are trades or the defending character is hit in between whiffed attacks, the damage can be made up somewhat quickly. Like those characters, when using the right attacks (hitting deeply enough) and if he begins charging immediately, Honda can combo into any of his charge special or super moves. Crouching Short is Honda’s only cancellable normal in A3, so that will be more or less mandatory for combos into special/super moves.
Like those other characters, Honda can counter characters who whiff fast attacks by giving up his charge, particularly by doing the far sweep (towards + Roundhouse, or towards or away +RK in X-ISM). Because most characters will be using standing Jabs to counter, their feet will be vulnerable if you use the far sweep (which doesn’t knock down, unfortunately) from far enough away. The move is slow, but in such cases it is useful.
A blocked headbutt is safe midscreen if blocked standing; unlike the SF4 games where Blanka can punish a blocked headbutt with a Rolling Attack, the opposite is true in A3 etc. The headbutt, while rather viable anti-air, is unfortunately vulnerable to V-ISM characters who jump-in and activate through it with the appropriate attacks. This is true of Shoryukens and other anti-air moves, also.
Super Hyakkan Otoshi
(Charge d, u + Kick)
The sumo drop is not great, but it definitely has some of its traditional uses. All versions have a wide window of total invulnerability on startup- 21 frames for the Short version, and 19 for Forward and Roundhouse. However, the startup for these moves is slow- 21, 19 and 42 frames, respectively. The invulnerability window at the beginning allows Honda to fly through fireballls (RK version in particular) and land on the opponent, hopefully before they can recover. Because of the wide window of invulnerability, the moves can also be used to counter slower pokes, because the Short and Forward sumo drops both hit on the way up as well as the way down.
All versions of the sumo drop can be punished if blocked, however the Short version is relatively hard to punish- most easily by Reversal SPDs by Zangief or other instant throws. For that reason, if you have the opponent cornered you can do repeated sumo drops, and they won’t be able to punish with sweeps, jabs etc. Even Shoryukens or other moves with invulnerabiltiy will trade with the correct timing, and of course you can just block and attempt to punish. This can be countered by either waiting and blocking the first hit and then countering with a high-priority attack (super move, Shoryuken, V-ISM activation etc. The opponent can also jump and air block if they’re in A or V-ISM and then attempt to Ground Recovery (KK roll), though this can be countered by Honda if the player is looking for it.
Because of the number of invulnerable frames at the start of the move, the sumo drop can be used to avoid crossups, however this isn’t safe if the opponent knows you’ll do it, as they will have avoided block stun (you’ve flown through them) and punish your whiffed landing. It is also useful vs characters who’ve activated V-ISM and are applying pressure- if you can mash out a reversal sumo drop you can hit them out of their VC attempt, as opposed to trying to block and/or Alpha Counter, etc.
(360° + Punch)
The 360° throw (Oicho) is decent, and does the most damage of any of Honda’s special moves (though less than his mashed KK throw, depending, or a complete HHS), as it does 19 to 23 points of damage. As is standard, the Jab version has the most range (32 pixels as opposed to 31 or 30), and the Fierce version does the most damage (23 points, as opposed to 19 or 22). The down sides are the move has somewhat poor range (less than half of Zangief’s SPD range for example), and that it has 4 frames of startup. In these regards it has similar limitations to his regular throws, except that you can’t do walking command throws the same way you can do walking regular throws- so in some ways it actually has less practical range and more startup than his normal throws. Also, unlike Birdie, Zangief or Sodom’s 360° throws, Honda’s builds relatively little super meter when you successfully land it.
There are a few benefits to the Oicho, however: firstly AFAIK it isn’t susceptible to Damage Reduction (counter-mashing to reduce damage taken), the same way most other throws which slam the opponent directly into the ground aren’t- Zangief’s SPD, Charlie/Cammy’s suplex throws, Gen’s stomp supers etc. Also, after Honda’s Oicho is over, it places the opponent right at Honda’s feet, which allows him to follow up with a crossup attempt, and you can either do a poke string, or try to land another Oicho, etc. The opponent does not have time to do an air or ground recovery. It’s a good move to use for punishing things if you don’t have a charge ready for a super, and like all of his throws it will get you out of the corner if you land it, and corner the opponent.
