Footsies in Melee


This is a companion guide to

Alright, here’s my footsies speech. I wrote this for my local smash group, and now I’m passing it on to you.

A lot of beginners when they learn to dash dance, don’t really know what dash dancing is for. They just do it because they know it’s tech and makes you unpredictable, then they get scraped because nobody’s going to respect someone who just DDs in place. Dash dancing really starts to work for you when you learn how to use your dash purposefully. You gotta understand that dash dancing isn’t just moving back and forth to be less predictable, it’s about your character having a certain range of space on the ground that they can move at maximum speed through, capable of weaving around attacks, and as long as you keep turning back at the periphery of this range, you can keep weave around anything. It’s helpful to be familiar with all the movement states in Melee, I might cover those in a different guide.

The first component of this is whiff punishing. When someone attacks you, and it misses, there is a period where that attack must recover. Dashes in Smash Bros are so fast that they can get in on people during that period, and usually grab them (depends on the character). So what you can do is, if someone comes at you with an attack, you can stand within that attack’s range, dash out of the range, let the attack whiff (miss you), and dash back in to grab them. This is the basic whiff punish.

You can whiff punish grabs, dash attacks, SHFFLs (on almost all characters), most tilts, most smash attacks, and a lot of other options, as long as you have enough space to move back, then forward, to hit your opponent when they miss. Because whiff punishes work on so many things, they’re extremely useful. They can beat out a lot of air and special move options too, forcing the opponent to respect whiff punishes on the ground.

Your other two footsie options are Pokes, and “Going Deep”. Pokes are moves you throw out to prevent your opponent from moving in on you. Poking too close to an opponent can lead to getting shield grabbed, so you want to poke at max range, while still hitting them. You want to throw pokes into the space your opponent is about to move into. Pokes are almost always fast startup moves with fast recovery and decent range, so Ftilts and Dtilts on many characters apply, as well as many character’s SHFFLs. Pokes get beaten by whiff punishes, unless they connect with either the opponent’s body or their shield.

Pokes can be beaten by other pokes, these are called counter pokes. Like a SHFFL will beat a dtilt frequently, and many ftilts or utilts can beat SHFFLs, but dtilts can go under those or outspeed them, beating those out. Poking before your opponent does will also beat their poke. Again, these options vary by character.

“Going Deep” is the equivalent to Throwing in Street Fighter, the idea is that when your opponent is non-commital, trying to bait something from you to whiff punish. If you go deep, then they need to poke you to force you out, or they get hit. Many attacks are great for this, especially because you can run cancel when you go outside your dash dance range. Dash attacks work for this on many characters as well. The idea is to overlap the space they’re going to dash in with a hitbox.

RPS triangle melee footsies.png

Pokes < Whiff Punishes < Going Deep (< Pokes again)

So you have this counter triangle, Pokes stop your opponent from moving in on you, going deep. Whiff punishes will beat pokes by avoiding getting hit, and retaliating. Going deep will beat noncommittal dash dancing, so it beats whiff punishes. Of course, poking to keep people out of your space can itself be whiff punished, so you can move into people’s space then out of it to bait a poke, and whiff punish that poke. Moving in is pressure, moving out is bait.

The goal is to watch what your opponent is doing, because you get to see what they’re about to do based on the way they move before they do it, then make a read, and try to beat whichever one of these three options they attempt, and convert that into a punish ideally. Figure out which of these three they’re relying on the most, and try to focus on the options that beat their particular play style, as well as read which option they’re going to go for right here and now.

All of these things open you up to risk, none of them are perfectly safe. Everything counts as a commitment in its own way. If you get scared, then you’re not going to make yourself safer by overly committing to any one option. Victory depends on your ability to figure out your opponent’s patterns while they simultaneously try to figure out yours, and both of you adjust on the fly based on what you just saw your opponent do. But this isn’t perfect rock paper scissors, you get hints based on what your opponent does before they actually commit.

So have some fun, change up your patterns, and figure out what theirs are before they catch on to you.

SSBMtutorials by Kira did a video on this topic and has a similar basis to mine with different terms.

Execution in PM vs Melee

About simplifying inputs; Melee has harder inputs and everything feels so much more satisfying. On the other hand, as much as I like PM, people just throw out special moves without what feels like any rhyme or reason because they know they’ll connect. How many ‘hype’ falcon punches do you see in Melee vs. PM? Or even for moves that are easier to land like falcon kicks or raptor boosts. PM made these moves more viable, sure, but they also reduced the risk of using them (arguable more than these moves warranted). This disproportional (to viability) reduction in execution requirement makes PM less satisfying to play, less impressive to watch, and less hype. So, I would argue that high execution is still important. Sirlin’s idea that fighting games should be all about strategy is not helpful. These are action games first and foremost. Having high execution arguably puts more emphasis strategic play (should I risk it and use this hard move? or in a tight spot, thinking to use an unorthdox move). Also, high execution makes that cathatic release at the end all the more satisfying.

