Rango’s Smash Column: Week of 1/18/21 – Are Roy and Chrom Top Tier?

Welcome to this week’s Smash Column!

Lately, I’ve been sorting around my secondaries in Smash. I love up-close-and-personal brawler combat. As such, I base secondaries to cover the bad matchups of my main, Ike, using similar playstyles.

I main Ike and use the rest online or in tournaments.

However, as I’ve been mulling about it and discussing matchups with users on various Smash Discords, I’ve been reconsidering the use of Roy and his Echo Fighter, Chrom.

Roy and Chrom

These two Fire Emblem lords fight similarly to Marth and Lucina. Roy, much like Marth, was introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee. However, from Smash 4 and Ultimate, Roy’s fighting style deviated more from Marth’s and became its own identity. Likewise, Chrom became an offshoot of Roy in which, like Lucina, his sword damage is based evenly around his blade.

In the competitive meta, Roy and Chrom both garner dominant results in tournaments. HyperKirby and Kola (formerly known as SaltOne) were two of the pioneers of the Roy meta in Georgia. Meanwhile, Rivers, from New Jersey, is considered the premiere Chrom in the U.S.

Long story short, from my experiences and from viewing various tier lists, Chrom and Roy are commonly viewed as high tier characters. I’ve also seen tier lists that arrange them into the top tier.

How Roy and Chrom Fit Into my Gameplan.

Full disclosure: While I love using both, I feel Roy fits me slightly better. His extra damage on sweetspot and better recovery really win it for me. On the flipside, my girlfriend enjoys watching me play and especially prefers Chrom. That being said, I can’t let her down.

Since they both play fundamentally similar, it’s good practice to learn both characters. As an Ike main, however, I feel like my character struggles heavily against the likes of Roy and ROB. In terms of matchups, I would also say he loses to Palutena, Fox, Zero Suit Samus, Pac-Man, and Mega Man. They’re all winnable matchups but they must be played with great respect to the opponent’s character due to some competitive advantages such as zoning or advantage state.

I learned my lesson from Smash 4 not to solo-main a character that isn’t top tier. While I will never not main Ike, I’ve learned to cover my bases with characters that can take on his weaker matchups. As such, I’ve proven my case: counterpicking wins sets.

Now, let’s say I need a counter against Mega Man, Palutena, or Pac-Man. Roy and Chrom are considerably even or winning in these matchups. I can use their superior mobility and KO power to my advantage to turn the tides using tools that Ike is lacking. Why fight an uphill battle when you can learn to use new tools? Plus, if I’m being honest, Roy and Chrom are just fun as hell to play.

Fun Trivia About Roy

Believe it or not, Roy was always considered poor in the earlier games he was in. He was a low-tier in Melee, a low tier in Smash 4, and both of these performances stemmed from his home game, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade. In Binding Blade, Roy was seen as one of the worst Lords in the series, in terms of stats, and only became viable near the end of the game. Once he promoted and could wield the Binding Blade, he was fairly viable, but not before spending 20 chapters being carried by stronger units like Lilina.

Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (2002)

Fire Emblem Heroes gave Roy promise, however, in the form of several units. Among these include both a Brave and Legendary variant which made him a considerably tough Sword unit. Meanwhile, as mentioned previously, Roy maintains strong results in tournaments thanks to several talented players. As a Roy fan myself, I’m finally glad to see him doing well in both Smash and Fire Emblem.

Is it Time to Use a New Secondary?

Since I will always main Ike, there’s no debating on whether I would drop him. Not only that, but he’s one of the few characters who does well against the infamous duo, Pikachu and Pichu, with the latter being argued as the best fighter in the game.

I’ve been moving among secondaries. With the graphic I posted above, there’s no way I wouldn’t use these characters. I’ve been warned about “spreading myself thin” and I’m aware that some people still prefer to solo-main. However, I don’t think I would enjoy the game if I could only play one character.

Despite my grievances with Terry, such as botching my inputs, SDing, and landing from his godawful disadvantage state, there’s no way I can stop using him. He’s too fun not to use and has won me big matches in the past.

Sorting My Secondary Fighters

With that said, Cloud, Incineroar, and Lucina are more or less my hobby characters. I don’t plan to bring them out in tournaments save for the few times I’ve done so in the past. I’ve also been using Mario less online since I’m not sure if I want to keep using him for competitive play.

Therefore, that leaves me with Roy/Chrom, Bowser, and Wolf. I’ve been told Wolf does well against Palutena and, if I’m fighting a Roy, I have Bowser at the ready to take them on as well. Counterpicking is a viable strategy that can save sets and win matches.

Does that mean I will use Chrom and Roy as my official secondaries? Right now, I’m not sure. I enjoy playing as them online and I’m definitely learning new things each time I play. But as of this moment, I can’t say for sure if this means I will bring them out in a bracket set. If had to pick 3 characters to use, and two of them were Ike and Terry, their chances of being 3rd would be on par with Wolf and Bowser right now.

As much as I would love to save some clips and post them here, I’ve been having problems with my Switch. It will not read my MicroSD for recording matches and hasn’t been able to do so in months. However, if I do happen to get replays uploaded again, I’ll happily post them here.

I’ll be following up with another Smash Column next week. Be sure to follow our social media links below. Stay well and see you next time!

