Here's my response:
First, about my initial unfortunately long essay about Way's "unique" gameplay. Yes, I agree that many of the elements I attempted to describe do not sound unique; HOWEVER, the overall gameplay feel IS TRULY DIFFERENT! It's extraordinarily difficult to describe...
I think other die hard fighting game fans may understand what I am discussing here. For example, what is different factually about SFII and Sam Sho in terms of fighting engine?
Not too much. However, all would agree that the feel is extremely different.
One point that I think Tom failed to get (perhaps because of all the rambling I did) is that there are very few delays in Way's moves. True, SFII also has few delays IN QUICK MOVES; the strong punches, kicks, etc. all have signfiicant delays however. As a result, you and your opponent have loads of time to think if your strong move happens to miss or be blocked. This isn't blocking time, it's time to execute the move.
Perhaps the best way i can convey my feeling of fast gameplay in concrete terms is to say that you can execute more moves of any type per unit time than any other fighting game. You can jump, then WHILE IN THE AIR, jab kick and punch an airborne opponent (three moves in the air!) then catch him as he tries to stomp on you and backbreak him. This all takes about one second.
Question 2: "How is movement handled? In other words, how can players move across the screen? Can players run like in Samurai Shodown? How about jumping different distances/heights? Can you move forward and backwards in a crouched positions? MOST IMPORTANTLY: Does Way use MK's 'magic point' system, where players can only stand at about 30 points on the game screen. When you move in MK and MK2, you keep going until you hit one of the points. In SF2, on the other hand, you can shuffle anywhere on the screen. Jiggle the stick in SF2 and your character jiggles. Jiggling in MK2 causes your character to take a FULL STEP to the next magic point."
Players in Way can move in NON-QUANTIZED fashions. That is, movement is continuous. Some can run towards and away, some can only hop away, some can do neither. It depends on the character. One character, KONOTORI, is a master of the air and can FLY with B (block); press B fast enough and you can flap your fans all the way across the arena (in STEREO!!!) Most characters cannot move in the crouched position. No silly discrete horizontal points like in MK/MK2
Question 3: "How about special moves? Could you give us some examples? Is there anything unique about Way's system? One system which I haven't seen implemented is to have special moves that 'branch.' So, you do one joystick combo to start it, and depending on how the fight goes, you can do one of several joystick combos to end it different ways, or do nothing to terminate it. Fei Long's triple straight punch is like this, only it's completely linear."
Here's a sampler of Way's specials:
Oh then there is the magic. This might be a secret thing, so i cant say much...but they change the very nature of your character's appearance, skills, etc.
Question 4: "What about the throw system? Specifically, what is it? In SF2, you can't throw someone when they are getting up off the ground. In MK2, throws can be blocked. What about Way? "
Throws CANNOT be blocked. This is an essential rule of a balanced fighting engine in my opinion. The getting off the ground issue is tricky. I think we have solved it by giving the getting up player a tiny period of invincibility that ensures he wont be cheesed to death and gives him some revenge if the player that just knowcked him down is greedy and stupid enough to be waiting on top of him when he gets up.
Question 5: "Number of moves: About how many moves per charcter are we talking about? How about special moves? Do characters have multiple throws? Do different throws have different effects? "
About 30 standard moves plus say 15-20 specials per character. Yes, all have multiple throws of some sort. One player (CRIMSON) has FOUR BLOCKS!!! Two are used to counterattack quickly. For example, if i jump attack you and you time and move an UPPER BLOCK perfectly, you will grab me as i approach you and throw me against the wall! This character has five or six "throws"