Another set that took longer to read and comment than it needed me to, but here it is regardless! Sana was a delightful set to read, not only capturing her quirky personality well (as to be expected from a bubby set) through oddball hitboxes like FTilt's sweetspot and overall arc, but making it all work well into her playfully defensive playstyle that has her as much fighting the foe as toying with space in the process.
It's also another set that I find difficult to nitpick or contribute something useful for, being well designed and hitting a nice balance of simplicity vs complexity. All of her constructs are explained well enough and mentioned consistently where they would work nicely off of things, and there's a few tricks throughout that have hard interactions with them that are plenty to make them fascinating but not be outright disruptive to play.
I'll also take a moment to point out that I really like her Up Special in particular; usually I note how I love stuff like her Neutral and Down Special when commenting other sets- and I still do here, they're neat constructs/mode change respectively- but I wanted to point out Up Special as an unconventional recovery that really works since it might fly under the radar for others next to her other specials and her smashes.
If I had to come up with something to nitpick, I'm always iffy about stun times and Side Special (which I know I gave the rubber stamp of approval when you previewed what you had of Sana to me a ways back) might want to be trimmed back to 3/4ths a second ('might' being operative here, I'm always paranoid and honestly the set works fine without this change for me). This is me trying to find anything negative to really say, though. Sana accounts for her constructs, her size change, and her oddball hitboxes nicely between each move, making for a fun and accurate representation of how Sana should be if included in a game. Wonderful work!
Another set from BOFURI, and hey, both of your sets for the franchise have helped sell folks on it, so I'd call them successful already. Kanade has a neat sort of rng gimmick with three of his specials each drawing from their pool of 5 spells and rotating continuously over the course of a match, with some strong benefits that are balanced by having only a scant few seconds to make the most of them in the moment you have them. Each is just specialized enough in their applications that you have to make a choice and commit to using them if you want to really get that full benefit, but there's a shared general use for each pool (NSpec for example being good neutral tools) that allows you to just throw them out in a standard example of that situation for at least some benefit, aside from the many hard and soft interactions in the set. It's a neat way of implementing the character's special ability of randomized daily spell access.
Of the assorted options, I love the ability to delay other attacks' hitboxes with Freeze Aura and appreciate its balance tweaks like dropping the shield damage/stun/push of such attacks, turning grab hitboxes affected this way into hit grabs, etc. Gravity Pull and Black Smoke are my other favorite support effects, the Time Stop counter is cool, and Shield Special letting you store certain spells for later, all add a lot to the improvisation-based core of the set.
I love each attack in a vacuum and they do make a point of playing into his different core specials, but I wonder if the sheer volume of oddball effects in his kit and attack variants might be a bit much- yes, I'm aware of the hypocrisy of that after some of my sets this contest, but there's a fair few hard interactions like Up Smash's smaller projectiles fusing back into a big one in Gravity Pull's effect on top of the web of soft interactions that may or may not be there. That said, I'm not even sure what I'd cut- there's too much fun to be had with stuff like Held Up Aerial's projectile letting you swap places with an opponent and the ability to either delay its hitbox or pull it into a new position and hold it there, and I love all of that big Forward Smash. All the same, Kanade has an absurd amount of options at any given time thanks to the multiple variants of each of his inputs, to the point it feels a little overwhelming to track it all.
On the upside, Kanade's overall game plan is simple enough, with the complexity being how you feel is best to execute it, making good use of stage control but being a bit lacking at close range due to poor OoS options, not many ways to hit directly above himself that aren't situational, and needing at least some of those many, many interactions in his set put into motion to be fighting at his best. In theory, at least; I feel the sheer variety of options might make it a bit hard to approach him in practice, and he does still have some stronger options for if foes get close to where I'm not sure the balance pans out- Down Tilt's immobilizing effect might be too strong for a decently quick attack like it is, for example, in the face of how much hurt he can put out on an opponent who is temporarily immobilized, and Back Throw's secondary hitbox should probably have a way to mash out of it.
Those hard and soft interactions also make some sense in how they're done and how they pan out, with plenty of simple synergy between using different inputs that isn't ignored in favor of the flashier bits, so that avoids some of the bigger pitfalls of this type of set. Kanade is a set I'll have to think on for how much I like it, being that it checks off so much of the list of things I like to see while also feeling like it toes the line of being overwhelming, but my overall impression is very positive. Nicely done, Kat!
Ahh, truly a masterpiece only rivaled by Dark Bluppi and Shiny Hoppip. Words do this set no justice, so I'll simply let the set speak for itself. Bravo.
Not sure how I managed to read through the whole set in one sitting after struggling with reading for so long, but here we are! Saul Goodman may be a bit out of place compared to the rest of MYM's offerings or Smash's canon cast, but the set does an amazing job of taking what material he has and spinning a cohesive playstyle out of it, Saul using his mediocre or situational attacks to build up funds for more profitable ventures. While I had some concerns about how players might know to use the Up Tilt and Forward Smash B-inputs to produce (longer) lasting items or Special Pummel, for the most part his crazy antics manage to be fairly intuitive and their uses in his schemes are reasonably easy to use.
Despite how intimidatingly large his Specials are, they're simple enough in practice and create a deeply enjoyable game plan that let Saul control the stage and expand his influence while fattening his wallet, producing allies, cars, or platforms and profiting off of their destruction while needing to be careful of how much wealth he hoards and the caveat that he still needs to land his Neutral Special regardless of how lucrative his own offensive or clever ploys have been- sticking the foe with charges is fairly easy for all but the most profitable of them, but getting the payout and leaving the foe holding the bag still requires Saul get in there and seal the deal himself.
The set is chock full of references that a non-fan such as myself can still appreciate, and that long-time fans no doubt would be happy to see in the set. For as crazy as it all gets in terms of animation, Saul's kit is still fairly simple in practice if not especially impressive, an important detail that allows players to think more about getting those charges and how best to spend that dough and encouraging them to engage with his mechanics to make up for it. There's combo strings, some KO options, it's a decent but underwhelming bag of tricks he can use when down on his luck and out of cash, but the lack of Specials beyond ones costing money or setting up for getting money means he'll be at a disadvantage if players get lax. The statue of limitations also means he's encouraged to be aggressive even when he's snowballing hard with helpers, fast cars, his face plastered on billboards and dangerous objects scattered about, since he'll lose his reward quick if he doesn't act now.
While there's not any one input I'd point to as amazingly creative, I find Saul Goodman is an excellent set and proof that you two make a good team.
More than a little late to say this (and a touch redundant given we've chatted plenty since you joined the discord) but welcome to MYM! This lovely offering is a great foot in the door showing off what you can do. Ilias is an extremely powerful super heavyweight, suffering from a weakness to juggles and slow frame data as typically expected of that class, but amping up the power and reach of her attacks to extreme heights and letting her plow through weaker attacks to compensate, needing only win a few exchanges to secure a stock, though limited combo potential means she does still need to work for it.
This simple yet solid core concept is far from one note, with her assorted attacks having evocative animation descriptions and all having a means to react to or work around their presence that essentially sells the experience of fighting a Final Boss, Illias' masterful control of neutral forcing opponents to fight defensively but decisively to evade and punish her mistakes over seizing the initiative themselves.
Each move has more to it than mere flash, too- aside from the showstopper sweetspot and late game (for Ilias) insta-kill effect on Jab to set the pace of the set, Down Tilt's massive horizontal coverage can press the foe into an aerial approach where Ilias can utilize her potent air game that pulls back the curtain a bit on her true nature, Dash Attack can hinder foes trying to get into the air to escape her grounded game or approach with their own standard Forward Aerial approach tool. Back Aerial has a fun touch of movement attached to it that meshes neatly with her multiple jumps, and Forward Aerial's multiple hitboxes and decent frame data make it a vital multitool- even its sourspot serves a key role as one of her few combo tools!