What? Special moves don’t connect more easily in P:M. In competitive play special moves aren’t any more emphasized than they are in Melee. At least, not on a general level. In competitive play we see about the same normal to special move ratio we see in Melee. Easier to connect implies they have shorter startup, bigger hitboxes, which most special moves don’t. Falcon punch has exactly the same number of startup frames in P:M as it does in Melee, the only difference is that you can reverse it now, which allows you to delay the startup a bit.

The risk of using Falcon Punch and Raptor boost has by no means been reduced. Both have the same amount of recovery they did in melee if I’m not mistaken. Raptor Boost is still just as susceptible to shieldgrabbing and counter poking as it always was. Falcon kick had its recovery time reduced and knockback growth changed to make it more useful, especially the air version, because it was a useless piece of shit before. This doesn’t make it easier to use falcon kick, but it does make falcon kick at all useful as something other than a recovery option or kill move.

Falcon was a character that was underpowered in melee relative to the top tier characters. He needed to be improve in order to be viable compared to them. The changes to Falcon were completely warranted with regards to his viability.

The thing making falcon in particular so much more consistent than his melee counterpart is really the removal of stale knockback. Brawl had an extremely horrible implementation of stale knockback, which the PMDT removed completely, thinking they were matching Melee behavior. Turns out Melee has stale knockback too, just more subdued. This makes combos a bit less consistent when percentage isn’t the only thing governing how far someone is hit. Falcon has some relatively simple combos that would otherwise be highly consistent, like his nair into up air string which some people call the air wobble.

The actual factors of execution that were changed in P:M were changed extremely slightly, like by a frame in the majority of cases. Backdashes were made easier by adding the frame of tolerance given to the forward dash input, the dash versus walk range was made larger so it’s easier to end up in the dash range. Shorthops were made easier by fixing the bug where the last frame of jumpsquat doesn’t count for determining shorthop versus fulljump. Various aerials were made easier by the 1 frame physics delay, also probably multi-shining, and chaingrabbing or grab followups. Samus’s super wavedash was given an extra frame on the window.

Then you get things like B-reverse which are still hard as shit, and DACUS which was made harder than in Brawl (2 frame window). Perfect pivots are still frame perfect. Project M decided to make all kinds of edge cancels possible that weren’t before, like Falcon Kick edgecancel, giving players new tricky things to master.

For the most part, the reduction in execution for Project M is extremely extremely tiny. You’re freaking out over nothing.

People still have that type of risk in P:M, like going for a down air as a launcher with Snake instead of Up Air, multiple hits where you need to stay on top of them for the last hit, versus one with more lag afterwards and less ideal knockback. Or Ftilting with just the first hit to get the sticky, which is hard to land, and hard to confirm. In general connecting C4 with Snake is tricky and basically means dropping your combo to do it. Or going for side B combos with Bowser now that there is no super armor on the move, slower than a regular grab, but definitely bigger rewards.

Execution is nice, but it isn’t everything. Something shouldn’t be hard to the point that nobody is consistent at it unless it is something that would ruin the game if someone were consistent at it. Sure Sirlin is crazy for trying to literally remove all execution from games, but saying these are action games or trying to assign a purpose to them or a way they are “supposed to be” is not a good conceptualization. Any sort of statement about how something is “supposed to be” is making assumptions without a basis. It’s like assuming some sort of designer intent without an actual designer. Things either work right, creating a specific effect, or they don’t. Action games don’t need to be about execution primarily, if anything, execution difficulty is a bonus on a decision-making experience. The primary standard of quality I hold for games is depth, and execution by itself doesn’t tend to translate into very much depth.

Having things that require execution to distinguish between outcomes enables a game to create more outcomes in the form of more possible actions that can be performed by the player. Eliminating execution requirements typically means simplifying the game, but frequently it’s possible to make executing easier without a sacrifice, as in the majority of P:M’s implementations of easier execution. Having something be like a 1 frame link instead of a 3 frame link doesn’t significantly impact strategy in the majority of cases, it doesn’t create new outcomes that wouldn’t otherwise exist, it just induces frustration over consistency. If it’s possible to cut corners there without compromising anything, then go ahead. We don’t need everything being as difficult as the super wavedash, because yeah, the guys on top would feel awesome when they pull stuff off, but the other half of the time they’d be frustrated that nothing worked, because nobody can be consistent when everything is that hard.

