Tough Love Arena/System

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Every character has a set amount life at the beginning of a round. When your life is depleted to 0, you lose the round.

Character Health
Carbs 950
Meats 1050
Spices 1000
  • At the beginning of each round, each character is refreshed to max life.
  • You lose life when you are hit by an attack, you are thrown, you armor through an attack, or when you block certain moves which deal chip damage.
  • TLA has no chip kills.


Movement in Tough Love Arena is fairly simple: characters can walk forwards and backwards, and they can input forward + special to jump.

  • Walk speed varies by character archetype, with the Carbs (Noodle and Rice) being the slowest, and Spices (Onion and Garlic) being the fastest. The Meats (Beef and Pork) are in between.
    • Noodle and Rice have a forward walk speed of 45 and a backward walk speed of 35.
    • Beef and Pork have a forward walk speed of 55 and a backward walk speed of 40.
    • Onion and Garlic have a forward walk speed of 65 and a backward walk speed of 60.
  • It is not possible to jump without attacking, nor is it possible to jump straight up or backwards.
  • Certain characters have additional movement options, such as Garlic's Dash.


Characters in Tough Love Arena will automatically block incoming attacks if they are standing still or walking away from the opponent. You stop blocking, and can be hit, if you walk towards your opponent or start attacking.

LOVE Meter

Whenever you hit attacks, block attacks, get hit, or walk forward, you will gain LOVE meter. The amount of LOVE you have is indicated by the pink bar underneath your health bar.

  • You start each round with 0 LOVE meter. LOVE meter does not carry over between rounds.
  • The maximum LOVE meter you can hold is 2000. The bar is segmented in the middle to indicate the halfway point of 1000 LOVE.
  • There are three ways to spend LOVE meter: Rapid Cancel, Rejection, and Burst. Rapid Cancel and Rejection both cost 1000 LOVE (one bar), and Burst costs 2000 LOVE (two bars).
  • Exact details for LOVE meter gain amounts can be found in the in-game Frame Data chart, under Extras.

Rapid Cancel

By pressing forward + Throw after certain attacks are hit or blocked and spending 1000 LOVE meter, you can Rapid Cancel that attack, allowing you to immediately act with no recovery frames.

  • Rapid Cancel freezes the screen for a short period of time.
  • Not all attacks can be Rapid Cancelled, and some moves can only be Rapid Cancelled on hit and vice versa.
  • Rapid Cancel can make normally punishable attacks advantageous on block, or allow you to combo after hitting a move that normally would not lead into a combo.
  • If you use Rapid Cancel in a combo, you will gain 50% reduced LOVE meter for the duration of the combo. This is indicated by the combo counter turning purple.


By pressing forward + Throw while in blockstun, you will perform Rejection, a frame 1 invulnerable universal reversal that has 10 frames of startup. Rejection is -2 on block and 0 on hit (when grounded).


While you are being hit, you can press back + Throw and spend all 2000 LOVE meter to perform a Burst. This is the only way to escape a true combo, although it is not guaranteed to succeed.

  • Using Burst will immediately cancel your hitstun into a wide-range strike that hits all around you and blows the opponent fullscreen if it hits them.
  • Burst can be initiated any time you are in hitstun (after getting hit or being launched). It cannot be used while blocking or from neutral.
  • Armored attacks will not absorb the hit from Burst and will still cause the attacker to be knocked back.
  • Parry attacks will beat out Burst if timed right.
  • Burst has 20 frames of startup and can be blocked if the attacker is not currently performing an attack.
  • Additionally, some attacks are "safe on burst", meaning that the opponent can still block in time if you burst one of their attacks. Experiment to find out which attacks are safe on burst or not.
  • If your Burst is blocked or misses, you will fall helplessly to the ground, during which time the opponent can freely hit you.

Combo System

A combo is a string of attacks that is inescapable if the first attack hit. The combo system in Tough Love Arena is based primarily on Cancels and Launches, although links also exist.

  • For every hit in a combo that the opponent could not escape (known as a true combo), the combo counter under the opponent's health bar will increase by 1.
  • The only way to escape a true combo is with Burst.


Certain attacks can be cancelled into other attacks on block or on hit. For example, Meats' (Beef and Pork) Light Attack (Gutpunch) can be cancelled into their Heavy Attack (Heavy Punch) by simply pressing the Heavy button after Gutpunch connects. Many (but not all) cancelled attacks will combo the opponent on hit, meaning that if they were hit by the first attack, the opponent will not be able to escape the second hit.


Certain attacks will Launch a grounded opponent. These moves are called Launchers, and each Launcher has a Launch count, indicating how many times you can juggle the opponent in the air before the combo is forced to end.

  • Every time you hit a Launched opponent, the Launch count decreases by 1 and they will be juggled with less height.
  • Once the Launch count reaches 0, the opponent will enter an "exhausted" state in midair and it will be impossible to hit them with any attacks.
  • An "exhausted" opponent who touches the ground will enter a Hard Knockdown state, which they will recover from after 40 frames.
  • If a launched opponent touches the ground when their Launch count is not 0, they will be standing and able to act immediately upon touching the ground.
    • As such, to get a hard knockdown, you must juggle the opponent with the same number of hits as the Launch count. (i.e. A launch 4 launcher requires you to juggle the opponent 4 times to get a hard knockdown.)
  • Examples of Launch moves:
    • Beef and Pork's Uppercut applies a Launch value of 3.
    • Onion and Garlic's Roundhouse applies a Launch value of 4.
    • Noodle and Rice's Whip Pounce applies a Launch value of 3.
  • Some moves can Re-Launch the opponent, meaning the Launch value can be reset. The initial Launch value the opponent had is ignored and the new Launch value is applied.
    • Noodle's Soup Re-Launches for a count of 9.
    • Rice's Swat Re-Launches for a count of 9.
  • Hitting a launched opponent with a move with Launch 0 will immediately force the combo to end in a hard knockdown.
  • Any move without a Launch value that hits a character out of the air will launch them with Launch 2.
    • The exception is if the character is falling after using Burst, in which case it will launch them with Launch 5.

