Kappy’s Spotlight — Mr. Softener

It’s time for another #KappySpotlight, where I talk about badges/items/partners/etc… that are generally seen as “bad” and not used very often by challenge runners. I dive deeper into why they’re perceived the way they are with some cool strategies centered around them mixed in! Today, I to dive into the world of items with an item that is almost never used in challenge running Paper Mario: TTYD — MR. SOFTENER!

Mr_Softener_TTYD

Move: Inflicts Soft (DEF-3) on all enemies

You’ll notice that there’s no Glitz Pit Rank on there. At this time, the Glitz Pit has not rated items for TTYD or 64 (although that might change in the future…). However, I can assure you that Mr. Softener is not perceived well. Soft as a status is largely not very useful because Mario and his partners already deal obscene amounts of damage, and items and special moves can pierce that DEF with ease. It also only works on enemies that actually have DEF. If a 0 DEF enemy is inflicted with Soft, it doesn’t become -3 DEF. A missed opportunity, really. For the record, Soft Stomp, the badge that can inflict Soft, is E+ tier — in other words, it’s not great.

So, with a high number of enemies (even in the end game) not having DEF, you’re not really going to be seeing use out of Mr. Softener when you could easily fit in something else. However, there are a few places where it could be used to some cool effect. To the Pit of 100 Trials!

PIT OF 100 TRIALS FLOOR 91/95/99

Loadout — Elite Wizzerd (12 HP) x5

Elite Wizzerds are a feared enemy in the Pit of 100 Trials, and for good reason! They have what looks like a measly 12 HP, but back it up with 8 ATK and 5 DEF. Yeah, 5. It’s pretty hard to deal damage to them, but Mr. Softener comes in to help! Elite Wizzerds are actually pretty susceptible to Soft — it’s an 80% chance to successfully inflict the status on them. Do a little more math and we find that using two Mr. Softeners results in an 84%* chance that 4 of them will be inflicted with Soft. Now, due to the different times, you can encounter these guys based on when you enter the Pit, there are a few ways we can utilize this.

NOTE: While there are 5 of them on the field, we’ll only be attempting to inflict the status on 4. This is because when there is one Elite Wizzerd left, it will always spawn clones. If you hit it and cause the clones to disappear, it will infinitely loop through it until you either don’t hit it, or it’s KO’d.

Let’s try a few variations!

BADGES: Quick Change, Double Dip, Mega Rush P (11 BP)

PRE-HOOKTAIL PIT
BP ONLY

T1: Double Dip (Mr. Softener x2), Shooting Star

T2: Sweet Treat, Swap to Koops, Power Shell

VANILLA
T1: Power Shell, Swap to Goombella, Double Dip (Mr. Softener x2)

T2: Swap to Koops, Power Shell, Fire Flower

DISABLED PRE-CHAPTER 2 PITT1: Double Dip (Mr. Softener x2), Appeal

T2: Earth Tremor, Swap to Koops, Power Shell

These strats are all for common Pit challenges, but they’re anything but common. While RNG can sometimes cause you to really not have the proper resources, most of the time a situation calling for Mr. Softeners is rare. However, these are pretty cool ways to defeat the dreaded 5 EW loadout, and it’s all done with Super Rank Koops (normally, challenge runners will use Goombella in the 90’s due to the many aerial enemies that appear). So, let’s break all of these down.

Koops at Super Rank does 3 with Power Shell, 8 with Mega Rush P. That’s 3 damage to Elite Wizzerds since they have 5 DEF. If they’re inflicted with Soft, they only have 2 DEF, bringing the damage Koops deals with Power Shell to 6. At that point, we just find the right item or attack to finish them off while Power Shell deals that 6 damage. For BP Only, a Shooting Star is required due to the 5 FP limit. The Vanilla one is pretty cool, but assumes you don’t have any Shooting Stars or Thunder Rages. The Disabled Pre-Chapter 2 Pit one could actually be done with just two Power Shells without Soft, but it’s still pretty cool.

Okay, we’ve got some early-game Pit strats for this loadout. Let’s try some end-game stuff with the same loadout!

