=================================================================
Virtua Fighter 4 Starting Guide
FOR PLAYERS WITH TEKKEN EXPERIENCE (and others)

(With bonus character guide.)

Put together by Hyun Supul (hyun@earthling.net)
=================================================================
v0.3
April 22, 2002

Revision History:
v0.1 December 19, 2001 Initial Version
v0.2 December 20, 2001 Fixed formatting

Legal Crap:
You can distribute this doc freely as long as you don't make
money off of it. (Not beyond the cost of reproduction) If you put this on a
website, please let me know as courtesy.  All the trademarked names are
properties of the trademark owners.


Contents:
===================================================================
- Why this FAQ?
- Okay, so what are the similarities between Tekken
   and VF4? (50000 ft view)
- Terminology and legends
===================================================================
- Basic Poke Mechanism
- Let's inflict some damage:
   Canned combos and Juggles in VF4
- Double Over Stun (Hey, this looks familiar!) and Stagger
- But you also need to throw!
   (Throw mechanism in VF4)
- Note about Reversals
- About the sticks
- Tell me more about dodging in this game
- More about movement: crouch dashing in VF4
- The riser and the attacker: Eternal Struggle
- Walls: Friend or Foe?
- Advanced Techniques
- Misc
========================================
Appendix:
- CHARACTER GUIDE
- Web Sources
- Ackonwledgements
========================================


=============================================================================
INTRODUCTION
=============================================================================
Why this FAQ?
=============================================================================
The short answer is, because there is a demand for it. Those who continue
to play fighting games belong to the last echelon of hardcoregamers
who populate our arcades. I would like to think of us fighting game
players as not a group with territorial mindset, but open to new idea
and always willing to learn.

In fact, when I first played Tekken 3 I wished there was a "Tekken Guide
for VF Players," something that explains the similarity and differences of
the two. It's a mystery why there weren't FAQs like that. Wouldn't it be
logical for us to have "KOF FAQ for SF players" or such, given everyone and
his momma played SF at some point. Anyway, I felt the time was right for a
guide like this.

Before I go on, I MUST CLARIFY that this FAQ is NOT intended to fuel the
never ending and pointless Tekken VS VF debate or anything of that nature.
Both of them are great series and I have no intention to suggest otherwise.
However, it's a fact now that there are significant number of Tekken players
out there interested in learning VF4. The reasons are varied of course. Some
Tekken 3/TTT players are not too happy with Tekken 4. There are some old
ex-VF2 players interested in picking up VF again because VF4 resembles VF2
more than VF3 did. Some players simply want to pick up something new after
their long history of Tekken.

I personally think Tekken 4 to be a pretty good game. Actually superior to
TK3/TTT in many aspect. But without touching all the controvertial debate
going on, this FAQ will simply try to address the demand: Demand for a VF4
guide for people with Tekken background.

Throught this guide I will often assume that the reader has some
knowledge of TK3/TK4. I will also assume you want to learn comparable,
intermediate to advanced knowledge of VF4. But even if you have no Tekken
background, you may still find some useful info, as fundamental issues
explained should be no different whether you have Tekken background or not.


================================================================================
Before we begin: Terminology and legends
================================================================================

Stick directions:
b/u  u   f/u

b    n   f

b/d  d   f/d



P (VF) Punch button
K (VF) Kick button
G (VF) guard button

LP or 1 (TK) left punch
RP or 2 (TK) right punch
LK or 3 (TK) left kick
RK or 4 (TK) right kick


FC = from crouch
CD = crouch dash
MC = Major counter. Interruting your opponent's attack during its execution
mC = Minor counter. Attacking your opponent while s/he is recovering from
     a move.

RFF = right foot forward
LFF = left foot forward


===============================================================================
Okay, so what's the similarity between Tekken and VF4? (50000 ft view)
===============================================================================

At the fundamental level, they are both fighting games, meaning that your
aim is to deplete your opponent's life bar using a series of punches, kicks,
throws and what not.

But you have known these already. So let's get down to things less obvious.
The fundamental, most basic "strategy" behind both games are still the same.
"Blocking" defeats "Strike." "Throw" defeats "Blocking." "Strike" defeats
"Throw." At the most basic level both games have this rock/paper/scissors
mechanism. Of course, in practice things become more complex as we have
high/middle/low/ground level strikes, priorities, (a concept that's never
easy to explain in a 3D fighter.) high/low throws, reversals, parries,
sidesteps and so on. To be successful in either game, one needs to
understand all these properities of both his/her own character and the
opposing character.

You may find that VF4 and Tekken4 share many of these properties. Both
Tekken and VF4 characters have set of moves including varying level of
strikes, ground attacks, reversals and so on. And there are juggles, stun
combos, wall combos and tech roll and etc. In both games the goal is to
capitalize on the opponent's mistakes and deal maximum damage in given
situations using all these factors.

Now with that out of the way, it's time to examine the subtle differences,
blow-by-blow.


===============================================================================
Basic Poke Mechanism
===============================================================================
As you know, in Tekken 4 poke became much more important. Everyone has to
poke to survive. This has been a topic of heated debates in Tekken community
and I will refrain from reproducing the debate here.

What I need to say here is that poking is a very important part of VF4 as
well. But you may find things work somewhat differently from Tekken 4.

Let me first give you a general picture and go into specifics.
In VF4 the basic poke game involves punch, low punch, midlevel moves of
some sort, and or 2 or 3 punch string and variations. These are primarily
used to
1. Control the flow of the game. (Are you under pressure? Defensive
poke. Do you want to pressure your opponent? Offensive poke.)
2. Eventualy lead into bigger damage sequence by leading your opponent
into mistakes.
As you see fundamental idea behind poking is not too different from that
of Tekken. Now let's see examine the details. (Before I go on, let me
make a brief mention about that the difference in the effectiveness of
backdash makes the poking game somewhat different from Tekken 4 as well.
More about this in the movement section.)

Dead or Low Punch
-------------------
If you are fighting against someone going at you with a series of PPP 
strings
an easy way to stop this would be a low punch.

Used defensively, low punch is a great way to stop high attacks and can
even often interrupt mid attack when timed right. In that regard low
punches are much more effective that those in Tekken (or even VF3 for that
matter) This is an important difference from Tekken that you need to
remember.

Once you hit low punch as a counter, you gain substantial initiative in
terms of frame numbers and then you can change the flow of the battle and
start attacking (or throwing) yourself. Low punches can be both great
defensive and offensive tools, as it also allows you to execute FC
moves. (Think of Julia's use of low punch to set up mid/low guessing
game.)

Of course, low punch is not a solution to everything. For example if you low
punch a standing defender, you will see the defender lifting his/her leg to
"block."  This is a variation of Tekken mechanism as you might realize. (Low
punch being a "special low" that can be blocked high.) In this situation the
defender recovers faster than you and consequently you just lost initiative.
Also low punch has very limited range and don't forget that either. You
may not be able to win the game with low punch, but it leads to bigger and
better things.


Beyond Low punch
------------------
The fundamental idea behind PP or PPP plus mid level pokes are not too
different from Tekken. Of course, different characters have different
variations/effectiveness in poking. But never forget that you have universal
jab/low punch poke to get out of tight spots or to keep pressure.

Also, here is a clarification of a VF terminology. Where the Tekken players
use the term "custom string" the VF players use the term "flow chart." The
two terms are very similar but the idea is slightly different. Basically the
idea behind "flow chart" is that there are multiple branches of action you
can take after punch/low punch or other move. To use a Tekken 4 example,
after Lp,Rp,Lk string of Law, Law can do another Lp,Rp,Lk, high parry,
low parry, d+LP (more poke), d+Rp,LK (juggle starter), and so on. It all
depends on what you think your opponent will do. "Poking" in both VF4 and
Tekken 4 revolve around the same idea too, and "flow chart" is just a VF
terminology to refer to this concept.

