Posted by: darthmeanie | October 12, 2011

Unwarranted Ramblings – Homura

As you all know, ForwardArrow is in fact an alternate account that I formed subconsciously in order to cope with withdrawal from Make Your Move when I started law school. However, as of late, I’ve started to become consciously aware of my actions as ForwardArrow. In order to continue the façade and prevent myself from ever recovering from my new schizophrenia, my ForwardArrow half has requested a review from my Darth Meanie to prevent me from relapsing into normal psychological behavior.

 

 

 

This will be a bit of an interesting moveset for me to review, because this isn’t just a character I’m already very familiar with; it’s a character whom I already had some ideas for. While this means that I have more to draw on for review, it also means that I have to struggle with the differences in how I see Homura and you see Homura, and try not to force my own opinion of what a Homura set should look like on you. The last thing I should be doing is judging this moveset by comparing it to how I would make it.

 

This is also actually my first review, and my review style is probably going to be different than that of all other reviewers. I’ll be rambling on a number of different subjects about my own philosophy and ideas, and ultimately, while this is primarily focused on Homura, I’m writing this review with the intention of providing useful insight on movesets to everyone, using Homura as an example.

 

 

 

So I think I’ll start from an unusual position with this review; the process by which you came to make this moveset. I’ll propose that there are ultimately two main factors in deciding who to make a moveset for: how much you want the character to have a moveset, and how well the character lends his or herself to an interesting moveset. What I find interesting is that most people will make movesets for either reason; even Warlord, who is seen as one of the most mechanically minded movesetters who writes for playstyle’s sake made Inspector Lunge, one of the limpest characters we’ve ever seen in terms of fighting ability, and made a robust playstyle for the character.

 

Homura seems to be one of the lucky characters to fall into both categories; she has an interesting base mechanic, and is a likeable major character from the most popular anime of this year. Her unique fighting style is absolutely the draw for the moveset though, with her combination of time stop and her arsenal of homemade and military grade ordinance.

 

So you took those two concepts, time stop and guns, and combined them to create her projectile comboing and trap set-up focused playstyle. It’s a pretty clear direction to go, and also has the advantage of being simple and intuitive; because the moveset is built around the soft interaction between her projectiles and the time stop, you don’t need to include a bunch of complicated attacks in order to create an interesting and unique playstyle.

 

 

So let’s get started on analyzing some of the choices you made. The first thing I noted was of course the solid gray color scheme you chose. Although Homura’s magic color is purple, the gray fits very well at establishing just how alien she is to the rest of the magical girls and how she has steeled herself after countless loops of combat. It’s also muted, emotionless, and pleasing to look at. I’ll skim over the stats, except for a brief mention that she is fairly fast, which is good.

 

That said, you also provide incredibly few details about who she is as a character or what her abilities are. You never explain for example, the shield on her arm, or how she an pull out all of these weapons because it provides her access to extra-dimensional storage. Mentioning even small details, like the fact that her pipe bombs are all homemade, can give the reader an expanded view of the character and what their personality is like. At the same time though, your writing style is properly spartan, crystal clear, and avoids unnecessary details and leaves the minutia to the interpretation of the reader (that’s actually good)

 

 

Now then, onto the keystone move, Time Stop. The first question you had to ask when designing it was of course, how to balance the move. A recharging feature was of course the most intuitive way to take care of it without making it either ridiculously broken or debuffing the move. There absolutely needs to be some sort of meter available though; most people aren’t going to be able to accurately count quarter-seconds in the middle of a frantic brawl, and no one should really have to either. With this system, in a sixty second long stock, Homura will have about twelve seconds of time stop available to her to use.

 

The Side Special is a pretty interesting move. I’m not sure the move would be too powerful even if it didn’t drain her Time Stop meter though. I really do like how it’s built to give her an escape option when she’s attacked that lets her move around quickly and punish enemies who overextend themselves.

 

Now, I’m going to talk about Homura’s rocket launcher moves together. Homura has five different rocket launcher moves, all with different properties when they fire the rocket. My friend, this is far too many rockets. When the Down Aerial and Forward Smash rockets both have completely different lock on / homing properties than the one contained in her Special, it become unintuitive and makes the moveset less smooth. That said, I really do like how you approached using the Rocket Launcher in the Up Aerial, that she pulls it out for an attack, and then can cancel it into a rocket blast.

