Command-input moves, also known as Command Attacks, are upgraded versions of the special moves of Ryu, Ken, Terry, and Kazuya that require a specific motion on the control stick and a button press in a specific window of time in order to be performed.
In traditional fighting games, a "command input" is typically defined as any combination of a direction and/or button press that causes a move to be executed. In the Super Smash Bros. series, it is used for attacks that require more input than a simple direction + button press, typically those that require a series of directional inputs on the control stick prior to executing the attack. In Ultimate, taunt inputs can be used instead of the control stick.
While most command input special moves can be activated by simply pressing the A or B buttons and holding a direction, they are intentionally made slower and weaker to reward players for using the inputs instead. Command versions of these moves are more complicated to activate, but have the benefit of being faster, more powerful, and sometimes have added effects. For unclear reasons, the side taunt button (assigned by default to the side buttons on the directional pad) will also behave as the special button when executing command inputs.
There are also some moves that can only be activated via command input, such as Shakunetsu Hadoken, which are often integral to their respective character's gameplay. These moves are often at their most useful during combos, with Ken using his for combo purposes, enabling numerous KO confirms. With the addition of Terry and Kazuya in Ultimate, some command input special moves can also be "unlocked" when reaching a certain damage threshold, known as Super Special Moves and Rage Drives respectively. These moves often have far more complex inputs, but deal extremely high damage and knockback, making usage extremely rewarding.
Most command inputs have a 12-frame window (0.2 seconds) to be performed starting on and including the frame the first input is released. Using Hadoken as an example (↓ ↘ → + attack/special), ↓ can be held for as long as the player desires, but as soon as it is released the ↘, →, and attack/special have a total of 11 frames left. Terry's Super Special Moves have a 22-frame window; additionally, Power Geyser's input window will widen for each frame the ← input is held, up to an additional 15 frames (holding ← for 21 frames or more will cancel the command input). On the other end of the spectrum, Electric Wind God Fist specifically has only a 3-frame window as a reference to it being a "just frame" attack in its home series.
There are also some advanced techniques that can be utilized with command inputs, such as charge partitioning and Kara Canceling. All command input-related moves — except those that are related to Kazuya's Crouch Dash — can be drop canceled, making them easier to use on platforms.
Moves with Command Inputs
Negative edge is a mechanic involving any command input special move, which is present in traditional fighting games. To perform, hold the attack or special move button during an attack, input the special move, and release said button shortly after the attack is over. Essentially, pressing and releasing an attack button can be treated as a half-A press in the context of a command special move. This will always be treated as a tap input, so only the weakest variations of the special moves will occur. This is not to be confused with buffering, which is where a player holds a button to perform an action on the first possible frame. Negative edge is present in SSB4 and Ultimate. While Ryu, Ken, and Terry have full access to Negative edge, Kazuya has it in a more limited form, only being able to use Negative edge with Left Splits Kick; this is in part due to his other command-input moves requiring an input during a Crouch Dash, which is recognised as a separate "move".
Negative edge primarily exists to make combos with special moves easier for players to perform, making it a good technique for new players to utilize when starting out. For example, with Ryu, it is possible to use negative edge to make canceling his close strong neutral attack into Shoryuken easier. However, as aforementioned, this can only result in a weak Shoryuken; due to situations like this, learning the inputs without negative edge is important in order to get full use out of the characters.
Negative edge's treatment of half-A presses is very liberal, even applying in instances such as shield tilting. Thus, in the case of Terry, it's possible to tilt downwards while holding B, then flick the control stick upwards and release B for a weak charged Rising Tackle. However, there are more optimal routes for Rising Tackle out of shield, such as COIL, which can also allow for the strong version. This can be used with other special command-input moves, though due to their often inferior frame data, it's difficult to justify.
Because Negative edge only results in weak inputs, it's optimal in cases where the weak input is necessary, reducing the chance of human error. This best applies to situations such as Terry's neutral aerial into Burning Knuckle, which can otherwise be difficult to recover from using the strong version off-stage. Additionally, at higher percentages, the strong version can sometimes be too slow to connect reliably. For a more niche case, against characters like Mega Man, Robin, and Ken, there are situations where Terry's up tilt can be canceled into a weak Crack Shoot and result in a drag down; normally at around 75%.
