By MKnightDH 7 Comments
I thought I'd X-post something from my Blogger, though with updated information. And it's about everybody's favorite controversial Kirby-bat. Because, yes, even though his moves are actually imbalanced with each other, I feel that he's actually balanced in a VERY likeable way.
Before I talk about Meta Knight as a fighter in Brawl, I have to talk about Meta Knight as a general character in his own games, because while Brawl canon isn't anything to stand by as far as the fighters' respective games go, that doesn't mean an understanding of the characters and their games can't help. Yes, Meta Knight as a general character will prove important to the points I am going to make.
Now who is Meta Knight? That's the question that tends to bite everybody's lips, but let's start with what we do know. First and most importantly, in Kirby's Adventure, Meta Knight has seemingly inconsistent behavior, throwing invincibility candy at Kirby to allow him to charge through enemies, but then he throws his mooks at Kirby apparently to have them kick his butt. After the last time he does the latter, he challenges Kirby to a sword duel. Notice how you're supposed to grab the sword? He left it there intentionally, and won't attack until you grab it. This makes it clear that he is an honorable fighter, who when defeated turns out to look like Kirby when his mask breaks apart. But what is his purpose? Not to stop Kirby, or else he wouldn't be giving Kirby invincibility candy. Not to give Kirby an easy time, or he wouldn't have Kirby fight him OR his mooks.
As it turns out, Kirby, turning out to be guilty of a Nice Job Breaking It Hero job--the first of many he manages to do throughout the series--ends up fighting an Eldritch Abomination called Nightmare, whom King Dedede had sealed with the only way to break him free via several MacGuffins that were naturally spread out, even if the method of sealing was ultimately inconvenient, which is why Kirby was trying to undo it in the first place, not realizing what had really happened. As it turns out, Kirby uses the Star Rod like a sword, albeit one that can fire projectiles, to beat Nightmare.
It is VERY easy to guess, if not outright clear, from this that Meta Knight was being a Stealth Mentor. And not only that, there's the likelihood that he KNEW Kirby would inadvertently free Nightmare. By making himself a guard for one of the MacGuffins, Kirby either couldn't do so, or he would first have proven himself competent enough to hope to take on the monster. In one move, Meta Knight makes IMMENSE progress in a Xanatos Gambit designed to dismantle the real bad guy, and one even designed with hopes of a best case scenario. Further moves, either by keeping Kirby alive or testing him, only serve to bolster it. There are people who like Meta Knight in general, but Kirby's Adventure is his Crowning Moment of Awesome, an impressive feat for an NES game AND the first game where he appears in.
But what about other games? Well, whether he is hero or villain depends on the game, but his location on the morality scale is always in the same area. The only game where he's an outright bad guy is Revenge of Meta Knight in Kirby Super Star, where he definitely wants Kirby dead once things get really out of hand as well as wanting to take over Dream Land, but even then, he turns out to be the same Worthy Opponent that you see in KA, as well as a Father to His Men. And his motive for the Dream Land takeover is because he finds the denizen overly lazy. Killing Kirby? Actually, I don't think he wanted to at first, just when Kirby doomed the Halberd. Whatever, it's not like RoMK is necessarily canon anyway.
As for the anime, I haven't paid much attention to it, but from what I have heard, Meta Knight is a more blatant Stealth Mentor to Kirby there. And the bad guy is Nightmare from KA. So there are parallels to KA, but none of the MacGuffin business, so Meta Knight doesn't get to send Nightmare's threat value to bearable levels in a single move. Of course, I believe that's fine by the Dream Land paragon, who still has loyal followers, high skill, ability to strategize, and Stealth Mentor faith in Kirby to work with.
But if he is such a paragon, why doesn't he just curbstomp the bad guys himself rather than just train up Kirby? (Meta Knightmare Ultra aside, that's even less canon than RoMK.) It's not like Meta Knight needs to care about any "chosen one" business without good reason. Well, somebody like Meta Knight would likely understand one thing clearly: Power at a Price. Meta Knight, from what I'm guessing, realizes that he's a Fragile Speedster and figures that the bad guys will abuse hyper accuracy on him to prove themselves outside his weight class, so he would need to train up Kirby to be able to combat them. Proof that he's a Fragile Speedster? Kirby can outlast him in RoMK, and doing so in KA, albeit by being smart, is the main key to defeating him there too. And please note what I just said there, because that's actually important. Kirby's Epic Yarn? I haven't played that, but from what little I saw, apparently Meta Knight was controlled, so the bad guys ultimately prove powerful if that is anything to go by. And let me talk about something: I played Kirby Wii at Comic-Con. Some kid came on and chose Meta Knight, and proceeded to corner camp Whispy Woods using a completely safe location to keep attacking. Now this might be an oversight on the programmers' part, but we're talking about Whispy Woods. I would not be surprised if later bosses turn out to have good enough AA attacks to force the Meta Knight player to be diligent, considering they were good enough to punish me in KDL2 when I was a flying-crazy kid who had seen that Kirby was able to fly. Meanwhile, the Meta Knight kid's DPS was proving to be not so impressive. Bear in mind that IIRC I was playing as Kirby himself, probably trying one of my solo runs, not King Dedede, who I generally kept picking when other players were on the system.
Kirby's Epic Return to Dream Land, by the way, has been out for a few months as of the update, so I can confirm that while Shuttle Loop and Spin Attack have excessive attack power, Meta Knight in general doesn't, and bosses have things like background attacks to survive more easily, making power more important and speed not as useful.
