Improvement in Smash 4 II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Repeat after me: “MUs aren’t just numbers”.

If you were to ask me, “Kappy, what prevents players from improving?”, I would say without hesitation that one of the top things are, “match ups” (or, as everyone refers to them in text format, MUs). MUs describe the likelihood of a character beating another character, strictly speaking. The way it usually goes: If two players of equal skill play, character X has a XX:YY MU with character Y. This is usually categorized in this way:

50:50 – Even
55:45 – Small Advantage
60:40 – Advantage
70:30 – Big Advantage
80:20 – Huge Advantage
90:10 – Gigantic Advantage
100:0 – Guaranteed Win

I think there’s something inherently flawed about discussing MUs like this. Let me be perfectly clear – numerically showing how character X does against character Y is fine; in fact, I agree with it. The problem is how it’s discussed and approached.

Let me craft a scenario for you. Say you go up against a player who places the same as you in your local scene. You two seem to always get the same place, but you two have never met in bracket. This time, it’s different. You’re going up against him, and he’s using a character that has a 100:0 MU against yours. You two sit down to play, two supposed evenly-matched players, and you emerge the victor.

I’ve seen this happen before.

What’s happening here? The biggest problem approaching MUs with numbers is that character takes over player. It should be flipped. Player trumps Character. It might be an uphill battle for your character, but it’s not so simple as, “Character X walls Y. It’s hard for them to get in.” No, it’s not so cut and dry. Even with an equal skill level, a player’s tendencies can change how the MU actually is in practice.

What if you spun it as, “I struggle against hyper-defense. I find it difficult to approach.” This not only spins the blame to give you something to practice, it gets rid of blaming your character or the MU for losing. A number doesn’t define who you’ll win and lose to, who you’ll struggle and not struggle against.

So what can you do to stop thinking this way? Combine Player and Character into a single unit.

Combining player and character gives way to two distinct ways to view a MU, and both are essential to improving: Play Style and Character Interactions. What are these?

Play Style refers to how a player makes decisions during a match. Do they apply pressure, grab a lot, camp, etc… This is usually categorized further for generality – aggressive, defensive, etc… I won’t get too into that, but Play Style also encompasses a player’s reactions, emotions, etc… their style changes as they play, and if they don’t – well, if you can counter play it without them adapting, then you’re going to win no matter the character.

Character Interaction refers to on paper interactions between characters. This is usually discovered through experimentation on the player’s part. Let me list what I think this consists of:

– Move Priority
– Kill %’s
– Punishment Options

Move Priority refers to the interaction between two character’s moves. A good example would be Kirby’s Dair vs Marth Up Tilt. Marth’s Up Tilt beats Kirby’s Dair, so it wins and Kirby will (most likely) get hit.

Kill %’s are just that. When does X move KO at Y percent on character Z?

Punishment Options refers to options your character has to punish character X in any given situation. Can you shield grab an Fsmash? A Ftilt? Can you punish a whiffed move with a Smash/Tilt/etc…?

When I approach a MU, I think about these things instead of the numbers. I think about what I’m going to need to do to overcome any adversity the MU presents me with. If my character struggles against projectiles, I need to find ways to counter the player’s style with those projectiles. Do I have a move that’ll just outright beat the projectile? Does the player panic when I get too close? When should I start looking for a KO? (Notice how this is basically Adaptability)


Obviously, some characters do beat others. It’s the way a game like this works. And in a game like this, some characters have a lot of “bad” MUs. And they will struggle, and you can clearly see how a character struggles. However, simplifying the MU to the point where you’re going in expecting it to be incredibly hard or maybe impossible is neglecting the fact that there’s a person controlling that avatar. You’re forgetting about human error, human psychology, even human physiological responses during a set. This is stuff that you need to think about when it comes to MUs, and it’s reflected in their play style.

If you wanna use numbers when sitting at home thinking about MUs, fine. Don’t let me stop you. But you best believe that you shouldn’t be oversimplifying MUs when you’re about to play someone. Treat them as complex as they should be – it’s a character controlled by a player, not the other way around. Remember that.

