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Fresh outta college, one of those stereotypical, bumbling jobless "journalists" wanting to become a "vidya gaems jarnalist". And so the hunt for a job he likes begins! And no, he's not going back to school to become a pharmacist technician, like his mom nags him to be.

I also have a YouTube channel (above image). Self-taught video editing! I'm still unemployed you know, potential hirers!

~ Favorite games
- Red Dead Redemption
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Psychonauts
- Mass Effect 2
- Yoshi's Island
- Pokemon
- Monday Night Combat
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Super Mario World

Also, twitter

Introduction post

10 things about me

Another goddamn 10 things about Strider

~Front Paged
- Downloadables: Every night is Monday Night Combat!
- eSports: Someone you know is hype
- Relaxation: Secretly training
- I calls dibs on Gaige!
- Let's explore space! My top 10 space games

~FAP Approved!
- A discussion about Catherine with my girlfriend
- So I applied for an internship at X-Play...
- Being Social: Cal State Long Beach's Gaming Club
- Persona 4: Ultimate and 4 other fighting games you probably don't know
- A new return to 3rd Strike Online part 1: Picking a main
- Top 6 somewhat natural disasters in gaming
- Villains: For me my dear, it was merely a Tuesday
- Let's talk about Phoenix Wright and Nova in UMvC3
- How I gave my girlfriend Tetris DS and loved every minute of it
- Let's talk about Rocket Raccoon and Frank West in UMvC3
- Xenophilia: The Universal Language of Mecha
- Asura's Wrath might get panned and I'm ok with that
- Acquisition: Solid Snake signed your what?
- A Valentine's Day reflection: two great loves
- Skullgirls and the art of combos
- 6 reasons why you should check out Legend of Korra
- Today, I thought about oversexualization
- Hype: Japan Time
- Objection! The story of an impossible gift for that special someone
- Cultural identity and Sleeping Dogs
- Finn and Flame Princess' big Disney Adventure Picspam
- FTL: Recovered diaries from a derelict spaceship
- Retaliation: Your guide to fighting the Collectors
-Handsome Jack, the father, the hero, the asshole
- Before StriderHoang, there was Marcel Hoang
- Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! You're not all that mathmatical
- Ralph wrecked his way into my heart
- The sixth generation wishlist from five time Pokemon Champion, Marcel
- Strider's big, fat, ride through 2012
- Being the best predator you can be
- The Striderhoang series Dtoid Trading Card Roundup
- Strider's top 10 Kirby powers

~Friday Night Fight Replays!
- 09/02/11
- 09/09/11
- 09/23/11
- 09/30/11
- 02/07/12
- 02/12/12

~The Write Stuff! Get to writing!
- 06/30 - The Beginning!
- 07/06 - Line breaks
- 07/13 - Tone
- 07/20 - Commas
- 08/06 - Balance
- 09/03 - Crossposting
- Write Stuff of September - Pride

~ The Cblog Fapcast!
- XCOM or bust!
- The show must Smurf on!
- ScottyG is on the line
- Hobo extraordinaire, Manchild
- The sorry game
- Girlfriend caps
- #1ReasonHow
- Holiday Revengeance
- My Hairy, Downstairs Fapcast
- bbreaking nnews
- Strider alone
- Oh the Injustice!

Also, check me out on Bitmob!
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There are many characters who go down in the annals of history for their infamy. Fox is constantly top tier for his speed, Jigglypuff floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, and Pikachu has Thunder. Now, Little Mac comes along for being a grounded powerhouse, Bowser will be remembered as a revamped monster, and Mega Man may be remembered as the hero we never expected. But nobody ever mentions Diddy Kong. Of course, Diddy Kong went down in infamy amongst my friends for how brutally effecient and annoying I was with the little Kong.

Diddy Kong is the lighter and faster of the two Kongs. While he certainly struggles with kill moves, he certainly belongs in the same weight and speed class as Fox and relies on damage just like him before scoring the crucial kill. I've made a lot of enemies of my friends with the way Diddy Kong can play to win. I bet you've never thought you'd see serious keepaway in a Smash game but relentless banana peels beg to differ. Unfortunately/fortunately for everyone, while his banana peels have been toned down, Based Sakurai boosted Diddy Kong in other places to compensate. And for me, Diddy Kong's fighting style is perfectly captured by his animal instincts: annoy your opponent with a tricky fighting style until they lose their concentration and prey off their lost composure.

He doesn't give a fuck about your rules
Want to play three stock, Final Destination, no items? Well too fucking bad, you're going to see items because Diddy's got bananas. Glad to see tripping gone in Smash 4? You'll be re-acquainted with it when Diddy's concerned because you're still in for a slip and slide against him. Good at space control and approach game? Sorry pal because a banana peel on the ground means it's Diddy Kong's ground.

Diddy's banana game got limited to one banana at a time which disappears after a use but that doesn't make it any less useful. I've littered stages with bananas and tossed around opponents who couldn't stop slipping on my bananas. It doesn't change the fact that you're helpless for an astounding amount of time after a banana slip. And Diddy's increase in range and power means he only needs one banana to truly capitalize.

As you can see, bananas are both a vital part of your nutrition and a big part of your ass whooping.

He knows monkey kung fu
Animal instincts are one thing, but base combat only gets you so far. Donkey Kong is a brawler who recognizes the value of twisting your arm into a circle several times is the secret to unleashing a power strike that is multiplied by a factor of three. Or that if you spin with your arms outstretched fast enough, you'll gain horizontal midair distance. Diddy Kong does what most would expect and borrows Chinese martial arts which was already inspired by his species.

A tail flailing whip, a low leg sweep, an aerial dropkick, a body flipping leg/foot/fist attack, and even a double fist kung fu punch.

It's interesting to note that not only can you find some cool movies based around monkey kung fu (I ain't making this shit up. Try googling Iron Monkey) but Diddy Kong received more substantial buffs than simply attack X does more damage. The animators made a conscious effort to enhance Diddy's cartoonish characteristics, to the point where his body and limbs elastically stretch when used. The end result is that Diddy Kong has even more range than physically possible because he fucking knows kung fu dammit.

He has one of the best dash attacks in the game
Dash attacks are easy to use and abuse in Smash Bros. Overtime, you'll discover that a lot of the time, dash attacks are useful to punish characters in recovery lag who are farther away. Other times you use it to follow up opponents who hit the ground hard from something like a throw. The mark of a filthy, casual Smash player though is someone who runs constantly and does a dash attack simply because they were running. And these people must quickly learn that nine times out of ten, their dash attack is just plain unsafe and easy to read. Even characters as revered as Fox don't just run into their targets and dash attack. A flying kick, a slide attack, a charging headbutt, a shoulder ram, and more still are examples of attacks you'll see often and learn to block and grab.

In that nine out of ten though, Diddy Kong belongs to the one.

Diddy Kong's cartwheel, his dash attack, is one of the best. An attack Diddy Kong can use recklessly out of a top speed run to pressure his opponents. It's an attack that hits multiple times due to the fact that Diddy can use all his body parts naturally. He can use his hands like fists and feet like hands and in his cartwheel it's a four piece appendage onslaught. This attack pops people into the air, prime for an up smash or any other air attack and in fact segues perfectly into an up smash. And all of these additions are possible because this attack is so fast and lagless that its completely safe. As soon as the cartwheel stops being an active threat, Diddy Kong is free to move however he wants while his opponent is still left wondering if its safe to come out and play. This thing is impossible to punish on block and sets up so many opportunities for Diddy it might as well be renamed White America. It doesn't matter how good his opponent is and how fast they react because even if they dodge this big ass cartwheel, Diddy is nimble enough on his feet that he's always ready to leap anywhere on short notice.

