WHY UKYO IS OVERPOWERED AND UNBALANCING
by Scott

According to Gamest, Ukyo is the #1 character in the game. He also has NO
weaknesses. They also said that SS2 was the WORST balanced fighting game
they've seen yet.
The general consensus on rec.games.video.arcade is that Ukyo is too
powerful as well. Posters also have said that at the arcades where they
play, nobody plays Ukyo anymore because everyone realizes that the only way
to beat him is with another Ukyo. I've encountered this sentiment as well,
and among EXPERT SS2 players, not newbies.
So that's the general attitude among SS2 players. But what facts do we have
to back it up? Hopefully, the following FAQ will provide some answers.


I. Ukyo is not invincible, but he's overpowered and unbalancing.

"Ukyo is NOT invincible or unbeatable! I've beaten many Ukyo players
with so-and-so. Or I've been beaten by so-and-so when I was using
Ukyo!"

No one is saying that Ukyo is undefeatable or that Ukyo players will ALWAYS
win, no matter what they do. This counter-argument is spurious because it
over-exaggerates the original point.
The original point is that Ukyo has an extraordinarily amount of unfair
advantages and little disadvantages, relative to all the other regular
characters in the game. That people can cite individual cases of player
so-and-so successfully defeating Ukyo players does not change the general
fact that, on average, Ukyo will win more than he will lose, especially
in the case of highly-skilled Ukyo players against other equally skilled
players.
No fighting game is going to have characters that are perfectly matched.
But what should happen is that the variation in PLAYERS' skills should
mask the inherent variation in the CHARACTERS' qualities. But in the case
of SS2 Ukyo, that masking effect does not occur. The inherent superiority
of Ukyo gives players using him a direct advantage.
Notice I said he has an "advantage" and Ukyo will win more often "on
average." This is not the same thing as "Ukyo will always win!" or "How
good the player is doesn't matter!" Again, counter-arguments that
over-exaggerate the original arguments aren't worth anything.
The key is to look at the abstract, not the personal. The problem with the
original counterargument (aside from the fact it exaggerates) is that it
is from a personal perspective, not an abstract one. Personal experiences
vary from place to place, though. As long as you are playing SS2, the
abstract qualities always stay the same. This means looking at the abstract
qualities of Ukyo (speed, range, damage, vulnerability, versatility), not
citing personal anecdotes.


II. Ukyo is not cheap.

Ukyo is NOT cheap. I only apply the word "cheap" to a repetitive strategy
you CANNOT counter. The "SPD an opponent getting up" trick someone
posted earlier in the year sounded like a good candidate, but apparently
you can escape it by jumping when immediately getting up. Sieger's "tick
off tons of damage with the Cannon" is almost cheap, because most
characters cannot counter it after he fires away and it does tons of
blocking damage. However, you can jump him while he's doing the move, and

if you're getting up while he's doing it I THINK you can roll
forwards/backwards to avoid the blast right when getting up. As for people
who complain about Charlotte's air AB, just use good air defense. It's been
toned down somewhat in SS2 anyway.
It's not that Ukyo can use a single strategy that opponents cannot counter.
It's that all of Ukyo's aspects put together make him so much better than
the other characters (except Kuroko :-). Ukyo isn't cheap--he's
overpowered.


III. Why is Ukyo overpowered?
To answer this, we must look at ALL of his moves.

A. His special moves are more VERSATILE and less VULNERABLE than other
character's special moves.

Take Jubei's Nikkaku Ratoh, for instance. How versatile is that? If you
see Jubei say "Ikuzo!" and rush toward you, you just block and cream him
when he jumps back down. Or Haoh's uppercut. Good for air defense and
maybe for surprising your opponent. But if it's blocked, Haoh gets creamed
afterwards. The ninja portal drop will get the ninjas a nice AB in return
if the opponent blocks at all.
Now let's look at Ukyo's two useful Specials, the Tsumabe Gaeshi and the
AfterImage Attack (the Sasami Yuki isn't so great, although the A SY can
be used to tick off points from someone getting up).

