Universal Fighting Game Guide: How to Deal With Cross-Up Attacks

With fighting games experiencing an upswing in popularity, there are a lot of new players getting into fighting games and fighting game veterans taking on new games. With any new fighting game you take on, whether that’s a mainstream hit like Street Fighter IV and Mortal Kombat, or a more niche title like Arcana Heart 3, comes a learning curve that’s usually steeper than that of most other video games on the market. Playing against the computer or playing with your friends of similar skill is fine and dandy, but if your goal is to play these games on a competitive level against anyone is going to take some smart training and elbow grease.

The good news is, a lot of the knowledge you’ll learn in one game is transferable to the next, which makes learning fighting games as a whole a task that’s not as daunting as it seems on the surface. It also makes it possible for someone like me to write a somewhat-one-size-fits-all guide to fighting games that you can apply to any fighting game you play.

I’m not sure how far I’ll go with this series of posts, but for my first attempt at this, let’s talk about fighting games from a defensive perspective. More specifically, how to deal with cross-up/cross-over/cross-under attacks.

About Cross-up/Cross-over/Cross-under Attacks

The cross-up is a common technique in 2D fighting games where an opponent will attack you from a specific angle that hits behind your character. This may happen because they hit you while they’re jumping over you, because the move they are hitting you with has inherent cross-over properties, such as Wolverine’s Berzerker Slash in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, or they’ve slipped behind you, which is a common Sakura reset technique in Street Fighter IV. Your opponent is doing this to trick you into blocking the wrong way. The cross-up is, as a tactic, a sure-fire way to slaughter a newbie fighting game player, because knowing how to stop a cross-up is not something you would stumble upon naturally. The way you stop it on the surface appears to be counter-intuitive to the logic that fighting games teach you, but it makes sense once you grasp the concept.

How to Block a Cross-Up/Cross-Over/Cross-Under Attack

In the picture above, Fei Long is performing a cross-up on Dan. Even though Dan may have been holding his d-pad or joystick to the right when Fei Long was on his left, which would be the correct way to block a head-on attack, this does not work for cross-ups. Why? Because what is defined as away from your opponent to trigger a block changes when an opponent has crossed over you during their jump. In the picture above, Fei Long is on the right when he hits Dan, which means the correct way to block that attack is for the Dan player to hold their d-pad or joystick to the left.

The idea of cross-up attacks can get messy in games like the Vs. Capcom series, where a character controlled by your opponent and your opponent’s assist character are hitting you at the same time from opposite sides. Let’s use the above image from Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 to create a hypothetical situation. If your opponent’s point character is Spiderman, and their assist is Tron Bonne, it is possible for your opponent to call out Tron and maneuver Spiderman in a way that they can both sandwich you in with attacks at once. How do you block this?

While the addition of an assist character muddies the waters a bit, the way to block it stays the same. You have to move your joystick or d-pad away from your opponent; in this case, the character your opponent is controlling. So if Tron and Spiderman were attacking you from both sides, you would move your joystick or d-pad to the left, because left is the direction that is away from the character your opponent is physically controlling. While it seems counter-intuitive to move your joystick or d-pad towards the assist character that’s hitting you, their attack will not hit you as long as you’re properly blocking the point character.

How can you consistently block someone who is using this technique? Besides knowing the proper command to input when an opponent tries to cross you up, you need to know which of your opponents moves have the ability to cross-up and from what distances those moves need to be triggered at in order to cross up. If you know what moves cross-up and from what distances those cross-ups need to be executed at in order for them to cross-up, you’ll be able to recognize by your opponent’s spacing alone when they’re going to go for a cross-up, which gives you time to react accordingly.

Knowing the moves and the spacing required is going to require you to do some homework. You can get this information by either being observant when someone hits you with one, reading a guide, or experimenting in training mode to see what moves work. All three of these methods are viable ways of obtaining this information, though the latter is usually the best way to go about it.

