What is Practice Mode?
It's a mode accessible from the main menu that lets you fight against a dummy character. You can use this mode to try out your moves and see how they work. Most of getting better at Fantasy Strike involves playing actual people, and not spending a lot of time in practice mode, but we have a full-featured practice mode for you anyway, in case you want it.
Controlling the Dummy
You can directly control the dummy simply by using the controls for player 2. You don't have to turn that feature on—it just works.
You can use the pause menu in practice mode to set various behaviors for the dummy. You can set whether it jumps or not, whether it blocks or not, whether it does an action right after it blocks, and whether it does an action right after it gets up from a knockdown.
Fantasy Strike, like almost all fighting games, uses the frame as the basic unit of time. A frame is 1/60th of a second. The more frames a move has, the slower it is.
Attacks have three parts: startup, active, and recovery.
Startup frames can’t hit the opponent.
Active frames CAN hit the opponent.
Recovery frames can’t hit the opponent.
Here are the frame stats for Grave's double palm move, done by holding forward+A:
Sometimes you'll see more numbers in there, such as Rook's f+A kick, which has these frame stats:
8 / 5 (7) 15 / 22
The 8 startup and 22 recovery are straightforward enough. The middle part means that it can hit TWICE. It has 5 active frames for the first hit, then 7 frames where it can't hit, then 15 active frames for the second hit.
The diagram above also shows a second set of numbers that say (13 / -9). The 13 is startup again (it's just repeated from the stats above it) and the -9 is advantage time, also known as frame advantage.
Frame advantage is an important concept in all fighting games. It means how much sooner (or later) do you recover from a move compared to the opponent. For example, let’s say your move has frame stats of 13 / 7 / 28 and you make the opponent block it. You most likely made contact on the 14th frame; that’s the first of the 7 active frames in this move, though you might have made contact as late as the 20th frame. Anyway, you’ll be stuck in your animation for the rest of your active and recovery frames. Your opponent will ALSO be stuck though—they’re in blockstun because they blocked a move. So who will recover first? You can use the in-game training mode to find out.
If you do Grave’s double palm and have the training dummy block it, these stats appear below the move’s frame stats: (13 / -11).
That means 13 startup frames and -11 advantage frames. The negative number there is bad for you. It means the OPPONENT recovers from their blockstun 11 frames sooner than you recover from your attack. If the opponent has a move that has 10 or fewer startup frames (since that would hit on the 11th frame) that can reach you, they can hit you back guaranteed. And even if they can’t do that, if you both do a move as soon as possible, you’ll be “11 frames behind” and you’ll probably get interrupted by the opponent’s move.
The in-game frame advantage number is dynamic, meaning it’s calculated in real time as you do the move. You can see this by doing a jump kick at the training dummy and hitting them very high or very low to see the difference in advantage time. If you hit very high with Grave’s jump kick, you get about +10 frames of advantage time. If you hit very low, you get as many as +18 frames. The reason this number varies is that the later you hit them in your jump, the shorter the time is until you recover; meanwhile they will be in hitstun for the same length of time no matter when you hit them during your jump.
You can study this frame data in training mode to learn nuances of the game and know how safe or unsafe any move is.
Frame Step Mode
In practice mode, you pause the game in a special way to enter “frame step mode.” The top left corner of the screen tells you the button to press to do that. Once you’re in it, the top left also tells you the button to press to advance one frame.
You can use this feature advance the game very slowly, one frame at a time, to see exactly how things play out and test various situations precisely. You can also do inputs precisely between frames. For example, while in frame step mode, if you hold the A button, then advance one frame, your character will start doing the A attack on that frame if possible. Remember that there is an input buffer (usually 8 frames) so if you press A on a specific frame but it’s not possible to do an A attack then (maybe you’re getting up from a knockdown or in blockstun), that input will still come out if it becomes possible within the next several frames.
You can also enter inputs for player 2 during frame step mode (by using player 2’s controller, or player 2’s keyboard controls in the Steam version), so you can test interactions between moves.
If you press and hold the frame advance button, it will advance one frame, then wait a half second, then repeat the frame advance over and over automatically. This allows you to “slow motion” for a while to get to a specific frame of a move you want without having to press the button repeatedly.
Don't drown in the frames!