Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire/Strategy
This page covers general strategy of Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire. For more detailed, character-specific strategies, see each individual character's page.
The core of most offense in Fists of Fire is poking with fast, safe light normals mixed with quick dashes. Because light normals usually have great frame advantage, you can dash up into more light normals to extend pressure, or dash a little farther and go for a throw to open up the opponent. Some characters can also effectively chain into an overhead attack to further mix up the opponent.
While this sounds simple, the difficulty lies in avoiding getting hit yourself while attempting to run this gameplan. Recklessly dashing forward will get you tagged by the opponent's light normals. Some characters can threaten with long heavy pokes, such as Thorsten 5HK/2HK, Lau 2HK, or Admiral 2HK, which make the opponent more hesitant to throw out constant buttons in neutral. Tools like this are important for creating offensive opportunities, but they are dangerous to whiff carelessly as the opponent can dash in and punish the recovery of these attacks.
This is just a starting point for learning, not a strict guide that must be followed. Unique playstyles can take even strong opponents by surprise, especially in an under-explored game like Jackie Chan. For more examples of how to play various characters, check out tournament VODs in the Community page, or search for Fightcade replays for "jchan2".
Resets vs. Knockdowns
A knocked down opponent has many options at their disposal to escape further pressure, between 3 different wakeup positions and a set of invincible getup attacks. Because of this, a powerful strategy is to end combos with juggles that reset the opponent in the air, which prevents them from using any wakeup options. This will often sacrifice some damage, but the potential to land a stun from one mixup makes that a worthwhile tradeoff. Additionally, because invincible reversals will not come out on frame 1 when landing from an air reset, it becomes much safer to push your offense after an air reset compared to a knockdown. When juggling into an air reset, try to end the juggle with a normal that launches the opponent vertically rather than pushing them across the screen, or it will be hard to force a mixup. If you can cross under the opponent (or use a move that automatically turns them around), you can also stop them from backdashing out of the reset, further improving the chance of succeeding.
OTG attacks reset a character's stun to zero, so if you have the opponent at 95% stun after a knockdown then it may be better not to take the OTG damage. During this time you could charge meter, taunt (if it's safe to do so), or position yourself for a tricky mixup to catch the opponent's wakeup roll. The opponent's stun starts to decrease even during their Getup Attack animation, so even without OTGs it's harder to stun an opponent after a knockdown compared to an air reset.
Dealing with Getup Attacks
Sometimes ending a combo in a knockdown is the only option, so it's important to know how to deal with getup attacks because many players abuse them on nearly every knockdown. First, check the character's frame data to see if either of their getup attacks are punishable on block. If one is particularly unsafe, the opponent is more likely to use the safer one, which helps inform if you should block high or low if it becomes necessary. An even stronger way to punish getup attacks is to backdash right before they use it, and then dash forward when it whiffs. The punish timing can be difficult depending on the recovery of the specific getup attack, but this is a very strong tactic that will stop many players from attempting any more getup attacks, which will allow you to apply pressure more often after knockdowns.
The strongest defensive tool by far is backdashing. With the exception of Kim-Maree (who has 4 punishable frames at the end of hers), backdashes are totally invincible from beginning to end, and are quite fast. Backdashing is a great option to reset yourself in neutral if you are worried your opponent might start pressuring. Backdashes are not a get-out-of-jail-free card, however. Constantly mashing backdash while being pressured means that you are not holding downback, so a chain into a low normal will break your auto-guard and give the opponent a full combo. Additionally, you cannot backdash while in a backturn animation, which is common during air resets. The key to backdashing defensively is to be aware of common blockstring gaps where a backdash is always possible, and to take note of what kinds of pressure strings your opponent uses so you have a better idea of when it will be safe to backdash.
There are several moves that are slightly negative on hit or block, and require perfect timing to punish with a throw. For characters with multiple throw buttons (Lau, Sam, Kim-Maree), one way to increase the punish window is to plink both of the throw buttons. Plinking refers to hitting one button, followed by another button 1 frame later. If you time your first throw button perfectly, the throw will connect, and if you time it one frame early, the second throw button will connect instead. Characters with command throws (Kim-Maree, Dragonball Jackie) have an even easier time punishing in these situations, as buffering a command throw as a reversal will allow it to come out at the earliest possible timing, while not whiffing anything if the throw is out of range for the punish.