I do feel like a short-hopped Forward or Up Aerial might be a little too good at stuffing air approaches between their (relatively) low start up and great reach for that to count as a noted weakness, but I don't think it's an issue since each of Ilias' attacks have their own weaknesses and blindspots that allow working around them on approach, and even those two moves aren't fully safe on whiff (and notably lack armor compared to some of her other attacks with good coverage/passable frame data). It's more that she's better at dealing with grounded approaches than outright bad at dealing with air approaches, which fits when her neutral game is meant to be suitably god-like. I feel they should be kept as they are, since they're a necessary part of her balance and fill important niches in her set.
I'm not much help on the balance side of things, as that's always been my weak point- most everything feels good, having awe-inspiring power and coverage but suffering from lack of truly fast options and much of her more potent tools being reactable. Down Special's timer raised an eyebrow for me (there are stocks that don't last 15 seconds and it's not super uncommon even at high levels of play), but given the buffs and how it opens up assists that compensate for her primary weakness it feels like the reward justifies the work for it, and she has enough survivability to see it done enough to not just be an easter egg. Up Special's duration might allow for some stalling, but I adore the extreme dichotomy of its ups and downs as a perfect complement to her all-extremes design.
A neat character choice with a fun partner gimmick, Felicia's cart sounds like a blast to use in practice, I love constructs you can smack around for fun and profit. Her partners also serve as a nice reward, giving the Sheik-like Felicia some proper KO options that her baseline Smash comparison point is sorely lacking or enhancing her damage/gimp potential enough to compensate. The set has a good time with the clutzy maid and her friends (or 'friends') and cracks plenty of jokes, and while that might be a turn off to some readers I found it kind of relaxing.
Mechanically, you might want to trim some of the timers down. The wait time on Down Special for the Tea for example could be shortened to 10 seconds (as could the respawn time for the cart), as it's fairly easy for a stock to end in that time on top of needing to set the cart and then return when your partner has arrived. This extends to a few of the other timers, too- the 10 second timer on knives is fine to prevent spam as intended, but a 45 second duration on the Chilling Wind cloud and its debuff lasting 12 seconds along with the move taking a total of 8.5 seconds to perform are all numbers that are kind of crazy- 8 second duration for cloud and debuff, drop the move down to a Falcon Punch of frame data if you're really wanting to make sure it's laggy, and put a 1 cloud at a time cap (new use despawns old cloud)/despawn on defeat limit to prevent spam instead, with a 'one horse at a time' limit for the Peri Forward Smash, for just a few numbers off the top of my head.)
There's a few other things here I can mention- Up Special has a hanging sentence fragment at the end of it (I assume the point is that Felicia is able to act out of the move as an important part of her rushdown combo game?) and that it could probably use even just a weak hitbox as she rises to make it slightly safe, while also letting it function as risky combo glue to chase foes after knocking them away with an upward knockback attack.
On the subject of Peri FTilt, since the concern that the movement might not be super useful was brought up, an idea is she might have a slight arc to her travel and the ability to cancel into an aerial, keeping her (above max air speed) momentum until that aerial ends, she travels the maximum distance, or she hits a foe, making the move a high commitment air approach option that makes up for being locked into the movement and the start lag by being her fastest 'in' with an aerial move.
Flora's FTilt got me thinking, too; I quite like that it had a utility effect that let you teleport to your last thrown dagger, while leaving Felicia's own Forward Tilt intact so she had a proper attack for the input. This would obviously be a bit of re-jiggering, but what if that was the default for standards, aerials, and -maybe- her grab (and the throws she used from said grab would be the associated version), I.E. tap for Felicia and hold for her Partner's? Would open up her options wonderfully while letting her keep her own tools so there's no potential downsides to recruiting the Partners you work so hard for.
Aside from that, the Throws felt a little bland mechanically (fluff-wise the set stays interesting from start to finish) and could use a little expanding on, perhaps just elaborating some of your best options out of them- the set does a good job of making mention of this combo or that early on, but it sort of drops off near the end and I'd have liked a little more reference to what move leads well into what given her rushdown nature.
This comment might've sounded negative, but honestly this is a set that got me thinking and what's there is some cool (no pun intended) stuff so I came up with a lot to suggest. Like with my last comment, I'm a touch late to say this, but welcome to MYM! I hope to see a lot more sets like these from you and your pals!
Adramelech pays some obvious homage to Ilias in her moves and fits into the same overarching category of overwhelming power, though in her case it's a matter of evoking dread and desperation in her opponents. While not quite carrying the initial 'wow' factor of Ilias' powerful blows, Adramelech is no slouch to start and slowly escalates as the match comes ticking closer to its end, eventually matching the Goddess in power and carrying speed and the ability to ruin her opponent that Ilias can't hope to match, effectively forcing foes to play aggressively.
I wasn't sure how to feel about the timer manipulation at first, something very experimental and not something I've seen done in a long time (and Adramelech is significantly better about it than what few old examples come to mind). Ultimately, I find it's a cool central gimmick that makes every fight against her feel intense while still being effectively 'fair', and the predictable nature of it means any particularly snobbish hypothetical tournaments need just make a short detour to adjust the timer to double its normal amount before letting the match play out.
This ultimately means a lot of my feelings about Adramelech are similar to those for Ilias, but I think she edges out the Goddess as my favorite of the two for having that experimental twist of a mechanic. I would still say there's things that could be done, toying with the throws a little more to detail what specifically she can do out of a given throw, or describing a touch more how certain moves may play off of each other (potential 50/50s if not actual combos), but the set is hardly lacking in that aspect. My only regret is I don't have as much to say about the set, when it's also a super solid outing. Nice work!
Jo'on and Shion Yorigami
It's fun to see your take on a more speedy combo-centric character after your two one-hit wonder powerhouses, and the set does an excellent job at mentioning your starters, enders, and extenders while making sure each is different enough from each other to not be redundant (and including a list of combo chains and shield pressure options at the end of the set was very nice!). What's also fun is seeing the explanation of old vs new moves, how the design process fo the pair changed between versions while also getting a sense of the role each new move takes in the set. Down Aerial in particular was a delight from among her standards and aerials, and her unique dash is fun to imagine.
The Smashes break away a bit from her playstyle, but I feel that that's fine- the fact her main KO moves are hard to land is entirely reasonable given her difficulty securing a KO is an intended balance for being a combo monster, and they add a flair of added character with how wasteful Jo'on is. Speaking of flair, her Specials certainly bring plenty to the table- while I'm curious what Shion's debuffs were, I do like her current use as a projectile that can turn into a movement option and a free long-range teleport if used properly, as well as boosting Jo'on's throws (though the damage numbers feel a bit imposing there, but that might just be my imagination).
Side Special is simple on paper and fantastic in practice, being a straightforward good burst mobility tool that applies heavy shield pressure and can start combos off right. It got a lot of mention over the course of the set, so it was a bit amusing that it turned out to be a normal but very solid tool compared to some of the craziness sets get up to, in a very refreshing way. Up Special is a unique one that's interesting in the opposite way, good for retreats out of disadvantage and middling off-stage. Down Special's command grab leading into one of two very good attacks with their own follow-ups is a nice way to round out the set, though I can definitely recommend dropping the damage numbers some.
I didn't have as much to say here as for Ilias, but Jo'on and Shion speak for themselves as a solid combo character with some very neat tricks.
Black Dahlia by Unknown Fate
...no longer seems to exist? I can't complain, with how much I'm struggling to finish reading and commenting the whole contest, but hopefully that was intentional and the set isn't lost to time by mistake.
Well, can't say I ever expected someone to tackle this character. I had only very fleeting familiarity with the Super Show, so I didn't know there was such a gap in personality between King Koopa and Bowser, but the cartoon antics in this set are something to see- from tossing down the classic banana in his Dash Attack as a tripping sort-of-but-not-really sweetspot that can lead to a free Smash to wielding a plunger for his Down Throw, the idea is he leverages reasonable low start-up on his attacks and stage control to make up for the weaknesses of what otherwise is a statistically standard super heavyweight, and it makes for an odd if interesting character concept. There's even a quick summary of how he plays in advantage and a few example match-ups at the end, which is appreciated.
