Challenge Mode, Trials (I think?) are a good way to learn characters’ moves and combos.
the more advanced combos are stupid impossible. something like, jump in with a Med Kick, crouch Fierce punch, EX Focus Attack, Shoryuken, EX Focus Cancel, Ultra Combo.
here comes a long post again.
The idea is to pick up pieces here and there from the trial mode to implement into your moveset slowly. for example the important part on the above one is shoryuken, ex focus cancel, ultra combo. It is ryu’s bread and butter combo to land his ultra every time reliably. Alternatively, a jab shoryuken into a juggled super (shinku hadoken) is ryu’s bread and butter to land his super every time.
The best way to train away from the console is youtube. watch pro matches, see what they do, get some ideas and work them into your own game.
the above is 30 match videos featuring ryu. played by daigo of the infamous 3rd strike chunli parry video. you can link around there to find more matches of other characters, visit shoryuken.com, or ask me for specific character vids.
as to unlocking the characters, visit this link on ign: http://cheats.ign.com/ob2/068/142/14211549.html#14319494
on the subject of joysticks, wait a bit because mad catz will be restocking the standard and tournament edition sticks in March and I’m sure amazon will restock the hori’s. Just hold out because no stick is worth $200+. Just make sure if you do it, do it right. Which means you have basically 5 options on sticks:
1. $80 Mad Catz fight stick
2. $100 Hori Real arcade pro 3 (HRAP EX for 360, $129)
3. $150 Mad Catz fight stick tournament edition
4. $160-$180 AIAB http://www.arcadeinabox.com/ <- they offer sticks that are “American” arcade feel. The above 3 are Japanese arcade feel and layout
5. custom built sticks that you make on your own, or commission someone on srk.com to make for you. parts at http://www.lizardlick.com
anything else is worthless even for a very casual player, you’ll actually play better on a pad I promise.