The Super Bowl contains two teams i care less for so i decided to write up something to pass the time. I settled on discussing a character’s move that i feel is really, really awkward. Kim Wu’s Firecracker.
For those not familiar with the move, it’s the two-hit special move that can reflect projectiles tossed at her. It’s plus on block in all forms and if she continues to mash the button that she used to start the move, she can just keep going with it. Light keeps her in place, medium scoots her backwards, heavy scoots her forwards.
As A Pressure Tool
Something quirky about the move is that the extended Firecracker (where you continue to mash the button) has better frame data than the normal, shall we say, startup versions. Ideally, Firecracker will be +1 or +2 on block. The extended is either +3 or +4, and does not have to be blocked initially. So, for instance, you could encounter a situation where Kim sweeps you, whiffs heavy Firecracker while you’re down but keeps mashing it so it’s going whilst you’re waking up.
But that’s a long shot scenario. Any character with an invincible DP can ignore it, and Firecracker only has 2 active frames per swing. There’s a good chance a wake up jab will interrupt an even slightly mistimed attempt at this. There’s a select few characters that don’t have an invincible wakeup option, but not one doesn’t have a jab at their disposal.
Another likely scenario is attempting to harass with an extended Firecracker looking for a frame trap afterwards. That is difficult to pull off as well. Every version of Firecracker is a two-hit attack and has a good bit of pushback on block naturally. If you’re pressuring with normal + Firecracker, you run a risk of the second hit of firecracker whiffing alltogether, making a normally plus on block move horribly negative. Granted, you can continue to mash the button hoping to counter hit the opponent’s button, but it’s a pretty risky manuever.
As A Counter-Zoning Tool
Probably the big selling point to Firecracker is it gives Kim a means to not be zoned out the whole game and be able to use predictable, reactable projectiles as her own weapons. It’s ill advised in certain matchups and at certain ranges. Just the threat of receiving a projectile that causes stagger and can either allow Kim to close distance or confirm into a combo can cause hesitation.
The thing is, there are matchups where her Firecracker does not reflect either at all or acts oddly. Kim cannot reflect a fireball follow from Talon Rake from Riptor. Only the 5th hail from S. Hail by Glacius will trigger a reflect. Kim can reflect nothing of Kilgore’s projectile arsenal. Shadow Firecracker interacts inconsistently with general ‘big shadow fireball’ moves. Oddly, Firecracker negates Eagle’s bird almost all-together. It negates screech and it can allow peck to pass right through her.
As An Anti-Air
Granted, using Firecracker as an anti-air is probably one of the weaker applications of the move. About the only real reason that i mention it as an anti-air is because of priority and because Firecracker will launch if it connects, allowing a juggle opportunity that you do not need a dragon for (which you usually do). But the weaknesses far outweigh the strengths, in my opinion. Very short active time, which means you run the risk of getting counter-hit a lot. Picking the potential most desirable one against someone with even a average jump arc can be difficult.
Is It Fixable?
Don’t know. Firecracker does so many different things that it’s hard to figure what it’s best use might be to me. Or what the best use that was envisioned when designing the move. But it also doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well when you compare it to similar tools with similar abilities in her own arsenal. It is not a great anti-air choice. It’s not a stellar pressure tool. It’s a hard to safely set frame trap. It also requires a good bit of matchup knowledge in what it can and can’t do as a counter-zoning tool. It’s also pretty easily low-profiled by a fair range of low and even some crouching normals.
Let’s be real, though. The move is not going to be changed anytime soon. But i could have one thing changed about Firecracker, i think i’d ask for much less pushback on block off the first hit of Firecracker. Ideally, make it so the move has less chances for it to whiff it’s second hit and become punishable. Let it keep it’s weaknesses of being a highly shadow counter-able move, and even it’s inconsistencies with reflecting projectiles. I do admit, i’d like the move to work more like Rash’s tongue where if it’s a projectile, it’s getting eaten and he’s getting free meter. But i’d rather her be bolstered in her up close game than to ‘normalize’ her reflect properties.
Anyway, just me putting some thoughts out.