In terms of execution, once you're past the references and impressively cartoony nature of the character, the set is a little vague in places about the exact coverage or range of moves and movement (how high is D-Smash's jump, how big/spread out/far away are the pigeons in U-Smash in relation to King Koopa, stuff like that) and the assorted tilts, aerials, and smashes are functional, doing what they need to do, but don't have a ton going on in them. There's still touches like the aforementioned Dash Attack's trip effect and Neutral Aerial being a proper damage racking option/good defensive aerial move, but I'd love stuff like an awkward sweetspot here or there to take advantage of how much he has going on to corral opponents, and maybe an early sourspot on one or two moves that won't give him anything but will reset to neutral as a bit of safety to strengthen his melee game (catching opponents out and shoving them away as a thematic and flavor-opposite to Bowser's Tough Guy armor plowing through attacks with grit and brute force).
It's the Specials that really stand out as a positive in the set, fulfilling the playstyle summary promised at the start of a character with impressive stage control and the ability to snowball in advantage to make up for the heavyweight-typical disadvantage. Down Special is a high-commitment mode change that nevertheless gives King Koopa a solid defense between its armor and passive falling/bouncing hitbox, with the explosive mechakoopas he can deploy threatening a decent bit of space at a time. Neutral Special gives him a much-needed answer to ranged attacks, not only serving as one itself but letting him punish overly predictable zoning attempts.
Side Special is your pick of three minions from a wheel (I feel you could probably select them by angling the control stick diagonally up/forward/diagonally down but that's a personal taste matter) who can be removed from the match for some time with a strong enough attack, but provide some passive threats between Tryclyde's fireball projectile, Mouser's kamikaze-style explosive AoE, and Koopa Troopa' persistent chase. I think you could afford to cut the cooldown on them to 15 seconds if KOed and 10 seconds between normal uses and maybe limit King Koopa to one at a time instead for balance purposes (mostly thinking of a hypothetical King Koopa 8-man match with them quickly outputting all three minions and then setting four mechakooopas), but the minions themselves feel balanced.
Fluff-wise, his cartoon nature does justify the bumbling animations, though it feels a bit odd that characters would try to run from this guy out of B-Throw- maybe a better animation would be him 'gently' ushering them along with one hand before shoving them with his leg stuck out to trip them? Mostly I just imagine Ganondorf or Ridley in this context and it's weird. I otherwise consider the visuals and love toward the source material one of the more admirable traits of this set, with this being the sole nitpick I have about them.
This set is a fine self-introduction to MYM, the FFC having made quite the splash in their first outing here on Smashboards- it's good to have you!
And right back in the game, we have another Han set! La Croix is an interesting one, with a forced transformation after a set amount of damage that's more frail and technical, using her powerful initial set to try and get as big a lead on her opponent as possible with form two cleaning up after in an ideal situation, or form two scrambling to deal with the opponent after a bad initial showing.
La Croix doesn't feel quite as fleshed-out as your three initial submissions (which makes sense since you said she was an older set), but still has her share of interesting touches and a neat central mechanic. Ilias and Adramelech both had a nice amount of detail into each move's usage in their gameplans and how they tied into other moves while summing it up efficiently in about a quarter of the words it'd take my verbose shmuck self to take, while La Croix feels a little too abridged in that area- though that may be an attempt to keep things simple for what is actually almost an 8
-in-1 character due to how her second form works, and there's a few neat tricks on display like with Zenovia's directional aerials being usable in tandem with each other, Fernandez borrowing Link's shield mechanic, and Roza leaving a small trail that can do small bits of damage to the foe and up her speed slightly (and her Down Tilt was interesting).
Still, I appreciate forethought like form 1 Dash Attack working as a way to finish an injured foe should La Croix be KOed herself before she can seal the deal on her prior stock. I was a little worried about Down Air in form 1 being compared to Steve's anvil, but the fact she might be going down with the ship if she tries to use it as a finisher (since the knockback angle changes if she jumps off) helps- though that also feels like she might need a once-per air trip limit to avoid stalling depending on the start-up/time before she can jump off.
I'm more uncomfortable with the possibility of the control reversing status applied via form 1 Jab, given it's both an annoying bit of muscle memory for players and the random chance means you can't even expect it and start to react accordingly. The poison might be a bit mean for sheer damage output, but the fact it could easily not see its full payout over a single stock before she finishes a foe or they KO her means it's not as big a stand-out issue for me, with the other effects feeling perfectly fine.
Aside from that, the individual moves are mostly inoffensive. Roza FAir getting nerfed after the first time it hits successfully bugs me a bit- maybe make it debuffed while staled and give La Croix's NSpec the added benefit of removing staling from the affected monster's moves, if you keep this idea? Might be a reference to her zombies needing constant upkeep to prevent rot if that's an issue that comes up. Her zombie sailor is a cool concept, a mook whose patrol area is determined by where she's moved, but you might want to limit her to one at a time and make it despawn when the water trail it's on vanishes if it's carried over. Despite having the most complaints, I find her portion of the kit the most interesting.
The AI/"Far" Monsters are interesting as sort of balancing points in that some have good moves but don't prioritize them, or don't really mesh with their paired monster. I'm sort of a fan of these, even if you choose to fully flesh them out instead it might be neat to have that sort of anti-synergy present as a means to compensate for the two-monsters-at-once aspect. Aside from Aria's Embrace grab release timer being way too long, they seem reasonably balanced by that.
While the set definitely shows its age, La Croix is a genuinely interesting idea, and I'm excited to see the remake when it's finished!
I know it's a joke set, but there's a bit of effort here with the images and all, so quick actual comment: the concept of a joke character that's mostly underpowered but has a few decently strong moves tied to a 1-off resource it gets back after some time is neat, and I have to give you credit for the novelty of picking a shoe of all things and making up the animations and visual references for said animations to get a final product.
Lots of Han sets here to start off this chunk of reading, eh? Making the meter a requirement for dodges, rolls, and shields got a kneejerk reaction from me; it feels downright punishing, even with them having exceptionally strong positive qualities attached in exchange. Individually the cost is balanced, but the fact that all of her standardized defensive options are tied to this cost and lost without the resources to pay for them means she is in immediate and immense danger if she enters disadvantage, and this also makes using her Specials something I'd be reluctant to do.
However, the fact she does get meter back at the rate of 1 segment per second after a pause in using the meter effectively means that seizing the advantage will let her recoup her loses quickly. Still, a broken meter taking 20 seconds to repair is waaaaay too long even as punishment for a big mistake- maybe make it take 5 seconds, with the meter then having to recharge from 0 with the delay before it recharges counting down from the moment it repairs?
The moves themselves are more striking individually than in your prior submissions, even if not as awe-inspiring in their power as Ilias and Adramelech's attacks in animation, though Mima's mischievous nature shines just the same. She presents a feeling of power and control, a constant pressure that lets her rule the stage, though not with the same feeling of effortlessness as they do (which is funny given her frame data is a little more kind to her in exchange for not having literally world-breaking powers).
There's more consistently fun and interesting qualities to each attack, like Forward Aerial's lingering hitbox and the assorted uses for meter sprinkled throughout wrapped up with some fun Specials, while still having that flashy gameplan and feel of someone who's strong and knows it all too well. The key is rather than her power all being upfront, it's in the little follow-ups or secondary qualities that make her more of a technical fighter and capable of doing things you wouldn't expect her to do when you least expect it, then subverting expectations again when she finds another route.
While I use them as an easy positive comparison point, Mima is experimental in a different way from them- rather than an overall statistical advantage or a unique interaction with the match timer, Mima's base concept is simpler, her mechanic being a resource to force her to think with her arsenal over one that exaggerates her strengths, while her individual moves are more off the wall in their effects (not to say the other sets lack that, but their tricks tend to be more direct in the form of big bigger and badder), and feels even more solid in execution. It's hard to say how I'd rank them, but Mima is a solid set on her own merits and another welcome submission to the contest for sure.
