What’s different about Fox and Falco’s shines?

What do you think of Fox and Falco’s shines? How do they differ? Some say the ability is overpowered. Is it?

Fox’s is a lot bigger. Falco’s is much smaller. Fox’s hits at a horizontal angle. Falco’s hits straight up. Fox’s has fixed knockback. Falco’s has knockback growth.

Both come out frame one. Both are invincible frame 1. Both have the reflection hitbox come out frame 3. Both slow down the character’s fall speed in the air. Both can be jump canceled on frame 4. Both allow the character to turn around during them.

Basically, Fox’s is way better. It allows him to shinespike people, and its fixed knockback means it always combos regardless of percentage. Plus, he has a 3 frame jumpsquat, so his pressure with shine can be a lot tighter than falco’s 5 frame jumpsquat. And waveshine combos into up smash. Continue reading

Throws in Smash Bros

What do you think of the way throws work in the Smash Bros series?

There’s nothing else like it in any game I’ve seen, except Skullgirls with Beowolf, and I guess King in Tekken.

Lemme just describe how it works, basically, once you get a grab, the other player is held in front of you in a grapple, instead of instantly thrown like in most other fighting games. In this state, there is a timer that counts down until the other guy is released, the timer is longer relative to how high percentage is. (and if the guy is holding up or presses jump, then they’ll jump upwards when released) The player who is grabbed can reduce the duration of this timer by mashing buttons (I hear the best method is to spin the control stick, varies by game since Brawl and Smash 4 handle inputs differently). Once the timer runs out, you’re released as soon as it’s possible. So past a certain point, mashing out of icies wobble is pointless, you’ll escape automatically if they mess up. Continue reading

Smash Bros Move-Staling is Pointless

Any thoughts on move-staling in Smash?

I don’t think it serves a real design purpose. It weakens repeated attacks, which can make the effect of attacks subtly inconsistent, changing the amount of damage, knockback, and shieldstun. The thing is, there’s really no need to make repeated attacks weaker. Making repeated attacks weaker doesn’t prevent any type of degenerate play, it doesn’t encourage any specific tactical plays that are beneficial for the game overall, or add a significant situational factor that can be taken advantage of in the moment like stun.

It mildly discourages using the same move a lot, a tactic that many people would call spamming, but the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with spamming. If using the same move works versus your opponent, then you should keep doing it, not be forced by the system to use other moves to keep your useful moves powerful.

And stale moves can interfere with a lot of things, like it changes the knockback threshold on moves that will cause knockdown versus not, it can change shield stun, making safe on shield moves unsafe.

Thankfully the effect of stale moves in Melee is so small that it can largely be ignored, and PM had the good sense to remove the knockback component of stale moves completely. In Brawl however stale moves had a more extreme effect on knockback, enough that if you played a character like fox, it was recommended you only hit with the second hit of up air to kill, because the first hit would invoke scaling, reducing kill potential. Smash 4 has reduced the effect of stale moves, sitting it somewhere between Melee and Brawl, so it’s probably more tolerable in that game, but in general I don’t think it’s something that has a place in Smash Bros.

In a good fighting game, there doesn’t need to be a regulatory system preventing you from using duplicate moves, because in a good fighting game, using the same move repeatedly is a bad idea because it opens you up to be countered by your opponent.

Notably, Skullgirls has a mildly similar system in its game, the IPS, preventing you from using the same move to start a combo more than once, but of course this doesn’t mean that any of the moves in that game are situationally weaker in the neutral game, it just prevents you from doing infinites and practically nothing else. Using systems like this makes a lot more sense for limiting the length/strength of combos in traditional fighters than anything in Smash Bros, which doesn’t have issues with combo length.

Stale moves just feels like a design loose end trying to fix a problem that didn’t need fixing.

PlayStation All-Stars & Building a Good Smash Clone

What are your thoughts on Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale?

I played it a long time ago, so I’m going off memory now.

It’s competently made, but it doesn’t copy enough from smash or do enough of its own thing to really work.

