Good Game episode 4 part 2
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 9:13AM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Announcements, Super Smash Brothers


*show Richard*
Fighting in Brawl is very similar to fighting in Melee. Since both games share so much of their design, this is expected. However, in every aspect of combat Brawl is designed just a bit differently to balance the game for a different result.

*new angle on Richard*
By tweaking a few things, Brawl has shifted some of the focus away from the SHUFFL zone for a balance between a solid ground battles, *show the movement maps* SHFFL zone, and air battles. *Show Brawl Screens/vids* Basically by slowing down the game speed, taking away L-canceling, and removing wavesliding, Brawl achieves this balance.

*show card “air battles”*
*show footage of multijump, footstool, air dodge, attacking, and techning*
The reduced character movement speed in Brawl gives players more time to see and attack moving characters in the air. After all, you couldn’t have much of an air battle if characters fell out of the sky really fast like they do in Melee. With more multi-jump characters, footstooling, and the new air dodge system players can attack, get hit, dodge through, rebound off of, tech, and glide multiple times in the air to fight.

*Show footage of new recoveries, ledge snap, no roll up steal compared to Melee*
I believe Sakurai liked his new air battle combat so much, he wanted even ground focused character/players to engage in the air at some point. So, he made three changes from Melee. 1) He gave all characters more versatile and effective recoveries 2) he greatly increased the auto ledge snap, and 3) he removed the highly effective ledge lock after rolling up from the ledge. So in Brawl, to put pressure on a recovering opponent, you can’t just attack the ledge. Chances are you must take to the air to pressure them. You can also expect more players to fight until someone is smashed and killed as opposed to smashed and then edge guarded.

*add to card “ground game”*
*Show SF4*
*show Brawl ground game stuff*
In Brawl, because of the lower game speed and the reduced emphasis on fast attacks in the SHFFL zone, instead of dashing or wavedashing back, the comparatively limited movement options force players to stay put on the ground therefore increasing the potential for ground battles and “footsies.” Footsies is when two players move back and forth (typically on the ground) trying to stay just outside of their opponent’s attack range while staying within attack or counter attack range. With these changes and more solid ground moves (jabs, tilts, and smashes) that can push away shielding opponents or even trip on hit, players have a lot more incentive to stay on the ground and fight.

*add to card “defensive options”*
*Show pivot grabbing, perfect shielding, air dodging*
With many creative and emergent ways to attack in Smash, it’s important to have an effective yet limited defensive system. Shielding, rolling, spot dodging are all effective defensive moves in Brawl and Melee. Brawl tweaks the formula a bit more by making pivot grabbing, perfect shielding, air dodging, and stale move negation cleaner and more effective than ever. All of these options have simple pros and cons.
*add to the card “hit stun”*
*show footage of different kinds of hits*

The hitstun systems in Brawl and Melee are actually very similar. There are hits that don’t send you very far even at relatively high damage. There are hits that send you a set distance away even at low damages. Buts most of the hits are somewhere in between. In both games, after hitting the opponent, follow ups are more common than combos. With smart playing, players can effectively press their advantage. The biggest difference between the two games is that in Melee you generally need great speed and/or hit stun to to successfully combo attacks. This speed is mostly achieved through L-canceling which is why many top level players use aerial moves for most of their game.

*use fixed camera Brawl footage to show*
While in Brawl, because players can air dodge out of their hit stun the defending player has a choice to wait out the stun or air dodge at the mercy of their current trajectory. This system works hand in hand with the dynamic hit stun and DI system in Brawl.... The end result is that defending players can vary the direction they attempt to escape. By air dodging out of hit stun at low damages, players fall back to the ground near the attacker. Thus characters can effectively follow up attacks without needing speed or large amounts of hit stun. And when you factor in platforms, the variations become even greater. This way, slower characters and slower moves can be utilized.

*card: less movement options*
MYTH 4.1 Brawl has fewer movement techniques than Melee.
*Show Brawl Movement techniques*
  1. Brawl has many different unique movement techniques (footstooling, gliding, B reversing, glide tossing, DACUS, etc). None are perhaps as effective or widely used as Melee’s waveslding, but that doesn’t mean Brawl has less techniques. I haven’t taken a detailed count so this myth is on hold.

