I think that getting good with a stick is a much faster process than getting good with a pad (not saying that pad is "bad", it's just easier to learn on stick). Third Strike is a very technically demanding game and it's very strict with inputs. My best advice to you would be to buy a cheap, entry level stick. If you look hard enough to can find quality sticks in the 40-50 dollar price range. I started on the Hori Fighting Stick 3 and then upgraded to a madcatz TE many months later.
The SFIV series is the best place to start. Pick a character you like, but stay away from the execution monsters like C. Viper and Gen. Anti-airing and blocking are what beginners should focus on. Keep the combos simple until you've learned how to play fundamental footsies.
You can try Marvel if you're feeling brave, but that's a rough place to start... real rough.
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It's a love/hate announcement for me. I'm angry that capcom always does this to fighting game fans, but on the other hand, the bigger roster, balance tweaks, and a fully featured online mode will make UMvC3 the marvel i've always wanted to play.
I'm a Capcom fighting game fanatic so I'm pretty much doomed to buy all of their fighting games no matter how awful and anti consumer their business practices have proven to be.
I've always preferred holding back. Having a block button completely changes the wake up and mix up game since ambiguous jump ins aren't very effective. It's not really that I don't like holding block, I just don't like how it removes the "should I block left or right?" mixup game.
Yun and Yang are definitely major threats, but they are far from unbeatable. It'll take time, but eventually the match ups will be learned; Yun and Yang will be figured out. Keep in mind that a Sagat player never won a major in vanilla despite being a clear S-class character.
No one is ass anymore, so you have to work for every single win online, but it's definitely worth getting back into the mix. Also, balrog was indeed nerfed, but he remains one of the best characters in the game. Still top 10 at the least.
Maybe there will be a surge of newer players once it lands on disc, but everyone who bought the DLC seems to be good.
Sub zero is one of the best characters in the game. Most online sub zeros are straight trash who spam ice balls and slides. A good sub zero will zone your ass out and force you into his ice clone. Not to mention he does good damage if you manage to land a string.
Trust me, when played correctly, Sub Zero is amazing. It doesn't look flashy, but it's really effective.