Art of Jab
--------------
It's useful to know the "right" way to jab in VF. The right way to throw a
single punch in Vf is not just to tab P, but tab P then tab G. The rational
is this, explained using a Tekken example: With Law let's say you do b+Lp.
You know this starts dragon storm (b+LP,RP,LP) string, and you can delay
the rest of the string. But what if you don't want the rest of the string
and immediately want to get into some other move involving RP? Since
everyone in VF4 has PP or PK string of some sort and they can be delayed
slightly, you need to tab G to cancel the string in the buffer if you want
to just single jab and get into other moves as fast as possible. Hopefully
that made sense.

Some Anti-Low Punch Tactics
------------------------------------
Technically you can interrupt low punch with elbow or sidekick to score
stagger. (Refer to "Double Over Stun and Stagger" section for explanation
about stagger.)
  But this happens only if you had equpped yourself with frame advantage.
Let's say you notice that your opponent always low punches after his
certain mid move get blocked. This is not a bad tactic per se, but armed
with frame advantage the blocker can get his elbow out first to interrupt
low punch. And after stagger you can deal some serious damages. So, even
low punch game boils down to predicting your opponent and understanding
frame advantage. (Unfortunately, as of now frame stat for VF4 is not
available. But most of the time using intuition to guess on frame
advantage would be useful.) And an expert WILL make you pay if you abuse
low punch too much in a predictable manner.
  Also it's worth mentioning that there are some moves with special
"priority" over low punches. Shun's u+K is a good example. And most
people's knee (f+K) do seem to have some priority over low punch. While
you can't really count on them, it's worthwhile to take note.

Important Announce About Buffering
-----------------------------------
In VF4, it's important to take advantage of the fact that you can buffer
moves while you are in recovery (either from block stun or recovery from
your own move.) This can make things work better for you after you
block a move, going on your poke, doing juggle, and many other situations,
as it lets you excute moves as fast as possible without worrying too
much about timing of command input.



===============================================================================
Let's inflict some damage: Canned combos and Juggles in VF4
===============================================================================
Eventually, you want to use poking to lead into some real damage. We will
examine the ways to inflict real damage.

First, canned combos and juggles: This would be a part where the two games
are quite similar. Both have share of short canned strings where if the
first hit connects, the rest is guarranted. An example would be Jacky's
elbow heelkick (f+P,K) Regardless of whether the elbow counters or not,
heelkick is guarranted for knockdown if the elbow connects.

Beyond canned strings, it's important to juggle starters and set of
possible juggles.

Matter of Weight
-----------------
In VF4 the heavier characters are generally harder to juggle, and the juggle
height often varies depending on whether it was a counter and what kind of
move it countered and so on. This kinda happens gradually across the
characters, unlike TTT that had weight classes (or even VF3 that had Taka)
So compared to most juggles in tekken, the juggles in VF4 tend to be more
situation specific than TK4 or even TTT, and you need to watch out how
high your opponent flies after your successful juggle starter. However,
there are also plenty of juggles that works almost all the time. To master
a character, you would need to learn both reliable canned strings/juggles
and the ones less reliable but potentially more damaging.


A good example would be Jacky's canned P+K,P,K (bitch slap, backfist,
spinning kick) string. If P+K connects the rest almost always connect as
juggle. But if P+K floats your opponents higher than average, than P+K,P,(G)
u/b+K (kickflip) or P+K,P,  P,P,f+K can connect for greater damage. As
you gain more experience you will be able to pick and choose right juggles
for given situations.

If we follow the character stat given by Sega, here is the order from the
lightest to the heaviest:

    Aoi, Pai, Sarah/Vanessa, Shun/Lion/Lei, Kage, Jacky, Lau, Akira, Wolf,
Jeffry


===============================================================================
Double Over Stun (Hey, this looks familiar!) and Stagger
===============================================================================
Yes, VF4 has double over stuns. As in Tekken, this is a great way to add
guarranted damage. But you need to know subtle differences. First, it
doesn't work like Tekken where you can add WGF after stun with Kazuya and
start juggling.
  In most cases you cannot add much more than a canned string, instead of a
full-pledged juggle combo. Of course, even just a canned string can hurt
greatly.

Also no double-over stun in the game is quite the same. Some stun-creator
require MC, some don't. Some allow you to connect full PPPK variants.
Others give you lesser options.

Also it's useful to remember that the least you can connect after these
stuns is pounce. (u+P for everyone.) Also those with low throws can often
low throw while the opponent is in double over stun. (You have to input
commands fast.)


Some examples of double over stun and follow ups

Kage:
   b,b+K+G (requires major counter in PS2 version) u+P pounce

Aoi:
   b,b+P+K (requires no major ocunter) PPPK

Akira:
   dashing elbow (f,f+P) (major counter) Dragon Lance combo
                                         (f/d+G+K,f+P,b,f,f+P+K)
                                      or Double Jumping kick (f,f+K,K)
Jeffry:
   f+P+K (requires major counter in the arcade version) low throw
   d+G+K (major counter) butt pounce (u+K+G)

In other VF documents, you will find words like "crumple stun" or
"kuzure" used to describe these stuns. In VF4 we make distictions
between the three different types of "crumples"

1. Head crumple: Stuns created by a high attack (Example: Aoi's b,b+P+K,
    Jeffry's b,f+P) YOu can't low throw, but often allows you
    a very damaging combo
2. Stomach crumble: Stuns created by a mid attack (Example, Jeff's
    f+P+K)  Looks like your classic Kazuya double over stun. Allows
    you to low throw (if you have low throw) or other mid level
    moves
3. Foot crumble: Stuns created by a low attack. The weakest kind
    of the three since it doesn't give too many options for
    follow ups. At least you have guarranteed pounce.


Now let's talk about stagger.
-----------------------------------
Stagger can be thought of as a different kind of stun where you
can "struggle" out of. Visually, your opponent staggers, not crumpling
down. It's important to distinguish between a real stagger and what
_looks_ like stagger. This especially confuses people who played DOA
extensively. (Where staggers are big part of the gameplay too.)
The game actually tells you whenever a real stagger occurs by showing that
joystic wiggling symbol.

Basically what happens is that you are vulnerable and unable to block
when you are staggered. (And unlike DOA, you can't reverse either.)
You can however reduce that vulnerable time by "struggling." By holding
G and moving joystick rapidly back and forth, you may be able to recover
faster and block your opponent's follow up attack. (That's why they show
that wiggling joystick symbol.)

Of course, your opponent may anticipate that and choose to throw instead.
Mashing on P or d+P will let you stop a throw attempt. So can break throw
commands (refer to the next section about throws). But then your opponent
may try a juggle starter anyway . . . You see? The stagger creates an
interesting psychological guessing game situation.

Some examples of stagger situations follow:

Connecting mid-elbow (f+P for several characters) or mid kick (d/f+K for
   some characters) against low-blocker.
Countering a low punch or other low move with mid-elbow (f+P for several
  characters) or mid kick (d/f+K for some characters)

You get hit by Akira's guard crushing double fisted strike (You will know
  when you see it.)



===============================================================================
But you also need to throw!
===============================================================================

Let's get this clear: In VF if you want to win you have to throw. A look at
the movelist will make it obvious why this is so: In Tekken most throws do
around 30 points damage and maybe a ground attack. But in VF even basic
throws tend to do 40-50 points and there are plethora of more powerful
throws for just about everyone. It cannot be overemphasized that in VF4,
throw is a very important and integral part of the game play. Far more so
than Tekken.