I mean, they only made it stronger looking in Smash 4 by adding a ground slapping animation. Diddy Kong was playing around in Brawl. Now in Smash 4, Diddy's playing for keeps.

He's a goddamn monkey
Monkeys are nature's gift to humanity, both literally and realistically. Man is descended from apes and apes are an inspiration to us all. They are hilarious to watch, gifted acrobats, in control of amazing beastly strength, and are free from judgment to throw their feces as both a form of dictating dominance and as a site gag. Diddy Kong doesn't stop there though because ordinary monkeys use their fur to cover up. But Diddy wears a shirt, a baseball cap, and still doesn't wear pants. He asserts his superiority by appropriating our clothing, wearing a stylish hat, and still proclaims his primal origins by not wearing pants. Plus, he has complex machinery and weapons made out of jungle compost and barrels. He made a gun out of wood and peanuts while also creating a jetpack made of barrels and god knows how much flammable fuels. Tom Hanks wouldn't be able to do that if he had his entire life with luxury on a tropical island. Hell, I don't think most engineers can do that because they'd need trivial materials like metal and hazard suits.

He's a goddamn monkey. Every human on the cast owes their evolution to the Kongs and Diddy still one ups them by being their evolutionary link and wearing a hat. Bowser didn't descend from him but he's a cold blooded lizard who'd fall asleep in a refrigerator. Motherfucker, Diddy Kong has both warm blood and fur. Step up your goddamn game.

Photo Photo Photo

Remember back when the Villager was first announced for Smash? How everyone characterized his wall eyed stare and unmoving smile as a suburban, homicidal maniac who’d use garden tools to menace your neighborhood? Despite the give and take of projecting your homemaking insanity on a small person who is regularly depicted as having an outstanding debt to a raccoon (or tanuki if you want to be real, brah), Villager is quite the dark horse when it comes to, you know, actually fighting in Smash Bros. and not 4koma comics about wanton murder.

Villager is good, whether you want to acknowledge it or not (you damn Fox elitists). Yup, I’m no competitive Smash player but I do have an extensive taste for fighting games. It doesn’t matter how much you deny it, your favorite dash attack might be unsafe on block (or shield?) but maybe you just think shields or grabs are cheap, you filthy casual. So from one filthy casual to another, here’s how I play Villager from the demo, which is pretty much the final build of the included characters.

At a glance, Villager is a character with high risk/high reward smash attacks, an arsenal of unconventional projectiles and zoning game, unmatched recovery, and is generally very versatile when it comes to the ledge. Villager is slow on both the ground and in the air but is actually fairly heavy for a character his size. Villager shines best when he plays defense over the ledge. The problem is getting his opponents off the stage because his options to knock his opponents around are limited. Fsmash is slow, Ftilt is just ok, and his grab speed is slow. But enterprising Villagers will find his toolset makes him less a villager and more an ornery farmer/settler, always trying to keep damn pests of his property with extreme prejudice.

Home & Garden and Assault & Battery Channel
You might be the kind of person who uses forward smash all willy nilly because it’s usually powerful and has range, right? Well stop because Villager’s Fsmash has all the power of dropping a bowling ball on someone’s foot and that’s not even exaggeration. Villager whips out a bowling ball, tries to put it on an imaginary shelf, and drops it right in front of them, doing easily 20% and enough knockback to send regular weight class characters flying off to the blast zone.

But carrying a bowling ball is heavy and slow going, so you can’t use it whenever you want. It does however fall beneath you if you use it over a ledge, so it can surprise people beneath you, including people trying to recover from beneath the ledge line. Ftilt is a swing of his umbrella, which has reasonable hitstun but no dependable KO potential and unsafe on block. So most neutral game will use Utilt, Dtilt, rapid jabs, and his aerials. His dash attack is also notable for a really weird hit box, letting him land in front of a shield, behind a shield, or not even physically touch it, letting the pot you drop do the damage instead

Most of the time your air-to-ground attacks will be the Nair and Dair, an all round body spin and variable below turnip smash (the number of turnips and damage is random). Most of the time, you’ll be piling up damage with more minor attacks and by launching his Lloid Rocket (side B) until you have enough to work with to aim for a throw. While his net for scoring throws is slow, Lloid has a ramp up to its acceleration, meaning you can pull it out and run behind it, making for easy approach and an easy way to try to read your opponent and grab them. Throwing them up is worthless since Villager’s up KO potential is random due to his random turnip aerials. Down throw, like any down throw, is worth using at lower percentages for damage and combos. The meat of Villager’s time will be spent on forward and a slightly stronger back throw, where Villager can hopefully throw them off and start edge guarding.

Look at all these big ass trees
Congratulations on knocking your inferior opponent off the screen. Now for the Villager, there is no such thing as a passive edge guarding game. It’s time we discuss Villager’s aerials and his ability to either carry to the blast zone or gimp.

Villager has the luxury of relying on two different method of edge guarding: carrying with his side air attacks or planting a big ass tree and chopping it down.

The former takes a bit of practice to get down. The attack itself is not instant and it has a disjointed hit box. The slingshot itself is the sweetspot but it releases a limited projectile that still has a bit of knockback. Villager has the option to either sweetspot the attack and try to knock his victim back further into the blast zone or space themselves for safety to carry or simply gimp. Nair is an easier attack to hit with as well but lacks the range and sheer power of the side airs. The idea is for the Villager to be aggressive with edgeguarding because Balloon Trip lets Villager recover from just about any situation. It takes a fine tuned hand to gimp him since popping his balloons will gimp him but hitting the Villager directly simply refreshes their recovery like any other. But that example is for whenever Villager must recover. On edgeguarding, Villager can be as reckless as they want to generally carry their opponent offscreen because Balloon Trip makes anything possible.

The latter is potentially the only real way to use his down B, Timber. Depending on how far you knockback your opponent, Villager has just enough time to plant a sapling, water it, and chop it down. The tree is a huge, falling projectile that takes up a surprising amount of space. Even when simply standing it has a hitbox that lets it absorb projectiles for defense. But obviously, its biggest use is edgeguarding, and depending on how well your opponent recovers, the tree is a serious threat. Sometimes even if an air dodge is attempted, the sheer size and slowness of the fall can sometimes catch them. The size also lets it hit opponents who come a bit from up high but obviously the worst case scenario for recoverers is coming from below since obviously this tree obeys gravity and will absolutely decimate anyone desperate enough to spend their recovery from below the ledge.

Sometimes it’s worth planting the sapling and watering it beforehand and keeping in mind which direction you want to knock your opponent away. Saving time by prepping the steps isn’t a bad idea but the sapling and tree do disappear after a while.

The new mayor is Earth
The only move left to mention is Pocket, his neutral B. Compared to Timber, Pocket is more character specific but certainly has increased utility with items on. It’s still basically a reflector though; capable of taking a projectile, storing it, and sending it back with a damage multiplier.

