Is Street Fighter Made Obsolete by Smash?

Have traditional fighting games been rendered obsolete by Smash? How would you convince someone who thinks like that to try out, say, SF? Someone who thinks SF is the same thing every match.

Not a chance in hell. I’ve been meaning to make a post/video on the differences between Street Fighter and Smash Bros. The games emphasize totally different things. They have different forms of blocking, hitstun, combos, damage, moves, movement, knockdown, footsies, zoning.

In my opinion a lot of it stems from 1 really innocuous core change. In Smash Bros, you are allowed to grab someone during hitstun or blockstun. In Street Fighter, you are not. A basic issue that came up during the first version of Street Fighter 2, and Smash 64 was, if people are allowed to get advantage on block, then they can throw instantly, and that’s a guard breaker. So in SF2 World Warrior, you could jump in at someone, hit them with a roundhouse on their block, then just throw them. Easy unblockables. Similar stuff is possible in Smash 64, like shieldbreak combos, and unblockables off higher shield stun aerials. Continue reading

Nerfing Fox

Lemme cite Leffen really quick:

I don’t approve of Scrumpy’s balancing style for multiple reasons. First is, no balance patch exists in a vacuum. If you nerf the top tiers, then you turn away people who previously enjoyed those top tiers. Nerfs are occasionally necessary, and I agree that Fox could use a nerf, but I do not think these are the correct nerfs, especially because they change what fox is capable of and his options, making the character less deep.

I think the Project M fox nerfs were much more appropriately considered, especially the changes to shine and laser. Laser shouldn’t be limited to a single laser, players enjoy using double laser. It should be nerfed in damage instead. Sure this will keep its ability to reset scaling the same (though theoretically that could be jury rigged to count less often in the staling buffer, or be excluded from it completely) Project M went the extra mile and had its damage decrease over distance, while nerfing its base damage to like half a percent. Continue reading

Changes to Fix Melee Weirdness

have you ever done a post on what system-wide mechanical changes you would do to Melee if you could?

I’m pretty sure I did that already, but I have more ideas, so I’ll do it again.

My changes would be extremely minor, like increasing leniency on backdash, increasing the range on the controller that is registered as a dash, increasing the shorthop window, remove reduced jump height for frame 1 attacks, allow canceling IASA frames with airdodge or B moves, allow reverse grab boxes to grab at the end of up B moves, fade out portraits and % when they overlap characters. Plus incorporate all 20XX TE changes for convenience. If I want a balance mod on top of this, I’d go with SD Remix. And add more neutral/counterpick stages as appropriate. Continue reading

Stage Hazards

What do you think of stage hazards in fighting games? I don’t like them but I don’t know why. I might just be a scrub.

I am fine with them as long as they are predictable and don’t make the entire game about them.

Much as it may surprise you, I played smash bros casually for many many years before becoming competitive. I played on stages with hazards a lot. I even played with items on at one time in both melee and brawl.

Among the stages with hazards/gimmicks I liked Mute City, Port Town Aero Drive, Brinstar & Brinstar Depths, Pokefloats, Fourside, Big Blue, Onett, Peach’s Castle, Green Greens, Shadow Moses, Delfino Plaza, Mario Kart, Eldin Bridge, Norfair, Frigate Orpheon, Halberd, New Pork City, Skyworld, and Castle Siege. I liked that most of these telegraphed what was going to happen before it did. I liked playing around the unique difficulties of each stage. It was fun.

I don’t think stage hazards work as well in traditional fighting games because things like platforming don’t work as well in them. Smash Bros has a separate jump button. It has air control. It has a robust movement system on the air and ground that traditional fighters don’t. Also you’re allowed to walk through opponents in smash, and side switching happens a lot more often. Characters are smaller proportionally. It’s just better overall.

Over time, the stage hazard systems get less interesting to me, due in large part to how much they interfere with the normal flow of the match, the part I want to explore and improve at. Also most of these stages had serious balance issues, which is the real reason I don’t play on them anymore, that and I just don’t tolerate as much jank anymore. I didn’t like the slightly reworked versions of Skyworld or Temple: M that appeared in Project M while they were legal. I don’t like a lot of the technically legal stages that are in the top row of the PM netplay build. Making a stage that really feels totally right to me now is a lot harder.