In Tekken throws tend to do little damage and relatively easy to defend
against. Sure throws are still integral part of the gameplay, but in VF4
it's more so because they are much more dangerous and hard to defend
against.

How to Escape Throws
-------------------------
Beside the damage factor let's see what makes the throws in VF4 dangerous.
First, it's harder to escape throws in VF4 as the escape mechanism is more
complex. To escape throw, you have to know the command of the throw your
opponent is using, and match the last command of the said throw. For
example,
  Jeffry has crucifix pile driver that features a jaw dropping damage. The
command for this is f/d,f/d+P+G and to escape this you have to input
f/d+P+G. Same idea for Wolf's Giant Swing (HCF+P+G) You have to hit f+P+G in
order to escape. (If you want, doing HCF+P+G yourself will also escape giant
swing.)
If the throw has only single command, then just duplicate that command.


Since many characters have more than a few throws, you now see it's a harder
guessing than Tekken. But fortunately you can option select throw-escape
like following:
If you quickly input P+G (joystick neutral) then f+P+G, you will escape
regular P+G throw and any command throw that ends in f+P+G.

Connecting Throws
------------------------
Now let's examine the important differences between the properties of the
throws.
In both Tekken 4 and VF4, throws have execution times. However, in VF4, the
throws tend to have longer reach and execute faster, so you may find
yourself being thrown from an unexpected distance in unexpected situations,
especially when dealing with the heavies. (Well, in Tekken this also happens
too I guess, against the likes of King and Julia etc.)

As a general rule of thumb, if you have to dash in order to throw that means
the throw is no longer guarranted. But of course, there are many situation
when you can guess that he will block thus allowing you to dash in and
throw.
  Still it's important to learn to take avantage of VF4's deceptively long
throw ranges and speed. Also quite a few moves in VF4 are minor counterable
with throw if blocked.
  As matter of fact, throw is the FASTEST MINOR COUNTER MOVE in the game.
Even many moves (though not all) that have less than 8 frame disadvantage
can be minor countered if blocked. (Again, think of Julia's Mad Axe
throw.)
  To use this move as minor counter you just have to buffer in throw
command quickly after blocking. (Refer to the note about buffering under
"Basic Poke Mechanism" section.)

It's useful to know what are throw counterable and what aren't. Some
examples that are throw counterable:

Most juggling knees. (f+K)
Akira's juggling shoulder. (FC, f+P+K)
Jacky's Elbow-Heelkick (f+P,K)
Most rising attacks are not throw couterable however. But if they block
afterward. . .

What these mean
----------------------
Here let me sum up the general implications of the throw mechanism in VF4.
In VF4, unlike Tekken, throws are integral part of the gameplay at all
competition levels. Just imagine Tekken where everyone has easy access
for Julia and King's throws. . . that should start to give you an idea.
If the opponent defends standing and just blocks low attacks on reflex,
you can always fall back to throw game. This contributes to the overall
game balance since not everyone needs strong and fast low attacks (Think of
Mishimas and Julia in TTT) to survive. May the best player, not the 
strongest
character, win.


===============================================================================
Notes about Reversal
===============================================================================
In VF4 all the high reversals are done by b+P+K, all the mid-reversals done
by b/d+P+K, and all the low reversals done by d+P+K. Unlike DOA,
not every move can be reversed or parried of course. Here are some
breakdowns of reversal class:

Moves that cannot be reversed/parried by anybody:
Moves that use either headbutt, butt (Seriously) or both hands
(urgh, save the stupid jokes please) Anyway,
examples: Jeffry's headbutt. Akira's double palm.

Moves that can only be parried by Aoi:
Kicks and sweeps that involve full spinning motion.

Elbows and punches:
Some character can reverse both elbows and punches. Some can only
reverse punches.

Knees and kicks:
Some characters can reverse both knees and kicks. Some can only
reverse kicks.

This does not cover everything but will give you general idea on different
reversal/parry situations. Also, you might know this already but the
reversals and parries in VF4 cannot be "chicken"ed unlike as in Tekken.
Also there is no universal low parry like Tekken. Akira and Aoi have
low reversals. Wolf has low punch reversal.

Auto Parries
============
There are certain stances where you can auto parry your opponent's move.
These include Lei's crane stance, Vanessa's Vale Tudo stance and Jacky's
regular stance. To auto parry from this stance, do NOT do anything. No
guard button and no stick movement and you will auto parry punches.
Aoi's Yin Yang stance works more like Law's Fake Step. She will auto
parry high/mid punches and kicks while she is swinging her arms around.

"Sabaki"
==============
This is the term used for those special parrys that behave differently from
regular parries. Good examples are Akira's b+P+K+G and Sarah's P+K from
Flamingo stance. While many of them are just different kind of parries,
there are a few that actually "hit" if the opponent doesn't block. An
example is Lei's P from his Tiger Stance. During the execution it overrides
high and mid attacks and unlike parries/reversals, it will actually hit as a
mid attack. Many of these Sabaki moves can be very useful if used right.

===============================================================================
About the sticks: Can you count the number of buttons?
===============================================================================

Let's discuss some subtle issues. On the VF4 panel, there is a block button.
And one punch button and one kick button. The first significance of the
block button, in comparison to Tekken 4, is that it lets you block low
without worrying about finding that d/b diagnoal. Hold the block button and
hold either down or d/b and you will be able to block low.

There are more advanced uses for the block button, but for now let's move on
to the punch and kick buttons. Unlike Tekken, VF always had one button for
punch and one button for kick. This has a very subtle, but important
implication.

Let's back track a little and consider the fact that Hwoarang is the only
Tekken character who fights with either left foor or right foot forward
stance.
  And just to throw a single jab with Hwoarang, you need to watch out the
stance he is in so you know if you have to push LP or RP button. Thankfully,
again Hwoarang is the only character who requires you to do this. Now let's
get back to the VF world, where EVERY character can fight with either RFF or
LFF.

In most cases it doesn't matter since there are no LP/RP LK/RK kick anyway.
Hitting f,f+KK with Akira will give you double jumping kick regardless of
which leg you have up front.

At the intermediate/advanced level this has a couple of important
implications.
   The first is that in order to dodge successfully, you have to watch out
which foot of your opponent is forward. Let's say you expect your opponent
to throw a basic elbow (f+P) and you want to dodge it with a sidestep.
Since the basic elbow uses whatever hand that is put forward, you need to
watch his stance and dodge accordingly. (So if your opponent has left foot
forward, you dodge to his right. If you opponent has right foot forward,
you dodge to his left.) You may notice that the fundamental idea behind
dodging is not different from Tekken. But since VF characters often change
the stance, that's something you need to watch out for, unlike Tekken.
It's not difficult once you get used to it.

In the VF circle, another terminology often used is "closed side" and "open
side" Closed side means where the character's back points. "Open side" means
the side where the character's stomach's points. (Stupid terminology if you
ask me.) Alternatively, we also say "dodge to the oppoent's back" or "dodge
to the oppoent's front" when we explain the proper dodge direction.


Relative stance issues
================================
Other term you may run into are: "Closed stance" and "Open stance." What
this means is as follows:

the feet position of the two fighters

X      X             Here we have "closed stance" (1P has RFF, 2p has RFF)
  X      X

X        X           Here we have "open stance" (they have different foot
  X    X               forward)

For VAST majority of situations you don't actually have to worry about this
too much. And in fact most VF players don't bother paying attenion to this
issue. There are however some specific situation where this comes into play.
I may add those situation in a future revision (or maybe even another FAQ?)
But for now let's move on.

