The Competitive Brawl: Hugs and Gimpy weigh in on Super Smash Bros Brawl

Before we begin, you need to prove that you’re worthy of reading this article. This was written for the elite, the hardcore, and the competitive Smasher. It contains references and discussions of advance techniques that are practiced in Melee, so if you’re unfamiliar with terms like DI-ing, SHFFLing, and Teching, this article is not for you. If you’d like to learn how to become an advanced Smasher, check out the forums at to get your ass-kicking started. (But don’t worry, we’ll have a casual-player-friendly article just for you later on.) Alright, are you still reading? Good, then let’s Wavedash shine-spike right into the meaty stuff.

As most of you know, a gaming convention known as E for All was running from October 18th to the 21st. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. However, we have straight-from-the-source information provided by professional Smashers who have been graced with the pleasure of demoing Brawl. I’d like to take this time to personally thank Tony "Gimpyfish" Dennis and Hugo "Hugs" Gonzales for their hard work in collecting new Brawl info.

Over the last few weeks, we Smashers have been given an epic amount of information that, quite frankly, is difficult to process. Some are filled with hope, while quite a lot are filled with doubt. Gimpy, first and foremost, would like everyone to know this: "Brawl is freaking fun!" With that out of the way, there are certainly a great deal of changes in Brawl that are sure to change the entire style of Smash as we know it.

If you haven’t heard by now, Wavedashing is out. (As a Samus and Luigi main, I weep.) It’s no longer possible to perform due to the new air-dodging system. Characters cannot directionally air-dodge; it’s now based on their previous momentum, so if you’re already flying to the right, air-dodging will continue to thrust you in the same direction. While the obvious downfall to this is a lack of Wavedash, it give the opportunity for innovative strategies to evolve.

In Melee, air-dodging to avoid an attack left you in a vulnerable free fall afterwards. However, this new momentum dodge will enable players already traveling towards the stage to temporarily dodge an attack while staying on their flight path back to safety. In addition to this tactic, momentum-dodging also allows for a second jump or attack to be performed after dodging. This is going to be great for mindgames, as a character can begin a dodge back onto the stage early, and lure their enemy in for an attack as they become vulnerable, only to jump at the last second and land a successful dair. Think of it as being able to jump/dash/attack right in the middle of a step-dodge.

Since Brawl is looking to be very focused on the aerial game, Sakurai found it necessary to make the character more floaty. Don’t confuse this with the game being slower, because most movements and attacks are every bit as fast as they were in Melee. Characters now act more like ‘Puff and Luigi in the air, which definitely makes aerials heavily emphasized. While short-hopping has been confirmed, the act of SHFFLing has been slightly nerfed because of the inability to land as quickly. L-canceling has also been heavily altered, as you no longer have to press L or R in order to decrease your aerial landing lag. As of now, the only way to L-cancel is to perform your attack after a fast-fall, which will certainly make SHFFLing difficult since many aerials are best performed right before the fast-fall. (I guess I’ll say hello to "SHFFing.")

Advanced techniques like dash-dancing, teching, techrolling, and wall-techs are all back and just like they were in Melee. In fact, the game’s core is similar to that of Melee’s, while mostly the physics have been changed. Attack and landing lag, step-dodging, rolling, priority, and hit box concepts are all borrowed from Brawl’s older brother, although almost every aspect has been reworked. All types of DI-ing have also returned, but are significantly easier to perform because of the increased hitstun in Brawl, which can actually be closely related to the hitstun in Smash Bros. 64. Personally, I believe Brawl will shorten the distance between the casual and competitive player, but like in any game, the casual gamer will still need the desire to learn any advanced tactics.

Fortunately, I was able to sit down with Gimpyfish (a Bowser main) and Hugs (a Samus main), two professional Melee competitors, and ask them a few questions about the Brawl demo they played. Here’s what the two of them had to say.

Dac: Before we get started, what’s your simple first impression of Brawl?

Hugs: Like the impressions of many other Smashers, it was a mix. There was a bit of disappointment there because it wasn’t Melee. However, there was also optimism for new discoveries that could make Brawl better than Melee.

Gimpy: Well, my first impression when I started playing the game was more surprise about how differently it played than anything else. But now that the event is over, the game is just really fun, and I’m excited about the competitive possibilities.