Rango’s Smash Blog: I Still Play Competitive Smash and I Do Not Understand Why.

Welcome back to Rango’s Smash Blog! If this is your first time here, allow me to introduce myself.
I’m a competitive esports player and part-time Smash coach. I’ve been playing Smash since 1999 and playing competitively since Brawl came out on the Wii. My offline tournament journey began in 2014, upon the release of the 3DS and Wii U titles, and I’ve been competing ever since. As a previously sponsored player who traveled to tournaments across the country, I made myself a name as both as a ranked Georgia player and one of the best Ike mains in the world. If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about my tournament history.

2020 and Online Tournaments

Ever since COVID started, I’ve been inactive in the tournament scene. With CEO Dreamland, hosted in March, being the last major offline tournament, many players have resorted to playing in online tournaments. Moreover, even Nintendo has made bare-minimum efforts to improve online. With that being said, however, I’ve had no interest in playing in online tournaments.
 
I’ve done my fair share of entering a few online tournaments. Waiting around for matches at home isn’t the same as actually being inside a venue while interacting with people. It just feels like sitting in a waiting room, in your house, when you could be doing something more productive. It honestly surprises me how many players participate in online tournaments.
 
However, I also notice that the online rankings differ vastly from the offline rankings. Perhaps a number of top players have just as little interest in entering online tournaments as I do and prefer to focus on content creation and other endeavors.
I cite MKLeo and Fatality as two people who place much higher on the offline rankings. As such, I find this ranking to be subjective either to how online meta works, Or perhaps this is due to top players’ lack of interest in online tournament play.

Why I don’t enter online tournaments.

With that being said, why not enter? They’re easy to find and, I know if I wanted to, I could enter and do incredibly well. I not only main Ike but use several characters proficiently to cover his bad matchups. The online tournaments I’m aware of don’t even have a buy-in, so it’s basically entering for free and getting paid for placing high.
 
But truth be told, I’m not interested. While I take my offline tournaments seriously, I’ve always been someone who plays Smash for fun first and foremost. The same guy who enters 1v1 tournaments to win is also the same guy you’ll spot playing 8-player matches with items on. I’ll sooner go to a convention and play fun matches with groups of people than go ham when I’m trying to have a good time. I’ve won my fair share of con tournaments and even won free badges to southeast anime conventions such as Ichibancon and Triad. However, the pacing of a con tournament, coupled with its casual ruleset, no longer interests me.
 
With that being said, part of me wonders if it would be a good financial endeavor to enter online tournaments. It’s hard to find good training partners in Smash online. I struggle to find matches on Anther’s Ladder and even Discord. In fact, most of what I really do is just end up playing on Elite Smash, the random matchmaking mode. This leads me to play against players with poor habits, use annoying characters, or end up leaving after one match.

Nintendo’s Online and Fighting Games

This is mostly Nintendo’s fault for not only having poor netcode but also for offering poor matchmaking options. Joining an arena is a potluck of players of various skill levels which include those lower than what I seek. Even though a more recent update added Elite Smash to play with higher-level players in Arenas, it’s totally empty. I kid you not that searching for high-level players on arena matchmaking leads to no results. It’s just as empty if you host arenas too.
 
All-in-all, I want tournaments to come back. I’ve tried filling the void by playing more viable online fighting games, like Tekken 7. But nothing hits quite like Smash. It’s my favorite game by far and the one I still play online in.

Getting Back into the Game

For some reason, though, I just can’t stop playing online. Even if I’m tormenting myself on Quickplay, it feels good to just play my characters, practice, and feel some level of improvement. Sometimes I’ll find a good challenge on Discord and we’ll host arenas to play sets in. While it doesn’t happen often, those are some of the highlights of my day.
 
More than anything, I feel like I’m just prepping right now for offline tournaments to return. Once COVID goes away, perhaps thanks to the new vaccines, we might be able to venture out and compete once more. I would love to become a sponsored player again and travel the country in search of new challenges. I definitely want to become a better player than I am now and I certainly look forward to what comes once we get back in full gear.
 
Right now, playing online is just to prepare for offline tournaments. I might consider an online tournament if it conveniences me and falls into my time slot. Whether I do or do not, however, I’ll still be playing Smash online and getting ready for that day when we can compete offline once more.

The Game Corner – What Are You Playing? Week of 1/4/21

ACT Game Corner 1/1/21

Welcome to the new year! Now that we finally left 2020 behind, we’re looking forward to a much brighter and better year! With that being said, welcome to the Game Corner!

ACT Pokemon Game Corner

What is the Game Corner?

Named after the Pokemon series’ casino, the Game Corner is a column where I cover my gaming backlog. I’ll also include activities in the games I regularly play, such as Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you’re fond of JRPGs, Nintendo series, PlayStation hits, and a hint of fighting games, you came to the right place!

We encourage you to share your backlogs with us in the replies as well. Hopefully, this column will give you some ideas on what to add to your backlog. If you’re looking for new games to play, you might find something you like!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

ACT Super Mario 64

Yep, I did it. I cleared Super Mario 64 with 120 Stars. I’m no stranger to this game and I got into it when it came out on the Nintendo 64 back in 1996! I’ve cleared through this game many times to include on the DS with 150 Stars! Despite being many years since I’ve last played through this game, though, it’s a blast to play no matter how many times I replay it.

