The Banning of Meta Knight

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The Banning of Meta Knight

A look into the whys and hows of the Super Smash Bros. community's first major character ban.

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I think the issue lies in the fact that the developers never intended the game to be competitive, in fact the head developer insisted that they design the game to be noncompetitive. When you've got the guys who made the game saying they don't want to see the game being played seriously at tournaments there is a problem. They put in "tripping" for a reason. Brawl is a really fun game, I'll admit, but if its balanced at all it is balanced around random items, final smashes and random maps that can kill you. Trying to find any true balance in its metagame is a fool's errand. Banning one character won't fix what is fundamentally broken from the get-go.

I find it hard to believe the game was ever supposed to have good balance anyway.
I mean, it's primarily a game with cameo characters fucking each other up with their signature moves.
It's nowhere near as technical as other games, like Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, or Tekken.

Like others have said, Smash Bros was never meant to be a seriously competitive game in the first place.

Half the fun of the game is it's unpredictable nature. Take away the items and the stages that can kill you and it's not Smash Bros anymore.

What about Pit? His design methodology is fundamentally overbalanced. I suspect because of the affinity one of the lead designers has for the character (in that he was greenlit to make the Kid Icarus 3DS title). The above points are valid but can I just point out that maybe the concept of games as serious tournaments is a little silly. I mean I'm an advocate of gaming's elevation to art and its serious consideration as an alternative media but they are still primarily devices created to generate an experience of fun. Granted that fun can be garnished from the thrill of competition but only if the competitors aren't flogged to death with administrative restrictions and strangling regulations. Let Gamers Game. If a fighter is overpowered or overbalanced, make the matches 2 on 1. That's what we used to do in University match-ups.

But that's just My Ignoble Opinion

Wait, what, these are good characters? I've been playing Brawl all wrong, it would seem.

ASIDE: When things get so extremely competitive, it inevitably results in people being told how to play their game (at least in the competitive setting). Oddly, I'm not talking about the folks being told not to play Meta-Knight; I'm talking about the people that were pressured (by the obvious imbalance) into either choosing Meta-Knight or focusing on a counter to Meta-Knight. It's a good thing to see a character like that banned, and it's a shame that it made things so slanted.

OT: Will fighters ever really achieve that perfect balance anyway, though? It seems to me that when a series introduces a new character (whether in a new iteration of the game, or especially as DLC), they are almost compelled to make it stronger in some way to justify the proportionately larger cost that character represents. Bad news for tournaments, since it seems most fighting games are moving to the "hostage roster" with DLC characters.

In the end, it'll probably come down to forcing symmetrical pairings. "Meta-Knight vs. Meta-Knight Tournament," and so on, which is like playing Paper-Rock-Scissors, but everyone has to use Paper. The more serious the competition, the less free the game.

An old chestnut:

"Dear Developers,

Please nerf Rock. Paper is fine.

Sincerely,
Scissors"

I'm not much for fightning games, especially competitively, but this has been an interesting read. I've never really played much either with or against meta-knight in a competitive matter, but I can see why he's OP. I personally prefer Toon Link or Marth if I'm playing seriously. It seems I'm playing completely wrong, as I don't really like either of the top tiers you've mentioned.

The way I see it, characters should never be banned. While some people choose to use "powerful" characters due to their strength, others make like them for thier own personal reasons. I personally prefer Ganondorf, Lucas, or Wolf, and have won countless times with them to the extent where I have almost won brawls without taking a single hit against people of a similar skill level. No content should be restricted in tournaments for the simple fact that this was how the game was intended to be played. If a character is being abused for being spammy or too powerful, allow the crowd to deal with it. If the crowd isn't happy with the results, surely, they should be able to call the shots. If a person/team wins through character abuse, they should be disqualified for it. Winning shows skill, but, not neccisarily more than the losing player's skill. Tournaments are a rediculous way to show who is greater at a game, and to be honest, a player's overall skill should be judged by the way they play. If some randomer playing as meta knight makes a close win on some guy who is actually good sheerly due to character choice, allow them to be judged for who they are: horrible character abusers.

[Side note]: Meta knight is a perfectly competent character without the use of his infamous specials, you just have to actually be good at the game.

[Edit]: Also, character tiers?.. *sigh* It's all about preferance. Make your own tiers, goddamnit.