===============================================================================
Okay then tell me more about dodging in this game
===============================================================================

VF4 abandoned VF3's dodge system and made some drastic changes. In short VF3
dodge system resembled Tekken3/4 a little more.
  In VF3 dodges covered longer distance and could be canceled by crouch dash
and this allowed what we call "Korean step." This basically was the same 
idea
as sidestep canceled into wave dash in Tekken. In both games this mechanism
allowed some crazy 3d movements.

In VF4, however, dodge became much more restricted and more difficult to
use. There are in fact two diffrent kinds of side step in VF4. One is when
you just sidestep when the opponent is not attacking you. The sidestep you
get at this situation is pretty useless except may be for strategic
positioning. You get very limited movements, your opponent can track you,
and can't be canceled with dashes. More useful sidestep happens when you
time your dodge correctly just as your opponent attacks you. You will hear
audible grunt made by your own character when s/he successfuly dodges your
opponent in this manner. The right way to think about this is that dodge
should be timed precisely LIKE REVERSAL. And then you can attack your
helpless opponent who just whiffed his attack.

For us, this is a serious change from VF3 where dodge was very powerful and
relatively painless to use.

Before letting you go, another very important property of dodge in VF4 is
that you can be high-thrown anytime while you are dodging. So forget
about using sidestep to avoid throw attempt. In VF3 if your opponent
abuses dodges going for throw was a very good strategy. But in VF4 it's less
so since those who abuses dodging would be killed _anyway_.

Okay here is a reminder on how to dodge/evade/sidestep/whatever you call it:

hit u or d, return the stick to neutral. Try to time your dodge so it
"major counters" the opponent's move. (Unlike Tekken 4, if you hit d and 
hold
down your will crouch.)

===============================================================================
More about movement: VF's crouch dashing
===============================================================================

Of course, you know how to crouch dash in Tekken, but only for certain
characters. In VF4 series EVERY character can crouch dash.

The official way to use crouch dash is to f/d, F/D for forward crouch dash
and b/d, B/D for backward crouch dash. Alternative way to do this is
d, f/d,d,F/D. (Think of Law's sliding tackle for example.) This used to be
more reliable way to crouch dash especially on a lousy stick. But in VF4 you
can go into dodge by mistake if you are not carefull. If you buffer the
command into a move's recovery, or buffer with block button down (let the
button go after buffering), you won't have to worry about accidental dodging
too much.


There are no crouch-dash specific moves in VF4 like the ones found in Tekken
(for example, Wind God Fist) So every move that requires FC position can be
done from crouch dash without any cancelling technique. Most characters have
useful FC move of some sort, so ability to quickly buffer crouch dash can be
very useful.

Crouch dash can be canceled with the guard button.


So to sum it up, compared to Tekken3/4 or VF3, VF4 doesn't have as much
potential for sidestep maneuvers. It however has backward crouch dash.
This can be a very good defensive move that avoids high throw and high
attacks while allowing you to move backward.
Combined with backward crouch dash and regular backdash, VF4 offers
substantial amount of options for people who like to (ab)use backdash. Of
course, there are factors working against backdashers as well. All the VF4
stages are confined one way or the other so you can't just keep running
away. VF4's throw mechanism also make turtling not so easy.




===============================================================================
The riser and the attacker: Eternal Struggle
===============================================================================

You have seen this zillion times: The one who's down wants to get up safely
and turn the table around if possible. The attacker wants to make sure the
other guy stays down. At the intermediate level and up the question often
becomes not who can do the most impressive juggles, but who can survive this
wake-up game better.

In VF4 it's no different. What's different, of course, is in the details.

First, tech roll is done by hitting P+K+G as you hit the ground. d+P+K+G
will let you roll out of the screen, u+P+K+G will roll into the screen. And
plain P+K+G will let you kip up. In general tech rolling in VF4 is safer
than the ones in Tekken. You recover standing after kipping up in place.
You recover crouching after tech rolling side ways.

Once the tech role is over, of course, fight starts again.
The attacker can force brutal guessing games after tech roll
as victim must predict which way the attacker will attack. Middle? Low?
Throw? If the victim guesses right, of course, s/he can turn the table
around.
(If you guessed wrong, well, then it's another wake up game for you.)

Since you recover low after techrolling side ways, you can perform FC move
right after. This is quite useful for characters like Akira, Pai and Lau
who have strong FC moves. On the other hand, if you techroll sideways your
opponent can connect low throw or a mid level move with a right timing.


For some throws you can tech roll just as you hit the ground to reduce
damage. The examples are:
  Wolf's Giant Swing(HCF+P+G)
  Kage's Ten Foot Toss (b+P+G, if you didn't get hit on your way down)
  Jeff's body press (b+P+G)


The rising attacks are basically mid-low guessing game like Tekken.


===============================================================================
Walls: Friend or Foe?
===============================================================================

The wall dynamic in VF4 is quite different from both Tekken 4 and VF3.
What's common is that in both Tekken 4 and VF4 wall combos can be quite
painful. Let's examine the differences then.

There is a form of wall stun but a little different from Tekken 4. Instead 
of
sticking up against the wall, VF4 wall stun causes the character to collapse
down. For example, Jeffry's d/b+P+G throw is a good way to
create this situation.

If your opponent hits the wall during juggle s/he bounces off the wall
fairly quickly and that means there are less time for wall combo and many
are tricky to do compared to Tekken 4 wall combos.
  On the other hand, wall tech roll is not possible in VF4. So whatever
damage happenes, happens, no matter what the victim does.

Finding wall combos are still an on-going process so can't give an extensive
list. But if you see your victim bouncing off the wall try _something_
and you will find you can add extra damage quite easily and frequently.
Just adding a sweep, sommersault kick, or knee or double low kicks and
such against your opponent bouncing off the wall may work surprisingly well.

Some of more obscure examples:

Akira: b,f+P+G throw, (opponent bounces off the wall) bodycheck (b,f,f+P+K)
Kage: Ten Foot Toss throw, (b+P+G) Instant rising knee (buffer crouch dash,
then f+K) PP,b+PK, (opponent hits the wall) Dragon Punch (f,d,d/f+P) (Isn't
it scary what you can do after a throw?)

A Note about Ring Out
--------------------------
This also has been a controvertial subject ever since VF1. But at the end,
you will get used to this factor. Most arcades have set their machine so
that the challenger can choose either open or closed rings. So if you don't
want to deal with it you can simply choose a closed ring. Compared to the
earlier versions of the game ring outs are considerably less frequent in
VF4.


===============================================================================
Advanced Techniques
===============================================================================
Option select Defense
========================
So far, you learned that there are plenty of decision games involved in
defensive aspect of VF4. This defensive game is quite harsh for defenders
compared to Tekken really.
Do I block? Do I reverse? Do I break throw? Of course you have same
situations in Tekken too, but since throw is more dangerous in VF4 the odds
are tilted in the attacker's favor once you are forced to defend.

To keep the long story short, here is a defensive trick that lets you both
block and break throw at the same time. (Of course here the assumption is
that you can recover fast enough to block the particular move the opponent
throws at you.) Let's say you got your move blocked by Jeffry and you decide
to defend. (But what about his throw?)
   In this situation, hit d/f+P+G to break his piledriver while you are
still recovering. And before you recover, hit G and hold. (Some people may
tell you that you need to hit d/f+P+G and hold G. But from my experience you
can quickly tap d/f+P+G, then hit G and hold G. Either way would be fine.
The key point is that you should be holding G at the moment you recover)

And voila! You just performed an option select defense that stops both his
piledriver and knee. In VF circle we call it G-TE. It stands for guard-throw
escape. A variation of this is performing a reversal then buffering throw
escape into reversal animation. So if you can reverse knee (Pai, Akira and
Aoi can do this) instead of G-TE you can hit knee reversal command then
buffer in throw escape. That way if he does knee you will reverse. If he
piledrives you break out of it.
  Also you can do up to multiple throw escapes at once. so quickly hitting
d/f+P+G, f+P+G, then hitting G and holding will let you escape both his
piledriver and backbreaker, and lets you even block. We call it G-DTE.
(guard-double throw escape.)