(Also random kudos here to Shad because that Mima art is clean)
Celica A. Mercury
Seeing characters from other fighting games adapted to Smash is always interesting, from what mechanics are carried over to how certain things translate or what moves might be invented or modified to fill in potential gaps. Celica has a pair of potent Quartercircles (command input moves) that are unlocked by fulfilling three conditions, which includes using up your two-per-stock uses of her potent Down Special. It's an intriguing idea.
Under the hood, Celica falls under the heavyweight archetype- big, strong, hard to KO, but she has a few good approach and ranged options as well as a solid air game that alleviate the weaknesses of that archetype, especially Side Special. Poor vertical recovery and a lacking grab and grab game are her chief issues, something I think could be compounded if her attacks had difficulty with shields to give her something she more distinctly struggles with.
Her Smashes, Specials, and Quartercircles stand out in the set as the most interesting parts mechanically (there's a decent few animations that are very interesting in terms of visuals and personality, helped by you providing images), going over their niches in her set and highlighting how good they feel to use or when best to use them. I feel a little bit more of that in her other moves would be the biggest suggestion I could give, noting moves that serve as shield pressure or a response to air or grounded approaches, etc- Celica's not much for combos, but it could pay to mention when she has a good potential follow-up out of a move to threaten opponents with.
Both of her Quartercircles are excellent rewards when they become available, doing some serious damage and having a lot of flash to them, though still not being an instant win button so much as something opponents have to play carefully around while trying to deal with the tanky Celica. I feel that given they're locked behind conditions as one of Celica's unique qualities, they could receive some small buffs like a little less start lag to make them more threatening without removing their weakness of being punishable on whiff. Something to make their use more prevalent while she has them while still giving players something to think about in regards to when they use up her Down Specials.
I wasn't aware of Celica's existence before this set, my interest in Blazblue having waned with time, but she's certainly a character I'd like to learn more about someday now that I am.
Speaking of fighting game characters! Rugal brings the feel of power from his boss fight to Smash, and I adore the idea of letting him access his God Rugal form and its associated final boss-tier baloney if he fights well enough and saves up his meter. The 20 second duration at first raised an eyebrow for me, but it's entirely justified given he has to charge up 3 gauges and spend some of that duration with each of his big special moves, as well as the fact that it'll be late enough in the match that surviving even with his buffs earns each second you're around to use it.
I love the flashier special moves and command input options, but I will note some of his normals are basic in their description/get glossed over, and could use a little more description in places about their usage in relation to the rest of the kit. The set references the origin of several of the moves, so it can be assumed that some of their original purpose is carried over, but mentioning them here for those uninitiated with the character and to cover how Smash's platform fighter nature might change things would be a good idea.
While I'm nitpicking, the reflector's multiplier might need a small nerf; 2x is pretty dang potent, even if the counter is tied to meter, so I feel you could knock the two multipliers down by .4 or so (1.6 normal/2.1 God Rugal) to keep it very powerful without feeling too crazy.
...I like that name more than I should, but I'm also not writing it over and over. Tetsu times four's main selling point is his Neutral Special buff, his Quirk, which gives him a slew of durability benefits and allows him to be more aggressive for the duration (which is listed as double the time spent charging it at first but later stated to be equal to the charge time? I feel the former is better).
I think the set could benefit from leaning into that buff more with small synergistic touches in how the normals are designed; some random ideas off the top of my head:
* Jab 1 that's exactly 4 frames of start-up to have the armor be exactly equal to the wind-up, and maybe even giving the follow-up hits similar start lag just to let him power through attacks with the combo if the opponent doesn't time their offensive carefully.
* Let the player hold the Dash Attack input to delay the attack, so he does the shoulder charge on release with armor kicking in the moment he starts, letting him bait dodges or shield drops and punch through what's meant to be a quick poke.
* A move that has armor based on knockback, so the added weight of the buff lets it keep functioning a little later into the stock.
* A strong throw whose animation is long, meaning you're losing your buff duration to use it in exchange for it being easier to grab the foe to start and the big pay-off of this throw in particular if you choose it over the others.
* A weak but very fast combo throw, letting you conserve your buff but still get a respectable combo starter out of grab.
It'd add a little more depth to the normal inputs across the set. One other thought for that could be to play a little more with different types of armor, like those inputs having armor that applies only to areas he'd turn to metal as part of the attack by default and NSpec gives him more protection to the normally vulnerable spots.
On the positive side, SSpec is a fun move for its pseudo-command dash state, Tetsu 4 the Tetsuing running over to deliver a powerful hit and letting him work around the Falcon Punch-esque start lag by winding up out of the foe's reach or in anticipation of their landing/recovery. FTilt is a short move, but it caught my eye for the reflector quality (might need a small nerf to the damage multiplier) and the animation sounding hilarious in tandem with each other, just a nice character moment for the set, same with Up Tilt having a sort of volleyball-like animation of constantly bouncing the foe back into the air with repeat uses. The smashes at the end give the set a high note ending for the characterization, with the Forward and Up Smashes serving as fighting game references due to the character's love of them putting a smile on my face.
A suitably stylish as hell set with highly animated, well, animations, Goro Majima sells his Mad Dog moniker through his unique respawn gimmick (though you might want to stipulate the costume one only happens with/for a foe on-stage so he doesn't plummet to his doom off stage by rng), flashy Heat Actions, and being an ambitious 4 in 1 set with each 'Style' having its own inputs, visual flair, playstyle, and a central mechanic that's either as simple as powering through hits with Slugger or extending hitboxes with Breaker.
I loved Mad Dog Down Special, with it standing out in a set where the Specials and Heat Attacks felt like the main attraction. The Heat Attacks speaking of are a fun mechanic that gives the Mad Dog bite, as where his attacks are highly kinetic and might tempt the foe to go in swinging to put a stop to his fun, his Heat Attacks serve as a means to completely shift the momentum back in his favor. While the Style-specific Heat Attacks are functionally a few number changes and a fresh coat of paint to the same moves, they go the extra mile in terms of giving Majima his personality in the set. Slugger's being missing is a shame, but someone already brought that up in the Amino comments, so eh.
The Style-specific gimmicks are a cool touch, though I do have nitpicks here. Mad Dog's buff to speed and attack (I assume damage and not knockback since a 25% knockback buff could get crazy and undercut Slugger's role as a KO-generating machine) might be a touch strong and needs to mention the duration of the buff, and Slugger not flinching from foes' attacks needs some clarification- I assume knockback still is applied and it's supposed to mean that attacks that don't push him a notable distance back won't cause him to flinch, rather than him outright never taking hitstun.
Individual inputs outside of Specials/Heat Attacks suffer some- they all cover the basic info and mention their uses, or their shortcomings, but feel like they could be fleshed out if only a little more to make a more satisfying whole- bringing up weaknesses certain styles may have due to moves not covering a certain angle (literal or metaphorical) would help. Building off of the gimmick of each set would help- Mad Dog's buff from multiple hits could turn some combo strings true, and noting which are a reliable means to get that mechanic (Mad Dog Down Special itself could easily get him going if he uses it right!) for example. Breaker does a good job of fleshing moves out by way of adding the hold functionality to several of them, as a positive in this area.
I came away from the set with a positive impression, and a renewed appreciation for the character I'm mostly aware of through osmosis and the fact that one of the Capcom games has Goro mention that Phoenix Wright had to defend him in court once (with him thanking Wright again for his 'brilliant' advice like "don't punch the judge"- instantly made me a fan). Nice work.
And now that the always-hectic weekend is behind me, it's back to commenting! I had a good time reading Anna yesterday, the first thing sticking out to me among many things is how much I appreciated the set's user friendliness- both for the hypothetical player with the specials having to be held to confirm purchases and avoid loss of precious resources over misinputs, and for the very real reader who is given the full explanation of the thought process behind each move and the role it serves in the set. With precious resources being gathered and spent with care being a part of the playstyle, that little extra leeway is extremely useful for those learning to balance fighting with Anna and managing her tools at the same time, and even high level players would likely appreciate the user friendly experience- something people (hi) tend to overlook as we work on our crazy complex high execution sets these days.