A1. His TG is good for:
1) Far away missile annoyance. The path can be varied as well, to catch
jumpers or crouchers. Ukyo's is the ONLY missile in the game that can do
this. His firebird is one of the fastest missiles in the game, too.
Also, Ukyo can throw missiles with a greater rapidity than most other
characters in the game. This allows him to tick off a lot of points
against defensive players after a while, because almost no other
character can match his missile output. I've seen Ukyo get in "missile
wars" with other characters, and he almost always wins because his
missiles hit his opponent first due to their speed. Also, his missiles
often go UNDER the other character's missile if timed right, so he wins
here too.
Ukyo's firebird is the ONLY missile in the game that does not always get
reflected back to him. A hopping-back TG or an air one thrown at the last
minute gets reflected below the screen.
2) A way to catch open opponents when he jumps. Due to its large attack
range, it can hit a lot of Special Moves that many normal attacks cannot,
such as Kyoshiro's Flying Lion's Tail. It also makes up for his slow jump
because it increases his effective strike range.
3) A surprise high attack. With the removal of Tam Tam, Ukyo is the only
character who can immediately do a high attack from the ground. Now combine
this high attack with his low diving slash and slide attacks, and you can
play a "high-low" guessing game against your opponent. Ukyo is the only
character who can do this, and it makes him quite versatile in his attack
options.
4) A very versatile air-air attack, since his "hit area" is practically a
full circle.

Now look at his vulnerabilities. As for the recovery time for the TG, big
deal. ALL falling attacks (ninja teleports, uppercuts, etc) have a lag time
on the ground now. Contrast this to SS1 when Ukyo's TG was the ONLY move
that had a lag time on the ground. For moves like Jubei's Nikkaku Ratoh

and ninja teleports, the characters recovered as soon as they hit the
ground in SS1. In SS2, they get ABed as soon as they hit the ground.
And the lag time has been LESSENED in SS2. If you block the bird as Ukyo
is descending, by the time you have recovered from the block, Ukyo has
recovered from his TG. This was not true for SS1. Thus in SS2, an Ukyo who
does a jumping-back TG against an opponent who blocks his firebird is in
most cases immune to retaliation. By the time you have recovered from the
block stun, Ukyo is far away enough you won't have an attack that's
long-ranged AND quick enough to hit him. Again, with a missile attack from
ANY other character, that character is rooted to the ground while he throws
the missile! So Ukyo's missile is actually the safest one to throw in the
game as well!
Plus a good Ukyo player won't be throwing birds when close up, anyway. They
only throw birds when you're far away and need to get closer, or use the TG
to catch you when you're open or as a surprise high attack.

"But Ukyo can be ABed if his TG swing is blocked!"

Yes, you will get creamed if your TG is blocked. But that just means you
have to use the move wisely. I don't call a Special Move that must be used
intelligently a "weakness."
With all of Ukyo's strengths, it's kind of weird to see what people label
as his "weaknesses." Of COURSE if Ukyo gets his TG blocked, he'll
get creamed. But that's the type of cost/benefit ratio that ALL the
other characters in the game have. If Jubei gets his dash move blocked,
he'll get creamed. If Genjuro gets his sliding slash move blocked, he'll
get creamed. This is NORMAL game balance. The fact that the moves which
cause Ukyo pain if blocked are thought of as "weaknesses" just shows how
abnormal he is.

A2. Now let's look at his AI Attack:
1) Hits opponents initiating or recovering from Specials, because it's
long-ranged and has a fast initiation.
For example, Ukyo's AI Attack allows him to be the ONLY person who
can hit Sieger recovering from a full-blast Vulcan Cannon. Nobody else has
a move that is fast enough and long-ranged enough to do this.
2) Works as part of a combo. The AI Attacks can be comboed with his
AB or B attacks pretty easily.
3) Effective surprise attack, since it doesn't have a recovery time like
Jubei's Nikkaku Ratoh or Nakoruru's Anna Mutsube, so there's little
risk in initiating the move.
4) Effective way of getting close to an opponent and creating a combat
situation, because you can do a slide/jumping forward TG/quick slash or
kick/jumping back TG/throw, etc. No other Special Move in the game opens
up so many combat options afterwards as this move, because they all have
recovery times. Is Nakoruru's Anna Mutsube good for getting close to a
blocking opponent and throwing him? No! Her recovery time is too long!
Ukyo CAN do a C AI Attack and then immediately throw his opponent,
OTOH, because the recovery time on that attack is near zero.

How vulnerable is this move? Compare it with other characters' moves:
Genjuro's sliding slash, Jubei's Nikkaku Ratoh, and Nakoruru's Anna
Mutsube all are comparable attacks to the AI Attack.