TL;DR: P:M doesn’t significantly decrease the level of execution necessary to play on anything except borderline impossible shit. None of this affects the possibility space, and thereby depth, of the game. It’s not a significant concern.

What would you consider to be the absolute greatest aspects of melee’s gameplay?

Note: Not one of the best asks, but keeping it on file for later

I dunno. There’s a lot of individual things it succeeds at.

It has a unique ground and air footsie type of game that resembles something between Street Fighter’s (poke, whiff punish, go deep/throw) King of Fighter’s (shorthops beating lows, beating high jabs, beating shorthops) with less blocking, and faster, harder to control, ground movement, with a grab option that’s used more similarly to a whiff punish, and dash attacks used in the place of a throw typically. The characters all have different dash dance lengths and the dash state locks out other options, which is cool. It has shield pressure that’s based primarily on scare tactics and frametraps with few true blockstrings, and no way to get + on block, so no true tick throws. This probably resembles 3d fighters based on what I’ve heard about them, but I don’t have enough experience to say. Like using the threat of a frametrap to continue spamming the unsafe setup for a frametrap so you can paralyze them long enough to let you just grab them. It has combos that vary by how much damage has already been taken, with new options opening up and old ones closing by %, Combo trees that vary depending on your opponent’s DI which you need to react to at each step and the possibility of hitting your opponent opposite the way they expect to trap them in bad DI for a longer punish. It has the dynamic of DIing to escape a combo versus survive the next hit, which can lead into DI traps, as rather than going for a linker attack, you can go for a kill move, where their attempt to escape kills them. In that way, there is also the mechanical skill of DIing as perfectly as possible to attempt to aim yourself at the corners of the screen, so you can sometimes survive longer at higher %s. Then there’s recovery, which is different per-character and usually involves mixups in whether you go high or low at each stage of the recovery, and hang onto your character’s air stall options to either avoid their offstage edgeguards, or bait them into letting go of the ledge, since you can only occupy it with invincibility for a certain amount of time.

I posted this to 8/v/ in the past, and I’ll repost it here:

Melee vs fighters

Smash Bros as an Accident and a Spectator Sport

This video is so fucking stupid at times (such as when the word theatre is said and every time he goes a little bit SJW), but this video is alright. What do you think?

Dude released this like 3-4 days ago and he’s talking like there are only 5 gods. Leffen is arguably the best player in the world right now next to Armada and PPMD, and certainly stronger than Mew2king or Hungrybox presently. Documentary kiddie!

Regarding Amsa, he should have mentioned how the guy placed at Evo 2014. I have a local Yoshi player who said if Amsa took top 8, he’d redouble his efforts in Melee rather than moving cleanly onto P:M. Yeah, Yoshi was considered a gimmick character that nobody knew the matchup against, but once everyone figured out the matchup, Amsa went into a slump, then recovered to show he truly knew how to play well, not just abuse things people were unfamiliar with (he does mention that Amsa might not have much staying power, but this video came out over a year after the events he’s summarizing). He also probably should have mentioned the facets of yoshi that had potential, like the three different types of “parries” Yoshi has, between super armored DJC attacks, his power shield, and light shield. And how his normals have good hitboxes and knockback, unlike a lot of other low tiers. He also could have mentioned how historically, Sheik is known as a HORRIBLE matchup for Yoshi, and it was Amsa who figured out how to play the matchup well and dominate in it, versus the best sheik player who ever lived (well, besides Plup I guess). Also Vectorman pioneered a ton of the techniques Amsa brought out competitively. He has an old combo video, Eggstinction. He even did a sequel to it.

Bonus, on the 20XX thing, it was Hax’s joke originally, he could have mentioned how Mango perpetually snubbed Hax, and even beat Hax’s Fox using Captain Falcon.

But hey, it’s reasonably good coverage. I agree with a lot of the gist of it, even if being a part of the scene I know there’s more to the stories. I just hate this guy’s guts for his first two videos, and looking at his uploads, probably a lot of others he’s made.

Instinctively, I want to say it’s not theater as purely a kneejerk reaction, given you know my bias against that sort of crap, but a lot of what he’s repeating are stories by this point. A lot of what circulates in the smash scene is essentially stories, which is part of why following Smash is so interesting. Though not quite theater, because these are real games at some point, played with an intention to win, to clutch it out. They aren’t art like theater is, even the stories of them aren’t art, but yeah, they’re interesting.

