Posted by: metinahurricane | November 30, 2011

The Black Box Opens Up

self ranking

I wish I had Junahu’s talent at imagecrafting, or Warlord’s, er, microphone, so as to give you my thoughts in some pure, exciting way. Instead all I have are my words. And plenty of memories, reminiscenses, nostalgia, etc… so all this is going to be is a walk through MYM history, through me, because as you all know, I love to talk about myself.

And as I go I’m going to be talking about my movesets. Obvious, right? I hope I can get you to reevaluate some of them… but for the most part, I just hope that I don’t put you off of them, because now when I stand here and look back on the work of three years, I find very little of real value.

See, before I get into the specifics, let’s generalize: I feel that my movesets are crowdpleasers. They’re good at catching attention, and all the glitz and sleekness that people have fun with when reading movesets, and putting on the grand parade of quality – but when it comes to depth, I find myself disappointed with most of my work. My movesets are like the popcorn flicks of the MYM world. Tasty enough while you’re experiencing them, but in the long run, disposable.

I suppose that if you hew closer to the bone, the question is one of what I want in a moveset. If you step back far enough, I find reason to be displeased with just about every set ever made. Not because I have individual quibbles with each of them, like Warlord, but because on a very general level, none of them can live up to the idea of them in my mind. And that’s a vague idea, an impression born of my imagination, and it’s not there when I revisit the moveset. What the moveset actually is inevitably disappoints me. At heart, the problem is that I don’t really like Brawl enough, or any other video game. For me the passion in reading movesets is watching them unfurl cinema-like in my imagination. But that’s a quality in me, and not in the movesets, and it’s been responsible for my interpreting any number of unpopular sets in ways that reflect more on me than on them.

So much for my current angst over my inability to ever really understand or like movesets in the same way many of you seem to. Now to move on to something that I still like to do – talk about myself, and my own thought processes, and all the reasons you shouldn’t give me so very much credit. This is a tell-all. Let’s rool.

[01] Magikoopa – MYM 3.0

You all know, I hope, that most of Magikoopa was not written for MYM proper. Here I come along into this thread, and I seem to faintly recall something that happened a solid year or so earlier, before Brawl came out, in an obscure thread in an obscure corner of the Brawl Character Discussion board called Brawl Character movesets: share, rate, and comment!

How formative that thread was on me, I can’t begin to describe. Here I come along 2006, making these silly little movesets that I was nevertheless absurdly proud of, because instead of just tossing together random attacks I had this picture in my mind’s eye: now what does the character look like in action? Motions, attacks, animations, sounds – how do they all flow together to make the character a tangible experience? If the character’s pulling out silly props on every move, the visual experience is jarring and disconnected, and I don’t dig that at all. But a cohesive experience! The feel of the character unfolding before my eyes! Now that was exciting to me. I could see it as clearly as I could see Metaknight in those early days, swooping about, waving his sword lightning-quick with those awesome little slicing sound effects. This was what I called playstyle – the tangible experience of the character. The visual and auditory connect. This is how I used the term throughout most of MYM 3, and certainly in 2006, when I posted some sets in this thread.

Here is the first, II Piantissimo. Note the existence of a mechanic, and possibly the very first “momentum” character.
 is Kamek.
Here is Adeleine. Note that she’s a self-proclaimed minion set.
Here is Nightmare, which was my weirdest set and comparable in “playstyle” to a prehistoric Dracula. Note the existence of an attack very much like Into Red Smoke.
Here is Espio. Note the fact that he’s an invisibility character.
Here is Tingle. Note that everybody despised him at the time and that I just made him an annoying troll character.
Here is Hitmonchan, a set that I got very excited over because of how cool I imagined the sound effects of a punch-based character to be.

I’m taking so long on these because this batch of seven sets (plus Farfetch’d, which you’ve seen elsewhere and which was probably the worst of the bunch) laid the foundation for plenty of the ideas I’ve explored since in MYM – and not just me, but everyone else. All the same, there are some interesting parallels to be drawn between these stone-age works and later sets.

But here’s the salient goddamn point: it was in this thread that I got the idea that I was somehow actually good at this useless activity, and that I learned how awesome being praised for something so fun really is. Here’s the post that did it.

With this post, Diddy Kong probably – inadvertently – had a greater effect on me than anything Warlord or Mendez ever said. With those casual words of praise, he locked me into movesetting forever (wait, FOREVER??). He also gave me some sort of superiority complex that leads me back to the point of this long but very relevant aside: I posted Magikoopa in MYM 3, which was really just Kamek with minor alterations on the specials, because I figured what Diddy Kong liked others would like as well. Well, lo and behold, they didn’t. I got a few offhand semi-positive comments, but nobody seemed to pay much attention to what I had supposed was excellent work. And indeed Kamek may have been some of the best work in 2006, but MYM was a different playing field, and I had it demonstrated to me in very plain terms by the two or so people who acknowledged Magikoopa’s existence. One of them was KoJ, who is kind of a demigod nowadays or something.

I did go back later and spruce up Magikoopa’s body moveset, to the point that Mendez gave me a kind of glowing review and the moveset squeaked onto the top 50. And why not? There’s a move interaction. There’s a handful of transformations, plenty of versatility, and a set of projectile standards, which I thought was revolutionary stuff for the time. And truly there’s not much else to say about this, except with reference to the earlier Kamek and the later one. More on that later. Much, much later.

[02] Grim Reaper – MYM 3.0

We’re stepping out of chronological order. Between Magikoopa and Grim Reaper was Pidgeot, which much resembled those seven 2006 sets and which I later went back to. We’re going back to it later because the Pidgeot that exists now was made well after this Grim Reaper.

First of all, this moveset stems from a belief that I made up on the spot to justify the fact that I had made a moveset for a character that even by MYM standards did not deserve to be made.

Now, with this set I truly had great ambitions. Dracula had come and gone, to no one’s amazement more than mine, and Voldo was posted hours before, to my shock and awe. I hadn’t paid much attention to this puffed-up braggart MasterWarlord up to that point, and when he produced a set to rival Dracula in detail and evocative playstyle (still using that word to mean visual flow of gameplay), I somehow saw that the game had been changed. Of course, most of Grim Reaper was already done at that point and it was clear that I was already stepping up in a way most weren’t. Remember Diddy Kong praising me? Because I sure did. And dammit, if it was good enough for Diddy Kong, I would make it good enough for MYM. Even if I wasn’t as loud or obnoxious as Warlord, I was just as cocky in my own quiet, faux-humble way.