Of course this defense is not invincible. Jeffry can simply
do some other throw or simply go into poke game. (Poke into throw!)
Still if you can do this option select consistently without being too
predictable, you will gain a substantial upper hand in this offense-defense
game.

"modified" moves
==================
This basically is the VF terminology for using quick crouch dash to perform
FC moves instantly without taking time to sit down first. Of course, you
know Tekken has its equivalents and the idea is the same.


===============================================================================
Misc
===============================================================================
Running Attacks
Unlike Tekken, there are no standard "running attacks" Some characters have
character specific running attacks such as Kage's running slide. (Run, K
causes "foot crumble")
But that hardly means running doesn't have its place in the game. Even if
Tekken didn't have specific "running attacks," running would still be an
important part of offense.

Unblockable
VF4 doesn't have Tekken's mega damage unblockable moves. (Which you don't
use anyway) Wolf has unbrekable running clothesline however. Also some
characters have "guard crushing" move that cause stagger even if you block.
(Those work a little like Jin's(TK4) unblockable uppercut at the end of his
laser string. The move is slow but you have to be able to react.)

"Charge attacks"
There are quite a few attacks that change the property if you hold down the
buttons. (Most of them become guard crushing version of the normal move.)


===============================================================================
Appendix A: Character Guide
===============================================================================

Okay, this section is intended to help you pick a character and give you
basic tactics behind each charcters. (So no complaining that this section
doesn't have everything. This "Appendix" is already as long as the rest of
the guide. Refer to "web sources" section to find out where to go from here)

Jacky
======
Ah, Paul of VF world. Back in the VF1 days, in some places it was considered
cheap to pick Jacky. Except against an expertly played Lau, Jacky was so
blatantly overpowered compared to other characters. Also traditionally it
required few moves to win with Jacky. (Think of Paul players who use no more
than 2-5 moves in Tekken)

Fast forward to VF4: Now he has been somewhat toned down and made less
boring.
  What still makes Jacky deadly is, as usual, that he is one of the best
striker but also has strong throws. Combined with his strong multi level
strike arsenal, he fits naturally into VF4's poke/mid strike/low strike/
throw guessing game.

If you want to be minimalistic, just jab, low punch, elbow and throw can
serve as the frame work of your poke game. If your opponent ducks
to avoid throw, elbow can stagger. You can either follow up with canned
heel kick follow up after the elbow, or try throw or juggle. (Refer to
the section about double over stun and stagger for more explanation.)

As you can see, Jacky is a very good character to learn the feel and
general strategy behind the game. He may not have the strongest throw or
the most damaging juggles, but his balanced, easy to use arsenal allows
you to inflict damage as long as you can keep your opponent off balance.

Basic strategy:
Poke using Punch, low punch, low kick, elbow, and b/d+P low backfist. Mix
               up throw
Some basic combos: P+K,P,K canned juggle
                   knee (f+K), P,P,f+K (two punches and knee for juggle)
Alternate f,b+P+G throw and f/d,f/d+P+G throws once you get pressure
  going


Sarah
======
Clone of Jacky, faster but not as strong.
Actually that's not really true! Before, she could be played like Jacky if
you wanted to. But in VF4 that's no longer an effective way to play her.
Unlike Jacky, she doesn't have canned juggles, strong throws, low backfist
and his set of low arsenal. To make up for it, she has faster punch and
generally better speed overall. In addition, she has FLAMINGO STANCE. Yay
like Hwoarang!. Well sorta. If you are a Hwoarang player it's important
to know similarities and differeces. First of all, she can only move forward
while she is in flamingo stance. No backdash or side step. What a bummer
compared to Hwoarang. Although I agree this kinda sucks, be assured that
it's still a lot of fun to use flamingo stance with Sarah. Like Hwoarang,
she can hit high, middle, low, and jab. She can even throw, hit throw,
sommersault kick, and parry low punch from flamingo. Also, although she
can't sidestep normally, she has dodging attacks she can do from this
stance. Mix them up.


Overall, she is more poke oriented character than Jacky. Your throws
may not do as much damage but combined with your speed and poke you should
be able to add up damage. Also combined with flamingo stance you can keep
pressure going while demoralizing your opponent. You also have a greater
juggle potential than Jacky. (As far as juggles go, she is a high-risk,
high-return character. All her juggle starters are quite riskly to
use but she can deal some serious damage if they connect.)

Basic strategy:
Poke using punch, low punch, low kick, elbow, elbow-chop(f+P,f/d+P) and
chop-flamingo stance kick (f/d+P,K) Mix up throw
Once a while use elbow, (delayed) knee (f+P,(optional delay)K) But be
aware that her f+P,K is one of the riskiest move as it has large
recovery time if blocked.
Flamingo string:   1. Move into flamingo stance using f/d+P,K  f,f+P+K  b+K
                    or b+P+K
                   2. You can do lots of stuff here, refer to the move list
                      in the web resource section.
                   3. Move out of flamingo stance by punch(s) or other move,
                      GOTO 1
Basic combos: knee or b/d+K (like Nina's divine cannon) into
                   PPPK
                   PPPb+K
                   f+P,K
                   f/d+P,K,b/u+K (recommended)
              Other (less frequently used) juggle starters include
                   d+P+K,K
                   K,P



Lau
====
He is basically a custom string generator from Hell, to use Tekken
terminology. He also traditionaly has been a juggle monster.

Let's see. His building blocks for his custom string rushes:

f/d+P,P mid level chop followed by punch.
FC, f/d+P,P lifting palm followed by punch. The lifting palm juggles on
      major counter. (To get into FC position, you can either use low
      punch or buffered crouch dash. Buffer d,d/f,d,d/f+P motion to do
      this quickly and you have rush going on.)
d/f,d/f+P,P lunging palm. Also juggles on major counter and used to close
      distance otherwise.
Note: You have option to continue on to his PPPK, PPPd+K, PPPb+K string from
      the above three strings. (All those strings can be delayed at various
      points too.) But if you G cancel, you have a mid level string that 
ends
      as a jab. (And THAT jab can't be ducked if the first mid-hit connected
      or got blocked) See how these can be amazing custom string tool?
f+P,P   elbow, palm. If elbow hits palm is guarranted. Throw this out
        to get those who try in vain to duck under your punch string.

Okay now you have tools to brain freeze your opponent. From here you can
mix throws, sweeps, and other high impact moves.

d/f,d/f+P+G a fairly strong throw. If you need to switch position use b+P+G
            or P+G.
f,d+K       One of the best sweeps in the game
d/f+P+K     super knife, juggle starter
b,b+P       Turnaway palm, juggle starter
FC, d/f+P,P+K Lifting palm followed super knife, juggle starter.
b+P,K       Can juggle on major counter.
b,f+P       High knockdown palm. Use follow ups like (d/f+PPPd+K if
             the opponent is not good at tech roll, or p,b+P,P)

As juggle ender, try PPPd+K, d/f+PPPd+K, or P,b+P,P


Pai
=====
Pai can be played somewhat like Lau, but it's important to know
differences.  She is faster than Lau and doesn't have as many string
options, not to mention that her juggles aren't as strong either. In short
she is more poke oriented character than Lau. Her basic string starter is
d/f+P,P. From there you can either go to d/f+P,P,f+P (juggles if hit) or
d/f+P,P,P,d+K (Optional delays.)
Or G-cancel go into other strings and poke (recommended) Since Pai doesn't
have elbow strike it's important to mix in her sidekick (d/f+K) to score
stagger. Also, FC, neutral+K is a strong mid-level attack that knocks
down. Mixing low punch, throw and low punch, n+K is another basic pattern.