Villager will probably struggle against speedy characters since Villager’s own speed is pretty bad. Fortunately, speed doesn’t equal power and so far it seems his recovery can trump any gimping attempt, meaning he needs to be straight KO’d for a point. Even if Fox can spam lasers or Pit firing directed arrows, Villager’s air mobility with Balloon Trip lets him maneuver into blind spots safely. Characters with good air mobility like Jigglypuff though can probably deal with Villager’s edgeguarding strategy. It remains to be seen how Villager will fare against the entire cast but for now, Villager is a great character with a versatile battle plan.

Photo Photo Photo

I was one of the fated chosen who reached platinum status with Club Nintendo. I’ve pretty much been playing the Smash 3DS demo non-stop, just trying to get Mega Man right and playing its two minute stock matches during breaks at work. I also saw some analysis videos but those largely confirm my suspicions and opinions. It’s been a successful demo, giving me only five characters and effectively two stages (Battlefield with items and Omega Battlefield, basically Final Destination). Here’s  how I feel about how the game feels and its five characters. It’s agreed upon by many players that this build represents the final build of how the game will ship.


If I had to summarize everything into one bullet, it’d be that Smash 4 represents a compromise between Melee and Brawl’s design philosophies. Not quite as slow and pondering as Brawl, but not quite as blistering and fast as Melee.

Edge hogging is impossible and it’s an improvement to overall match pacing. The lack of edge hogging promotes more offensive tactics rather than passive defense. Since someone with decent recovery can and will make it, defenders are encouraged to jump off for preventive measures.

Ledge grabbing is not as lenient as it was in Brawl but not as strict as Melee. The distance before you grab the ledge has been reduced compared to Brawl. Characters also no longer magnetically home in on the ledge when they get close, which gives them the safety of invincibility frames. Now, you need to space your recovery move so that you can latch on safely. If you’re too close, you’ll actually overshoot and subject yourself to counterattacks.

I might actually play mostly in 3D as the 3D effect actually gives it a nicer look. The FPS might be getting a bump while 3D is on, which is weird since the 3D made Pokemon XY FPS chug.

Having the Omega stage choice be a simple button toggle on the stage select is rather convenient. I’d imagine it’ll eliminate the need to drill into the item select screen to fiddle with the options. Set your favorite items and frequencies and whenever you get an impromptu challenge to your honor, just keep going and toggle the Omega stage.


Mario is overall more agile with a general increase to all facets of his speed. Footspeed, air speed, and attack speed all have an extra bit of pep. I know we call him a fat Italian but the guy works out for a living.

FLUDD’s range received a massive increase. Like, it has no business reaching as far as it does. If your opponent has bad recovery, this thing is viable. At the very least it stalls them in the air and leaves them vulnerable.

Back air is Mario’s best and fastest move. Comes out quick, plenty of knockback, and little to no recovery lag, even if you land with it. It’s not a kill move but it definitely helps throw people of the stage.

Down throw is your best bet to quickly pile on damage early on. Bounce them off the ground and give them a few up tilts and they’ll be pushing  50% in no time.

Mario overall has received more subtle buffs compared to the other two veterans in the demo. Its small but its noticeable when you reflect on how Mario worked before.


Hands down, this is the de facto version of Link. You know how Street Fighters say vanilla Sagat was the best Sagat in Street Fighter? Well, Smash 4 Link is the best Link by a landslide.

Link’s overall speed has been increased, similarly to Mario.

The damage to boomerang and bomb have increased. Arrow charges faster in exchange for reduced damage.

Down air spikes opponents if you hit on its starting frames. This is immensely satisfying provided you actually hit and don’t miss and plummet to your doom like a tool.

Back air is stronger and reaches further. Good alternative to using his slower forward air.

Recovery is way better. The distance his aerial spin attack travels is much better, not to mention its finisher hit has more knockback. Tether grapple is also improved, which is something across the board for all characters with tether grapples.

Dash attack actually has kill potential. Its way better and you should use it.

Up smash has better horizontal hitbox.

Link isn’t the butt of jokes amongst pros anymore. This Link has taken all his complaints and just fixed all of them. I’m excited to see how her performs at higher levels because I think he’s going to do better than he ever has.


Skull Bash goes FAR. I mean, if you miss, you’ll probably fly off the screen. Not enough to make it risky but enough for everyone to notice.

Up tilt and up air are annoying jugglers. Fast ways to do more and more damage.

Back air is by far my favorite thing about Pikachu now. On defense, hitting someone with this multi-hit spin move will drag them along helplessly before being launched backward. At best, you can score knockouts by using this in the no man’s zone. At worst, you’ll drag them down to a point of no return where you can still recover with a double jump and an angled quick attack.

Changes to Pikachu aren’t very dramatic, but a buff to a few moves of his really make a difference.


Described by Zero as Jigglypuff with projectiles. Both side airs shoot a slingshot. The slingshot itself is the brunt of the hit box while the pellet is slightly weaker but has a great range. Simply jump off and carry your opponent to oblivion with these bad boys.

Speaking of defense, Villager has unmatched recovery. They removed gliding but Villager’s balloon trip pretty much lets him fly from off screen all the way to the other ledge of Battlefield. He’s like Metaknight from Brawl in the sense that he can recover from pretty much anything short of being knocked all the way out.

Forward smash (bowling ball) is ridiculously strong. It has no range but it certainly compensates. You will not believe the knockback on this attack.

Up and down air have a lot of active frames. There’s no need to time these attacks. Throw them out and watch your opponent slam into your radishes.

Keep in mind that Villager’s pocket move double damage and knockback. Play with items on and try pocketing those big crates for laughs.

The true purpose of Villager’s timber (down B) is for edge guarding. Keep a sapling planted on the edges and if your opponent recovers from a downward angle, they’ll be saying hello with a whole lotta wood.

Villager will be interesting to see in play. Villager exemplifies the changes to the edge grabbing mechanics with his jumping slingshot carries and tree guarding. Why wait to see your opponent fall down when you can get out there, expedite the process, and just fly back.

Mega Man

Megs has tons of projectiles, almost none of them are very good at aggressive play. I’m afraid effective Mega Man play might exemplify Brawl’s design philosophy but time will tell if there’s anything to discover.

Crash bomber is very underwhelming. It disappears on contact with shields and keeping it up blocks damage.

Metal blade is versatile but slow. Even Link’s bombs are faster.

You can’t multitask with leaf shield. Once it comes on, you can only shoot it out. You can however grabs with it, adding damage with or without a pummeling.

Crash bomber and metal blade together can take up a lot of space.

Megs is built from the ground up differently with the lack of a true side tilt. He just walks and shoots.

His uncharged buster shots have uneven hitstun. A regular problem for players with too much muscle memory is to walk forward and forget they shoot buster lemons rather than have an actual tilt. This leads to them walking right into a grab due to how little the shots do.

Forward air has a good hitbox but poor knockback. Back air however has great knockback but a difficult and narrow hitbox.

Down air is a meteor smash projectile. You can meteor people from a comfortable distance and it doesn’t have any complicated hit boxes.

Slide is probably a better options for Megs at neutral than moving and shooting. Up tilt also has surprising knockback.

Best kill move is down smash but has brutal recovery frames. You can try punishing rolls with it but this thing is high risk/high reward. Do not use at low percentages because that’s how long its recovery is.

Up air (tornado shot) is good at carrying opponents into the sky box. It’s small hit box makes it hard to connect unless your close.

Out of all five, I have a lot of trouble scoring kills with Megs. With limited kill moves, Mega Man struggle to fight in any conventional way. People interested in fighting with Mega Man will need a deep understanding of his moves and how they all work in tandem.