The other issue is, a lot of stages with hazards suck. Like Distant Planet has lame hazards. And Summit. Stuff can come out of nowhere and occasionally you just get wrecked.

I liked how PSASBR allowed you to turn off hazards. I didn’t like how all the stages would go through the hazards just once in sequence and never repeat them ever again.

In Injustice I think it’s some cancerous shit.

Smash Bros Melee Beginner’s Guide

I get a lot of people asking me how to learn the basics of Melee. Here’s some essential resources for learning how to play Melee:

This video is a great rundown of the basic mechanics, in an order that is good for beginners:

This video is probably the best place to start, it lays out most of the advanced techniques that are still in use today. Some of the terminology is a bit outdated, some of the topics like DI aren’t explained in as much detail as they should be, but it’s still a pretty good guide overall. If you’ve NEVER played before, pay attention to the in-game how-to-play tutorial shown at the beginning of this one.

This channel is SSBMtutorials, it has tutorials for a ton of characters on a great variety of topics. It’s made by a top player and goes into a lot of detail.

This thread links to videos that show every advanced technique for every character in the game with the inputs for that technique on-screen.

This channel contains “trials” videos for the top tier characters (and Captain Falcon for some reason) showing you basic techniques you can practice in training mode that will help you understand your character better.

This is an article I wrote that explains in depth how the entire grounded movement system in Melee works:

This is another article I wrote about how the grounded neutral game tends to work in Melee:

This last one explains how all the recovery systems in Smash Bros work:

This page links to every characters’ hitboxes and framedata:

This is a compendium of practically everything you could ever want to know about smash bros.

Directional Influence is a subtle mechanic that isn’t explained very well in most tutorials online, here’s some pictures that explain it.
rivals DI tutorial 1rivals DI tutorial 2
directional influence DI infographic tutorial

More L’s Canceled

Do you like the analogy between l-cancelling and dribbling in basketball?

Sure, though the way you dribble is a tactical decision frequently. People can steal from you during dribbles.

But you can think up plenty of extra examples. Why would you ever deliberately not meteor cancel? Why would you ever deliberately drop a combo in a fighting game? Why would you ever not shoot directly at an enemy in a first person shooter with a hitscan weapon? Why would you ever not continuously produce units in an RTS, resources allowing? Why would you ever not use the throw option select in Guilty Gear? Especially if you’re Sol with a kick that comes out in literally 3 frames. Why would you ever not crouch jump in half life or TF2?

Why don’t you allow a separate shorthop button? Why not snap to the ledge when you’re close to the sweet spot range? Why not have airdodging into the stage shunt you upwards to avoid awkward deaths at the ledge? Why not let you grab the ledge backwards?

Beyond that, why have hard execution things at all? Why make perfect shields only 2 frames instead of all the frames? Why not have a billion frame buffer on everything?

Look, Sirlin’s been to that territory before. He staked a claim on that territory in early pre-history. I don’t want everyone to go live over in that territory. When you live in that territory you’re not allowed to obtain any type of advantage over your opponent except through better calculation of the odds and memorization of the state space; plus they have crappy wifi over there.

L canceling isn’t 1 frame links. It’s not Ky’s FRC stun edge. It’s not a pretzel input, it’s not even QCF HCB or 632146 HS. Jump install in guilty gear is another thing you basically always want to do and have no downside to doing. There’s a lot harder execution things that don’t need to be so hard to do, a large number that have much better cases for being toned down or outright removed (like jump install). Including things that are arbitrarily hard to execute for the sake of such is not a big deal. L canceling is totally small in the scheme of things. It’s not the hardest tech in the game. It’s not an insurmountable barrier to newcomers.

Have some Borp:

It has been confirmed that due to what may be a programming oversight, shield angling doesn’t affect L cancel timing at all in P:M . Does this change your opinion on L cancelling or not?