Surprisingly, as well as it’s held up, it’s become easier to identify some of the design flaws in the game. Perhaps it’s because Super Mario Galaxy spoiled us. But when it comes to finding 100 coins, redoing a long mission because of a death and no checkpoint, or clearing Tick-Tock Clock, some of the missions were actually frustrating! It’s one thing for Mario to be challenging but when you have to go all the way back through the Hazy-Maze Elevator because you feel once, it admittedly becomes tedious.

ACT Super Mario 64 Tick Tock Clock
Tick Tock Clock was heavily redesigned in the DS remake. The level design was much more tolerable.

Still, I gotta say it was hard to put down even today. As long as my backlog is, I’m honestly surprised I decided to stick with 64 till the end and clear it over the last week. Believe it or not, going over some of the 3D platformers I’ve played in my life, I can’t say I’ve played one better from a series that wasn’t Mario. 64 isn’t just revolutionary but a polished monument to some of the best and most enjoyable gaming experiences imaginable.

ACT Super Mario 64 low-poly
Did you know that Mario’s model becomes low-polygon when the camera zooms away from him?

Judgment

ACT Judgment Yagami Kaito

Ah, good old Yakuza. The franchise that received a huge boom in the mid-late 2010s thanks to Yakuza 0, Sega’s been a master at marketing this title. The Yakuza series is known for its hilarious, serious, and clever writing, combining strong storytelling with over-the-top humor. Any fan of shonen anime and Japanese culture will fall in love with Yakuza. It’s got those Fist of the North Star and Jojo vibes in combat with just a hint of pro wrestling.

The beat ’em up gameplay in Judgment is just as smooth and fluid as the Yakuza series could possibly deliver. This spin-off, however, also features a murder mystery. You’ll be solving puzzles, searching for clues, and even defending people in court just like in Ace Attorney. I also like the streamlined sub-quests which are now featured on corkboards for you to pick at.

Look. No touch!

Yagami’s truly a likable protagonist and Kaito’s an amazing side-kick, you could say! They differ from the series’ protagonist, Kiryu Kazuma, in many ways with Yagami being a little more coolheaded and Kaito being a little more cocky. Now that I’m on Chapter 9 I feel like I’m just a bit over halfway through the game at 30 hours.

Having beaten Yakuza 0, Kiwami, Kiwami 2, and Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, I look forward to continuing my journey once I clear Judgment. I’ll play through Yakuza Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, and finally, get to try Like a Dragon once I’m through.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Believe it or not, I’m still on the grind here. Still playing competitively, I find it hard to put Smash down. Even in an era without offline tournaments, I cannot put down my favorite game. I just gotta keep practicing for that time the tournaments return.

I’m still learning new things with Terry, Mario, Cloud, Chrom, Roy, and others. I honestly just love learning multiple characters. Even though in all practicality, you’re supposed to keep a small character pool in tournaments, it’s incredibly hard not to want to play more than a small handful of 78 characters. I even dabbled a bit with Sephiroth when he came out. Unfortunately, his zoning playstyle really isn’t for me and I just found Cloud to be more enjoyable personally.

I found a new YouTube channel, called 1437 Ultimate, with some sick plays by other top players. I’m already getting some inspiration from Zenyou’s Mario. If I find any more goodies, I’ll be sure to include them in my next column!

Fire Emblem Heroes

As always, I’m logging into my only gacha game regularly. I love Fire Emblem Heroes too much not to play it and care too little about other gacha to play anything else. I don’t even follow the meta anymore. I just look up guides on Gamepress, build my characters optimally, and send them out into Abyssal Maps. Don’t get me started on Aether Raids either.

Duma’s Abyssal stage. I still cannot beat this effing map.

Been running Fallen Ike, Brave Dimitri, Peony, and Brave Camilla lately. Unfortunately, I ran into a roadblock trying to conquer Abyssal Duma. Yet one switch from Camilla to Brave Claude and, within two tries, I clobbered that map like it was nothing. You gotta adapt to your changes and when you see a map full of fliers it’s time to get the bow out.

The new year banner is coming so I’m looking forward to that. Much as I would love a summer banner of the Ljosalfheim faeries, this gracious New Year banner gives them beautiful kimonos to wear and fly around in. However, I can’t say I’m ready to commit to the New Year’s banner when I could still possibly get Winter Sothis and Winter Fae. Just maybe!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

That’s right. I’m back to playing an old favorite Zelda title. Having beaten it on Wii (2006) and the GameCube years later, I had to pick up the HD remaster. One thing that drove me to this release was the addition of a harder difficulty.

Barring A Link Between Worlds, I’ve never been a fan of the Hero Mode difficulty in Wind Waker HD or this one either. However, with the use of the Ganondorf amiibo, I could boost enemy damage x2 and still collect hearts in the field. Unfortunately, I have to use my amiibo every time I load up the game.

I’m at the Lakebed Temple now which is the Water Temple of the game but on steroids. For those unaware, the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time was infamously difficult the first time we played through. Lakebed Temple is that but even bigger and more intimidating. That being said, I’m looking forward to getting this one over with.

Despite how much I enjoy this game, I always thought it fell short of the N64 classics, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. A large part of that reason was due to how easy combat was. Enemies dealt 1/4 heart of damage and you could get by them without even trying.