Wow, it seems like no one else who read this so far really likes competitive Smash all that much...
Unfortunate.

Also, either Mr. Vazquez wrote this a while ago, or is a bit behind the times.
URC disbanded. The Meta-Knight ban was the final bad straw on top of some other strange decisions.
URC still got a lot of things right, though.

Personally, I would never main MK. He doesn't fit my playstyle at all, and that is what's most important.
If you can't beat a MK main with your main, it's probably because he's better than you.

Also, it is my professional opinion that the Smash series have been the most rewarding competitive experience out of any games of any genre that I've played for money.
They have a unique feel... They're not unbalanced; they're not party games.
But they certainly aren't tech-y, normal fighting games either.
Like comparing checkers to chess, Smash has simplistic gameplay, which makes for a highly complex metagame. Street Fighter still has a lot of metagame, but not nearly as much mindgaming, and it also has a lot more mechanics to know.

Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

I actually never had problems against Meta Knight, even against similar skilled opponents.
But I do see how much stronger he is than the average character.
Strong, long range, fast attacks, fast movement and undodgeable air attacks.

I never had problems because my favorite tactic is to pick (Toon) Link and annoy the hell out of my opponent with ranged harassing until they are a 1-2 hit KO. But that's not really a good tactic and the same skill would be much more beneficial with any other character.

P.S. The only reason I've ever picked MK was just for his taunt combo "Come!" "Fight me!". I was driving my brother crazy with it. :D
Second best taunts, right after Peach's "sweet" when K.O.-ing someone with her pan.

I38VWI:
Wow, it seems like no one else who read this so far really likes competitive Smash all that much...
Unfortunate.

Also, either Mr. Vazquez wrote this a while ago, or is a bit behind the times.
URC disbanded. The Meta-Knight ban was the final bad straw on top of some other strange decisions.
URC still got a lot of things right, though.

Personally, I would never main MK. He doesn't fit my playstyle at all, and that is what's most important.
If you can't beat a MK main with your main, it's probably because he's better than you.

Also, it is my professional opinion that the Smash series have been the most rewarding competitive experience out of any games of any genre that I've played for money.
They have a unique feel... They're not unbalanced; they're not party games.
But they certainly aren't tech-y, normal fighting games either.
Like comparing checkers to chess, Smash has simplistic gameplay, which makes for a highly complex metagame. Street Fighter still has a lot of metagame, but not nearly as much mindgaming, and it also has a lot more mechanics to know.

Yeah, when I saw this article my first thought was: "Who greenlit publishing of an article that unless I'm remembering things incorrectly is ~3 weeks out of date with its information". Would have been nice to see a more in depth discussion differentiating "broken" and "dominant" as there's only been one competitive fighting game recently that had anything even approaching the former (Phoenix in "vanilla" Marvel vs. Capcom 3) while there's been a lot of games that have demonstrated issues with the latter (SFIV AE, UMvC3, GG:AC, etc.). IMO developers are the ones who need to handle issues with brokenness (via patches or updated versions) while the players generally need to STFU about dominance.

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Well, you're going to LOVE Xiba in Soulcalibur V. Not only is he the spiritual successor to Kilik, but he's arrogant and even more spammy to boot (not to mention, he slaughtered Kilik's moveset. *shudder*). Genuinely, I like Kilik as a character in Soulcalibur IV, but poeple relying on his range are just plain blind to moves like Yoshimitsu's deathcopter, which clearly avoids almost all of his moves, and counters powerfully. It's not the character which is bad, it's the player.
[Side note]: My captcha for this post was "just drive". Now you're just trying to get me play mario kart again, life, you sneaky devil.

Fappy:
I think the issue lies in the fact that the developers never intended the game to be competitive, in fact the head developer insisted that they design the game to be noncompetitive. When you've got the guys who made the game saying they don't want to see the game being played seriously at tournaments there is a problem. They put in "tripping" for a reason. Brawl is a really fun game, I'll admit, but if its balanced at all it is balanced around random items, final smashes and random maps that can kill you. Trying to find any true balance in its metagame is a fool's errand. Banning one character won't fix what is fundamentally broken from the get-go.

In fact, people have always explained to me that games like this and Mario Kart were supposed to be party games, aimed at fun play with friends.

I never really got the fun factor of these titles, but I do understand the aim at "casual" play and can't imagine why anyone would take them so seriously.

