Paper Mario Talks — How To Break Combat (64): Status

In Paper Mario, there are six kinds of status that the player can inflict on an enemy (Dizzy, Stop, Paralyze, Sleep, Shrink, Attack Down). Let’s take a look at them and how to inflict them!

Attack Down – Reduces an enemy’s attack by 3 for 4 turns. [Chill Out]
Dizzy – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Dizzy Dial, Dizzy Shell, Dizzy Stomp]
Paralyze – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Power Shock, Mega Shock]
Shrink – Opponent’s damage is halved for x turns. [Shrink Stomp]
Sleep – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Sleepy Sheep, Sleep Stomp, Lullaby]
Stop – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Stop Watch, Time Out]

For your information, the range of status where it lasts for x turns can vary from 1 – 4 turns.

Of these six, four of them do the exact same thing – hinder an enemy from moving. Without any differences (attacking a sleeping opponent does not wake them up, for instance), these statuses all cripple opponents in the same way, making combat in 64 very simple – find an enemy’s weakness to an immobilizing status and exploit it.

While I enjoy using status, and I consider knowing when and where to utilize status as a key element in strategy in Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the monotony of what status do in 64 makes combat really easy. Furthermore, because so many status do the same thing, you can effectively lock an enemy into status and prevent them from ever attacking if they’re weak to two different kinds or very weak to one. Compare this to TTYD, where Dizzy no longer immobilizes enemies, Paralyze doesn’t exist, and enemies can wake from Sleep after being attacked; there’s much more variety, and you can’t really prevent enemies from attacking.

Now, while status is pretty broken in 64, the ability to inflict the same condition with so many different status does have its few benefits, but that mostly applies to challenge running. If you’re trying to inflict status to start setting up with, say, Super Jump Charge, you can cycle between an item/badge and Dizzy Shell or Power Shock to try and get a status inflicted sooner. It’s a cool concept, but that’s really all I find cool about the monotony of status in 64. This specific brand of status monotony is also why really hardcore challenges can be beaten in 64.

Let’s take a small turn and focus on the other two status, Shrink and Attack Down, which both reduce damage Mario takes. As you saw in my previous post, Chill Out’s Attack Down status is ridiculous. For 4 turns, an enemy has -3 ATK. That’s a big deal for the Tank Mario build and for just longevity in general. It cripples enemies in a different way. Sure, they can attack, but doing no damage is the same as not attacking at all (except for the ones that inflict status on Mario, but let’s not talk about those…). To supplement Tank Mario even more is Shrink, which halves an enemy’s damage. Halves. That’s Last Stand without having Last Stand active! With Last Stand and Shrink active, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that can damage Mario besides Final Bowser.

Speaking of… I find Bowser really interesting. Up until Bowser, every enemy in the game is stuck with their fate when inflicted with status. Bowser can remove status from himself (including Attack Down!!) with the Star Rod buff, and is the only enemy capable of removing status on Mario and his Partners. The entire game, you’re used to being able to do pretty much whatever you want, and then Bowser turns that on its head. It’s probably why I find him such a fun and interesting boss, and also why he really ramps up the difficulty curve when it comes to challenge running. But, we can talk about Bowser another time.

Anyway, the bottom line is…status is broken in 64. Even superbosses in Paper Mario: Pro Mode can’t prevent you from status-locking them. And while it’s cool to do that and be rewarded for using different status, I wish there had been more variety because just selecting a different item to do the same thing to an enemy can get a little stale.

Just Sayin’

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Choosing a Main in Super Smash Bros.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. That means you’ll be joining together with family and friends, and you know the relatives around your age are gonna want to play some Super Smash Bros.! So get ready to bust out your main and lay down some heat!

A “main” is something that anyone in a competitive fighting game can toss around – it’s the character you use the most; the character that you’re trying to win with; the character you have the most fun with. It doesn’t just encompass competitive play – even casual players have a “main” character that they’ll use amongst friends and challengers.

Picking your main is an important part of Super Smash Bros. This is the character you’ll be putting in most of your time practicing and playing with. It’s the character you’ll do research on, learn match-ups for, and try to win with.

So, how do you pick one? There are a lot of characters and a lot of different styles of play. I’m going to break this down, because finding a main happens even in casual play, and I’d like to address those players in this post as well.

The first thing I want to cover applies to every level, but especially competitive players, and that’s style.

I won’t go over this in too much detail (but I highly recommend you go look some of this stuff up or ask me personally to break it down further), but when I say “style” I’m referring to the style the character brings out. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms, “Aggressive Falco”, or “Defensive Mario”. Aggressive and Defensive are both styles of play. Let me give you a list of the common ones and a small definition of them:

Aggressive/Offensive: Focuses on applying pressure to win. Often will throw out many attacks.

