Hi, guys. I thought I'd make a blog post about the recently released Kid Icarus Uprising. I will talk about the Mighty Glacier weapon types that are cannons and clubs. Staves, they're long range weapons, they wouldn't be a worry about being underpowered--if anything, overpowered is a possibility. Bear in mind that this will be about my experiences. And I don't claim to be the best player out there, but I can be sure I'm good enough to analyze the balance well.
Game Developer's Conference
While my first experience with the game was at Comic Con, it was limited to single player, so I got bothered by the shoddy controls. Kirby's Return to Dream Land definitely impressed me more, as did Skyward Sword to an extent. (Skyward Sword, I even beat Ghirahim, heh.)
Anyway, I heard about the Game Developer's Conference at the Moscone Center, and I decided to go there. I had hoped to find a way to get a job as a game balancer, preferably under Kuju Entertainment, the makers of Battalion Wars, but no luck in that regard. However, I did get involved in the Kid Icarus Uprising multiplayer. And as it turned out, despite the control issues still existing, it was a blast. When I first started, I went through the weapons a bit before seeing a Skyscraper Club with +1 Melee Defense. I chose that, as I'm a defense-minded player because it allows me to live through abuse and stay in the game, but it is beneficial to me for checking out game balance better since I can review tactics better, and what helped influence my decision was a weapon just before that seemed to have good stats otherwise but had a Status Resistance -2 mod that turned me off immediately.
At first, I did poorly, thinking my team was losing in the first match when the opponent's Pit was out because I had been KOed, us only winning that match by timeout decision, and us outright losing the second match. But I picked up soon enough, as I realized well enough that clubs were Melee Tornados, just like Flame Vets in Battalion Wars. As a result, I figured to use defilade to considerably cut damage from the high amount of projectiles that the game would no doubt have. Once I got rolling, especially when I saw the power system and the Super Armor power with it, I found that anybody I ever got close to with the club was guaranteed to die, thanks to the club's blatant net attack edge and the apparent difficulty in breaking melee combat. And yes, Mighty Glaciers are at least actually more usable than the likes of Bowser in the SSB series.
When I had club play understood like that, I decided to use a few other weapons. I started off poorly with bows and claws but ultimately did okay. I then chose a Fireworks Cannon just as a female newbie sat in the stand next to me, which had me worried because I wasn't sure I'd be using a weapon type synergetic to my playstyle. I was right to worry, because the Fireworks Cannon ended up making me a walking target. Range combat did nothing to help because the shots were slow, allowing a claw user to get close to me repeatedly and rip me to shreds. What didn't help was the lack of available Super Armor on the power set to prevent lolkb shenanigans that still existed, if not as bad as in SSB because at least you can fight them off well with Super Armor, so I ended up wanting to have Super Armor as a staple power, so that I wouldn't worry about being such an easy target for Fragile Speedsters. And yes, unconditional flinching bugs me in Super Smash Bros. Same with traditional fighting games, but those just plain have mobility and learning problems that turn me off from them.
So I went back to the Skyscraper set, especially helped by the power set's Super Armor being at L2 for 2 uses. Sadly, I lost the next 3 matches too, I don't know what was to blame, but while I later suspect either stage problems or Petrify shenanigans at work, at the time, it was suggestion that clubs aren't all powerful, though still definitely able to function, since I won every match after that. One match, I had the idea of dying intentionally to become Pit and give the opposing team incredible grief in getting the angel KO via survival skill abuse, and while I didn't remember to bother with the idea, I still became the angel and proceeded to hide in a corner while my other teammates handled the opposing Pit. Somebody came by and actually fought through my camping, but by then, it was too late, the opposing Pit was soon KOed first.