What do you think of this analysis on super smash bros melee?

Someone linked it to me already. Not a fan. The writing is cringey and lacks perspective for why a lot of things in Melee work the way they do. That and the author is a little shit.

Melee certainly wasn’t intended to be played the way it is, however a lot of what enables it to be played that way was on the implementations of the game designer. Dash dancing works in part because they wanted a smooth transition from a standing animation to a dashing animation, and wanted some leniency on the dash direction before players would do the fancy long turnaround animation from being committed to the full run.

Smash Direction influence is hella technical, and hasn’t been removed until Smash 4 practically nerfed it out of existence. The idea that the C-stick should buffer automatic SDI and out prioritize the control stick for the privilege? That the crouch state should subtract some knockback? Perfect shields that reflect projectiles? Variable density light shields? There is a lot of complex shit going on in melee that was entirely the decision of the developers. They included a crazy walljump mechanic in the vein of super metroid that is difficult to input and Young Link’s target test is reliant on. They decided Fox and Falco’s shines should be capable of being jumped out of. They decided that the C-stick should buffer all your shield options, including jump. A friend told me an easy way to get frameperfect wavedash out of shield, by buffering jump on the C-stick when you’re in shield stun.

They decided that throws should have weight independent knockback, but vary the length of the throw animation based on the weight of the character so weight determines frame advantage. They decided to make landing animations shorter if you land at the top of your jump arc, and to allow you to drop through platforms when your shield is up if you press within the right range, and make it faster than normal platform drops too.

I had that one topic idea a while back that great games make for great glitches, and Melee is a shining example of that. If you compare to say PlayStation All-Stars, you can see the smash bros developers put a ludicrous amount of detail into how every system functions, in such a way that enables a wide range of possibilities. This is why people are finding out new possibilities this late into the game, like Z-perfect shield, or Wavedash forward into PC drop (PC drop is walking forwards then turning around so the momentum will slide you off the ledge for a grab), or actually bringing yoshi’s light shield and parry into use. It’s why Armada could bring out an underpowered character like young link and beat hungrybox’s fox with it. Plup is still pioneering the reaction tech chase with Sheik right now (not that it wasn’t done before, just not as well).

Calling it purely an accident is underselling the game.

Automatic L-Cancel & 1-Button Wavedash

On the topic of controls, do you think certain tactics like L-cancelling should be automatic? Being manual obviously punishes weaker players, but there are already a lot of hard techniques in the game. Even just short-hopping or wavedashing require quite a bit of practice (they did for me, anyway).

I’m ambivalent on the matter. I think that “automatic L canceling” is kind of a misnomer, because it would actually be more like all the moves being made with landing animations that are half as long.

Regardless of whether L canceling is automatic or L canceling exists or not, the default standard of landing lag should be a lot shorter than in smash 4. What L canceling does is, there are essentially 4-ish speeds of landing lag, the normal 4 frame landing lag which is really short of a standard landing, 6-12 frames for L-canceled aerial attacks and the 14-24 frames for non-L canceled attacks. The big deal with these is, autocancels, float cancels, and missed L cancels (no cancel). Autocancels, such as on marth’s nair, get 4 frames of landing lag, meaning they’re plus on block or neutral, same for float cancels a la peach. This means that they’re pressure setups, much like the shine. Most L canceled aerials are negative or neutral on hit, meaning that you can never grab the other person before they can grab you, but you’re usually safe on block because their grab takes longer than your escape options. No L cancel means you’re usually unsafe on block unless you’re fucking sheik.

The key thing here is, there’s a certain amount of landing lag that is balanced and fair, and allows for combos while not making everything bullshit on shield.

Bonus round, why is it (sort of) cool to have unsafe landing lag? (and therefore, cool to be punished for not doing this tight execution thing) Because the amount of hitfreeze you get is different based on whether you miss, actually hit them, or hit their shield (the last one being the longest). Seeing as the window for L cancels is only 7 frames, you need to actually know roughly whether you’ll hit, miss, or hit shield in order to get the safe and combo-able amount of landing lag so you can capitalize on a hit or keep yourself safe from reprisal. There are plenty of stories about people who can L cancel really great on whiff, but then play people and can’t combo (because they’re not used to hitting people and L canceling).