MYTH 4.2 In Brawl defensive options usually have the advantage.
  1. *Show close up of  gamecube controller pressing the shield button* *Show a custom controller layout for brawl with all shield buttons* In many competitive games, it’s easier to defend than to attack. Simply hold the shield in Smash and/or roll around and you’re defending. However, this doesn’t mean that defensive options have the advantage in Brawl. Just like in Melee, many defensive options are designed with pros and cons for balance. It’s up to players to play smarter to overcome defensive options. This myth is busted.

MYTH 4.3 L-canceling in Melee encourages more diverse playstyles by making aerials highly viable.  
  1. *Show APM thread data* We know that special attacks and ground attacks aren’t used very much by many top level players in Melee. As long as you can use aerial attacks, pressure drop, land, and cancel half of the lag you can get a lot of utility out of air attacks. However, aerial moves are so good that most of high level players attacks are aerials. Unfortunately, this gives players a much smaller pallet to work with to create their own playstyles. With less special and ground moves used, the combat is also less diverse. This myth is busted.
*show crazy lovage footage*
L-canceling gives players great speed, power, and versatility. Wave sliding/dashing/landing gives players more ways to quickly and smoothly move around. To avoid speedy L-canceling players, it helps to have a waveslide. To keep up with wavesliding players it helps to use L-canceling. *show the dexterity chart* Both of these techniques increase the pace of combat and put more stress on speed dexterity skills. As far as balance is concerned, these techniques essentially remove some of the cons of attacking and moving. It’s no wonder that the metagame and combat evolved to the  heavy use of aerials in the SHFFL zone. When the balance of combat depends on moves that have pros and cons based on the dynamics of time and space and you removed the cons of a few moves, expect the balance to shift.

MYTH: 4.4 Brawls lack of L-canceling limits options and makes the game less diverse (character and move wise).

*show Brawl footage from Apex 09*
Yes and no. The point of removing L-canceling was in part to limit the effectiveness of aerial pressure. But this design actually shifts the balance of combat more evenly between air and ground battles. So in Brawl players can use more tilts and Smashes in their normal playstyles. Players can also get more utility out of their special moves. For these reasons, Brawl combat is is more diverse. This myth is busted.

*Show Richard*
So we’ve finally come to the part in the discussion where we can look at the balance of Brawl and Melee in terms of the skill spectrum. The first topic is skill barriers and skill curves.

*show a graph of the skill needed and the level of competition*
*show dexterity skill chart image*
Because L-canceling and wavesliding are so effective, I can’t find a high level Melee match without a significant amount of at least one of these techniques. You could say, to compete at a tournament level you must use these techniques. Because these techniques require a significant amount of speed dexterity, acquiring these skills is a barrier. Overall, the pros have all overcome this barrier and enjoy competition with each other. The players who are the most affected are the new or beginning Melee players. Furthermore, many players who champion Melee’s speed dexterity barrier seem to be younger players looking for something to give them an edge over their friends. In other words, such players want to spend time learning something and get a big payoff.

*show the smoother Brawl graph*
On the other hand, Brawl has a much smoother skill curve. Every technique helps you a little. There’s nothing in Brawl as sweeping, effective, and game changing as Melee’s L-canceling. Furthermore, the slower speed and frame buffering help eliminate the skill barriers.

*Show Richard*
Because Brawl doesn’t have a significant skill barrier, its design is more open for characters with different skill profiles. In this way you can pick a character that requires more of one skill than another and/or a character that stresses specific skills from the opponent.
*use white board / show the skill spectrum images*
Increasing the game speed through L-canceling and other advance techniques affects the balance of the skill spectrum in Melee. The faster the pace, the more speed dexterity skills are stressed and the less control dexterity and timing skills are stressed. Melee has a much smaller range of timings overall than Brawl, and L-canceling reduces this amount greatly. Not only does it cut the landing lag in half, but it makes SHFFLing so effective that other moves with lengthier timings are used less.
Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
See website for complete article licensing information.