Synyster Graves

The “Tekken Backstep”

by on Feb.05, 2024, under Tekken

For anyone who played online versus in Tekken 6 and onwards, you’ll notice that the majority of the sweaty players all use an exploit which looks something like this:

This is the (not so) fabled backstep or the “Korean Backstep” I’ve heard it called before but it’s a bizarre movement in which the player spams the back and down/back controls but for me it gives mixed results. Of course out of curiosity I’ve tried it myself but it’s honestly never benefitted me whatsoever. After dabbling in ranked matches on Tekken 7, and now Tekken 8; this has now almost become endemic to playing PvP Tekken. But look at it. It looks shit. Your character looks like they’re desperate to use the toilet but why on earth does it work online but not vs the CPU? Answer, because lagging is still a thing with PvP Tekken. Players use the lag between the servers as a way of almost ghosting their location meaning when you fight normally, you can’t hit them. This is a known exploit and I’m disappointed that even with the release of Tekken 8, this is still a thing.

What I didn’t realise, until I spoke to my friend Hayabusa, is that this particular exploit has been in effect since Tekken 3! I haven’t played PvP in Tekken much before the Xbox 360 online era, so basically everything before Tekken 6! While the impact of this on a local fight just results in a silly farce of movement, online it’s a very different story. But lag exploits are nothing new in online gaming, especially in a competitive arena. Have you ever wondered why when you go into ranked mode on Tekken, everyone is playing as Paul Phoenix and Steve Fox? It’s because they’re exploitable characters and any miniscule degree of lag and they will whiff you out of getting anything going before resuming their obligatory toilet dance. (The other two you will always be Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima because of their broken hitbox, but I’ll come to that in a later article).

I tried out the ranked mode when Tekken 8 dropped and I faced, what can only be described as a teleporting Steve Fox. Because of the lag on the ranked match (15ms) I analysed the replay data so I can see where I went wrong. I know I can play better than what I did and I’ve always very critical of my own performances. And then I noticed some glaring discrepancies when replaying the match with the frame data on. Steve Fox’s straight punch has a frame length of 5, yet every hit when going frame by frame was hitting on 1 or 2. I then noticed that after a heat activated Asuka back elbow, he was at stun/frame disadvantage of -17, yet managed to get his block up on the follow up hit after 9 frames. Wherever those alleged 8 frames disappeared to is anyone’s guess! Plus you look online, it’s a known fact that Steve and Paul are exploitable characters, hence their popularity.

But this is not my point, this is about the backstep. Now my opponent was a diligent purveyor of said technique and monitoring the replay, I swear there were hits I was landing, even the animation of my fist in his head; but none of them counted. This is because the backstep manages to fool the hit detection of the Tekken servers into believing he is somewhere where he isn’t, which is not fair game in my book. The fact that this is a KNOWN exploit, I don’t understand why this hasn’t been rectified in any version after Tekken 6, and we all know this bizarre toilet dance was very prevalent in 7 ranked! Why is an exploit not acknowledged as cheating? Is it because in order to do anything in PvP it’s expected to do? I don’t agree with that sentiment. It’s true that at the moment, all the experienced and pro players are skipping the AI assessment prior to Tekken 8 Ranked to make them register as “Beginner” rank so they can rack up easy wins off the bat; to be perfectly honest, I half threw my AI fight to do the same, the difference being that I am not a good PvP player, and I do recognise that the opponents I have faced on ranked have been better than me, but the Paul and Steve fights I faced which I was soundly beaten, my analysis of the replay to understand how I can improve just highlighted the fact that people prevail by exploiting an already broken system. That backstep is a broken exploit and while it’s mitigated throughout the Tekken community as “that’s the way it is”, I don’t understand how proudly declaring you’re essentially using a known cheat can derive any sort of pride. Call it fighter’s honour, but I don’t WANT to learn to win that way.

Should I learn it? I don’t think I should just to bag cheap wins because there would be zero satisfaction for me. I’m not someone who wants to reflect on achievements on stats alone, winning dirty in my opinion says more about you than your spotless record does in a flex. It has put me off playing in ranked when clearly there are people who are utilising an exploit to buy cheap wins. Without sounding like a Klingon, there is no honour in that for me at all and it’s disappointing that this is still a thing after it was clearly an issue in Tekken 6 and 7. And most importantly for me, it’s about entertainment. As a content creator I’ve watched so many streams on Tekken 7 and now 8 where people face off and just both exploit the backstep, looking like and episode of Strictly Come Dancing but all the contestants suffer from chronic incontinence. The instant I see a staccato-esque backstep I’m put off as a viewer, because it’s just another person exploiting a system with the intention to bag a cheap win. Not that I’m expecting it to be attended to, but it’s a frustration that ranked has been ruined with sweaty cheats. Personally playing with friends who don’t feel the need to exploit the system is a more rewarding experience for Tekken PvP.

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