(P P P P P); 4, 5 or 6.7 inputs per second*
In my opinion the hundred-hand slap isn’t worth much. HHS takes more mashing than in CvS2 or SF4, and doesn’t do much block damage or guard damage, and it does no stun damage. It does build a fair bit of meter when whiffed, though more when it actually connects for all hits (better to whiff the Jab version since they all build the same amount of meter on whiff). The damage on actual hit is pretty good- 5 points of damage per hit, which translates to 10, 25 and 30 for the respective versions when close. If you can hypothetically combo into it at will, it is worth doing (particularly the Fierce version which does more than Honda’s Oicho, on the condition that all hits of the Fierce version connect). Not a great poke (normal attacks do better guard meter damage, are faster, and are easier to get out), but HHS has decent priority.
You might try to mash out HHS while doing another move to mask the charging, or while holding down or neutral so you don’t get a whiffed throw attempt, which will throw off the timing. However, unlike other rapid button-press moves, Honda’s HHS won’t continuously loop upon itself for as long as you keep mashing- they have a more finite recovery time where Honda is immobile an can be punished if he whiffs.
With Blanka’s Electric Thunder or Chun’s Hyakuretsu Kyaku, you don’t need to mash the same button to get that version of the move- for example if you start Electric Thunder with Jab and then start hitting Fierce afterward, it will immediately transition into the Fierce version of the move.
This is not true for Honda in A3. After consulting the All About Street Fighter Zero 3 book and doing some testing, I’ve discovered the following:
-Button inputs don’t carry over for Honda. If I’m about to mash out a Strong HHS but enter Jab or Fierce as the last input, I’ll whiff a Jab or Fierce- HHS will not activate.
-The rapid-press button frame data listed in the AAZ3 book (p.250, third shaded rectangle) gives 15/60 for light rapid-input specials, 12/60 for medium and 9/60 for heavy. This translates into 4, 5 and 6.7 inputs per second for the respective versions; AAZ3 gives frame data at 60 frames per second.
-After doing some testing this seems about right, though I wasn’t able to get Fierce HHS with less than 6 inputs, even though it’s technically only 5- I assume I was just too slow.
Fierce HHS damage
(F + Punch + Kick while blocking); unavailable in X-ISM
Honda’s A-ISM Alpha Counter, while not amazing, is useful. It’s the same animation as his standing Fierce (close standing FP animation for X-Honda), though IIRC the hit area is more vertical than horizontal. It is useful vs V-ISM characters, which is the primary function of most ACs in Alpha 3. The V-ISM AC is his Roundhouse sweep animation, which is limited to only hitting characters who are on the ground as many V-ISM Acs are.
(Charge b, f b f + Punch); unavailable in V-ISM
Headbutt super (Oni Musou) is good anti-air, though the Level 2 version is probably the best for that purpose. The level 3 version ends with an HHS animation, most of which will whiff vs airborne opponents. In general the different versions of the super will behave differently when it starts with the opponent very close instead of a bit further away. If very close, Honda’s level 2 headbutt super will hit 4 times, as opposed to only hitting twice vs a character who is standing close to him. The Level 3 Oni Musou is much the same, as it will hit 4 times vs jumping attacks plus however many hits of the HHS at the end are close enough to land, if any are. If the opponent is further away the first two headbutts will only hit a total of 2 times. The level 2 version is good vs jumping attacks because it does relatively comparable damage to the level 3 version, especially considering that when done as anti-air, they’re both most likely to only hit 4 times. Also it leaves you with one super meter left for an Alpha Counter if you need it vs V-ISM characters, or if not you’re only one meter away from getting another level 2 super, etc.