For example, Meats' Uppercut (Heavy > Heavy) launches the opponent with Launch 5. This means that the opponent can be juggled in the air 5 times before the combo is forced to end. If the Meat is in the corner when they hit this attack, they can juggle the opponent with Heavy Punch, Heavy Punch, Heavy Punch > Palm, which adds up to four hits and will force the opponent into a Hard Knockdown state when they land.


As with many other fighting games, if a move is advantageous enough on hit, it can combo into another move with fast enough startup to hit the opponent before they have recovered from the first attack. This is called a link.

  • The most common link is doing a combo after hitting a Jump Attack.
    • Jump Attack has very low recovery and, as a result, is +20 on hit, allowing one to link almost any attack after Jump Attack hits and create a true combo.
  • Another common link is after Onion or Garlic's Trip, which recovers quickly enough to link into Flick (+7 on hit, Flick has 5f startup).
  • Because this game uses True Startup as its convention, you need a move with n-1 startup to link into a move that is +n on hit.

Damage Scaling

The more times you hit the opponent in a combo, the less damage they will take from subsequent attacks.

  • The first 2 attacks will deal 100% damage.
  • Every subsequent attack will deal 10% less damage: the 3rd hit deals 90% damage, the 4th hit deals 80% damage, and so on.
    • A full explanation of normal damage scaling can be accessed in the in-game frame data menu.
  • The minimum damage an attack can deal in a combo is 20% damage.

Counter Hit

If you hit an opponent during the startup or active frames of their attack, the hit becomes a counter hit.

  • When a combo starts with a counter hit, the word COUNTER will appear above the combo counter, and the counter will be pink instead of the normal red.
  • Counter hits improve the damage scaling of a combo, making the combo deal more damage.
    • The first attack (which was the counter hit) deals 120% damage, and the second attack deals 100% damage.
    • After the second hit, each subsequent attack will deal 10% less damage: the 3rd hit deals 90%, the 4th hit deals 80% damage, and so on, just like a regular hit.
    • The minimum damage an attack can deal in a counter hit combo is 30% damage, higher than a regular hit combo.
      • A full explanation of normal damage scaling can be accessed in the in-game frame data menu.
  • Jump attacks cannot be counter hit once airborne.
  • Garlic's dash cannot be counter hit.

Frame Advantage

For a good overview on what frame advantage means, and how to interpret numbers such as "+5" and "-7" that you will see in the properties of characters' attacks, check out this video by Core-A Gaming or the entries on Frame Data and Frame Advantage on Infil's Fighting Game Glossary. Essentially, it is a numerical representation of who can act first, and how much earlier they can act, after an attack hits or is blocked.

If you are already familiar with frame advantage, note that this game uses True Startup as its convention, rather than including the first active frame of a move in its startup.

  • This means that a move with 5f startup is active on frame 6, and can punish a move that is -6 but cannot punish a move that is -5.
  • Similarly, a move that is +5 on hit will not link into a move that has 5f startup, so Light Attack cannot link into itself on hit.
  • Since the fastest moves in the game, Light Attacks, all have 5f startup, this means that any move that is -5 or better is unpunishable, and any move that is -6 or worse is punishable (distance permitting).


Every character can initiate a Throw by pressing the Throw button. If your opponent is in a throwable state when the Throw becomes active, they will be thrown.

  • If successful, Throw will pick up the opponent and throw them behind you at about half-screen distance, dealing 200 damage and granting you 500 LOVE meter.
  • Throws will always throw your opponent behind you, giving up the corner if you threw a cornered opponent.
  • To defend against Throws, press throw yourself. This will "tech" the Throw.
  • Certain attacks, such as all jump attacks, are also Throw-invulnerable.
  • Throws have 5 frames of startup, and cannot be initiated while the opponent is in hitstun, blockstun, or knocked down. If the opponent is in any of these states when you input Throw, you will instead whiff your throw.

Throws are good for opening up a blocking opponent. Additionally, any attack that is advantageous (plus) on block allows the attacker to set up a strike vs. throw mix-up.


Noodle's Frenzy (back + Special) and Pork's Chop (back + Special), have Armor during their startup.

  • During Armor frames, you will absorb any attacks that connect with you. These attacks deal half damage and do not interrupt the Armored attack.
  • You can throw the startup of armored moves. This counts as a counter hit.
  • You cannot die while Armoring an attack -- if an attack would kill you, it instead leaves you at 1 health.
  • Different types of armor exist.
    • Armor vs. Air: only can armor an air attack (i.e. Garlic's Sneak and every Jump Attack)
    • Armor vs. Projectiles: only can armor through projectiles (i.e. Noodle's Soup and Beef's Lemon)
    • Full Armor: armors through almost every type of attack
  • Any attack with armor is throwable during the armor frames.


Beef's and Onion's reversals (back + Special) are both Parries.

  • Parries are active immediately and will activate if any attack connects with their active frames, with different effects on success depending on the character.
  • Parries have limited active frames, so they need to be timed carefully to catch attacks. After their active frames, parries have a recovery period during which they are vulnerable.
  • Parries will activate against most attacks.
  • Against projectiles, parries activate without the parry freeze.
  • Parries can be thrown at any point during the move.