Getting to the point, Anna's main draw is how her money mechanic is in fact central to two aspects of her kit that she can control, replacing her equipment, and adjusting her bag and stats. The theme is similar, with Anna able to invest high for high return with some minor risks (silver weapons' lacking durability/lack of combo potential early and her bag's negative effect on her mobility) that drastically changes how she feels to handle without actually complicating her swordie set in terms of what you need to know by replacing whole moves or adding excess moving parts to the process that normally is a risk with stance or weapon change characters.
That's not to say her inputs aren't individually interesting, either- Up Aerial comes to mind as using its lopsided frame data to make it a very unique tool in her kit, which is normally on the faster side for her sword moves, and her bow moves have their trade-offs in exchange for giving her a few valid ranged options. Even her Side Special which is the most disconnected from her main two money-based tricks feels at home, being one last option for if you really want to go big or go home by spending your hard-earned cash for big returns- effectively a nice little microcosm of the feel of manipulating her resources all across the rest of her set.
The to-do list at the end covers basically any suggestion I could give, so mostly I'm just here to praise some of the high points of the set and its concept. The adjustments listed there sound good to me. For throws, I feel like you could probably help by using a cheat of mine, with two throws being fast enough that DI-ing expecting one will mess you up with the other (FThrow/BThrow? DI the wrong way and you get comboed/KOed more easily), DThrow works nicely as a reward for your money hoarding with a full bag, and UThrow could be a more reliable but lower pay-off combo option leading into her aerials consistently (where FThrow is better if the opponent DIs wrong and leads into her grounded options), as a way to distinguish them. You could also make the two combo throws have the DI option so opponents are left guessing at early in the stock, or give the KO throw an extra hitbox after the toss proper that'll stop connecting true from the throw at mid-percents but can be accidentally DI'd into if they were expecting the combo throw.
A Farming Simulator set is a new one for me, but I can't object. MYM has dabbled with special vehicle-riding fighters before, but frankly, your idea of giving The Farmer Tough Guy armor works a lot better than some examples of that hot mess in the past, and the mechanic of passively upgarding your ride as you gather a resource and how that resource is accumulated works out to give the character a distinct feel beyond the part of being a guy in a tractor.
The assorted attachments produced by moves and the vehicle being operated by a farmer makes for some fun animations, but the mechanics are what drew my eye. Since you're producing your resource behind yourself as you move forward on the ground, that resource is measured in volume (I.E. more space covered = more crops = more money), and you need to move back over it with Neutral Special, you've created a character whose goal is to keep pushing aggressively to chase the foe up and down the stage, first to sow, then to reap.
To that end, I'd recommend having some moves focus on crossing up or dealing knockback that pops foes up and over behind the tractor, letting you do your back and forth as needed or escape being in the corner in tough fights that aren't going your way. The crops growing on the ground also gives you a little comeback potential, rewarding you when you regain ground after the opponent has pushed you back. Other moves should be spacers that shunt the foe back so you can keep pressing forward, intercepting cross-ups of their own by putting them back in front of you, and so on. The input animations are creative and at times hilarious- Up Aerial comes to mind- but don't quite feed into this core gameplay as much as I'd love.
The fact you got a full set for Farming Simulator is pretty dang cool, and the idea just got my creative juices going. Reading this was a nice pick-me-up after a rough day yesterday!
This iconic walking bomb's set has a simple but fun centerpiece to its gameplan: it can go kaboom, and it can set up explosive gunpowder all around the stage to make sure you do too. Aside from the primary way to set gunpowder everywhere, a few of its own moves do the trick, or even move patches of it around and spread it to ensure the opponent is navigating a minefield that can go off at any moment and giving something of a twist to some of its moves in the set. It can even set fire to these patches via Shield Special, letting you start more of a slow burn chain reaction over immediately blasting the stage to smithereens.
Given its singular goal in game and simple behaviors, as well as its unfavorable body type, you did a valiant job of trying to milk this monster for as much potential as you could. The set has some difficulty beyond its core concept of lacking KO options and needing to use its big explosion to finish the job, as well as that's utilized (and balanced out with start lag and painful self-damage if it whiffs), so my main thought is trying to find things the set can do with those moves aside from their production and manipulation of gunpowder while still playing to its game plan.
There is the lack of ranged options beyond gunpowder set-up that makes foes more prone to trying to space it out (as if trying to get a creeper away from your house in Minecraft) is a nice touch, so I'd keep that aspect. Giving the Creeper a strong quick poke that makes opponents wary of approaching as befitting of the creature comes to mind. Maybe a potent reset to neutral tool that pushes foes far away while giving creeper a significant frame lead out of it- too far to blow them up, but if you've got your gunpowder where you want it, they might not have a means of escape.
Beyond those, and this is odd to say for the character, but some short combo strings involving the moves that produce gunpower would work- every exchange Creeper wins doesn't do a ton on its own, but means he gets more and more of that precious gunpowder set all over while opponents are no closer to doing it in.
Again, I gotta give kudos for making a set for a creature known for one highly self-destructive means of attack. I am really loving the character picks y'all made.
Mephilies the Dark
Now here's a fun pick; knowing what went on behind the scenes for Sonic 06's development, I've found myself willing to give that game more of a break, as flawed as it is. Mephilies seemed like one of the strongest parts of it and what it could've been. Right off he starts with three simple mechanics, two of which are unique to him; while I do worry about him being able to low-profile certain characters, I do think everyone has at least a couple ways to hit him while crouched down that low, so not an issue there. I was almost going to recommend Shade letting him briefly disable the fighting game characters' auto-turn in 1v1 to let him get around that issue, but Side Special already accounted for it, perfectly enough.
Mephilies is an interesting case, a hardcore zoner, but his mechanic In Your Shadow does extra damage to opponents you nail in the back or from directly above/below, almost encouraging him to risk directly engaging in order to cross the opponent up, and his low weight and slower attacks mean he has a suitably painful disadvantage state that Smash zoners often frustratingly lack. You're encouraged to be a little more daring overall, and not as frustrating as other uber zoners would be, so I feel that that's a good balance. I can see the thought here in the standards and other inputs, not just in his long-ranged attacks, but with moves like Up Tilt being a potent anti-air that's disjointed and placed ahead of him, thus not protecting directly above himself, and Dash Attack doing well for that cross-up to possibly get In Your Shadow off.
I think what stole the show for me, though, are the imperfect clones. I love the feeling of having lots of little disposable mooks/constructs in games, and that in part inspired something similar for me with Bubble Witch Marin a ways back- though these clones are a bit more substantial than her little bubbles, with a control scheme that's simple, but a real winner. They serve not just as a great defensive tool (albeit one that may be too potent for how much damage it can let him avoid) but a payoff for zoning the foe out long enough to get a good crowd going, providing either a solid combo extender as they fall one by one, or a finishing blow proper as they ram into the opponent en masse.
I think Mephilies might by my favorite of your sets that I've read so far; I do wish the clones came up in the rest of the set some more, but the combos section at the end of the set and details under individual inputs do give a nice idea of how he plays and gels with the stated goal, making for a solid entry!
Here's another fun pick! Calamitas' backstory is honestly pretty interesting, and as limited as my interest in Terraria and its mod scene are, it was enough to hook me on reading the set when I was having a bit of trouble getting into reading today. The set makes good use of the various drops from her boss fight to fill out her kit in full, and the concept of bullet hell in a fighting game is always a fun one, even if there's no doubt plenty of reason to eyeball the balance of such sets.
Though truthfully, I feel there's an immediate buff that could be made; Abyssal Flames tacking on an extra 6% on hit with a small percentile chance, with the damage being a non-stacking DoT that only 'refreshes' its duration if it procs again is pretty minor without anything else to it. I feel you could afford to make it a sure thing in its current form- the 3 second duration cap keeps Calamitas from tagging foes and running away, and the low damage means it won't get overwhelming even if she can keep it on the foe for an extended period in spite of that cap with how fast Smash Ultimate is, but it'd still be an appreciable amount if she keeps up the assault.