That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not the kind of thing that can be changed due to a programming oversight. The shield angling trick works because hitting someone’s shield generates frames of hitstop. By angling your shield, you’re causing them to hit your shield sooner rather than later, generating the hitstop sooner rather than later, which fucks up their ability to see when they’re going to hit the ground. You can’t have a programming error interfere with this one thing specifically, it’s an emergent property of the interactions involved.

No, it doesn’t change my opinion, because the shield angle trick is an extreme corner case anyway.


Literally already bookmarked it. Great read.

Advice for Smash Players Picking up 2d Fighters

Do you have any advice for a smash player that wants to get into 2d fighters (especially stretch fighter 5) I’ve never played 2d fighter but I am thinking about trying it. Also what controller should I get for playing on pc

Only the same advice I have for players trying to get into traditional fighting games in the first place.
This links to a TON of other guides at the bottom. Please consult all of them, and the shoryuken wiki page for the particular fighting game you want to play.

What I’ll say is, the control system will not feel natural to you at first. You have access to more moves at a time, and it’s not going to be as obvious how all of them are used, because they all point in the same direction and they all come out and recover much faster. Learning what each of your normals is good for, getting them all down to the point where you know which one of them hits in which place at which range on command, and being able to identify what a normal is good for on a character you’ve never played before.

Practice anti-airing jump-ins. A great training technique is to record the bot doing something you want to practice against, like jumping in with a medium kick. A good thing to do is have the bot jab twice beforehand so you can react to the timing and simulate reading the move. Learn to use both normal anti-airs and special anti-airs. normals are good for reacting when you’re uncertain when they’ll jump, specials are good for reading, when you’re certain they’ll jump and when. You need both of these, you need to be fast and accurate at both of these.

Get down blocking. Blocking is absolutely critical, a lot of beginners don’t block enough. Block low all the time, then high when they’re in the air or doing an overhead attack. You can’t react to lows, but you can react to the other two, and lows deal more damage. As you get better, learn to fight standing up moving back and forth instead of being rooted to the ground in a blocking stance. Learn to do the block motion while jumping in, while attacking, while dashing, so you always do it the first instant after you stop. This will help you play charge characters too.

Learn what frame advantage/disadvantage is and how to identify which moves have it. Or look up framedata until you get the pattern. Learn when moves hit, how long they take to recover, etc.

You can use whatever controller you want. All major fight sticks have PC drivers. There are PS3 and PS4 drivers and wrappers to make them behave like 360 controllers (which is what most things on PC support). For 2d fighters the control choice doesn’t matter a great amount unless you plan to switch at some point.

Oh, and play a lot of people.

Less Dexteritous Smash Bros

How would you change the mechanics for melee so it would require less dexterity to play but still keep it’s depth?

There’s a lot of ways you could potentially do that. For one, you could fix the bug where the last frame of jumpsquat won’t count in determining whether you fulljump or shorthop.¬†You could allow Shorthops to be bound to a button instead of needing to release within the jumpsquat time. You could extend the valid dash range during dash dancing, add an extra frame of leniency to backdashing. Make it so jumping during normal turnaround still has you turned around. A lot of small input leniency changes that Project M made. You could make shield directly cancel into up smash or up B instead of needing to cancel through jumpsquat first. You could probably make L canceling automatic, and not lose that much (I just resent the idea that such a thing is totally pointless, especially when you have characters like ice climbers, who are very difficult to L cancel against, and who have a valid use for L cancel in the L cancel desync). You could add a small buffer period, like 2-3 frames. You could make Meteor Cancels mashable. You could remove the restriction on IASA frames to not allow dodges or B moves out of them.

And that’s about it. Beyond that, you’re changing the options the characters have or how difficult they are to perform in a way that affects game balance (due to strong options being too easy), or the distribution of options players will pick (due to certain options being over-centralizing).

The resulting game would still take a massive amount of dexterity to perform at, but you can’t really pare it down any more without giving something up about the identity of the game, in some ways this already is compromising some of the identity of the game.

Sakurai: Fraud Designer?

