Paper Mario Talks — Pro Mode & Hammer

Continuing with gushing about things I like in my last post about Pre-Hooktail Pit Runs, today’s topic covers something I found exceptionally interesting in Paper: Mario Pro Mode, and that’s how you approach The Master.

If you’re unaware, someone by the name of Clover created a mod of Paper Mario that enhances its difficulty. Enemies do double damage, badge costs have changed, FP costs have changed, new enemy layouts, smart AI, new areas to explore… it’s quite a lot of new content. If you’re curious, click here to check out the release trailer that contains a link to download!

Anyway… one boss, in particular, stood out to me in Pro Mode, and that was The Master. His entire gimmick was changed – he now starts at 0 ATK (first form) / 1 ATK (second form) / 2 ATK (final form) for his basic attack (his combo moves have set damage), and with every strike you inflict on him, his ATK for the basic attack increases by 1. This means a Jump increases his ATK by 2, and Hammer by 1. I’m sure you see where this is going, but let me explain: this new gimmick actually makes Hammer a more viable choice than Jump when fighting him.

In 64 and TTYD, Jump is generally vastly superior to Hammer. It has generally better badges (Multibounce, Sleep/Shrink/Dizzy Stomp, Power Bounce) and nets a greater increase in power when you increase your attack because the attack of both Jumps are increased when you perform a successful Action Command. So, essentially, your ATK for Jump is doubled when compared to Hammer. The only thing Hammer has going for it is against high-DEF enemies and challenge runs that restrict your badges…but most of the time, your partners are there to help clean up. It’s much more effective to rely on Jump than Hammer almost every time. I will note that the Hammer is inherently better in 64 than in TTYD thanks to awesome badges like Power Power Quake, which are souped up Quake Hammers that can easily out-damage Multibounce, but for single targets like bosses, Jump still reigns supreme. However, The Master in Pro Mode turns that on its head.

Because of his unique gimmick, the battle is more about maximizing single hit damage so you can better control how much damage he’s inflicting. You can’t attack The Master recklessly. You need to make sure you’re doing the most damage with every strike to maximize your own damage and minimize his. With Mario’s Hammer, you can more smoothly increment The Master’s damage output to manipulate your HP into Danger or Peril, and using Charge makes sure you’re doing 10+ damage per hit with Hammer and Power Smash or Mega Smash. This makes Hammer a much more viable choice. You need seriously beefed up Jump to match what the Hammer can do, and even then, you’ll have a much harder time manipulating his ATK if it’s always increasing by 2. Honestly, I’m impressed with his design, because Mario’s Hammer being superior carries through for all 3 forms of The Master. It’s a strange concept to grasp. Almost every other boss I fought had me using some combination of D-Down Jump, Spike Shield, Ice Power, and ATK-increasing badges. The Master was the only boss to make me choose Hammer over Jump.

And yes, you could use Power Jump or Mega Jump… but the Hammer itself costs no FP, and The Master has DEF as he grows stronger, so D-Down Pound becomes a viable choice in his later forms. Besides, those two specific Jump badges are Hammer-esque in how they work anyway!

That’s my short spiel on The Master in Pro Mode and why I like it so much. I wish more bosses made Hammer a clearly superior choice over Jump.

Just Sayin’

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Paper Mario Talks — Skills of a Paper Mario Challenge Runner

Coffee…Check.
Fingers and hand stretched…Check.
Paper Mario information…Check.

I think I’m ready.

Welcome to Paper Mario Talks! In this new series, I’ll be exploring various areas of the Paper Mario series as it relates to gameplay, game design, and challenge running! I have a lot of opinions on this series that I haven’t really expressed to, well…anyone! So, what better way to talk about the series I love the most than through blog posts and videos!

Oh, yeah, there’ll be videos, too! They’ll be available on my YouTube channel. Here’s how it’s going to break down: these posts will be more in-depth into various topics of the series that I want to write about, and the videos will be more focused on my favorite/least favorite badges/partners/etc…

Paper Mario Talks will be more focused on Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; the reason will be a topic all of its own!

To begin this series, I want to bring to light what challenge running is so that you know what angles I’m coming from. Unlike speedrunning, where the goal is to beat the game as fast as possible, challenge running aims to beat the game under certain conditions or with restrictions. This is to force a new style of gameplay or make the game harder. RPG’s are usually pretty great for these, as you can easily restrict certain items/attacks/level ups and change the way the game is played.

There’s a wiki detailing a lot of different challenges in the Paper Mario series to get you more familiarized with what I’m talking about. Check it out if you’re interested!