 

As an aside, let me just say how much I love follow-up attacks. There aren’t many in Brawl that aren’t jabs, but they do exist, mostly in the form of Forward Smashes and notably in Snake’s Forward Tilt. A follow-up move is really useful from a design perspective when used properly to give the player a unique option, or to get more individual moves in a limited number of inputs. I’ll assume everyone is familiar with Marvel v. Capcom 3 and Wesker’s follow-up teleports from his gun. It’s a really interesting way to give him a way to exploit enemy openings, and let him poke safely while letting him easily transition into a combo if he lands a hit.

 

I would have really liked then if Homura’s rocket launcher attacks had the same sort of consistency that the Up Aerial did; that a smoother approach for the rockets would be to either give her multiple physical moves that could be canceled into rockets, or a single, central rocket launcher move that she could fire from multiple angles rather than this shuffled combination of a number of approaches. Let me also add that she absolutely does not need all of these extra attributes on these rockets in order for her to be effective at her zoning and camping. A few rockets fired at good angles, combined with her ability to stop time, makes homing really unnecessary for her to be effective.

 

Now then, I’m going to go over some of my least favorite moves in this entire set next; her Down Special and Down Smash. First of all, these moves are both really good. Each one is essentially a straight upgrade from Snake’s grenades, which are already one of the best space controlling and zoning moves in the game. Both times that Homura uses her pipe bombs in the show they are manually activated by timer or possibly by remote; making them not only motion-activated, but letting her have five on the stage at once is pretty ridiculous. The Down Smash is also basically letting her use Snake’s grenades, except they explode faster, you can’t tell when she pulls them out, and she can attack while cooking them. Yikes.

 

The other thing is that I really don’t like what these moves do to her playstyle. You phrase it as allowing her to set up ‘Fort Camper’, especially if she stops time to help her set up the bombs. What this means though is that you’re splitting the purpose of her limited time stop between the interesting part, smartly laid projectiles and punishes, and the boring part, set-up. Between these and her Up Smash, she can make a pretty significant fortress, but is that really the most interesting way she could be player, or the way that fits her best? Now I’m starting to let my own interpretation of Homura leak into this review, but Homura uses her natural speed and time-stopping abilities to remain highly mobile throughout the battle. Yes, she fights from afar mostly, but she doesn’t stay in one spot while protected by explosives.

 

And one of the points I want to make here is how much individual moves can shape how the rest of the moveset and playstyle works together, especially in a highly open-ended set like Homura is. These moves that help her set up camp reward her for playing defensively and  punish using moves like her time draining Side Special, and makes her play much more passively.

 

And as another aside, I am going to say right now that here I am mentioning another direction that Homura could have taken, but not necessarily the superior direction or the right direction or what you should have done. The defensive style you gave Homura also flows into letting her fend off enemies so that she can build up time for more interesting explosive combos at once, instead of using it in very short bursts for mobility. The point I’m trying to make here is how a flexible mechanic like Homura’s Time Stop works in conjunction with her moves, and how with a few moves changed it would work differently.

 

I really did like the standards actually; the Down Tilt is beautifully simple and fits so well into the playstyle that you’ve built, and I really like how the Up Tilt can be used as a weak thrown weapon, a strong, delayed explosion, and how it encourages Homura to move because she’ll immediately be in the blast radius. It’s too bad that a pipe bomb would be universally more useful when thrown.

 

On to other notable things, the Back Aerial is a bad move that reminds me of a problem that I’ve struggled with that I feel a lot of others have struggled with too. The first problem is that it’s a standard attack move that deals no damage whatsoever, and only does anything at all in a very specific, unusual situation. That alone is a bad way to start. The reason why it works is also simply handwaved, and the move ultimately feels like it was added on as an afterthought to deliver an effect that could be useful. Back Aerials also really aren’t good spots for filler, as hard as they may be to write for, because you can’t turn around in the air without double jumping or using certain special moves, and back aerials are often useful for approaches as a strong physical option.