But what I kind of miss in this article: Why did Meta Knight players win so much? What is it about Meta Knight that makes him win most of the times?

Competitive players actually actively annoy me in this case for two reasons.
1) Any game where you need to remove the lion's share of the content in order to play it competitively clearly wasn't intended to be competitive, and they refuse to acknowledge this.
2) Their "super srs" attitude towards the game means that if there's ever a public SSMB game at, say, an anime con these people absolutely refuse to play anything but no items, only Final Destination. It ruins everyone else's ability to have fun with the game because they must play it like it's life or death.

Conn1496:

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Well, you're going to LOVE Xiba in Soulcalibur V. Not only is he the spiritual successor to Kilik, but he's arrogant and even more spammy to boot (not to mention, he slaughtered Kilik's moveset. *shudder*). Genuinely, I like Kilik as a character in Soulcalibur IV, but poeple relying on his range are just plain blind to moves like Yoshimitsu's deathcopter, which clearly avoids almost all of his moves, and counters powerfully. It's not the character which is bad, it's the player.
[Side note]: My captcha for this post was "just drive". Now you're just trying to get me play mario kart again, life, you sneaky devil.

Played V, I actually liked Xiba more than Kilik and dodging the attack wasn't hard, people just plain forgot how to side step, I did it and It never failed. Wish people would play for real and not spam, I've seen some kick-ass kilik players who didn't spam.

TizzytheTormentor:

Conn1496:

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Well, you're going to LOVE Xiba in Soulcalibur V. Not only is he the spiritual successor to Kilik, but he's arrogant and even more spammy to boot (not to mention, he slaughtered Kilik's moveset. *shudder*). Genuinely, I like Kilik as a character in Soulcalibur IV, but poeple relying on his range are just plain blind to moves like Yoshimitsu's deathcopter, which clearly avoids almost all of his moves, and counters powerfully. It's not the character which is bad, it's the player.
[Side note]: My captcha for this post was "just drive". Now you're just trying to get me play mario kart again, life, you sneaky devil.

Played V, I actually liked Xiba more than Kilik and dodging the attack wasn't hard, people just plain forgot how to side step, I did it and It never failed. Wish people would play for real and not spam, I've seen some kick-ass kilik players who didn't spam.

Oh no, don't get me wrong, Kilik is great, and yes, people do forget about sidestepping. It's just that sometimes, spam is near impossible to dodge, especially for a person who uses someone with wide attack delay time windows such as Nightmare, or Maxi like me (Since, y'know. They removed Zasalamel, and ruined Lizardman by giving him 90% of Kratos' crappy range-based moveset(Which doesn't work due to reduced weapon range.)). I personally find that I can anticipate most players after playing online for a while, but it is still annoying having to put up with the same moves over and over until you have to resort to spam-counter-spamming.
The most common spam culprits I find though are: Xiba (Don't get me started), Astaroth (That goddamned charge attack which is easy as hell to counter, I don't see why people do this.), Cervantes (Geo da ray. While, a great move, is highly dangerous when spammed, I have no idea why people do this, he has way better moves), and finally Ivy (With her unblockable attacks/Grabs, dear god I wish they'd grasp the concept of being able to dodge.). The most shameful part is that other than Xiba, I think all those characters are good and don't actually need to spam.

[Edit (Note to game companies)]: If you introduce a character to a fighting series, even if they're not canon, at least put thier moveset in. (Sort of like how they gave alpha patroklos Setsuka's moveset, but with less replacing cool characters.)

ElektroNeko:
But what I kind of miss in this article: Why did Meta Knight players win so much? What is it about Meta Knight that makes him win most of the times?

I also feel like the article missed that, but as the issue couldn't be fixed(cause Nintendo is being stupid by not patching the game) it wasn't really the biggest point here. The article focused more on the consequences of banning characters/units/abilities/etc in a competitive game.
But if you want to know why he's banned, this explains it pretty well. He's too fast, has too high priority on his attacks, is too hard to knock out(all specials are recovery moves + multi jump) and has too much knock out power himself. He doesn't have a single unfavorable match-up: hell, he doesn't have a single even match-up, his worst being 55 - 45 in his favor.

Meta Knight is not an as obvious ban as Akuma(and to some extent Sagat) was in SF2, as most characters have a fighting chance against him, but he's still the only S tier character in Brawl, which is already a reason for concern.