Juggle starter:
K
f,f+P,
d/b+P
d/f+P,P,f+P (if the last mid hit hits.)
FC,f+P (major counter)

Juggle Ender:
PPPd+K
f,f+P,K
PPKK
f+K,K
u/f+K,K

b+P cause double over stun on major counter. After this f,f+P,K, u/f+KK,
f+K,K, or u+K+G will connect.


Jeffry
=======
To the newbies he may look like a slow moving punchbag armed with a limited
set of vocabulary, but at the hand of an expert he transforms into a deadly
monster.

As a matter of fact, when you analyze throw/strike guessing game none offers
greater threat than Jeffry. It's possible that he can win just by
alternating between knee juggle and throw, and both do serious amount of
damage when they connect. Of course, he is not without weaknesses. Against
expert players who do option select defense (see Advanced tactics section)
and out-poke Jeffry, poor Jeff quickly loses momentum. Still, playing Jeffry
can also teach you the basic guessing game/distance game involved in
VF4 and award you with some serious damages when you do the right thing.
Jeff can be considered as Jacky on steroid except the drugs made him slower
and reduced his move set.

Basic strategy:
Poke with punch, double punch, low punch, low kick, dashing elbow(f,f+P),
          dashing elbow-upper(f,f+P,P) and d+G+K (stuns on MC for guarranted
          follow ups)
          Good poking game is especially important against the expert types

Connect f/d,f/d+P+G throw to win. Mix up other throws or strikes for people
          who break out of it.

Basic combos/juggles:
          knee(f+K) or kenka upper (f/d,f/d+P) juggle starter followed by:

           P,(P) dashing elbow upper (f,f+P,P)
           P, (P) knee
           low punch, dashing elbow upper or knee (most reliable against
                      medium weight and heavy weights)
           (with high float) K,K,P

          After f+P+K MC double over stun
           low throw
           Other mid-level power hit sequences

          After d+K+G MC foot crumble (ARCADE ONLY)
           b,f/d+P,P
           pounce (u+P or u+K+G)
           Pick up to start guessing game (d+P+G)
          After d+P+K hits
           Low throw (This is NOT guarranted but has good chance of working.
              Throw knee instead if your opponent starts struggling out.)

Against people who do mid reversal/throw escape option select:
          K, K, P
          b,f+P (double over stun) K,K,P


Wolf
======
Wolf is well, a little like Jeff. Also you may find that he resembles King
from Tekken too. Traditionally he has been considered easier to use than
Jeff.
  His Giant Swing (HCF+P+G) has been the single most damaging throw in the
game with its jaw-dropping damage and immense ring-out potential. (This
also has a deceptively long grab range.) But now this throw has been
somewhat toned down because you can tech-roll/quick-rise at the moment you
hit the ground to reduce damage. (No tech roll for you if you hit the wall
or go out of the ring though.)

Basically you need to poke, throw, and juggle like Jeff does. Wolf is armed
with more of useful medium range/long range arsenal than Jeff so distance
game is easier on Wolf. Also his short shoulder (b,f+P+K) is a juggle
starter that cannot be reversed.

Some useful moves and combos.
d/f+P+K is a low knockdown hook (Think of Steve's you-know-what move.)
and b,f+G+K will connect on ground if the opponent doesn't tech roll.
f,d+K is another low move that causes double over stun. (pounce
guarranted.) So unlike Jeff he has low moves for guarranted
knockdown and that's good to remember.
dodge+P+K+G gives you his long range catch throw that may remind you of
a move of King. Just try it and see.
after f+K or b,f+P+K juggle starter:
P(G),f+K
P(G),P(G),f+K
P(G), b+P, u+P
d+P,b,f+P+K
f+P,P



Akira
=======
Ah, so called "Expert's character." A lot has been made about Akira being
hard to use but seriously, his hard to use moves are really Sega's plot
to collect more money from those obsessed about mastering his moves. If
you have dexterity to do Tekken 4's just frame moves and wave dash around
for breakfast, using Akira's arsenal should be no problem.
Basically if you can do those difficult moves/combos in Tekken, you have
enough dexterity to use Akira or any other difficult moves in VF4, sticks
permitting.
Even if you can't use Akira's more difficult moves with good accuracy, he
still has a set of easier and damaging arsenal as well.

It's true that Akira requires a stiffer learning curve than most. He is
probably least friendly to mashers maybe except Jeffry, but you are not
a masher anyway. Compared to VF3 he has been made stronger. So you may find
it rewarding to learn him after you tried simpler characters.


Basic Strategy and Combos

In addition to jab and low punch, his dashing elbow (f,f+P) and super
dashing elbow (f,f,f+P) are abusable moves. (They cause double Over stun
when you connect as major countered) As far as juggles go, just learn to
do Dragon Lance Combo (d/f+K+G,f+P,b,f,f+P+K) and Akira Special 3 (d+K+G,
f+K,b,f+P)
Akira Special 3 is especially useful for low float situation. Once you put
the fear of mid attacks, start throwing.
(His throws are not bad either.)

After dashing elbow MC double over stun:
   f,f+K,K  double jumping kick
   d+P, (low punch) plus double palm (FC, b,f+P)
   Dragon Lance Combo

If dashing elbow floats:
   bodycheck (b,f,f+P+K) seems to be a reliable follow up.
   FC, b,f+P   The best follow up, if you can do this instantly

FC, f+P+K Shoulder ram (This is a juggle stater. Mix low punch, shoulder
                      ram sequence with low punch, throw
                      and you should start building win streak.)
   Dragon Lance Combo (optional jab before DLC)
   d+P, b,f+P (low punch followed by FC, b,f+P (Double Palm strike)
   P, b,f+P+K (jab followed by double fisted strike)
   P, f,f+KK  (against lightweights)

d/f+P+K low attack MC double over stun:
   FC, f+P+K shoulder ram (since you are considered crouching after d/f+P+K,
     you can just do f+P+K when you see your opponent falling down.)
   bodycheck (b,f,f+P+K)
   Akira Special 3
   f,f+KK


Additional Note: It's safe to say being able to crouch dash can beef up
Akira significantly, given his options from FC. If you can instantly
excute his shoulder ram or double palm using buffered crouch dash, you
will really start to scare your opponent.


Vanessa
========
She is a girlfriend of Marduk :) Actually, Sega intended her to be somewhat
unique in the sense that she is a strong grappler unlike the fast kick
oriented female characters that populate fighting game worlds. (Except
Tina of DOA and Jane of Sega's own Fighting Vipers.)

She has two stances and different set of moves belonging to each stance. The
one you start with is throw/reversal oriented Vale Tudo stance. The second
stance is strike oriented Muay Thai stance. You switch stance by hitting
P+K+G. Once you switch you won't switch back until you hit P+K+G again.

Compared to Jeff and Wolf, Vanessa lacks strong juggle potential. Well,
actually, she lacks juggle potential period. She more than makes up for it
with her large set of strings and throw set up sequence.

Basic Tactics and Combos
Again, basic jab and low punch pokes are important. Switch to Muay Thai
stance if you need some more leverage against faster characters.  You gain
access to faster, stronger, and more useful strings in this stance. (You
are vulnerable while switching stance so don't switch when you are under
attack!) Never forget that she has some serious throwing power and can
reverse form Vale Tudo stance.