While the HD version’s difficulty gives me the incentive to beat the game, I have little doubt that Nintendo will release this game for Switch as part of this year’s celebration, Maybe we’ll see Twilight Princess and Wind Waker as part of Zelda 35th Anniversary. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can use the Wolf Link amiibo to help me with the DLC in Breath of the Wild.

Wrap-up

Well, here’s hoping I can clear Judgment before the next Game Corner. It’s probably around 60 hours and I’m doing side-cases like mad. Eventually, I do want to finally start my copies of Nioh 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, both of which I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about. But I’m also trying to be good and not scatter off to too many games at once. I say this as I haven’t touched my half-finished copies of Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake in weeks.

Share with us what you’re playing in the replies below. Stay tuned with us for next time’s Game Corner. And finally, be sure to follow us on our social media links below. Happy New Year, everyone!

SNK to Release a New Console. Check Out This Brief Retrospective on Neo Geo Consoles!

SNK is a Japanese video game company known for developing titles such as Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters. Following their recent announcement of KOF XV, SNK has also announced the development of a new console.

If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you may also recognize Terry Bogard as the DLC character from Fighter Pass 1. The same Terry comes from SNK’s long lineage of classic arcade fighting hits.

To this day, SNK features dozens of titles under their belt. While their online showings of The King of Fighters XIV and Samurai Shodown have been less-than-stellar, the latter did at least receive a huge following, in America, at offline tournaments. However, SNK has also focused heavily on re-releasing their classics in compilation titles as well as their Neo Geo mini-consoles.

SNK is known for the Neo Geo arcade system which was like a portable arcade cabinet that you could rent or purchase. Featuring top-notch sound quality, these machines from the early 90s played quality fighting game titles.

I recommend checking out this video. The first few minutes cover the history of the Neo Geo better than I can.

However, with the recent news, SNK plans to release a new console in the near future. This comes along with the recent announcement of The King of Fighters XV. Given their bold statement of making it the most ambitious title they’ve released, SNK seems to be attempting to define the early part of this decade with some major hitters.

Neo Geo

SNK introduced the Neo Geo in the early 90s. This arcade system offered multiple arcade titles. SNK still had some success with the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color systems before eventually moving on strictly to hardware.

SNK released the Neo Geo Pocket in the late 90s. This featured portable titles such as SNK vs. Capcom, a fighting game that predated the successful crossover fighter, Capcom vs. SNK 2. It also featured 8-bit hits like Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade.

In 2013, SNK released the Neo Geo X. This was a portable version of the console which could play the full console-quality SNK titles. Additionally, it could be plugged into a dock to play the game on the TV. As mentioned in the above video, this concept predated Nintendo’s Switch by four years!

Impact of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

My personal experience from SNK came from playing Capcom vs. SNK 2 and curiously trying The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match for Xbox 360. When Terry came to Smash, however, I immediately resonated with not just the character but everything that came with him.

The King of Fighters stage, the background characters, and all the music featured within motivated me to try more of SNK’s titles. The previously posted video also showcases, by Sakurai, how KoF impacted Smash Bros. with the use of dodge rolls, spot-dodge, spot-dodge attack cancels, and even Squad Strike.

Thanks to the presentation, I also ended up starting with Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters ’95 before moving onto Code Mystics’ ports of KOF ’97, Samurai Shodown V Special, The Last Blade 1 and 2, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves. While I was already a fan of Rock Howard in CvS2, I was more than thrilled to finally play through his home game.

While I was tempted, multiple times, to get the Neo Geo Mini microconsole, I stopped myself as I feel the cost of the system wouldn’t justify the experience. In the COVID era, it’s hard enough to find people to play with offline. Without online play, it might be better to just wait for more games to be ported with the rollback netcode implemented.

On that note, I also picked up SamSho (PS4) and KOF XIV. But unfortunately, their poor online netcode made it nearly impossible to find random online matches. No one wants to play a fighting game with poor netcode no matter how popular it is offline.

Significance of SNK

SNK was much more popular in Japan and Mexico than it was in America. While it has its own competition among other popular fighting games, such as Tekken, it never quite got off the ground in America. KOF was largely more populated by fans of Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom, and others.

However, SNK plans to release both this new console as well as make KOF XV their most ambitious title. There’s no better way to capitalize on the latter than to add netcode, strong single-player modes, and some of the best audiovisual quality you could ask for in a fighting game. SNK music is among the most enjoyable to listen to in gaming.

The upcoming Neo Geo console will likely not be released to compete with the likes of the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X as some might suggest. Rather, by following suit with their past iterations, the upcoming Neo Geo will likely give SNK their own platform to publish their own games on. For fighting game enthusiasts and SNK supporters, this likely also means re-releases of past arcade games once more. But it will also likely house one of the releases of the upcoming KOF XV.

With that being said, here’s hoping that SNK can truly make an impact on the world within the next few years. SNK enthusiasts know their games aren’t the most popular or well-known in the U.S. But if Samurai Shodown means anything, it’s that they still know how to make quality titles that resonate well with their fans. We badly want SNK and KOF to become more popular and we hope that KOF XV will become the best game SNK has ever made!

