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What is your approach? Part 2
by TheRealBobMan October 28 2009, 10:39 PM
Part 2 of the article posted just a few weeks go, titled "What is your Approach", that actually had nothing to do with in-game approaching.  : )
It's a little awkward since this was just a long example of approaching one game with experience from another behind you, so while it's not as informative, and it feels totally disjointed when separated, it's still a good supplement.

It is also very important that you realize that this was never intended to be a guide on transitioning from Brawl to Melee; I just used that as an example.  More experienced players will probably rip this apart (as will some scrubs), but I honestly don't care.  If you're a scrub, not learning anything from this wont help you, and if you're better than me, you probably wouldn't learn much from this anyway since it's not really directed towards you.

Let's start with crossing over from Brawl to Melee, since it seems like many people started with Brawl and are possibly interested in picking Melee up.

Brawl to Melee:  Where to begin?
First off, you absolutely need to just play the game and feel how different it is.  Movement speed is faster, fallspeed is faster, you can cut your lag on aerials (L-cancel) causing game play to move even faster than that, there's no momentum canceling, there's more hitstun... lots of differences.  Also, even if you play the same character in Brawl and Melee, the properties of his/her moves are different, so you'll have to relearn what they do.

Now that you have a feel for the game (and this should be natural by like the 2nd or 3rd time you've played, even if you're not perfect), you need to start working on improving your game play.  Where do you want to start?

"Where do I want to start?  I don't know where to begin!"

Well, you're on AiB, so you don't even have to go looking for a resource.  I'll tell you what you can start with.

Technical skill
Tech/DI chasing (the closest to Yomi you'll get with Smash, Yomi being the act of mind reading)
Reaction time

Needs to be broken down a little bit further right?  I'm sure you know what all of these are if you played Brawl (some of these are self explanatory too), but there are some huge differences.

Technical Skill
This is first because it seems like everyone starts here.  Really, it's important, and if you're coming off of Brawl you probably could start here.  However, technical skill is not the way to be the best - it's just necessary to bring your game to a certain level.  Having the most technical skill around doesn't guarantee that you're good.

Or maybe you are good... and you're just showing off?  : )

One time at a tournament I went to, I brought along a little adapter that allows one to use a PS2 controller on the GC (and therefore the Wii).  I brought it for Guilty Gear, but we decided to mess around and try using it on Brawl/Melee.  Pat attempted to use it and didn't like the feel, saying it was unresponsive, and having a difficult time performing moves that were quite technical but would normally give him no problem.
Then MikeHaze grabs the controller and consistently DSHLs with Fox for about 5 seconds straight.  We all got a good laugh.

Now, MikeHaze is pretty damn good (and that feels like an understatement), but was he #1 at Melee?  No.

But his manual dexterity and adaptation allowed him to deal with that situation with ease.  He can pull off some amazing tricks, but that doesn't make you the best.  You only need the skill to pull off what you need to do to win.  Every extra option you have puts you a step closer to winning because you have more options that can work in more scenarios, but that isn't the end-all ability that makes you win consistently.

Let me put it this way.  You need to L-cancel consistently to be able to perform many combos in Melee, and the reduced lag certainly doesn't hurt in keeping you from being punished, but do you absolutely need to L-cancel to play Jigglypuff effectively?  I'm worse now that my technical skill has dropped, but my Jigglypuff is still fine - I'm in the air 90% of the time, and most of my other skills haven't deteriorated.

Or when I play Bowser...  heh, what combos do I need to worry about.  It's just like playing Brawl.  : )

J/K, but you get my point.  I'm not wavedashing much with Bowser (more now that I worked out some stuff messing around like a month ago, realized that you can fullhop Fair, double jump Fair, and then waveland if your timing is perfect - it looks sexy), and I don't need to focus too much on DI chasing or anything of the sort because you're just landing a hit, spacing, landing a hit... it's really a lot like playing Brawl, but faster.

If you want to practice your technical skill right away, you need experience with your fallspeed and moves to know how to L-cancel, but Link is a good character to start with to see if you're even doing it right.  Wavedashing?  Start with Luigi.  Boost grabbing?  Start with Kirby.

Technical skill is the sort of thing you'll get practice in as you go - you only need to go out of your way for at the beginning to make sure you're doing it right, or when you're trying out a new trick (such as that Fair Fair waveland thing I mentioned above, the timing is strict, and I'll never dream of using it in a match unless I can do it reliably in practice).