Lau and Admiral Jackie have invincible uppercut specials that can be used to blow through gaps in pressure, and many supers also have invincibility frames (although most are not invincible all the way through startup). In a desperate situation, it may be worth a try since these can turn the tide of battle in an instant. Check the "Special Move Buffering" section for more information about how reversals can be effectively used.
Mashing light attacks defensively, while a bit risky, is also a viable strategy, especially if the opponent is not quite at point blank range. Since the opponent is likely to attempt a forward dash into throw or normals, a defensive light button will often interrupt this dash and allow you to hitconfirm into your own offense. Don't let anyone tell you it's scrubby to mash, as this is a common tactic even at the highest levels of play.
Corner Throw Loops
Some characters have a powerful offensive option at their disposal if their throw causes the opponent to become Backturned after a corner juggle. After the backturned juggle, it is impossible to backdash during the 9f turnaround animation, while their throw invincibility only lasts 2f. This makes it very hard for the opponent to defend against an immediate dash into a second throw. Ideally, you want to dash at the opponent from outside your throw range, only getting close enough when their throw invincibility wears off; this prevents the opponent from using their own reversal throw.
Without a throw-invincible reversal, this scenario is almost inescapable. Moves like Supers, Lau/Admiral uppercuts, Yeung Flip Kick, or other fast airborne moves can escape. However, remember that after a backturned juggle, meaty normal attacks will beat reversals. By switching between throw loops and meaty light normals, the opponent will struggle to escape pressure after being thrown in the corner, creating a guessing game heavily in favor of the offense.
Thorsten and M. Lion are the best at executing this strategy. Lau and Dragonball Jackie also have throws that cause backturn, but their shorter throw range makes it harder to loop effectively, and they may be better off going for left/right mixups after a corner throw. Kim-Maree's HK Throw also works for this, but she gets guaranteed damage from an Air Throw reset that is generally better than attempting a throw loop.
There is technically a way to escape without a reversal, but it requires excellent timing and execution (and is only practical on a Hitbox/Leverless controller). By crouching for 1 frame, returning to neutral, then inputting Back (1~5~4 input), you will cancel the Backturn animation, then backdash on the frame your Throw Invincibility runs out. You can actually hold downback to get the crouch, then perform the rest of the input, making it reasonable to execute, but the timing is still strict. A side benefit to attempting this is that holding downback will also block a meaty low normal, so it serves as a defensive Option Select. It is likely that the opponent won't perfectly time their throw, so this becomes more practical against opponents that time their throw later than necessary.
Jumping is uncommon in Fists of Fire, but it's still important to know how to anti-air (AA) just in case. The specific moves used to AA the opponent can be found on each character's page, but there are some general tips that apply to everyone. Because jumps are so slow and floaty, you may have time to dash under the opponent to avoid a range where it's tricky to space your AA. Regardless of which button you AA with, you want to be able to dash up afterward and get a second juggle, followed by a mixup from the resulting air reset. By doing this, you can land a stun sequence from just a single AA, which will likely keep the opponent grounded in the future.
The timer for each round lasts only 30 in-game seconds (about 40 seconds real-time). While this is more than enough time to score a KO in this game, playing defensively to run the time out is also a viable strategy. Poking defensively with strong light normals, backdashing to create space, and playing an overall low-risk playstyle may force the opponent to become more aggressive, which opens them up to taking more small hits.
Thorsten in particular excels at the runaway game. His teleports have only 6 frames of recovery, and can reappear either in place, or the same distance apart on the opposite side. This forces a guess for the attacker, and some characters may not even be fast enough to chase Thorsten down on a correct read. Lau can also play a variation of this playstyle by constantly trying to build super while poking with safe fireball blockstrings. Don't be afraid to lame out the opponent, but be aware that 1 or 2 seconds may be all the opponent needs to take back the life lead (so don't try to jump backwards at the end of the round).
Unbinding the Up Direction
For characters that don't need to hit Up for their special moves, it can be a good idea to unbind the Up direction in the emulator (or place it on a button instead) to avoid accidental jumps. This is especially useful for characters with 41236 or 646 inputs, like Admiral Jackie or M. Lion, as these inputs are more likely to trigger an accidental jump without clean inputs. Consider this option if you ever struggle with this input problem.