Anyway, today’s topic is about the core skills of a challenge runner in the Paper Mario series. There are four distinct skills I believe most great Paper Mario players are proficient in – execution, planning, game knowledge, and reactionary theory. Let’s define those:

Game Knowledge: How well you know enemies, their health, their stats, Mario’s abilities, partners’ abilities, boss AI, etc… This is an ever-growing skill until you’ve memorized everything. If you don’t know enough about the game, you can’t really improve the rest of your skills. However, it’s easy to improve this one – ask someone or look it up online. Besides Color Splash, the series is pretty old and has a lot of FAQs/guides dedicated to the other games in the series.

Planning: How well you can plan out a strategy for a given fight. If you know enough about a certain boss, you can plan turn-by-turn strategies around them. You can account for RNG and have a plan of attack no matter what the boss does. You can be adequately prepared for any kind of encounter. Theoretically, you can win fights before you even get to them! Everyone can plan to an extent, but truly remarkable players can optimize their strategies further.

Execution: This is Planning’s cousin. You can win fights before you even play them, but can you execute on your strategies and actually win the fight? Can you guard or superguard every attack you’re planning to? Can you hit all the necessary Action Commands? Planning & Execution go hand-in-hand with each other.

Reactionary Theory: Probably the trickiest of the skills challenge runners need. If your plan goes awry, how can you get back on track? Can you save the fight? If you encounter a certain enemy loadout that you weren’t expecting, can you formulate a plan for success? This kind of on-the-fly thinking is crucial to certain challenges and is great for when you messed up an Action Command or RNG truly shot down your strategy. This is the hardest skill to become proficient in.

These four together form the core of a great Paper Mario challenge runner. How I define these skills helps shape how I view challenge running – and by extension certain facets of the series – so I hope this helps shed some light on how I’ll be approaching the rest of the topics in Paper Mario Talks.

Just Sayin’

A call to Smash Bros. players

I’m writing this because I’m not about that multiple tweets in a row life.

Listen. I’m no community leader in the Super Smash Bros. community; I don’t have crazy insights on the Smash community at large; I don’t own or operate any respected Smash content group like Melee It On Me; I’m not part of any Smash organization; I’m not even a player whose skill has put me into a spot where I’m really noticed; I just play Smash. I don’t compete in Brawl, Melee, or 64, but I play every single Smash game and love every single one.

Which is why it completely baffles me that people not only bash each game in the series, but that some are such awful people that they’ll lodge death and rape threats at others because a game in the series wasn’t included in a tournament.

It was very recently announced by Alex Strife, tournament organizer of one of the bigger international Smash events, Apex, that Project M, a very popular mod of Brawl, wasn’t included in Apex 2015’s lineup, despite being told that it would be, despite it’s insane attendance last year. Every official Smash game is included. While Project M is my main game, and I’m disappointed that Apex isn’t including it even though I thought it was going to be, I’m not angry. I’m definitely not angry enough to hurl insults and threats of rape and death to Alex and his staff.

Whatever the reason that Project M isn’t included, it’s safe to say that the initial reaction by a small minority of the Smash community was wrong. I’m angry now because this outburst reflects on a community I’ve invested a lot of time in, and that community now has to deal with it, me included.

So I’m here to do what I can. I’m writing this small post to try and raise some awareness like Smash community leader Prog did earlier today.

Listen, if you’re part of this community and you were at fault for this, you should be ashamed. I love this series. It’s home to many good memories. I can’t recall ever having a bad tournament experience because I’ve met some incredible people and forged some great friendships through this series. How can you be part of something so awesome, forge awesome memories with new and old friends, and then do something so horrible? It doesn’t make sense to me.

If I knew you, our friendship would stop right there. I don’t want to associate myself personally with those kinds of people, and neither should anyone else in the Smash community. To add on, I don’t want to associate myself with anyone who just hates on one of the entries in the series. I may like PM and Smash 4 over Melee, Brawl, and 64, but it doesn’t take away from my respect for the players of each game.

I see people commenting on how Project M is trash, why is Smash 4 even being considered for a spot at Apex, Brawl should be dead, etc… and it leaves a bad taste after reading. Why would I want to interact with someone like that? Why would any of you want to interact with someone like that? I may dislike something and express that, but I’m not going to just hate on something without a good reason to.

I think everyone who hates on a game in the series or is throwing death and rape threats at others in your own community need to take a step back and think about the damage you’ve done and the damage you’re currently doing.

And then stop it.

Just Sayin’

A small update

Dearest readers,

I’ve been very busy the past couple weeks. Last weekend I attended the St. Louis Pokemon Video Game Championship Regional, and this past Saturday I attended a Super Smash Bros. Project Melee monthly tournament, and so the time I would normally spend writing I’ve spent completing homework so that I don’t fall behind. So, this coming week I will be spending more time catching up on homework and getting absolutely no writing done, thus – unfortunately –  I will not have a post for this week. Once I get this homework done and my schedule back on track I’ll be pumping out a post every Friday, as usual!

I promise.

Just Sayin’.