A basic guide on the various ways of canceling and overriding battle animations.
About Recovery Animations
Almost every single action your shinobi can perform in Estival Versus is punctuated by an animation of her raising her sword back up, withdrawing her fist, landing on her feet, getting back up from the ground, stumbling, pirouetting, or even faceplanting. It looks purely cosmetic, but these animations have a crucial purpose in terms of gameplay. They govern the overall pace of the game as well as the speed, capabilities, and weaknesses of each individual shinobi. For instance, Asuka is a very quick and mobile fighter, whereas Katsuragi is slow but deliberate and powerful. You may have noticed that Ryouna wastes a lot of time performing figure skating tricks, or that Ikaruga likes to gracefully resheathe her nodachi after every swing in an excruciatingly long animation.
There are a few basic rules that apply these recovery animations. Your shinobi is unable to run during any of them. Many of them show her recovering after performing an attack move, and although she can't run, she can immediately launch into another attack. But that's almost never the only thing she can do.
A "cancel” (noun, plural "cancels”) is any action that a shinobi can perform that overrides the animation she's currently in. There are three basic moves used in Estival Versus to do it – jumping, dashing and guarding – but they're not all universally applicable, but rather governed by a set of rules which this guide will explore.
Another basic type of cancel is combo attacks, alluded to in the previous section. While your shinobi is recovering after one basic attack, she can immediately proceed with the next attack down the combo chain. For the purposes of this guide, combo attacks will not be counted as a cancel. In these cases I will instead describe an action as "comboing” or "leading” into another attack.
Without further ado, the cancels, starting with the ground-based ones.
Press the jump button at any point during a weak ground attack and your shinobi will jump. It is the easiest and most consistent cancel to perform, but it may put her in an awkward position – that is, in the air.
Yozakura, Katsuragi, Yomi, Hanabi and Daidouji cannot jump-cancel, being slow, ground-based heavy hitters.
Press the dash button before or exactly as a weak ground attack connects (or whiffs) and your shinobi will dash. It won't work during the recovery animations that follow weak attacks. This cancel lets your shinobi stay on the ground, and is the basis for dash attacks (see the relevant section down below).
All shinobi can dash-cancel.
Press the guard button during the recovery animation after a weak attack and your shinobi will start guarding.
Guard-canceling can be initiated "lazily”; if you hold the guard button while your shinobi is attacking she will start blocking on the earliest possible frame.
Tap the guard button to make your shinobi drop her guard immediately. This is a good way to return her to her neutral position, allowing her to run again.
Ikaruga, Homura, Hikage, Mirai, Haruka and Rin cannot guard-cancel.
Press jump and then immediately guard (almost simultaneously) while on the ground, or hold the guard button during an attack animation and press jump. If done correctly, your shinobi will make a vocalization associated with jumping and dust will show up by her feet, but she will start guarding instead. She has just canceled a jump by guarding.
This is an extremely powerful technique because it can be used to turn jump-cancels into guard-cancels, allowing shinobi to cancel weak ground attacks at any point without having to wait for the frame window associated with basic guard-canceling, and without having to commit to a jump. Parrying can be done on extremely short notice.
This technique can even be used by shinobi who cannot guard-cancel the normal way!
Notice that like with guarding in general, this cannot be done repeatedly in too rapid a succession. There's a short cooldown after dropping guard during which a shinobi cannot raise it again, and attempting a jump-guard cancel during this cooldown will result in her jumping.
Press jump during a basic dash* to make your shinobi jump. Like any jump, it can be jump-guard-canceled.
*A "basic dash" is a dash that is initiated from a neutral or running position as opposed to a "combo dash" which is what you get when you dash-cancel.
The following shinobi can dash-jump: Minori, Ikaruga, Imu, Homura, Hikage, Kafuru and Rin.
A technique that can only be used by Homura and Sayuri. Press guard during a basic dash and your shinobi will start guarding.
Dash Attack Cancels
Attacking out of combo dashes – dashes that are initiated by dash-canceling – will yield a special attack, a dash attack.
Dash attacks cannot typically be canceled like other ground attacks, although in almost all cases they will lead back into the beginning of the ground combo. Some dash attacks have long recovery animations, so make it a habit of "double-tapping”.