1) All of them can be hit while they are rushing toward you at any time.
Ukyo is INVULNERABLE to attack while coasting toward you, except for the
first after-image. Why does he get such special treatment?
2) All of them have huge recovery times if blocked, often allowing you
to AB them afterwards. With the AI Attack, you cannot. You CAN throw or
hit Ukyo with C-kick after the CD AI Attack, which is his most vulnerable
one. You can sometimes throw Ukyo RIGHT after the C AI Attack This takes
quick reflexes, though, which is NOT true for the other similar moves
listed above.
And you CANNOT either throw or hit Ukyo after he hits you with the D AI
Attack! What happens is either Ukyo recovers before your C-kicks hit, or
Ukyo pushes you back enough that your C-kicks won't reach him and you can't
throw him. As soon as he's done swinging (and you have recovered from
block stun after being pushed back), he has recovered from the move.
Again, NO other Special Move in the game has this combination of utility
and recovery time. Charlotte's A Splash Fount recovers quickly enough, but
the move has a big delay in its initiation, making it useless for
surprise or retaliatory purposes. Genjuro's sliding slash and Nakoruru's
Anna Mutsube have a quick initation, but slow recovery times. Haohmaru's C
somersault slash has a quick recovery time, but he is VERY vulnerable to
attacks while he's somersaulting towards you. You can also crouch kick or
throw him afterwards if he lands too close to you.
Ukyo's AI Attack has a quick initiation AND recovery time, and he cannot
be hit out of it except at the beginning of the move! It is probably the
BEST special move in the game.

In short, what makes this move so superior is its high benefit/cost ratio,
relative almost any other special move in the game. The uses for it are
many. The cost of having an AI Attack blocked is small, or none if you use
the D AI Attack correctly.

A3. He actually has a descent Power Special. It does a lot of damage
(unlike many others), and can nail anyone in the air with relative ease.
And it comes out pretty quickly, more so than many other Power Specials.


B. His normal slashes are excellent as well.

B1. His A and B slashes are very quick and long-ranged:
A and B slashes are among the quickest and longest-ranged in the game.
After measuring many slash ranges, I found that Ukyo's standing and
crouching As and Bs, along with Charlotte's standing As and Bs, Gen-An's
crouching As and Bs, and Earthquake's standing and crouching Bs, are the
longest A and B slashes in the game. And his slashes are also as fast or
faster than the others as well. And a quick and long-ranged slash gives a
character a distinct advantage, because he can hit his opponents from
far away, without worrying about getting hit in return. He can both hit
slower opponents out of their slashes and be immune to counter-attacks
from quick but short-ranged opponents.
Ukyo's dominance is largely due to his excellent slash ability. If he had
his great Specials, but had poor slashes, he would be much more in line
with the other characters. As for now, in a straight ground war with A

and B slashes only, Ukyo will win. Now add all the other stuff and you see
why Ukyo is overpowered.
So don't think that the only way to play Ukyo is to just throw firebirds
all day just to annoy people and provoke them to make mistakes. Ukyo's
major strength is his slashes, which can hit other people out of their
attacks and don't leave him open to a counterattack. He's like Charlotte
or Gen-An in this way, only faster, more damaging, and more versatile.

B2. His standing slash:
1) Does a lot of damage against a close open opponent, especially since
it can be comboed with a CD AI attack.
2) Is a great air defense for someone jumping in front of you.

"Ukyo has a big recover time if he misses."

Then don't miss with the standing AB. Seriously. It's STUPID if you try
to do this slash randomly, or when your opponent is not in range. Not
even all of Ukyo's strengths can compensate for a lousy player.

B3. His diving slash:
1) Has great range and speed, faster and as long-ranged as Haoh's AB. It
also does a lot of damage as well, again comparable to Haoh's AB,
especially when he's mad.
2) Hits low. Hitting low DOES make a difference. With Haoh's AB you can
do a back-and-forth ground fight against him, and you will block his slash
nearly every time (or hit him out of it if swinging). With Ukyo, you have
to be prepared to crouch at any time you're remotely near him, and when
you do, you're immobilized AND vulnerable to a ground TG when close to
him. Unfortunately, many characters have short-ranged crouching attacks and
MUST be close to Ukyo to be able to hit him.
3) Has great priority. Ukyo's AB can go through a lot of other slashes,
unlike Haoh's. You can hit Haoh out of his AB easily, but Ukyo DUCKS under
your slash. This makes a big difference when fighting against opponents who
do quick swings against you a lot. For instance, Charlotte can easily poke
Haoh or Genjuro out of their ABs, but Ukyo's diving slash goes right under
her thrust This is true for other thrusting attackers like Gen-an and
Kyoshiro (and maybe Ukyo himself).
4) It's still great as a retaliation attack, just like Haohmaru's standing
AB. Compare  this to Genjuro's AB. His AB is slower by a critical amount
that makes it a lot less effective than the two above. The delay is just
enough that you get blocked with Genj in a lot of situations when you could
have hit with Ukyo, even though Genj is pretty immune to counterattacks if
he's blocked (which is irrelevant for retaliatory purposes). The retaliation
factor alone, due to its range and speed, makes Ukyo's diving slash one of
the best in the game.

"But Ukyo's dead if his diving slash is blocked!"