All the stages with moving parts only go through their transitions once. No looping. So if the match is longer than a certain duration, the stage will end its routine long before that. At least there’s an option to turn off hazards, I wish Smash Bros implemented that without completely shitting the bed like in Smash 4. Continue reading

How Come Melee’s Still Kicking?

How come Melee is still around in tournaments like EVO but not Street Fighter III? They’re both deep games, but only Melee is still being played today at EVO. Why? Is it a lack of interest in SF III?

That’s because fighting games and smash have different histories. In Fighting Games, everyone always plays the new one. Only the new one gets to be on stage at Evo and other majors. Sometimes the new one is worse than the old ones, but it’s usually not that much worse.

Smash Bros had a critical fracturing of the community when Brawl happened. Literally the entire community split in half. No other fighting game has been as big a disappointment as brawl, except maybe SFxT. People felt actively spited by the creator, and they still do to this day, because Sakurai spites us. Oh, he’s proud that his games are played competitively? Great, he also tells us to go play Virtua Fighter if we want a challenge. Continue reading

Marth Guide

How do I git gud with Marth on Project M? Annd how the fuck do I Ken Combo properly, the dair seems to have gigantic input lag and it never lets me recover until I’m halfway below the stage’s pit.

Follow Melee guides to Marth. Of all PM characters, Marth functions the most identically to his Melee incarnation and requires the least adjustment. The only big difference is dair has a really short landing lag time, so it’s more useful as a launcher. Continue reading

The Strategy in Edgehogging

Can you explain why edgehogging has more depth than ledge trumping?

Basically, edgehogging is a part of a complicated rock-paper-scissors loop, and edge trumping lacks most of that dynamic. Edgehogging basically means, you can only hold the ledge for a certain period of time maximum, the combination of your ledge invincibility time, and your roll animation. So your goal is to maximize this coverage by grabbing the ledge as late as possible, and rolling right as they try to get up onto the ledge.

This is complicated because many characters have stalling options that can wait out your ledge invincibility time, or your roll. So you might press the button too early, because you expect the opponent to go up right then, but in reality, they had another jump or alternative air stall option left, so they can wait out your roll. You essentially need to predict the timing they’ll return to the stage. Early, normal, or late. On the early side, frequently they’ll attempt to directly attack you as they’re coming up, so you can’t get down to the ledge in time at all. This whole thing is a timing mixup.

It gets more complicated when you factor in that most of the time, it’s possible to return to the stage, you’re not forced to grab the ledge low. So then the mixup is, can they make it back to the stage or not? Will they try to make it back to the stage or not? If there’s a possibility of them making it back to the stage, then if you roll on-stage, then you’ll sacrifice the advantage time you need to send them back off again. So there’s this element of valuation: How far can my opponent go in their recovery? Are they being forced to recover low at all?

Then there’s the fact that you have two other ledge guard options you could be doing. Onstage edgeguards, or offstage edgeguards. These can be more effective than ledgehogging depending on the situation. Offstage edgeguards can mean you don’t need to guess about their recovery at all.

On-stage edge guards are particularly good in melee because melee has the sweet spot, and smash 4 has magnet hands. In Melee, to actually recover, you have this tiny space where you can grab the ledge and none of your body pokes up over the edge of the stage, so someone on-stage can’t hit you. In smash 4, you have magnet hands that catch the ledge if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of it, so on-stage edgeguards are useless. Doing an on-stage edgeguard takes less time than trying to set up the right edgehog, but it’s usually more of a crapshoot, since you’re relying on your opponent to mess up. It’s possible to use a falling aerial that pokes down into the sweetspot zone to hit your opponent, but this is again a timing mixup.

Also worth noting is that PM reduced the ledge occupancy time of the roll, which I think is appropriate. It was just a little too good in melee, allowing you to cover both timing options frequently, where in PM it can only feasibly cover 1 usually.

Marth’s Side B is an air stall, so I use this all the time to sneak up onto ledge after someone rolls.