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Heh. Also reminds me of Street Fighter IV. Not Super or Arcade, just the first one. My friend entered a local tournament and lost in the final. He wasn't using Seth. 51 of the 64 contestants were. It was bad watching match after match of Seth vs. Seth. But amusing watching my friend destroy a couple of them.

FoolKiller:

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Heh. Also reminds me of Street Fighter IV. Not Super or Arcade, just the first one. My friend entered a local tournament and lost in the final. He wasn't using Seth. 51 of the 64 contestants were. It was bad watching match after match of Seth vs. Seth. But amusing watching my friend destroy a couple of them.

I thought Sagat was the big bad evil bag of OP back in vanilla SF4? .o

Dastardly:
ASIDE: When things get so extremely competitive, it inevitably results in people being told how to play their game (at least in the competitive setting). Oddly, I'm not talking about the folks being told not to play Meta-Knight; I'm talking about the people that were pressured (by the obvious imbalance) into either choosing Meta-Knight or focusing on a counter to Meta-Knight. It's a good thing to see a character like that banned, and it's a shame that it made things so slanted.

OT: Will fighters ever really achieve that perfect balance anyway, though? It seems to me that when a series introduces a new character (whether in a new iteration of the game, or especially as DLC), they are almost compelled to make it stronger in some way to justify the proportionately larger cost that character represents. Bad news for tournaments, since it seems most fighting games are moving to the "hostage roster" with DLC characters.

In the end, it'll probably come down to forcing symmetrical pairings. "Meta-Knight vs. Meta-Knight Tournament," and so on, which is like playing Paper-Rock-Scissors, but everyone has to use Paper. The more serious the competition, the less free the game.

An old chestnut:

"Dear Developers,

Please nerf Rock. Paper is fine.

Sincerely,
Scissors"

My only problem with your post is that when signing off a letter, when you don't know the person, you sign "faithfully" instead of "sincerely".

Naeras:

FoolKiller:

TizzytheTormentor:
Reminds me of the Soul Caliber 4 Kilik spammers who used his long range move only.

Heh. Also reminds me of Street Fighter IV. Not Super or Arcade, just the first one. My friend entered a local tournament and lost in the final. He wasn't using Seth. 51 of the 64 contestants were. It was bad watching match after match of Seth vs. Seth. But amusing watching my friend destroy a couple of them.

I thought Sagat was the big bad evil bag of OP back in vanilla SF4? .o

I think it had to do with it being a local tourney. Seth is easier to win with with less skill. Sagat is not nearly as dangerous if you aren't good enough. However, the eventual champion at this tournament was actually quite a skilled player and made it almost impossible for my friend to get anywhere in the match.

I38VWI:

...either Mr. Vazquez wrote this a while ago, or is a bit behind the times.
URC disbanded. The Meta-Knight ban was the final bad straw on top of some other strange decisions.

The original draft was finished around mid-February, so it was difficult to be super-timely.

ElektroNeko:
But what I kind of miss in this article: Why did Meta Knight players win so much? What is it about Meta Knight that makes him win most of the times?

Explaining why he was banned would have required too much technical discussion, and as Naeras mentioned, is somewhat besides the point. Akuma's fireball was a little easier for those not in the know to understand.

Thanks for reading!

GeorgW:
I'm not much for fightning games, especially competitively, but this has been an interesting read. I've never really played much either with or against meta-knight in a competitive matter, but I can see why he's OP. I personally prefer Toon Link or Marth if I'm playing seriously. It seems I'm playing completely wrong, as I don't really like either of the top tiers you've mentioned.

Then you are playing it right. Pay little attention to people that obsess over those details, since few things ruin fun as trying to be hardcore and analytic about it.

At some point, they lost the perspective required to enjoy a game where a yellow mouse beats the crap out of a fat plumber with its tail, while a dinosaur lay eggs to throw to a giant gorilla wearing a tie.

If any of the last sentence strikes you as random, unadulterated fun; you are playing it right.

hermes200:

GeorgW:
I'm not much for fightning games, especially competitively, but this has been an interesting read. I've never really played much either with or against meta-knight in a competitive matter, but I can see why he's OP. I personally prefer Toon Link or Marth if I'm playing seriously. It seems I'm playing completely wrong, as I don't really like either of the top tiers you've mentioned.