True. But again, this is NORMAL game balance. The slash is powerful, so it
has a balancing weakness. Unfortunately, in the context of all of Ukyo's
other abilities it becomes another plus on Ukyo's side. As a contrast,
consider Nakoruru's A Anna Mutsube, which also hits low, has a big recovery
time, and is long-ranged. Nakoruru doesn't really have any other quick
attacks, especially a high attack like Ukyo's TG, so opponents are always
watching out for her Anna Mutsube. But for Ukyo, you also have to worry

about AI Attacks, quick slashes, TGs and firebirds, etc. Smart Ukyo players
wait until their opponent is harrassed and distracted enough, THEN
surprises them with the diving slash. And it usually works.
Again, looking at the diving slash itself isn't so bad, but you have to
look at Ukyo as a WHOLE. One of his main strengths is his versatility
and the fact he is better than other characters in MANY qualities, which
makes the diving slash merely another trophy to his cup. Besides, if you
use the diving slash mainly to hit open opponents (like I do), then that
negates the weakness of this slash.

B4. He has excellent air slashes:
1) The forward AB is angled down, so that it has excellent penetration
ability. it can be comboed easily into an AI Attack, or (if you get the
timing right) a standing AB, then AI Attack for mega-damage.
2) His jumping-up straight-slash AB is excellent air defense. It's quick,
has excellent range (i.e. you hit people out of their kicks), and can take
up to one-third your opponent's life off. Name another character who can
do this.

"Ukyo has a slow jump though."

True. But Ukyo doesn't need to jump on people to win, since he has so much
other stuff. The air slashes are really icing on the cake. In fact, jumping
in on your opponent indiscriminately is a good way to lose a game.

B5. He has excellent air defenses:
1) Jumping-up AB or standing AB for people jumping in front of you.
2) The crouching CD or near crouching B for people jumping on top of you.
3) Or TG them if you feel like it.
4) Carefully timed AI Attacks or the diving slash will hit people jumper
farther away.

B6. He does a lot of damage:
Measuring his damage potential against Haohmaru, I found that under normal
conditions Ukyo's standing AB does as much damage as Haohmaru's standing
AB, and his crouching AB and air AB does only slightly less. In all cases,
this was almost 1/4 of a person's life.
When Ukyo is mad, all of his ABs do as much damage as Haohmaru's AB, which
was roughly 1/3 of a person's life.
As for the AB/CD AI Attack combo, it takes off 40% of a person's life under
normal conditions, and 60% off when he's mad. And often stuns as well. The
conclusion is that Ukyo is as capable of doing as much damage as Haohmaru,
while being quicker, longer-ranged, and more versatile.

B7. He still has his fast run from SS1. He can try to catch people off
guard with this, by running and: throwing, diving slash, slide, TG, etc...


"Well, if Ukyo does X, you can try counter-strategy Y..."

Look at him holistically.
There is no ONE strategy that Ukyo uses that cannot be countered. Each of
his moves can be countered, or at least neutralized. But Ukyo has so many
good moves with both his Specials and regular slashes, that he's clearly
superior as a WHOLE in contrast to other characters. His A and B slashes
are great for a ground fight, his diving slash/ground TG gives him low/high
attack options, his AI is extremely useful both in itself and setting up
more moves later on, he has a bunch of anti-air moves, and his firebirds
are great for ticking off turtlers far away.


There are 5 qualities you can use to judge a character:
1. Speed. He is a fast runner. His slashes are on the whole the quickest
in the game. His Special Moves also come out quickly (except for the SY).
2. Damage. He now does as much damage as Haohmaru, doing up to 60%
with single or combo hits when he's powered up.
3. Range. His A and B slashes are among the longest-ranged ones in the
game. His diving slash and jumping straight-slash are also long-ranged.
His AI Attack can reach across more than half the screen. His firebirds
can hit a person ANYWHERE on the screen, whether standing, crouching,
jumping, or rolling.
4. Vulnerability. His A and B slashes recover quickly. So does his AI
Attack. He is vulnerable from a blocked TG or diving slash, but you can
minimize these weaknesses by playing intelligently (do jumping back TGs;
do diving slashes only when your opponents are open).
5. Versatility. Both his TG and his AI Attack have many uses in themselves.
His AI Attack also gives him many options to follow up on, due to its
quick recovery time. He can do both high and low attacks from the ground.

Again, what other character has ALL of these abilities--to fight both
normally and sneakily, to fight both defensively and offensively, to fight
both short-ran and long-ranged? NOBODY. That's why Ukyo is over-powered.
NOT cheap or invincible--over-powered.

Recall the old saying about the fox and the hedgehog: The fox knows many
little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
Well, SS2 Ukyo knows many big things. THAT'S why he's unbalancing.

--Scott