I said I wouldn’t review any more videos of other critics, but I couldn’t stand to watch this one and say nothing. I’m reposting here, mostly because I think it goes a ways to explain the differences between traditional fighters and smash. If you’re a smash player, please play other fighting games too. Please stop sticking to one insular franchise.
This video is bad on multiple levels. For one, you’re putting one of your favorite games over a genre you don’t play and don’t understand. You’re attempting to argue why Smash is better than fighters when you don’t know the shortcomings of fighters in the first place. For two, your description of Smash itself is basic and you exclusively use clips of Ultimate instead of say, Melee or Project M, which are deeper games. If you want to understand game design, maybe you should actually play some fighting games instead of saying, “oh, I was born with double jointedness and the ability to curl my tongue, I’m inherently deficient and can’t ever possibly play a fighter”. Learn more about your damn subject matter. Fighting games are one of the most experimental genres with pure mechanics ever and you just gave up on it!
Combos are different in Smash than other fighters in that they change based on percentage. Higher percentage means more hitstun and knockback, so there’s a relationship between how much time it takes to get out another attack, and how much time it takes to catch up with your opponent when they’re sent flying. Higher percentages give you more hitstun, so more moves will link, but the additional pushback means you need to spend more time chasing your opponent, and eventually each move has a breaking point where it will begin to combo, and cease to combo as it pushes too far away. Otherwise, they’re pure juggles which you connect with movement inbetween without any fancy cancel rules, a lot like Tekken.
Many combos in Smash do have complex inputs and strict timing! Just not in Ultimate (except on characters like peach who still have their hover cancel from Melee)! Many characters in Melee and PM have vastly different styles of input that need to be mastered as a part of their neutral and combo game, like waveshine, shorthop laser, double jump cancel, wavedash, missile cancel, bomb recovery, moonwalk, dacus, etc.
And many combos in traditional fighters are about positioning, relative to the stage, your opponent, etc. In Guilty Gear, Ky can only get both hits of his stun dipper slide if he hits with the tip of the slide. On round start, if he hits with crouch S, it pushes the opponent just enough for stun dipper to combo. He can chain far S into downforward H, but that requires him to be far enough to hit with far S, and his opponent need to either be crouching, or get a counterhit for the combo to work. Sin has combos that require his opponents to be standing, otherwise his moves will whiff. Most characters have corner-only combos in all fighting games, because juggles won’t push the opponent as far away in the corner as elsewhere. Not to mention that many combos are designed to do things like side switch or corner carry at the cost of damage, to get an additional advantage in the future.
As for DI, Smash Ultimate and Smash 4 have the weakest DI in the franchise. They reduced the effect of base DI to 9 degrees from 18, and they added launch speed influence, but only for horizontally angled attacks. This means for most characters and most combos, DI has a marginal effect. Combos in Smash 4 and Ultimate are rehearsed much like in any other fighting game. A good comparison would be to Soul Calibur, which also has DI, and also has combos that work regardless of it, with a few that capitalize on certain DI. In SC, you largely want to DI away from your opponent to make it harder for them to follow up, then DI in and around when they’re going to ring out you, which is almost as simple as smash ultimate DI, just in Soul Calibur, you can DI in 8 directions instead of 2.
In Melee and PM where the DI isn’t nerfed, and hitstun is naturally higher, combos can be longer, but less guaranteed, every hit is a mixup. Many combos work regardless of DI, but not for long. And because DI is more flexible, it creates left/right DI mixups, where DIing versus one direction will be ineffective if the opponent hits you the other way, in addition to the more standard weak hit/strong hit mixup, where you need to judge if the opponent will try to continue the combo with a weak hit, or kill you with a strong one. Marth can even intentionally hit with the weak part of his blade in Melee because it has an angle that sends further out, which kills many people who try to DI out to avoid the Ken combo.
Plus, the knockback indicator in training mode of ultimate doesn’t indicate DI, you know. It indicates how much knockback the move would deal with 50 extra percentage and 50 less percentage. PM has a knockback indicator that shows DI. Given this clip is the only clip showing the knockback indicators when you’re talking about DI, I think it indicates you don’t really know what you’re talking about.