This means there’s a light element of decision-making there, because if you shoot to L cancel for whiff, you’re really gonna get fucked if they move forward into your attack at the last millisecond and shield. However that’s still mostly a situation where there’s pure advantage and always a correct decision. What can the defender do? The defender can actually tilt their shield up or down to make you go into hitfreeze sooner, so you miss your L cancel timing when you hit the ground. It’s an extremely slight and situational element of strategy, but it is there, so that’s kinda cute. If you make the window wider, the only element of strategy inherent in L canceling disappears.

Beyond that, it feels kinda nice on a kinaesthetic level every time you do it, you get a little “flag” of when you actually land present in your mind to help you remember when you can actually act out of landing. The other thing is when you hit a tiny window and get one motion flowing faster into another that’s the type of thing that naturally feels good, like a link in Street Fighter 4, it feels totally unlike a frametrap.

Overall, I don’t think it’s right or wrong to have L canceling in the game. I think if you just had shorter landing lag, short as typical L canceled landing lag, that it’s not really that big a setback, the strategic element is extremely small, and it’s not really that big a deal to have something like that in the game considering it almost never comes up. The thing which I honestly really hate is when indie developers try to make it easier rather than just outright removing it. It’s missing the tiny tangible benefit of even having it, just so they can pay lip service to melee fans that are used to it. They don’t know why it feels nice that it’s there or what it even adds to the game, as insignificant an addition it is, so they trivialize it, yet leave it as a vestige. It’s dumb business.

What do you think of people asking for advanced techs like SHFFLS and wavedashing to be put back in Smash 5 but have them bound to a button? e.g. hold LB and if you jump you shorthop, continuing to hold it causes a fast fall, flick the Lsick with LB held does an air attack. L cancelling would be left as is though. another e.g Holding LB and then pressing left or right along with shield causes a wavedash, etc…

Seems like it would be awkward, counterintuitive, and missing the point. Project M making those things easier is contentious enough, outright changing the inputs, especially to introduce a new macro modifier button, is over the line. Shorthopping, fast falling, and l canceling are all individual actions that can be performed independently. If you change the input then the metaphor for shorthopping breaks down, same for fast falling. If you change the left stick to attack when modified by left trigger instead of move the character then you remove the utility of the move almost entirely versus grounded attacks. A key component of shffls is you can move forward or back while doing them.

Really, don’t reinvent the wheel, just stick with what works.

Leaving L canceling as it is just makes the motion complicated in a different way.

Having a grounded wavedash function is similarly dumb, because wavedash is useful for braking during a dash dance and different angles relative to the ground travel different distances, depending on how parallel to the ground you’re traveling.

This also ignores wavelanding. When you land, you’re actually partially embedded in the ground, so you can wavedash perfectly parallel to the ground for maximum distance and speed, same when you rise up through a platform. There’s a balance there obviously, which most easy wavedash control schemes ignore.

How do you feel about auto L-cancelling being implemented as an option in the upcoming PM 3.6 ?
I haven’t gotten the chance to play it myself yet, but if it’s like 20XX’s implementation, it’s alright. In 20XX, you can set L cancel to be automatic, but pressing the button will still trigger the white flash, so you can practice getting better at the input while also practicing the correct followups from a successful L cancel.
It probably will not be allowed in tournaments, like input assist is not, so it will not affect the game at large. We have already agreed in our local scene to not use it.
Gonna repost my schpiel from facebook:
What I’ll say with L canceling is, for the most part it requires you to know whether you will whiff, hit the person, or hit their shield. If you thought you were going to whiff, then suddenly they move up and shield your aerial, you’re in for trouble. People can intentionally angle their shields higher so the hitstop delays you a bit sooner before you hit the ground. There are these situations in which the longer landing lag will come into effect, allowing for things to become punishable.
Not to mention it feels good, from a kinaesthetic perspective.
If you have L canceling, then you have this additional reminder, a “flag” you could say, of when you hit the ground, to better keep track of when you’re actionable out of landing.
L canceling isn’t something that needs to be in the game, but it’s not devoid of strategic elements.
The real point is that the amount of landing lag you get from L canceling is the amount that should be the standard, so if L canceling was removed, the length of the animations should be in the 7-15 lag frame range.

How WOULD you fell if auto L-cancelling could be toggled on a player by player basis? Kinda like a handicap.
Just don’t make it the standard.
I mean, we could potentially do this for a lot of things, why have it so short hop requires you to release the button quickly? why not allow people to bind shorthop to another button? Why not have a B-reverse/wavebounce button? Why not have it so you dash all the time? Why not add auto-sweet spotting to ledges? automatic meteor cancel? automatic perfect shield? automatic perfect pivot? Automatic multishine? How about a 10 frame buffer?
You could do all sorts of shit to make the game easier, but people don’t want that. People want to succeed and fail at these things because it is fun to succeed and fail at them. Arbitrary execution requirements are fun to have here and there. They just need to be appropriate to the action in question.