And so Grim Reaper. Heavy on the detail, hideously balanced – his Reaplings can be picked off by any character who has a projectile in a matter of moments. I simply had no idea how to work what I had into something cohesive and feasible. And who can blame me? After all, this was the very first true minion character.

Grim Reaper can summon them, and then send them forward, let them roam the stage, use them to recover, call them to surround him as guards, and boost his attacks when they’re near – all the stereotypical things people do with minions, and have done for many contests, they’re all here. I’m really quite tickled with this set in retrospect. Outside the Reaplings it plays essentially like Ike, but hey, what made Voldo so very unique? And it was Warlord who finally gave me that praise that I’d been waiting for, albeit already tempered by his trademark haughty negativity. In his (ridiculously long and in-depth) review of the set, he ultimately deemed it good and gave it an 81% or something like that. I’ve never been satisfied with an 81% in my life, but when I realized that this was for him an obscurely high mark, I swallowed my pride and decided “okay, that was good – now let’s do better.”

Grim Reaper is a highly recommended read now. I like to imagine that in its own small way it served as the third part of the two-hander boost Dracula and Voldo gave to this casual, free-wheeling contest, catapulting it into something much more competitive and much more exciting. I certainly knew that the rules had been changed.

[03] The Squeak Squad – MYM 3.0

Mendez gave this one a review, too – and he decided it was good in almost every way, except decidedly too long and decidedly unbalanced. The highest mark he ever did give out was 34/40, to kits’s Plusle & Minun and Warlord’s Cervantes.

And indeed this set is good in almost every way, by MYM 3.0’s standards. Polished, detailed, full of egregious examples of creative inputs, random minions that serve to do apparently nothing but keep the reader diverted, silly but somehow amusing animations, and a flashy idea that hadn’t been seen before, in this case a weirdo switch mechanic that makes the trio feel and behave like an ongoing boss battle.

Spinni is the speed demon, and he switches out when he kills. Doc is this weird sort of spacing character who actually has a really cool thing going with his mobility and can hold out a hitbox while moving forward or back, as well as using a tractor beam to drag people into hazards, and he switches out when he’s KOed. And Storo is a mindless, gormless heavyweight who switches out when he hits 100%. Simple, elegant, and terribly unintuitive. Probably more fun to play against than to play as.

With the posting of this set, I finally learned what it was to actually get comments – to be noticed when one of your sets goes up. What a wonder it was to me! People were starting to pay attention! If they still weren’t quite recognizing my name from my earlier sets – there were an awful lot of people in MYM 3, and not much connection – at least they were acknowledging the sets themselves. I got comments from Warlord, Mendez and Kibble, three people I had actually noticed and come to admire – even if I kept confusing SirKibble with Spadefox. They both posted a lot, see… and were pleasant. And didn’t make sets that impressed me as much as Warlord’s or Mendez’s.

[04] Powers Kirby – MYM 3.0

So far I haven’t had much to say about the movesets themselves. They’re products of their time, nothing more, and some of them have something to interest us even today. When I come to this, I’m forced to actually be critical of myself for a minute – this set is awful.

Here’s the idea: Kirby has all these neat powers, but in Brawl all he has is boring kicks and flips and so on. Let’s make a moveset where every attack pulls out a different hat, a different power! Let’s make a moveset of disjointed hitboxes, tacky visualizations, and nothing else! And it went right on against my budding notions of playstyle as something more essential than just the visual flow of a moveset. As I was writing it, by the time I reached the playstyle section (not many people had those!), I was already realizing that what I had done was not really better than the Brawl Kirby. Hence the whimper of a playstyle section after such a bombastic, enthusiastic set.

Of note is the organization. This was one I would use for quite a few sets in this period, and it had a real simple goal: readability. How can I make my moveset as easy to approach and understand as possible? After Squeak Squad, I was terribly afraid of scaring off my readers with walls of text. This organizational template is very airy and neatly-sectioned, borrowing from Mendez’s move/notes format. For its time, it served its function.

Also, check out Light, Kirby’s “new and improved” DSpec. Here’s that move from Nightmare again; here’s a stagewide Into Red Smoke. It doesn’t work in the context of Powers Kirby at all, no, but one could see that I was bent on the idea of hiding your hurtbox and hitboxes. It’s a theme that runs through my movesets right up to the present day.

With this set, I suddenly found myself getting a real chorus of reception as soon as I posted it. People recognized my name. They even seemed to – gasp! – admire my movesets. As the praise piled up for my overdetailed, disjointed mess, I felt I had well and truly arrived. And I didn’t have to wave my freak flag, as Warlord had, or display true consistency and clarity of vision, as Mendez had. All I had to do was single-mindedly chase after those words of praise Diddy Kong had left engraved in my mind, determined to prove to everyone that I was somehow good at this thing.

[05] Pidgeot – MYM 3.0

And now, very pleased with myself, and with seemingly everybody else pleased with me also, I decided to do something I’ve never done since – go back and revise an older set. “Revise” is not really an adequate word here, though. I just outright redid Pidgeot.

Now, this set, originally and after, was heavily informed by this really neat set from a dude called Eternal Smasher, Toku and Enril. He made this wind-based moveset, good at knockback but bad at dealing damage – a champion gimper. It seemed to me that wind-based movesets that manipulate the foe’s position could be terribly interesting, as they had never existed in Smash. This is exactly what Pidgeot was… plus a glide mechanic that allowed it to swoop around like a fighter jet, attacking as it went in all sorts of versatile ways. This aerial-combat aspect of Pidgeot is the only interesting thing about it. It’s a dull Pokemon in any case, although I always kinda liked it.

Also, check out the UAir, one of the very first of them that actually propelled the character upward. I was concerned that it was very broken at the time.

This set would get a post-revision review from Warlord and two thumbs up. Like Squeak Squad and Powers Kirby, it made the top 10. Toku&Enril, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found, nor was Zoop Triangle, Eternal Smasher’s other great set. The Rool bias in MYM 3.0 was disgusting.

[06] The Headless Horseman – MYM 3.0

Christ, what an obvious idea it was. MYM 3.0 was ending on Halloween. Of course I’d make a festive Halloween set for the occasion. It’d be the perfect publicity pitch. I shuddered with excitement at the very thought of it. Now I just needed a moveset as good as the pitch.