Playing even 20 minutes a day against comps is good enough practice for your technical skill when you're playing Melee.  The comps might not DI properly, but you can work on stringing your moves together, you can work on not messing up those L-cancels, and you can work on powershielding projectiles just because you feel like it.  Really, they might not DI in the best way possible to avoid follow ups, but when you play a match and your opponent intentionally DIs differently, what are you going to do?  Miss the follow up because you didn't practice it because pros wouldn't do it differently?  How stupid is that?

And if you played a character with some degree of technical skill in Brawl (Diddy infinite?), you might pick it up a bit faster in Melee, though I honestly think that playing Melee will help you to FIND technical skill in Brawl.  I wouldn't be as good with the tires/bike as I am, without practicing regularly, if I hadn't used Link so much in Melee.

This doesn't apply in other games, and it's different in Melee than it is in Brawl.  Everyone generally recovers better in Brawl than in Melee, but the approach is pretty much the same - just don't be reckless and get yourself killed in the process.  Basically, you need to practice it, but you need to know when it's effective to do so - you can practice your crazy intercepts on comps, but don't bother picking Marth, standing on the edge, and using Dtilt/Fsmash until the comp dies - they wont recover past like 20% from this because they're idiots, and the rest of your game will suffer because of your easy wins vs. the comps.  That said, you can still work on spikes and other techniques that really wont work, so long as you don't rely on them.  Know that you could probably Uthrow to Dair spike a comp Falco at the edge with Marth if he DIs stupidly because it'll pwn newbs and help you beat them more consistently, but also know that attempting it against a competent opponent will get you punished.

Recovery is a lot different now, right?  As you adjust to the differences in mechanics, you'll just get better at this.  It's just one of those skills that builds up over time - you'll get better from playing competent opponents though - you'll learn to approach the edge in ways that'll mindgame them into edgeguarding poorly, and learn to approach the edge from positions where you have more options.  If the same recovery always works, you'll never learn anything new.
Comps are relentless with this, but they're also pretty stupid about it.  They'll perfectly time a jab as you come back to the edge just to piss you off, and yet, wont take opportunities to kill you because they don't know how.

You're on AiB, so check out the forums.  You can also try out SWF if you want - look up the major differences (like crouch canceling) so that you can learn them.  If you're still trying to momentum cancel while I'm crouch canceling everything, you're falling way behind.  If you don't know that Peach's Dsmash comes out on frame 5, you're going to get punished by it a lot.  If you didn't know that Fox's reflector has set knockback, you'd never think to try to shinespike someone with it.  Learn all that you can - you can do this by spending time messing around, or by looking up what other people have documented on some forums like I explained above.  This is a crucial step - you'll never catch up unless you know what others know, and you'll have a hard time surpassing them if you don't discover something they don't know.  R&D is critical near the top of the metagame if you get that far, and it will certainly help if you find something useful even when you're nowhere near ready to win a tournament.
(Really, they demonstrate technical skill, but you need to know this is possible before you can do it right?)

Spacing is pretty crucial in any fighting game, right?  Since Smash has so much freedom of movement, you really have to get used to your character's movement speeds.  Jiggs is fast in the air, Fox is fast on the ground, Marth has disjointed range.  You'll learn to space your attacks vs. comps, but proper positional spacing comes from playing other people.  Comps just walk towards you, so they're worthless in this respect, but at least you can work on landing those tippers or finding out just how far away you can be and still land Pound.  If your spacing is lacking, you need to make a conscious effort to move into the correct spot until it becomes natural.

Spacing is truly a key component of Smash.  Proper spacing means the difference between a hit and a whiff, on both your end and the opponent's.  Don't get hit, every time you land a hit, combo and reap the rewards.

As simple as this seems to be, spacing really is important.  Smash might be one of the few games I know of where you can die without even getting hit once, but that probably wont happen in a tournament match.  You have to land hits if you want to defeat your opponents, and you wont lose if you don't get hit.

Really, I would say the best spacing practice comes from playing other people, though that doesn't mean playing with comps will absolutely make you worse every time you do it.  If you can't beat a comp, any human player you can beat is most likely not worth playing against.

Coming into Melee from Brawl, this will probably feel the most intuitive to you, and you should pick it up pretty fast, despite the physics being totally different.  I would go as far as to say part of the reason my Jiggs hasn't deteriorated as much as my other characters is because I play Wario, who spaces kind of like Jiggs.

Tech/DI chasing
A crucial aspect of Smash, since most other fighting games have nothing like directional influence in any form (there are some - you can begin to DI a juggle in Soul Calibur 2 past 1 hit in the air).  You have to learn how far they can go in which direction after any hit at any percentage... it's really a matter more of adaptation than memorization.  You know it's possible to go for this or that, so you do what's appropriate based on the DI you see.  Having the reaction time to see what DI your opponent used is one of the key components - did he go left or right or up out of my Dthrow?  I better not mess up or I'll lose my chaingrab.
I just knocked my opponent onto a platform.  Will he stand, or rolldodge to one side?  I put myself in the proper position (spacing) and watch what he's doing (reaction time + tech chasing) and I'll land Rest.

