Zangief by OFernando

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 06/01/96 | Printable Version

Street Fighter Alpha 2 Guide to Zangief
Version 1.0, updated June 1 96
by Orlando C. Fernando

This guide is meant primarily for beginners and intermediate players to
try to learn the great Russian nightmare known as Zangief for the Street
Fighter Alpha 2 game by Capcom.  Although generally considered an underdog
to other much popular characters li ke Ken, Guile, Charlie, and Chun-Li,
it's amazing how a character which has no charging moves, no ground-to-air
special move, and no fireball can be so powerful.  You'll ALWAYS gain
respect for learning this hard-to-master wrongfully-underplayed character
, particularly on Alpha 2.  Hopefully the strategies in this guide will
show how to account significantly for that.  This guide assumes you have
prior knowledge of the arcade game or have at least read a faq like Dan
Wells' extensive one ( m). 

Section 1: Brief History
Section 2: Moves
Section 3: Overall Strategy
Section 4: Player to Player Strategy
Section 5: Misc

Section 1: Brief History

The character, originating from Russia, has been in all the Street Fighter
2 series games since it's introduction in the late '80's.  (He was absent
from Alpha 1 version) Over the versions we've seen him be able to move his
Spinning Clothesline, gain a M ultiple Suplex, and gain some funky missed
attack poses.  I'm a intermediate/expert player, and over the years of
playing as him, Alpha 2 and prior, I've come to realize this:  his primary
strengths are his throws and powerful normal moves.  His weaknesse s are
slowness and poor distant offenses.  Get to learn that from the start. 
Play him like a Ken or Ryu and you'll get burned miserably.  Accentuate
the positive and you'll get a mighty powerful 'gief! 

Section 2: Moves

Although covered in the Alpha 2 FAQ, the moves (except the custom combo)
are also presented and enhanced here for completeness and strategic
purposes.  No terminology from any one particular Street Fighter FAQ is
intentionally used. 

(taunt: hit Start - Gief will hunch his arms over like Hulk Hogan)

SPINNING CLOTHESLINE, LONG:  Hit all three punch buttons.
                  -you can move forward or back once executed.
                  -can go through fireballs.
                  -can hit most air opponents, even when they kick or
                   punch, although at times, depending on the character and 
                   timing of their attack, you can wind up trading hits. 
                  -WEAKNESS/COUNTER:  easily subject to low attacks, so
                   generally not recommended for very close opponents.

SPINNING CLOTHESLINE, SHORT:  Hit all three kick buttons.
                  -same as above, but he spins faster and ends quicker.
                  -can go through Sagat's Low Tiger Shots.

AIR HEAD BUTT:  Jump straight up, Down + Fierce Punch.
                  -a specialty regular move which makes Gief ram his head
                   into any jumping non-attacking character.  Replaces 
                   the Jumping Press move of previous versions.
                  -two or three successful hits of this move arguably
                   dizzies the opponent (has happened with Guy)

BODY SPLASH: Jump foward or back, Down + Fierce Punch.
	(remember to push down, otherwise you'll get the flying superman punch)
                  -a specialty regular move which brings Gief close to
                   opponent when landing from the attack.  Can be used to combo.

GREEN HAND: Toward, Down, Down Toward + Any Punch
         (in other words, Ken/Ryu/Akuma/Sagat/Dan/Sakura's Dragon Punch motion)
                  -Best Practice:  do multiple Ken dragon punch motions to
                   get the hang of it. 
                  -travels body's length which knocks down opponent.
                  -stronger punches have longer delays, but travels further?
                  -can go through and cancel fireballs.
                  -can be used to combo with a throw, such as a Spinning 
                   Pile Driver.

PILE DRIVER:  Towards or Away + Strong Punch when next to opponent.
                  -a throw which puts you some feet away after done.

HEAD BITE:  Towards or Away + Fierce Punch? (needs more investigation)
                  -a hold remnant of Blanka's.  More punching & jiggling
                   joystick can prolong hold. 
LOW STRANGLE:  Down Towards or Away+ Fierce Punch? (needs more investigation)
                  -a hold which Gief kneels as he strangles their neck.  More
                   punching & jiggling joystick can prolong hold.