Defensive/Campy: Focuses on defense and punishing. Tends to attack much less and throws out projectiles if able instead of running at the opponent.

Bait and Punish: Utilizes pressure and defense to fool opponent and punish them hard. Also likes to use frame traps to force 50/50 situations (you guess wrong you get punished, you guess right you’re safe).

Now, a player is not strictly one of these styles. I would say a player combines a blend of these styles but leans towards one more than the others.

So what does this have to do with picking a character?

Well, characters have certain styles that fit them better. Take the character I use: Kirby. Kirby doesn’t excel very well in the offensive department – he has slow ground and air speed and so doesn’t have the luxury of moving in and out quickly and just throwing out attacks. Kirby’s best played with a Bait and Punish style. He lures characters in and then punishes hard. If you lean more towards an Offensive style, Kirby might not feel right for you.

When you’re picking a character, you want to find one that fits ‘you’, the player. If you don’t feel comfortable playing a certain way, but that character begs to be played that way, I suggest you look for another character, or learn to play that style better. I actually lean heavily towards Offensive, but due to my experience I’m able to turn Kirby into a character that can be played my way. That takes a very long time – long after you’ve improved.

Okay, let’s dive a little deeper into the levels of play and how they should think about main selection.

Casual

If you’re playing at a more casual level, I highly recommend that your main be who you have the most fun with. Or, if you’ve got character loyalty, go ahead and continue being loyal. At this level of play, characters are pretty balanced. No one really understands the ways to abuse a character’s strong points and exploit their weak points.

Why would someone casual have a main? C’mon, Smash is still a competition, and people like to win. Even if you’re casual, there’s gonna be kids who want to challenge you. You gotta have a character to lay the smack down with. It’s definitely not as important, but identifying yourself with a character definitely helps you bond with other players (“Oh, you play Fox? Cool! I play Ike.”). That conversation happens a lot in any level of play.

Style is important, but really, your style isn’t as refined here, so you can get away with playing basically everyone.

Casual-Competitive

This is for the players who are casual but might be interested in joining the competitive scene or are just naturally competitive and play much more than their casual counterpart, or are players who are part of the competitive scene but don’t have a burning desire to improve (AKA ME).

At this point your style has been refined. You probably can recognize how you play and are able to pinpoint which characters suit your style. If you’re not worried about how you place or if you want to develop a character that’s not top tier, go ahead. If they suit your style, go for it!

The bottom line for this level and the other level is that you shouldn’t sweat who your main is. Pick who you like and who you have fun with! Try and further a character’s meta along. Who knows? That character might become the next top tier fad.

If you want to win and really improve results-wise, however…

Competitive

Pick a current high – top tier character. You want to win and to improve. You want results. If you don’t, you’re Casual-Competitive, and that’s okay. But for those that want glory, pick a character that’s high on the tier list and that fits your style. Don’t try to mold a character – pick one that flows with the style you lean towards naturally – you’ll improve much faster when you’re not battling your main’s preferred style. And don’t try to change your own style yet – wait until you’ve got some experience. You want a character that lets you lean towards your own style, which means you can utilize their tools effectively.

Characters like Mario and Sheik are all great characters to pick because they mesh well with basically all three styles of play and allow you to lean towards any style and not feel like you’re battling the character.

If your character falls out of favor and is deemed less than high tier? Stick with it for at least a year (as I mentioned in my improvement post about character loyalty) and then consider changing. At that point you’ve got enough experience to make a solid decision yourself, provided you’ve been improving often and not hitting a plateau.

———

Your main is a part of you. Don’t take picking one lightly, but also don’t put too much thought into it. It is just a character in a game after all. I suggest, for every skill level, you play around with the characters available to you and feel each one out. Then you can make an informed decision about which one you want to pick.

And if you’re competitive: stick to the main you’ve chosen. That means put in the appropriate time to pick one and not regret it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone – have fun Smashing with family and friends! 🙂

Just Sayin’

Training Amiibos

Before I begin, a quick shout-out to this thread, which is what I used to train my amiibos.

So, when the new Super Smash Bros. was announced, Nintendo also announced Amiibo, a figurine that could interact with games on the Wii U through an NFC touch point built-in on the game pad. In Super Smash Bros. Wii U, this scanning translated to a fighter that you could then fight with/against. I saw it as an opportunity to train these fighters and pit them against other amiibos because that sounded really fun to me (as a competitive Smash player it’s at the heart of what I find the most fun about training an amiibo).

So, I quickly bought a Kirby amiibo, named him H U P BOYZ, and got to work training him. I played with my brother in amiibo + player teams until he got to 50 (the max level for an amiibo), and then I realized that H U P BOYZ used Inhale too much (Neutral B move for those who don’t know). He also used a lot of grounded Rock (Down + B special) and Up Smash, but not too many aerials. He used some, but I wanted him to play like I did with Kirby.

