Most Similar To: Nash (SFV), Ken (SFV), Seth (SFIV)
Strengths: When fully loaded on resources, Fulgore can do anything. He is an incredibly strong zoner and incredibly well-versed in rushdown, and can switch between the two at will, making him a blast to play and well-suited for any player regardless of their style. He can attack characters that struggle against rushdown, and zone characters with poor mobility, making him difficult to counter pick. His unique meter building mechanic let him perform things no other character in the game can do at a pretty low cost. He has great damage output for a character with his versatility, a giant red laser beam that goes full screen in an instant, and a stylish ponytail.
Weaknesses: The strength granted to him by his unique meter is also his biggest weakness; when Fulgore is starved for meter, he can struggle. Because shadow counters are very important for stopping offesive block strings in KI, Fulgore has to make a very deliberate choice to save enough meter for one, which typically makes him ineffective in neutral for quite a long time; if he chooses to spend meter here and there, it greatly weakens Fulgore's ability to escape highly offensive characters if they get past his zoning. If you can force Fulgore into spending meter poorly, you can beat him. He is also a fairly mentally draining character to play; being able to do anything is only as useful as a player's ability to mentally keep up with the fight.
Best Counter-Breaker Combos
0 Meter: HP double > medium Eye Laser > HP double > light Eye Laser > HP double > light Blade Dash > Plasma Slice ender (44%)
1 Meter: HP double > medium Eye Laser > HP double > light Eye Laser > HP double > light Blade Dash > Shadow Plasma Slice ender (52%)
2 Meter: HP double > light Eye Laser > HP double > light Eye Laser > HP double > Shadow Blade Dash > Shadow Plasma Slice ender (61%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Fulgore's Auto-Triples combo trait is great for reactor spin speed, but sacrifices a lot of damage because the combo cannot build to level 4, so other combos are preferred. For the 0 and 1-meter combos, doing three light Eye laser linkers works, but you can squeak in a medium Eye Laser at the start while the combo scaling is lower, then make up the time later by doing a faster but less damaging light Blade Dash. You'll get an extra 1% damage if you can put it in your muscle memory. For the 2-meter punish, though, this trick won't allow you to fit in a shadow move at the end, so doing only light Eye Lasers gives the most damage.
Unique Mechanic: Reactor Shadow Gauge
Fulgore earns meter differently than any other character in the game. The shadow gauge is replaced with a reactor gauge, which can hold a maximum of 10 pips; the first 4 pips are colored green, the next 4 are yellow, and the last 2 are red. To perform a shadow move or shadow counter, Fulgore must spend 4 pips, which means he can actually hold the equivalent of 2.5 shadow stocks, a higher capacity than any other character besides Omen. However, Fulgore will never gain meter by attacking or blocking attacks. Instead, he earns meter at a set rate, which is denoted by the reactor spinner and the blue bar above the pips. The blue bar slowly grows at a constant rate, and when it hits maximum, Fulgore earns another pip and the blue bar resets.
When Fulgore attacks with any normal attack and certain special attacks (Blade Dash, Plasma Slice, any linker), on block or on hit, the entire reactor gauge will flash yellow, indicating that Fulgore has increased his reactor speed. The spinner will spin faster, causing the blue bar to increase its speed, which earns Fulgore meter faster. When Fulgore is knocked down, or performs any special move deemed to be an "Energy System" (Energy Bolt, Eye Laser, Plasmaport), the reactor gauge will flash red, which will decrease his reactor speed and slow Fulgore's meter gain. The end result is that using Fulgore's strong zoning and runaway tools will cause him to earn meter slower, while pressuring your opponent will make him earn it faster. At its slowest, Fulgore gains one pip about every 13 seconds (ouch). At its fastest, Fulgore will earn a pip about every 2.5 seconds.
Why is his meter divided into these little pips? Because Fulgore can spend one pip to cancel a non-Plasmaport special move into another special move (with some caveats; he can't cancel out of blocked Blade Dash, he can't cancel out of his Plasma Slice uppercut, and he specifically can't cancel an Energy Bolt fireball into Eye Laser to prevent uncrackable zoning while in instinct). While Plasmaport is the exception to this rule, Plasmaport has very little recovery and normal and special moves can be performed slightly before Fulgore has reappeared for no cost, so you will often see Fulgore's teleport used in conjunction with pip cancels.