Her other mechanic, Revengence Mode, is more interesting. What specifically caught my eye was the addition of her brothers Cataclysm and Catastrophe, who limit the opponent's movement by hanging out (one above them, one on the side opposite to Calamitas of them) and moving closer or farther as Calamitas herself does. Being able to just destroy them and the long delay between each of their shots keeps the mechanic from being too oppressive while still contributing to the bullet hell style the set is going for.
It's a shame the set doesn't make much mention of them past the mechanic section; they'd be a real treat to manipulate as you fight via your own movement, such as a cross-up logically seeing the opponent hit by one brother as it passes them at the same time. It does feel like the set could afford to note some favorable positions for exploiting the brothers and other passive hitboxes and projectiles, like if input A could cut off the easy escape route around input B.
Always did like Geno, though my party in the game always wound up being Mario Bowser and Peach after a certain point. I've kept a soft spot for SMRPG:LotSS in my heart since it played a role in introducing me to turn-based rpgs, a favorite genre of mine (Pokemon technically being the first for me, but this and later The Legend of Dragoon sealed the deal).
Getting to the actual set itself, this iteration of Geno tries to tackle a few of the things that make him a surprisingly complicated subject in a neat way- timed hits rather than being a mechanic for extra boom is a way to cancel some of the end lag on two of his specials, which is a neat way of implementing a reference to them without trying to make a 1 for 1 copy of the original timed hits mechanic from the game work in Smash where frame-tight execution is standard and moving targets would further complicate things. A few of his weapons from the game proper are utilized for individual inputs, to the set's benefit, and the mix of ranged and melee options make him something of an effective switch-hitter who can dish out damage a plenty from either range without being too campy.
His more abstract moves- his self buff and his big special attacks that hit chunks of the screen in LotSS- are tied to a mechanic that costs a hard-earned resource (referencing the charging meter for when he's performing certain special moves in-game), getting around just having an oddly huge hitbox or potent effect on a button or being able to buff himself freely (which would be an odd pace-breaker unless you're really trying to capture a certain feel that Geno likely isn't going for) or being nerfed into a shadow of what we see in the game.
That said, some of his big reward options are a stretch flavor-wise, done to accommodate there being seven of the titular seven stars. I can't comment on the balance of them given how hard it is to charge one or more stars is vague, and Geno himself is a bit frail, so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt there. I'm not usually a fan of moves that summon other characters like in Down Smash and one of the Down Special super moves as a personal nitpick, but hey, some compromise is needed.
I think a little more could've been done to bridge together the assorted aspects Geno has in his set; the projectile and melee game don't really feed into themselves or each other in a fascinating way, and aside from some big flashy attacks that are cool to conceive, the Down Special and the red stars that build up for it don't tie into the rest of the kit much, either. There's a collection of individually cool ideas and inputs here but I'm stumped in how to bring it together.
It's been a while since I've seen much Yo Kai Watch related, so this was a pleasant surprise. Skipping the jokes about Dedtime's ugly mug, I like the concept of the Neutral and Side Specials, debuffing foes until either a touch of damage is done to her or the mook is defeated respectively. The debuff itself is a little potent, though it does mean opponents' can start a combo on her more easily, and it's appropriately short-lived enough that I'm not sure if there's a balance issue.
The Side Special minions themselves are simple enough, each having their own movement pattern (or lack thereof in the case of the third minion) and attack. There's not a lot the set does to play off of them directly in terms of synergy or call-backs; I think giving Dame Dedtime some moves that are effective spacers that normally just reset to neutral without minions (with some start up issues to keep her poor disadvantage state flaw) would be neat, shunting foes into harm's way with her mooks. Maybe translate one of her bigger attacks into a multi-hitter so they're pinned down in place for a bit to let her minions do their work on top of landing the current effects?
It might be a bit mean, but you could even give the minions some damage-based armor (weak stuff, the intent being that Dame Dedtime's debuff makes it harder to get rid of the annoying jerks and makes them a little more threatening to deal with besides). As a side note, perhaps let players pick the first minion they get in rotation by angling the input (up for minion 1, forward for 2, down for 3)?
The throws section is a little anemic as is, so that might be a good place to implement some of this stuff- spacing throws or a damage throw that keeps the foe in place for a bit as the damage is gradually applied? Maybe a throw that has adjustable set knockback to pop foes one of three distances (forward or back throw with diagonally angling the input increasing or decreasing the distance)? Heck, make a throw start tech chases- possibly mixing the idea with the damage throw, with Dame Dedtime able to end the throw a little early with another input to throw off the opponent's tech timing, which also would have some synergy with the minions since they'd passively cover some space to limit the opponent's options for teching in/away/etc.
Zacian may not be my favorite legendary, but it's certainly a fun choice for a set! To start, I was worried Zacian's mechanic, high speed, Neutral Special, and Down Special would encourage hypothetical players to camp, but the lack of projectiles beyond Neutral Special and NSpec itself being unfit for KOs or even spacing means it's not an issue, so I appreciate the design choices there carefully circumventing that potential problem- pretty clever.
I do have an issue with the exact numbers- 1.5x knockback is a huge buff to KO power, especially since Zacian also has the ability to buff itself with Down Special and there's a chance of having both (on top of no duration being listed for the latter and Zacian getting a lag reduction on its attacks from the latter to boot).
I'd keep the damage buff of Down Special (with a timer), with the knockback buff being tied to the central mechanic. At early percents, the former is great for racking quick damage if the opponent tries to get a little too cheeky at a range and gives Zacian too much breathing room, and getting the mechanic buff won't disrupt your plays too early (Zacian's high speed helps it re-engage even mid-way into the stock). Having the knockback buff turn on after 3 seconds of not attacking also works since the most likely time for that to happen is when the foe is recovering from getting punted off-stage- letting your next hit almost certainly seal the deal as a flashy finisher.
On the subject of the mechanic, non-sword attacks could be excluded from the mechanic to give Zacian a means to fight without disrupting the timer until its buff is active/using the buff up accidentally, with some moves adjusted accordingly (add a headbutt to the start of its existing jab string, for example). Zacian could have a little more focus on the wolf half of the sword wolf equation, playing into some hit and run tactics where it abruptly leaps in to perform its attacks and then back, as a means to tie its mechanic and options together in a way that feels unique.
As a nitpick, I should note that the standard max charge time in Ultimate is 1 second, with the ability to delay releasing the attack an additional 3 seconds. The Smashes requiring 3 (or 4 for FSmash) seconds of charge to reach full power means most people won't be able to utilize the full power version. Also typically is 1.4x the base damage at full power, with Megaman's FSmash as one of the exceptions, but that's neither here nor there.
Monika's playstyle is an interesting one, a slow burn that focuses on zoning the foe out and slowly accumulating meter to enter her stronger mode where her control over the game is more effective, reflecting DDLC's story structure and her role in it- her defensive zoning tools become an oppressive offense and while she's not sending people careening over the blast zone with ease from the buff, she can bully them off stage and utterly stonewall their attempts to get back to solid ground, scoring the majority of her KOs by edgeguards and ledgetraps via Side Special's debuff and her excellent aerial options.
To touch on the animations for a moment, aside from liking that Up Tilt is a combo starter with that animation ("Okay, everyone!"), the use of the other three characters as props works for me here due to Monika's exact nature and personality where other sets rub me the wrong way for it.
I do feel the My Reality buff might be a bit strong, given once it's on, it's on- in particular, not dying via the bottom blast zone is pretty potent as an ability, even if there's some drawbacks like the opponent knowing when/where she'll reappear back on the stage. But that aside, there doesn't seem to be a ton I can knock here- the set is pretty solid and feels true to the character's personality.
and Worlder Ash
Ah, one of my favorite legendaries in theory and not so much in execution- glad to see a nicely thought-out set for the fellow (possibly two if Peridot has anything to say about it- this contest has been a real treat for character choices!). His notorious ability serves as a mechanic here, and it's an interesting way to implement it, being bad but not unusably so like his game counterpart for 2 minutes and then suddenly getting significantly better for the rest of the match.