But the most impressive victory was the one in the final match before the place closed. I managed to be on for it, getting a stand next to some charismatic chap. At first, my team took a serious beating, I don't know how we ended up having the worse-off starting momentum but I feel I was doing sub-optimally. This ultimately resulted in our Pit coming out first, and I was not the one to be Pit, which annoyed me at first, but the guy next to me made it clear he was Pit. His wariness was a blessing in disguise because I at least had picked up by then, and we got the KOs needed to force the opposing Pit to come out before he could take anything bothersome. Of course, comebacks aren't that simple, as our Pit player came under attack, I suspect from a claw user given how things turned out. I searched for him immediately to defend him and managed to smash the responsible opponent in an ambush, leaving him helpless in a 2-on-1 melee matchup, one of the two definitely being a clubbie while the lone opponent was probably a Fragile Speedster. However, just as we KOed him, we got pincer attacked by the other two opponents, which thanks to the beating that the Pit teammate took ensured that the match was not lasting past this skirmish. Luckily, this ended up being a fatal mistake for them, because the way the terrain was set up, the opposing Pit could be attacked up close from terrain that would cover against back attacks, seriously weakening the third player's ability to do anything. Even without that, the opposing Pit was already weakened enough too that me and the Pit player double teaming him resulted in my teammate getting the KO for game, set, match.
With that, my GDC win-loss record was at 19-8. Off topic, but I also played the Mario Tennis game a bit during one of my waiting periods, but not my style. Don't get me wrong, I haven't found problems with the game itself, I simply don't understand how the moves work out there. I'm still open to play, but you might want to help me learn what the moves do.
Waiting for the game
With that victory, the guy and I chatted a bit in celebration. I provided my email address to let him contact me later. Alas, no response, I don't know what happened. Then again, he did ask if I was coming to the Los Angeles tournament, which I couldn't because of reasons beyond my control. Not that I'd be sure of how well I'd place. Probably decently, thankfully, thanks to clubs being actually viable, but even then, I would probably have had to place stupid high to get a decent monetary prize that could make up for the expenses of going to a non-local tournament.
Nevertheless, that last win was immensely satisfying, especially considering that I typically play like a lone wolf to begin with. It has the added bonus of suggesting that good tactics could actually work in the game. Even my concern about clubs couldn't bog me down about the victory. Of course, that does bring up why clubs can be concerning. They are, after all, monstrous in melee combat thanks to net attack power being actually useful, and there's plenty to protect them from range attacks. And the mechanics only help them, as I'll indicate how with the following points:
*Decent mobility. This is actually likable for providing a good, fast pace, as well as a good standard for balance, but should be treated with caution. Even with minimal functioning mobility, Mighty Glaciers can provide surprising amount of trouble by using tactics to manage tempo. With everybody having decent mobility, cover hopping wasn't terribly hard, and it can easily take one mistake and the opponent will be taking punishment.
*The Power system. Now this can help speedsters too by allowing them to escape unwanted scenarios, but power-focused fighters benefit more because they can use it to provide so much chaos that the faster opponents will have trouble finding out what they're up to fast enough or else BAM, they're dead. Super Armor also prevents flinching from being unconditional, which was a problem in Super Smash Bros. because it can easily ruin approaches and it only serves to help faster players as a result, never mind that they totally can't pull kiting headaches to begin with. Of course, the creativity is a good thing, just make sure that the speedsters can fight back too.
*Sweetspot KO rate. Typically, my teammates would survive a good amount of time. This allowed me to suddenly halt my advance if I needed to arrange powers to make sure I had them ready to help me "tornado" the opponent as it were, since I could still make it to the skirmish in time to do my job. This means, then, that an attrition war would be a HORRIBLE idea at the sign of so much as a single decent club user. Especially when clubs punish clumps to begin with thanks to high reach attacks.
As a result of this, it was worth warning people to learn how to combat clubs. It's actually worth having net attack advantages actually work, but useless power at least still wasn't devoid of strategy. It simply has stupidly stagnant strategy because the counter to somebody who hits more easily is being able to use a power advantage to throw off those hits. Useless speed has the problem that there is simply no incentive to care about trying to be faster. Now body traits are shallow to care about compared to mind traits (the problem with useless power), but it makes body training a joke to bother with, and there becomes no reason to strategize, whoever is more powerful wins, simple as that. Just don't get me wrong, BOTH are bad.