Tiger Knee is an advanced technique exclusive to Ultimate that involves making use of a jump alongside command inputs. Because none of his command input special moves can be used off the ground Kazuya cannot make use of his technique. The name comes from Sagat's Tiger Knee attack in Street Fighter, whose atypical input of ↓ ↘ → ↗ + Kick allowed certain air special moves to be done as low to the ground as possible in other games following its debut. This can be applied to any command input special move that can be used in the air; ergo, Super Special Moves, Oosoto Mawashi Geri, and Nata Otoshi Geri cannot be utilized with this technique. It is mainly viable with Terry thanks to the sheer amount of aerial pressure he can exert using his special moves. However, there is niche utility with Ryu and Ken as well, albeit being extremely committal and not having much benefit over simply jumping and doing the input.
To perform the technique, input a jump alongside a singular A or B press prior to inputting a command special; for example, to do a Tiger Knee Burning Knuckle, one would do ↓ ↘ → + Jump + Attack / Special, in which the aerial version would be done, ignoring the ledge. Due to requiring a jump prior to the final input, it cannot be used alongside a special cancel, which puts a firm cap on its utility.
If performed correctly, a jump will occur at the same time as the special move. This has various applications for Terry, such as autocanceling Power Dunk, getting a higher arc with Crack Shoot, and using Burning Knuckle's aerial variation closer to the ground, allowing it to drift past the ledge. An autocanceled Power Dunk using this technique is even on shield, enabling Terry to mix up with moves like neutral attack. Additionally, it acts as a somewhat committal way to get past projectiles, which can also be applied to Tiger Knee Crack Shoot. Tiger Knee Burning Knuckle allows Terry to get around the grounded version locking him to the ledge, boosting its potential threat range on-stage and making Terry's edgeguarding much less committal. With respect to Ryu and Ken, using a Tiger Knee Tatsumaki Senpukyaku can force the move to do a rising version, acting as a committal anti-air option.
Renda canceling is an advanced technique introduced in Ultimate which makes it easier to cancel normal attacks into super attacks. It is a misnomer based on the Renda-Kara-Cancel used in Super Street Fighter II, which involved kara-canceling the startup of a self-chaining light attack into a super combo in order to ignore the restriction that chained light attacks cannot special or super cancel. This technique however does not involve self-chaining light attacks (the renda in renda cancel), nor kara-cancels, it is simply an execution trick that makes it easier to perform special cancels from tilts.
This technique consists of inputting part of a command special, attacking with the C-Stick, and subsequently finishing the input. It occurs because C-Stick macros cannot trigger special moves (so ↓ ↘ → + C-Stick won't be interpreted as a burn knuckle, just down tilt), while keeping the completed part of the special move motion in the command buffer. The purpose of this is making it easier to special or super cancel from tilt attacks, because you can do part of the motion before the tilt, and part of the motion as the tilt connects, instead of needing to do the whole motion during the tilt attack.
For example, with Terry, one can input ↓ ↘ →, down tilt using the C-Stick, and finally ↓ ↘ → + Attack / Special. If performed successfully instead of using Burning Knuckle, Terry will use Buster Wolf, reading the ↓ ↘ → prior to using down tilt, and the ↓ ↘ → during the down tilt. Because only tilt attacks cancel into specials, setting the C-Stick to tilt attacks is necessary.
This technique is essential for Terry in particular because it allows his Super Special Moves to cancel reliably from tilt attacks. Since only part of the commands needs to be inputted before the attack connects, this gives the Terry player a lot more control; if the attack used prior doesn't give a favorable situation for the special, the player simply doesn't finish the input. Buster Wolf's input also allows for Burning Knuckle to be used instead should the situation call for it. Overall, Renda canceling is an essential part of Terry's kit.
