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November 24, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 1)

So I’ve put some time into Smash 4 -- more than I thought, but less than I’d hoped.  By which I mean there have been several moments in the past few days where I thought to myself “I don’t want to sleep.  I just want to smash all night long!” 

That should probably tell you everything you need to know about how I feel about this game.

But for the sake of a VERY short post (hopefully), let’s start going over some of the particulars.  It’ll be fun.  Just, you know, not as much fun as playing the game.

--For the sake of these posts, I’m going to hold off on making  a bunch of big chunky paragraphs if I can help it.  Just a bunch of notes for you to sift through.  At some point next week I’ll probably make something substantial to wrap things up.

--Moving on, then.  I’d bet that THE biggest draw of any given Smash game is the cast of characters, so I think it’s only fitting that I talk about them first.  So, here are my impressions on some of the new members of the cast.

--Palutena: the character I was set on playing since her reveal (and her leak, by extension).  How is she?  Exactly the sort of character I expected, and ultimately wanted.  Now, a lot of people were worried she’d be god-tier based on her trailer, but since release opinions have flip-flopped and she’s thought of as one of the worst in some circles.  My thoughts?  She’s not the best, but nowhere near the worst. 

--Her biggest asset is that she’s got HUGE range on a number of her moves, and has the (default) toolset to play a strong defensive game.  The expected drawback is that she doesn’t have much in the way of speed -- more so attack speed than movement.  She’s not wanting for raw power and knockback, but landing those hits can be a problem.  Still, I’m convinced she’s a solid character who’ll only get better as people learn her.  I’m definitely sticking with her, potentially as my new main.

--Little Mac: the character my brother was set on playing.  He insists that Mac is the worst character ever (which he says for EVERY character he plays in EVERY fighting game), but he knew what he was getting into.  As anyone who saw his trailer knows, Mac has no aerial game or ability to recover, which is pretty freakin’ important in a game like Smash.  The tradeoff is that Mac is one of the fastest characters, hits VERY hard, and has armor so that he can punch you even if you try to interrupt his attack.  Basically, I wouldn’t call Mac dangerous, and certainly not overpowered; he’s more of an annoyance than anything.  Once you learn how to exploit his glaring weakness -- which I’m working towards now -- it’s lights out.

--Wii Fit Trainer: The cast’s premiere Ripple user.  She seems like a straightforward character at first glance, but once you find out that what body part she hits with has different effects, it opens up a world of possibilities…or questions, possibly.  A number of her attacks are very quick, but that’s counterbalanced by the lack of range on most moves (her forward smash aside).  On top of all that, she’s got a chargeable projectile that’s very handy for sniping from afar, striking at baddies that have you off the edge, or just making sure opponents -- Little Mac -- can’t recover.  All in all, she’s far from useless.

--Villager: To say he’s not a conventional fighter would be an understatement.  I don’t have enough experience with him to be certain, but I suspect that playing as Villager means using sneaky tactics and making the most out of his toolset.  Some of his special moves (Loid Rocket and the tree) have a surprising amount of KO power, and if you can learn how to Pocket anything that comes your way, you’ll give him some VERY dangerous options.  On the other hand, Villager seems like a very situational character, maybe even gimmicky; success with him may come down to putting the enemy right where you want him, so you can unleash one of his eclectic moves.  It’s worth noting, though, that his recovery is unbelievable.

--Pac-Man: Another strange fighter, albeit less so than Villager.  He’s not the fastest or strongest, but I feel like he can fight competently at close range thanks to his ground normals.  My guess is that his gameplan revolves around keeping enemies off-balance, which you can do with Pac-Man’s special moves.  His Bonus Fruit gives him at least a half-dozen different options for offense, defense, or setups, while his Fire Hydrant can be used in some sneaky ways (I’ve seen footage of players using it to get pushed in range for a surprise Smash attack).  Like Villager, his side B special has shocking KO power, and his recovery’s nothing to sneeze at.  Despite appearances, his Final Smash is comparatively weak.

--Shulk: For one reason or another, this character feels really good to play as.  At a base level, he’s got the tools needed to mount an offense; the Monado gives him good range (at the cost of attack speed), and while he doesn’t have any long-range tools, it doesn’t make him any worse for wear.  Still, Shulk strikes me as an “all-or-nothing” sort of character; his standard special lets you choose between a short selection of modes for him to enter, buffing some stats and nerfing others.  Those looking to play aggressively (which I’d bet is Shulk’s gameplan) might want to go in fast and hard by entering Buster Mode, then switching to Smash Mode when it wears off.

--Robin: I haven’t seen much of him, but I’m guessing that this character is no joke.  As long as he’s got his Levin Sword equipped, he can do some serious damage -- and that’s setting aside his other magic abilities.  He’s on the slow side, I think, but he compensates by having moves that can harass and even kill you from a distance.  His fire attack alone can not only stop you in your tracks, but also leave you wide open for a lethal blow.  Leaving him to his devices isn’t advised, but you’ll have to be careful about how you approach him.  Also, he (in the male variant) is voiced by David Vincent.  This can make fights…confusing.

--Rosalina: Supposedly, she’s one of the best, if not THE best character in the game.  I can kind of see why, but I’m not 100% convinced she gets easy wins in the typical 4-man fight.  Then again, maybe that chaos can play to her strengths.  Either way, she’s a puppet master not unlike BlazBlue’s Carl Clover, meaning that you can only unlock her true potential by mastering both her and her little Luma friend’s motions.  It only took me a few minutes to find some decent one-two hits, and even the occasional lucky strike puts an enemy in the perfect position for a double-whammy.  If nothing else, she may be one of the best characters at hassling off-stage enemies, even without leaving the stage.  I’m not sure if I’ll play her too much, but she does seem pretty fun.  Also, her Final Smash can do INSANE damage -- we’re talking 200% in one go -- if you toss enemies into it.

--Duck Hunt: This will probably be of my go-to characters in the future.  I don’t know if he can get a KO off of them, but if nothing else he can rack up the damage with a slew of long-range moves.  Good power, good range, good speed; he’s got a focus on sniping and tricks, but Duck Hunt is pretty much competent -- if not deadly -- no matter the distance.  The biggest drawback I can think of right now is that he’s a character designed to make you lose all your friends.  Considering the legacy, that was probably intentional.

And that’ll do it for now, I suppose.  Tune in tomorrow when I go over more Smash observations, possibly in a genuinely-short post!  Maybe I’ll tackle some mechanics, maybe some systems, and maybe the characters I didn’t mention here.

…Except Greninja.  I don't take kindly to ninjas.

…Okay, maybe Greninja.

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