One of the most basic strategies in competitive Smash Bros. is the edge hog. When one character is on the edge, another character cannot grab onto it. This, coupled with the invulnerable frames you get when rolling up from an edge, can make it incredibly hard for an opponent to get back on the stage after being knocked off a far distance. For years, pro Smash Bros. players have integrated this into their gameplay strategies. Often we would see pros backwards wave dash onto a ledge the second someone tries to grab onto it. We would see attacks meant to overshoot edges and take advantage of the vulnerable frames of a roll. We would see mid-air spike battles as each opponent tries to get back on stage and knock his or her opponent into the abyss. It was a core part of the Smash Bros. gameplay…
And now it’s being taken out of the game. You see, as much as this adds a deep and complex level of strategy to pro level play, newbies tend to hate this mechanic. It’s usually looked at as a “cheap” death and causes levels of nerd rage that usually result in a controller being thrown. It’s always been obvious that Nintendo caters to the casual crowd before the pro-crowd, just look at last year’s EVO scandal, or the much hated “random tripping” mechanic that was integrated into Brawl. So the concept of “edge hogging” is biting the dust in lieu of what appears to be an expanded edge grabbing game.
Posting on Miiverse, Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai showed off an image of some of these new edge mechanics. The image showed Link grabbing an edge after Mario was already on it. By doing so, Mario was forced off the edge into an aerial state. Of course, he can then attack and do anything he normally would like to do in the air, but he no longer has the safety of the ledge itself.
Sakurai went on to comment on how some of the deeper mechanics will be changed. For example, your damage and your air-time will factor into how long you get to be invincible when rolling up from a ledge. Longer air time means shorter invincibility period, which means that opponent’s up+b attacks can hit you off the ledge as they recover. Of course, this doesn’t explain how the new mechanics will interact with characters without an up+b attack, like Lucario’s dash or Pit’s wings. It also doesn’t explain how tether recoveries will work, though those tend to be attacks. In the popular Brawl mod Project M, tether recovery characters can simply grab onto ledges at the same time. In fact, one wonders why Nintendo doesn’t simply allow multiple characters to grab onto a single ledge. That seems like the most elegant fix doesn’t it?
What do you think? Is this a good change? Will this make Smash Bros. a deeper and more complex game? Or is Nintendo just making a game that already caters to newbies more shallow and unfun? Let us know in the comments and stay on the look out for Super Smash Bros. U when it releases later this year.
Former Contributing Writer