Why won't my combos come out?

I recently got some second hand agetec sticks for the Dreamcast. Managed to mod one out with sanwa parts and really wanted to get into some retro fighting games with a buddy.

First I’ll really want to understand King of Fighters 2002 on a deeper level.

I learned the special moves of my three characters. I went through the system, learned about CD counters, max mode, rolling, roll counters, etc. But I want to learn some combos consistently.

I tried lookign some up online for all of my characters, but I cannot seem to do them at all, even in training mode. There are videos, showing the combo in action with instructions… But then actually repeating them is hard. I thought it maybe had something to do with the Dreamcast port and then tried it in a Neo Geo emulator, but no. Same issues.

I did learn some small nuances. Like with Chin, I should do a hyper hop and get to twice C in the air, then just land in time for another C before blockstun ends. But I cannot do it reliably. I cannot suddenly go into max mode if I keep having to wait and see if I get the confirmed third hit…

Is there anything to it other then to keep playing the game and getting a better feel for spacing and timing? I see huge long combo chains online but I cannot reliably link 4… Really is a wall for me.

Or are combos overrated in terms of managing to defeat actual players and is a strategic understanding of the characters and game more important?

I asked this in the King of Fighters forum recently, but didn;'t get a response. Hopefully this is a more appropriate forum.

Yes, practice makes perfect in any fighting game. You need to continue to practice doing those combos to build up muscle memory. I find that the best way to train muscle memory is to practice for like 20-25mins on and take 10 mins off and keep doing that throughout the practice session. As to one of your last questions, learning the characters and how the game is played (the meta) is also very important, but that will come with time as you play it more in an actual match setting. I have a Dreamcast also and it’s an awesome for retro gaming. I got one of those Agetec sticks also. Mine has a Seimitsu LS-32 in it with Sanwa buttons. Long story short just keep playing and practicing bro. You’ll get better.