Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Gets a Pro Look

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Gets a Pro Look

We already reviewed Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, and it’s a good and accurate review! The conclusion is that just about everyone will love this game, and I’d agree with that. However, the review didn’t get into mechanical specifics at all, and that’s what obsessive pros like me are here for. After having played the game for a while, I’m here to tell you what the game looks like from a “no items, fox only, final destination” perspective.

First thing to note, is that L-Canceling is gone. It was gone in Brawl , and we were all hoping it would make a return, but nope. There is no reliable way to cut down your landing lag from aerial moves. Instead, you have to deal with Brawl style auto canceling. Auto canceling basically cuts the landing lag of your moves short if you hit the ground during very specific frames of the attack animation, usually at the very end. This allows you to move fast and perform aerial moves close to the ground. Unfortunately, not every move in the game can be auto-canceled, so you’ll just have to figure out which ones can and make them part of you arsenal. On the whole, most back airs can, only a few forward airs can, most down airs and up airs cant, and neutral airs are kind of a grab bag.

It’s also worth noting that moves have a LOT more aerial land lag than they did before. Whiffing an aerial close to the ground makes you a sitting duck. Dodging into the ground ALSO makes you a sitting duck, as that too has land lag. A lot of new players try to air dodge close to a grounded opponent only to get smacked in the face over, and over, and over again. This actually makes characters most vulnerable right when they are about to land which is a weird decision. It sort of removes the rock paper scissors game of dodging into the ground and defending that previous Smash titles had and as a result, you see people always going for the edge, where they are guaranteed invulnerability.

Edge mechanics have also changed quite a bit. Recovery moves still sweet spot attach to the edge as they did in Brawl , but after you do so you can’t do it again for a short period of time. So you can no longer ledge drop recover over and over again without the fear of getting edge guarded. There are also characters with up-B recovery moves that don’t sweet spot at all, so they are by default just a bit more vulnerable. You also won’t gain invincibility from grabbing the ledge again until after your feet touch the floor. So hanging onto a ledge isn’t as safe. In addition, you can’t edge hog people out of a life either. If you are on the edge and another person grabs on, you get popped off. This does actually set many characters up for an off stage kill if done right.

There are a lot of nifty nuances to the way characters handle in Smash 4 that changes the game up a bit. For example, you can do just about anything out of a pivot. A pivot, by the way, is when you are turning around from a dash. In this state you are counted as being neutral on the ground, so you can tilt or forward smash or really do whatever you like without committing yourself to a dash attack.

A lot of “pro tactics” from previous smashes have just become normalized. For example, you used to be able to up smash out of a dash because your character would cancel the first frames of his jump animation. Now, even if you turn tap jump off, you can just do it by flicking the c-stick, making it more accessible to newbies.

You can also charge your smash attacks by holding the c-stick and even perform item smashes with it, though I know you probably aren’t interested in items at all.

There’s a new mechanic in the game that the community has dubbed “rage.” When your damage is higher, you launch enemies farther. This makes you slightly more likely to score kills when you are about to die yourself.

On the surface, rage is an interesting mechanic to fool around with. In practice, however, it does create some runaway match situations. It’s especially problematic for certain characters, the first of which comes to mind is Lucario. Lucario also has an “aura” buff, that makes him do more damage AND more knockback, and this stacks with rage! So a high damage Lucario can combo people to death around 70%, which is ludicrous! Not to mention his recovery ALSO gets better as he takes more damage, so now he is even harder to kill!

As for which characters are dominating right now, that too is sort of a mixed grab bag. Diddy Kong is really doing amazing. His up air is both a go to combo move which can rack up damage quickly, and it still kills at about 110% or so. Rosalina and Luma are a powerful duo but are hard to control, considering you are controlling two characters at once. Also they got nerfed in the latest patch. Little Mac is a glass cannon, able to be knocked out very easily, and edge guarded with little effort, but he hits like a truck, and so a lot of newbies will pick him up. Fast characters like Sheik and Greninja are good, though they too are getting nerfed as patches come out. Bowser is also surprisingly good for his ability to rack up damage quick. Unfortunately, a lot of old favorites like Marth and Fox have been hit with the nerf bat so hard that they are almost unplayable.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Gets a Pro Look

Smash 4 is certainly slower than Melee and certainly faster than Brawl . If you work really hard to only utilize very specific moves in your character’s moveset, then you will be able to short hop fast fall in a very Melee -esque style. However, if you are just learning the game, you might find it to be a little floaty for your liking. I know that Nintendo was trying to lessen the gap between pro and casual players, but I’d almost say its wider than ever, as anyone who could learn L-canceling in Melee could make their character fast, but Smash 4 requires deep and intimate knowledge of your move properties in order to become good… knowledge that Nintendo isn’t willing to give you, so you will have to experiment on your own.

The big question is: will Smash 4 be a hit on the tournament circuit? That’s actually a hard question to answer. Smash 4 came out at the same time that Project M 3.5 came out, a widely accepted Smash mod for Brawl . Not to mention Melee is still the most played Smash on the tournament circuit and its several years old. Compared to both of these offerings, Smash 4 is just a bit slower and a bit less competitive player friendly.

But there is actually something that Smash 4 has that Melee and Project M 3.5 do not, and that’s custom moves. These and equipment can change the way characters operate and can allow previous low tier characters a chance to climb up the tier ladder. There is a problem with this, however. Equipment drops are totally random and it takes FOREVER to unlock custom moves and equipment as you play the game. Not only that, but custom move sets require previous setup in order to be selected, so using them in tournaments will cause a huge problem. Then again, certain characters, like Palutena, REQUIRE the use of this mechanic, which means now tournament organizers need to consider whether or not to ban or restrict her usage. However, if tournament organizers can find a reliable way to use both equipment and custom moves, players can essentially “hack” the game to take out the parts they don’t like. Heck there is even a set of equipment that kind of puts L canceling back into the game!

Overall, I have to say that Smash 4 is a worthy tournament game, at least for a while. Heck, we have played other fighting games that have lasted for less than a year or two on the tournament scene. I’m looking at you Street Fighter X Tekken . Smash 4 will definitely last longer than that. But just how long it lasts will depend on how tournament organizers respond to its new mechanics, and how players deal with its less safe, slower gameplay. Still, if you are a member of the pro community, you should probably pick this up, if only for the promise that someone, somewhere, will eventually hack it and fix anything we are unhappy with anyway.

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