You’ve said that Sakurai doesn’t know anything about game design, but you’ve advocated the theory that Melee wasn’t a “happy accident”. Do you think Sakurai is capable but misguided or simply has his head up his ass, or do you think Melee was an ‘intentional fluke’? Or do you think there were other people behind Melee’s success, but Sakurai gets all the credit becaues of the industry’s obsession with celebrities? That actually happens way to much, a game’s successes get dumped onto a single dev or a handful of individuals, sometimes underservingly so.

You’re right, there is a bit of a contradiction there. I think that the game systems that existed in melee were really complex, enabling the game to function as it does. I think those systems were put in there intentionally. I don’t think they entirely thought out what would be possible as a result of them, like wavedashing, SHFFLing.

I thought they knew the simple rule that you should never let shield stun go higher than landing lag, then Smash 4 proved me wrong in their last patch. Like, it might be that everything I thought they did intentionally correctly was just luck, but I have no real idea.

They chose to have characters whose double jump animations would dip them low, and thereby enable double jump cancels. They chose to have L canceling, like literally at all. They chose to have air dodges that moved people, chose to have shields cancelable with jump, chose to allow you to buffer rolls, chose to allow the initial dash animation to be canceled by going the opposite way, and the run to be cancelable by crouching, chose to have crouching shave off percentage, chose to have SDI like literally at all, chose to have characters get oriented forwards when hit, chose to have hitboxes that can hit forward and reverse, chose to have some that change angle based on percentage, chose to have only a narrow range of attacks be meteor cancelable, and chose to have some moves hit at angles that can’t be meteor canceled (even adjusted Marth’s spike in PAL, but not falco’s), chose to allow shields to be variable density and tilted, chose to allow fast falling, to allow fox/falco to jump out of shine, to allow jumpsquat to cancel into grab, up smash, up B, to allow you to catch items in the air, to have ground momentum carry over into air momentum and vice versa. These are all intentional decisions, and many of them are extremely slight or would go unnoticed by most players.

Look at all the differences between Marth in melee versus smash 4. Marth is an extremely simple character design, yet they altered it in bringing it over to Smash 4 in ways that limited his ability to make moves work together and stripped some moves of their alternate uses, like side b’s use as an air stall.

The other thing is, Sakurai did have help. Hal Laboratories worked on Smash up to melee, but not past it. When they left, the games got bad. Also, Satoru Iwata stepped in to help debug Melee right before release, and he was a legendary programmer. That and his post-brawl interview communicates that he tried his damn hardest on Melee and it was “The sharpest”, but I think he changed his mind after that one, it was “too hard”.

Who knows?

The Smash Bros Movement System


This is a companion guide to

Okay, movement in Smash Bros is a tricky topic, there’s a lot of nuances to it that don’t exist in any other game I know of, so lets get down to business.


Up above is an image (made by Kadano) detailing all of the actions possible from a neutral standing state using the control stick alone, assuming you are facing right. When you tilt the stick forward, you will begin to walk forwards, with speed proportional to how far forwards the stick is pressed. If the stick is moved into the dash region within 2 frames of it being in the dead zone, it will initiate the initial dash animation, if after 2 frames it is not in the dash region, a dash cannot be initiated regardless of the movement of the stick until it enters the dead zone again. If the stick is moved back into the tilt turn or smash turn areas, then the character will initiate the turning animation, if it is in the smash turn area on the first frame of the turn animation, then the initial dash animation will be started in that direction.

While walking, you are allowed to perform any standing action, forward tilt, down tilt, up tilt, fsmash, down smash, up smash, and all your B moves. This means walking is a nice and delicate way to move while being capable of performing any attack at any time.

As noted above, when you “smash” forward, you’ll enter an animation state called initial dash. This animation plays for a different number of frames per-character, and if the stick is held forwards, it will transition into the run animation when it ends. If the stick is released, the initial dash animation will continue to play until it concludes, but you will not maintain your speed forwards, with friction slowing you to a halt (this is called a fox trot).


During the initial dash animation, you are not allowed to crouch, attempting to do so will make you crouch after a fox trot. You cannot perform any tilt or smash attacks during the initial dash animation, except for up smash (because jump cancels into up smash, and you are allowed to jump from all grounded non-attacking states.). If you smash turn during the initial dash state, you will re-enter the initial dash state in the opposite direction. There is a 2 frame leniency for this (unlike the 1 frame leniency for trying to dash in the opposite animation from standing), not reaching the opposite side fast enough will result in a fox trot.

