Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (VF5FS) is a 3D fighter that forces players to make decisions every second. There is almost no pushback on attacks which means when characters get into mixup range they stay in mixup range until someone falls. Throws are very powerful and mid attacks are very powerful. Players are constantly defending against mixups with near frame perfect fuzzy blocking. Almost every situation can be calculated because attacks and evasion work on a pass-or-fail system. Virtua Fighter 5 is one of the most technical fighters you will ever play.

A remaster of this game called Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (VF5US) was released exclusively on Playstation 4. It plays exactly the same as VF5FS but with enhanced graphics.

Helpful Resources

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Attack Notation

P Punch
K Kick
G Guard

Directional Notation

up-back up up-forward
back neutral forward
down-back down down-forward

Numpad Notation

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3

High attacks are attacks that can be ducked under. Mid attacks are overhead attacks that must be stand blocked.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown uses Modern frame data notation. If an attack has 7 frames of startup, it hits on the 7th frame.

When two attacks hit on the same frame, the one that does more damage wins. If both attacks do equal damage, the slower attack wins. There's never a question if an attack will beat another attack. Attack vs attack situations are common for this reason.

When the round starts, the characters are in closed stance. Closed stance is when both characters lead with the same foot. Open stance is when characters lead with opposing feet. Characters are closer in closed stance. This means throws are more likely to reach in closed stance. It also means combos might work in one stance and not the other. A way I use to remember the stances, is open stance is when I can see one character's front and the other character's back.

Because of stances we don't say sidestep left/right, instead we say evade to the front/back or sidestep foreground/background. Half circular attacks hit evade in one direction and full circular attacks hit evade in either direction. Any attack that is not a circular can be evaded. Evading an attack does not guarantee a punish, in fact it may even leave you at a frame disadvantage. If a circular hits an evade that it was flagged to beat, it counts as a counter hit and leaves the character side-turned. The recovery of evade is vulnerable and can get hit by anything but only circulars get the counter hit and side-turn bonus.

Reversals are defensive maneuvers like counters, parries, inashis and sabakis. Parries lose to non-traditional strikes like knees, elbows, headbutts, shoulder strikes, and punches that use both fists.

Sabaki is a reversal that is a strike with a deflect window that beats specific types of attacks. Sabakis usually start a combo on counter hit. They are slow or very negative on block. Because sabakis are strikes, they are throw-invulnerable. All strikes are throw-invulnerable during startup and active frames.

Counter hits inflict more hitstun. There is a flash that emits during a counter hit to help recognize it. The amount of additional frame advantage for counter hits is different for each attack. Find out the exact number in training mode or from Most attacks that are disadvantageous on hit like low attacks become even or advantageous on counter hit.

-12 is when attacks are considered unsafe on block. -15 is when attacks are considered launch punishable. Lows are considered launch punishable at -16 because high launchers whiff on low attacks.

Jab is P and your fastest attack. It strings into many things and is one of your few plus on block attacks. Most jabs have 12 frames of startup but some are 11 frames.

PPP string is actually negative on hit. While it is duckable, it recovers quickly and is not easy to punish. Virtua Fighter is not Tekken, you do not get huge punishes after ducking under high attacks. PK string is plus on hit but easier to punish.

Almost every string can be delayed. Strings are not strong mixup tools like they are in Tekken or Dead or Alive and that's fine because every character has a very strong mid/throw mixup.

Crouch Jab is 2P. It is your best attack for interrupting and abare. All crouch jabs have 12 frames of startup. It is an EX Low and ducks under highs but EX Low also means it can be blocked with stand block or crouch block. It is slightly advantageous on regular hit and on counter hit it's much more advantageous.

Elbow is 6P. It is a fast short range mid. It is specifically used to beat Crouch Jab. On standing hit it's even but on counter hit and against crouchers it's plus.

Side kick is 3K and is usually your fastest mid kick, making it your fastest long range mid. On standing hit it's even and on counter hit and against crouchers it's plus. When it hits backdash it counter hits and causes a stagger.

Knee is 6K and typically a character's fastest launcher but not every character has a knee. Knees that launch on normal hit tend to be unsafe on block. Knees that launch only on counter hit are usually safe.

EX Low attacks can be blocked with stand block or crouch block.

EX Mid attacks don't inflict damage against crouch block but it forces the character to stand and breaks their guard for a follow up.

EX High attacks are duckable like regular high attacks but will hit if the other character is attacking as well. EX High attacks will even hit low attacks.

Throws are performed with P+G and a direction. There is a whiff animation if unsuccessful. Throws are very powerful as they do a lot of damage and result in okizeme. Throws have 10 frames of startup and are unreactable.

