Free Step Dodge Exclusive Interview
Force of Nature (FoN) is a competitive offline player who double downs as a superb content creator that recently compiled character walk-throughs in video format for every character in Dead or Alive 6. In this interview we explore his content, talk about offline experiences and get his point of view on Dead or Alive 6. FoN has been a contributor to Free Step Dodge for a long-time and you can explore his profile here, and observe his regular videos on YouTube.
DOAN: It's convenient to the community that you already have easy to understand guides available for both Kula Diamond and Mai Shiranui, but content aside what are your personal opinions with these two The King of Fighters guests?
FoN: The addition of Mai Shiranui to Dead or Alive has been a dream pairing for the two ever since DOA started pursuing guest characters, and Mai hasn’t disappointed one bit with her appearance in DOA. First being introduced in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round in Sept. of 2016, Team NINJA translated Mai into DOA’s style beautifully. Not only does Mai look the best that she’s ever looked, she also plays in a manner that fits in well with DOA, while maintaining integrity to her design. Her special moves such as her 236P Kachousen fan toss and 214P+K flame launcher translate well into DOA’s gameplay, while adding some welcome flash and flair. She’s arguably one of the most fitting guest characters in DOA (apart from maybe the VFs). With regards to DOA6, adding Mai to the game was basically a no-brainer.
As for her DOA6 collaborative partner-in-crime, Kula Diamond fits in with the more “loli-focused” direction that DOA has moved in since Marie Rose was added to DOA5U around Dec 2013-Mar 2014-ish, and like Mai, basically looks the best that she’s ever looked. TN did a solid job on her visually and brought over her KOF14 design beautifully. Playstyle-wise I feel that Kula doesn’t fit into DOA as well as Mai does. A key move that Kula’s gameplan revolves around is an incredibly unique tool that basically no one really has an equivalent too. Kula’s 236P Diamond Breath. It’s essentially a ranged combo-starter that forgoes the stun game, leading into potentially devastating combos that can include bounds and lots of wall carry. Diamond Breath can also be “special cancelled” off of certain strings and can be made safe from punishment if performed from tip-range, effectively making it a dangerous keep-out tool.
With regards to Kula’s addition to DOA6, it feels like she was chosen for the collab because she fits in with the “loli’s” and because on paper she’s the “popular” choice. However, in my opinion, I felt that she was added to DOA6 at a time where DOA really shouldn’t be trying to push more lolicons down people’s throats, especially when DOA6 was not initially promoted that way, and the timing and choice of her inclusion doesn’t do DOA’s reputation or stigmas any wonders. Including someone such as Kyo, K’, Andy (Mai’s significant other) or if possible Terry, Geese or even Iori along with Mai would be much more interesting choices. Adding Mai + a “loli” character creates the impression that Koei-Tecmo/Team NINJA don’t really seem to care about DOA’s reputation or stigmas. Naturally I was very disappointed when I discovered that Kula was the second SNK collab character. And, I actually like Kula, and dabbed with her a little in KOF13.
No other content creator has complete walk-throughs for every character in DOA6 yet but you. How do you coherently take on such a task this early on?
FoN: Do you know what inspired me to start producing tutorials for DOA5LR? I noticed that when I typed in and searched for guides on random characters, I generally would come up with nothing productive (apart from “combo guides” of course). For instance Marie Rose has 0 tutorials on YouTube besides my own, and she’s arguably DOA’s most popular character. If I were to do the same for something like Tekken 7 or Smash Bros. Ultimate, I could find numerous tutorials for almost any character fairly easily in comparison. Essentially, I noticed that character guides and tutorials was an area that DOA was lacking in and felt that I could at least try to pick up the slack and give DOA a decent chance of catering to players looking to improve beyond the “random-mashing-casual” level.
I went into DOA6 with the mindset that I was going to take on the task of producing a character tutorial for every character in the roster including anyone added along the way such as Mai & Kula. I was unable to complete this task with DOA5LR producing guides for 28 of the 36 total characters in the roster, and effectively used my experience as motivation to take on the task of a full roster tutorial production. No matter how poor DOA6’s launch has been, I still feel that mainline DOA series games deserve character tutorials. You’d be surprised how many people check for this stuff online, and get turned off from DOA when they can’t find anything helpful. Losing those types of players from DOA is always frustrating, and adds to the motivation to produce more productive content.
Out of all of the characters, who is the easiest for beginners to pick-up, and who would present the steepest learning curve?
FoN: I would have to say NiCO. Straight-forward gameplay, powerful tools including a powerful charge-able launcher, a powerful charge-able close hit strike that is either safe on block or a considerably plus guard break, complemented with a powerful frame advantage i12 throw. Most people looking to take up DOA6, should be able to get a handle on NiCO fairly easily. Other beginner choices include: Diego, Hitomi, Bass, Tina, Kokoro, Jann Lee, Mila along with Kasumi.
