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November 25, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 2)

Is it redundant for me to talk about the mechanics of a game when there’s been a version of it out for nearly two months before this point?  Yes, of course.  But let’s go ahead and do it anyway, because…uh…holiday filler?


--So today, let’s talk about Smash 4’s mechanics -- because it looks like there are a number of under-the-hood things that have shifted around.

--One of the gameplay changes is that you have to be a lot more wary about ledges.  It used to be that in Brawl (and likely the other ones), you could drop down onto a ledge and use the invincibility frames to make it impossible for your opponent to get back on.  That’s no longer the case here, because the 2nd person going for the ledge will bump off the 1st, especially if he/she has used up their invincibility frames beforehand.  It’s the sort of thing designed to promote fair play -- or at least as close to “fair” as Smash can get.

--There’s a new effect where a vapor trail follows you after a sufficiently-powerful launch, and likewise a burst of energy around you when you score a KO.  Since they’re color-coordinated to match the players, it’s the sort of thing designed to tell every player who launched who, and who got the point for what (assuming they know what the effects stand for).  But there’s an underlying, almost-psychological use for it: if you get knocked around by someone, then you know exactly who was responsible.  In other words, you can plan your revenge the very second you set your feet on solid ground.

--It’s been said that this game is a balance in speed between the madcap Melee and the floaty Brawl, and I can believe that.  I can feel the difference between this game and the last, and by the looks of things?  I’ll probably have to unlearn everything I’ve learned from Brawl.  Or most of it, at least; this is a different game, and unlike last time where you could do all right just by knowing a couple of ins and outs of any random character, I get the feeling that you NEED to know what you’re doing to get a handle on both the physics and the combat.  Good thing every newcomer is almost as esoteric as a BlazBlue fighter!

--I’m working under the assumption that off-the-ledge shenanigans are more important than ever in this game.  Granted it won’t take the place of grounded battles, but in a lot of instances (unless you’re playing Little Mac) it’s more than possible to get back on solid ground.  Going for the kill with a spike or an aerial smack seems like way to go to ensure a swift end to a fight/enemy.  Just look at Wii Fit Trainer -- two projectiles to snipe from the edge, and at least three moves she can use to spike.  It hardly seems coincidental. 

--Final Smashes have been weakened across the board.  There are still some with plenty of power (Ganondorf’s, as expected), but I can remember a time when they almost guaranteed sixty damage in one go.  Now they average at about forty.  Still, if you can hit a softened-up enemy with one, you can still get some big scores.  As always, just make sure you get the Smash Ball before your opponents do.

--They changed the sound effects again, with the most common being a heavy thumping sound.  It certainly drives home the brutal hits that some of these guys are throwing out, but there are plenty of others.  Zelda’s attacks sound more magical than before, to the point where they wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney movie. 

--I’m a little disappointed that, even if there are a ton of new songs in this game (The Wonderful 101’s final boss theme is in this GAME!  OHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!), most of the victory themes are carryovers from Brawl.  The new ones are…okay?  Shulk’s victory theme is a good example.  I appreciate that it uses the song as a base, but given that the song is already in the game, his victory theme is a watered-down version. 

--Why yes, this IS a thinly-veiled excuse to post the song.

--I’m not the type to go “NO ITEMS EVER” when it comes to Smash, but I’m under the impression that the game (by default) has items set on high during multiplayer matches.  I need to check to make sure, because if it IS on medium, then the ratio of item appearance is shockingly high.  Since I don’t know all of the new items intimately yet -- and even then, gotten used to the redesigns of some of the old ones -- it can make control of the match significantly harder.  Or to put it in harsher terms, they can get to be a serious hassle.

--It’s not as big a problem as it sounds…unless, of course, you go to certain levels.  The new Pokémon and Star Fox stages are major offenders; they’re practically nothing BUT hazards, what with everything going on in them.  So when you take four characters and put them in one of those stages, combine that with plenty of items, on top of Assist Trophies regularly going active, on top of Pokémon regularly going active, you’re more likely to fight entropy than one another.

--If you’re one of those players, then you can axe stage hazards altogether ant make any stage a flat platform.  A useful, if extreme option, but it’s still appreciable.  That said, they can actually prove MORE chaotic; if you have four people on the map -- the small map -- then the chaos ends up getting a focal point.  That focal point would be the entirety of the stage. 

I think I’m going to cut this post short for now.  What comes next?  We’ll see.  I’ll probably go through some of the new modes.  Or failing that, some of the changes to the veteran fighters.  Or maybe I’ll do something really crazy and talk about both at once!

Yep.  And I’ll do it in only seven thousand words.

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