Photo Photo Photo

Normally for most iterations of Pokemon, we have to wait for full release titles to get a shakeup in the metagame and see something new. Sometimes we get a small change in the form of new move tutors appearing to give unexpected Pokemon new moves but usually the lack of brand new moves or new Pokemon makes most in-between releases very fluffy titles in terms of hard game balance. But Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have one leg up on this rule: new mega evolutions. It seems for ORAS, Game Freak can work around introducing anything too new for a remake and introduce new mega evolutions to older, more beloved Pokemon. As we’ve seen with X and Y though, not all megas are made to be equal. Mega Blaziken is king of offense while a mega for Banette was interesting but ultimately a waste (his best feature being a mega capable of a priority Destiny Bond. Yay! Priority sacrifice!).
The coming megas for ORAS look interesting and fun, but I’m afraid of how capable some of them will be. The bar has been set high thanks to the likes of Mega Blaziken, Gengar, Lucario, Kangaskhan, Charizard (both  X and Y), and Mawile. Remember when nobody used Mawile? Thanks to Serebii listing all revealed ORAS megas, we can review and speculate on the effectiveness of some of the new megas. There’s a lot of revealed data such as confirmation of the 100 point boost distribution and abilities, but having it on paper and having it in practice are two different things so there’s only so much we can speculate on. Mega Garchomp receiving a huge boost in sacrificing speed seems negligible but in practice this fact makes Mega Garchomp unpopular in favor of its standard form.

Mega Sceptile
Personally what I was looking forward to most since I personally own a mixed attacking Sceptile. Sceptile has always been number three due to Swampert being able to set up Stealth Rocks with bulk and Blaziken being Blaziken (with a Life Orb + Speed Boost set). Grass has never been a useful offensive type and Sceptile doesn’t have any supporting options. Mega Sceptile attempts to rectify this seemingly impossible problem by making it part Dragon. Sure!? Why not!?
Sceptile also receives Lightning Rod as an ability. At first, this seems like a waste considering the mega form is already 4x resistant to electric. On second glance though, Sceptile’s strength has always been special attack though and with Swords Dance and no way to boost special attack, this makes potential sets capable of doing either offensive sets well or even, once again, a powerful mixed set. Dragon is a very effective offensive type, being resisted by very few types even in this post-Fairy age. And it just so turns out that Grass can hit Fairy just fine. Still, Grass can be seen as a liability. So while I’ve been hopeful and praising Mega Scep, being an offensive Grass-type is a very big unknown. We also don’t know if Sceptile will have ready access to good Dragon moves. Like Mega Ampharos, he can’t learn Draco Meteor but even worse, learning Dragon Pulse thus far is relegated transferring one that learned it from a move tutor in B2W2.

Rating: 3/5

Mega Swampert
After a dose of anchor arms, Mega Swampert is ready to pummel his foes into the ground where they’ll feel even more powerful Earthquakes! Mega Swampert’s already been confirmed to gain more attack and more bulk. Pretty pedestrian buffs but effective so far as far as improving a Pokemon goes. The real kicker here is that Mega Swampert gets the coveted Swift Swim ability.
Granted, this won’t make Mega Swampert a speed demon, let alone one that continues to be a speed demon after five to eight turns. But this will most likely allow Mega Swamps to outspeed a veritable zoo of competition that are normally comfortable moving before a slow ass like Swampert. Combined with increased bulk, you have a tank strapped with boosters ready to wail on unsuspecting Pokemon. Imagine pitting this thing against Lucario in the rain. Lucario is fast but I bet it isn’t Swift Swim fast. While this temperament is dependent on rain, this could very well be like having a second Choice Scarfed Garchomp slinging Earthquakes around without the lock.

Rating: 5/5

Mega Sableye
Sableye wasn’t exactly itching for a mega. With Prankster, Sableye was capable of effectively annoying a team with a variety of priority like Fake Out, Shadow Sneak, Will-O-Wisp, Confuse Ray, Taunt, and Toxic among others. But Mega Sableye now promises to provide Sableye with options outside of annoying your opponent indirectly. An increase in defenses and special attack gives Sableye an offensive presence. Its mega form even provides a legitimate choice between mega evolving or not with a pivotal change in its ability.
Prankster becomes Magic Bounce, being a member of an exclusive group of Pokemon with access to this useful defensive ability which most usefully reflects Stealth Rocks back, among other things. In fact, Mega Sableye is just about the only Pokemon that can take a stray hit. Other Pokemon like Espeon or Mega Absol absolutely must be sure they’ll be reflecting a non-attacking move or else they’ll be losing a significant chunk of health on a wrong guess. Mega Sableye on paper can take a few hits, reflect support attacks, and fight back all by itself.

Rating: 4/5

Mega Metagross
Metagross was another one of my favorites, being a powerhouse Steel/Psychic back before X and Y released. With the advent of X and Y though came detrimental nerfs to Steel’s defensive posture. Without a resistance to Dark or Ghost, many Steel-types were adversely affected, including the powerhouse Metagross. Like Alakazam before it in gen 3, it lost its luster much in part due to Psychic being a disastrous defensive typing against popular Ghost and Dark attacks. Even with Metagross’ super powered hits, STAB Steel attacks just weren’t a big draw to negate Metagross’ growing weaknesses.
That’s probably why Mega Metagross sounds like it’ll be joining Mega Blaziken and Gengar in the ubers tier because Megagross receives insane buffs that are reflective of a sore loser who took his ball, left, and came back with a flail. Megagross receives all around buffs across the board but has a particular focus making up for its speed.  With enhancements to its already powerful attack, defense, and boosts in the special spectrum as well, Mega Metagross is reported to have a significant boost in speed to turn this metal computoid into a dangerous sweeper with nuke worthy Meteor Mashes. And they will be nuking things because it even gets Tough Claws as an ability. The infamous ability which boosts Mega Charizard X’s contact moves by 50% is now primed on Megagross to turn STAB Meteor Mash and Zen Headbutt into life changing decisions of switching out for the opponent.

Rating 6/5

Mega Altaria
ORAS is certainly putting up a load of forgettable Pokemon and giving them a second chance at being competitive. Altaria took the news of the incoming Fairies and decided to partially jump ship and become part Fairy. It partially jumped ship because it’s still Dragon; a Dragon/Fairy dual type which has the same logic as a Fire/Water type. Altaria actually had access to Moonblast long before news of Mega Altaria but it turns out it doesn’t need to rely on it for STAB.
First off, Mega Altaria’s ability is Pixilate, transforming all Normal-type moves into Fairy-type while providing a 30% boost. This allows Mega Altaria to use Hyper Voice as a Fairy attack that has the advantage of bypassing annoying defensive strategies like Substitute.
Secondly, Mega Altaria gains increased offensive power and defense, rounding out Altaria’s bulk while giving it the power to actually fight. While Altaria has always struggled to carve out a niche for itself from better Dragons, Mega Altaria has a unique charm of being a bulky, Fairy/Dragon that will have a mix of interesting resistances (Fairy is immune to Dragon, one of Dragon-types’ few weaknesses).