When you’re giving advice, don’t just use the character. That’s for tier list/character interactions/theorycrafting discussion specifically. Otherwise, think about the player, too. Don’t let players ask, “how does X do against Y?” Demand they be more specific. No two players play the same way – acknowledge that in how you ask for and give out advice.

Repeat after me: “MUs aren’t just numbers.”

Just Sayin’

Link to the Chicago Smash 4 Facebook group: Clicky

Check out my other posts on improving in Super Smash Bros. Wii U!

I – Fundamentals
III – Attitude
IV – Friendlies
V – Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VII – Training Regimens
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
X – Practice Methods I
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow


The 3DS: your mobile entertainment hub for when you’re sick

Waking up at 4 AM with the stomach flu is never fun, but when I’m experiencing catastrophic abdominal pain and confined to my bed, I know I can always count on my Nintendo 3DS to carry me through the day! And why, do you ask, is the 3DS so useful for when I’m sick? It’s simple: it’s the mobile hub everyone wants!

My revelation about the wonders of the 3DS came to me this morning when I woke up and its bright screen was glaring at me, ready to play the next episode of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I thought to myself, “I can lay here and just continue to watch How I Met Your Mother, and I would never have to turn over to grab the remote and turn on my TV.” It hit me then: when I’m sick, moving around = bad, and with the 3DS in hand(s), I can play games, watch Netflix, and even browse the Internet without really moving at all. If it had a thermometer and a way to dispense food I’d never need another device again!

And when it comes time to bring myself out of bed and to the kitchen or the bathroom, my 3DS comes with me. That means when I’m feeling nauseated or hungry, my 3DS can sit neatly in view, allowing me to enjoy Netflix while also fighting nausea or microwaving a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.

In conclusion, next time you’re sick, grab your 3DS and download Netflix (and if you don’t have Netflix, get Netflix) – you won’t be disappointed.

Just sayin’

Geek ‘Til Dawn 9 Recap

Last Friday, DePaul‘s game club, DeFrag, hosted an event called Geek ‘Til Dawn (GtD), which is an all-night gaming event. From 8PM to 7AM, students at DePaul (and guests brought by students) can play anything from board games to video games. There’s anime viewing, group games, and even a raffle! It’s a very fun event, and this Spring’s (this was the 9th time they’ve held this event), instead of playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl all night, I went out and did more, and it was a lot of fun!

Here’s a quick recap:

– I hosted an impromptu single-elim Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament and found someone who wants to be part of the competitive scene at DePaul! That’s almost 4 people I’ve found this year who really want to improve, and that’s awesome to me. I won the tournament in style, and found out that you only get a silver trophy for winning Brawl’s in-game tournament. What a ripoff! Even though I won, I was (not so) secretly rooting for the girl playing red Link and the guy whom I chose the Marth color for (he actually faced me in the finals. LOL).

– I found someone who doesn’t think Yuzu from Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is horrible character (but her ending does suck unless you play OverClocked)! I could write a paper on the cast of that game and I guarantee 2 pages would be dedicated to Yuzu and how she’s not a bad character.

– I finally beat my friend Pat in Snowboard Kids 2, which we’ve been talking about playing to see who’s better for the past year. He won game 1, then I won games 2 and 3. Swag hat coach with Balance Board lvl 3 da bess!

– I played 3 games of League of Legends, landing with friend who went AP Soraka. I went Support Ashe, and we won all three games. 3-0 Support Ashe/AP Soraka!! In the last game three of the five on the opponents team disconnected! LOL It was kinda sad, but at 5AM none of my team cared.

– I played Anime Name that Tune and won 1 point off of Clannad. At least I got a point off my favorite show! LOL.

– And then… AND THEN… the most hype match of Jenga I have EVER SEEN! I can’t even describe it, so here’s a video of the last six minutes of Game 3:

Jenga Game 3

And that was my GtD! Now it’s time to finish my one month left of school and begin Summer Vacation!

Just sayin’

REVIEW: House of the Dead: OVERKILL

“If there’s one thing I hate more than mutants, it’s redneck mutants!” – Detective Isaac Washington.