5 Best Switch Games to Play with Friends During the Holidays.

With the holidays here in full bloom, now’s as good a time as any to look at the best choices to play games with your friends. While you’re quarantining at home and want to play online, or offline, you’ll find a number of choices you can enjoy. If you have family to play with at home or you’re hanging out with friends for a day, you’ll find a few games here, older and newer alike, which will certainly add to the mood!

Unfortunately, the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury just can’t come soon enough. Until Nintendo releases this magnificent 3D platformer on the Switch, check out these 5 games that you’ll definitely want to spend time playing your friends with during the holidays.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

This 8-bit retro Castlevania throwback offers 2-player co-op with 4 playable characters in the initial playthrough and even more when unlocked. Players can change to any character as well as play as a clone of the main character, Zangetsu.

The co-op gameplay in Bloodstained plays well despite the otherwise classic stiff 8-bit controls. Also, the levels pace themselves well, and you’ll certainly get a strong challenge out of it if that’s what you’re seeking. You can also set it to Casual if you’re just having fun with the game.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

What makes Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity special is that it’s the prequel to the beloved 2017 title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. More than that, however, this Musou title features fast-paced hack-and-slash action with an epic metal soundtrack.

It’s quick and easy to pick up and play. Pick your favorite Zelda characters, join up with a friend, and get ready to clear missions as you take out hundreds of enemies at a time.

Streets of Rage 4

The long-awaited return of this beat ’em up franchise appears on Nintendo Switch with online and offline co-op play. Offline play can support up to 4 players while online can support 2. Streets of Rage 2 is often heralded as the best beat ’em up in existence and Streets of Rage 4 carries that legacy to a T.

With its gorgeous new hand-drawn artwork, the catchy soundtrack and hard-hitting action evolve with a new combo system. Nothing feels quite as bonding as helping your friend dish out damage to enemies in a combo strung from what you might see in a fighting game. Streets of Rage 4 is one of the most ideal titles to add to your library if you love a fresh take on a 2D classic in one of the best co-op games of the past decade.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart remains an irreplaceable part of multiplayer gaming and fun. 6 years after the original MK8 released on Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still maintains itself as the best-selling Switch title. Featuring over 40 tracks, Battle Mode, and a ton of racers and customization options, the fun never ends.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate racing experience. It’s a thoroughly polished title without a single bad track in the game. Every single track feels incredibly fun with gorgeous visuals and some of the most catchy music heard in a Nintendo title. Whether you want to race or battle, you can play against friends or even join up in Team Battle online or offline, handheld or on TV screen. This should not be missed by anyone.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Smash Bros. is as flexible as Mario Kart when it comes to the number of ways you can play the game. You can join up with a friend in Classic Mode co-op and take out CPU enemies together. You can also join up with a friend online, or offline, for some doubles action (2v2). You can even play offline with a group of friends and enjoy some Squad-Strike as teams or using multiple characters. Plus you can also try Home-Run Contest when you want a slight change of pace.

Whether you’re teaming up or competing against your friends, items on or off, the fun never ends with Smash Bros. It’s hard to keep track of the time and makes for the ultimate party experience.

Sephiroth Invades Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The One-Winged Angel

This past week, The Game Awards hosted the latest character reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The opening trailer showed World of Light villain, the angelic Galeem, about to vaporize the cast. In an instant, a flash of light streaks across the creature, slicing it in two with a single swipe.

As soon as his figure appears where Galeem once appeared, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII plays. The familiar boss theme from Final Fantasy VII kicks in as the camera pans to the powerful swordsman who confronts the Smash cast and declares war on its fighters, especially one Cloud Strife.

Who is Sephiroth?

Sephiroth is the main villain of Final Fantasy VII. Formerly once considered the strongest SOLDIER alive, he became corrupt and chose instead to expunge the world. This powerful fighter was infused with the cells of the alien being, Jenova, giving him his incredible strength. However, upon learning the truth of Jenova in the library of Nibelheim, he went mad and sought a new path. Rather than fight as a hero, he chose to fulfill his role as Jenova’s heir and absorb the Planet’s Mako to attain godhood.

Sephiroth is intertwined with Cloud as an adversary. Sephiroth burned down Nibelheim, Cloud’s hometown, and in doing so, killed his mother and wounded his best friend, Tifa Lockheart. Cloud suffered an accident prior to Final Fantasy VII leaving his mind in a hazy state and, thus, prone to seizures. Oftentimes these came from Sephiroth tormenting him from within.

Even after Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth continues to torment Cloud. Most notably includes his appearance in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the movie sequel to the game, where he appears once again to battle his rival. Sephiroth has also squared off against Cloud’s friend and SOLDIER predecessor, Zack Fair, in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

Why is Sephiroth so important?

Final Fantasy VII left a supernova impact on the gaming scene. It was a revolutionary 3D Japanese RPG, for PlayStation, which released in 1997. The title featured exceptional CGI visuals and over 40 hours of gameplay across 3 discs. It was considered a masterpiece of its time and offered players a fantastic soundtrack, a memorable cast, and a story that would follow them for decades.

Sephiroth, being the main villain, quickly gained popularity for his strength and handsome looks. His exceptional sword prowess made him an extremely dangerous foe. This became apparent in titles, such as Kingdom Hearts, where he appears as a superboss who can end Sora in a single hit. In addition to Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth has also appeared in the fighting game spin-off, Dissidia: Final Fantasy.

