Critique of Super Smash Brothers Melee Review and Analysis

The slowness of the switch between Zelda and Sheik is not an engine limitation. Both characters have their files loaded when the game begins, so that they’re both in memory and switching happens as fast or slow as the actual animation. This is not true in Brawl however, where the other character is loaded on the spot.

The example of mewtwo’s up throw killing captain falcon sooner than fox is a bad one, because throws do not differ their level of knockback based on character weight. Weight only affects the length of the throw animation. For mewtwo’s up throw, the only character-specific factor that affects how far the character goes is their gravity, not their weight. A more accurate example would have been a move like fox’s up smash, where both weight and gravity can affect it.

The speculation about Sakurai’s intentions with Peach is really bad form for a review/analysis. Unless you have a statement from the developer, it’s best not to guess what their intentions were, unless it’s significantly more obvious than, “Sakurai probably thought girls were bad at the game, so he threw them a bone by making a powerful but easy character.” It’s a lot easier to guess about intentions based on changes between games, than something like expecting a certain response from a particular audience.

I think the further speculation about Bowser is even more unwarranted and unsubstantiated. My general advice for someone trying to do video game analysis is, stop caring so much what the director was probably trying to do, analyze the thing as it is. The author is dead, all that exists is their work. We can analyze the work itself and determine what it is or isn’t, but it’s nearly impossible to guess why it’s that way without direct statements from the developer. Further, it’s counterproductive to let the “why” of a work dominate analysis of it, because the only thing that makes the work is the work itself, not the developer’s statements on it. The work will be what it is, regardless of what the developer says it was supposed to be. To understand the value of the work, to understand its implications in comparison to other works, to create a basis for us to create or appreciate new works, we must be looking only at the results, not the intention. If you get too focused on the intention (which you don’t know definitively in the first place), then it distracts you from the results.

Something can completely contradict the intention of the author, but be good, something can completely accord with the intention of the author and be bad. The author’s intention doesn’t matter, only what’s left when they’re done.

You forgot that one of Roy’s other significant advantages is his down tilt, which pops enemies up, instead of outwards. This makes it less useful as a ledgeguard, but significantly helps Roy’s combo game versus Marth (even if Roy’s combo game is still overall worse).

Okay, you’re doing the author intention speculation thing again, “Sakurai clearly doesn’t find the simpler stages as interesting, seeing as battlefield and final destination are some of the last you unlock” Super amateur. This is completely baseless. Mushroom Kingdom 2 is frequently one of the last stages obtained by people trying to clear a new copy of melee because obtaining the birdo trophy is so rare. Does this mean Sakurai hated Super Mario Bros 2?

If you’re going to engage in post-hoc rationalization like this, couldn’t I also say that he probably valued simple stages the highest, by making players work hardest to earn them?

C’mon dude.

C-stick can’t SDI, only ASDI. The held direction of the C-stick will override the control stick for the exclusive purpose of ASDI. It cannot make your character move during hitlag, only the control stick can.

If you said Sakurai 90% less, then this video would be 90% better. I review a lot of video analysis, so I was excited to see one about my favorite game, but as of 15 minutes in, you’re not trying.

The premise of the video, “Examining the decisions made by the developer” is flawed.

You don’t know what decisions he made, you only have the results. There’s tons of interviews by him, you can find them over on I’ve read nearly all of them. You’re not citing anything he’s ever actually said.

Who cares whether adventure mode took much time to make? Analyze whether the mode is fun. What it does or doesn’t do successfully. Is the level design of the stages good? Are the encounters good? How do they randomly or deterministically vary between sessions and character picks?

I’m getting more and more frustrated as I get further into this video. If the whole thing is just guessing what sakurai wanted to do, then this isn’t a very useful review or analysis.