This means that you can rapidly alternate directions to begin the initial dash animation over and over again in the opposite direction. This is called dash dancing. If you allow the initial dash animation to play out completely, entering a run, attempting to turn back will result in a long turnaround animation playing where you lose a lot of your speed and cannot perform any action except jump. Jumping during this animation will orient you in your original facing direction in Melee, and the opposite facing direction in Project M (called reverse aerial rush).

Because the turnaround animation during run is so long, many players elect to stay in dash dance to get the fastest turn times, allowing them to move with more agility than the run animation over a shorter range. The thing to get familiar with is learning how long you can hold dash in a direction before needing to turn around. This means that there is effectively a distance you’re allowed to move before needing to turn back. When you learn this distance well enough, you’ll be able to move at maximum speed over short distances, weaving in and out of opponent’s attack ranges. It’s possible to run across the stage, staying entirely in initial dash by turning back, then forwards every time you’re about to hit the edge of your range. This is a great way to practice using the dash dance purposefully. Varying your dash lengths and having great precise control over your dash will allow you to whiff punish any move.

During the initial dash animation, the only attacks you’re allowed to perform are the dash attack, grab (the running grab animation is slower, it’s recommended that you jump cancel grab to get your faster standing grab), your B moves, and up smash. However every time you turn during the initial dash animation, there is 1 frame where the character is in a neutral standing state. On this single frame, you are allowed to perform any neutral standing option, assuming you have good enough timing and dexterity. Performing an action on this frame is called a Pivot. Pivots are extremely tricky, but allow you to move at maximum speed and attack with impunity. Because they’re so difficult, many people only use pivots for specific applications, like moving in for a quick smash attack.

Once you enter the run state after the initial dash, your options increase a little, because you are allowed to cancel run with crouch at any time, and perform any move you normally can out of crouch (all special attacks, all smash attacks, all tilts). Worth noting is that crouching, then dashing the opposite direction is faster in a run than trying to do the run turnaround. This is called a Cactaur Dash.

Wavedashing is a technique performed by airdodging at an angle into the ground as soon as you leave the ground from jumpsquat. When you hit the ground, there are 10 frames where you cannot act due to landing lag. This means wavedashes effectively have a startup time of 10 frames + your character’s jumpsquat, assuming you do the wavedash frameperfect. You can also do this as you land from a jump or come up through a platform (fastest way to land on most platforms), incurring the same 10 frames of landing lag. The wavedashes of most characters are slower than dashing, with the exception of the characters with the absolute best wavedashes, like Luigi and Ice Climbers. Wavedashes are nice because they allow you to move at dash-like speeds without committing to the more limited set of dash options, as well as retain the same facing direction. So you can wavedash backwards while facing forwards. They help fill in a few holes in most characters’ mobility options. Wavedashes are bad, because they have a longer startup time than dashes and walking. During the jumpsquat, the wavedash inherits whatever momentum you had moving forwards, so dashing into a wavedash will make the wavedash move further.

The angle at which you dodge into the ground also affects wavedash length. More shallow angles that are closer to parallel with the ground will travel further along it. More deep angles that are perpendicular to the ground will travel with less distance. You cannot wavedash perfectly to the left or right, you’ll just get an airdodge, however you can waveland perfectly to the left or right when you jump up through a platform, or land on the ground. You need to do this exactly as you land, close to frame perfect if it isn’t totally frameperfect. Doing this will move you a lot further and faster than a normal wavedash, allowing even characters with terrible wavedashes like Ganondorf to move amazing distances.

If you are facing with your back to a ledge and have momentum, you will slide off the edge. Wavedashes allow you to do this, making them great for grabbing the ledge quickly to edgehog. Sliding off a ledge also can cancel any special animation, allowing you to attack faster, and attack animations can slide off ledges both backwards and forwards. In shield, sliding off ledges will put you into tumble, which can be taken advantage of by opponents.