Rating 3.5/5

Mega Slowbro
Slowbro has always been one of the premier bulky water types. Water/Psychic provides a lot of opportunity to take hits and its high defense was perfect for taking stray Earthquakes and Close Combats. Many megas are often offensively designed and Mega Slowbro takes this chance to be one of those rare defensive megas. Mega Slowbro’s reveal has already demonstrated an insane bump in defensive power. Not many Pokemon laugh off a Dragon Claw from Mega Charizard X and Megabro does exactly that, shrugging it off as a mere 25% blow.
Megabro is likely to be plenty good but situational in choice compared to using it over its base form as there are a few consolations done in the process. Mega Slowbro gains a huge defensive boost but loses Regenerator as its ability in favor of a much more situational Shell Armor. Instead of regaining 33% health on a switch, critical hits will never happen instead. While Megabro still has Slack Off as health recovery, especially with its sky high defensive scores, it still is a mortal blow to Slowbro’s longevity. Slowbro can help retain momentum by switching out to hard counters and recovering health, but Megabro will be more focused on toughing out hits in the long run, walling and stalling hits with Slack Off and staying in.
Megabro’s potential for walling was impressive at first but further testing of losing Regenerator might be the clincher to its overall value.

Rating: 3/5

Mega Lopunny
Quick! Name another Pokemon you think deserves a second chance. If you said Lopunny, you’re really weird. But hey, Mega Lopunny has very envious qualities that make it a strong candidate as a Fighting-type mega on your team.
Mega Lopunny gets everything you need for an aggressive late game sweeper. It gets boosted attack and speed, access to moves like Jump Kick and Fake Out, plus an interesting Fighting/Normal dual type and a complimentary ability to boot. Mega Lopunny gets STAB on really good moves, gets Scrappy as ability, letting all its best attacks hit Ghosts, and retains its Ghost immunity from its Normal-typing. This means Mega Lopunny can ignore any potential Ghost-type switch ins thanks to Scrappy and conversely switch in on any nasty Shadow Balls or Shadow Sneaks.
Basically, Mega Lopunny gives you everything you want from a hard hitting Fighting-type without many of the problems. While Mega Lopunny lacks that critical ability to learn Swords Dance, a Mega Bunny trained to hit hard and fast is by no means a bad strategy.

Rating: 4/5

Mega Audino
Audino fits the same mold as Chansey but unfortunately doesn’t have much to help it leave Chansey’s massive shadow. It certainly rewards grinders with XP but it doesn’t have the same spread in bulk to let it compete with Blissey or Chansey. Audino and even Mega Audino are mostly designed for doubles and triples, where its slew of support moves have more space to shine. But that makes Audino and its Mega form largely irrelevant in a singles battle.
Mega Audino mainly gains increased bulk. Considering it’s HP pool has always been above average and both defenses were just below average, receiving a big boost to those defenses while retaining HP is a big deal to making Mega Audino a long lasting bulky support Pokemon. While it lacks offense, the fact that it’s hard to kill in a multi-battle while it can heal its partners means it offers a tremendous boon when it has teammates. On one hand, targeting it in a multi-battle means feeling like you’re beating your head against a wall. Target its teammates though and their damage can be healed by Mega Audino’s best move, Heal Pulse. The division in viable targets can be paralyzing and Mega Audino’s ability to persevere despite normal medic conventions makes it a great support option. Making your mega a support Pokemon is a matter of preference or strategy but you never know what can be done with creative thinking.

Rating: 2/5. 4/5 on doubles and triples

Mega Salamence
Well here comes another uber candidate honestly. Salamence has always been a strong Pokemon with Intimidate bolstering survivability and Moxie offering legitimately scary pulverizing power. Plus being a Dragon-type with an impressive and diverse move pool doesn’t hurt either. Mega Salamence took a look at what happened with Charizard and decided a simple boost wasn’t enough. So it took something that made a certain other Pokemon scary and gave it to itself.
Salamence is plenty strong; strong enough apparently according to Game Freak that rather than boost offense directly, Mega Salamence gains a boost to defense. But  that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get a scary boost to its punching power though because it takes Aerilate as an ability, which was made famous by Mega Pinsir. Guess what Salamence can learn that turns into a STAB Flying-type attack with an extra free 30% boost? Double-Edge. With Double-Edge gaining a massive STAB boost, an additional option in Outrage, Draco Meteor, or whatever else other strong Dragon move you want, plus your choice in coverage from moves like Fire Blast, Hydro Pump, Earthquake, and Stone Edge, Mega Salamence is a dead simple battering ram to utilize. Just take a second to observe what kind of competition Megamence is attacking and choose the appropriate attack. Chances are your Megamence has access to a move that’ll do 40% or more to something not specifically trained to take hits.
Add to increased defense meaning it can take a Rock Slide or Stone Edge fairly well and you have something with a fairly limited range of soft counters. If Aerilate worked for Pinsir, a Pokemon nobody used, Aerilate will work wonders for Salamence, a Pokemon that’s still viable for use today.

Rating: 5/5

Personally, I'm looking forward to using Mega Salamence and Mega Metagross while Mega Sceptile will need some serious planning but would be an interesting wild card to catch my opponent off guard. Of course there's Mega Diancie too but Diancie isn't even a available legally yet either so we don't know what it'll be like. If you're getting Pokemon ORAS, who will be your go to mega? Mega Pinsir is by far my favorite mega in terms of utility but I'm a big fan of Metagross and lamented over his nerfing this past generation. I very well might pick him up while Mega Salamence is worth a test run simply due to how much Aerilate was a factor in defining Mega Pinsir.

3:10 AM on 08.08.2014

For every fighting game, there is always a grappler character. While not inherently a divisive archetype or idea, the grappler is still a polarizing archetype nonetheless in the circles he or she frequents. Beginners will groan at their might while veterans will begin processing a hundred strategies a minute to prepare a 90% successful plan. But it doesn't matter what game I play, I always end up gravitating to playing a grappler at least 50% of my time on a given game.

But let's back up for exposition purposes. What exactly fits the grappler archetype? A grappler is a character who has command moves that involves grabbing their opponent for a high damage attack. Using their grab is usually central to their attack plan due to its high damage and other useful properties such as knockdown. The fact that it is usually a grab means it is unblockable and the first lesson anyone new to fighting games learns is that they have to jump to avoid it (or at least, be in an airborne state).

The next few attributes don't define all grapplers but fit many in general. Grapplers have poor mobility to balance their high damage. A general strategy against them is to keep them out at range where they can't do anything. They are slow and generally have to develop a gameplan just to get in close. Mind you, most can't run or have bad movement options. While Ryu can take a quick step forward in Street Fighter IV, Zangief has a comparatively slow and lumbering lurch forward. And in nearly any anime fighter, almost everyone can flat out run but characters like Tager or Potemkin can't do anything but walk forward and think positive thoughts.

Grapplers have a wide variety of perceptions depending on who you ask. To a pro, a grappler is a cautiously easy win. Grapplers tend to have the worst match ups in the game and that's before you even factor in the match up against the resident keep away character. I don't keep up but the Yukiko/Kanji match up in Persona 4 Arena is something depressing like 9/1, stating that if skill was equal and conditions were replicatable, Yukiko would win nine times out of ten. It's always surprising and hype-worthy when a grappler places high in a tournament like EVO or even something smaller like West Coast Warzone. A pro player could always play someone who is far better and easier to handle because grapplers are very rarely high in tiers. Seeing a grappler in top 8 is a testament to the players skill that they devoted their time to learning how to grab people by the waist and slam them into the concrete.