Not only can Sephiroth wield his amazingly long Masamune katana with exceptional ease but he is also a capable practitioner of powerful black magic. Heartless Angel can instantly kill a character or reduce their HP to 1. He can also use attacks like Shadow Flare to deal heavy damage. His ultimate move, Supernova, deals heavy damage and can kill the opponent.

Sephiroth’s impact echoes Cloud’s impact in Super Smash Bros. 4 when his trailer was revealed five years ago. Both are iconic Final Fantasy characters and, through the course of over two decades and various series, Cloud and Sephiroth are destined to clash once again. This also adds to the relatively small pool of villains in the game as well.

Analyzing the Trailer

Galeem was the powerful angelic being who started World of Light by vaporizing everyone in the Smash Bros. universe with the exception of Kirby. This powerful foe was later fought twice in the World of Light storyline. Thought to be some kind of powerful angel, Sephiroth could simply one-shot the being and end its life in an instant. This speaks echoes for the kind of power Sephiroth wields which runs in line with his power in the story.

You could sum up his entrance like this.

The trailer makes allusions to several scenes in Final Fantasy VII. Cloud confronts him as Sephiroth says he shall “give Smash despair” while conjuring storm clouds. This is the first of several references to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

After his splash screen appears, Sephiroth is shown in flames and in the Ganon boss stage. This is a reference to the iconic scene where he burns down Nibelheim.

The trailer introduces a new stage, The Planet’s Core, the final dungeon in Final Fantasy VII. This is where Jenova is fought one last time before the final battle with Sephiroth. This was also the Final Fantasy VII stage in Dissidia.

Sephiroth is scene entering a dark portal as well as attempting to downward-stab Zelda. This is in reference to a particular scene at the end of FF7’s Disc 1. However, this is not the first time series creator, Masahiro Sakurai has had fun referencing this little scene.

One of the Challenge screenshots unlocked in the game.

Sephiroth appears on Termina Great Bay watching the Moon fall. This references Meteor which he summons to destroy the Planet. It also shows renders of him overpowering much of the Smash roster to include the powerful Umbra Witch, Bayonetta, who’s thought to be the strongest Smash character. The trailer comes near its end when Sephiroth nearly impales a hapless Mario.

Afterward, Cloud and Sephiroth duel once more with Cloud gaining a new Final Smash: Omnislash Ver. 5. This is how he defeated Sephiroth in Advent Children and is also one of his techniques in Dissidia. Whether this means Cloud will get buffs or not is, of course, yet to be determined.

The trailer ends as Cloud and Sephiroth recite a quote from the end of their battle in Advent Children.

How Sephiroth will play in Smash Bros.

Sephiroth wields the Masamune which is an ultra-long katana. This alone will already give him more range than Shulk, the swordsman who wields the laser-blade Monado. At a first glance, it seems that Sephiroth should be a slower character with exceptional range. However, given Sephiroth’s history in Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, that will likely not be the case.

His range will accompany almost certainly off-the-charts speed and strength. He uses magic attacks such as the previously mentioned Heartless Angel and appears to use a Counter as well. Sephiroth also demonstrated a form change where he will grow a singular wing. How this will affect his moveset remains to be seen.

There’s no telling what else he’s capable of. The trailer already showed him using a wall-cling with his sword which will add to his recovery abilities. In Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth was shown to be an exceptionally agile and powerful warrior. Plus, with his dense muscle, it’s entirely likely he will be a heavyweight character who can take a beating.

On that note, Sephiroth ends the trailer by transforming into Safer Sephiroth. In this form, he fought Cloud and his party in one last battle in Final Fantasy VII. Here, he unleashed his ultimate move, Supernova.

Final Thoughts

As a sword user myself, I’m all about Sephiroth entering Smash. I beat Final Fantasy VII back in the day and I’ve always been a fan of the game and Cloud. I’ve kept up with Advent Children and Crisis Core and whooped Sephiroth in the first two Kingdom Hearts games. I’m quite familiar with this fighter and I expect him to be a massive threat to the competitive meta.

I main Ike and I’ve used Cloud a bit myself in Smash. While I don’t see myself maining Sephiroth, I’m eager to try him once he comes out. Sephiroth had the best reveal trailer of any character I’ve seen so far and he looks absolutely lethal. Smash needs a villain and Sephiroth will deliver.

With that being said, Sephiroth will release later this month in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakurai will reveal an in-depth look at the character on December 17th. Stay tuned with us at AllCoolThings as we give you the latest on Sephiroth’s next showcase.

As always, make sure to hit up our social media links below to keep up with the latest for your gaming needs. Take care of yourselves this holiday season and enjoy this bonus video!

What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

Welcome to the newest column for All Cool Things. I’m starting a new column blog where I discuss what I’m clearing off my backlog every week! If you find something you’re playing on our list, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

I’m no pro at Tekken. I love the character design, music, and gameplay. But I’ve never really played it competitively.

However, I live in a part of Georgia that plays it heavily. It’s one of our top 3 fighting games along with Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball FighterZ. I managed to host a 10-player tournament once but I didn’t compete in it.

Despite that, I’m on a Trophy run right now. I hate admitting that I play a fighting game casually. But I’m trying to finish collecting Trophies. I’ve done all the single-player mode achievements. The 3 Special Battles one was detestably long and random.