Later, I heard that club users did poorly at the LA tournament. Now that would suggest that clubs are bad, but the problem is, there are idiots who think that isn't a problem and that they only ever need power to do well. Clubs require creativity to do well, or else they'll hit nothing and like it. Of course, if you can find a way to make a useful club set that doesn't require Super Armor or Lightweight whatsoever, and I mean one that actually addresses potential problems like kiting well, props to you.
Game is out, time to play
So I get the game, and while the singleplayer doesn't impress me as much as that of Kirby's Epic Return to Dream Land did (which by the way says a LOT about that game, making an unfocused feature GOOD), it held up nicely. If only the levels were a little shorter. And I don't mean just Chapter 19.
A certain later character: Spoiler alert!
Don't push it, guy. I like your little Easter Egg, it's pretty awesome. But it's not like mentioning a chapter number reveals THAT much.
Okay, so the story does at least prove to be solid. Although I have definite issues with a certain arc, which occurs right before a Wham Chapter. Want details, you can talk to me privately on IM or in a chat room, it involves spoilers.
Actually, now that I think about it, the levels just need to be better handled. K(E)RtDL had lengthy levels, but handled them well enough. KIU, it gets obnoxious because you typically get tired and thus unable to move when you do. It gets old fast, and makes me wish the stamina system was handled better. Like show the meter for God's sake, Skyward Sword did that. Better yet, just punish movement when tired, not stop it altogether. Battalion Wars 2 basically did that with subs' diving, having them take gradual damage if they stayed underwater with empty oxygen meters.
Enough about the singleplayer, the multiplayer had shown no blatant signs of imbalance early on. Yes, there are powers like Brief Invincibility, but they last too short to allow considerable damage to alert players. Meanwhile, my progress up the weapon mountain was going a little too well for my tastes.
However, soon enough, I kept getting abused by Petrify Attack making me an easy target. I had Effect Recovery in my power set, but it proved not very useful because I still got killed too fast to use it to respond to sudden Petrify kicking in. The problem is, halved damage doesn't stop multiple people from attacking me, nor does it change the fact that it's typically claw users abusing the bloody thing in the first place to combo me into oblivion. This for only 6 spaces, but the inherent effect by itself is a problem that should have been addressed better.
This had me discouraged until I remembered talk about something called "Aries Armor", which I proceeded to try to get, and see if it could do something about status issues. Sure enough, it does...kind of. The game says it provides status immunity, but it's actually lying there. However, the status resistance it does provide was good enough to consider worth keeping. It wasn't foolproof, but it was better than nothing. And while I couldn't beat Vhex, a good player who knows his definite share of KIU multiplayer, I could beat some of his weaker setups on Desert Tomb at least.
The Range 1HK problem
Meanwhile, people were trying to find ways to deal as much damage as they can do with their weapon stars. That honestly would make me surprised if a certain part of their bodies WASN'T small, even if they would say otherwise. They need to deal that much damage, why exactly? *sigh* I mean sure, I'll hide behind defense, but at least I'll use it gladly to get up close to opponents, rather than snipe people with invisible shots like people say is the best use for clubs. Honestly debatable, a cowardly method, and potentially can be punished anyway. At least stat boosts keep me alive against smarter opponents. Okay, so maybe I'm a coward, but never let it be said I'm an idiot. *cut to my BW2 LP intro, where I call myself an idiot*
Now this has to do with what I was planning to test now: cannons. Cannons get regarded as underpowered, just like Link gets regarded as such in SSB, never mind that his par at worst stats are just plain gimped by the messed up environment of "don't get hit" being an overly dominant strategy to the point of preventing development of anything that could be reasonable against the likes of Meta Knight. Now my experiences with the Fireworks Cannon at GDC was bad, but I'm sure there would be something I could do, since I no longer had official sponsor limitations to hold me down, let alone put on Homing Shot, a natural staple for cannons without higher homing. So I made a power set around countering claws, because I'd be sure they could subvert claws if done correctly.