Then you are playing it right. Pay little attention to people that obsess over those details, since few things ruin fun as trying to be hardcore and analytic about it.

At some point, they lost the perspective required to enjoy a game where a yellow mouse beats the crap out of a fat plumber with its tail, while a dinosaur lay eggs to throw to a giant gorilla wearing a tie.

If any of the last sentence strikes you as random, unadulterated fun; you are playing it right.

The it being wrong part was sarcastic, I forget it doesn't translate well in text. But yeah, the SSB series was never meant to be serious, I love that it can be, but I just want to have fun. That's why SSB is pretty much the only fighting game I like, everyone can play it, it's deep and not button mashy, and it's just pure fun and silly. Still, me and my friends can get pretty competitive some times.

I've never played competitively, but when I played Super Smash Bros Melee with my friends, the difference in skill always showed. Brawl is far more reliant on luck, it feels.

We had much more fun with melee, and it feels to me like a lot of people want to make Brawl more dependant on skill with all these rules, they want it to be melee.

1. kirby is the cheapest character
2. banning characters is just plain dumb, just get better with your character
3. people still play brawl???

Binnsyboy:
My only problem with your post is that when signing off a letter, when you don't know the person, you sign "faithfully" instead of "sincerely".

But I have no reason to assign faith to a person I don't know. I can, however, assert that my statements and sentiments are sincere, as are my regards for that person -- I can wish someone well even if I don't know them.

I reject your etiquette.

Dastardly:

Binnsyboy:
My only problem with your post is that when signing off a letter, when you don't know the person, you sign "faithfully" instead of "sincerely".

But I have no reason to assign faith to a person I don't know. I can, however, assert that my statements and sentiments are sincere, as are my regards for that person -- I can wish someone well even if I don't know them.

I reject your etiquette.

Ah, but the sincerity of a stranger means nothing. By sending them a letter, you're putting some faith in the idea that they'll give it due attention and write back. Faith and reason are mutually exclusive, after all.

I'm British, you can't win a battle of politeness with me.

Daystar Clarion:
Like others have said, Smash Bros was never meant to be a seriously competitive game in the first place.

Half the fun of the game is it's unpredictable nature. Take away the items and the stages that can kill you and it's not Smash Bros anymore.

It's no longer Smash Brothers Brawl.

Melee was much more predictable and balanced. Even if you included items.

The game wasn't what the developers wanted it to be, so they went full tilt for Brawl. Some people liked it and some people didn't.

Sadly I was part of the latter crowd.

I don't think it's weird that the Smash bros. games have become competetive. The easy inputs make it a lot easier to pick up than any sort of mortal Kombat, Street Fighter or VS game. I am surprised that Meta Knight was banned, though. Never remember him having a huge win rate among my peers, would have liked to se videoes of him doing what Akuma was doing.

Binnsyboy:

Dastardly:

Binnsyboy:
My only problem with your post is that when signing off a letter, when you don't know the person, you sign "faithfully" instead of "sincerely".

But I have no reason to assign faith to a person I don't know. I can, however, assert that my statements and sentiments are sincere, as are my regards for that person -- I can wish someone well even if I don't know them.

I reject your etiquette.

Ah, but the sincerity of a stranger means nothing. By sending them a letter, you're putting some faith in the idea that they'll give it due attention and write back. Faith and reason are mutually exclusive, after all.

I'm British, you can't win a battle of politeness with me.

I feel that puts undue pressure on your recipient. "I have faith that you'll read this and write back," is not manners -- it's a guilt trip. It's equivalent to, "Now, Timmy, I know you'll do the right thing."

I choose instead to speak for myself, rather than to speak for my recipient (and guilt them in the process). That doesn't bode well for a new relationship.

I'm American, my victory has nothing to do with politeness. (Also something, something revolution, I can't be arsed...)

The reason I like Smash Bros so much is that it's so simple. I picked up on the series on Melee a year or so before Brawl came out and just played at entry level. When I got to the point where I could consistently beat level 9 bots, I looked into competitive play, and went there. I play Brawl competitively now. I'm not that great, but I can steamroll anyone who just plays casually with the use of combos, directional influence, and using the right attacks at the right time.

The metagame is there, and you don't have to accept it because it's still fun if you don't. That's why SSBB is one of the most accessible fighting games ever.

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