Posted by: MarthTrinity | October 6, 2011

MT Randomly Discusses Stuff – Characterization

Howdy hoes. Now I’m sure people have discussed characterization to the ends of time and back, probably even in articles much like (and much better than) this one. But, ya  know? I’m one of the biggest advocates of movesets being in character so I figure I should get my own thoughts down on virtual paper. With that said…let’s first open up with “What is characterization?” Well to me, characterization is when you get an actual feel for the character’s character via their moves, their writing style, their playstyle and numerous other things. Strangely…this is much easier said than done however, even for the best of MYMer’s and even for those who go out of their way to make their sets in character! So why is this so hard? Well…it depends on the character of course. Let’s look into a few “subtypes” of characterization flaws.

Pokemon Syndrome: We define Pokemon Syndrome as giving a Pokemon moves that, while they may fit the playstyle perfectly, do not fit the Pokemon’s “character.” And yes, I hear you saying already that Pokemon are mindless beasts and have no character…but they do have distinct  traits and abilities!

One of the biggest examples of Pokemon Syndrome could be seen back in the day with SkylerOcon’s Metagross moveset where he gave the Psychic/Steel type Rain Dance. Now…when one thinks Metagross, do they think summoning rain? Not really. Or not at all rather. When one thinks Metagross, they think a giant psychic tank made of steel that uses its brute force in addition to its psychic abilities to fight. Another example could be seen in my own Azumarill set…a -LOT- in that set actually. Moves like Giga Impact don’t really make too much sense for a little rubbery bunny.

With that said however…one should not immediately write off a random sounding Pokemon move as Pokemon Syndrome as people like Junahu have shown, move names are just move names, they’re not exactly what you’ll be getting in the end result. For example, Victini randomly has Brick Break. What were you thinking there Juna-ohh…It’s -NOTHING- like Brick Break in the game except for its secondary effect. Gotcha. See, that’s not -REALLY- Pokemon Syndrome as much as it is naming a move after an existing, unrelated one. It works in the set, it’s not too random but it’s named after a random existing move.

While we’re on the topic of Pokemon…use your Pokemon’s appearance to your advantage! I made a set for Tauros for crying out loud using only his physical appearance. IIRC, I only used about three or four actual Pokemon moves in the moveset and none of them were really anything a  normal cow couldn’t actually do (sans having three tails). Physical appearance of a Pokemon is 110% more useful to a movesetter than fishing around in their movepool for inputs!

Magic Syndrome: We define Magic Syndrome as giving a character any or every ability they can learn in game (or can’t!)…just because you can. An In-Smash example of this could be seen in Ness. Ness’ Specials consist of two moves he actually knows (PSI Magnet and Pk Flash) and two he NEVER learns in game at all (Pk Fire and Pk Thunder). His Final Smash is also never learned in game by him either.

So what’s the deal with Magic Syndrome huh? If I’m making a set for Grizzles the Wizard, I deserve to use all types of magic, right?! Well, yes and no. If it’s IN CHARACTER for a character to be using all types of magic in game/source material, feel free to go for it (although your set may seem disjointed and sloppy…) but say…well, let’s use an example.

Say you’re making a moveset for Canas from Fire Emblem.

Pretty cool guy I suppose. What can you tell from looking at him? Well, he’s a Fire Emblem character…but not much else. Let’s get a better picture, shall we?

Much better! The guy looks like a bit of a klutz and he’s carrying a bunch of books with him which would imply that he’s probably a magic user! See? You’ve laid the groundwork for characterization already! Now, this one may be a bit more difficult…what sort of magic do you think he uses? Well he’s a Shaman class which, in the game he’s from, specializes in Dark Magic. “So what?” you say, “Magic’s magic!” And that, my friend, is exactly the mindset that leads to Magic Syndrome. I could, in theory, give Canas Light based magic and have it say…I don’t know? Balance out his Dark magic and be 100% playstyle relevant? Well yeah, I could make him focused around throwing socks and have it be playstyle relevant but at that point, it’s not Canas, now is it?