SPINNING PILEDRIVER:  When close, Spin Joystick 360 + Punch
                -most effective when spin clockwise if to right of opponent;
                  counterclockwise if to left of opponent.  Arguably you needn't
                 spin the joystick the last 45 degrees.
                -best practice: jump into opponent, spinning joystick in
                 air so as you land, you go right into the driver.
                -advanced practice: standing or ground jab into the driver 
                (involves spinning the joystick as soon as you let the jab out.
                -classic signature move which has less range than previous
                -strength of punch determines height and damage of the driver.
                -shows "missed" animation if doesn't connect. 
                -brings you (understandably!) far away from opponent 
                 after landing.

MULTIPLEX: When close, Spin Joystick 360 + Any Kick
                -same practice applies as for Spinning Piledriver.
                -arguably has less range than the Spinning Piledriver and
                 likely same range as from the Super Street Fighter versions.
                -brings you moderately far from opponent after landing.

MOVING FLYING DRIVER:  When not close, Spin Joystick 360 + Any Kick
               -you really should practice doing from ground (do jab first)
               -if you spin quickly enough, don't need a pre-move to do it and makes for much
                better practice.
               -has "missed" animation if doesn't connect.
               -has moderate set-up time, and long recovery time if  missed.
               -should be done no further than a "body" away from the opponent

AIR THROW (Super Combo A):  Down, Down Towards, Towards motions twice + Any Kick
                         (in other words, Sagat's Low Tiger Shot 
                          motion, except do joystick part twice before Kick)
	       -hit two kicks for level 2 stength or all three for level 3 (if
                power is available)
               -when opponent is jumping toward you (about body distance),
                Gief will rise, catch opponent, and toss him/her down.  Near 
                copy of Rose's Soul Catch Super Combo. 
               -w/ lev 2, ?
               -w/ lev 3, ?
               -a good counter to a blocked Ken/Ryu Fierce or Super Dragon
                Punch? (needs investigating)

MULTIPLE MIX PILE DRIVERS (Super Combo B):  Spin Joystick 720 + Any Punch
	-hit two punches for level 2 stength or all three for level 3 (if
         power is available)
        -done w/ level 1 strength, will do a Multiplex + Strong
         Spinning Piledriver
        -w/ lev 2, will do 2 Multiplexes + Strong Spinning Piledriver
        -w/ lev 3, very sweet!  2 Multiplexes + Strong Spinning
         Piledriver + Fierce Spinning Piledriver! 

ORLANDO'S CUSTOM COMBO- Activate Custom Meter + Continuous Long Spinning
	(easiest way to activate custom is by hitting Jab, Strong, and
         Roundhouse simultaneously)
               -in my opinion the most effective custom combo use for both
                computer and human opponents
               -use AND ONLY USE when opponent is either jumping toward
                you or jumping over you, regardless if attacking or not.  
                Has significant anti-air priority. 
               -not recommended to activate custom from the air as there's
                no particular advantage. 
               -Warning:  if you get hit out of the move (about 10-20%
                chance), don't try to attempt it immediately then, since 
                opponent will be able to duck by then. 
               -the opponent will land into your clotheslines with will
                air juggle for a significant amount of time. 
               -strong advantage is, unlike other customs, you can direct
                this combo forward or backwards,
                since the Spinning Clothesline inheritently allows you to
                do that! 
               -do another Spinning Clothesline after the custom ends and
                you'll get hits which make the combo look like it ends in 
                slow motion (you'll probably do that automatically).  In
                other words, don't stop clotheslining (word?) until the 
                opponent is dirt on the floor! 
               -w/ level 1 or 2 strength, can combo hit up to 12 times
               -w/ lev 3, up to 17! (take out about 25% damage)

Section 3: Overall Strategy 

The Spinning Clothesline, Spinning Pile Driver, Green Hand, and Custom
Combo should be your main arsenal, as the others aren't really that
necessary to win a game.  In addition, getting to know the contact points
of his regular moves is quite essential. 

1) Normal Moves:  The crouching strong punch is a simple good anti-air
move versus most jumping in opponents just before they land, with
exception of Rolento and Chun-Li.  Take advantage of his far reaching
crouching and jumping roundhouse kicks as well, as its necessary to
approach certain very offensive opponents such as Charlie and Chun-Li. 
His standing Fierce Punch has remarkable performance as well as it
straight punches the opponent with slight forward motion.  Gief's standing
Roundhouse kick is pr obably one of his useless moves due to its short
range and long recovery. 

2) Simple Combos: Use the Body Splash into one or two jabs, then do a
crouching Roundhouse, or even do a crouching jab or short Kick - Spinning
Clothesline (if the opponent is standing, not ducking).  Don't make it a
habit vs. the computer or it will start Alpha Countering right after your
Splash.  Unfortunately, Gief isn't really a combo king and never
 has been.

