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Smash Spotlight: Who to Watch For, and What To Watch For 5

We now have LESS THAN A MONTH TO GO until the release of “Smash Ultimate.” In the time leading up to its fateful release, gameplay of many characters, including an invitational tournament and some exclusive demo releases, have been given out. This has brought up a lot of character based questions—How viable will this character be? Does this combo still work? Is this strategy still useful? I wanted to highlight five more of the most interesting characters, and forecast how they will impact (and be impacted on) by the new iteration of Smash.

1) Luigi

This guy was my absolute kryptonite on the Smash tourney scene. Seriously, I can’t tell you how badly I sucked against Luigi, regardless of the character I played. I actually remember things getting so bad for me versus this man that it inspired me to pick up and begin using Bowser, for the sole purpose of having a character who could help me better fight Luigi than King Dedede or Falco could. Enough reminiscing over that, though, let’s talk about this plumber sidekick’s prospects in Ultimate. In Smash 4, Luigi’s godlike grab and throw combos made him a fringe top five when the game first came out, and kept him in fringe top ten and definite top 20 status even after he got hit by a nasty nerf. In Ultimate, this very grab has now been nerfed to utter oblivion. It is now a significantly slower, much less useful “tether” grab, akin to Pacman’s horrendous grab. This means his throw combo game has been pretty much trashed, which automatically means Luigi is going to be way, way worse in Ultimate. If you thought that was bad, Luigi’s Cyclone is now borderline useless, too. This move made getting offstage kills and gimps at stupidly early percents really, really easy for Luigi, and gave him a godlike advantage state. It no longer works, period. Luigi was a no doubt top 20 character, debatably a fringe top ten in Smash 4. After these awful nerfs, he will be lucky to be middle of the pack. He has a really good close quarter projectile with his fireballs, but beyond that, Luigi kinda sucks. No more kill confirm, he can’t really pressure shield, and he has very average throws, kill wise, which have gotten even worse with a terrible grab. It would be optimistic to say Luigi would be middle of the pack at this rate; I’m thinking bottom 20 sounds about right. Funny enough, Luigi was going to end up being hindered by Ultimate’s new mechanics if he retained his character mechanics from Smash 4. However, because his character mechanics in Ultimate would’ve lent themselves to more of a ”bait-n-punish” archetype in Smash 4, he’s actually going to benefit from the new game’s mechanics. That’s kind of like breaking your nose, and being glad you can’t smell someone’s farts.

2) Bowser Jr

You know your character’s prospects in a game are bad when you have an entire community hyping up a “Press F to Pay Respects for Bowser Jr” movement on social media. Worse yet, Bowser Jr was terrible in Smash 4; a bottom five character for sure, but there was going to be so much going into his chances of being decent in Smash Ultimate. With Sonic’s spindash being heavily nerfed and no longer being as good, Bowser Jr was going to finally step out of Sonic’s shadow, benefit from the new mechanics of Smash Ultimate and maybe, just maybe, be actually viable.

Yeah, okay. Let’s see what ol’ daddy Nintendo had to say about that:

This was plucked straight from “SSB World,” and all of these new changes to Bowser Jr have been confirmed as a result. I thought King Dedede was doomed to be the worst character in Smash Ultimate, until I caught this massive wall of negativity when it was released a few days ago. What the hell did Bowser Jr do to Nintendo? Did Caety Sagoian (Bowser Jr’s voice actor) piss in Masahiro Sakurai’s cheerios or something? These nerfs are so cataclysmically bad that I cannot fathom why Nintendo didn’t just go ahead and remove Bowser Jr from the game. This was already a character that nobody used, that wasn’t really worth using, and had enough issues with being user friendly, and of course, being actually viable. Now all of those issues have been magnified as a result. Not only can I not think of a single reason I’d want to use Bowser Jr, but the mere thought of how bad Bowser Jr is going to be in Ultimate is borderline offensive. What sucks the most is that Bowser Jr had potential if all of his character mechanics remained stable. Clearly they did not. I think I may actually see a real life unicorn before I meet a Bowser Jr main who experiences some modicum of actual tournament success.

3) Falco

Another old Smash 4 main of mine. Another awful character in Smash 4, a fringe bottom ten in the game. Fret not, however, better days are ahead for Star Fox’s second in command! First off, Falco will be getting back the famous ‘Melee Dair’ which immediately bolsters his viability significantly. It gives Falco a much more lethal combo game, and gives him an interesting new kill option, so that ‘kill option’ will no longer be simply fishing for a Smash attack and hoping to get lucky. Getting back faster lasers will also help Falco avoid being outclassed as a character, as this gives Falco both a viable offensive game and a solid zoning game, giving much needed flexibility to a character who had neither in Smash 4. Falco could quite easily compete for top 20 status in Ultimate, and that’s about where I’m thinking he’ll end up. Falco still has a miserably bad disadvantage state, iffy approach game and bad ground mobility, so there are drawbacks to using Falco in a game where those three will be noticeable deficiencies. But at least there will be good attributes to offset those drawbacks this game.