Magic Sydrome however isn’t limited to just magic however, that’s sort of a blanket term. For example, Nick’s Gemini Man moveset has a ton of random abilities that don’t fit the character at all (such as creating flames or using Plug Ball). It’s stuff like this that really makes the reader stop, look at the set and wonder if you’re going for characterization at all or what.

Magic Syndrome is even easier to screw up than Pokemon Syndrome really. You would clearly see problems with say…Pelipper using Shockwave…but would you immediately see problems with OC Character X using Ice/Fire/Lighting/Dark/Light attacks or what have you? It probably wouldn’t be as clear really…

OC OOC: Alrighty, this one’s much harder to classify than the other two and much, much less common but it’s still a very possible thing. Now, you may be thinking…”They’re my OC! Who are you to tell me what’s out of character for -MY- character!” And that’s a very valid point…which is why I’ll reference a fanfiction term; Mary-Sue.

When you make an OC, give them set powers that suit them. For example, Barbovor was about his spikes and what not, Donna/Anne was about photography, M.Trinity was about sexualized stuff and her Psycho Energy…they’re all very focused and to the point. They don’t really beat around the bush about what they do and what their abilities are.

Who the fuck is that guy?! Well, instead of pointing fingers at other MYMer’s OC’s (or at my own), I thought I’d point out this guy’s! This is the guy who made Super Nuke Bros Melee…or who failed to rather. He decided it was a good idea to put himself in Nuke Bros and fell into one major flaw of OC’s; nobody gives a shit about your OC. Yes, it’s sad but true, nobody but yourself cares about your OC because they’re not Ridley or Bowser or Link or whomever. They’re just some random person only -YOU- have an attachment to…at first.

Your main goal with an OC is to establish their character, or lack thereof. You’re basically trying to sell this character to the reader…which is why clear characterization is an absolute must for OC makers! While no one may exactly care about your OC at first, hopefully, via proper characterization, you’ll be having them love your OC as much as you do! With this guy above…he attacks with a guitar and uses fire. Well? The shit does that tell you about the guy? That he fancies himself a rockstar and commits arson on the side? Not really, it’s just someone putting their Mary-Sue in Smash.

While it may not be a very good moveset, Emidius -IS- somehow a good example of characterization. The character is meant to be blatantly godlike and, for half of his moveset, he’s just fucking around with the opponent. Even if it didn’t quite achieve what Majora wanted, he -DID- make an in character set for his OC…it just so happened that OC just would not work in Smash.

Props and Summons: Props are commonly defined as a random item or something that is summoned for a move out of generally nowhere and are typically there for forced creativity. Summons are very similar, typically an enemy that comes out of nowhere to assist the summoner and then leaves or sticks around. These are very iffy and -REALLY- depend on the character in question.

An example of bad prop use…TERRIBLE prop use, can be seen in my own Little Mac set. Yes, a big part of Punch-Out!! is training…but it’s random for the moveset to use it for so many inputs. Pulling random stuff out of nowhere to train with and  fight your foe with makes no sense for Little Mac and comes across as terribly random. Mac is a good example to show that people should focus on core concepts of a character instead of various lesser things.

Summons can also be really iffy. For example, Nick’s MYMX Robot Masters. I can accept Galaxy Man summoning tiny UFO’s to attack the foe…but I draw the line at Concrete Man summoning random birds and Gemini Man summoning tadpoles. These are the sort of summons you want to avoid. Unless the character controls said summons in-game or whatever, try and avoid them. Summoning random enemies from the charater’s stage is a quick way to fill inputs without making much logical sense really…

Props aren’t the devil though, some characters really need them. For example, characters like The Joker who revolves around his little impractical jokes to fight rather than fighting himself are characters who REALLY do need props to both be effective and in character. When you use props, ask yourself; “Does this make sense for ____?”