Grapplers tend to weed out newbies too. Grapplers are bona fide scrub filters, being an end all be all trial by fire to see if you're really ready to even be considered mediocre. Scrubs can complain that grapplers are cheap or broken. Their grabs are unblockable and do a ton of damage. Of course, if they truly knew what they were doing, they'd know that the hard counter to grabs if to jump. Online warriors can sometimes subsist entirely on scrubs during their game's online career.

But that's why I like playing the grappler. There's a visceral rush of adrenaline whenever you score that coveted grab move. Where technical characters can execute complex 40% damage combos, a grappler can do close to that amount by just getting in close and doing one move. There's a humongous trade off of course but there are other factors too. Losing all that health instantly can be extremely demoralizing and in most cases for the grappler, it grabs momentum by putting his opponent in a hard knockdown state; the opponent is guaranteed to not stand up for a period of time as the sheer impact must have dazed them into an uncontrollable stupor. With a half unconscious victim lying on the ground, a grappler can easily stroll right up to them as they groggily get up and face a dilemma of what to do with a muscle bound, touchy-feely fighter up in their grill.

So now that you know what its like to be a grappler and to fight a grappler, there's nothing else quite like going down a list of well known grappler characters to really know what to expect from your stinging pain as you get thrown into a backbreaker performed from a two-story high leap.

Arguably the most well known grappler and the one who started it all. If Chun-Li is the first lady of fighting then Zangief is the grand poobah of slamming and jamming wrestlers. His signature move, the Spinning Piledriver (the SPD as known by veterans), is what it is: a piledriver with the unnecessary twist of spinning through the air before delivery. Is it needed? Maybe not but that doesn't change the fact that Zangief leaps and average of 20 feet into the air before driving his opponent into what is usually solid Earth.

In terms of other noteworthy options, he has the Banishing Flat (the green glove). This functions as both his mobility and an offensive move as Gief swings a flaming overhand slap in a forward motion, moving him forward, destroying fireballs, and slapping the fear of Gief into his opponents. And all of the above is a good thing because Gief is a huge, bear-sized man who can barely dash and has a huge, lumbering, slow walk speed. Plus not a lot needs to be said about his Final Atomic Buster, his characteristic super move. It's basically all his wrestling moves done in sequence at once. Truly Gief is known for making ridiculous comebacks with such powerful comebacks. What more of a comeback can you expect when you do a suplex, a backbreaker, and a spinning piledriver all in a row?

The big burly government agent from Guilty Gear has a few unique tricks all his own that most grapplers his day wouldn't even imagine having. For one, he has a projectile reflect, the F.D.B., which is a big utility considering most match ups against Potemkin means staying away and throwing everything and the kitchen sink to keep him at a distance. He also has an interesting anti-air option, the Heat Knuckle, in which he grabs a mook right of the air and proceeds to make his freaking gauntlet explode with them still in your clutches. Heat Knuckle and future attacks that use it for inspiration tend to be used more in combos that launch your opponent though, rather than an actual anti-air. Last to note is the combination of his Slide Head and Hammerfall. Slide Head is, for all intents and purposes, a localized earthquake you create by falling face first into the ground. It's completely unblockable if you're touching the ground and leaves you helpless on the ground as you contemplate your future of pain. Hammerfall on the other hand is Potemkin's answer to Gief's green glove; a move that sends him forward with a hit of super armor before clashing his knuckles together for a sandwich of pain. The secret of them together though is that Potemkin can knock his enemies down with Slide Head, then use Hammerfall but cancel the actual attack, using it only to move forward safely with absolutely zero fear of retaliation.

Which brings us to Potemkin's signature grab. A move so damaging that he can only name it after himself. The Potemkin Buster uses his infallible muscles to simply grab his opponent, put them in a backbreaker pose, then leap off-screen and probably the height of a modest office building before crashing down to a backbreaker strong enough to make every WWE wrestler quit for fear of their good health. The super version, the Heavenly Potemkin Buster, isn't as usable as most other grabs since it's a true anti-air for Pots as he flings himself into the air to grab anyone airborne in his way. But just knowing Pots has the meter for this move is enough to ground most people for fear of losing maybe half their life bar to one life changing mistake.

Iron Tager
The Blazblue follow up to Potemkin. Iron Tager inherited a lot of Pot's tricks like his Heat Gauntlet or Hammerfall. Atomic Collider is like Heat Gauntlet in many ways except with one big difference: Tager can combo off a collider grab. Meanwhile, Sledgehammer is a two part, movement based attack where 90% of the time, people never use the second part of the move since its wildly unsafe on block and has limited utility on hit. The first hit from the portion that sends you sliding across the screen though completely laughs off any projectile and has a lot of utility on counterhit which will honestly happen a lot when your opponent isn't expecting a two ton, half-man, half-Buick to suddenly cause you to experience a high speed collusion.

The biggest thing about Tager that sets him apart is his unique power that every Blazblue combatant has. While some people use ice to freeze or a helper doll, Tager uses the secret power of science to assist in his grappling: magnetism. Specific attacks, including a projectile he can use after storing enough electromagnetism, magnetizes his enemies. Only Tager can magically turn a 9-1 bad match into a 4-6 match by applying magnetism to his opponent and instilling the same panic in them that WWII American soldiers would feel when they see kamikaze dive bombers. You see, when magnetized, opponents will be drawn towards all of Tager's most dangerous attacks, including the Atomic Collider (never jump when magnetized), and the Gigantic Tager Buster. The Tager Buster you see, is also a backbreaker. Only instead of grabbing his opponent and leaping with them, Tager throws them into the air and leaps after them before bringing them down. And not only is the range deceptive like all grappler grabs, but magnetism increases its reach significantly.

And then there's the Genesic Emerald Tager Buster, also augmentable with magnetisim. This move defines PTSD for people who have experienced it. It's a move where Tager throws his opponent sky high, leaps after them, grabs them by the torso (his mitts are that big afterall), and drives them straight down into the ground, splintering it in the process. Only there's a huge detail in that when you both come down out of the sky, you show signs of heating up from sheer air speed and friction.

But of course that pales in comparison to his instant kill. Potemkin's is just a really big punch. Tager's is literally out of this world. After placing his enemy in the backbreaker position, he stores energy before rocketing into the stratosphere, before calmly turning around and performing quite possibly the only body slam you'll ever see come out of orbit. It even generates a crater normally only reserves for meteorites!


A lot of grappler characters are made with ideas in line with tradition. Grapplers are slow, have a small number of movement options, and have limited combos and therefore rely on command grabs for real damage. Cerebella is the grappling hero's hero, built from the ground up in Skullgirls by the game's director and designer Mike Z, a renowned grappling fighter in the tournament scene. She has a huge repertoire of tools made just to even out her matchups against zoners and other dominating examples. She has a projectile reflector, an invincible reversal, a close range command grab, a long range command grab, an anti-air grab, an air-to-air command grab, a long reaching poke, several moves with armor and forward movement, and actual combo potential to do damage outside of grabs. All of these things are very rare to find on a grappler. Of all the characters shown so far, none really have invincible wake up options to punish pressure.

While she still certainly struggles against the likes of Peacock and her cartoon menagerie of keepaway cronies, a combination of her unorthodox grappler tools and the ability to partner her up with positive teammates for help or to let her do real Soviet damage when soloing, makes Cerebella really stand out and alone as a grappler. And its not just Cerebella as a character that's interesting but the universal mechanics that are native to her game that also enhance her. First and foremost, the game is built with a feature that allows 360 motions to be performed without jumping. The game simply detects your 360 input and keeps your feet planted on the ground. No more needing to buffer the motion in other attacks! If other grapplers were conceived in a traditional era, Cerebella is the new age wrestler ready to take all comers regardless of their strategy.