Well, I think that's enough talk about Meta Knight's character. To sum it up, he's the Dream Land paragon, a Worthy Opponent, and occasionally a Stealth Mentor. How does this fit into how he fights in Brawl?
Well, as we know, Meta Knight is a combination of Fragile Speedster and Melee Tornado. We can compare him to Marth and Sonic. Marth has range, and makes such nasty use of it that the mere existence of Counter makes him powerful against anybody who can't grab well enough. Sonic has immense movement speed, though his good KB moves are ironically slow. Meta Knight? Well, he gets high priority to break through most attacks, as well as all of his B moves providing high approach potential to compliment his Melee Tornado status. And he's somewhat of a Glass Cannon in that he has a very strong recovery that allows him to try to kill opponents early but he's light enough that he can be killed outright. This makes him seem broken, but is he really broken?
Well, his moves are actually imbalanced with each other (excessively slow Down B VS somewhat fast Neutral B (AND YES I SAID FAST), painfully slow Forward Smash VS annoyingly fast Down Smash), but aside from that bit of Fake Balance, perhaps even with that, Meta Knight ultimately has no outstanding strengths against tanking players at the end of the day. The only thing the high priority does is make sure you can't mindlessly clash him, which makes such perfect sense against somebody like Meta Knight. Really, he doesn't have enough range or general power to make anybody generally helpless. So why is he considered broken?
Well, take a good, close look at what is not only allowed but encouraged in tournaments. Chain-grabs, infinites as a whole (must stop at 300%, like that makes a big difference), Falco's laser lock, edgehogging, planking and scrooging, C-sticking, you get the idea. Notice something? All of these make the first strike and/or speed overly important. Chain-grabs and infinites render the whole idea of the percentage moot. So does Falco's laser lock. Edgehogging makes sure that you can't recover. Planking and scrooging can be done to time out a match with a ridiculously safe tactic which by the way you're expected to do in order to handle Cruel Brawl. And C-sticking is done to make sure you get the first hit. Both players do it and the Difficult but Awesome moves suddenly become an effortless joke to do, for the fact that they're supposed to be not so easy to prevent evasion wars.
Naturally, Meta Knight's small size and maneuverability means that the first 3 don't do much to him simply because hitting him first isn't plausible. Edgehogging is also moot because of his recovery. Planking and scrooging are things he himself can do to higher efficiency. And C-Sticking means he can do stupid stuff like effortless forward airs more easily while throwing off the opponent's, spiking the value of his priority.
Clearly, Meta Knight laughs at the cheap stuff. Seems broken, right? Well, guess what? Tournament players are ultimately not creative enough, making them a clear-cut antithesis to SSB in general. Don't believe me? I have heard from a reliable source that Ice Climbers rely PURELY ON THE DEATHGRAB. Yes, that's right, they try to force a freaking grab. They rely so much on a stupid gimmick that they even ignore any possibilities that could come up from the fact that Icies is a 2-in-1 character capable of doing things like shutting down grab attempts on them, and when they can't work with the gimmick, they are defenseless like any old Unskilled but Strong person when their strengths can't be abused.
Yes, the tournament players do not care about trying out creative ideas and instead jump to trying to do one thing and one thing alone. Infinites are cringeworthy because they tend to start with ONE move connecting, when other moves can instead be used to make said move impossible to predict. Yet people try to use them as if the other moves don't exist. Never mind that Icies are supposed to work with versatility to begin with. Seriously, there's two of them, make use of the mere fact that there is, not try to grab the opponent.
Which brings me to how you're supposed to deal with Meta Knight: PLAY TO YOUR CHARACTER'S STRENGTHS. At the end of the day, TANKING SMART is a critical skill to dealing with Meta Knight because of his high ability to hit you, and thus you would want to be able to counterattack. An ability which I did not know was advanced....wait, what? But the key to making Meta Knight bow before you would be to push on critical advantages and keep Meta Knight from doing the same to you. And if he has to fight somebody who can manage good endurance combined with a blood price on every inch any opponent manages, he will have problems. Need some examples?
Well, Icies can just use their numbers advantage to keep Meta Knight from doing any effective grabs, and they can outrange him with the Down B as well as punish the Tornado with the down-air. Pikachu (and Sonic by extension) just plain outspeeds Meta Knight while making use of their net attack advantage. (Sonic doesn't have a considerable net attack advantage in the matchup, but it's still there and it's bolstered better by speed advantage.) Link not only has his projectiles but several ways to knock Meta Knight away and even counterattack, ESPECIALLY if Meta Knight even THINKS of using the tornado. (Bombs, Neutral Air, coordinated Forward Smash, well-placed Down Air, and there's probably still more.) If Meta Knight wants to use the Jab to keep Link from using his grounded Up B, Link will just Hookshot and laugh. And Kirby....good heavens Kirby. He can use Meta Knight's own tactics against him. Oh the irony. Down tilt gets past the jab, Stone is an option that easly protects him from juggling with the added bonus that Meta Knight trying to juggle Kirby could just as easily suffer an early Star KO, and Kirby can easily hit-and-run Meta Knight. So what if Meta Knight is faster, the whole thing is a maneuver war and Kirby has a net attack advantage. That itself is mitigated, but so is Meta Knight's speed edge.
All in all, Meta Knight may very well be intended to be a failsafe to make sure players have a proper understanding of their characters. None of this infinites garbage, but actually knowing how to play the characters themselves and showing some actual effort. Just like in Kirby's Adventure, this screams CMOA on his part in the manner that if you beat him soundly enough, you prove yourself worthy.
(A shame that's debatable at best with characters like Wario, Falco, and Marth, who manage to be at least overpowered all the same.)