3) Best Super Meter Booster:  Spinning Clotheslines, either one.  Keep
building 'em of the opponent doesn't approach for a while or they keep
fireballing to death. 

4) Sucking into Spinning Piledrivers:  You can counter many special (&
some normal) moves (granted you blocked it) which land them close to you
with a Spinning Piledriver, especially Rose's crouching Roundhouse,
Dhalsim's Head & Body Torpedoes, Dan's Triple Flying Kick, Ryu/Ken's
"crazy" 2-hit kicks and punches, Ryu/Ken/Akuma's Hurricane Kicks (not
Sakura's or Guy's), and Chun-Li's Cartwheel Kick.  Take advantage if you
block and retalliate with a Spinning Piledriver (or less than half the
time, you may mess up and get an Alpha Counter instead).  Als o
interestingly enough, if someone ground blocks your Air Head Butt, and you
see it time, you can go right into a Spinning Piledriver when you land. 
Done it quite often versus Computer Guy and Sodom.  A good trick is to
also jump over the opponent and Spinning Piledrive from behind (or Super
if you're really good).  Astounds many intermediate players. 

5) Alpha Counters:  I wouldn't voluntarily Alpha Counter with Gief, as I'm
still not accustomed to it's use and purpose in the game.  This "combo
breaker" feature similar to the Killer Instinct series seems unnecessary
and a bit annoying at times for the Street Fighter series.  It annoys the
executor as well as the opponent when you don't intend to let it out and
it needlessly wastes your Super meter, plus the fact that (a) you can
counter an Alpha Counter and (b) the Alpha Counter doesn't always connect,
rendering it useless at times.  You'll find often that when you try to
block and counter moves with the Spinning Piledriver that the Alpha
Counter comes out instead, which is usually a standing Fierce (looks quite
threatening actually).  If you get an Alpha Counter, consider it a gift
and move on. 

6) Using Custom Combos:  learn to mix strategy, even with my custom combo. 
Some expert opponents can get used to what you're going to do if you're
always letting out your Custom when you Super fills up to level 3.  Try
some unexpected tactics.  In fact, if you're really ahead or are a mastery
of his other moves, you could even WASTE it. (You heard me right) I've won
one match versus a good player by activating the Custom and just ducking
and sitting there.  Anticipating something else, he eventually jumped in,
and I simply crouch strong punched him out of the air.  I highly don't
recommend doing a multiple crouching jabs as a custom, as it's got limited
range, as well as looking uninventive and ugly.  Also, don't put Spinning
Piledrivers in your custom, as it just wastes time (leave that to the

7) Receiving a Custom Combo:  If you're on the receiving end of a custom
combo, it's usually best to crouch block it.  You can also jump over it if
it's not someone with a Dragon Punch-like move, then crouch Roundhouse as
soon as you land on the other side (they'll get away from you fast!).  In
fact, for the Dragon Punch players, continuously jumping back has been a
very effective defense for me.  They'll keep Dragon Punching and missing. 
And in the event that one does hit, it will hit you too far away to have
any real chaining effect.  DO NOT try to Spinning Clotheline through
Ryu/Ken custom throwing a barrage of fireballs, you'll get easily burned,
literally.  The best thing there is to jump back & air block, which
usually prevents them from following-up with another move.  One tricky
thing to look out for is Ryu/Ken players who use their "crazy" 2-hit kicks
& punches, especially Ryu's moving fist, which hit crouching opponents. 
Unfortunately, the custom combo speed is going to be too dang fast to see
it (and if for some great miracle you do, stand block it).  The best I can
say is that if you all of a sudden see yourself taking hits from these
moves, try to stand block in the hopes that they miss a hit.  Always watch
out when any player is on level 3, as they will almost always use it up
when you're close to losing.  Sometimes jumping back or straight up makes
them prematurely and uselessly start the custom and give you good time to
anticipate a block/counter.  At times, a crouching Roundhouse kick has
knocked them out of the custom! 

Section 4: Player to Player Tactics

Overall Zangief is strongest vs. short characters with limited range
special moves, followed by those with charging moves, followed by those
with fireballs, followed by those with Dragon Punchlike moves
(ground-to-air special moves that usually lift the p layer off the
ground).  Regarless of what "tier" he falls on the character roster, that
is the bottom line how he fits in. 