Command Orientation Input Locking
Command orientation input locking (often abbreviated as COIL, sometimes known as COIL charging) is an advanced technique introduced in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It involves exploiting a quirk in the way the game reads controller inputs to trick it into thinking that the player is moving in two directions at the same time. Because of this, while COIL is technically performable with every fighter, it's only truly useful for Ryu, Ken, Terry and Kazuya, where the first input of a command input or charge motion is available to them at all times, making said inputs easier to perform. Terry especially benefits from this technique by being able to run up to an opponent and perform an invincible Rising Tackle without holding down for 24 frames or charge partitioning. The only disadvantage to COIL, while significant in many scenarios, is that the attack button ceases to function while the C-Stick is held, making normal attacks unusable.
Before performing this technique, the player needs to ensure that their C-Stick is set to tilt attacks instead of smash attacks. The player then needs to hold the control stick in a certain direction, then hold the C-Stick in the same direction. Then, the player needs to let go of the control stick while still holding the C-Stick. For example, if the technique is done correctly and both sticks are held down followed by the control stick being released, the C-Stick will trick the game into thinking the control stick is still down.
A variant of this technique, known as Double Tap Command Orientation Input Locking (DTCOIL), has a slightly different activation method. After holding down on the analog stick, the player should quickly tilt the C-Stick twice, making sure that only one tilt attack comes out, and then continuing the technique as normal. Two tilt attacks mean the activation did not work. If done correctly, the direction will still be locked in and the A button will function, circumventing the issue with normal COIL.
Command inputs can be traced back to the 1987 arcade game Street Fighter. In that game, the player can access the Hadoken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and Shoryuken with their respective inputs. There was a very strict window to activate, but all moves did massive amounts of damage to compensate. Players complained that the activation window was too strict which led to inputs being "eaten" and the controls feeling inconsistent. Capcom listened to these complaints and decided to make special moves easier to perform at the cost of damage for Street Fighter II. Takashi Nishiyama, creator of Street Fighter, also listened to these complaints after moving to SNK and created Fatal Fury. These two games laid the foundation for all fighting games in the future, and the inputs introduced are now commonplace across the genre.
Negative Edge is primarily seen in traditional fighting games, particularly Street Fighter. The term "negative" refers to the release of a depressed button, and for this reason, it sometimes goes by names such as "Button Up". Since its inception, games like Marvel vs. Capcom and BlazBlue adopted it for accessibility purposes. Releasing a button hold can trigger a special move when the motion is performed the same way as pressing a button can, but without the risk of throwing a move out.
Tiger Knee got its name from Sagat's "Tiger Knee" (↓ ↘ → + ↗ + Kick). First usable in Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, his first playable appearance, the move involves using a jump input (↗) to perform. As is in Ultimate, it is performed by using the command on the ground and doing the final input when airborne. While Sagat himself had no use for the technique, the input itself later became useful in other fighting games—particularly Guilty Gear—allowing for aerial versions of moves to be used extremely close to the ground. Because of this, moves utilized through this bypass are referred to as being "Tiger Kneed".
The Crouch Dash was first introduced in Tekken as an exploit of the physics engine where some fighters are able to slide forward a considerable distance after performing a certain technique. It was well received by the community upon discovery and has appeared in every major release since. It remains relevant today because not all playable fighters are able to use the technique, making it a valuable tool to those that do have it. The technique is also known colloquially as a "wavedash" due to the move activating in distinct phases, or "waves". The Smash version of the wavedash derives from this move, being similar in appearance and functionality.
"Just frame" is a Tekken term primarily associated with the Electric Wind God Fist, but is also used in games like Soul Calibur. It describes moves or actions that require a frame perfect input which cannot be buffered, though there are sometimes ways to make it easier depending on the game and character being used. A lot of the time, these inputs are defined by pressing a direction and button on the same frame, but this isn't always the case. These moves are typically very rare but extremely rewarding, often drastically increasing the skill required to utilize a character. In Smash, Kazuya's Electric Wind God Fist has a 3-frame window rather than 1-frame, making it somewhat easier to execute, and not necessarily a "just frame" attack in the traditional sense.