6/29/13 - The Asuka Conundrum
Post date: Jun 30, 2013 4:39:35 AM
If you've met me in real life there's one case study that I love to bring up (regarding balance in TTT2) and that's the buff of Asuka's 2,3 speed up from i13 to i12. At first it seems like it makes sense, hopkicks were -12 on block in T6 so realizing that Asuka's overall punishment was subpar, her 2,3 punisher should be sped up to i12. The problem is that hopkicks were universally nerfed in TTT2 to -13 on block, so her old 2,3 punisher would actually be fast enough to punish now. Now, not so obviously, the major benefit of the 2,3 buff is that Asuka can now properly punish FUFT wake-up 4 but everything beyond that is realistically just free damage with a frame larger window.
I'll often hear these rebuttals, "but it's launch punishable on block!" or "but Asuka's punishment is so poor!". Yes it's launch punishable on block, why wouldn't it be? It's an i12/i13 KND/W! NC string and all i12 KND/W! NC strings are launch punishable on block, one way or another. This is actually presented in my first "Tekken Isn't Hard" article named The danger with i12, which drives home the fact that improperly punishing is often more dangerous than using weaker i10 punishers.
Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, I hear that Asuka's punishment is very poor and she needed it. Now that's 100% true, Asuka overall does have poor punishment, specifically in the i10-i14 range. From a pure mathematical stand point I guess it makes sense, "Poor punishment i10 to i14, split the difference and you get i12, then speed up her i13 to give her an i12. Done." Instead I argue that she didn't need the 2,3 buff and instead needed a buff to her i10 punishment, arguably the worst i10 punishment in the game.
This I call "The Asuka Conundrum", why did Namco speed up her 2,3 but neglect her i10 punishment?
Let's get this out of the way first...
It's a seemingly scary word to a lot of people. People that worry the game becomes too watered down and loses its core being. People that worry that the game suddenly will become unplayable. People that will claim that the game is "no longer Tekken".
Of course people tend to forget in T5, before jabs were normalized, certain characters could be pitbulled to death by i8 pressure. Or the fact that Miguel's hopkick was -14 on block while Asuka's was only -10, before hopkicks were normalized in TTT2. There's actually quite a few more examples, i.e. universal magic 4 nerf, the "removal" of generic u/f+2, all characters gaining at least one mid homing move. Could you imagine how exponentially complex the game would be if there were 50 characters with a similar set of moves but wildly different frame data? This was only possible in older Tekken games and those days are long gone. Assuming Namco continues their trend of T5>T6>T7, by adding another four characters in T7, it's just too complex.
Now I'm not arguing for an across the board set of requirements. For instance I'll often be misinterpreted as saying that everyone needs an i10, i12, i14, and i15*. What I do believe is that everyone needs at least two of the four, three of the four being ideal, and anything beyond that is unnecessary (I'm looking at you Lars). Enough to keep a variety of attacks unique per character but at the same time make it so no character is so deficient that they can't be viable.
Asuka was given another tool in TTT2, namely u/f+2, the second hit of her (d/f+1),2 string that immediately grounds the opponent. Best of all u/f+2 hits on i14, giving Asuka a long range KND to complement her 3,1 +frames, hit confirmable punisher. So even disregarding 2,3, Asuka has two of the four punishment criteria and obviously including the buffed 2,3 puts her in the three out of four category, which is where well-balanced characters tend to fall.
As such this is a great example of where homogenization isn't needed. Asuka's 2,3 could have remained i13 and her i10 jabs could have received at least an NC 1,2. Hell, if Namco could have want to stay more inline with her specialized punishers and strings they could have easily made 1,4 be NC giving Asuka direct access to her d/b+4 strings from i10. The possibilities are practically endless and, in my opinion, would actually help her out more in the long run.
Now that just leaves me wondering why Raven's standing 4 was nerfed to i12.
*At the same time I do believe that every -15 attack, of the few that still exist, should be -16 as there are quite a few characters without a launching i15.