Three years later, and we had, what, 20 movesets on Halloween? There’s no novelty in it now. Of course there isn’t. But the Horseman had mood, and it tapped into a holiday spirit and some sort of universal appeal that made it one of the most iconic moveset of its day – and one of the very few movesets from MYM 3 that we still sometimes talk about today.

The moveset itself has a very simple, even boring inspiration. I always thought it was a hell of a lot of fun to use Zero Suit Samus, because she spawned with those damn bits of armor that were so easy to repeatedly toss at and bounce off of the foe, even while using your regular attacks to keep scooping them up and annoy your opponent to death with this uber-aggressive assault. And the visualization was a lot of fun for me as well – this head popping on and off of his head like some sort of steam-powered sideshow attraction, this hollow husk of a human being seeming to collapse into more and more weirdo spook stories. It’s a very cinematic moveset, like so many of mine. It’s all about the visualization, what they’d look like in action.

There are some awesome interactions as well, such as using your Up Special to block off a side of the stage so that your head can’t be chucked off. The versatility of the Horseman’s game is really quite well done, even in retrospect – although he has no easily defined playstyle outside of this sort of protect-the-head and attack-with-the-head dichotomy, there’s a fair amount of depth there. Certainly, he is leagues above my other MYM 3.0 work.

And he better be, considering how much effort I put into him. I spent more time per attack on this moveset than on any other set I ever made. For two weeks, from the time I thought the idea up to Halloween, I worked on it with intense devotion for an hour or two each day. The payoff was palpable. The moveset got more commentary than almost any other set in the contest, and all of it positive. I ended MYM 3.0 soaring sky-high, bursting with excitement for the future.


This is an epic, folks. Don’t read it all at once – you’ll give yourself a cramp. I didn’t write it all at once, after all. Hell, print it out, read it at the bus station, at the church, during class! What’s that? You’ll go to hell? Just tell ol’ Warlord said it was okay. You’ll fail class? Knowing the history of MYM is clearly more important than anything you could learn out there. Teachers getting angry? Explain to them that your paying attention is hardly their problem, and that nobody can teach good learning habits to those who don’t want to learn – that is, you.


[07] Snorlax – MYM 4

This isn’t a moveset I like to dwell on. At this time, I was really starting to get a grip on what playstyle meant, but not how to really crack into it. I “got” how to give my moveset a unique centerpiece, but not how to make the rest of it flow into that in any relevant way. Now, don’t get me wrong – this was already pretty advanced stuff for early MYM 4, when creativity was really booming and detail beginning to dominate.

Snorlax has an idea, much like how Pidgeot or Horseman have central ideas (glide attacks, built-in item) – sleep attacks. It can’t be said that it wasn’t fitting for Snorlax, and I thought it was kind of neat how I made it pivotal for Snorlax to launch into his sleep state occasionally, be it through his recovery or the nifty self-damaging Belly Drum. Once in the sleep state, as Mendez pointed out in a characteristically sharp review, Snorlax is pretty boring; outside of his sleep state, Snorlax is pretty boring; but it’s the simple fact that he has to make the two work together in a sort of cycle that keeps him from being boring overall, or at least did so at the time. This idea hasn’t been looked into much since, because it really is generally boring and doesn’t lend itself to much player interactivity or the sort of kineticism that makes Brawl exciting. But hey, Junahu liked it, right? I’d love to hear his reasons why, but I doubt he remembers his MYM4-self’s thought processes.

More notable here is Munchlax, a semi-clone that is actually a much more interesting fighter than Snorlax himself. This is the best extra I ever made, easily, and one of the last. I was planning to make this a regular thing in my Pokesets, but I stalled when I tried to come up with a Voltorb clone for Electrode and never went back after that. Munchlax doesn’t sleep, instead basing his moveset around the devouring of items. He’s a spastic little self-healer who runs wild in item matches but functions just fine outside of them as well, and a clever riff on the fittingly soporific and boring Snorlax.

[08] Electrode – MYM 4

Electrode is another set all about the visualization. I thought the visual concept of this Electrode scrunching down to glow yellow and charge between attacks, as the foe was in hitstun, was a really neat one, and could make for an excitingly dynamic and unique style of play (maybe the word playstyle would not yet be fully appropriate).

It’s truly a cyclical moveset, with three distinct forms of varying powers, and you go up to that top one, then go too far, fizzle out, and shoot down to absolutely no power at all. As such it’s very fitting for an electric-type Pokemon, and I do believe Electrode was the only one I ever did – he did everything I wanted to do with the genre, and after that I had nothing left to say (and then along came – I just remembered – Jolteon, which takes a very different tack on charging, but definitely finds its reference point with this big fellow here, and we’ll explore that when we get to it).

The challenge a simple orb offered was also a lot of fun for me to attack, and the main thing I did with it was make Electrode easy to knock around, and even quite willing to knock himself around, treating himself very much like a bomb. There was some neat stuff going on in this set, and I wouldn’t say its relevance has entirely faded, although it goes without saying that any number of attacks, despite their tenuous connection to the playstyle via different strengths depending on his charge, simply don’t flow. Flow was not a concept I or anybody else understood at this time. Like Snorlax, Electrode received polite applause and a kind of reserve, as though people were just waiting for me to do Horseman again. Somehow these two sets felt stale to me – partially, perhaps, because they were both kind of boring first-gen Pokemon, and partially because of that terribly generic organization, which I had thoroughly gotten sick of. I junked it right then and there, although it’d be echoed again, in a much later moveset: George Romero.

[09] Jafar – MYM 4

Of all my movesets, this has been one of the most enduring, and has truly entered the canon. Warlord calls it the dawn of true playstyle or something like that, a solid handful of you hold it one of your favourite movesets of all time, and I can look back on it with something at least vaguely resembling satisfaction.

This was my first moveset that was made all in one burst of passion and creativity, a single sitting – which has been my usual method since about Miracle Matter. No more of this careful sitting and deliberating on attack by attack. I found that approach to breed a sort of disconnect as I lost my grip on my clean and careful mental image of the character’s playstyle. And indeed, with Jafar, things went differently. Things flowed.