How to Escape a Cross-up/Cross-over/Cross-under Attack

As much as I love executing cross-up attacks on offense, there is one major caveat to using this technique. That caveat is that when you use a cross-up attack, the timing and spacing of your attack has to be perfect for it to act as a cross-up. Any disturbance to the timing or spacing can completely ruin the attack.

As the person who is on defense, this is critical to know. Instead of blocking a cross-up, you can simply disrupt their spacing. Take for instance, the screen grab above, which I took from Ne0Russel‘s excellent Street Fighter IV Anti-Cross Up Strategies video. In this picture, Ryu is trying to go for a cross-up attack on Fei Long. What Fei Long does to escape it, is to dash under him to avoid the attack completely. Dashing forward will work for a lot of characters in most 2D fighting games as a way to escape cross-up attacks. However, depending on the movement options available to you, you may have more ways of escaping. Play around with different ways of moving around a cross-up attack in training mode to see what other anti-cross-up maneuvers work for you.

How to Counter-Attack a Cross-up/Cross-over/Cross-under Attack

Unlike blocking or moving out of the way of a cross-up, there is no universal answer in regards to hitting your opponent as they try and hit you with a cross-up attack. I’m fairly certain that many characters will have specific moves in their arsenal that can be used to hit an opponent out of a cross-up, but you’ll need to go into training mode yourself and figure out what works. In most cases, you’re simply better off blocking or getting out of the way of a cross-up attack.

How to Deal With Ambiguous Cross-up/Cross-over/Cross-under Set-ups

If you’re facing off against an opponent that has good grasp on the offensive applications of cross-up attacks, they are going to trick you with ambiguous cross-up set-ups, which are the most difficult cross-up set-ups to block. Take for instance, the Cammy video above. In the first series of moves, the Cammy player does a back throw to knock their opponent down. They then do an instant dive kick to move themselves into cross-up position. Then the Cammy player jumps towards the opponent and attacks using heavy punch, which in this situation, acts as a cross-up. In the second series of moves, everything is the same, except that the attack at the end is a medium punch, which is not a cross-up.

What that means is, even if you know the timing and the distance for a cross-up to happen, you won’t know for sure what attack your opponent is using until the absolute last moment when they trigger it. At this point, you’re going to have to make a very good guess as to which way to block. The only point of advice I can give here is to make mental notes about your opponent’s cross-up tendencies, and make a quick judgment on what’s most beneficial for your opponent in this particular offensive exchange.

In Summary

– The cross-up is a common technique in 2D fighting games where an opponent will attack you from a specific angle that hits behind your character

– Always block by holding your joystick or d-pad in the direction that is away from the character your opponent is controlling

– Learn to recognize when your opponent is going for a cross-up attack and react accordingly

– Make mental notes on how often your opponent goes for cross-up attacks. This will help you make better decisions when they try and put you in ambiguous cross-up situations.

That covers the defensive aspect of cross-up/cross-over/cross-under attacks. At some point, I’ll cover it from an offensive player’s perspective. If you have any questions or comments on this post and the art of the cross-up, speak your mind in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Universal Fighting Game Guide: How to Deal With Cross-Up Attacks

  1. Josh June 19, 2011 / 3:40 AM

    Great post, this post has some real substance in it. Would love them to keep on coming and I would love to hear your thoughts on E3 this year. I think that SONY won it and I don’t really get why the Nintendo conference got so much praise, all their games look about the same and play the same as well, look at paper mario. It is super mario with a paper theme (¬_¬). Maybe it’s because the SONY games hit my spot. Back to the topic I am loving this post Jett, keep them coming 😀

    • Jett June 23, 2011 / 8:07 PM

      Thank you for the positive feedback. This was a tough post to write, but I enjoyed writing it. I’m trying my best to not just regurgitate something you can find anywhere else on the internet with these posts. We’ll see if I can keep it going.

      E3…I thought that Sony had a solid showing, Microsoft really turned me off with all the Kinect stuff, and I have no idea what to make of the Wii U.

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