From the mouth of Mr. Wizard himself: within the next week, Evo organizer Joey Cuellar will be discussing the ruleset with Bear, one of the tournament organizers of Genesis 3, and D1, one of the most prolific commentators in Smash history. With this happening, a debate has risen yet again over the legality of three characters within Smash 4: the Mii Fighters.
Before continuing on, I shall admit a slight bias: I enjoy using Mii Swordfighter in Smash 4. However, I want to offer an unbiased look at how rulesets have been historically decided within Smash and other fighting game communities and use this to facilitate discussion on how Miis should be handled within the game.
David Sirlin's Play to Win is one of the most influential written pieces for competitive gaming. Having an extensive resume in game design, David Sirlin knows his stuff. The Play to Win series is available absolutely free online for those who want to read it, but the piece we will be focusing on here is called What Should Be Banned?
Let's look at the criteria of a ban. To quote him directly, "A ban must be enforceable, discrete, and warranted." The first one is fairly obvious; if you want to ban something, you have to be able to enforce it. Second, the thing to be banned must be, to quote Sirlin again, "able to be 'completely defined.'"
Taking a quick jaunt back to the days of Brawl, there was a time when the stage Pirate Ship was legal. The stage had an issue where players could stall in the water and put an opponent in a very disadvantaged position if they tried to approach. There was no good way to simply ban the tactic: what if a player fell into the water innocently? How long could you stay there before it was considered stalling? There was no way to make the rule discrete. As the strategy was very strong, a ban on the stage was warranted, and thus the stage left the competitive spectrum.
Let's look to timers as another example. I've previously written an entire piece on the history of timers in Smash, which is a good primer on why we use stocks or even have a timer at all, so consider reading it. We chose to use stocks and a timer as our rules to make the game playable competitively at the best level.
This goes for stages as well. We all know that stages like Rainbow Cruise, Corneria, Brinstar, and Green Greens were once commonly legal within Melee but aren't any longer. It was found within the mechanics of Melee that these stages had issues where they provided extreme advantages to certain characters, so their ban was warranted to have a good competitive game. When Brawl came around, all of those stages listed above were retested for legality with all but Corneria actually being fully legal for quite some time. They too eventually were found to give too powerful an advantage with Meta Knight legal and thus met the ban hammer. Come Smash 4, Corneria and Brinstar were tested YET AGAIN to be sure that with the new mechanics they would still warrant a ban. Some 3DS tournaments still run with Brinstar legal. We only subtract as little as possible, change as little as physically possible to find the proper ruleset for a game.
The Original Smash 4 Character Select Screen
Now we come to Miis. Take a look at that character select screen above. Notice anything interesting about it? There are no Miis available. Miis do not show up as selectable characters until one has already been created. So we are at a unique impasse: we must decide whether, like changing the stock count, adding a timer, and turning on team attack in doubles, we should even have Miis in the first place.
Many who watch the game know and have heard the arguments for Miis being legal: Miis can use all their moves even with customs off. Miis have not caused an issue at any major tournament. They are not overpowered. Miis at a default size take less time to make than it takes to set up control schemes.
These things are not the real issues. By going into the customization menu to use Miis in the first place, we are accepting that having Miis legal adds enough to the game competitively to warrant us doing so. When we then surgically limit them to only their first moves, it directly contrasts with this philosophy.
George Santayana was correct: "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." In Brawl, Meta Knight was kept legal by many surgical rules. This caused much tension and argument within the Smash community. Today, the same is currently being done with Miis, except it is being done to keep them from playing at full potential. The same tensions are already rising.
So, should Miis be legal at EVO 2016, or should they be banned entirely? What is the best course of action moving forward? That I do not not have an answer to. However, I can say that we have only two options: ban Miis altogether, or allow them their full moveset.
This is an adaptation of the piece "Miis Should Be 100% Legal Or 100% Banned", which was also written by this author. This piece is purely the opinion of its author and does not reflect the position of Smashboards or its affiliates.