All versions of Oni Musou will pass through fireballs, but only while in flight for the first headbutt (exception for the level 3 version which has 17 frames of startup invulnerability). Level 1 version may not be worth the meter given the relatively low damage, though the damage output is perfectly fine for a level 1 super. If you’re going to use it against a fireball both this and the level 2 are only going to hit twice, so level 1 is more bang for your buck, if you’re going to burn the meter. This version has the least invulnerability, however, so it’s not good as anti-air or vs pokes. Level 2 version is good as anti-air, however it can be air blocked the same way shoto DP and other anti-air moves can: if the opponent is high enough in the air. Level 3 version obviously does the most damage, and because it’s the fastest, it’s the easiest to combo into (ie. crouching Short xx Level 3 Oni Musou). Though it does better damage when directly next to the opponent, so given the option it’s better to use the level 3 by itself. Because of the HHS at the end it does decent damage when used to fly through projectiles, even though the headbutts only hit a total of 2 times; use as anti-air (4 hits) is comparable damage to usage vs fireballs, though both are inferior to full damage vs a close standing opponent. Though the best options for damage are the 720° super (Orochi Kudaki) or to combo into the kick super (Fuji Oroshi).
Damage from Level 1 Oni Musou; 2 hits only
Damage from Level 2 Oni Musou used as anti-air
Damage from Level 3 Oni Musou used as anti-air; note similiar damage
(Charge b, f b f + Kick)
The kick super is something I should use more, but despite this mountain of text, I don’t play a ton of Honda- I’ve just picked up bits here and there, and after several years you learn quite a bit. Kick super I realized relatively recently has such a high hit area and moves in such a way that hit this people on the way up for jumps- interestingly enough, works fairly well vs backwards jumps, because it’s essentially a diagonal headbutt. Unlike the headbutt super, Fuji isn’t safe if blocked, but if you’re sensing that someone is going to jump away from you, or even do a neutral jump, you can use the super. Very little damage, because it’ll only be 1 hit, but worth knowing.
It has a fairly long horizontal range, and it seems to have good hitboxes and/or a lot of invulnerability- even the level 1 will beat a lot of pokes, and it seems to especially hop over low attacks. Does not fare nearly as well vs projectiles, except for the level 3 version.
The problem with Fuji is that it doesn’t work well vs airborne opponents; if it hits someone who’s in the air, it does fairly crappy damage. You also run the risk of people doing a ground recovery behind you before you can recover. So while it’s cool for countering pokes, if the person does a hurricane kick or somehow makes themself airborne, it’s not worth the meter at all. However, all versions of the super will combo from low Short if you’re close enough.
If it hits for full damage, level 1 does seem to get very good damage for a level 1 super! I’m literally just testing this out on an emulator as I type it. Overall Fuji is still a valuable super move, seems like. In total this super has the highest potential damage because you can combo into it from a jump-in.
Level 1 / 2 / 3 Fuji Oroshi damage
(720° + Punch)
The throw super (Orochi Kudaki) has the same startup issue as the regular Oicho, in that it doesn’t start instantly, so you can get beaten out by stuff that would work for someone like Zangief. Also it doesn’t have invulnerabiltiy or range of Birdie/Sodom’s throw supers, so you’re stuck with a version of his Jab Oicho that does more damage. That said, he can still use it to punish things, and it’s the most damage he can do without charging.
I don’t really play much V-Honda at all, but his normal and special moves are pretty much the same, I dunno what’s up with specific hitbox differences. V-Honda doesn’t have very high damage potential relative to a lot of the cast, but he has decent VCs. X and V-ISM characters build meter at a faster rate than A-ISM characters, so while you lose some of your options (super through fireballs, kick super through pokes), V-ISM is probably his strongest mode. If nothing else it means he isn’t forced to use an AC and shorten his guard meter as soon as a V-ISM character activates against him, because he can counter-activate.
And that is Honda. Briefly.
**Updated 3/2: Hundred Hand Slap info updated, some grammar and layout corrections.
**Updated 4/10: formatting changes