Some shinobi can use other methods to cancel the recovery animation. Minori and Ryouna can jump. Asuka can use any cancel.
Hibari's dash attack is a combo with a mashing charge that can be canceled normally, followed by a finisher that doesn't lead into any ground attack but instead launches, and can also be canceled by jumping or dashing.
Sayuri cannot do anything at all during her recovery.
With few exceptions, weak air attacks can be canceled with a mid-air jump or a mid-air dash.
Hikage's and Hanabi's air attacks cannot be canceled this way, although Hikage's attack leads into her strong air attack.
Yagyuu's weak air attack can only be canceled during its recovery animation.
Renka's first weak air attack cannot be canceled, but the rest of her air combo can.
Murakumo's weak air attack is a ground pound with a completely helpless recovery animation, and can only be canceled before it's properly launched.
Ground Pound Recovery Cancel
Strong air attacks – ground pounds – end with a recovery animation. Some shinobi are helpless during this animation which in their cases is usually very short, but most can shorten it with any basic cancel. Lazy guard-canceling works great.
Rin's charged weak air attack is a ground pound that can be shortened this way. You can also use lazy guard-canceling to cancel it as it connects with the ground.
Miscellaneous Recovery Animations
When your shinobi stops sprinting there's a recovery animation that prevents her from running. Any other input works at this point, and tapping the guard button is an excellent way to shed it. In fact, you can tap the guard button while your shinobi is sprinting to make her stop dead in her tracks and then instantly start sprinting in any new direction, ignoring the usual slow turn rate.
A lot of new players have trouble sprinting around grabbing item boxes. Try sprinting straight at the box, attack it (attacking will override sprinting), and hold the guard button to cancel the attack animation as quickly as possible (if your selected shinobi can't guard-cancel, perform a jump-guard cancel instead).
Ikaruga, Hikage, Kafuru and Rin can perform a string of up to five basic dashes by repeatedly pushing the dash button. The final dash in this sting has a brutally long recovery animation during which the shinobi is completely helpless, so be careful!
Recouping After Taking Hits
(The cancels in this section depend in some cases on whether your shinobi is transformed or frantic, I will be doing more testing and update the section accordingly)
Wake Up Evasion Guard Cancel (Flinch Cancel)
Moderately powerful hits will cause your shinobi to flinch, a state in which she's helpless. During the second half of its animation, push the jump or dash button and your shinobi will make a small dodge - a Wake Up Evasion (WUE) - and regain her footing. This can also be done when your shinobi is knocked down. If you push the guard button during a WUE, or hold the guard button as you input the WUE, some shinobi will instantly start guarding instead. Remember that holding the guard button will disable dash button inputs, so use the jump button when flinch-canceling lazily.
The following shinobi can use this technique (flash): Yozakura, Minori, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Ryoubi, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai, Renka and Kafuru. Some of them will move a bit before guarding, especially Mirai.
Double Dash Recoup
A backup technique for some of the shinobi who cannot flinch-cancel. Instead of pushing the jump button while holding the guard button, double tap the dash button and your shinobi will begin the WUE and immediately cancel it with a dash.
The following shinobi cannot use this technique (flash): Yumi, Murakumo, Shiki, Murasaki, Ryouna, Homura, Mirai, Haruka and Hanabi. Be careful when going up against wolf grunts with these.
Wake Up Attack Guard Cancel
If your shinobi is knocked down, the quickest way to get back up is to push either attack button while holding the guard button. She will perform a Wake Up Attack - an attack during which she is invulnerable and which launches anyone hit by it - and then immediately start guarding. Some shinobi will begin guarding so quickly that the attack is canceled altogether. Even shinobi who can't guard-cancel or flinch-cancel can do this. (List on which shinobi can or can't do this forthcoming)
Ninja Arts, Shinobi Transformation and Limit Break
Okay, so I lied whenever I said your shinobi was helpless, because even in those situations there's several things you can do – use ninja arts, shinobi transformation or a limit break. Shinobi transformation can only be used once during a mission, obviously, and limit break will cost your shinobi a chunk of health (although it's the only special cancel that doesn't require your shinobi to be on the ground). Going frantic is not an option here as your shinobi has to be guarding.
There's still one situation during which your shinobi is absolutely helpless, and that's when she's dizzy.
Written by Aposine.