The applications for pip canceling are incredibly diverse. Throw a fireball and your opponent jumped? Doesn't matter, spend a pip to cancel it into uppercut for foolproof anti-air. Want to mix your opponent up? Cancel an Energy Bolt fireball into another fireball, then into a Plasmaport for a left-right mixup, and then throw or attack them. You can continually cancel special moves until you run out of pips, which means Fulgore can either be an incredibly strong zoner, or impossible to block rushdown character, as long as he spends his pips wisely and has the mental energy to keep up. Because he gains them at a set rate, if you can weather the storm or pressure him at the start of a match, there will be moments in the match where he can't go crazy.
Fulgore also gains benefits if his meter hits certain levels. When the first 4 green pips are full, he earns a substantial buff to his forward walk speed, making him scary in footsies. At 8 pips full, he earns a buff to his backwards walk speed, and when the whole meter is full, he gains faster and farther forward and backwards dashes and access to the Devastation Beam shadow move. Devastation Beam spends all 10 pips, but fires a giant red laser across the screen in 1 frame (after 5 frames of vulnerable pre-freeze startup; this is not a reversal) which does 31% raw damage and enough white damage to make your next hit a level 4 ender (when blocked, the move does the same amount of white damage). It's a very costly move, but because Fulgore can charge meter during instinct mode, he should be able to gain access to one of these per match without forgoing a ton of meter usage. If you connect with Devastation Beam, Fulgore earns a hard knockdown which allows him to apply a teleport mixup. If you succeed with your mixup, doing a short combo into an ender will cash out to a strong level 4 ender immediately, which can reward you with a further 50% damage. Even though the beam is expensive, this one-two punch coupled with the beam's insanely fast startup makes Fulgore an extreme threat from anywhere on the screen if he's willing to save the shadow meter.
Openers: Blade Dash (shadow OK), Eye Laser (Light and Medium only), Shadow Plasmaport
Fulgore has two primary openers. He charges at his opponent with his blade during Blade Dash, a safe on block forward-traveling move which can be held in place if you hold the kick button. Holding it typically only has uses for certain post-knockdown setups, so it's more common to just use it as a normal block string finisher. Eye Laser can be fired in three different ways, depending on the button press, and should be preferred for close range pressure because it gives more block advantage than Blade Dash. The LP and MP Eye Lasers are both low attacks; the LP version hits once and keeps the opponent close, while the MP version hits twice and pushes the opponent away a bit, but is more advantaged on block. These low Eye Lasers can be particularly effective if you cancel it off an overhead for a quick high-then-low block string which can surprise opponents. Shadow Plasmaport is a 5-hit shadow move which always teleports behind the opponent before attacking, but its tracking properties are poor, making it hard to hit moving opponents. It is useful in certain punish situations where the opponent is far away, though, like perhaps a Glacius summoning Shatter, or punishing a Shadow Jago player after you've blocked Dark Catastrophe.Other Combo Starters: Heavy Eye Laser (stagger), Energy Bolt (requires a manual), Standing HK (wall splat)
Heavy Eye Laser is a slow but full screen laser attack that is fired at around chest height and causes a stagger. It is a pretty strong space control move, and forcing opponents from full screen away to deal with it on occasion is a good idea. On hit, the stagger allows Fulgore to link into shadow Plasmaport for a combo. Energy Bolt, like most other fireballs in the game, allows Fulgore to continue a combo by connecting a manual.Linkers: Blade Dash (shadow OK), Eye Laser (shadow OK), Shadow Plasmaport
Eye Laser looks a little different as a linker compared to its neutral form. It shoots one, two, or three lasers into the torso; it's the more damaging of the two linkers, and you can't beat the cool factor of a robot shooting lasers from its eyes while it's comboing you. Meanwhile, the sadly laser-less Blade Dash will push the opponent closer to the corner and execute faster. Shadow Plasmaport is not worth the meter as a linker; if you're going to choose to spend bar on shadow linkers instead of in Fulgore's neutral game, use shadow Blade Dash, as it's a fast attack that can really tack on damage during a lockout.