T. Hawk
Thunder Hawk may seem like someone who treads on Zangief's territory but they actually differ somewhat on methodologies. Zangief usually has several possible options to fall back on whenever using an SPD isn't feasible. Banishing Flat is a great forward moving attack that resets neutral game and a lot of his normals have great range or movement. T. Hawk has a forward moving attack as well but generally isn't comparable to Banishing Flat. T. Hawk is bigger and slower than Gief and while he hits harder to a degree, the increase in sluggishness is tough. However, his increase in power means he has an increased emphasis on landing his own SPD, the Typhoon.

T. Hawk generally has an even tougher time competing compared to Gief's illustrious career but any opponent will run scared for fear of a heavy Mexican Typhoon. That's basically his whole game plan. Maybe you can sweep them, smack them with Condor Spire, or get a few random hits in with his big mitts he calls hands. But its all so that he can force his opponent to make the mistake of staying on the ground so T. Hawk can grab his opponent by the head and windmill swing them into the ground until they're only a pile of dust. Everything T. Hawk does is for the goal of Mexican Typhoon. If they try to run, Hawk can one of his moves to cover those bases. So eventually the fear to block sets in and that's when Timothy J. Hawkins (East coast nickname), grabs his opponent and sends them hurtling into a Mexican racial oblivion.

Solomon Grundy
The dead man from DC's own Injustice has the luxury of only needing to press one button to do his grabs. Rather then any complex motions, you just need to press the trait button to grab your hapless victim then press a few prompts to continue until you do 40% off one move.

Grundy's trait grabs also give him boosts in attack, health, and defense against chip damage and all are quite lengthy which means if he uses Grave Rot, a damage over time, area of effect attack, he can pile on the damage quickly if his opponent isn't prepared. He also has a unique super all his own, which puts him into a different stance of combat. When his super is triggered, Grundy gains armor for the duration of his short super and any button you press causes him to lurch forward and attempt a grab, even in the air! His opponent must run away since the armor prevents them from zoning him effectively and a combination of the power augment from his trait with his super can lead to instant death for many players. This is before considering that as a strong arm undead zombie, Grundy can also tear most things in the environment off and throw them into unsuspecting opponents. They may think they're safe at fullscreen until Grundy throws a statue at them from across the screen.

Grapplers aren't worth much in the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 series. All the most played characters are highly mobile, can do some sort of infinite or a combo with can repeat itself for a long time, and can usually fly somehow. While mobile characters are the norm in other games, mobility is proof you won't be affected by Darwinism somehow. But so called grapplers characters are still worth something even if they're actually more gimmicky in their actual grabs. Thor is one of the few characters who actually has a command grab but he isn't known for using it for raw damage.

Firstly, his throw, the Mighty Hurricane, can be done on the ground or in the air. Secondly, Mighty Hurricane isn't used for pure damage but for combos, since after slamming his opponent into the ground, they bounce off the ground perfectly for a follow up combo. It's for this reason that Thor players are known for a nasty trick known as the reset. Rather than complete a combo for a finite amount of damage, Thor lets his opponent tech out of his combo early. The reasoning is that the opponent is so scared that they're only holding back and not trying to mash reversals out. If they are indeed only holding back, Thor can use Mighty Hurricane on them for free. Rather than get 100% of his combo, Thor stops at 60% and performs another combo at 100%. Resets of course are the gimmickiest of gimmicks, easily escapable if the opponent sees it coming. But though Thor's damage is high and his grab is reliable, he gets shut down a lot in Marvel's high octane environment, so any trick he gets is appreciated.

Haggar, also a grappler in MvC3, is basically Zangief if he was the American Mayor of Earth but with two major threats players must respect: respect the pipe and respect the lariat. Zangief also has the lariat move but Haggar's is legendary for its full invincibility. People play Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 where it was toned down but in vanilla his lariat assist was the stuff of legends.

Kanji Tatsumi
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Kanji Tatsumi as he appears in Persona 4 Arena, who uniquely relies on his Persona in order to perform his own command grab and is even afforded a reversal in the form of the universal Furious Action. Cerebella is the only other character on this list with something reliable to wake up with when the pressure is on and Kanji's has his persona shocking him, causing anything and anyone to come into contact with him that isn't blocking to get shocked and paralyzed, preventing them from jumping. Kanji, like Cerebella, has a wealth of unorthodox but effective tools to combat his shortcomings, only being failed by extremely slow start ups on his moves. Take-Mikazuchi, his persona, gives him a deceptive amount of range to poke with. His Cruel Attack is a follow up command that lets him slam his chair into people he's not done with yet, completely negating the problem of staying in after getting in. And Kanji has one particular aerial attack where a swing of his chair takes up an impressive amount of space in front and below him. But anyone who's played P4A knows simple, scrub cleaning Kanjis love to do three things: Furious Action, command grab, and the air dive.

We know his FA and his command grab has the Cruel Attack follow up so he doesn't need to worry too much about staying close. The air dive is something that makes or breaks new players though because it tells whether or not you're dedicated to winning. The game does not teach players that this attack, which causes Kanji to fall out of the air with the fury of one thousand thunderclouds in order to tackle them to the ground and ground pound them, is utterly unblockable but can be avoided simply by crouching. If someone complains that Kanji's dive is cheap, then you know you can count the number of days he's been playing the game on one hand. While his super command grab is locked as an Awakened SP Skill Attack (only available when health is <20%), it's truly a powerful attack that will KO anyone unlucky enough to not be in Awakened mode before getting hit by this attack. Many characters can attempt pre-Awakened touch of death combos but Kanji can pretty much aim to kill or deal a near fatal blow simply by performing his super grab on an opponent on the precipice of Awakening. Nothing is more heart wrenching then seeing your health evaporate completely when you were expecting to rely on Awakening mode's defense buff.

Kanji's dive is the epitome of a grappler match. It forces the opponent to be on their best behavior because grapplers can do so much damage from the smallest mistake. Now those mistakes are easy to avoid doing in the first place but being careless and complacent is a huge opening to a grappler.

There are still so many more grapplers I love that I could name, all with their own unique spin on the classic formula of bashing your victim's head into our planet's tectonic plates. A lot of the characters I've mentioned are from anime fighters or old school fundamentalists. But there's still more your can play and learn lessons of patience from! There are plenty of characters from the SNK side of fighters like Clark Still, Tizon, and Raiden, who all pound away at their opponents mercilessly. Street Fighter still has fighters to offer like R. Mika, the buxom blue peach bomber from Brazil as well as Alex from Third Strike with his unique Stun Gun Headbutt with instant stun ability and then the Andre to his Hulk Hogan, Hugo, well known for his death defying air grab and big hand clap that's capable of snuffing out fireballs. Tekken has Craig Marduk, King, and Armor King to chain together ridiculous grabs, Astaroth swinging an ax and crushing his foes in Soul Calibur, while Tina and Bass represent wrestling in Dead or Alive. Chief Thunder, a possible link to Thunder Hawk, hails from Killer Instinct and only recently in its revival became a grappler. Then there are even characters even further out in the anime fighter spectrum like Bravo from Chaos Code, Kira from Arcana Hearts, Waldstein from Under Night In-Birth, Kanea from Akatsuki Blitzkampf, and Lilith from freaking Vanguard Princess. Yes, I purposely got more and more obscure there. You know fighters? How about goddamn Vanguard Princess?