Here, let me change the format a little and give analysis of some very
useful moves for Vanessa.

d+K,P,P (Both stances)
Here you have two canned high punches that follow a low kick. If the last
punch connects it knocks down and ground hit/pounce is guarranted. And even
better news: If the low kick major counters standing the rest of the string
is guarranted! If the opponent starts ducking your punches, switch to
d+K,P,K string.

b,f+K,P
This move ignores high attacks and if this get blocked, or hits without
knocking down, you have frame advantage. Enter throw! Connecting this move
plus a damaging throw would take off half life bar easy. (Recommended throws
from Vale Tudo: HCF+P+G, d/f,d/f+P+G)
If this move hits as major counter you can juggle (PPPK or PPK)
But do not abuse this move as people can duck under it and punish you.

While holding G: d+P or u+P: Dodging gut punch(both stances)
She learned this gut punch from Kazuya :) It has built in dodge and causes
double over stun, allowing you to connect a low throw.  While this is throw
counterable if blocked, this can easily turn tide of the battle if used
right.
  This can be used against pitbull type players to dodge their attack and
punish them. Possibly the best dodging move in the game. If the opponent
breaks out of low throw, use d/f+G+K if you are in Vale Tudo. Use f+P,P,K
if you are in Muay Thai. (You have to buffer in the moves)
(Also, pounce works too)

b,b+K+G
This move is a guard crusher. You can use the following two options after
this:

Good moves to mix from a medium range:
f,f+P+K,P (unblockable take down)
b,f+P+K,P (med lunging punch string that knocks down)
These provide basic mid/take down guessing game, as both look quite similar.

Muay Thai stance:
f+P+K knocks down and can be followed with f+PPK or d/f+P,K string.
Well, technically you can juggle with d/b+K+G too. But try connecting that
move. . . Perhaps only when you expect a rising sweep.
Muay Thai strings that start with f+P, b,f+P, d/f+P or K are all useful.
Don't forget that you can low throw in this stance too.



Lei
====
He is one masher friendly character! Well, okay, he is Lei from Tekken
fused with masher friendliness of Eddy. Actually it's not that bad. For
starter you cannot take off close to half-life bar with two hits, like
Eddy could back in Tekken 3. Still he gives a masher an edge over a
player without an experience against Lei. If you actually learn a few
combos he might become even more troublesome.

Unlike other VF4 characters, Lei's moves naturally move him from one
stance to another. In that sense, Lei, well, resembles Lei from Tekken,
or Siegfried from Soul Caliber and etc. The following may not be the
best and most compregensive collection of streategy for Lei, but I
will give some idea behind his four stances.

P,P  (And crane stance)
       This puts him into his crane stance where he can auto reverse
       punches!
       Those not used to Lei will try to jab or low punch after you P,P,
       only to be auto reversed. (You just have to leave stick neutral and
       leave buttons alone. That's why you will never see this reversal done
       by a button masher.) Eventually your opponent will catch on and do a
       kick or throw after your PP. That's when you resume button mashing :)

       No, seriously, hitting K from crane stance gets you back to crane
       stance and can interrupt any throw attemp and most mid attacks. Now
       you are back to crane stance and the same guessing game begins again.
       d+K gets you sweep if you need alternate guessing game.
       Alternatively, f+PP will also get into crane stance. Hitting G
       cancels crane stance.

P,P,P (And scorpion stance)
       Altenatively, you can use f+PPP or single K to go into scorption
       stance (d+P+K+G also works.) Hitting d+P+K+G from scorpion goes
       into crane.
       PP from scorpion goes into crane. Perhaps the biggest reason to go
       into scorption is P+K frm Scorpion Stance, AKA da Lungin Power
       Strike. If you hit P+K and hold P+K, you will get guard crushing
       version of this move.
       Even when blocked it will push back the opponent. Just try mixing
       scorpion stance, P+K sequence and you will start seeing immediate
       results. This is an excellent okizeme attack too.
d+P+K
d/b+P+K+G
      (These moves go into crab stance)
      From here you can do semi-unversal d+K sweep and perhaps the best move
      to use is P,K. (It auto parries some moves and goes into crane
      stance.)
      You can move in this stance actually and it looks like there is a
      potential for advanced stepping technique. (Subject for further
      experiement.) K from crab stance goes into Tiger stance.

d+P+K,P
f+K
      (These moves go into Tiger stance)
      Actually even though they call it "Tiger Stance" this looks
      disturbingly similar to the crab stance. But you should be able to
      tell the difference soon enough.
      Just hitting P out of Tiger stance executes the move called hammer.
      This move goes through high and mid attacks and cause double over
      stun when hit. (Follow it with b+P,P)
      your opponent tries to block this, you can do d+K,P. (BTW,
      d+K,P from Tiger Stance gets you into crane stance, which is
      great for continuing the pressure.)

From normal stance:

b+P,P
f,f+P,
f,f+K Use these moves when thing get hairy.
d+K+G a sweep.
u/f+K+G Juggle starter. Something like d+P, u/f+K+G or simple PPP will
      connect as juggle ender.
d/f,d/f+P,P Another juggle starter. Try P+K,P,P or d+P+K,P (The latter
      goes into Tiger and creates an interesting wake up game.)
d/f+P+G This is a throw that lets you do a bounce juggle. After this throw
you can try P+K,P,P or d/f,d/f+P, K+G


What I have written so far will give you basic building block of your
strategy, but be aware there are so many moves not mentioned here. Just
like Tekken Lei, he has mind boggling combincation involving many
different stances so get a move list and start experimenting.



Shun
=====
It's unfortunate that he attracts newbies with his funny stances. Then the
newbies get their ass handed back to them and lose interest in the game. He
is simply not an easy character to use and even tougher to use him to win.
(Akira is hard? Bah. He is a cheap bastard compared to Shun.) At the high
level of competition it's not really a matter of how hard it is to do a
move, but how hard it is to conect your move. THAT is not easy with Shun.
With Shun it's very important to keep mixing up since he doesn't have many
easy to abuse moves (unlike Akira even.) At least not until you get drunk.
So for now I advise against using Shun as a beginner character.

Basic Strategy and Combos
I am not a Shun expert but I will write what I know.

Drinking
To win with Shun you need to drink. As you drink, your move will
do more damage and gain access to new moves. To drink, connect P+G throw,
back throw (P+G), f+P+K, or hit P+K+G from lying down stance. (HCF) To
connect throws you will have to poke. In early stage you might even want to
forfeit juggle opportunities in order to drink. (Knock him down, lie down,
then drink.)

Some other useful moves:

d+K       Shun's low kick is one of the best. Poke with this in addition to
          jab and low punch.
d/b+KK    Low-high kick. If the first kick hits the standing opponent the
          high kick is guarranted for knockdown.
FC, d/f+P This creates double over stun.
d/f,f+P   This is THE juggle starter for Shun. Once you get 6 drink points
          you can do d/f,f+P,P combo (uppercut followed by backfist)
b,d/f+P   Sliding palm, another juggle starter and can be used as juggle
          ender too.
d/f+P,P,K You won't be able to use it till you get 8 Drink points. (d/f+P
          works without drinks but the rest of the string won't) Once
          you get this move use it as juggle finisher. To use this in
          a juggle, after juggle starter move the stick to d/f
          first and let it sit there before hitting PPK, rather than hitting
          d/f and P at the same time. (You will get ground attack if you do)
          When you don't have drink points, f,f+K or b,d/f+K are recommended
          as juggle enders. (Extra note: It is highly recommended that
          you go into headstand stance by hitting P+K+G right after the
          last K. The reason is that if you don't, you will fall down lose
          one drinking point)
u+K       This is another juggle starter that beats low punch. Also, you can
          connect f+P+K as juggle ender after this to gain drinking points.
          Unfortunately, if the opponent tech rolls after f+P+K s/he will
          recover faster than you do.
PP,d+KK   You gain this move after 6 drinking points. Note: According
          to a Japanese source, after certain number of drinking points
          the string is guarranted if the first P connects. (!)
d+G+K,
d+G+K,K,K (When you are drunk) These are sweeps to mix up.
Special dodge: d/f+G+P+K, u/b+G+P+K

However I still need to repeat this again: I have seen Shun drawing the
newbies like the bugs being drawn to those electric bug zappers. . . only
to get slaughtered after doing some stupid drunken dances.  Shun is simply
not a good beginner character and not a good character to learn basics of
VF either.


