When I first started getting into fighting games as a kid, one of my favourite things to do in Street Fighter II was to perform the classic two-hit combo of crouching heavy punch into heavy shoryuken. If it connected, it did a devastating amount of damage. However, if it missed, it left me wide open for a counter attack. For years, I simply thought that was the cost of doing business. It wasn’t until I got into the genre seriously that I learned a better way.
In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we will cover the concept of hit confirmation, or hit confirms for short. By understanding how hit confirms work, you can maximize your offensive potential while minimizing your risk!
What is hit confirmation?
Hit confirmation is a concept by which a player will perform an move or series of moves that gives the attacking player enough time to determine whether or not it is safe to complete a combo. For example, if the hit confirm is successful, the attacking player can safely complete the combo. If the hit confirm is not successful, they can either stop hitting buttons or perform an action that prevents their opponent from punishing them.
Hit Confirm Examples
For examples, it’s important to show good and bad cases to best understand the concept of hit confirmation. Let’s use Dragon Ball FighterZ as our example.
1. If the hit confirm works, complete the combo
My Android 21 successfully lands a crouching light kick, which I then use as the starting point for a full combo.
2. If the hit confirm fails, end the sequence with an action that puts you in a safe position
My opponent’s Gohan noticed that I blocked his light and medium attacks, so instead of going for the usual heavy attack follow-up, he used his ki blast to successfully move him away from me, limiting my ability to strike back. You don’t necessarily have to shoot yourself a far distance in order to make yourself safe, but ideally, you want to put yourself in a position where you’re either at frame advantage by the end of the sequence, or at least frame neutral, as to not give your opponent time to counter.
3. If the hit confirm fails and you leave yourself open
In the first part of the gif above, Vegeta catches my Goku Black with a series of ki blasts, giving Vegeta more than enough time to convert into his super move. However, when Vegeta tries to do it again, I jump over it, leaving Vegeta wide open for me to score a full combo on him.
Why is hit confirming important?
Hit confirmation is critical to a successful offensive approach. In fighting games, you generally want to hit your opponent while preventing them from hitting you. One of the easiest times for your opponent to hit you is when they successfully block or avoid one of your heavy attacks that leaves you at a frame disadvantage. When that happens, like the Vegeta example above, your opponent has a free opportunity to smack you. By having a strong grasp on knowing when to complete your combo and knowing when to protect yourself, you can make your attacks count while minimizing their ability to fight back.
How do I use the concept of hit confirms in a battle?
On paper, hit confirmation is an easy enough concept to grasp. It can be reduced down to something like this:
If X = yes, then finish your combo
If X = no, then back off
But in the heat of the moment, it can be really hard to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous position, especially if you don’t have a game plan already in place. What you must do is know your hit confirm moves and sequences in advance.
Before you go into a fight, you should already have an idea of which moves or sequences give you enough time to recognize when you should finish the combo or when you should stop. What you are looking for in a hit confirm attack or sequence is something that can lead to a full combo on hit, but also doesn’t leave you at a frame disadvantage if it’s blocked or whiffed. In most fighting games, your best hit confirms are your normal attacks. In games where there is a distinction in button strength, generally, normal moves that aren’t heavy attacks are most likely to be safe on block.
Above is a great example of a pre-rehearesed hit confirm from Akuma in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. This simple three-attack sequence can lead to a full combo if any of these moves hit. However, even though Sakura blocked them all, Akuma recovery time plus the spacing created by the pushback of the attacks keeps him safe. This one sequence of moves covers both outcomes.
You should also know which moves leave you in a bad spot if they miss or are blocked. Generally speaking, heavy attacks, special moves, and super moves will leave you at a frame disadvantage, as they are specifically designed to be high-risk-high-reward moves that are best used to extend or end a combo.
Above is a great example of how certain moves can leave you vulnerable to a counterattack. Akuma tries to start the party with a hurricane kick. If it hits, his combo potential is pretty limited. When blocked, it puts him at a frame disadvantage, giving Sakura enough time to land an explosive combo that Akuma can’t defend himself from.
Once you find your hit confirm moves or sequences, practice them in training mode. With your dummy set to random block, run through your hit confirm sequences repeatedly. Each time they successfully block the full string, end the sequence with the action. If they get hit, finish it off with the full combo. It is imperative that you’re comfortable in these situations, so practice them until you have it down.
How do you figure out which moves are safe or unsafe?
There are a few ways of doing this. One, you can look up the frame data to your moves and see which ones have a negative value on block. Not all negatives give your opponent enough time to punish, but generally speaking, a move that leaves you at negative frame advantage is not one you want to hit confirm with.
You can also figure this out manually. In training mode, set your training dummy to jump up immediately after blocking. Then, you hit the training dummy with your hit confirm move or sequence and jump as soon as it’s over. If you jump first, you’re at frame advantage and you’re fine. If you jump at the same time, you’re frame neutral and you’re fine. If the dummy jumps first, then they’re in frame advantage and you have a problem.
The most practical – yet labour intensive – approach is to set the dummy to respond with its fastest attack after blocking. From there, you can see if the dummy can hit you after your hit confirm. If they can, then it’s a bad hit confirm. If they can’t, then it’s a good one.
Your preparations don’t stop there
Great! You’ve gone into the lab, and you’ve figured out one hit confirm that works on a standing opponent. This is just the beginning. The more hit confirms you have in your back pocket, the more prepared you are to strike in any situation. Off the top of my head, here are the scenarios you need to have at least one hit confirm ready for:
- Against a standing opponent
- Against a crouching opponent
- If you connect with a high attack
- If you connect with a low attack
- If you connect with a mid/overhead attack
- If you connect with a jumping attack
- If you connect with an anti-air attack
If you have those bases at least somewhat covered, then you’re putting yourself in a position to be a threat at any point in the fight.
Going to the next level, you want to make your hit confirms even more specific. If you confirm off a low and want to squeeze out a bit of extra damage and you have one extra resource bar, have a variation of your confirm ready that uses that meter for extra damage. Need to get out of the corner? Tweak the end of the confirm to put you in a better position. Have a full stock of resources and are close to winning the round? Have a confirm ready that combos into your super move. The list can go on for ages as you try and map out all of the scenarios in your head and determine the best way to approach them.
You can even add branches to your hit confirms to make your offense more potent. Remember the first Akuma gif with the three normal moves? I brought it back down to illustrate this next point. Now watch the second one. Using the same setup of a cross-up medium kick, he this time goes for a crouching light punch into a throw. This confirm worked because the first sequence conditioned his opponent (me) to block, leaving me more susceptible to a throw. When you’re able to add layers to your hit confirms, you give your opponents more opportunities to mess up, and therefore more opportunities to hit them clean.
YOLO uppercuts are great, but…
…they don’t win you fights most of the time, especially against an opponent who knows what they’re doing. Instead of gambling your life away with high-risk moves, fight in an intelligent manner that maximizes your offensive potential while minimizing your risk. By adding the ability to hit confirm to your tool set, you can have a huge leg up on players who fight recklessly or can’t capitalize on your mistakes in the same way. It’s not an easy skill to develop, as it takes a lot of knowledge and practice in order to determine your best approach in every possible scenario. But once you have it down, you will be a much more formidable foe to take on.