Extending the question about automatic l-cancelling, do you think wavedash should be mapped to a single button? It’s essentially just dash with awkward controls. I meant it’s just a dash when Melee is compared to other FGs like GG. I don’t see the point in the jumping input before the actual wavedash. What’s the point of awkwardly angling yourself against the ground? It’s just unnecessary inputs that make it harder than it should be.

No, because it isn’t.

Dash doesn’t have a startup time of your prejump frames + 10 more landing lag frames where you can’t act. Dash doesn’t allow you to perform ground actions that aren’t specials or dash attack, or move backwards while facing forwards. The initial dash animation doesn’t allow you to cancel into crouch until it ends.

The wavedash is essentially a short burst of speed, slower than a dash, that allows you to move in a neutral state after paying some startup time.

Not to mention that with the current control setup, you can arbitrarily wavedash any distance based on the angle of your air dodge, making it a valuable way to brake yourself during dash dance.

Because the wavedash is a jump first, it means that anything that cancels into jump also cancels into wavedash, which allows people to wavedash out of shield which can be important in some matchups, like versus marth, you can punish fsmash on shield with WD out of shield.

Because the wavedash works the way it does, there is the much harder perfect waveland command, when you waveland perfectly parallel to the ground when coming up through a platform or falling onto one. Perfect wavelands have more distance than wavedashes, which is important for some characters like ganondorf, for invincible edgedashes, and for generally adding more variety to the game. Also wavedashes can inherit speed from regular dashes because dash momentum carries over into jumpsquat.

If you change the way the wavedash command works, then you change the game.

That and honestly. It’s not that hard. I’ve sat down with a number of people who have never played smash bros melee much at all, and they asked me, “How do you wavedash?” or “What’s wavedashing?” And I show them, they try it with like Samus, Luigi, Ice Climbers, and eventually figure it out, and go, “Oh, that’s it? I thought it would be harder.”

It’s something so easy that I do it across the stage as a victory lap when I take a stock, that I’m mixing it into my dash dances, and I do it potentially risking death if I fuck up to get off the ledge. It’s easier than a clean dragon punch, and the motion to do it feels really nice to me.

The angle determines how far you will go, and you don’t always want to go the maximum distance. You jump so you can airdodge. The inputs aren’t unnecessary. If you remove the angling bit, then people can’t use wavedashing to brake themselves or control the distance the dash goes. If you remove the jumping bit, then wavedash out of shield and waveshine become impossible, not to mention that characters with long jumpsquats suddenly get way better wavedashes (when they typically rely on wavelands)

If you remove the inputs, then the functionality and flexibility of the motion is lessened. If you pare it down to a single “Wavedash” button on the L or R trigger, that you just press left or right during (and it defaults to the direction you’re facing) then you’re killing the entire functionality of the move. It’s significantly less useful. That and people will likely end up facing the wrong direction more often because they’ll press left or right on the control stick before the wavedash button is pressed. If you no longer have to angle it, then perfect wavelanding is pointless.

If they mapped wavedash to a button and designed the game around it, don’t you think it would lead to some interesting design? Combos in FGs, rocket-jumping in Quakes, and skiing in Tribes were all turned into ‘legit’ mechanics in sequels with modified, more convenient inputs.

Except what you’re describing never happened in ANY of the games you mentioned, and the phrase, “designed the game around it,” is vacuous. (I dislike vague statements like this categorically. I hear “they designed the game around X” without supporting details too often.)

Combos in fighting games are performed and operate the same way in modern fighting games as they did back in street fighter 2. They didn’t add a “Combo button” that does a combo for you. You still need to hit them with a normal, buffer directional inputs, then press another button for a special attack during the hitstop of the first normal making impact, just like you did all the way back in Street Fighter 2. The only difference is that the Kara window isn’t 5 frames anymore, it’s 1 frame, and the cancelable property for moves is determined arbitrarily by the designers now, because it’s intentionally put in there rather than being rollover frames from the kara-cancel that are extended in real time by the hitfreeze.

Rocket-Jumping in Quake and every other game that has rocket jumping is still performed by looking down at your feet and firing a rocket. If there’s a shooter with a rocket-jump button now, please inform me so I can avoid the abomination.