Dac: Do you think it has the potential to be superior to Melee?

Gimpy: On a technical level, I don’t think Brawl will be able to compare to the absolute peak we’ve brought Melee to. But I think the community will grow enormously upon the release of Brawl, and the tournament scene will be great. Overall, the game is just purely more fun and entertaining to me.

Hugs: I think it’s too soon to say. I honestly feel that Melee was accidentally made into a near-perfect game. So to think that they intentionally made this one better… Well, it’s tough to say. But the game does have potential.

Dac: In terms of raw gameplay, what’s the most noticeable difference?

Gimpy: The most obvious difference in gameplay is the speed of the game. Initially, everything seems almost unbearably slow and floaty, however after playing the game as much as I got to play, that didn’t seem to be a problem. Just after four days of demo play we really adapted and got ourselves moving much faster.

Hugs: Yeah, definitely the slowness of the game. Part of it has to do with advanced Melee players being unable to do the things that made them fast to begin with, like L-canceling and Wavedashing. The big reason, though, is the floatiness of the game.

Dac: So is it safe to say that Brawl takes the combat characteristics of Melee and combines them with the physics of Smash 64?

Hugs: Pretty much. It’s a near perfect mix. Except, I didn’t really want it to be mixed to begin with. *Laughs*

Dac: Do you think competitive purists will continue to latch onto Melee, or will the tournament scene steadily shift over to Brawl?

Gimpy: Some of the tournament goers will be so shut off by the fact that the game isn’t Melee 2.0 that they won’t even give it a chance, but the tournament scene will definitely become oriented to brawl. While there will still be Melee tourneys, Brawl will engulf the majority of the scene.

Dac: What aspect of Melee is most missed?

Gimpy: Most people would answer Wavedashing, I’d imagine, but with Brawl’s physics engine, it doesn’t even feel like it would fit. I think the main aspect people will miss is the really long combo strings. I’m sure we’ll figure them out, but initially we aren’t going to be doing the crazy technical things that we could in Melee.

Dac: Obviously, the Wiimote-only control method is a joke for advanced players, but how did the Classic controller feel?

Hugs: It’s not completely a joke. Trevyn, the best link player in SoCal/AZ was using the Wiimote all day. He preferred it. The classic controller was okay because it was as close as you could get to a GameCube controller, without actually being one. It was still overly sensitive though.

Gimpy: Well, let me comment on the Wiimote-only control first. The Wiimote method is great for gamers who haven’t played a lot of Smash in the past. You have good control of your character instantly, however you lack certain technical aspects. The Classic control scheme gives you the option to do everything. You can short hop and dash-dance. You can do everything that you need to do.

Dac: Even though you’ve only played for a few days, do the characters seem balanced?

Hugs: It’s too soon to say. I haven’t spent enough time with the game to figure out how to counter certain overpowered moves and techniques.

Gimpy: Well, I’d say that even though I only played for a few days, I played more than anyone and was taking a monstrous list of notes. *laughs* From what I saw, other than the glaring exception of Ike, the gameplay between characters is more balanced. Nothing stood out as particularly spammable or broken, though I definitely think Ike needs to be fixed. When we learn to control our characters better in Brawl, it seems like Ike won’t be viable because he’s so slow. I thought Nintendo would’ve learned after Bowser in Melee that really strong but really slow doesn’t really work that well.

Dac: You’ve seem to found a way to make it work, Gimpy.

Gimpy: *Laughs* Well, up to a certain point. But Ike is far more exaggerated than Bowser was, in both respects.

Dac: Now, if you guys could pick a top four so far, who would they be?

Gimpy: In this order, it would be Mario, Peach, Metaknight, and then… either Diddy or Sonic, I guess. Probably Sonic, but I’m not sure. Mario, Peach, Metaknight for sure, though.

Hugs: Metaknight, Sonic, Pit, and Mario, in no particular order.

Dac: Who seems to have received the biggest nerf in Brawl?

Hugs: Fox for sure. He’s still good, but not nearly as good as in Melee.

Gimpy: Yeah,, probably Fox, but it isn’t as bad as I made it sound at first. He’s still pretty good, but his shine was drastically weakened. But I think the problem with Fox was that we were still trying to play him like Melee Fox, and that’s not the best way to play him in Brawl.