1) Worst Opponents:  Gief's main enemies are Charlie, Guy, and Chun-Li.  

      Charlie/Guile, from the beginning of time, has always been his worst
enemy, forcing Gief to play a very defensive game and a waiting offensive
game.  His biggest trap, as most should know by now, is to lay Sonic Booms
until you jump in, then Flash Kick you.  And the fact that you can't air
block Flash Kicks (unlike in Alpha 1 version) doesn't help either.  The
best advice I can give you is (1) spin clothesline the sonic booms from a
distance, (2) can try Green Handing Sonic Booms when close but watch his
tripping; and every time you try it, go for a 2-in-1 Spinning Piledriver
attempt, (3) take advantage of your rich anti-air arsenal when he jumps
toward you with a crouching strong, Spinning Clothesline, or the custom
combo (do NOT try any other kind of custom combo other than mine, for you
have to be so precise where you want to hit Charlie or he'll easily
counter.  Again, mix which method you use and trick him.  Remember you can
activate the custom crouching as well as standing, jumping (4) from some
distance, jump straight up once in a while to trick him into doing a Flash
Kick or approaching.  His jumping straight up Roundhouse Kick is also
quite prioritized. 

     Chun-Li has a very good mix of kicks which hit at various ranges,
making it difficult to Spinning Clothesline her out of a jump.  You
couldn't knock her out of the air like you could in the pre-Alpha
versions.  Crouching strong out of the air still seems pretty effective,
but I don't have anti-strategies on her down to a science. :(

     Guy, especially as the computer, due to speed and far-reaching moves,
can be really effective against Gief.  Mix in Spinning Piledrivers
whenever you block a close move and Spinning Clotheslines when he tries
air charges into throws. 

2) Other Opponents:

     Ken/Ryu.  Remember, low jabs still counter their ground hurricane
kicks.  And I have also taken them out with the custom combo.  I think now
that Ken's almighty dragon punch seems a bit vulerable now as I've
straight-jump roundhouse kicked some of his strong dragon punches once in
a while. 

     Sakura.  No effective way known yet to counter her hurricane kicks.  
Do NOT counter her delayed fireball with a Spinning Clotheline (unless it's
just when the hands-back animation is starting).  When approaching her on
ground, always occasionally block to anticipate her excellent horizonal
Fierce Dragon Punch. 

     Akuma.  Don't feel as threatened to approach him with his air
fireballs as they are angled differently and don't reel you back too far
if hit (a.k.a., counter him when he lands.  Always anticipate his Bison
Killer/Raging Demon if on level 3.  Get ready to crouch Roundhouse kick or
jump away the second you hear the Super sirens start. 

     Bison.  You can't Spinning Piledrive him when he remerges from a
teleport close like you can with Dhalsim since he teleports much quicker. 
His Spinning Clotheline may take out his Psycho Crusher Supers? (unknown)

     Dan.  Whenever computer Dan nails you with the triple flying kick, he
always has some reason to taunt you afterwards.  Take advantage of its
major recovery time. 
     Rose.  Just block/jump away whenever she does her multi-image Super. 
I've never seen a computer or human Rose player attempt to throw while
this way. 

     Birdie.  From the little playing I've had with this match-up, Birdie
& Gief seem to have equal range on their 360 moves. 

     Gen. Just watch out for computer Gen's frequent use of the thrust
kick from his Mantis style.  It's not too hard to counter his Dashing
Punch Super if blocked.

     Dhalsim.  Watch out for his long range punches and kicks from afar. 
It can still lead to the death of Gief vs. expert Dhalsim players.  Sagat. 
Really watch your jumping with him, as it's tricky sometimes to air-block
his Fierce uppercut.  His Tiger Knee is also really effective against him. 
Counter the high Tiger Shots with Long Clothesline, the low ones with
Short Clothesline. 

Section 5: Misc

-for the cosmetically aroused, Zangief's outfit colors are red, dark blue,
 yellow (why?), and black. 
-ending the match with a Custom Combo gives him the treasured Russian flag
 for a victory symbol. 
-he's much more vocal than the grunts from previous versions. 

I hope this guide has benefitted anyone, particularly beginners of the
game or experts tired of playing as everyone else, as Zangief for me has
always been my favorite Street Fighter character.  If you have any Zangief
strategy tips or corrections to include with this guide, or just to chat
about him overall, feel free to e-mail at 

Distribution of this guide on whole or part is welcome, but please don't
sell and respect and cite the credit of the original author, thank you.