You use the term, “Momentum preservation” twice without explaining what it means, just saying it makes the game feel good. Of course I know what it means, but you can’t assume that everyone who views this video does. It would be more clear to say, “transferring ground momentum to air momentum” rather than “momentum preservation” like it’s a key word. Given you don’t explain this clearly, and just play clips, it’s hard to tell what exactly you mean by this.

Also, WHAT. Street Fighter 5 does NOT have an 8 frame buffer. Are you insane!? It has a 2 frame buffer. If you want a game with an 8 frame buffer, you should go for Brawl or Smash 4, which have 10 frame buffers each. Dude, you had a game with an excessive buffer sitting RIGHT THERE next to Melee, and you decide to go cross-franchise, cross sub-genre, to a game that barely demonstrates what you’re trying to claim. Are you getting mixed up by the 8 frames of input delay meme? Because Melee has 4-5 frames of input delay (the extra frame of delay oscillates over time).

AGH, the shorten window on Fox and Falco illusion isn’t 1 frame, it’s 5 frames! Fact check your shit please! It’s not that hard to google fox and falco framedata.

I do think for once that you have a point on the developer speculation here however, there are a number of intentionally implemented mechanics (ones that are specifically coded rather than being emergent) with very small frame windows, which are very difficult to notice, such as shortens, fast falls, rest, L cancel, V cancel, light shield density, power shield reflecting, etc, and this suggests that sakurai wanted to implement things that only more dedicated players could master.

Then you go straight into more baseless speculation when it come to why DI was put in the game. Come on. Also, you failed to mention that hitstun was reduced in Melee compared to Smash 64. And also, SDI existed in Smash 64 already, called PI (position influence) by the Smash 64 community. (I didn’t watch your 64 vid, so if you covered it there, I’m sorry).

Also, “more options at any one time than a traditional fighter”? Dude, you know how to count, right? A traditional fighter has 6 attack buttons. Melee has 2. A traditional fighter has 12 ground normals, smash has 7. A traditional fighter has 6 jump normals, smash has 5. A traditional fighter usually has at least 3 special moves per character, and different versions of each depending on the button you press. Every character in Street Fighter 2 has more moves than any smash character.

Smash’s DI system only works in Smash, because it’s based on juggles and angles of knockback. I’ve considered ways to implement DI into other fighting games, and it just doesn’t work based on the control and combo systems. At best it might work in a game like Hokuto No Ken, or Marvel 3, but combos are much tighter in other fighting games, including juggle combos.

Smash Bros makes up for having less attacks by having more detailed attacks, and allowing you to move as you perform attacks, and between the linking hits of combos.

It’s not a unique sped-up animation for successful L cancel, it’s the same animation, but sped up. This is trivial in any 3d game’s engine, even in those days.

Also, seriously, stop the speculation. It’s not helping your video any.

I like the perspective on bugs and glitches overall. Works for me.

I think it’s worth mentioning that glitches exist in tons of competitive games, Quake, Starcraft, Basketball. Any game with a ruleset that is robust enough has some unintended emergent effects of multiple mechanics.

Glitches weren’t banned because they were undesired for the competitive experience, they were banned on the basis of having no counterplay, things that allow for indefinitely stalling the game, or . One thing that the rulesmakers didn’t want to do was curate the game on the basis of what was desired or undesired. It was more about trying to keep the game fair and prevent strategies without a counter, things that count as an “I win” button, like the freeze glitch or luigi’s ladder.

Similar to wavedashing, the ability to cancel normals into specials in street fighter was actually the system working as intended for the most part. I’m explaining this more as a history lesson than a criticism. In SF2, there’s actually a 5 frame window at the start of every move that can be canceled into specials, probably so specials would be easier to trigger if you mashed the button and triggered a normal before you were done inputting the special move command. However, if you hit someone, there’s hitstop, which also freezes the window for this cancel, allowing you to cancel into the special after hitting your opponent (and accepting inputs for this cancel during the ENTIRE hitstop). So again, it’s stuff that was intended to happen, happening in a different way, and it became the basis of fighting games in general.