I'm curious about the thought process that came to this, with the mention of other methods of having it be a stock-based timer or having it cycle as neat alternatives that were passed on (per stock would be my preference), but this ultimately does seem like it'd work well enough outside of some specific edge cases (matches with bizarrely short or long timers), and even in those Regigigas isn't unplayable at its worst or unstoppable at its best.
Moving past that, the set aims to make a traditional super heavyweight in feel, albeit exaggerated in its strengths and flaws, but also having options that help out with those flaws and the weaknesses the archetype entails- and I think it succeeds on that front, having a good variety of options that give it an out to juggles or painful combo chains, slow moves that aren't so slow as to be unusable and give it some neutral to speak of, and Neutral Special in particular helps a ton by letting it immediately put an opponent with a fresh stock in a bad way.
This is another case where I don't have a ton to suggest; the set has a few moves that are deliberately niche, but no more so than canon Smash sets and never outright useless, more a deliberate balancing measure. The change log here is much shorter than for Anna, but also similarly covers what few suggestions I would give.
(Apologies if the next few comments are terse in tone, I'm sleepy and rushing to get my thoughts down before I forget.)
A rushdown character who packs a mean punch, Wesker sounds like a blast to play as, especially with the flash step/teleporting mechanic. The set has a strong start with its mechanic and Specials; limiting the former to two uses per combo chain is a good call to keep it from getting too crazy, though the mix-up potential might be a bit crazy if there's not just the right amount of delay on the teleport, which I'm assuming is the idea. The latter are simple enough in concept, but capture the right feel and work nicely in the context of the whole set.
Aside from a small nitpick with the Up Special (mentions it goes farther than Zelda and Palutena's, but then mentions it's a touch shorter than Palutena's in exchange for being faster- the latter sounds right to me) the throws could use a little more, as could the aerials. Exploring some of Wesker's combo chains would help in both cases- for example his throws could be geared mainly toward combos and (if you tweak the mechanic to let him teleport after a throw) mix-ups, with one leading into an aerial chain, another into a reliable grounded chain, and a third not having anything true out of it but allowing for a potentially rewarding read (or being more immediately valuable in pay out but requiring he burn a teleport to get it). For his Aerials, describing their uses in neutral or ways they can play into his rushdown would do nicely.
Now that's a neat choice; something of an underrated Gym Leader, Raihan comes in with his Ace to do the bulk of the fighting but utilizing the rest of his team for support in a neat twist on the double battle representation, and even brings in his weather effect focus as a mechanic- all the while, Duraludon has a flair for the dramatic or flashy in some of its moves, emphasizing that this is Raihan's in specific and setting it apart from a set for a Duraludon specifically.
I like the ideas here, but would love if the two big draws had a bit of a tweak or twist to them- the weather effects are potent when they show up, but the low chance of them happening on specific moves does make it a little hard to use in-depth. A small nerf to the effects and a reliable 'if x or y move is used, switch to z weather for a short time' over a percentile chance would appeal to me, but that's personal taste. Letting Duraludon swap weather as part of its attacks more consistently would make for some interesting snap decisions on which move to use when in situations where there's multiple options or mix-ups or 50/50s to consider.
For the assists, they do some cool stuff just by effectively being disjoints from Duraludon, and preventing it from moving or performing another attack until they're done is probably a right call- but I couldn't help but wonder if there'd be some cool potential if Duraludon could move, just not attack, while they're in play. It's not particularly nimble, so this and the circular area weather effect centered on it would create some interesting plays where you get into position to immediately threaten the foe or ensure they're ensnared by the rain, sun, or sand surrounding it.
(Small side nitpick: Up Special is erroneously mentioned as "Up Smash" in its own description.)
Apollyon ports over some mechanics from For Honor in the set's aim to convey its brutality and game feel and Apollyon's personality- a highly aggressive fighter who will run roughshod over sheep that try to turtle up or who spam attacks in a panic. Parry lets her go on the offensive more immediately off of a succcessful defense than other characters, and her lifesteal status letting her live longer and get more procs of her Revenge buff by sheer bloody-minded aggression (done smart). The set even has a few ways to make foes suffer for letting her get their backs to a wall.
The Revenge buff feels balanced to me- at first I was worried about the duration's length, but with how it only kicks in after so much damage has been piled onto her, it feels fine- and it does mean that exceptionally sloppy play will see one kick in before the last has finished, effectively robbing her of some duration if the player's doing excessively poorly. My big concern would be the possibility of NSpec stun locking foes when walls are involved- FThrow's stun state also raising concerns for me. I like the concept, but I would put the former on the regrab timer and make the latter's regrab timer active from the stun state's start but not counting down until the stun from it ends.
I would've liked to see more detail in how the moves work with each other, whether combo strings or just situations where there's synergy between; a good example that's in the set already is how Up Smash notes how it can play off of Down Special- seeing more of that would be great. The Aerials are also a bit one-note and unremarkable, aside from a very good Down Aerial. Maybe building off of the blueprint DAir provides, her aerials could have a focus on synergy with her ground game, with a maybe a move that serves as a risky but effective way to stuff recoveries to finish off opposing stocks?
In a general sense, I could recommend a secondary focus on attacks that are highly effective at punishing sloppy defensive play- attacks that take good-sized chunks out of the opponent's shield with extra damage or are very safe for her due to shield push or stun, and maybe a few mix-ups that can catch opponents out of an ill-timed dodge.
Fire Bar's core hook is it's a character that can't move by walking, running, or jumping, and its low weight and middling recovery on top cements it in that joke character spot, with its other elements doing their darnedest to compensate. While I feel the inherent weakness of not having traditional movement, even crappy traditional movement, isn't one that can really be overcome, I feel all that Fire Bar has would make it a plausible joke character in a platformer that some people would main purely for the challenge and could maybe steal some wins in extreme circumstances despite that weakness (just don't pick it on a moving stage, for obvious reasons).
Part of why that is comes with the most interesting part of the set- its positives, which revolve around (heh) the passive hitbox that is its namesake. Its flames are a fascinating mechanic that could carry a set on their own- a passive defense that can be manipulated, buffed in range at the cost of speed, spent as a resource for projectiles, changed to two or (briefly) three by dividing up the flames, used for mobility (with the ability to split them into two bars exchanging vertical mobility for additional horizontal mobility), catch foes' projectiles to add them to the chain like it was another fireball, and even has some galaxy brain strats in letting one flame lose its hitbox briefly to better manipulate it by the foe as a “gotcha”.
Setting aside the main issue (which is the set's primary concept so I can't rag on that too much), one issue I have with functionality is the grab being done via the passive hitbox, which heavily limits its use (even if there is a Very
good reason for it given it can in fact phase the foe through the stage once it starts passively rotating again). I feel like the grab could be re-tooled a touch to make it more usable in a traditional sense, even if it means nerfing it in a different manner- for example, the flames in the bars retract inward and merge into a singular large flame, which shoots forward and then retracts back to the center, the flames distributing themselves back out and leaving the foe rotating at the edge of the bar (or the one closest to their direction if two bars are present) on hit.
The frame data would be better the fewer the flames you have, but a longer bar makes for longer reach (1 flame further out than the bar's current length?) and a bigger 'grab' flame with more potential for dropping them through the stage due to the longer bar. This could also be used to manipulate the flames some- on miss, the grab flame at the edge of the range splits back up into the flames and whatnot and position(s), but mirrored, and it resumes their rotation before they are fully returned and thus can do some fun stuff with the gap between.
Honestly, everything about Fire Bar's fire bar is something I'd love to see revisited on a character that isn't stuck with the unenviable restriction of their movement being limited to Side and Up specials (and Down/Up Aerial to a lesser extent), with some adjustments to balance for not being restricted like that of course. (To the point I checked out of curiosity and, no, nobody made super crown art for the fire bar that I could find. You disappoint me, internet.) In a less tight contest, I'd flat out RV it purely based on the strength of that concept, but this is a ridiculously stuffed competition this time around, so instead I just want to say for the record that I loved this set a lot more than I probably should have.