Can you see how it's coming together?
Sometimes you don't have enough time to space to where it's going to work - now it's like yomi.  You have to just know what they're going to do and punish accordingly - just don't always assume this is the case when you actually have the time to think about it, because you can mess up and miss your chance.  You know when you watch someone like DSF play and he ALWAYS gets that punish or chaingrab?  It's because he's not guessing every time the chance comes up...

Yomi does play a big role in other fighting games, but in Smash there are fewer circumstances where you have to make an educated guess to get your follow up since you can actually react.  However, I'm sure everyone's seen some videos of tournament matches with hilarious mindgames... examples?

Reaction Time
A very helpful trait in any scenario, but having the fastest reaction time isn't enough - it just brings more to the table.  This will improve as you focus during any serious match against a competent opponent, and your ability to react will improve as you become more familiar with the game.  When you start playing Melee, moves like Fox's blaster just seem to happen, but as you keep playing, you'll see the startup an hour before the hitbox comes out, and now powershielding that lightning fast projectile isn't even hard (though there's little point if he fires more than one shot, it's pretty stylish if a Fox player tries to get that extra 2% tacked on at the end of a combo by firing, and you tech and powershield it).

You can go out of your way to learn to spot the parts of moves that are telegraphed - that falls under knowlege in all honesty, but combine it with your ever improving reaction time and you're moving up in the world - so much more becomes possible.
And with high end reaction time, you can go as far as to powershield Falco's SHL while wavedashing back and forth with Luigi.  That won't make you the best player around, but damn will that piss off a Falco player.  : )

It's a skill that comes with experience.  The more you're familiar with, the easier you can adapt.  If someone starts doing something you've never seen before, you're more likely to adapt if you can figure out what they're doing and why.  When everyone plays by the book, even if they're a little quirky, it's not that hard to adapt to their playstyles.  Spend some time messing around and doing your research - if you know a certain property or mechanic about the game that you didn't before, and you one day run into someone that can abuse it effectively, you're more likely to find a way around it.

Is this really going to help me out?
Try it and tell me if it did.  -_-;

Do you notice how I left comboing out?  It's certainly a specific skill when it comes to fighting games, but with Smash, it really falls under having the technical skill to actually have a window in which you can follow up, the reaction time to properly DI/Tech chase, and proper spacing so that you'll land that first hit.  You put it all together and you can now make your follow up assault... and maybe keep it up.

In the event that you really want to focus on one skill over another, it can be hard to get into the swing of things since everything builds up.  You're going to get punished for your bad spacing every time, so you'll never even have the opportunity to work on your tech skill.  This will force you to learn better spacing, but let's say while you're working on that, you actually land a hit or get an opening for one.  Now what?  You can't L-cancel yet, so your reward is much smaller than it should be since you can't really combo.

You can work around it.  Play Jiggs - you focus on your aerial spacing with little worry of technical skill.  You land that hit?  Great, keep flying at them with Bair and wall of pain.  Landed a grab below a platform?  Great, Uthrow and tech chase for Rest.  Don't even have to worry about messing up that L-cancel.

Play Bowser - every hit is a freaking reward, and you don't really need to worry about follow ups.  Worry about L-canceling that Fair and using upB out of shield properly.  Play smart, develop those techniques.  It's not like you're going to become the next Gimpyfish, but learning a character whose gameplay revolves around certain aspects will help you to learn those skills.

Then, you can play Luigi.  Now you're working wavedashing into your game (he's got a damn good one), and L-canceling will help you to work on your combos.

It's less apparent in Smash how doing this will make a difference, but you'd notice if you played Guilty Gear.  Millia has sexy Oki, May will rape you out of successful pokes though she's not very good at poking, Venom seems to have pretty amazing shield pressure options... coming into May out of playing Millia and Baiken, as well as having experience with Wario's bike/tires, I pretty much know how I want to space with May's dolphin hoops (Millia's strong Oki comes from using a delayed independent hitbox (like May's hoops, and this is a topic I'll get into with a later article) to pressure a guard (or another viable option to escape getting hit), and having multiple ways to punish those options).  I'm still dropping combos, though I'll john that it's just from messing up inputs since I switch controllers too much (I prefer the GC control stick to the PS2 D-pad), yet I can keep up because I manage to land way more pokes than I should need to when playing May.