The other fact of the matter is, playing with only one third of the cast is pretty average for most fighting games. Most fighting games only have a small number of characters that are competitively viable. Well-Balanced fighting games are a recent trend and have not been the norm across the genre. And as you said, there’s a lot of different ways to play those top 8, so it’s not a big loss. Also, if you played without competitive rules, then the worse characters become even less viable. This is just an inevitability of getting good at a game, some characters fall off.

For reference, 3rd strike only has 3 viable characters, chun, yun, and ken. Super Turbo has arguably only one viable character, Old Sagat (kind of debatable, the matchup spread in super turbo is funky). CVS2 has a small number of viable teams, same for MVC2, KOF XIII, Most Tekken games, Most Mortal Kombat games, and pretty much every fighting game game made before 2009. Melee was made in 2001, long before the balance trend happened, and frankly, having a fun game is more important than balance.

The character summaries and their place in the competitive metagame is good. Good descriptions of what each character can do and why it puts them where they are.

I think it would be slightly more fair to say the wobble is why icies are viable, not their grab game.

This section was relaxing after the prior sections, a lot less baseless speculation, a lot more laying down facts, a lot less inaccuracies.

I also love the description of the 15 frame reactionary blindspot. I’ve been talking about this for a long time, but I’ve never really seen anyone else cover it except you and M2K. You illustrated it fairly well too.

Would be slightly better if you mentioned that reads are a thing players can actually do, people are designed to sync up with people via something called Mirror Neurons. This happens inconsistently, but sometimes you just get a really strong sense that the opponent is going to do a certain thing. Studies have shown the capability of mirror neurons to predict the actions of other people before, lighting up before someone else performs an action. We don’t have conscious access to the results of these however, they filter up through our subconscious.

Good job on this part.

A lot of games have arbitrary execution factors like L canceling. See starcraft, or shooters. There isn’t a risk/reward to always producing new worker units on time, you need to continuously do it the whole game, or you’re at a flat disadvantage. (okay, not the whole game, but until you reach a later stage of the game where you don’t need additional workers)

L canceling has a risk/reward in that if you press it at the wrong time, you’ll get a longer landing animation than the L canceled one. you need to read the situation and try to always nail the L cancel, and trying to go for one timing instead of another. The L cancel timings can vary significantly between whiff, hit, and hit shield, or hitting someone’s tilted shield. They can also vary with multihit moves like fox’s drill, or vary even more significantly on ice climbers, who you can hit twice before landing.

This is like fast getup in Street Fighter, you almost never want to intentionally miss your getup. It’s a matter of recognizing the situation and timing your input right.

I agree that removing it (and halving the duration of all landing lag) would probably be fine, but it’s worth understanding that it’s not just an arbitrary skill check, and that arbitrary skill checks aren’t inherently bad either.

“Small chance to miss a backdash randomly”

There isn’t a small chance to miss a backdash randomly. Math.Random() is not called when you try to backdash. I realize that backdashes have been compared to randomness by some players, but it’s not actually random, it’s a result of the controller polling in the middle of moving the stick to the back position, instead of once it’s all the way there. There’s nothing random about this, It’s just very hard to get the stick from the neutral position all the way to the backdash zone in one frame. Players like Druggedfox even argue against mods like UCF, saying that backdashing consistently is a matter of getting good at the game.

Even if your intent was to say that consistency on this technique is so poor as to be random, calling it random is not the right thing.

Simultaneous grabs need to be resolved somehow, and a lot of fighting games use player number to resolve edge cases like these. Super Turbo resolved same-frame grabs randomly. SFV does the same for same-frame command grabs (based on the framecount % 2). I agree that it’s pretty dumb that Melee does this based on port priority. I’d personally prefer a 1 or 2 frame throw tech window, where the throw release animations are played by both characters. This would help resolve simultaneous throws without giving either character an advantage, much like guilty gear.

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