Jafar had a simple enough idea: no good stats, but still a competent character. How? Constant, patient damage output, and wits. Mindgames, or stage control, or spacing, or whatever you want to call it – almost all the ideas that we take for granted in just about all of our sets were not really commonly employed in MYM 4, at least before Jafar. There’s a summon, but it’s not nearly as clumsy as in Grim Reaper; various traps, which really laid down the foundations of a genre; the first example of poison damage, here encouraging Jafar to play a patient game; and, of course, Into Red Smoke, my most famous attack and maybe the most iconic one in all MYM. My finest hour, I’d say.

Jafar removes a small red vial from his billowing robes, and tosses it violently onto the ground beneath him. Copious amounts of red steam emerge, completely obscuring an area about as big as half of a Smart Bomb’s max radius. This cloud remains in place for fifteen seconds or so, making it an excellent place for Jafar to hide in and attack from, or plant his traps in secret. You can just barely make out Jafar’s silhouette through the smoke (and only his), but not exactly what he’s up to.

Thank god I used the word “traps”. What if I’d said “stage riggers” instead or something??

Jafar has an elegant simplicity to most of his attacks that was not at all on display in Snorlax, or Electrode, or even Horseman. And this new organization, which was drawn in equal measure from Mendez’s newer, sleeker approach and the really abstract, really really cool way the oft-forgotten Cruxis formatted his organization-oriented sets (he had a big fight with a cocky MYM4-era Warlord over what’s really important in a moveset, as you might imagine; and the benign MYM4-era me chuckled at the whole situation and moved right along), worked wonders for that stuffiness that had pervaded my other two MYM4 movesets.

This is a must-read if anything I ever made was, although it should be looked at as a granddaddy set nowadays. I don’t think I’ve often done things this good, and to think it begun with a half-joke moveset of one-liner attacks that Warlord suddenly pointed out was actually kind of promising if turned into a feature-length work.

[10] Chef Kawasaki – MYM 4

I’ve often reflected on Kawasaki, a set I really didn’t like while I was making it. After Jafar’s very short and exciting development period, Kawasaki went back to taking multiple short, disjointed work sessions, even with that heavily reduced detail and tight organization.

The idea’s simple enough. Kawasaki comes to the battlefield primarily to cook. Fighting is an afterthought. He’s also got a subtheme of minigames, for in Kirby Super Star he truly does mostly appear in minigames – so there’s a tapping game, a reflex game, and so on. That these two don’t go together too comfortably hardly mattered, since Kawasaki is such an eclectic, bizarre, pointless character to begin with. He can do whatever he wants and get away with it!

The concept of the pot, and of preparing the recipe as you fight, is not really like anything else. It makes him a sort of cyclical set-up character (and maybe now, after Electrode and Snorlax and then this, you can see that I was somehow hung up on characters with playstyles involving cycles) based very much around busy work and hustling about; I very deliberately, thinking myself quite clever, made his style of play a busy one, as a chef’s should be.

Let’s go back to my mindset. MYM 3 was over, and with it people other than just me, Warlord and Mendez were garnering attention for their movesets. And to tell the truth, at this point, Mendez was already dying out. This was the rise of Kibble, and HR, who had an amazing MYM4 run, but they weren’t the only ones stepping way, way up – you could see it in everybody, from Sundance to MT to Baloo to Spadefox. And in the midst of all of these increasingly competitive cohorts, there I was, now comfortably established and a member of the leadership (!)(the moment when Mendez approached me to join the leadership was one of the most unexpected and exciting in my entire MYMing career; this was before Horseman, and I hadn’t distinguished myself in almost any way other than quietly dissolving a thread argument or two), churning out reviews with the best of them, and feeling very much like an authority figure.

And with Kawasaki’s indisputable, earth-shattering hype train, in which I believe many people who only ever skimmed him championed him as the best of the contest, I hit a strange sort of peak. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as Horseman, maybe because I didn’t think much of the set at all (although I kept my big mouth shut until after voting period, crafty dastard that I am) and maybe because at this time people hadn’t yet really adjusted to long sets. We were producing big stuff, but we weren’t yet reading it. Skimming was 90% of the law,  but sets were no longer short or easy enough to skim! Comments were produced mere minutes after movesets went up, inevitably saying absolutely nothing beyond “looks awesome!” It was indeed a time of empty positivity, but for what it’s worth I found those one-liner declarations very fulfilling back then.

[11] Galaxy Man – MYM 4

This is my most unfortunate set, and one of relatively few that never made the top 50 – certainly the only one in those first few contests. See, we’re in MYM 4 and as such we all skim sets to get a vague idea of how neat the attacks are and then judge the set by that. And then along comes Galaxy Man with this deliberately obscure writing style, and a mere skim yields something pretty incomprehensible. I got a handful of complaints, a handful of didn’t-reads (including Warlord, which is bewildering – I believe this is my only set that he never read), and not much more than that.

And now with Nick’s Galaxy Man having recently been so popular, the chances of anybody going back for such an outdated set are slim to none. It’s a pity because I think that in some ways this is my best moveset from this contest, and certainly the most playstyle-conscious.

Nick chose Galaxy Man to make his idea work – I think there was a Vacuum Man or something that he was considering at first and only gave up on because Galaxy Man had more to work with? Like in all my sets, I started with the character and went from the ground up. Galaxy Man revolves entirely around shooting out black holes – beyond that, he summons a few little machines, glows various colours (as he does in the game) and launches into a weird sort of hover mode (also as he does in the game).

The crux of the matter is spacing. Galaxy Man’s black holes give him superb control over where on the stage the foe is, letting him shatter approaches or perfectly set up his own. His “summons”, which are more like long-lasting projectiles, he likewise has very great control of. The result of the two together is a quite sophisticated brand of “bullet hell” character that I think is still compelling today. And I think it goes without saying that this kind of focus on playstyle was brand new for me, and MYM in general. Unfortunately this was also the set that kicked off the long-standing tradition of unusual writing styles to convey character, and it was just as controversial as they often are today.

This set also introduces one of the things that really bothers me about my sets, constantly – random moves that stick out of the playstyle like a sore thumb. Here it’s the hover mode, which is nice enough for characterization purposes but roundly useless in the context of the playstyle which I had, at last, consciously established. Yes, this was the set with which I got some sort of tenuous grip on the idea of flow. All humility aside, there probably aren’t many sets more effective by today’s standards in MYM 4 than this (Viola? Mach Rider? Ryuji Yamazaki?). Go figure.