Lion
=====
He clearly is easier to use and win than Shun but he doesn't have strong
damage potential. He does have his share of double over stuns, juggles, and
decent throws so still a viable character if you learn to use these. Not
necessaily a character newbies should pick against an experienced player
though.

d+P, b/d+PP, f+P,d/f+P, P,P  are all his good poking tools. d/b+K is also
an annoyingly effective low attack. (You are screwed if you get blocked
however.)

f,f+P, b,d/f+P, b+P+K, HCB+P all can create double over stun, f,f+K,K will
work in all situations. Also try b,f+K+G.

His FC,f+P and b,b+K,P+K are primary juggle starters. (b,b+K lifts and P+K
keeps the opponent in air for further damage.) Use the following moves (or
combinations there of) after you connect a juggle starter.
f+K,K
f+P,P
u+P+K

Throw combinations:
FC,f+P+G throw, b,f+K+G
b/d+P+G throw,f/d+P,P,f,f+KK (I don't think it's guarranted, but works
well)


Aoi
====
In Vf4 she does have some serious damage potential unlike in the previous
version.
She is the best reversal user in the game, able to reverse/parry 95% of
moves including rising atatcks. (This is kinda shock to the VFers who
are not used to have the rising attacks reversed.)

Her Yin/Yang stance (b+P+K+G. Refer to move list for other ways to get into
this stance) is a simply an auto parry stance for high/middle punches and
kicks. More on this if we find better uses of this stance.


Basic Strategy
Poke with punch, punch strings, low punch, low kick. from there mix up
f/d+P,
PPP variants, elbow variants, sweep, throw and reversals.

Combos
f/d+P (major counter),PPPK  f/d+P interrups surprisingly well and overall
      damage is no laughing matter either. The main juggle used by Aoi
FC, f+P+G throw, ground throw (d/f+P+G)
b,b+P+K, b,d/f+P, f+K+G,P
      All of these create double over stun and can be followed with one of
the following
      PPPK
      PPP,d+K
      f+K,K
      low throw



Did I miss anybody? Oh Yeah Kage

Kage
=====
To be honest he was one of the cheaper characters in VF2/VF3 days. He is
made more difficult to use by toning down his ring-out, combo, and poke
potential.
(Oh boy what else is there to tone down.)

The way to inflict big damage using Kage is now limited, but the most
important option still continues to be his ten foot toss throw (b+P+G)
After you launch your opponent sky high into the air with this there are
bazillion different juggles you can do. But you just need to find what
works for you. Many of these combos can be difficult to do on crappy sticks.
If you don't want to/can't do complex juggles, then canned b+P+G,u+P+G chain
will do 60 points of damage. (hit u+P+G without delay) But seriously, if you
want to play Kage you should learn to do more damaging TFT combos. Really
what else is there for Kage. . .

Of course, a weary opponent will always try to escape your Ten Foot Toss
throw.
Fortunately Kage has a multitude of different throws that can do at least 50
points each so mix up.

Basic Strategy.
Poke with punch, low punch, throw out elbow to cause stagger(don't overuse
elbow since it's slow compared to Jacky and Sarah's)
His d+G+K (mid heelkick that knocks down) seems to avoid high attack just a
little. b,b+K+G low attack is useful for knockdown. d/f+P and FC,d/f+P,
although not the fastest moves, should be used since they are juggle
starters. With these you have foundation for poke/mid/low/throw game.

Basic Combos
d/f+P or FC,d/f+P followed by one of the following:
     d+P+K,K
     P, d+P+K,K
     u/b+G+K (sommersault kick)
     P, u/b+G+K

b,b+K+G, d+P,d+K, dragon punch (this only works against people who don't
         tech roll so don't bother if your opponent knows how to tech
         roll.)
b,b+K+G, u+P (pounce)
u/f+K+G, d+P, dragon punch (f,d,d/f+P)
         u/f+K+G gets people who sweep/rising sweep
f+P+G (exchange throw) dragon-punch, drop kick (f,d,d/f+P,K)
Ten Foot Toss combos: too numerous to list. Refer to the resources in "Web
         sources" section. But here is an easy one to give you an idea:
         after b+P+G, d+P+K, b+P,K, d+P+K,K


To sum it up:
Balanced Striker: Jacky, Sarah
Balanced Strikes plus Reversal: Akira
Grappling and brute force: Jeff, Wolf, Vanessa
Poke and custom strings from Hell: Pai, Lion
Custom strings and juggle from Hell: Lau
Stances and strikes: Lei, Shun
Speed, reversal and stun: Aoi
Speed and throw: Kage



===============================================================================
Appendix B: Web sources
===============================================================================


This guide never meant to be an all-inclusive guide for VF4 and you are
encouraged to look for other sources.


www.virtuafighter.com
Probably the English site with the most traffic. To access the site's forum,
click on the link named "versus city" You may find useful info if you take
patience to wade through the posts. If you have less patience, the site also
has its share of organized info. It has move list, general text FAQs, and
character guides for Lion, Lei, Jeffry and Sarah.

www.virtuaproject.com
An excellent, information oriented site. It has systems info, extensive
movelist, combo list (in progress) and damage data for the mathheads, and 
more.


For media and a list of non-English links, FeixaQ's Vf4fx website
(http://www.clandxm.com/vf4/) is recommended. You will find a collection of
VF4 play video footage from around the world. CreeD also maintains FTP
mirrors of VF4 videos. (ftp://vf.dyndns.org)


Recommended, general non HTML docs
-------------------------------------------------
-Rich William's VF4 General FAQ/Movelist (go to virtuafighter.com, click on
vf4 and go all the way to the bottom) This would be the next logical
document to devour once you are through with this FAQ.
-Rich William's VF4 Combo FAQ (same location as above. But please note that
some of the stuff here, as the author himself admitted, have not been
confirmed and could contain errors or obsolete info.)




===============================================================================
Appendix C: Acknowledgements
===============================================================================

I would like to thank the following Tekken and VF players for
direct/indirect
contribution.

Harold Hesse
Rich Williams
Jeffry Yuwono
Shauno
Shang Yang
Yupa
UKGuy
Others I played against in England and Massachusetts.

For the research material, I benefitted from the following sites so I would
like to thank the people behind them:

Virtua Project  (www.virtuaproject.com)
TeamBattle Zone (www.tbzone.co.kr)
Tekken Zaibatsu (www.tekkenzaibatsu.com)


Note about contacting me:
Contributions and comments are welcome. However, individual questions, in
general will NOT be answered. (Let's face it, what's the point of writing
a FAQ if I have to answer individual questions anyway? Try first to digest
the content in this FAQ and study the web sources suggested. If you still
can't find answer to your question, post a question on one of the forums.)