So I started doing some research, and found a couple articles with some training tips. A few of them were very similar. CPU mirrors 1-10, you vs them mirrors 10-20, 20-30 playstyle chars, 30-50 your main + CPU mirrors to see how they’re progressing. It sounded pretty good, so I gave it a shot. I reset H U P BOYZ and started training him.

Spoiler alert – H U P BOYZ still sucked.

He still used too much Inhale and grounded Rock. he also spammed jab a lot this time. So I went back to researching when I came upon that thread I linked in the beginning of this post. It was pretty much eye-opening for me.

Let me break this down for you:

Amiibos basically have a hit % variable stored inside of it for every move in its arsenal (probably not including pummel, which is guaranteed out of a throw). From what I’m theorizing, whenever they hit with a move, the % for that move goes up. If they use a move and it whiffs, is blocked, or is outright beaten or punished, the % goes down. No one has truly found out everything about amiibos, but this sounds the most logical to me given that thread confirmed data tables. Anyway, amiibos will use moves with a higher hit % more often. However, they won’t use it all the time, just more than a normal level 9 CPU would. And this data table updates even after they’ve hit 50.

So what does this mean? Basically, the amiibos will use moves more based on what opponents they fight. That means that if you let a Kirby amiibo get off Inhale or Rock against you, it’ll think it’s better than against a player that never lets a Kirby amiibo get away with it. Amiibo do have slightly different styles, it’s just based off of hit %, and the placebo effect takes it from there because of that subtle difference between amiibos.

So, I did my second reset on H U P BOYZ and trained him from 1 – 50 against just me, except this time I literally air camped so that H U P BOYZ would be forced to take to the air and use aerials against me. Every time he tried to use Rock, or Hammer (Side + B special), or Inhale, I would punish him. And to top it off, I would literally let him hit me with aerials and tilts so that he thought they were better moves.

And it actually worked (a little).

See, amiibos still have that core AI ingrained in them. They’re going to do some stuff no matter what, but you can influence them. H U P BOYZ does the standard Power Shield and then a grab or smash attack, but sometimes he’ll throw out three Forward Airs in a row or use Up Tilt twice in a row or even do Up Tilt to Back Air instead of Up Tilt to Forward Air (which is a level 9 Kirby combo implemented into their base AI).

So that’s how I train amiibos. I let them hit me with the moves I want them to use and try to punish them for using moves I don’t want them to use. H U P BOYZ barely uses Hammer or Rock, although now that he’s fought other amiibos and CPU’s he uses Inhale a fair amount (although not nearly as much as the first two times), but overall, training him was a success.

I think this is the best way to train them right now. Let me go over how I do it in terms of levels.

Levels 1 – 20: Beat them down. Amiibo aren’t very smart here. Sure, they’ll throw out attacks, but it’s best to just beat them down so that they don’t throw out anything bad that’ll hit you. Even if you let them hit you, they won’t be borrowing from the data table too much because their base AI at this point is, well…dumb.

Levels 20 – 30: This is where I make them start learning. At this point they should be borrowing from level 4 or 5 AI, so they’ll be throwing out attacks, but they won’t be utilizing the hit % table a lot unless you let them hit you a ton in the earlier levels. You won’t see certain attacks because the 4 or 5 base AI just doesn’t choose it. If you see them throwing out any moves you’d like them to learn, let them hit you. This can be tricky with aerials and tilts (especially if you don’t want them using smash attacks); my advice is to jump around a LOT for aerials. Tilts are much harder and I have no safe way to get hit by them without being hit by a smash attack. It takes a lot of patience.

Also, don’t forget to beat them. They level up faster losing.

Levels 30 – 40: This is where most of the learning happens. At this point, they’re borrowing from level 6 or 7 AI and so will most likely be using every move. They’ll also be borrowing from the data table so you’ll find them using certain moves less and certain moves more. Just keep letting them hit you and maintain victory over them so that they level up faster. This is probably the longest phase for me because I take a lot of time making sure they learn what moves are better than others.

Levels 40-50: This is where the amiibos’ inherent buffs (yeah, they’re stronger than normal fighters even without equipment) start to become noticeable. You’ll also see a noticeable change in how they fight compared to level 8 and 9 CPU’s. If you’ve done your training correctly, you’ll notice them using moves you let them hit you with more often. That means it’s time for some crazy positive reinforcement. Let them hit you A LOT. Sure, you still need to win or else leveling them up takes longer, but make them extra close. Let them take you down to that last stock (if you’re using time, make sure you maintain a point lead).

This is a good time to pit them against any level 50 amiibos you have, also.

Level 50: You’ve done it. Your amiibo is now max level! A couple things to note here:

– While you’ve been training them, don’t fret if they use a move you’ve been punishing a lot or never let them hit you with. They are, in theory, at Level 10 if there was a Level 10 AI in the game, and so have hard-coded scripts that they simply can’t ignore.