The only Trophies I have left are the 1 Ranked Match, 10 Ranked Matches, and win a tournament battle. I main Miguel and he’s the only one I play. I’m vaguely familiar with his style yet I haven’t even incorporated Savage Stance into it yet. Despite being new to the competitive meta, I’ve already managed to send one ragequitter packing.

Did I mention I met Katsuhiro Harada, creator of Tekken, at Final Round 2016?

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Even though it came out in 2007 for PS2, I always wanted to play this game. I loved Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown for PS3. Ever since I played Dragon’s Crown, I’ve become a huge fan of George Kamitami’s work.

Right now I’m still only on the Valkyrie story. I love hearing all the familiar voices from the games I recently played. It might be because both Persona and Odin Sphere are developed and published by Atlus that these games share voice actors.

This game still looks beautiful as heck. Even with the remastered visuals, though, I can still tell this is a PS2 title by the mouth movement animations. That’s not a bad thing by any means.

Moreover, I can tell how much Odin Sphere influenced Dust: An Elysian Tail which is one of my favorite indie games. The hand-drawn style and 2D beat ’em up gameplay both showcase similarities between the two.

Once I beat Odin Sphere, I plan to jump onto Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita. I had the Wii version but sold it shortly after I played it. But now I can try the definitive version of Muramasa before Atlus’ next game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes out.

On that note, it makes me wish Princess Crown got localized.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

As always, I’m playing Smash. I don’t get how I can’t let this game go. Even though everyone hates online mode – and rightfully so – I can’t seem to stop logging onto Elite Smash, play a few rounds, and call it a day.

Who I’m currently playing as online.

Despite everyone’s online complaints, Nintendo did manage to patch the game’s online. However, this was honestly too vague to decipher what they meant by patching the online experience. We know it isn’t rollback netcode. But at the least, Nintendo also said they would continue patching the game’s online mode.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Did you know I enjoy gacha? Yeah, only this one and maybe a little bit of Dr. Mario World. Even as gorgeous as the Final Fantasy gacha titles look, I’m not allowing myself to get hooked on another one. That especially goes for spending any money on them.

I’m so far behind that I haven’t played much since the latest update. I’m probably missing out on a ton of orbs. Unfortunately, not only is the Pirate banner the only one that interests me, but I haven’t landed a solid 5-star in weeks now.

It’s demoralizing to the point I hardly care. Moreover, none of them give you the 40 summons + 1 free one. Why even introduce this feature if you’re not going to implement it every month? Good thing I didn’t subscribe to Feh Pass.

…Although I admit that my lazy self could also use those continuous auto-battle features. Not to mention I’ve been tempted to buy those beautiful Resplendent units.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Finally, after beating Persona 5 Royal, I’m ready to commit to another long game. I haven’t touched a Yakuza title since Yakuza Kiwami 2. I plan on beating this one before I move onto Judgment. Then I’ll start Yakuza Remastered Collection afterward.

I love Fist of the North Star. I finished the anime series before FotNS2. Yakuza is filled with references to the series so it doesn’t surprise me that RGG Studios would want to adapt Fist of the North Star into a game.

I’m only past the intro but it’s fun so far. It’s standard Yakuza side-quests and beat ’em up action with tons of violence. Plus I’m using the Kiryu skin. Interesting fact, Kiryu’s Japanese voice actor is also Kenshiro’s. It fits perfectly all things considered.

Well, that’s a wrap for my play log this week. Maybe one day I’ll finally get back to Dragon Quest IV. I would like to play the rest of the series.

In the meantime, what are you playing this week? Reply with your games in the comments below.

Rango’s Smash Column: Melee Gets Rollback Netcode and a Farewell Until Next Time!

As COVID has kept players in quarantine for over a quarter of the year, now, Smash tournaments have shown no sign of opening back up. As someone who doesn’t follow online tournaments, I’ve since felt my motivation deteriorating from playing Smash. Opting to clear games off my backlog, or even play fighting games with better netcode, I wanted to cover a few quick subjects in the Smash community before signing off.

Therefore, I want to address Super Smash Bros. Melee. Known for hosting a lasting tournament scene, for over 18 years, Melee is one of the greatest games of all time. Years after the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, series creator, Masahiro Sakurai, even admitted that Melee was his sharpest work.

The title took everything from SSB64 and magnified it considerably. The newly added Side B moves, the gorgeous character models, stage design, music, extra modes, and speedy gameplay charmed everyone who played it.

Melee Netplay Gets Rollback

The Smash community is no stranger to modding. Super Smash Bros. Brawl gained a second lease in competitive life thanks to mods such as Project M. However, perhaps the biggest mod to come from the Smash community since PM is Super Smash Bros. Melee’s rollback netcode.

Codenamed “Slippi” (likely named after the Star Fox character), this new mod allows Melee players to play using a vastly enhanced form of online netplay. You can learn more about it here.

In the past, we’ve stressed the importance of rollback netcode in competitive fighting games. We’ve listed some of the more prominent titles to feature rollback, such as Killer Instinct, and the difference it makes online. Plus, with Nintendo outright refusing to fix Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s atrocious online netcode, Smash fans are finally left with a proper alternative. In an era where players cannot compete in offline tournaments, this comes as a blessing to many.