Dac: It seems like Peach’s admittedly broken down-smash got a nerf, as well. Do you think Nintendo’s just doing their best to take out the cheap, broken attacks?

Gimpy: I’d certainly hope that’s the case. While Peach’s down smash did get nerfed, she’s faster and better overall. If they remove the "cheapness" of characters, and stop making really overpowered moves than can be spammed, then it seems like everything balances out a bit more.

Dac: So which one of the characters got the biggest overhaul for Brawl?

Hugs: You know, I think I’d say Mario. But, this may only be because we don’t really know how to play the game yet. In Melee, if the Mario’s were doing the same things they were doing in brawl, it’d be very unimpressive. Perhaps Mario was just the easiest to control right off the bat. We’ll have to wait till the game comes out for us to really see what he can do.

Gimpy: In all honesty, this probably sounds biased, but I’d say Bowser.

Dac: *Laughs* I thought that might be the case.

Gimpy: I mean, other characters got buffed. Like, Pikachu did for sure. But Bowser is actually viable, and that’s a huge difference. He’s not that much better, but he lives for a long time, kills at pretty low percentages, doesn’t seem to be that slow, and has a nice suicide kill move in his claw attack. My favorite was his firebreath, which you can now aim up and down, so you can just walk over to the ledge and firebreath straight down. There were just a lot of little changes that made him better overall.

Dac: Back to the gameplay mechanics – What aspects borrowed from Melee seem easier to perform in Brawl?

Hugs: Nothing really. Most everything borrowed from Melee seemed to be exactly as hard or easy as before. I can’t really think of anything that was easier.

Gimpy: Grapple recovering was on of the obvious ones, I think. Just in general, sweetspotting was definitely easier. You can now sweetspot on your way up, which was pretty interesting. And you can grab the ledge facing either direction, as well.

Dac: I saw that most moves now have more hitstun. Do you think this make advanced techniques like Smash DI-ing easier?

Gimpy: You have way more frames to DI out of moves to survive. But it seems like character recover from moves much faster, so it might be easier to escape combos.

Hugs: You know what, I had 2 minutes per match with items flying at me from every direction. It was tough for me to really notice the little intricacies of Smash DI. Though I can say that people survived much longer.

Dac: Does it seem like the bridge between noobs and pros will be much shorter?

Hugs: Not at all. That which made a pro a real pro back in Melee had much more to it than technical tricks. The noobs will have an easier time matching up technically, but the pros will still have the enormous advantages of experience and mindgames.

Gimpy: I agree. The reason noobs are noobs isn’t because they couldn’t grasp technical play. In fact, I think most people stress the technical game far too much. Obviously having complete control over your character is a must, but intelligent gameplay is the most important aspect of Smash 64, Melee, and Brawl. Noobs are noobs because they don’t learn, they don’t adapt, and they don’t play intelligently. You need to treat is as a thinking game.

Dac: What are some advanced techniques that have already been adopted for Brawl?

Gimpy: We found out how to L-cancel, a new way to edgehog. We found out how to Waveland. Moonwalking is still in, as well. The new edgehog is just running off the stage and grabbing the edge backwards.

Dac: Are there any new advanced techniques that have already been invented strictly for Brawl?

Hugs: There’s a new one called "hugging," named after some amazing dude. *Laughs* It’s a technique where you can run off the edge, press back and edgehog. I still have yet to see if you can fast fall after coming off the edge to make it even faster.

Dac: Haha, I heard about the new "hugging" technique, and I like it. So, comparing Brawl to Melee, is it easier or more efficient to hug the edge as opposed to doing the classic Wavedash backwards?

Hugs: None of us were good enough to use it efficiently. So I can only answer the same way as I have been by saying "It seems like it." Oh, and here’s the other new technique. You can now Waveland by doing certain aerials that push you back, right before hitting the floor. That one was brought to you by bob money. Also, the DBR guys mentioned to me that moves can be auto-canceled by merely fast falling the aerial attack. It seems to be true.

Gimpy: And there’s another new thing. We tried to figure out how to repeat it, but we couldn’t get it to work right. You can pivot in Melee, which is like, where you dash dance and cancel it out to do a standing move. There is a way to to it in Brawl.

