When it comes to character choice in fighting games, I’m a strong believer in not choosing the best character, but going with the best character for you. It always works out best when you find that character with the right mix of tools that you genuinely enjoy playing as. Otherwise, you’ll never reach your full potential, even if the so-called experts will always suggest going top-tier. As I’ve said multiple times on this blog, dropping Akuma for Rose was the best decision I made while playing Street Fighter IV. Without her, I probably never would have reached over 3,000PP, 15,000BP, become the #1 ranked Rose player in Canada on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, or done as well at tournaments as I have.
This post is not intended to state why Rose is the definitive best. Heck, I’d even agree with many of the experts that in comparison to the rest of the cast, there are a number of characters that are better overall. However, the synergy I have with Rose may be tighter than any ‘relationship’ I’ve ever had with a video game character. Here’s a few reasons on why that is.
She’s one of the easiest characters to learn
Rose is at her core, a variation of the traditional ‘shoto’ archetype. Having played Ryu and Ken before, I already had a general idea of how she worked. Adding to her simplicity is the straightforwardness of her move set. I found it very easy to look at a move of hers and find practical applications for each without having to worry too much about character-specific nuances at first.
In terms of combos, the barrier there isn’t particularly high, either. If you can land crouching medium punch into Soul Spiral consistently, you’ve already won half the battle. Depending on your play style, you can go very far with the ability to play keep away with smart pokes or deal decent damage with basic combos.
She’s fairly well-equipped to take on the majority of the cast
Thanks to her varied tool-set, she doesn’t have many inherently bad match-ups. Regardless of the scenario, she has tools to deal with pretty much anything. Having said that, there are are handful of match-ups that are worse. I feel that Guile and Sagat can give her problems because of their superior zoning game. The ability to drastically change fireball speeds and throw them at a fast clip makes it awkward for Rose to counter with fireballs of her own or Soul Reflects. Also, I think Balrog beats her up pretty bad when he gets within footsies distance. In spite of those, I feel like there are a number of creative ways to get around these scenarios, unlike certain characters who play on extreme ends of the spectrum. The trade-off to having very few bad match-ups is that she also has very few inherently good match-ups. Because of this, virtually every fight for Rose is an honest one, which is fine by me.
Her unpopularity works in my favour
Ryu, on paper, is a better all-around character than Rose. However, he (and much of the cast) have at least one flaw that Rose generally doesn’t have: familiarity. Most people know how to fight against Ryu because they’ve squared off against the karate master in pretty much every Capcom fighting game ever. Therefore, every match you play as Ryu is in a way, inherently tougher.
Rose on the other hand, continues to be an anomaly. Many people don’t know how to deal with her, which puts me at an advantage. Taking that a step further, most Rose players don’t even use the character the way I do. They generally take a more defensive approach, which most of my opponents are a bit more accustomed to. This is where I really catch them off guard, as I generally rush in as hard as I can. Before the match even starts, I’m already have the knowledge advantage.
She can go toe-to-to in the footsies department
You want pokes? She’s got some of the best. Her standing medium kick hits from a great distance while being high enough off the ground to completely avoid my opponent’s crouching pokes. For a light attack, her crouching light kick has great range and the ability to combo into stronger attacks. Even her throw makes for a good tool in close-quarters combat, as its one of the longest-reaching grabs in the game.
Those are all great, but none of them compare to her crouching medium punch. This is the money button. Crouching on one knee, she swipes across her chest, clipping all knee caps and pokes that cross its path. The move starts up very quickly and has a great hitbox in front of it, which gives it a ton of priority in potential trade situations. It also makes the move one you will successfully connect with a lot. Once it lands, rip into a Soul Spiral to finish the combo. Or, if you’ve got the meter for it, a crouching medium punch can lead to a 50% combo finished off with a super. As a Rose player, it’s in my best interest to hit that button as much as possible.
She deals with projectiles in unique ways
Rose’s fireballs have some unique properties that make it different from the rest of the cast. Her light version comes out very quickly and travels slowly. Her heavy version is slower to come out, but travels quickly. Each time you throw a fireball, you need to consider which version works best for you. Your opponent also needs to respect it. I find that varying the speeds can really throw people off, especially when they’re trying to jump in or respond with a projectile of their own.
With her Soul Reflect, she doesn’t necessarily need to fight fire with fire, either. With the right timing and spacing, reflecting the fireballs back can really break an opponent’s rhythm. Better yet, her light version will simply absorb fireballs and convert them to a large chunk of meter. By absorbing rather than reflecting, it allows me to punish relentless fireball throwers with an early super move, or deter them from throwing fireballs at all. In either case, leveraging these tools in the right way can really shut down an opponent’s options.
Her back dash is amazing
Hopping backwards as Rose is something I use to great effect. She has one of the fastest and farthest back dashes in the game, which makes it a great defensive tool in her arsenal. With it, you can escape a number of situations that would be hairy otherwise.
Soul Satellites are a game changer
In terms of damage output, Rose’s Ultra 2 is one of (if not the worst) in the game. However, this move doesn’t rely on raw damage output to be effective. Once the orbs are out, the complexion of the game changes. When I’m in the lead, I activate them to make the act of finishing my opponent off virtually inescapable. On the other hand, if my back is against the wall, I can also use them to alter the complexion of the match. As soon as the orbs are out, I control the momentum of the match, as they now have to deal with a pair of fireballs swirling around me for a good amount of time. I can use the orbs to create tricky mix-ups, force chip damage, or capitalize on my opponent’s defensive play by throwing them as they block. Activating them at the right time also gives you the opportunity to react to moves that you might not be able to on reaction. If I activate it when my opponent is jumping, I now have time to use a Soul Throw to toss them out of the sky, and then further the pressure with my still-active orbs. There are very few times in a match where activating orbs is a bad idea, which makes it such a useful weapon to have in my arsenal.
We keep on winning together
Since I picked up Rose, my growth as a Street Fighter player and overall fighting game player has been tremendous. When it all comes together, she brings the best out of me in that game. Even after leveling up with her, I’ve tried many times to bring my skills to other characters in the game, though I haven’t been able to come close to the same level of success. With Ultra Street Fighter IV on the way, she’s supposedly only going to get better with an invincible EX Soul Spiral and an overall damage buff on most of her moves. Looking forward to keeping this good thing going!