[12] Ax Knight – MYM 4

Halberd Crew may have been a bit of a mess, as Warlord, Kibble and I made our three sets with only the vaguest notion of putting them together at the end, but it definitely felt like an event, a big deal. By this point we were pretty commonly called the “Big 3”, Kibble having stepped his game way, way up since his forgettable MYM 3.0 – and joints of this kind never having existed before, there was understandably a good deal of excitement going around. And even hype!

So Ax Knight was my set, and he was a quirky little dude based around three axes that he throws away one by one as he fights. The first is quick, the second average, the third slow but strong. Simple stuff, and Ax Knight cycles through them (clearly cycles are the theme of my MYM 4) and then switches off once he’s used up all three. Behind him he leaves battering items for either Vul or Mace Knight to use. The set is fairly low on blatant awkward creativity and really quite focused on what it’s trying to do, barring a few supernatural-based attacks that I just couldn’t resist (and which were, naturally, very popular). It’s clearly part of a trio, and to be honest I was quite insecure about the idea of pulling my weight in this project. With Galaxy Man’s recent, bizarre failure, and all of my sets getting awkwardly compared to Kawasaki much as Mendez’s were always compared to Dracula, I was very concerned indeed about not producing the weakest of the three sets.

Mace Knight, Kibble’s entry, is very telling of the graceful flow that had come to characterize his sets, and yes, very aware of playstyle. He winds up, his attacks getting stronger as his centrifugal force grows. If anything the set was just a little bit boring – the great consistency of his weapon and the fairly heavy detail made it fit in pretty sleepily between the shorter, more dynamic Ax Knight and the diverse, painfully creative Vul.

For Vul was Warlord’s entry. Overladen with props and specials on almost every move and with a playstyle that Warlord called “pretty much like Dedede, only not broken”, this is a quintessential MYM 4 moveset, and I mean that in an almost-good way. Vul’s creativity is almost surreal – a BAir has him pulling out a bottle of rum and first trying to use it as a generic gimping tool; if this misses, he’ll drink it, healing himself but putting himself into a helpless state and causing himself to plummet; if his Pikmin-style minion, Sailor Dee, is present, he’ll chug it down instead, causing him to heal and plummet, and go into an intoxicated state when he hits the ground for a couple of seconds. What it’s all supposed to mean is quite beyond me, and was totally beyond me then. Frankly, I was pretty much stunned, and thought Vul was a ridiculously good set and felt terribly self-conscious and inferior. And Kibble’s set put me off of reading it entirely, which is a bad thing, because judging just from the elegance of his momentum-mechanic, I thought it was another awesome set and also very much superior to my humble little Ax Knight.

And then came the wall of extras, mostly composed by Warlord. This set is like a journey, a trek. As a whole – including my increasingly exhausted organization (by Vul I was already panting) – I have a soft spot for it. In the history of MYM, it’s pretty well unique. As for Ax Knight, he isn’t very memorable, but neither is he as awful as I thought at the time.

With this set, my place in the Big 3 was secured. Suddenly people started saying that there was bias for me and my sets, just like Kibble’s or Warlord’s. That was surreal as well. How had I gone from working like mad on Horseman in a frantic attempt to impress to being one of the most popular (and possibly overrated) MYMers in the contest? “Diddy Kong,” I thought to myself, “I guess you were right, way back in 2006.”

[13] Shellder – MYM 5

See, Ax Knight didn’t please me because he wasn’t in the same vein as Galaxy Man, who I had been so happy with. He stepped back from those traces of flow and relied once again on a mechanic, which was such a popular cop-out back in those days. But in MYM 5, which I was very excited for, I continued down that path, and this time it was for real. I made Shellder, a set that nobody can deny has a very clear, distinct and interesting playstyle.

Early MYM 5 was a messy time, and a lot of MYMers were sort of struggling with this new and strange “playstyle” concept. Warlord made some of his worst sets while trying to work out what it was all about, and he’s pretty much denounced this period entirely. He’s not the only one who would rather forget it.

And yet it produced some fascinating movesets. This was when agi made Airman, Chris made Arthas, and Junahu made… uh… Team Rocket. The point is that this playstyle thing was really starting to catch on, and people were churning out sets in an effort to get a grip on it. Detail levels dwindled, and sets actually started getting detailed reads, as the thread was no longer a den of spam and activity. MYM 4 got locked for being too excitable, and with the invention of the chat the thread could finally be given over to actually discussing the movesets that were being posted.

And in this context fits Shellder, an uber-defensive, cloistered sort of character who moves erratically, like a true clam. He’s one of the very first truly defensive characters – the pioneer wasn’t him but agi’s Simirror in late MYM 4, a really crucial set in our history. Shellder took it to an extreme that hasn’t often been seen since; he even brought back crouch cancelling as one of a toolbox of moves he uses to keep himself alive at all costs! His offensive options, meanwhile, include some move interactions, which hadn’t really been done before and which I thought were ridiculously cool. If he uses this attack before that one, water is replaced with ice – that sort of thing.

I cranked up the organization and produced one of my best. I continued to keep the detail low and got called the king of the anti-detail movement or something like that. And I went on with slowly chopping extras out of my movesets. Animations were dwindling. Taunts and win poses were not long for this world. Thank god. I hated writing those stupid things, after the bombastic climax of the playstyle section.

[14] Ekans – MYM 5

Poor Ekans! My reasoning with this set was something like this:

1. Ekans is based on a rattlesnake.
2. Rattlesnakes are all about scaring people away from approaching them.
3. Hence, Ekans should be be all about clamping down on approaches, forcing them even while making them ineffective. But he has to do it without projectiles, because he’s a poison-type, not a bloody fire-type.

Hence Ekans, a set very much grounded in a simple playstyle concept: force approaches without active camping. And just a quick look at the specials reveals that this is a pretty intensely focused mindgame character, all about deception (Ekans was indeed in the Garden of Eden), second-guessing and uncertainty. There’s even a hint of duplication! I was always interested in making the concept work somehow – you’ll see it again in Abra – but it wasn’t until the creativity burst of MYM 9 that I actually pulled it off.