I play with a Ball Cannon a bit, find out that cannons don't have to worry about being kited like clubs can. And anti-claw results weren't too bad as long as I could use chokepoints. However, problems occurred when I suddenly kept being killed stupidly quickly. Thanks to my actually bad mobility when using a cannon, I can't cover hop as fast, making me an open target in the middle of doing so. This makes it clear that slower targets suffer from more opportunities for range fire opponents to hit them.
Of course, now I had to plan around the range combatants too. But anything I tried either was insufficient or backfired. Cannons simply didn't deal much damage, which in a 1HK-heavy environment was fatal.
So I got annoyed, and pretty much agreed with most other players that cannons did indeed suck. Clubs at least could fight off claws without too much power devotion to it, so they could easily afford to use Lightweight to hunt down distance pests. Cannons had to put too much effort to deal with both claws AND distance specialists. Was there a way to redeem them?
One day, when I was checking out the shop, I saw a Skyscraper Club available for 52,200 Hearts. What caught my attention immediately was the +7 Overall DEF and +6 Health combination, compared to my 290 which had +4 Overall DEF. I wanted to buy it, and ended up selling a number of weapons because I didn't have enough Hearts to buy it on the spot otherwise.
This purchase proved to be VERY beneficial, definitely worth the weapons I sold. Both for personal combat reasons and analysis.
Now the defense is a given, the attack stars are, if slightly, better than those on my 290, but the most important thing is the Value. The club in question has a LOWER value than the 290 Value. Sure, not by much, at 288, but then this brings up something: Value only matters if I die. Club users are inherent close-range combatants, so they want more defense. But more importantly, because they're STILL not immune to being killed, just avoiding increased Value keeps them from gimping the team if they STILL get ripped to shreds. Sure the offense is rather ho-hum for Value, but I can't complain when I can use powers to bolster that defense to scary heights, rather than care about something that can end up wasted by me getting killed by kiting.
In short, clubs want Value Efficiency.
I field-tested the club a bit, the defense didn't disappoint, and I realized that Effect Recovery can be used effectively now to allow for plain Super Armor usage over Aries Armor usage and consequently more room for another power being at a higher level.
The club weapon type was thus solved well enough for me now, but cannons I hadn't investigated. Now I had an idea on focusing on good traits rather than caring about Value, because cannons would want to fight most weapon types at their bad range to begin with, but I got lax about trying to make such a cannon until when I talked to dabuz on the Sky Kings chat because I wanted to match against him, and suddenly he was talking about +8 Overall DEF being very useful for surviving the 1HK land. I didn't even have to realize it was a Halo Club, which I don't like because of its meager 50 Club Melee Strength when clubs want to melee well. Just combine the usefulness of the high defense with the fact that earlier the same day a Japanese player kited my uber defense club earlier.
Here's a useful stat triangle to remember: Power > Speed > Range > Power.
As a result, I searched for a way to make a good Ball Cannon, and ended up fusing for one. I only managed to get +7 Overall DEF on it, without a Health boost I would have liked (+5, I recall), but it proved to be sufficient. As it turns out, cannons just need to shut out range 1HKs. I figured they would want to get opponents in their unpreferred range. And now that I had a cannon that could avoid being crippled by distance specialists, I could better focus my powers to stop speed attacks, like from claw users.
This cannon still has to be backed by tactics, but the important thing is that it manages well with an inefficient power set I would like to improve on. As a result, cannons have a very high chance of redemption, thanks in no small part to defense boosts. And the moment they can subvert claws reliably enough will be the moment the balance will be cemented as good, just for Mighty Glaciers being able to function without being broken. If dabuz's own cannon setup works nicely too, that would really help, since it's much more offense-oriented than mine.