Marth’s Throw Followups

What’s the best way to use Marth’s throws in Melee/PM? As in, a couple of good examples for each throw? I often end up just using uthrow

Alright, I’ve mapped out Marth’s throw combos and setups rather thoroughly. Basically, Fthrow gets the most frame advantage, dthrow is like a reverse Fthrow with a worse angle and worse advantage time, bthrow is nearly useless, uthrow gets guaranteed combos on all applicable characters. Combos are not guaranteed with any other throw, except fthrow under specific circumstances. So Uthrow is your respect option. It gets the worst followups (on most characters), but it’s guaranteed regardless of their DI. All of Marth’s throws are so fast that they’re unreactable. It’s hard to react to how fast marth can grab and throw you, it’s impossible to react to which throw he decides to use. Uthrow is great on spacies. Fthrow and Dthrow are great on floaties. I recommend dthrow for super heavy characters. Bthrow is good for sending people onto platforms when you want to do platform setups at high percentages and almost nothing else. Continue reading

Why I’m not Fond of Smash 4

How come you are not fond of Smash 4?

First off, grounded movement is fucked. In any normal game, you’re allowed to move left and right unimpeded. In fighting games this is especially important because you want to move into and out of your opponent’s range to bait attacks. In Smash 4 you can walk, which requires a turnaround animation before you can walk the other way, or you can dash, which either only lets you dash dance in an extremely small range, or locks you out of changing direction until you’ve moved far enough to get the long turnaround. In Melee, you have the same restriction on walking, but dash dancing lets you move back and forth in any interval at any time, thereby allowing you to footsie like in street fighter, or really any other game. Smash 4 has this irritatingly limited movement system that forces you to engage in these longer animations to change directions.

Next up, Defensive options are ridiculously good for no fucking reason. They’ve thankfully nerfed shield stun, I don’t really know where that sits right now, it used to just mean free shieldgrabs all day, but dodges are still super invincible as well as fast, making them difficult to punish on reaction, requiring a prediction instead. This means that they no longer need to be timed to escape pressure and can be thrown out without much risk.

Then on top of that, DI is completely fucked. They kept the stupid angular DI system from brawl, then tacked vectoring on top of it, and made vectoring crazy more powerful. Thankfully they realized that was retarded and removed vertical vectoring, but they left in horizontal vectoring, making it so everyone survives to fucking insane percentages on the left and right sides of the screen. This also means that the DI system as a whole is simplified, since if you’re sent upwards, you should hold left or right, and if sent to the sides, you hold the opposite side. It’s generally beneficial to just hold left or right primarily rather than all the different directions you’d need to in the other smash games. Plus they nerfed SDI into oblivion for no real reason, and since that fucks up the counterplay on rekka ken type moves (like rapidjabs or marth’s dancing blade), they nerfed all those moves and gave rapidjabs a finisher so you can’t trap anyone in them, since it’s no longer possible to SDI out.

They thankfully limited the dumb ability in brawl to cancel hitstun, but it’s still in the game, just you can cancel after 41 frames instead of like 13. This contributes to people surviving forever, because knockback is no longer sustained when you’re in a regular freefall state. This feature is still dumb and anti-competitive, limiting combo length

Then they gave everyone a crazy good recovery and magnet hands, so why even bother with on-stage ledgeguards? And got rid of edgehogging, so you don’t need to time when you cover the ledge, or judge whether your opponent will go high, low, or stall. It’s simplifying the offstage game and removing some basic counterplay.

Plus moves have longer fucking landing recovery times than Brawl in many cases. Wow, I can understand not bringing back L canceling, since that’s hard, but giving moves such stupidly long recovery times on the ground is absolutely awful. It slows down the pace of the game and prevents a lot of combos. Sure, there’s autocanceling now, but that serves a different and more restrictive role in combos and general neutral.

And the controls are totally fucked, because they didn’t make the C-stick its own macro function for smash attacks and aerials yet again (they did this in brawl too), instead making it press a direction and the A button for one frame, which leads to dumb shit like not being able to control yourself in the air if a c-stick direction is held (or vice versa, I don’t remember), or not being able to smash attack in the same direction the control stick is held.

In general they made the same fuckup as last time where different buttons with overlapping functions aren’t registered by the game independently, because the programmers are fucking retarded and don’t give a shit.