As established earlier, many combos in traditional fighters only work in some situations. Even in basic-ass Street Fighter V with its simplified combo system, one of the simplest characters, Cammy, still has a variety of combos that are good in different situations. You get certain combos off your divekick, crush counter, frame traps, whiff punishes, V-trigger. She even has 3 different sequences of normals she can use to confirm with, s.MP s.HP, c.MP c.MP, and b.MP > HK, which differ in strength, speed, and amount of commitment. And she can choose to end most combos with either uppercut or spiral arrow, to get damage or knockdown pressure.
I think it’s patently ridiculous that you’d say it makes the game easier to learn while raising the skill ceiling, considering you’re so afraid of traditional fighter combos that you don’t know what a cancel or link is.
I’ll agree that smash has unique stages, obviously, though even traditional fighters have the sub-goal of trying to walk your opponent into the corner, where you get stronger combos. Not to mention that Tekken has stages too, with differently shaped walls, breakable walls, and breakable floors to take advantage of. Same in the other 3d Fighters.
Edge guarding is certainly unique to smash, though it’s deeper in Melee and PM due to the air dodge being more limited, and ledges not having you auto-snap to them, plus people being able to edgehog, making a more complex rock-paper-scissors than the 2-frame trick, which basically no one takes advantage of in smash 4/ult anyway. There’s tradeoffs in risk/reward between on-stage and off-stage edgeguards, as well as edge hogging, where in ultimate you really only have off-stage edgeguards, and recovering versus those is made a lot easier by the neutral air dodge which lets you jump and sail through opponents, which is why edge guarding offstage is not that common among pros. Leffen called them out for that recently, especially since it’s more viable in ultimate than it was in smash 4 where air dodge was better.
The thing is, Smash DOESN’T contain most of the concepts from other fighting games. You don’t know how other fighting games work, so you’re making things up. Shields in Smash force the attacker to be minus on block, but limit the defender’s options to just grabs, dodges, and jumping attacks (unless you perfect shield), much like moves that force crouch in Tekken limit the defender to while rising moves. Since the attacker is always minus, it means that block pressure present in other fighting games isn’t really present anymore, except in limited circumstances like jab1 into jab2, or a move with very little frame disadvantage into a fast followup, making pressure in smash less about the attacker subjecting the defender to a mixup, and more about the defender playing a game of chicken with the attacker, where they get a free shieldgrab or roll out if they win. You don’t get circumstances of characters hitting with plus frame normals, then walking up and hitting with plus frame normals again. You don’t have the low/overhead mixups present in other fighting games, because the shield is mostly omnidirectional, even if it can be tilted a little. You don’t have hit confirms, where you link/chain safe normals together to verify that you’re hitting instead of getting blocked before canceling into an unsafe move. You don’t have meter or resources on the vast majority of characters which can be spent to different ends. There’s a lot of styles of movement and types of moves present in other fighting games that aren’t highly represented in smash, like airdashes, utility teleports, assist calls, setting traps, slow projectiles, puppet characters, stance cancels, etc.
Smash DOES add a bunch of new stuff, like the complex grounded movement system of dashes, runs, walks, turns, and wavedashes that have varying tradeoffs. Like having facing direction affect your attacks on the air and ground. Like having a more dynamic version of Tekken’s forced crouch blocking system, where the attacker frequently at disadvantage, but only a little, so you can steal your opponent’s turn with the right move, but they can predict and counter that with their limited out of shield options, instead of the street fighter system where they can always use their fastest moves from block. It has the entire offstage game, and a dynamic system of advantage where you’re constantly trying to push your opponent into checkmate scenarios where you can beat all of their options on reaction. It has a weird and unique neutral game based on extremely fast movement and evading blows narrowly to whiff punish them reactably, where it’s not just about distance, but relative positioning above and below too.
I think it’s insulting that you’d use Prog’s quote, which applied to Melee but not Ultimate, when you’ve been using Ultimate clips throughout this whole video. The clip was intended to describe the way Melee’s combos are improvisational and vary constantly as your opponent tries to escape them in different ways with the complex DI system, the way you can capitalize on things like edge cancels to extend them, when Ultimate has done so much to blunt or remove those things.
If you’re going to continue making game design videos, do some damn research of your subject matter. You don’t know about fighting games, and you don’t know about Smash. You’re voicing an uneducated opinion, trying to preach to the choir of other uneducated people that their uninformed opinion is right with information they knew already. The purpose of a video essay is to say something new that people probably didn’t already notice or know about. If you don’t want to take the time to understand the thing you’re talking about, then don’t bother shoving another video on the heap.