Shadow Linkers: All of Fulgore's shadow linkers start the exact frame after the freeze ends, meaning it is impossible to lock yourself out on the first hit. You can even press your first break attempt during the freeze and it will always catch the first hit. Shadow Blade Dash is the fastest linker, and most of the time you should be able to break it just by pressing the buttons fast without timing. Shadow Plasmaport has the second longest shadow freeze in the game, but the timing to break has a steady rhythm.
Fulgore is surprisingly limited with his enders. To do your damage, you will need to use his Plasma Slice ender. He actually has two launcher enders, both of which launch the opponent directly in front of Fulgore. He can attack the opponent as they're falling with an attack such as standing HK, which boots the opponent across the screen and gives a hard knockdown. Fulgore can then cancel the standing HK into a nasty fireball/teleport mixup using some pips if he wants, or retreat and reestablish his strong zoning game. In essence, Fulgore will either choose to finish his combo with damage, or he will be applying some form of mixup with one of the other enders, as all the others lead into setups of some kind.
Recapture & Flipout: (none)
Fulgore gets no flipout or recapture, so all his juggles need shadow Plasma Slice for damage cashouts. But because Fulgore is so strong at controlling the ground and applying mixups to rising opponents, he does more than fine without these.
Normals to watch: Fulgore is very competent in footsies. Crouching MK is the great low poke you would expect a fireball zoner to have, while standing MK is a fantastic move that causes Fulgore to lift his front foot and drastically reduce his ability to be hit low. +HP is a 2-hit spinning command normal that moves Fulgore drastically forward and is cancelable into openers, which is great for both whiff punishes and pressure. It can be shadow counter bait, but it causes the reactor to increase spin speed for both of its two hits. Fulgore's +HP overhead earns him a lot of mileage; it serves a very similar purpose to Jago's overhead, and although it doesn't have quite the range, it tends to come out of nowhere during Fulgore's smothering pressure. Standing HK causes a wall splat against grounded opponents, but will punt airborne opponents across the screen and is always a hard knockdown; use it after Launcher enders or in footsies to reset spacing or apply mixups. And lastly, Fulgore's close standing LK is an exceptional tool for tick throws and other mixups. It has great range and a large hitbox, is fast at 5 frames, and can be canceled into Plasmaports and Eye Lasers for surprising mixups.
Specials to watch: For a zoning Fulgore, his Energy Bolt projectile can be fired at three speeds, and pip-canceled up to three times into itself, creating a series of three fireballs traveling at different (or the same) speeds across the screen. If you try jumping, you'll probably get hit, either by the staggered fireballs or by Fulgore spending a pip to cancel into Plasma Slice anti-air, depending on the range. You'll probably also fall into the fireballs for a combo, so you're better off blocking them and earning the shadow meter.
For a rushdown Fulgore, everything is about Plasmaport and Eye Laser. Watch out for multiple Plasmaports following ranged fireballs, close normals, or any number of mid-combo resets. The low-hitting Eye Lasers are even on block at worst, so Fulgore gets to maintain a lot of his momentum when he uses them in block strings. His Plasma Slice uppercut can be canceled on hit or block into the air version of shadow Eye Laser in an attempt to catch an opponent's punish. It costs 4 pips like all shadows, a high price to pay for meter-starved Fulgore, and it's unsafe if your opponent doesn't take the bait, but it's an option that works from time to time.
General strategy: Fulgore, on paper, seems to have a lot in common with Spinal. He has a unique resource which he has to earn before he can use, and then he spends it by canceling fireballs into multiple teleports for scary left-right mixups, and once he's on top of you, he can keep the momentum going. The main difference is that Fulgore is much stronger than Spinal in footsies, as a zoner, and when he is knocked down, since at the very least Fulgore has a fast invincible reversal. Meanwhile, Spinal's combos do a lot of damage and prevent his opponent from building resources, which makes Spinal's rushdown harder to escape. Fulgore is probably best played as a hybrid hit-and-run style character, and then catching your opponent in a moment of frustration and rushing them down, although you can have success playing Fulgore purely as zoning or purely as rushdown if you end up loving one of these aspects more than the other. Fulgore lives and dies by his meter, however, and there's only a set number of pips you can get per second, even with perfect play, so playing Fulgore requires a lot of fighting game intelligence, mental fortitude, and understanding of meter management. Or, you might just be attracted to his ponytail and full screen laser beam.