10 FP

BADGES: Power Rush P x2, Power Plus P, P-Up D-Down P, Double Dip x2 (16 BP, 19 with FP Plus)

T1: Triple Dip (Mr. Softener x2, Point Swap Yoshi), Stampede

OR

15 FP

BADGES: Mega Rush P, P-Up D-Down P, Double Dip x2, Quick Change (16 BP, 22 with 2 FP Plus badges)

T1: Triple Dip (Mr. Softener x3), Swap to Yoshi, Stampede

OR

20 FP

BADGES: Mega Rush P, Power Rush P, Double Dip x2, Quick Change (15 BP, 24 with 3 FP Plus badges)

T1: Triple Dip (Mr. Softener x3), Swap to Bobbery, Bob-ombast

While the first strat is a cool way to utilize Danger Yoshi with one extra Power Rush P from the Pianta Parlor, the other two actually make use of inflicting Soft on all 5 Elite Wizzerds. The chance of 3 Mr. Softeners inflicting Soft on 4 Elite Wizzerds is 96%*, which is actually really solid. Adding one extra enemy to that makes it… 96%. Yeah, 3 Mr. Softeners offers a pretty high chance of inflicting Soft on these guys. So, with all 5 inflicted, we can utilize Quick Change to swap out to an already Peril’d Yoshi and Bobbery to deal exactly 12 damage with Stampede and Bob-ombast respectively. I actually really like these two strategies, especially since we’re making use of Bobbery in one of them.

I want to cover one other enemy in the Pit that Mr. Softener can be put to good use for.

PIT OF 100 TRIALS FLOOR 55

Loadout — 4 Moon Clefts

BADGES: Mega Rush P (1 BP)

T1: Mr. Softener, Power Shell

Moon Clefts are 100% susceptible to Soft, so using one results in all 4 being afflicted with it. This allows you to OHKO with Peril Koops in a Pre-Hooktail Pit instead of letting the Moon Clefts have an extra turn to attack. This is a great loadout to use a Mr. Softener on because you can save your other attacking items for the later floors where they count more, and a Mr. Softener is actually quite useful here because Fire Drive doesn’t work on Clefts.

There are quite a few other notable enemies when it comes to the Pit of 100 Trials that can be inflicted with the Soft status. Here’s a small list:

Wizzerd – 3 DEF – 90% chance to inflict Soft
Dark Bristle – 4 DEF – 100% chance to inflict Soft
Sky-Blue Spiny4 DEF90% chance to inflict Soft
Chain Chomp – 5 DEF – 95% chance to inflict Soft
Bob-ulk – 2 DEF – 85% chance to inflict Soft

Pretty nice that you can get rid of a Wizzerd’s DEF entirely with Soft, huh?

Since we’re covering an item that inflicts status, I want to point out that utilizing an item like Mr. Softener has an inherent flaw; like I say in the beginning of every post, I try to give these lesser used items and other things time to shine, but Mr. Softener is very difficult to use in pre-planned strats. Why? Because even with 3 used, they can still fail if an enemy isn’t 100% susceptible to it, and if they fail, the entire strat gets shot, forcing you to think on the fly and putting you in a potentially horrible position.

So, what can you use Mr. Softener for that’s not pre-planned? You could use it to stop Macho Grubba’s DEF+ buff (90% chance to inflict Soft with 1 Mr. Softener) when he uses that. You could use it against Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 (80% chance to inflict Soft with 1 Mr. Softener), any of the above enemies I listed in a pinch, or Bowser (also 80% chance) to deal a little more damage. But let me be frank — most are all still determined (even if only slightly) by RNG. When you use items like Mr. Softener, you always want to prepare for the case where it doesn’t work. And that causes them to inherently be unoptimal. For example, against Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 you could just use a Power Punch to negate the DEF he has, and it’s 100% guaranteed to work.

What I’m trying to ultimately say is that Mr. Softener and other items that inflict status are a special case. Sometimes, it’s the right call; sometimes, it’s a really bad call; and sometimes, it’s the only way you can get out of a potentially bad situation.

If we go back to the 5 Elite Wizzerds. You might be at a spot in the battle where, if that Mr. Softener hit 2 of the 3 left, you can KO them both and safely stall your way back to a good place so you can finish off the last one and go into the next fight looking good, or it allows you to KO them with your non-Peril partner out in the case of Pre-Hooktail, allowing you to level up safely. It’s really unlikely, but part of what makes a great Paper Mario player is realizing that even items with a chance of failing can be the right option. In Mr. Softener’s case, you’re not going to find that spot very often.

That’s it for today’s spotlight. What do you think of Mr. Softener and the Soft status? Do you like to use it against enemies with DEF, or do you prefer just stomping through with piercing moves and huge ATK? Despite my giant wall of text explaining why items like Mr. Softener aren’t great, I had fun coming up with these strategies, and there’s something to be said about the math and probability that goes into combat for Paper Mario: TTYD. Maybe now you’ll see a situation where Mr. Softener was the correct play to make mid-battle. Let me know!

*EDIT: Thanks to Jdaster64 (I’ve referenced him before; go check out his site! I get a lot of information from his stuff!) for pointing out the inaccuracy in my probability math. It’s actually a much better 98.5% to inflict Soft on 4 of 5 Elite Wizzerds with 2 Mr. Softeners and basically 100% on 4 of 5 Elite Wizzerds with 3.

Just Sayin’
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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’