And it’s a very reactionary moveset that could well and truly be described as passive-aggressive; it doesn’t handle defensive foes well, of course, and there are some moves – oh god, these moves! – that glare out like so many snake eyes. Everybody liked the FTilt, which seared a hole through the very stage, because we hadn’t done very much stage moulding up to this point, but I made a point of how bad I thought it was, because its relevance to playstyle is precisely nonexistent. There are a few aerials that are just awful, especially the Tiggeresque DAir, and the lack of a DThrow is seriously troublesome (although you can understand my logic – a DThrow after Ekans swallowed them would imply, and has always implied since, that Ekans digests them/OHKOs them, and I wanted to steer clear of that). Like Shellder, the grab mechanic is pretty unique here – I started to mix up my grabs because I’d noticed Kupa doing it occasionally amidst many props and combo heavyweights and thought it was a radically cool idea.

Most people didn’t dig Ekans and his surprising amount of flow. I was, quote, “trying to get a cohesive feel for a character, rather than working on an attack-by-attack basis”. Whatever happened later, at this point at least I can say that for a while I was ahead of my time.

Also, this is one of my best organizations ever. Be sure to use Smash Revolution.

[15] Father Time – MYM 5

In MYM 4, I made two Pokesets and then a non-video game character. I think a desire to repeat that was somewhere behind my choice of Father Time. The details completely escape me, but you can see why, after the supposedly generic and dull Ekans, I would want to show off the fact that I can do outrageous creativity just as well as Warlord, HR or Kupa.

Now, precisely what is going on in this moveset, I couldn’t tell you – I couldn’t even adequately explain it while I was making it, let alone in retrospect. The specials are not quite incomprehensible. You can travel back in time, and after you’ve done so you can move forward in time. Simple stuff, and the giant hourglass introduces a very unique KO mechanism fully tied to Father Time’s time-manipulation playstyle.

From there I got carried away. If every move introduced simply some sort of timer-based trap, projectile or status effect, he’d be hard enough to manage. But in addition to that, I couldn’t help scattering even more time manipulation throughout his standards, attacks which all kinda make sense on their own but when you think of in the context of a playstyle turn into a bewildering mass of manuevers that even a supercomputer could barely begin to sort into an advantageous practical strategy. I realized this and feebly tried to compensate with a two-parter playstyler section. How pathetic.

It’s a supremely playstyle-based set; there are no attacks that don’t connect to other attacks, and indeed his overarching gimmick. I always wanted my characters to play differently from one another, to be less pick-up-and-play than Brawl characters; in Father Time I took it to the extreme, and made something that didn’t resemble Brawl at all, and that I couldn’t possibly be happy with. I learned my lesson and never again made a moveset this unsmash. Generally it went over well, though. I think most people figured it could have been a really big contender if I hadn’t gone and goofed it with too few details. It took quite a few contests before people – that is, LoL and especially Daddy – got bold enough to crack into the time manipulation genre again, so dark was the shadow Father Time cast upon it. He’s a byword for incomprehensibility (although, contrary to popular belief, he does not defy the laws of physics).

[16] Jumpluff – MYM 5

So by mid-MYM5, people are getting a grip on playstyle, even if their reading habits still tend toward giving it the ol’ college skim. And I’m starting to get antsy. Where’s my big contender?? Shellder was pretty universally liked, but as an unevolved Pokemon generally considered kinda slight (this isn’t MYM 8, when character bias is entirely inconceivable and Diglett can come very close to winning an entire contest), and Warlord was for whatever reason doing his best to turn him into a joke. What an asshole! Even today he confesses that he did it not out of dislike for the set or animosity for me (which didn’t exist yet, and not for a while to come) but simply for the Warlordian equivalent of lulz. Now, Ekans he did dislike.

And so here comes my evolved Pokeset for the contest, and I don’t think I need to say much about it. Jumpluff’s playstyle is pretty well-known, and of my MYM5 sets he’s probably the most iconic. Get up high into the air, and drop cotton spores/drop clouds of powder/take advantage of attacks that explicitly get stronger the higher you are. It’s a neat enough idea for a playstyle and I wouldn’t say it’s invalid today; Jumpluff’s godliness when he’s up in the clouds is counteracted by the very laws of gravity, which mean that the game is pretty exciting even for the foe stuck on the ground, scurrying to avoid whatever he’s being bombarded with – like a wolf waiting for a squirrel to drop out of a tree.

Like so many of my sets, though, there are things that I look back on now that leave a sour taste in my mouth. Jumpluff has too much of an accent on planting seeds. Although it allows me to slip in a giant flower that gives him a great vantage point on the stage, it also puts a strange sort of accent on his groundgame, which should really be an afterthought. It’s also got some pretty tacky move interactions that I was indescribably excited about. I mean, HARVEST DEW THROUGH THE SUN AND THEN USE IT TO HELP YOUR PLANTS GROW QUICKER OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOO

And I was very happy with Jumpluff then. It was a fun set to make and let me make something breezy and light after the hideously dense and un-fun Father Time. It was pretty well-received, particularly by Wizzerd, who would forevermore call it his favourite set in all MYM. It’s not an opinion I can fault him for; as far as my sets go, it’s probably up there.

[17] Miracle Matter – MYM 5

Miracle Matter, huh? Of all my sets, this one was probably the most fun to work on, and it’s among those I’m most proud of. Think of it as a series of cosplay movesets – four attacks to establish a playstyle – for a bunch of very minimalistic  elemental concepts. Rock Matter is just a boulder! Trying to crack into the essence of each element is something I did again in the Eeveelutions, but we’ll get to that. What’s important is that the small number of attacks on each form allowed me to do away with those awful unflowing inputs that plague otherwise cool sets like Galaxy Man or Jumpluff. And I pillaged these concepts that I came up with, which I was very proud of, again and again throughout the following MYMs.

Of course, forget about my attempts to balance it, and my attempts to emulate the ever-shifting form of the boss battle. That stuff is not really successful, and results in a markedly frustrating character to use. It’s what’s contained in the forms on a one-to-one basis that gives this set its value.

Fire Matter consumes fire-based attacks to fuel itself, getting ever wilder and more furious.
Cutter Matter dispatches each segment in a long-lasting projectile of some sort, effectively leaving nothing there to hit.
Spark Matter charges by not moving, and then unleashes vicious, quick, short and sharp attacks out of nowhere. Stepping on Electrode’s toes, and Jolteon’s?
Ice Matter freezes both stage and foe and Kirby-style slides them clear off into a KO.
Needle Matter impales the foe on his hitboxes and racks up wild damage from there. A Barbovor influence, possibly? Warlord did dig this set.
Bomb Matter turns the stage into a bomb field that can be set off by the slightest misstep.
Stone Matter is a boulder that hurtles around crushing things. He also sets up a ramp to roll off of, like a true-blue momentum character.