A sweet pick for the subject of your second submission, and about as far from Bender as possible (aside from that one episode he wanted to be a chef). Alcreamy's specials didn't immediately get the wheels in my brain turning like Bender's did, but they have some personality to them that I can appreciate. That said, my advice mostly boils down to the same- expanding on the moves that are there and mentioning what they can be used for, how they pair with/contrast the other moves in the set, etc.
In Alcremie's case, you did mention the goal with them is to make a character that's frail but hits hard, and having some fun with that and the fruit could make for something a little more substantial- given the Pokedex entry, perhaps there's a mechanic that sees inputs get stronger the better Alcermie is doing? Really emphasizing that glass cannon playstyle where when they're winning, they're REALLY winning, and if they're losing, they're in big trouble, but have the chance of making a very swing-y comeback. For the fruit, maybe those stick around as throwing items (healing items?) after spawn, starting weak but getting better the more of an edge Alcremie has, making them a double-edged sword that can let it crawl back from a bad spot despite being frail but also giving opponents an out if they can snag them first.
That's all just some very off the top of my head spitballing, though. There's a lot of ways you can spin things- don't be afraid to go crazy, just work off of it from there and if it needs to be toned down later, make adjustments.
I do so love showboaters and snowballing advantage states, so Stephanie was a pleasant read for me with her characterization and central Hype mechanic. Do good, you hit harder, do bad, you hit less hard. This simple core is accompanied by some quirky standard inputs with lots of nuance to how they'd probably be used and similar extremes in their design philosophy (usually having a couple of very strong points in their favor but being severely lacking elsewhere to keep them specialized), more grounded (heh) aerials that give her some properly reliable tools, Smashes with some neat tricks, and Specials that really contribute to her constantly escalating snowball, emphasize her disadvantages (in the case of her Recovery lacking a hitbox and losing distance with lower Hype), or provide her a few emergency buffs for a rainy day when she's struggling. The set does a really nice job of exploring these concepts and explaining how they'd function in practice, something I enjoyed with Anna.
Aside from the Throws, one tweak I'd add to give Stephanie a bit of depth: let Hype affect her knockback. Not to the same extent as damage, mind, but maybe half as much (so 0.85x at empty, 1.15x at max?). The reason I suggest this is that it adds an extra dimension by changing up some of her moves' usage at low or high Hype, which can be used to flesh out inputs that are a bit specialized or (in the case of aerials) simple for consistency and by necessity (I like them just fine, mind- however crazy you go with a set, you need buttons that work just as buttons). If you want more fine control, the multiplier could be applied to one of knockback scaling or base knockback only instead of knockback in its entirety, letting you be more picky with how this affects each given move.
NAir, for example, normally hits foes just far enough that she won't get a follow-up off of it, while also doing low damage- its purpose instead being a key get-off-me tool. With this adjustment, it won't hit foes as far at low Hype, letting Stephanie not only break free of a juggle, but potentially combo off of it in her most dire of situations to start a comeback. This also means that she not only has a slightly easier time KOing if she's able to keep on the ball, but at Low Hype, her seemingly less useful inputs become her ticket to getting the crowd back on the edge of their seats, giving her the chance to claw back from a bad position with some highly technical play.
That's all hypothetical, though; Stephanie has a lot of the same qualities I liked about how Anna and Regigigas were executed (less in any similarity of playstyles or gimmick, more in the sense of being a well-thought out set that walks you through the design decisions and gives due consideration to what would make it most interesting), and I'm not sure if that would disrupt some of the carefully crafted balance the set enjoys. It's a solid set either way, and was a pleasure to read. Nicely done!
Well that was a trip and a half, and a none-too-unpleasant one at that. V is a very well-crafted set, with its main gimmick and a small sub-mechanic being well-applied, but the main attraction being how perfectly the set captures the feel of playing as a salty rage-aholic, from its mechanics to its animations to its strengths and weaknesses. The variety to his attacks and how they all interlink is wonderful, from the UTilt/USmash mixup and Down Aerial's role in the insanity to his Neutral Special's qualities, to the many different movement options with their own strengths and weaknesses.
He's a high-rish high-reward fighter through and through, with the crown mechanic emphasizing that once it comes down to the wire and his anger mechanic serving as a safety net should the match fall too far out of his favor. What actually elevates the set though is the in-depth consideration given to each move mechanically- everything is thought out in service of this playstyle and carefully constructed to feel powerful and aggressive in fluff and crunch alike. Even his key weaknesses appear in a few different ways- while high end lag and poor reach are prevalent in the set, his moves all have their own flaws that make them a commitment to use besides that (such as movement effects and split-second decisions he has to make with their own weaknesses), keeping even his drawbacks interesting.
That's not to discredit the crown, either- the high end buffs and changes made once he dons it are potent, but nothing is utterly game breaking even as the effects get ridiculous to imagine due to mitigating factors, and all of it plays into the same gameplan as before but even more extreme. The bells and whistles added never muddle the playstyle or become incoherent. The set's not got some major central mind-bending trick or utterly bizarre playstyle that's not been seen before, rather it takes what's tried and true and makes it feel fresh and new with a good deal of polish.
Again, I find myself struggling to come up with suggestions for changes that aren't already on the set's to-do list; you've proven over and over to have a strong grasp of Smash's mechanics and finer details, as well as a willingness to get a touch crazy, and pretty much any of the complaints I could bring up are already addressed and planned to be tweaked- and even with that in mind, the set's pretty dang solid.
Regarding that to-do list, assuming you don't replace it entirely as planned, you could change dash attack by increasing the start lag while making the end lag unusually (for the character) short- emphasizes its use as an approach tool and not a defensive one. It’s still a commitment because of travel time, telegraphing and a predictable endpoint for the movement, so spamming it is a terrible idea, but it can chase foes after a hit or who are disengaging, and it continues to be part of his “screw projectiles” tool kit.
For Down Smash, could give the hitbox a little more width, or even let the player keep pressing A to spawn further and further out flames/fists after the second set (with more delay between each as he puts more force into the punches)? For Throws, maybe you could put a risky follow-up on one or two as a small gimmick, where it doesn't combo true and is painful if he whiffs but does a lot more than you'd normally get off of a throw if he reads right (and opponents immediately using a defensive reaction expecting the follow-up are left open if he doesn't use it). These are just ideas off the top of my head, though, so take them with a grain of salt.
Another neat choice, a composite character of several classic games of its era to make for a home arcade-y experience. I'd like to know more about how the moves interact with each other or otherwise see use in advantage/disadvantage, risks and rewards, etc. Having more stuff interact directly- like the mushroom and centipede- would open up some fun. NSpec summoning the Pong or Breakout Paddle, for example, could leave them in place as things that will affect Atari's other projectiles for fun and profit, or even serve as weak barriers/platforms for Atari and opponents in and of themselves. If the paddles could even be (weak but lingering) reflectors, that'd just be amazing.
On the topic of NSpec, its projectile being able to break platforms and bounce off of the blastzones aside from the bottom one, and no stated duration or limit other than a maximum 8 rebounds off of the stage boundaries makes me picture an Atari player spamming NSpec to cover the screen. I feel the base concept is cool, though- instead of letting it break platforms or rebound off of boundaries, let the player pressing B again cause the opposite paddle (if horizontal version is used) or a ceiling brick/bottom paddle (if the vertical version is used) to appear in its path.
Make it tap vs held to make it horizontal vs vertical, so that moving the control stick during the input will adjust the paddle/brick to affect the projectile's initial path. It'll be more controlled and thus easier to keep relevant to the fight at hand for long stretches instead of risking it going off into space and not coming back near the fighters, but you're also committed to that one projectile so you have to baby it a little until its duration runs out (maybe 3 or so player-made redirects or an arbitrarily high distance traveled before it despawns and you can make another?).
The other moves are neat or at worst inoffensive, more just making me want more, or for things to be a little crazier- imagine if Side Special was a two-input move, the first placing a missile (or a slow moving missile projectile) and the second firing a fast laser from Atari's position to the missile's to detonate it, for example. This feels like a concept where you could afford to go crazy.