Street Fighter 2 came out 26 years ago, and so you'd expect the fighting game community has seen everything the game has to offer.
This week Desk, perhaps the world's greatest fighting game combo technician, revealed new combos for Street Fighter 2: World Warrior, which came out in arcades in 1991.
The video, below, is the result of four weeks of painstaking practice, experimentation and execution. It shows off combos I've certainly never seen before. In fact, it shows off combos I didn't think were even possible.
In Street Fighter 2, once you sweep knockdown your opponent, you're not supposed to be able to combo. The idea is you pressure your opponent, employing some kind of mix-up strategy as they "wake-up" - that is, as they rise from being knocked down. The opponent needs to work out what they're going to do on wake-up, too, perhaps using a "meaty" attack as they rise, or maybe going for a throw, or perhaps blocking.
At first glance it looks like Desk has hacked Capcom's seminal fighting game, because he's comboing off of a sweep. But he hasn't. What he's doing is exploiting a glitch that's existed in Street Fighter 2 since day one.
This OTG (on the ground) glitch is exclusive to Vega. That is, you can't perform these combos on any other character. Exclusive to Vega, then, is the ability to continue to attack after a sweep knockdown.
In the Youtube video description, Desk credits Japanese fighting game player TZW with first demonstrating this glitch "back in the days when combo videos only existed on VHS". But no-one had explored the potential of this glitch - until Desk started getting his hands dirty a month ago.
Desk combines this OTG glitch with what he calls "falling into the corner pause". This unique trait of the Street Fighter 2 series of games delays the point at which Vega can be hit following a sweep. To do it, you knock him down outside of the corner so that he falls into the corner. At the point he hits the wall, there's a brief pause, which gives Desk a precious few frames of extra time. He uses this to devastating effect, performing combos that were previously thought impossible.
So, we see stuff like sweep infinites, double jump-in plus mid-combo jump-in combos and even double fireball combos. Blanka, for example, can jump in with hard kick, knock down with crouching hard kick, then continue the combo with jumping hard punch and crouching hard punch. We see something similar from Chun-Li, who can follow up crouching hard kick with a jump-in combo.
Everything you see in the video was done by hand, Desk says. That is, he used a fighting stick. Additional difficulty came from the fact that Vega, as one of the original four bosses, is not a playable character in Street Fighter 2. This, as you can imagine, made experimentation and practice frustrating. Desk had to manipulate the computer-controlled Vega in order to get him into the correct position to be knocked into the corner to trigger the "falling into the corner pause" tech.
From the YouTube description:
"This meant that I had to slowly learn, as much as is possible, to manipulate the actions of CPU controlled Claw. As many of these combos require pretty exact screen spacing in order to take advantage of that 'falling into the corner pause' at specific points, this AI manipulation was vital."
And if that wasn't hard enough, Desk had to contend with randomness. Street Fighter 2 is a game most in the fighting game community consider to be "broken" because it's so random. Stun, for example, doesn't always work the way you expect it to. Damage can sometimes be random, too. Even the length of time you are actually stunned can be random (in the video we see Honda sweep Vega a few times, but Desk found that Vega would sometimes recover more quickly from a stun, and so the slow-moving Honda couldn't get up to him in time to land a follow-up attack).
This issue manifested itself in the best possible way. Again, here's Desk to explain:
"In the Zangief clip, the post-stun teabagging is actually luck manipulation. I completed that combo exactly as you see it in the video somewhere in the region of 40-50 times. However, the final version that actually made it into the video is only the second that ever caused stun on that cr.HK (vital for the SPD to connect). I tried whiffing a bunch of stuff and mixing up the strengths of some of the attacks many times to reproduce it but nothing worked except for the repeated crouching motion, done while Claw was stunned."
As a fan of fighting games, Desk's video is a joy to watch. But what makes it extra special is it revisits a game so close to my heart. Street Fighter 2 was my first fighting game and sparked a love of the genre that continues to this day. To see it still throwing up surprises is a genuine delight. Nice work, Desk!