Posted by: Junahu | August 1, 2010

Movesets of the Past [#7]

Even without me around, MYM is still chugging along at an enviable pace. It may not be fast enough to get a traditional Top50 out any time soon, but every moveset is getting more attention that they ever used to in the past. So I kind of feel remorseful at how little we commented movesets in earlier MYM’s. Maybe it was because we were still learning ourselves. Or perhaps we were just more competitive than communal in the past. Either way, the annals of MYM are a rich tapestry just bursting with hidden gems and forgotten abominations. I hope these short, weekly articles will inspire others to look back and see older sets in a new light

It has been a while since I last published one of these articles. It’s a shocking neglect, I know, and I wish I could turn back time to… oh, wait

Here, I control all

Father Time

The concept of time manipulation in a beat-em-up is ALWAYS the same thing. You “manipulate” time by freezing the foe in place, or slowing them down, allowing you to set up a senseless guaranteed combo on them. It’s the easiest, and perhaps only sane way to logically show time manipulation without having to deal with the hell of programming a 4th dimension into the game’s controls. But, damn, it’s a little generic huh?

So, yes, your assumption right now is correct. Father Time is the one and only moveset to give the concept of time, the attention it so desperately craves. At no point does he resort to freezing the foe in a weak immitation of time control. In fact, in a true tongue-in-cheek fashion, there is one attack in his arsenal that freezes everything EXCEPT the foe.

And that alone makes him worth this retrospective.

You can freeze the Timeline, giving you a chance to move the foe into position. You can speed up the Timeline. You can even rewind the timeline! The sky’s the limit, really, and the foe may find themselves reliving the same pathetic moment of their game over and over again

Far from just some gimmick that substitutes for a gob-full or two of damage, Father Time actually makes the fourth dimension a viable means to attack from. In particular, it’s not just what the foe is doing NOW that shapes whether they will win, but what they might have been doing 2 minutes ago. Time becomes a contributing factor; beyond simply framing the procession of events, it becomes Father Time’s ammunition, so to speak.

But Father Time’s hand is one of deception. His key strategy is to befuddle the mind with doubt over the past, so that it clouds the foe’s perception of the future. His actual moveset, or the importants parts of it at least, are all about the simple act of laying a timed trap, one which a sharp foe can readily avoid. But with the perceptual nightmare subjected through Father Time’s temporal manipulation, it can be all too easy to forget exactly “when” the trap will explode… especially with the rules of time being so frequently bent, combined and collapsed in on themselves.

Rool rarely touched on the subject of compounding time manipulation attacks during the set itself. And for good reason; Father Time is convoluted enough simply taking every attack as an isolated bubble. To actually consider the paradoxes involved in “pulling-out” of a whole chain of time effects, reversals and repeats would take an enormous amount of foresight.

And that’s still my favourite aspect of this ambitious moveset. For all its manipulation of the past, none of it matters so much as making the future come as a shock to the foe. And it does this with admirable flexibility. It’s not the effects themselves, it’s the snap back to reality which is what Father Time seeks to exploit. Those precious few frames where the foe is focusing his attention entirely to coping with the sudden shift in temporal flow.

KingK.Rool has always stood for this kind of subtle twist within a common theme. All his great sets call upon and question common held “truths”, and I truly wish I could write an article on all of them. But, to take a few from the top of my head;

  • Miracle Matter, took the idea of a playstyle to its literal conclusion, forcing him to play on a strict schedule, propelling him to be agressive, without simply making him a good fighter.
  • King Hippo played with the knife-edge balance between a heavyweight’s resilience, and their symultaneous vulnerability, by giving him super armor which is lowered both when attacking, and when staying too idle.
  • TAC, for all the hatred directed towards it, proved that it isn’t just the moveset itself, but how it is applied, that defines a playstyle.
  • Abra made it possible, and neccessary, to flee aggressively, to use retreat and weakness to set the opponent up for attack.

My opinion of Rool back in MYM5 is the same opinion I have of him now. He is far smarter than me, and far far more capable of taking an idea, a character, a message, and seemlessly integrate them with one another. He can craft a friendly, yet stimulating moveset from almost nothing. In fact, Rool seems to work best, when his character’s sole existance can be summed up in a single word (to name a few examples; mother, thief, fire, ESP, teleporting, time…) and his ability to expand on the potential of such simple things is what I envy from him the most.

To truly understand the gravity behind the jump to 4th dimensional thinking in a moveset, bear in mind that MYM still doesn’t have a set that exemplifies 3rd dimensional thinking. Smash Brothers (and MYM) is very much a two dimensional fighter at heart. While MYM does have an additional 2d plane (the “background”) no set has ever explored it, except as a means to sidestep the normal rules of the game.

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Responses

  1. Good read, and I have some more respect for this set now that you’ve describe the mental/pshycological aspect of his gameplay.

    Rool’s always been one of the guys who actually paid attention to playstyle from the beginning, so he gets props (insert prop joke here), even if he and I don’t agree on the summaries I provide at the end of the movesets.

  2. …I have no idea how to respond to that poll. There’s, like, NO safe answer.

  3. What a flattering article! Father Time is probably my most ambitious set and I still wish I’d given him a bit more time in the ol’ cooker (as well as elaborated on his playstyle, which you’ve more or less nailed as usual), but I’m glad he hasn’t been entirely forgotten.


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