Throws always catch evades but the throw can be teched. Your fastest throw is faster than your fastest circular attack.

Catch throws are throws that deflect strikes during its startup. The deflection window can be short so don't be surprised if the catch throw gets hit. Catch throws are slower than regular throws but can't be teched. High catch throws can be ducked under and beaten with crouching attacks. Low catch throws are beaten with fast standing attacks. Regular throws beat catch throws. In this example you can see Blaze going for a circular attack then getting thrown.

Single hit catch throws tend to be slow while multi-part catch throws are faster. For multi-part catch throws the initial throw cannot be teched but any follow up can.

Throws are teched with P+G and the last direction used to input the throw. For example, if your opponent attempts to throw you with 63214P+G you tech that with 4P+G. Throws are teched with 4P+G, 5P+G, or 6P+G. The defender only gets one opportunity to tech, putting them in a three way mixup. The defender can hold G and press P to keep blocking while teching throws.

Strikes are throw-invulnerable throughout startup and active frames. It's common to see players attack from a frame disadvantage, or abare, when they expect a throw.

Low throws that hit crouchers are teched with 1P+G, 2P+G, and 3P+G.

Throws are high and can be ducked under but crouching causes you to get hit by powerful mid attacks. Throws are faster than the fastest strikes. The best thing to do is to duck under throws then stand to block mid attacks, but that isn't always possible.

Nitaku is a term used to describe the situation when an attacker has enough frame advantage to force the defender into a 50/50 mixup. In Virtua Fighter 5, that number is +7. At +7 on hit or on block the attacker can perform a mid or a throw without worrying about the throw being ducked.

It takes 1 frame for the character's model to duck under strikes from standing but it takes 7 frames to duck under throws. It takes 5 frames to duck under throws with a forward crouch dash and 6 frames with a backward crouch dash. That means if you hold 2 from standing you need to be at -3 or better to duck throws. If you forward crouch dash from standing you can be at -5 and duck under throws.

Fuzzy blocking is ubiquitous in Virtua Fighter. At -5, crouch dash to avoid high strikes and throws then stand to block mids. While blocking you can input a single throw tech input. Thankfully there's an easy way to practice this in training mode.

Fuzzy blocking loses to low throws, delayed throws, and delayed/slow low attacks. Delayed/slow attacks beat fuzzy blocking but abare or attacking with a fast attack beats delayed/slow attacks.

G is used to return the character to neutral to prevent strings. For example, if I wanted to do P then K I would instead get the PK string. I can press P, G, then K to get what I want.

Dash with 44 or 66 and crouch dash with 11 or 33. The dashes cover about the same distance and have similar frame data. The obvious difference is crouch dash ducks under highs and is preferred over regular dash in most situations. Both forward dashes can be extended into running by holding 6. The forward dashes can be canceled immediately into blocking.

Attacks that can only be performed from full crouch can be performed from crouch dash. Backwards crouch dash is slower than forward crouch dash by 1 frame but it can be used to escape situations. It can also be canceled into a regular backdash. Backdash has risk as it can't be canceled into blocking which means that backdashing to make attacks whiff is not as common as it is in other 3D games.

Dashes can cancel into sidesteps and sidesteps can cancel into dashes. Successfully sidestepping around a linear attack is an evade. Sidestep into the background by tapping 8 and sidestep into the foreground by tapping 2. Evasion is based entirely around frame data and is on a pass-or-fail system.

Evasion has a total of 23 frames. You need to be at a frame disadvantage of at least -1 to evade an attack. Let's calculate the frame advantage for evading immediately after blockstun/hitstun. Take the total amount of frames from your opponent's attack and subtract 23 frames, then add your frame disadvantage before evading. If I'm at -4 and Akira's attack has 37 total frames, the equation is 37 - 23 - 4 = 10. I recover 10 frames before Akira.

Only the first part of a sidestep evades attacks. Delayed/slow attacks hit failed evades. And we know abare beats delayed/slow attacks.

Pressing G or any attack button during a sidestep may cause the opponent's attack to hit. Wait until the evasive part of the sidestep ends before pressing anything. This is especially important when evading strings. Evading a string can put you behind your opponent for a huge advantage. Throws on a back-turned character are untechable.

P+K+G during sidestep is an Offensive Move. It moves the character forward and to the side of the opponent, which potentially leads to a side-turned situation. Offensive Move is not for turning a disadvantage into an advantage because it lacks any kind evasion and will get hit. It's not that useful but it can be used for okizeme to evade wakeup kicks and follow rolls.

Blocking isn't possible during a sidestep but a sidestep can be canceled into either forward dash which can cancel into blocking. This is very useful for returning to neutral after a failed evade.

Throws always catch evades but you are able to input a throw tech during sidestep without whiffing a throw animation.