 

The concept itself could have easily been reworked to fit into her character more easily; Homura does have generic magical abilities that you never really expound upon, but she uses that shield charging attack in the alternate timeline in the beginning of the series, fires purple energy bolts in the first and tenth episodes, and was implied to have some sort of powerful close ranged magical attack when she was about to kill Sayaka. It would have been ‘easy’ to give Homura a reflector attack somewhere else, because the reflection option really is interesting for bouncing rockets back and forth.

 

As for her grab game, this could have easily been a collection of boring moves, and I wouldn’t have blamed you; her key concepts are based around having no physical contact with the opponent, and a grab is exactly that. A time-stop enabled chaingrab is actually a really interesting way to use it, although I think that the damage is far too low for something that uses up so much of her resources. The Back Throw also strikes me as a bit forced, and unusual; tying a bomb to someone seems a little unnecessarily sadistic, and the whole mechanic attached to escaping it is neither intuitive nor truly necessary, and seems like an awkward appendage to the moveset.

 

 

Now then, I know that this has sounded like a lot of nitpicking and I’ve tried to avoid it, but the nature of my relation to the set and the character, alongside the raw length of these rambles I’ve made. You and I both know Homura, and I don’t have to explain to you or to the readers what she does, you express that perfectly fine in the moveset.

 

 

And, despite my thesis on what direction the playstyle could have gone, the playstyle you made already is good, make absolutely no mistake. It’s simple in concept, gives the player lots of freedom to take their own approach and solve problems using her tools, something that I love to see in movesets. Homura has even more expansive options than you implied in the playstyle section and avoids any sort of direct flowchart. The concept is well implemented, and it is in the face of my suggestions a strong moveset, and clearly indicative of a person who has a confident, smart, concise style even early in his movesetting career.

 

 

And there you have it, my first ever review, a rambling monstrosity of ideas, suggestions, and thoughts. I have no idea where I even went with this anymore, I pieced it together in between my eyes glazing over studying for my upcoming midterm.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the review DM. It’s amusing to see you look back on your own set with so many different ideas on how to handle it. I guess the personality split is widening, after all.

    In all seriousness though, I do quite appreciate the review, all things considered. Yeah, it was very heavy on the nitpicking, but honestly I don’t feel it’s entirely unwarranted and that’s something you love to do. I mean, I get the impression you loved Inspector Lunge and you could probably write a 300 page book on all the things wrong with him. So I just take it for what it is… although I’ll admit I think I agree with you on the Down Smash. In retrospect, that move is easily the most thing about the set and honestly doesn’t contribute much to her playstyle. That and I’m a little disappointed in how defensive she turned out, though I don’t feel it’s really particularly OoC or anything so I can live with it.

    Also, I admit it’s very interesting to see what you would’ve done. I mean, I honestly am very proud of this set and consider it my best work (including the set I’m working on right now and Smash Daddy will probably say I am completely wrong about that), but I think you had some valid ideas and could have made a very interesting set for her yourself. Honestly, the reason I made her was because I was upset you would never get around to making her. Also, glad to hear that you did in fact like my take, even if you don’t completely agree with it.

  2. My other set of notes for Homura are still on my hard drive, y’know. (SMIRK)

    And they have more significant differences that I didn’t really get a chance to get into, but ultimately my vision for Homura involved spending less time in time stop at once, but firing it off more often to reposition herself or punish enemies. And I think at one point she had a projectile-reflecting shield bashing move…

    The key concept I was going for was making her work a bit like Snake does in Brawl, even with identical Neutral Specials, but using the time stop to make it so much deeper and expand her options. Having a fairly well-received Homura set already finished makes my entire approach irrelevant because the audience would have a different experience reading it.

    And on the subject of Inspector Lunge, I wouldn’t say that I like the set as much as I would say I respect the set as a solid example of Warlord’s abilities. The set makes little real logical sense and is extremely unintuitive, but it was such an alien idea grafted into Brawl in a way that worked. Warlord thought through tactics and metagames and all sorts of ways to get around it and gave him options to counter it. That’s what impressed me. In reality though I’d never even consider picking him up for a match myself nor would I want to see the character in a game the way Warlord portrayed him. He was just an extremely interesting thought experiment.

    Glad you appreciated my first and only review though. Hope I was ale to impart a bit of my own experience and wisdom into myself.


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