Dac: Ah, the "Ink Drop?"

Gimpy: *Laughs* Yeah, sort of. That’s what we thought would do it. Basically, you can do a pivot somehow out of a dash in Brawl, and we thought it had something to do with the new tripping mechanic. We thought we had it all figured out, but we didn’t, so it’s a mystery right now. Oh, just another thing to note… The new air-dodge is something that I really like a lot. The fact that you can air-dodge and then jump or do something else is going to make for a lot of creative tricks. I like it a lot.

Dac: Now, I heard that Fox had an alternate costume as Star Wolf. Does Wolf play exactly the same as Fox, or does the alternate costume minorly change the character? I.E., clones.

Gimpy: *Laughs* Hold on, now. I’m glad you mentioned this. Alright, so people have this idea that certain characters have alternate costumes. Peach does have daisy, Link has Dark Link, but Fox doesn’t actually have Wolf, and Diddy doesn’t really have a Dixie costume. The Fox "Wolf" costume is just a darker costume in low resolution that really looks like Wolf, but isn’t actually wolf. But yes, the alternate costumes do all play exactly the same.

Dac: Alright, Hugs, I’m a Samus main, so this question’s just for me. I heard the bomb jump has been changed up a bit. Can you explain the new physics of it?

Hugs: Well it seems as if it automatically sends you to the right or left. I have seen others bomb jump but I, personally, was unable to because I didn’t get my VIP pass on time. People like Gimpy were in the Brawl area hours before the public got to it. Punks.

Gimpy: *Laughs*

Dac: Since you can’t directional air-dodge anymore, is it harder to recover with Samus, since you don’t get that extra "boost" when performing a tether recovery?

Hugs: It’s definitely harder. There was a point where I realized I was too low to air-dodge plus grapple. My opponent was already edgehogging so I had no choice but to just fall and hope the grapple hit the edge. It didn’t, and I died for no reason. I guess it just takes some getting used to.

Dac: So does the grapple only go towards the tip of the edge, or can you still latch onto walls?

Hugs: It goes straight for the edge, no matter what. I personally don’t like it, but it makes things easier for people who couldn’t sweetspot.

Dac: In the demo, items were constantly turned on. After playing with these, do you think that any of the items, like the Smash Ball, will be enabled in tournament play?

Gimpy: The Smash community won’t revert back to items in tournaments, even if they can be controlled moreso than in Melee. It won’t happen. The Smash Ball is a different story, though. Some people think they should be off. I, myself, believe they add a definite level of strategy to the game. But, I can see the argument either way. I think we’ll see two types of tournaments: ones with the Smash Balls on, and ones with them off.

Hugs: Call me a purist or whatever, but I don’t think any of these items should be enabled in tournament play. Some are viable for tournaments, but we’d be better off without them, period. And don’t get me started on the Smash Balls. They were incredibly fun, but they have no place in tournament play. You should have seen my ledgehop to Final Smash finish. Incredible.

Dac: Alright Gimpy, Hugs. I appreciate the time you’ve spent letting us all know more about Brawl. Do you have any final thoughts for our competitive Smash community?

Hugs: Don’t think that because you are good in Melee you will be good in Brawl. Same goes for those who think they will now suck in Brawl. This is a new game, don’t expect anything to come for free. If you work at it enough, you’ll be good.

Gimpy: The one thing that I cannot stress enough is this: Super Smash Bros. Brawl is NOT Super Smash Bros. Melee 2. While the game is similar on a conceptual level, the actual gameplay is drastically different. It’s hard to explain or get people to fully understand that it is very, very different. But the game is purely entertaining. It’s just fun.


So, as advanced players, should we have anything to worry about in Brawl? The very simple answer is absolutely not. The game is in good hands. In fact, the development team creating Brawl had over 10,000 Melee matches before they even began making the new game, so they were hardcore Smashers themselves. Brawl will be competitive because people will make it competitive, and while some techniques have vanished, new ones will constantly rise. If you’re one of the purists who have already rejected Brawl because the changes, then in reality, you’re nothing more than a scrub who shouldn’t be playing, anyway. As for the rest of us? Well, we’re ready to Brawl!


[ed note: for more of Gimpy’s impressions, check out his thread at SmashBoards.]


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.