4) Duck Hunt

When I finally called it quits in the Smash 4 tourney scene, I hung up my controller as a Duck Hunt main. I even have an article on Her Campus detailing my experience as a Duck Hunt main along with a video of one of my exploits using the character I wrote a year ago here: https://www.hercampus.com/school/mcla/competitive-super-smash-bros-strategy-behind-duck-hunt

Anyhow, my initial reaction to fully learning the new Smash Ultimate mechanics was that I needed to find a new main, and fast, because I was thinking Duck Hunt was going to be chief atop the list of those negatively impacted by these new mechanics. A character with difficulty killing, a dreadfully bad disadvantage state, no throw combo game, and predominantly campy, albeit with a great defense game. Then I saw video footage of Duck Hunt’s dash attack killing King K. Rool from the ground at 120% and was absolutely baffled. But yes, it would seem that Duck Hunt’s dash attack randomly and suddenly has become one of the most powerful, horizontal heavy dash attacks in the game. I guess a dash attack is a good kill option now? In any case, this humongous albeit random buff single handedly not only will keep Duck Hunt viable, but will propel it into the upper echelon of the cast. It will allow Duck Hunt to remain predominantly campy, with the threat of a deceptively powerful dash attack looming if an offensive character overextends while challenging Duck Hunt offensively. That said, let’s not roll out the champagne too quickly here; I have to think Nintendo made some sort of mistake or something with how strong Duck Hunt’s new dash attack is. This leads me to believe the move will get nerfed in a patch after the game is released. If this doesn’t happen, look for Duck Hunt to compete for a seat amongst the top 20 in the game, but do so knowing there might be a timer on Duck Hunt’s time within that designation.

5) Ice Climbers

One of the more curious cases of a character, we have the Ice Climbers. Back from their undeserved hiatus, the fan favorite duo returns where we last saw them in a competitive fiasco of Brawl before being unceremoniously cut from Smash 4 entirely. Let’s address the elephant in the room here: Ice Climbers in Melee and Smash Brawl were mainly viable because of some BS mechanic they were able to abuse. In Melee, this was Wobbling: if they got a grab on you at any percent, zero or 200, they could pummel you straight to death and kill you with an infinite combo that could kill a character cleanly in one fell swoop. In Brawl, this was an infinite chain grab. Different scenario, but same idea: you get grabbed by the Ice Climbers, you’re screwed. In Ultimate, we already know this won’t be the case, as the capabilities of Nana have been nerfed heavily.

Recently, just a few days ago, we learned that Rosalina and Luma are going to experience a couple of nasty nerfs. Why does this matter to the ICs? Because the dynamic for ICs is very similar to that of Rosalina’s, it stands to reason the two (or I guess the four?) will compete against one another for usage statistics. Well, Rosalina’s Luma is no longer as useful as it was in Smash 4 per a couple days ago, as we know Rosalina’s Luma can’t knock Rosalina out of a combo or break up an enemy’s momentum unless they’re trying to attack Rosalina right next to it. This means the Luma is still an effective meat shield and it still helps Rosalina’s kill power immensely, but it’s not as good a defensive tool as it used to be, and this makes Rosalina vulnerable to grab combos, grab kill confirms and characters with generally strong air games. What this means is that the ICs, who were going to be stuck in Rosalina’s shadow until this new development came out, will now appear as much more solid competitors for usage over Rosalina. First, Rosalina is significantly more vulnerable to combos through the Luma nerf than Ice Climbers will be, as she is much, much taller and about as light juxtaposed to the ICs. This means kill confirms have a much wider window to work on Rosalina than they will on the ICs. However, Rosalina with the Luma has much better kill power than the ICs do, has an easier time approaching using the Luma as a meat shield to close the gap with, and Rosalina inherently shuts down heavy projectile play with Gravitational Pull, something the ICs can’t do. Finally, Rosalina’s Luma respawns 12.5 seconds after it dies, whereas Nana is gone for good, leaving Pop by himself, if she dies. A solo-Popo is effectively crippled and is at a severe disadvantage, whereas Rosalina with no Luma can easily just run away and stall time for the Luma to return, during which time Rosalina can still at least function to a well enough degree. That said, the ICs have a better combo game than Rosalina and are harder to kill, so they will hold similar degrees of viability to Rosalina, and I’m thinking that is as a top 20 character in the game. The biggest buff the ICs got was the nerf to Rosalina’s Luma, as otherwise, it would be difficult to justify using them over Rosalina at all.

Some news worth mentioning with regards to predictions I’ve made in the past:

Meta Knight: Meta Knight seems to be able to still ladder combo. This is huge news, and when combined with the new game mechanics benefitting MK’s advantage state in a huge way and general ability to fare well against defensive play, MK is looking like a candidate for the top ten. Much more optimistic than when I suggested bottom five in the game was a strong possibility.

Rosalina and Luma: as mentioned earlier in this article, Rosalina’s Luma has been nerfed hard. It can’t break her out of aerial combos, or combos where the offender is anywhere other than pretty much right next to the Luma. This is a huge nerf which threatens to take Rosalina out of fringe top ten and into the top 20 club. Not that this means she won’t be viable, but it definitely is significant.

King K. Rool: King K. Rool seems to have a decent grab game with some neat early and mid % throw combos. This is definitely positive news, as this means players will need to respect his grab game, opening up more opportunities for him to make use of his heavy hitting neutral attacks. Doesn’t seem like he has a kill confirm akin to Bowser or DK’s, though, so justifying use over those two could be difficult. Middle of the pack may be the ceiling for King K. Rool, but it almost might be the floor as well.

 

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