A groovy bunch of playstyles, if I do say so myself, even if some of them have since been done many times over to the opposite of diminishing returns. Increasing returns? And Crystal Matter is certainly my best Final Smash ever. AND the organization, which was almost entirely influenced by Ocon’s organizations (I always admired their visual elegance and flow), is one of my best as well. It was a very popular moveset and gave me back that overconfidence I had around the time of Headless Horseman. Hell, rereading it now gives me that overconfidence.

[18] Count Cannoli – MYM 5

Essentially, this moveset is about stealing. How can I work stealing into Brawl? It was simple enough – steal attacks. Not copy, but simply remove them from the opponent’s playstyle, much like a recent Kholdstare moveset.

How can I base stealing on stealth, though? Here enter the mindgames and deception, the decoys and hiding places. Cannoli’s magic wand gave me pretty solid leeway to do whatever I needed to do to get my playstyle.

And it does work! The playstyle is very effectively drawn out and certainly interesting enough. Cannoli’s challenges become fewer as the game goes on, since the foe has fewer attacks with which to halt him, but on the flip side the particular player’s favourite ways of sneaking into a steal become more and more obvious to an observant foe. It makes for some exciting back-and-forths and eventually some wild improvisations from a half-decent Cannoli main, who has a solid memory for which attacks he’s stolen and starts to find new weak points, new openings.

But then there’s this one problem: the Silver Zephyr, an alt costume drawn straight from the game as the most crucial thing about the Count, but here little more than a few dagger-based attacks and a fancy get-up. It’s a thoroughly superfluous subtheme in the moveset, much like Galaxy Man’s hover mode, and I’ll never forgive myself for choking in the home stretch like that.

Meanwhile, that sort of snooty, aristocratic, elegant, pompous bearing brought across by the colors, the fonts, the grand attack names, and my writing style (which I didn’t even have to modify to fit the theme!) make for one of my best organizations ever (and yes, that is, like, the third time I’ve said that).


I do believe this article is already longer than any of my movesets. Yeah, it’s some sort of hybrid of a memoir, a history, an MYMer review, and a tell-all. I don’t know if I’ve revealed many dirty little secrets, beyond the fact that I don’t think much of my own compiled output. At least it might get you to reevaluate a few of these sets, or even get you thinking about what would make them good or bad, or what tricked you into thinking they were good or bad.

Okay, no MYM philosophy, I promise.

Well, and if nothing else, you’ll be able to see where I came from, step by arduous step, and maybe it’ll be easier to understand my apparently obscure inner workings.

I’m stalling now. We all know what’s next. Actually, no, only I know what’s next, because the next set is pretty much forgotten – as a set, that is. As an example, it’s cited often enough.


[19] Kangaskhan – MYM 6

Six – perfect number. In earlier contests, that is, six was just the right number of sets to make to ensure that you didn’t get mutilated by vote split. You make six sets, they’ll all get onto the top 50. It worked for me three contests in a row, with the unfortunate and very glaring exception of Galaxy Man.

I broke my rule in MYM 6, my most eccentric contest. A strange irony, then, that I opened with my most banal moveset ever – yes, including Snorlax and Pidgeot. I need to steer clear of normal-types. They’re Junahu fare.

Speaking of Junahu, it’s him who decided to make an example of this moveset, characterization-wise. He’s also the blasted hypocrite who later made Fluttershy and Flutterwry to rub in my face precisely what I did wrong – my writing was schizophrenic. It’s not that I should be cutting off the player’s options, forcing them to play Kangaskhan as a protective parent first and a wild, rampaging monster second. It’s just that my writing made it seem like Kangaskhan couldn’t be played properly without regularly putting Babyskhan in danger.

In other words, I should have either ramped up the “Giovanni’s Kangaskhan” aspect (which I do hint at throughout!) or the “responsible parent” one, rather than leaving it hovering between the two. Anyway, this whole train of thought isn’t infallible. For one, it assumes that all protective parents are responsible parents. Kangaskhan is furious if baby gets hurt, and is highly encouraged to immediately retaliate. That’s being protective, even if up to that point she’s a bit cold and inattentive. It’s a more complex issue than it’s been painted.

But this is still a weak moveset. As I was writing it, I was confronted with the fact that almost everything I was trying to do had been done already, and much more gracefully at that, by Warlord, in Cortex & Tiny a year or so earlier. As such I really gave up on the project toward the end and added the Babyskhan-usable attacks as a total afterthought, resulting in still more nitpicking in an unduly negative Warlordian review.

A final note on Gigaskhan. Is this my most lasting imprint on MYM or what? That and the random flipkicks (also showcased for the very first time in this moveset)? Well, Junahu says to me, he says, “Generic mechanics boosters are lame Final Smashes, we want something big and fun to use, not competitive nonsense”, and everybody else says “Yes, yes, that’s right, get your head in the game, Rool”, and then when this moveset is done but the FS I walk into the chat and say ‘Guys, give me an idea for an FS that isn’t a generic mechanic booster for Kangaskhan, anyone should be able to do that” and nobody comes up with anything and I say “Dammit Khold give me an idea or I’ll just make bloody Giga Kangaskhan” and Khold makes a big troll face and everybody else shrugs and keeps talking about kirbywizard or whatever the topic du jour was at the time and I went ahead and I made it.

And I never did call it “Gigaskhan” myself. I called it “Giga Kangaskhan”, and also “Generic Kangaskhan”. I’m nothing if not self-aware.

[20] Vaporeon – MYM 6

And then there was this initiative. “Guys”, says agi, “the chat is sapping the life of the thread. We should all take a weeklong break from chat and see what happens.” And we all bob our heads in agreement like a bunch of geese and promptly go on chatting – including agi himself!

The only one to actually abstain for a week was me. And I came up with a cunning plan to show everybody just how constructive that chattime could become. In fact, with this project – seven movesets, one each day for a week – I wrote up Five Objectives, which are partially tongue-in-cheek but also sincere enough for me to never actually have unveiled them. Here were my goals with the Eevee line, dug up from an ancient corner of my computer:

1) To show that keeping away from xat results in productivity
2) To prove that I am still the Pokemon master
3) To undermine the impact of the Stevenesque joint movesets
4) To demonstrate that I am above being concerned with placing
5) To expose the lack of commenting this MYM suffers from

Yes, I had a very high opinion of myself. But I suppose most of these goals were at least kinda achieved. (3) above all – nobody was ever going to be impressed with a six-in-one again, except maybe Trainer JOE for being the handiwork of a single person, just like these sets.