But the very nature of a grappler is risking everything just to get close and perform an attack that pays it all back with interest. Grapplers tend to face uphill battles but every time we nail that grab, we get that visceral thrill of victory even when we don't literally win. No matter who you are, even if you're another grappler, there's always that moment where you second guess yourself and have the seeds of fear planted as you know one thing for sure: one mistake can means the difference here in this fight.
Photo Photo Photo

Originally I was thinking about reflecting on Smash Brothers' in the interest of Smash 4's hype and release. I wanted to talk competitive retrospect on some of Smash's characters. But what I really want to talk about is winning. In the past, I've talked about the metagame for Pokemon. I've talked about the layered variety of strategies, counters, and heavily used ideas that shape the way how trainers plan their teams in order to win at all costs. I've talked about the overall climate surrounding Pokemon that dictates the best chances for winning. Today I'm taking a more direct approach to talking about Pokemon battles: how to build you own winning team.

More specifically, I'm to walk you through how I build a team. I have several boxes of potential battlers ready to fulfill a variety of functions on a team. Some are gimmicky but work when you catch people off guard. Others play it safer with strong choices and safety nets in cases mistakes happen.

Overall though, building a team to win needs a foundation; a unifying pivot that the entire team can get behind on or support universally. A team is much more than just several strong Pokemon. A strategy or purpose needs to tie the whole team together in order to take them to victory. Let's take the process behind this particular team as an example.

Now these days, not taking the time to incorporate a mega evolution into your team is a waste of potential. Megas have ridiculous specs and bring ridiculous powers to the table. This team starts with the question, "How can I bring my Aggron into battle successfully?" Of course, Aggron won't be battling as himself as Aggron as he is can be pretty underwhelming. No, the center piece of this team is Mega Aggron.

Pain means nothing. Pain is an illusion. [source image]

Let's look at what Mega Aggron is good at. He's great, no, incredible at taking physical hits. A combination of through the roof defense and the ability Filter means Mega Aggron doesn't even fear Earthquake or Close Combat. With respectable investment in attack, Mega Aggron is the very definition of a tank, shrugging off attacks while dishing out pain as well. Mega Aggron also has access to some decent support options like Stealth Rocks or even Thunder Wave, so he doesn't have to think on his own. On the other hand, Mega Aggron can't take special hits well and has bad options at recovering health. Being a mega automatically means he can't hold Leftovers, which is a crucial blow to him as a tank.

So we have a peerless physical tank who will get worn down over time with even the simplest switch ins. When we've decided on a prime strategy, we now have to work on complimenting it so that we can maximize our returns while minimizing the damage. Mega Aggron isn't a be all, end all foundation to rely on for winning, so our particular Aggron will return the favor to his teammates by being knowing Stealth Rocks for hazards and Thunder Wave for crippling sweepers. With Mega Aggron's physical defense, he can paralyze opponents with Thunder Wave when they decide to switch out after realizing how little damage they're doing to him. Stealth Rocks and Thunder Wave is how Mega Aggron supports his supporting allies.

Togekiss and Tyranitar are Mega Aggron's primary support core. While not immediately obvious, Tyranitar functions as the special wall Mega Aggron needs to tag team with. Tyranitar has mediocre special defense but it gets a 1.5 boost as a rock-type under the effects of a sandstorm. TTar becomes a bonafide special wall when you slap an Assault Vest on him, giving him another 1.5 boost in special defense, meaning TTar can take a Hydro Pump as well as Mega Aggron can take Earthquake. Which is exactly the purpose for TTar to switch with Mega Aggron; to take threatening Fire Blasts or Hydro Pumps so Mega Aggron doesn't have to. By using Assault Vest, TTar cannot use support moves of any sort but fortunately has a very strong offensive move pool to mitigate this pigeon holing. Moves like Crunch, Earthquake, Stone Edge, and more, allow TTar to tank special hits and truck through with his own powerful attacks.

Pictured: a truck

Now we move to Togekiss. Togekiss has two primary functions that fit neatly for what we now need. One, Togekiss fits as a Wish passer, using Wish and switching to the other two tanks to help restore. Both tanks on this team lack the ability to recover health in any way, including Leftovers but Togekiss functions as a healer here. Second, Togekiss is a third defensive wall that gives the other two tanks time to breath. Fairy/Flying with an emphasis on special defense allows Togekiss to resist or ignore many attacks that would normally wear down the other two. With Wish, Protect, and access to Leftovers, Togekiss can wall by itself, heal teammates, and fight back with its unique STAB attacks such as Dazzling Gleam or Air Slash. Togekiss' STAB attacks don't have good coverage by themselves though, so most of the offensive lift goes back to the other two tanks.

So we've established the bulk of our offensive presence. We've also established that the bulk of our team is rather defensive. So now the rest of the team is left up to choice as to how you want to fill in the gaps for specific threats and problems.

Trevenant was chosen as another defensive wall for this team. Ghost/Grass provides great defensive utility while also providing an important role: spin blocking. Passive damage from Stealth Rocks is important as it makes the opponent pay a price every time they realize their attacks do minimal damage and decide to switch out. Having a ghost-type block Rapid Spin from clearing the field is a bonus, not to mention Trevenant continues to fit the defensive theme and has several other bonuses to contribute. Will-O-Wisp can burn targets, especially if you guess switches right, you can score double burns and cripple more then one physical attacker. Leech Seed is a great tactic here though, as it not only offers residual damage but also recovery that compounds for your defensive formation. Switching is the only way to get rid of Leech Seed which of course opens more Stealth Rocks damage. Espeon is present to prevent rocks or other hazards from going up on your side with Magic Bounce. Dual screen support also helps in providing longevity. Honestly, providing defensive buffs isn't optimal though, so switching out Espeon for something else that can also deal with hazards would be better, like a Mandibuzz with Defog.

Living forever on all these fucking berries

The last slot is a strong position that every team, regardless of composition should consider: a revenge killer. More appropriately in this case, its a sort of haymaker position, capable of launching quick and powerful strikes that can knock your opponent off balance if they're not prepared. Crawdaunt with its hidden ability, Adaptibility, and its new egg move, Aqua Jet, can arrive off a knocked out Pokemon and provide a strong blow when your opponent isn't ready for. Its important for revenge killers to have access to priority so that they can always moves first and threaten critically weakened enemies. With Life Orb, Adaptibility, and Aqua Jet, Crawdaunt can surprise enemies with a sudden surge of power. If you can predict a moment when Crawdaunt has a free turn due to resistance or simply a fearful switch, he can use Swords Dance to attempt a sweep and leverage Knock Off or Crabhammer against anything that isn't a fast sweeper if it has decent speed investment.

And there you have it. This is my Mega Aggron focused team. Just one of many teams one can construct but it all starts with one main idea and then it receives support in dominoing waves. First, major support that fills in major problems. Then comes secondary support that either provides a minor bolster to the core or helps the primary support branch. In most cases, that leaves space for one or two freelance positions which would usually be a guaranteed revenge killer. Hopefully you can take this quickie as a frame work to building your own teams. This defensive team is certainly more complicated to utilize then a team with a straight set up sweeper team. But trying to focus on building a team around your favorite Pokemon also leads to a more varied team contraction.
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