I love House of the Dead. I fondly remember the days where I’d go to my local arcade, feed that hungry machine some quarters, and shoot zombies for however long it took me to die (usually around a half hour). So when my friend mentioned to me that we should play House of the Dead: Overkill, I said sure. I thought this was going to be somewhat classic House of the Dead.

And then I saw the opening video. A stripper pole-dancing. I actually didn’t know it was the opening video until my friends told me it was the opening video.

Um… what?!

For those of you who don’t know, this game was made in the style of an exploitation film, which is pretty much a low-budget movie that promotes any kind of racy content (sex, drugs, violence, etc…). So instead of the classic, somewhat medieval feel of House of the Dead (and subsequent technology advancements in the sequels), this was an exploitation film-style House of the Dead, and damn is it good.

How, might you ask? Because besides the gameplay (which I already enjoyed as a House of the Dead fan. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy that, too), but the characters and story are what really caught me. The first thing you see in the game is Isaac Washington punch Agent G (who looks like Keanu Reeves for the badass factor) in the face and say, “Wassup, muthafucka?”

And that’s when the tale began. A tale of one badass rookie secret agent, one badass who doesn’t know how NOT to use explicatives, and one seriously twisted story (and the WEIRDEST ending in history. I’ve never been so disturbed in my life).

And in this tale, you begin to realize that you’re not playing House of the Dead: Overkill anymore. No, you’re playing What’s Isaac Washington going to say next?. Because that’s exactly how it felt. You’d shoot a couple zombies and hear Washington utter, “Shit! Bitch almost had me!” and you can’t help but wonder, through the absolutely awful voice acting, corny one-liners, catchy music, and gore – how is this so funny?

I think that’s why the game can be considered a success, because it takes something like zombies (my bad, they’re MUTANTS, apparently) and throws in an exploitation film plot and characters, and it’s funny. That’s my favorite part of the game. Through every level, you’re almost waiting to hear dialogue between Washington and G. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. It really works!

The visual style itself isn’t high-class, but that just adds to the atmosphere of the game. It’s not supposed to look fantastic because low-budget exploitation films didn’t look fantastic. The gore is surprisingly good, so those who love those gory graphics won’t be disappointed. And I don’t know if exploitation films usually had catchy music, but damn was the music catchy!

Oh, and playing with a friend is fantastic. That’s how I played it, and I think I would opt for co-op over solo on this one. The game is really short for solo play. My friend and I beat it in what was surely less than 5 hours, so playing by yourself can be a good way to kill 5-6 hours, but it’s definitely something I’d try to run through in one glorious night with a friend!

If you’re looking for a game to really give your head a little spin, old-fashioned House of the Dead gameplay, and some good laughs from your new best friend Detective Washington, I highly recommend House of the Dead: Overkill!


Presentation: 7/10

From the opening video to the level select screen, this game screams exploitation. It’s all very… sub-par, but understanding it’s supposed to be that way really improves the way it presents itself.

Gameplay: 7/10

Classic House of the Dead feel, and the controls worked flawlessly with the Wiimote (I wish we had the Wii Zapper). The boss fights were a little cumbersome, but nothing ridiculous.

Sound: 8/10

Some very catchy tunes, especially during the levels. Nothing entirely memorable, but definitely good while playing. What IS memorable is the voice acting, which is so bad that I’d say it crosses the line over to being incredibly funny.

Visuals: 7/10

So, the graphics themselves aren’t exactly amazing, but… BUT… I think that’s the point of their concept, so it works wonderfully. Plus, the gore doesn’t look bad at all!

Narrative: 7/10

While there is some (READ: very little) substance to the plot, it’s still enjoyable, and while I’m usually one big for narrative, this one didn’t bother me. Although that ending… really, you need to see the ENDING.

Replay Value: 6/10

It’s really something you can pick up again and again, enjoy some of the humor and style of the game, and then put it away for next time. Plus, for hardcore fans there’s a slew of bonus content such as harder difficulties and fan art! The golden brains in the game help facilitate the drive to collect everything for those who want to.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Exploitation film meets House of the Dead. It works.


Oh, and there are mini-games you can unlock that up to four people can play. I think they were shoe-horned in, so I wouldn’t rush to play them.

Just sayin’.