Vega: Claws to the Wall
Vega isn’t the kind of player that you should use to take initiative. With Vega (known as Balrog in Japan), it’s more about capitalizing on the mistakes of your opponents. Hit them with the Scarlet Terror as they try to hit you with a cross-up attack. The EX Scarlet Terror will beat most attacks. Confuse them with the Sky High Claw when they’re expecting you to bounce off the wall for an Izuna Drop.
If you’re matched up against a player that shoots a lot of fireballs, the sliding sweep of the down-forward hard kick is a great way to throw them off their game. Also from the crouching position, the jabbing claw can get very annoying.
You won’t be able to combo your way into Vega’s Ultra, but timed well, you can catch your opponent in mid-air or pass through a fireball.
Balrog: Boxing with a Vengeance
It’s rare to come across someone who is remarkably effective as Balrog (known affectionately as Boxer, since he is known as M. Bison in Japan), but the people who are good with the pugilist can be very good. In general, you can take on one of two strategies with Balrog. You can be very aggressive or you can take the defensive and counter as needed.
While Balrog was fairly limited with his arsenal in Street Fighter II, he has been given a much bigger range of dash punches in Street Fighter IV. These can be used to counter a variety of players. The Dash Swing Blow crushes players who sit back in a crouch-guard. The Dash Low Straight will sweep out the high blockers. And the Turn Punch, timed correctly, will pass through projectiles.
You won’t be able to do any cross-ups with Balrog, but you can tick your opponent with the crouching Light Punch, baiting them into an opportunity where you can crush them with a Dash Punch of some kind. The Buffalo Headbutt will also pass through fireballs, making it very effective at close range. You can also juggle this into an Ultra.
Akuma: The Raging Demon
This is the guy with probably the largest number of special moves in the game, but you’ll find that you’ll be using the air Hadoken more often that just about anything else. You can use this to keep your distance and keep your opponent on guard. Freezing them with the Zanku Hadoken, you can lead in with a Demon Flip or Dive Kick.
The EX Air Fireball is even better, since it tosses out a pair of fireballs that’ll keep the pressure on with your opponent. You do not want to play coy with Akuma, so you’ll want to keep on with a strategic offence. That said, Akuma takes on a lot of damage when he does get hit, so be careful.
A simple combo that dishes out a fair bit of damage is to link the Light Hurricane Kick into a Heavy Punch Goshoryuken. Use this after crushing your opponent with a focus attack.
By far one of the most satisfying moves to land in Street Fighter IV is the Ultra Raging Demon. It passes through blocks and a variety of attacks, and at full charge, it will lop off an impressive 65% of your opponent’s life. The trouble is that most seasoned players will see it coming a mile away, so you’ll need to pick just the right opportunity.
More Street Fighter IV Strategies and Tips
There’s simply no way that I could have provided the entirety of the strategies and techniques involved in Street Fighter IV in the limitations of this space. One of the sneakier techniques is to shoot out a Light Punch fireball with Dhalsim, only to teleport behind your opponent to crush them with a Yoga Inferno. They can’t really block it, can they?
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