For the steepest learning curve, hands down Raidou would. He has 2D SNK fighter inputs in a 3D fighter, which demand a lot of practice to get down. This isn’t helped out by the poorest movement in DOA6 leading to some relatively unwelcome challenges that need to be negotiated in order to excel with the character. However, when he does hit you, he can smack you around like a truck. Other advanced choices include: Phase-4, Eliot, Ryu Hayabusa, Brad Wong, Ayane, Honoka, along with Helena.
Since DOA has launched you have been undefeated offline in Canada winning at Stun City Monday, Electric Clash and more recently Toryuken 2019. Do you have any plans to attend a Dead or Alive 6 World Championship event (DOA6WC)? How do you like the structure so far for Team NINJA's first DOA6WC, and what have been some of your favorite matches so far?
FoN: Last month, I recently got sponsored by Toronto’s esports team SMRT to attend Summer Jam 13 on Aug. 31st, so I’m effectively SMRT|FoN right now (pronounced “smartfone”). The DOA6WC structure is great. I like the consistent rules regardless of region (was never a fan of single elimination in Japan), along with the choice to make all top 8 matches first-to-3 as opposed to first-to-2. Originally I thought that too many stages got banned (as of right now, I only feel that Forbidden Fortune should be banned and maybe Chamber of Potential, despite having walls in DOA6), and still am not completely sure why Unforgettable is banned, however with regards to how the tournaments play out it ends up working out in the end. Fighting games like SOULCALIBUR VI or Samurai Shodown, for instance, don’t have many stages and visually the games don’t get boring. In comparison to other fighting games, DOA6’s stages are still very exciting to watch, especially the Chinese Festival (formally the Crimson) stage of course haha.
A couple stand out matches for me include Ky Dragon vs. XcaliburBladez from the Mixup and Gehaktbal vs. TeruRock from VSFighting. The former match included Ky Dragon coming fairly close to upsetting XcaliburBladez in a first-to-3 set with his Kasumi prowess, and the latter match showed that Bass is still very much a threat in DOA6 in July 2019 with a 3-0 dominating comeback by Gehaktbal from a dominating 0-2 deficit at the hands of TeruRock’s Kasumi prior. Keisuke vs. Linerback at KVO x TSB was also an epic match with Linerback winning 5 straight sets with the “low tier” Marie Rose, only to get reverse 3-0’ed by Keisuke’s Hayabusa in a match that went from loli domination to a surprisingly close affair.
How did you feel about the change to the meter system introduced in version 1.05? Did it cause you to redraw some strategies or did you quickly make the adjustments?
FoN: I adjusted to the change pretty easily because it allowed me to play DOA6 more akin to DOA5 without having to worry about consciously stuffing sidestep anymore. Prior to the change, I would have to make sure that I was either specifically using tracking moves to stuff SSA’s or baiting out SSA’s for a free punish. Overall, I felt that the SSA’s meter change was an ill-advised move because in the prior patch (and likely earlier), people were learning how to blow up sidestep attack abuse relatively hard (for instance, Rig could get a free 8K lift stun as a punish). Punishing SSA’s was pretty easy when you paid attention to its use. In the current meta, players SSA’s a lot less frequently comparatively to the point that you never have to worry about SSA abuse, because the opponent will very quickly drain their break gauge meter. Used two SSA’s recently? You just used up half of your meter.
Did you choose Ayane as your main because you simply mesh with her mechanical structure or did you first fall in love with her character, look and story line?
FoN: Is all of the above an option? In DOA2, I didn’t really like Ayane. She was a bitch to Helena and came off as very unlikeable personality-wise. However, along came DOA3 and my love affair with Ayane was born. Her story was a key focus of DOA3 and she quickly went from coming off as a bitchy tsundere character to a sympathetic young woman having to take on two deep burdens: laying her foster father Genra to rest, and taking on the role of the leader of Mugen Tenshin’s Hajinmon clan. Mechanically, Ayane became much deeper and even more fun in DOA4 along with arguably the second best ending cinematic after Helena’s.
Fast-forward to DOA5, I went into that game with the mindset that I was finally going to learn how to play DOA properly and said to myself that I was going to main Ayane and stick with her until I learn how to play her competently. It was not an easy road. Ayane is one of the most unintuitive characters to learn DOA5 with. One of the largest movesets in DOA along with numerous stance moves and transitions to account for, along with a seemingly overabundance of unsafe moves. But I was not going to quit on this character until I learn how she operates. That was almost 7 years ago and Ayane’s gameplay just flows for me like an extension of my own personality.
As for the primary reason I chose to main Ayane? Well besides purple hair & spinning, I just felt like Ayane was the most relatable character in the roster (if you’ve ever played second fiddle to anyone in your life, you’ll at least somewhat relate with Ayane). Her DOA3 story-line sold me on the character, and also, can you bring back her DOA3 C1 costume to DOA6 Team NINJA?
FoN is on fire with his contributions to the community, and he backs up his work with offline presence and tournament wins under his belt. If you haven't already be sure to check out replays for Electric Clash 2019, Toryuken 2019 and Stun City Monday to watch Force of Nature dominate his competition with his aggressive and ruthless Ayane. You can support FoN by subscribing to his YouTube channel and rooting him on as he performs in his first DOA6WC event at Summer Jam 13 this month!