Focus On Core Concepts: This one’s pretty darn simple. If a character shoots, have him shoot! If a character is fast, make them revolve around being fast. It’s not rocket science, just common sense. Guide your moveset along using characterization in order to achieve both an in character moveset and a creative one.

An example of both the good and the bad can be seen with BKupa. Kupa’s recent Klobber set, while not exactly his best or most popular, played off the simple fact that Klobber runs into people. That’s it. That’s. All. He. Does. Going off this, Kupa made it so that that’s -EXACTLY- what Klobber revolved around. On the other hand…we have Kaptain. Infamously referred to as Kaptain K. Ombo, Kaptain K.Rool was a terribly out of character moveset that revolved around heavyweight combos…instead of, shooting? Which would make sense? Typically, Kupa’s very good about characterization…there was just a while back when he was obsessed with making fatties into combo characters…which doesnt reaaaaally make that much sense. As I said, play to your character’s strengths.

Take a good hard look at your character’s source material, play through it/watch it repeatedly if you must and point out their key abilities that you want the moveset to revolve around.

Well Smart Ass, What If My Character Has No Character?!: Establish it then goddammit! But make sure you actually stick to it! For example, Negative Man. He’s a one-shot “bad guy” from Mother 3 who does -NOTHING-. I had to pull that entire moveset out of my ass based purely around what very little characterization he was given (IE: That he’s negative). It wasn’t easy but it’s what has to be done when your character is in dire need of character. Likewise, establishing a character will often times opens up concepts for the moveset that you can really run with!

Unfortunately, even establishing character out of nothing can go sour. Take for example Jack the Ripper. He didn’t have much character so Smady took what he  knew of the other Jacks (IE: That they’re pranksters) and set it up as Ripper’s character as well. Fair enough and it makes sense, no? Well…throughout the moveset, Ripper does stuff like tear chunks out of the opponent’s flesh and cause them to bleed all over the place. That doesn’t sound very prankster-ish to me…in fact, it sounds more like a moveset for Chucky or something personally. This is a notable example of the characterization created for a character not being sync’d with the actual moveset itself.

Actually Give A Shit About Your Character: I cannot stress this one enough. If you’re making a moveset for a character you hate…why? Wouldn’t you rather make a set for a character you enjoy? Personally, it’s MUCH easier to make sets for characters I like than to even try and think up a set for a character I don’t. It baffles me when people come up with concepts and then attach them randomly to a character they don’t care about just to have an “avatar” for their playstyle. Actually give a shit about who you’re making the moveset for…otherwise you’re not making a character, just an idea.

Make Sure It Fucking Makes Sense: Last point but a goddamn important one. Make sure your concepts make sense. If Warlord made a moveset for Gluttony where he shoots rainbows out his arse and fucks a walrus for his Down Special, I wouldn’t care if it was the greatest set in the world…that shit just makes no goddamn sense! For a less extreme example, Jason. The infamous Jason moveset just…makes no sense. It also happens to be a moveset for a character Kat doesn’t even like, cementing my above point. In the moveset, Jason -WANTS- to give the opponent his weapon. Wait…what?! When did that -EVER- happen in the Friday the 13th movies? When did Jason go, “Oh hay, here’s my machete, please attack me with it since it’s slow lawl.”

Overall, characterization -REALLY- isn’t that hard…but there’s no reason it should be blatantly ignored either. If you’re choosing a character with good character, you should probably be able to work a set out for them. We’ve had such random sets as Negative Man, Lunge, caterpie, Magikarp and tons more work out because of proper characterization and pulling concepts from said characterization. In short…making sure you know your character before you make the set for them should make the whole process tons easier.



  1. “If Warlord made a moveset for Gluttony where he shoots rainbows out his arse and fucks a walrus for his Down Special, I wouldn’t care if it was the greatest set in the world…that shit just makes no goddamn sense! ”

    I laughed.

  2. New Movement: make a moveset for a character you hate

  3. *claims Cell*

  4. Anyone want me to PM them the progress I’ve made on Roll?

    (Great article MT (tipsy))

  5. Yay for combo fatties!

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