Oh, and a ton of advanced techniques were taken out, even from Brawl, but that’s really the smallest issue compared to everything else.

Plus they nerfed SDI into oblivion[….][…]since it’s no longer possible to SDI out Can you please elaborate/explain on this a bit? I don’t own Sm4sh, but I did notice watching videos that a lot of jabs are finisher, and I don’t understand why


Here’s two different explanations of Smash DI, or SDI for short. 64 players call it “PI” or “Positional Influence” which is a better name for the phenomena honestly.

Basically, when you get hit, you enter hitlag before hitstun and knockback. Hitlag is a few freeze frames where the character is frozen in place before they start moving. Hitlag is different per-move. During this state, every time you press a cardinal or ordinal direction on the control stick, you will move a tiny bit, when you exit the state, if you are holding a direction on the control stick, you will be shifted a bit in that direction automatically (called ASDI). C-stick will take priority for this if it is also held when hitlag ends.

The effect of SDI is slight, but it can matter. It especially matters in escaping multi-hit moves, because during a multi-hit you have many chances to SDI over and over again. A common example of this is rapidjab type moves, like Fox, or Captain Falcon’s. If they hit you with one of those, then you can mash the control stick to get out.

So Smash 4 removed SDI, or nerfed it into irrelevancy. Many people were unsure on release, I’m pretty sure it’s still in the game but extremely weak right now. What does this mean? It means that all multi-hitting moves just got a massive buff. It means if you ever get your opponent up against a wall and use a rapidjab, that’s an infinite right there.

So they had to add finishers to all the rapidjabs, otherwise you’d have a cast with easy wall infinites. That’s probably also why they changed Pit’s Side B from how it was in Brawl.

Why’d they do this? Probably because they’re anti-competitive fucks, and considered SDI too hard for the average joe.

How to Improve at Mind Games

How can someone become good at playing mind games with their opponent in fighting games?

By practicing it deliberately.

Specifically you should watch your opponent’s patterns. What do they keep doing and how can you exploit that? Watch what they do in each situation, get a feeling for their tempo and reaction time. If their reaction time is better than yours, then you need to beat them by acting on the tempo. If they do not adhere to the tempo, then you need to figure out by how much, and either act first to interrupt their options, or act second to punish them.

Watch for common player behaviors and keep a mental record of those. One example of this is, as Marth, I like to run through my opponent, then run cancel with a crouch, and fsmash back at the opponent I passed by. This is because when you run through, many people think they’re safe and do an option out of shield. However this is not foolproof. Players with good reaction time can grab me out of shield before I run through them. Players who are smart can recognize my pattern and either jump out of shield earlier, or hold onto their shield so my fsmash does nothing. At which point the correct response from me is to notice they are doing this and instead do run through, cactaur dash (run cancel and dash opposite direction), grab, because I’ve conditioned them to stay in shield.

Think about how everything you do conditions a response from your opponent and other things you can do instead that beat that response. If you do something that is exploitable, change it up in expectation of your opponent catching on. Watch what you do before you do an action, because that might give it away. Similarly watch for that in your opponent.

Getting good at mindgames is about studying other people, and finding 50/50 scenarios.

Also read this guide.

Here’s 3 other guides on it as it applies specifically to smash bros (though you can extend these lessons outside of those games too)

And here’s a paper on people’s patterns in Rock Paper Scissors and a basic guide to winning:
(The short is, winners tend to stick with their choice more often, losers tend to switch more often, and continue switching to unused options.)

Think about what the opponent is actually doing. Remember their responses to scenarios, and keep updating to do the thing that will beat their current pattern. If you have found a pattern that keeps winning, keep doing it, or if it’s just a pure mixup, switch after 2-3 reps, because that’s when your opponent is likely to switch, unless they’re bad and don’t understand the counterplay of the different options.

Of course also look for scenarios in which you can cover all or most of your opponent’s options on reaction and just setplay them. Then you don’t need to guess.

The beauty of competitive games is that there’s a complicated web of counters to different options in different scenarios, with one covering many in many cases, and different ones changing in utility based on the scenario. But to exploit these, you really need to think and pay attention, or you’ll get played.