In the long run, if you see that a character is strong in a specific area, or relies on a specific area of gameplay, learning that character will make you better, either because it works, or out of pure necessity (you have to L-cancel when you play Bowser or you really wont stand much of a chance).  On that note, if you actually do try to make that transition, it might be easy to start with a character that moves like your Brawl main (since you wont be overwhelmed by losing a stock due to getting comboed because of your bad spacing, every 5 seconds), until you experiment around and find the character you really want to play.

Anyway, this probably isn't as good a read as the last one, but that's because this chunk was cut out, and was barely altered after having a lot of it explained in the previous one.  Part 3 is coming up soon to wrap it all up, and then we'll get into something more direct...


RakanIsReal wrote at 10:39 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
I throw stuff
spacepirate541 wrote at 10:40 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Auro wrote at 10:40 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Cool beans. o.o
Impact wrote at 10:41 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Extremely knowledgeable ;]
Groose wrote at 10:43 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Tl;Dr, never played Melee icon_smile
Pizza wrote at 10:44 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
first to call first
EvilHeadBoy wrote at 10:54 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
I love melee's speed and tech skill, but I love brawl's character selection, and hacks (which includes Balanced brawl)
Honestly, the best of both worlds would be brawl+, but given that the biggest community is for brawl, BB is my favourite. Brawl is still fast paced (way more than a year ago anyways) [not like melee though] but I think it has more to do with the characters you select. Bowser and ROB are slow, while fox and cp Falcon are really fast which = fast matches.
Dark Falco wrote at 11:04 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Falco's the best overall character between Melee and Brawl I think. His Brawl ATs are actually easy to learn, but his Melee ATs can be difficult... Down grab to Multi shines linked with dairs and nairs and plenty of sh lasers and dtilt for the kill.
Chunky wrote at 11:26 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
This just reminded my of my Peach in melee, one of the most fun characters i've ever mained, even though people bash on me because of her down smash. This made me miss melee once again. This also made me think why don't I main Peach now? I try to use her but it's hard to but I still try. I love all the smash games because they showed me deep technical skill no matter how small it was. For Yoshi/Ness in Smash 64, Peach/ICs in Melee and Lucas/Luigi in Brawl. I know I still have a lot of learning to do and I'll need to get in touch with some of these again, so time to get technical (wow that sounded better in my head).
Darknid wrote at 11:32 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
falco sucks
Red8 wrote at 11:44 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
I can't believe I read all that
TheRealBobMan wrote at 11:56 PM on Oct 28, 2009 :
Why not?
Red8 wrote at 12:18 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
Quote (originally posted by TheRealBobMan):
Why not?

Well, I was never into competitive melee like I am brawl, and never will be, so I don't see why I have a reason to, but I did anyway lol It was a good read though, very well written and informative :]
jose90mp wrote at 2:14 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
Melee is too much work.
Asdioh wrote at 2:42 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
Good read.

I don't play Melee because Kirby is indescribably bad.
BANRYU wrote at 2:50 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
I use Mewtwo in Melee... =0 Anything I should know about that?
Sveet wrote at 6:58 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
Don't avoid melee because X character is bad. Every character can be good if you do the things he discussed in this guide.

I really liked this. I've been into melee scene since 06 and never transitioned to brawl. One of the biggest fallacies I hear about melee is that you have to have incredible tech skill and its all combos.

Did you know that drephen, one of the best sheik players in the country, cannot cancel the charge of his needles without having his shield come up? He spot dodges or rolls after it every time. Look it up.

Melee is exactly the same game as brawl, mentally. You space and look for your one hit and thats it. The only difference I find is that in melee there is more freedom of movement, which really separates good players from bad.

Look at the spacing in this brawl match:
And then look at the spacing in this melee match:

You should see the similarities and the differences pretty clearly. In melee spacing is exact to the point where hugs has to hit with the tip of his jab and not the middle of the jab or he will be punished. In brawl "spacing" is much harder and is dominated by moves that are hard to punish inherently as apposed to using the moves more effectively.

Tech skill is good, but really you only need to know how to lcancel (to minimize lag) and WD (to space more precisely). Everything after that is just fancy.
OMG H4X wrote at 9:13 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
melee is the best! but sometimes isnt as fun if you dont have as much tech skill as your opponent. it seems to have a steeper learning curve, where brawl is more about thinking about your position and mindgames. both great games, both played differently.
Asdioh wrote at 10:17 AM on Oct 29, 2009 :
Don't avoid melee because X character is bad. Every character can be good if you do the things he discussed in this guide.
Except for Kirby.


By comparison, the worst character(s) in Brawl are better than Melee Kirby by a long shot.