Skiing in Tribes is a trickier case, and arguably the only legitimate example you have here, because the original way skiing was performed was mashing jump, until players wrote a script for the original starsiege tribes that automated mashing space bar. In Tribes 2 and Tribes Vengeance (far as I’m aware, I admit that I don’t have first hand experience here), Skiing was reimplemented on the level of the physics engine, however the developers didn’t give the players a ski button, they gave them another macro button for jump. It’s only in Tribes Ascend that the engine was built from scratch and a dedicated ski function that modified your friction was implemented. However in all of these games, you ski the same damn way effective, you hold the space bar. The control method from a player perspective isn’t really any different. You still need to aim for downward slopes, and jetpack up upward slopes.

They don’t need to map wavedash to a single button, mapping it to a single button would be actively detrimental to the game. This is stupid like saying Quake needs a bunnyhop button rather than swerving to the left and right. When you change things in the name of making them simpler without very carefully considering what you’re doing, you end up removing operational constraints that players normally need to work around, and the flexibility of the option, ruining it for everyone.

It works the way it works, it’s better off being this way, get used to it.

Difference between Smash and Trad Fighters

How do you answer people who ask what Smash does that other FG don’t also do? Or how Smash does certain things better? Or what the difference between Smash and other FGs is (aside form obvious stuff like movement and environment)?

If I had to describe overall differences, I’d say that smash bros versus other fighting games is based a lot more on unclear spacing mixups. Other fighting games tend to have much more clear situations with regards to the timing and spacing of actions because jump arcs are fixed, you always block in specific directions, and you tend not to really be moving as attacks go on. Smash bros information tends to be fuzzier because there are so many different ways to modulate speed and position. Describing the neutral game in street fighter can come down to some simple clear cut rock paper scissors games, but doing the same for smash is a lot trickier in my experience. In teaching people street fighter I find it comes a lot more naturally to describe the right way to play versus smash bros where I found I was at a loss for how to describe the right way to play the neutral game. Not to mention that it varies a lot between characters. Dash dancing creates crazy footsie-like scenarios at high speeds.

More specific things would include the use of sweet spots, moves don’t just have one type of hitbox everywhere that deals a consistent amount of damage and pushback, they have weaker and stronger hitboxes based on both timing and positioning, and people frequently use the weak hitboxes on purpose to knock back less to keep the combo alive.

There’s a level of control during combos with DI that not only allows people to escape, but makes it a mixup situation, because they can’t move closer or further, just tilt the angle. This is why DI wouldn’t work in a traditional fighter, people stay locked to the ground, you could only have DI left or right really, not angular DI, it wouldn’t make much sense to have angular DI, and when you can only DI in two directions it soon becomes clear that either the combo dies or it doesn’t die, there isn’t long enough hitstun or flexible enough movement to make it work otherwise.

The ledge guard/recovery game as an okizeme equivalent. Lots of options there that don’t make sense in a traditional fighter.

Ability to change velocity in the air and inherit velocity from the ground. KoF and Guilty Gear sort of do the last one. Marvel 2 and 3 do the first one on super jumps.

Comboing into grabs and chaingrabs, as well as letting you hold people to pummel them and choose the direction they’re thrown in.

A crazy shield tilt system that degrades over time, requiring you to cover the parts of your body that will be attacked. Also it can vary in density for more pushback/coverage.

SDI and shield SDI

Wavedashing, the idea that you can invest startup frames now to move in a neutral state later.

Sniping people after they double jump to cut off escape options

Functional team matches.

Lots of stuff.

The Nature of Smash Combos

How would you compare combos in Smash to combos in more traditional fighting games in terms of functionality and technicality?

It’s easier to confirm off random hits for combos in smash, it’s practically necessary. The big deal with combos in smash is, they get you damage and they get you positioning, which either sets you up to ledgeguard or sets you up to tech chase or otherwise lead them into a bad situation.Technicality, depends a lot on the combo. A lot of combos are not really technical, practically do themselves, like on Sheik. Some combos like shine combos with Fox are extremely precise, and the controller itself is laid out in a way that makes them difficult to perform.I’d say that smash bros combos are a lot like rocket combos in Quake, you launch the guy, you know the way they’re gonna go and shoot them again. Except in the process you also need to do a bunch of difficult inputs to make sure all your stuff strings together.