– They will start rolling, spot-dodging, air dodging, and perfect shielding a LOT, and usually right when you use a move. They will punish you with a smash or grab after perfect shielding a LOT, even if you trained them to think smash attacks are bad. It’s part of their script. Don’t let it bother you.

– You should notice that they’re very rarely using moves you’ve punished them for using and using moves you let them hit you with more frequently. However, there will be no drastic change in their move selection unless you let them hit you with the same move over and over from 1 to 50. Then they’ll spam a move way more than a level 9 CPU would.

– Amiibo buffs are pretty apparent here. H U P BOYZ does over 20% with one Back Air. That’s as much as a normal smash attack with an aerial!

And that’s how I train my amiibos. So far I have 3 trained amiibos (H U P BOYZ the Kirby, a Mario that likes Up B, and a Pikachu that doesn’t use Thunder a lot). They’ve all been trained using this method and they’ve all shown good results, so I think this is a really solid training method. Give it a try next time you want to train an amiibo. I’ll end this with a few more notes:

– Because amiibos learn after 50, it’s impossible to stop them from landing a certain move. If you let them fight another amiibo, a CPU, or a person, they might land that move and increase the hit % of it. The nice thing is that that hit % has to contend with the other ones you’ve trained, meaning they’re not suddenly going to start spamming that move, but you will see them try and use it more. If you see them using a move too much, just play them and punish it whenever they do. My Pikachu spammed Thunder between levels 30-40 and I literally sat there for two games and punished Thunder. After those, he never spammed Thunder again because of how low I made the hit % after that and from levels 40-50. He still uses it, but he hasn’t used it twice in a row since.

– Amiibos only update their hit % after a match is completed. This is really important. If you don’t like how a match is going, just quit out of it. I can’t tell you how many times I had to do this because H U P BOYZ landed Inhale on me.

– Amiibos level up insanely fast on a different Wii U. Not really important, just thought I’d let you know. They also level up faster fighting CPU’s and other amiibos than they do against humans.

Have fun with your amiibos! I can’t wait to enter these guys in amiibo-only tournaments!

Just Sayin’

My take on the HIMYM series finale

It’s hard to put into words the disappointment and confusion I felt Monday night after the How I Met Your Mother series finale aired. I didn’t really think about what I didn’t like, I just jumped to the “I don’t like Ted and Robin together” argument and stuck to it. But now that I’ve had some time to think and read tons of blogs and (unfortunately) comments on blogs about the series finale, I think I can actually articulate just what I didn’t like and why I think the finale was – simply put – awful.

This finale had a message to send. A message about life’s twists and turns, about how you can move on from tragedies and good can come from them. It’s a good message and I respect the finale for that. Unfortunately, this message is ripped apart by the execution of the episode and the way the show grew in the past couple seasons and is replaced with a message about if you wait long enough, the girl you’ve been wanting for years will finally give in and you’ll live happily ever after.

This ending is not a bad ending. It could be a feasible ending, but the way the show grew, it wasn’t. Had, say, Ted never pined over Robin for so long and figured it was worth a shot years down the road, had you seen Barney and Robin struggle through their divorce (or had them not marry at all), had you seen Ted and his kids mourn over Tracy’s loss – these things, I think, needed to be included in either extra episodes or the finale. As it stands, the show jumps through time too much, too fast, while the entirety of Season 9 is one weekend. Season 9 could have easily been the wedding early on and then what happens as life progressed for them – how they split up and came back together.

Instead, we have the current series finale.

This show ultimately hit its lowest point when the kids told Ted that his story was about how he loves Robin. The same Robin that the show told you wasn’t a good fit for Ted. The same Robin that Ted finally gets over in the last few episodes of Season 9. The same Robin that has always been the superior choice according to the show. It makes sense why the finale progressed the way it did when you look at it as a story about Ted’s obsession with Robin. The show needed a way to get to this ending from where it was, and it needed to do that through Barney and Robin’s divorce, Ted having kids, and Tracy’s death, and that’s exactly what the show did to achieve it.

For a show that’s always been about a personal journey of moving on and dealing with life’s struggles, Ted certainly has life go his way at the end. He gets the kids, and gets the girl the show has told you, the audience, that he’s been in love with the whole time after telling you, the audience, the she would never love him and he would never love her that way again a few episodes back.

And I hate that.

Just Sayin’.

P.S: The kids scene was horribly acted and they look like they’ve completely gotten over their own mother dying. That’s awful.

P.S: While Barney and Robin regress believably in real life based on the time leaps, it is way too fast when it comes to storytelling, which is why I think so many people are mad they grew them so much in seasons 8 and 9 and then threw it all away in 15 minutes. A show can’t be all realism.