To master Virtua Fighter you need to seamlessly transition from one defensive technique to another. Let's put everything we've learned together.

Sidestep to evade linear attacks.
Throw tech during sidestep to beat throws.
Cancel sidestep into crouch dash to duck under highs and throws.
Cancel crouch dash into stand block to block mids and circulars.
Input throw tech while blocking to tech throws.

That was five defensive techniques in one second! Yes Virtua Fighter defense is really that fast and intense all the time.

When you are hit sometimes you see a joystick icon appear on screen. This is stagger and you recover from it by mashing buttons and directions. If you don't recover in time you may get comboed. Stagger happens after certain attacks are fully charged, counter hit, or hit crouchers.

Newcomers like to hold G while mashing to ensure an unwanted attack does not come out after recovering from stagger. The character will exit stagger blocking but this is sometimes a bad thing. Your opponent can wait for your stagger to end then throw you when you block.

Side-turned situations happen after many situations but it's most common after a successful evade. Hitting a side-turned character is more advantageous. Attacks that are up to 14 points of damage give +2 additional frames of hitstun, 15 to 24 points of damage are +3, and 25 or more points of damage are +6. This also applies to blocking. For example, Jeffry's Overblow Shoulder does 28 points of damage and is -5 on block but on side-turned it's +1.

Lion's PKP is only a guaranteed combo for the first two hits but on side-turned all three hits combo.

Side-turned characters tech throws with the direction of their vulnerable side and P+G. If being thrown from the left side input 4P+G. Teched side throws leave the attacker at +3. Back-turned throws cannot be teched.

Characters do not automatically re-align after getting hit. A character may still be side-turned after getting hit due to the angle and/or frame disadvantage. It takes the defender 3 frames from side-turned and 6 frames from back-turned to re-align before performing any action including blocking. This means the attacker has an additional 3 frames of frame advantage against a side-turned character. This allows attacks to be unblockable against side-turned characters.

+9 is the magic number. 2P is used for unblockables because it is the fastest attack that can't be ducked. 2P has 12 frames of startup which means that at +9 against a side-turned character they cannot re-align in time to block it. This does not guarantee 2P will hit because the defender can still parry/sabaki or jump over it. This is a mind game in itself. The defender can willingly take the unblockable 2P or they can take a risk to challenge it. If the attacker expects the defender will challenge 2P, they can block or do a slower attack to punish their risky action.

Side-turned also carries over to okizeme. You have attacks that knockdown and force the opponent to wakeup side-turned.

On okizeme there are two down attacks. 3P is the light down attack. It doesn't have a designated hit level but many are crouch blocked. 8P is the heavy down attack. It is a pounce that follows the opponent if they don't roll out of the way. It is damaging but it is slow and punishable on whiff and block.

After a knockdown, you are forced to wakeup after certain amount of time. You can wakeup sooner by mashing buttons. Tap G and hold 2/8 to roll to side roll or 4 to back roll. Rolling is like sidestepping as it can evade linear attacks if you don't press a button during it.

After a knockdown, you have access to two wakeup kicks. K is a mid kick and 2K is a low kick. Both kicks have invincible startup and are -6 on block. The kicks lose invincibility when they become active. On normal hit the kicks are +3 and on counter hit they are +6. Wakeup low kick is 20 frames and mid kick is 23 frames which means it's possible to fuzzy block against both kicks. Wakeup kick after a back roll is launch punishable at -15 on block!

Tracking on the wakeup kicks depends on the character's position.

Face Up Feet Towards is full circular for both kicks.
Face Down Feet Toward mid kick is linear unless done out of a roll where it becomes half circular. Low kick is full circular.
Face Down Head Towards mid kick is full circular unless done out of a roll where it becomes half circular. Low kick is full circular.
Face Up Head Towards mid kick is half circular.

One way of beating wakeup kicks is jumping backwards to make it whiff then whiff punishing it. Another way to beat it is by using an attack that does 21 or more points of damage. Remember when attacks hit on the same frame, the more damaging attack wins.

Immediately after a knockdown, press 8P+K+G, 5P+K+G, or 2P+K+G to quick recover. Quick recovering in place leaves you vulnerable to linear and down attacks but you wakeup standing. Quick recovering to the side may avoid linear attacks but it forces you to wakeup crouching. You can still block mids in this state but the character's hurtbox is crouching and can get hit by attacks like low throws. You can press 66G after side recovery to stand sooner.

Ring outs automatically end the round. No knockdown or combo is needed to ring somebody out. Characters can simply walk off the platform to lose. There are a couple different types of walls. There are half walls and full walls. Some walls are breakable and some are not. Characters have attacks they can do off of walls.