 I’ve been trying to get my Snake back together in P:M and he’s built like a trap, metaphorically speaking. His Fsmash is terrible and you never want to use it, his dash attack is terrible and you always want to DACUS instead (dash attack cancel up smash, a 1-2 frame input involving the control stick, C-stick, and Z or A button), his ftilt is great, but the second hit is awful, his jab is okay, but you never want to use the second jab. His F-air needs to hit grounded targets in order to kill them, his tranq needs to hit grounded targets to put them to sleep and it has a long startup. In general the character is just plain hard to play, but I’m really reluctant to let him go since I played the shit out of him in Brawl.
I’ve also been playing wolf, and he’s pretty much another space animal, except his combos are all DI mixups, where you catch them with different parts of the move so they get sent the wrong way based on their DI. And his shine hits people diagonally upwards, but can be crouch canceled, so it sets up a very different combo game from Fox and Falco.
Space animals in smash bros all have that shine, so they all can multishine, waveshine and so on, which involves using their reflector, down b, and jumping, then shining again exactly when they’re airborne, or wavedashing out of the shine, or you can even shinegrab, because prejump frames cancel into grab. Because you can jump and shine again in the multishine, you can shine on people’s shields over and over again to pressure them into getting hit or dropping their shield to escape. That’s a frameperfect input though, so it’s crazy hard.
The other thing about Wolf is his Wolf Flash, it moves up and diagonal and has a sweet spot exactly at the end. So you need to have crazy aim to land that thing, because if you don’t hit, it sends you into a helpless fall. However people can land that offstage and still recover. Add to it that he has the highest fall speed in the game and Wolf just gets crazy.

Here’s a video that shows that off, kind of old.

A lot of the technicality in Smash Bros involves hitting people with the sweet spot of the attack, like clean hits in Guilty Gear with Sol’s sidewinders. That’s not something that is common in any other fighting game. As well as the basic facets of movement which are more complicated in smash than other fighters, because the acceleration system and other accompanying systems and tricks are more complicated than other fighters.

You can moonwalk by doing a half circle back motion, but not touching down. Wavedashing, wave landing, pivoting within the dash dance range on every character, weaving in and out of attack ranges, crouching to cancel the dash to get normal options back or endure hits from opponents. You have a massive number of options, and I’m gonna need a more specific question if I’m gonna get anywhere with this.

Smash 4 Deserves Respect

Thoughts on this video?

This is the moron who made the “Melee is a Beautiful Accident” video. I’ve been meaning to make a response to that crap, because it’s ignorant.

I’m proud of the crowd chanting Melee. I don’t think Smash 4 deserves respect. Smash 4 went way over time. Smash 4 had its own stream, but top 8 had to happen on the melee stream and it was completely boring.

I don’t think the smash 4 scene deserves respect, I don’t think smash 4 apologists like this guy deserve respect. He’s saying Smash 4 is more calculated, it isn’t. There’s a common fallacy among morons to say that a slower game is more tactical/calculated/strategic/intellectual. It’s bullshit. It stems back to an old notion of dumb jocks who play fast games like football or basketball, versus smart nerds who play slow games like chess. Melee has more complex decisionmaking that hinges on more factors. The players have more options and more ways to use the options given to them.

None of the things he describes as strengths of Smash 4 are missing from Melee or Project M. “You have to make certain reads so you can land a certain move and follow it up.” Like this isn’t routine in the other smash games. “A lot of it is happening in the mind of the player” Like this isn’t in the other smash games too without being boring to play or watch. He doesn’t know about the neutral game, because describing the smash neutral game, compared to other fighters, is really fucking hard, because it’s really fucking weird. In slower paced fighters, what this guy doesn’t understand is, in the neutral game, you can’t really attack, because attacking is really unsafe, if you aggress then you get punished, so characters instead jockey over getting a position where they can attack safely and throw out safe ranged attacks. In a slower game you can see everything coming before it happens, so you have a lot less of people throwing things out simultaneously and a lot more of people hanging back and camping. This is a similar situation to what went on in the transition to Street Fighter 4 (though nowhere as bad).

He admits in the video that he’s not into melee, and he’s considering picking it up. He’s operating from a stance of ignorance, and deserves to be ignored.

Melee to Smash 4/Brawl is like Street Fighter Third Strike to Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix. I’m not going to respect people who push that shit. Far as I’m concerned, they’re sellouts or fools who are only in it because it’s the newest game or because they’re hoping to make money off pushing an inferior product.

Melee’s no accident, and anyone who comes at it from the standpoint that it is will never be able to address a situation like this accurately.

And someone tell this asshole to make his points more concisely. He meanders around the topic like a drunk guy at new years. Also to cut the damn machinima in his other videos, it makes me cringe.