Resource

In addition to the main site, you can also check on Reddit for a FAQ. u/Sugden_ breaks down several facets of Slippi including various modes, possibilities, and so forth. You can check the FAQ here.

If you’re skimming over the Reddit post, they’ve included a video on Slippi and Melee netplay. Make sure you view it here.

Last Words

Thanks again for coming to our Smash Column. I’m sure to be writing again when tournaments open up and I’m off competing in regionals and majors again. Until then, however, be sure to update your Smash copies on June 29th and enjoy Min-Min, the latest Smash DLC character.

I’ll keep the site updated with Smash articles. But they will not be a regular column again until offline tournaments come back. Until my motivation to play competitively returns, expect the occasional update regarding DLC characters.

Keep up with us as we provide you with more reviews, previews, and opinion pieces from your favorite games. Be sure to follow us on social media using the channels below!

Have you played Melee on Slippi? Let us know in the comments below.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Showcases its Latest DLC Character – Min-Min from ARMS.

Earlier today, Nintendo released a video detailing their latest character – Min-Min – for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Featured in a video showcase by Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, the presentation featured the character trailer as well as a brief tutorial and history of the character.

ARMS and Min-Min

ARMS is a 3D fighting game, developed by Nintendo, released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Released during the Switch’s launch year, Nintendo wanted to add a new IP to their latest console. ARMS takes cues from Nintendo’s classic series, Punch-Out!!, by positioning the camera behind the player and duking it out, with punches, face-to-face.

However, in ARMS, you use spring-loaded arms to extend your reach. These ARMs can be customized with various ways to deal damage, such as with elementals or multi-hitting attacks. You can play as a dozen different characters who use various, unique abilities to support their fighting style.

As with past DLC characters, Nintendo chose the character pick. However, Min-Min was chosen by the ARMS director, Kosuke Yabuki, and was a personal favorite pick from Sakurai as well. In ARMS, as well as Smash, she has a special Dragon arm, which fires heat beams, and can also use her strikes to reflect incoming attacks. With that said, be sure to check out the character’s official Smash page here.

Extra Info

Alongside the incoming update, Mr. Sakurai also revealed new Mii Fighter costumes including Vault Boy from Bethesda’s Fallout series. Mr. Sakurai also showcased an update for Spirits mode allowing you to rematch any Spirit you’ve faced before. Finally, players got their first look at upcoming amiibos including Joker (Persona 5) and Hero (Dragon Quest XI).

Impact on Smash

ARMS released its last update in 2018. Without much of a following in national fighting game tournaments, such as EVO and CEO, the game quickly declined in popularity. However, Nintendo recently announced that Fighters Pass 2 would feature an ARMS character. They followed this by announcing ARMS would be available to play as a free demo for Nintendo Switch Online users.

Given their continued support for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 online tournament, perhaps this means Nintendo seeks to once again make ARMS a supported stable series. In doing so, they will use Smash Bros. to capitulate the series’ popularity and reignite interest among Nintendo Switch owners once more.

Min-Min will be available for download, on June 29th, 2020, for $5.99. If you already own Fighters Pass 2, you will download her automatically. Min-Min also comes with a new stage – ARMS Arena – as well as a selection of music tracks from her home game.

We will keep you updated on the latest in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate info. Stay tuned with us for features on the upcoming DLC fighters as they’re announced. Finally, be sure to follow All Cool Things on our social media channels listed below.

Rango’s Smash Column: EVO Online Fighting Game Championship Will Not Include Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

EVO, the Evolution Fighting Game Championships, is an annual, worldwide fighting game tournament. The EVO Twitter account recently shared their trailer for the upcoming EVO Online tournament. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this will be the first time EVO will host an online tournament. However, one suspicious omission became the single most glaring point of contention on social media. Among the games featured, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was not included.

Super Smash Bros. has held a history in EVO for over a decade. This includes Melee, Brawl, Smash 4, and most recently, Smash Ultimate. However, this is the first time that the series will be omitted from the lineup. While Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was initially slated for EVO 2020’s offline tournament, the plans were scrapped following the COVID crisis. Unfortunately, the reason for Smash’s omission comes largely from its poor online netcode.

EVO 2020 would have featured Smash Bros. Ultimate at its offline tournament.

Recently, players began trending tags such as #FixUltimateOnline on Twitter. As a result of the global quarantine, the lack of offline tournaments pushed many top players to participate in Wi-Fi tournaments. Unfortunately, Smash Bros. Ultimate quickly became known for having some of the worst online in fighting game history. Even among other fighting games, Smash Bros. online mode is frowned upon. Hence, EVO chose not to host it this year.

While Mortal Kombat 11 was initially omitted from EVO 2020’s lineup, EVO Online will feature the title.

Positive Reception

Despite the game’s omission, however, many fans rejoiced at the decision. Some realized the game would lag considerably and not be fun to enter or even watch on stream. Others suggested they did not want a Sonic main to win the tournament.

Despite the confusion caused in the scene, and in the thread, many agreed that EVO made a good move. While other fighting games, including those featured, have notorious issues with netcode, none of them carry the reputation of Smash’s online. Unfortunately, the roster does not have a more games use rollback netcode. However, this step in the right direction may hopefully influence developers to implement it in their future titles.

How do you feel about Smash Bros. being dropped from EVO? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to follow our social media pages for more updates regarding EVO 2020.