More context coming up. Let’s turn to Vaporeon.

It’s really simple stuff, and in fact all of these sets are going to highlight how ridiculously reliant we were on traps and stage control at the time – at least I was making them in-character! Early MYM 6 is more or less devoid of any characters that don’t drop stuff all over the stage.

Vaporeon creates puddles, and melts into a puddle, and then nobody knows where he is. How rough these sets are is ever evident, although the project helped me finally shake off my old method of setmaking and move entirely on to making them in one sitting. But Vaporeon is a neat passive-aggressive tank of a character, very hard to get a solid grip on as he shifts between gas, liquid and solid. There are some vaguely neat interactions and really no glaring flaw in the playstyle, which is reminiscent of Jafar hiding in his smoke, or Cannoli disguised as a tree, or, much later, Gengar pretending to be a mere duplicate. Tricking the foe as to where you are and what you’re doing is a very common theme in my movesets, although never pronounced enough to become associated with me as complex grabs and impaling moves are with Warlord.

This moveset’s workspace somehow magically got dug up by Sundance, who read it and for some reason I never managed to quite figure out really disliked it – and he usually loved my sets unconditionally! It was a discouraging start to my Eeveelution project, although later commenters – especially MT and Daddy – thought Vaporeon was quite solid. And since then I’ve never used old posts as workspaces. Ever.

[21] Jolteon – MYM 6

Now check out how I tackled the idea of charging three times, in Electrode, Spark Matter and Jolteon.

Electrode: Charges actively, by pressing a button.
Spark Matter: Charges passively, by staying immobile.
Jolteon: Charges automatically and is free to do anything in the meanwhile.

These are big distinctions here. Electrode is going to have the most control over his starts and stops; Spark Matter is going to be the most halting of the three, forced to literally lose all momentum of all kinds regularly; and Jolteon, the purest distillation of the concept, has this tempestuous unpredictability to him. You know when he’s weak, yes, but you’re counting down the seconds until you once again have to keep on your toes, lest lightning cracks out of nowhere.

I think the concept is really neat – like all of these sets, the Pokedex entry is the main reference point – and the problem is just that the attacks are over-the-top forced creativity, most especially an UTilt that introduces a plot point that threatens to take over the entire moveset. Yes, let’s randomly create a massive thunderstorm across the whole stage. Jolteon is now Storm. Of course, it was Warlord’s favourite move in the set.

But the basic concept is a keeper. It’s a cool way to tackle a passive-aggressive character, and incarnates both the element and Jolteon as the speed demon of the Eeveelutions (Vaporeon having been the defensive one). The set generally was the most poorly-received of the group, though. Apparently using the word “charge” 46 times in a moveset turns people off.

[22] Flareon – MYM 6

I don’t completely remember why, but I made Flareon the day before making Jolteon. Other than that, I did them in order. Maybe I felt like I needed to brood on Jolteon a bit more, on how to differentiate him from Electrode. I’d never done a fire-based moveset before (or since, for that matter), unless you count Fire Matter (probably the least interesting form in Miracle Matter, at that).

So how do we make a fire moveset? Why, we need to tend it, to micromanage it, to stoke the flames and keep the fire going. We don’t want it to get out of control or we’re liable to be consumed. This is how I think of fire, and since the Eeveelutions are poster childs for their elements, and since Flareon’s Pokedex entry speaks of him as a creature with fire for insides, I thought it was an apt playstyle.

I make it too easy for the player, though. If you left it at “make a patch of fire on the stage, and sit in it to raise your body temperature”, Flareon could be pretty dang sleek. But in this moveset I was still in that Jumpluff/Cannoli vogue, where I really do get playstyle and how to make it work but I can’t do it without flashy, complex moves throughout, and I’m very pleased with my own cleverness in making moves interact and fit together. And so almost no attack in the moveset doesn’t in some way mess with his mechanic. And you get stuff like this:

Neutral Aerial ~ Frustration ~Flareon spins rapidly in midair, wreathed slightly in fire. What’s this? A generic normal-type attack in MY Flareon moveset? Say it isn’t so! Well, it isn’t.

…And I go on to elaborate as blatant an example of Pokemon syndrome as my movesets have ever seen. Eesh.

But do note the groovy use of bolding! Bolding the important part of a move was really always just meant to facilitate skimming – I introduced it, actually, back in MYM 5, with Shellder, trying to fix the attempts at skimming that had undone Galaxy Man. In the Eeveelutions I took it to its very neatest point. They’re nice-looking sets, you can’t deny, especially if you can see the fonts I used for the headers (which I imagine many of you can’t -_-)

[23] Espeon – MYM 6

So people didn’t like Flareon too much either, although how they could call it a ripoff of Jolteon is beyond me (DM, I’m looking at you). But the 2nd gen was my salvation. Espeon and Umbreon were the most creative of the whole bunch, but their creativity, due to their types, wasn’t as glaring as in the others, so they came out of the situation best off.

Espeon is a psychic type, and he gets no mechanics, as five of the others do. Instead he has a move that lets him see the foe’s attacks in advance, and a playstyle based around prediction and deception (deception, always with the deception in my bloody movesets). If you never knew who the main reference point was in this set, it was Chris (Lionheart, in case the young’uns in the crowd don’t recognize his name anymore)’s Gwen, from MYM 5. There’s a prediction-based moveset that I was terribly impressed by (Chris did some great things in MYM 5, basically founding the minion genre with Arthas). Espeon is more insular – er, to use actual MYM lingo, “flowing” – and has that famous physics-defying move to boot, which is what made him as popular as he was. It’s a quite elegant set, with some time and space manipulation in the vein of Father Time, but much more reserved, and this time more detailed.

And while Kibble was on his pilgrimage, Warlord and I drafted up a single letter and sent it to him, along with two or three recent movesets. What a nice gift! One of them was Espeon. And imagine my surprise when Kibble replies that the core concept – that central move, Sixth Sense, which was being hailed as one of the best attacks of all time – was actually a lot like something he made in MYM2, a time both Warlord and I dismissed as nonexistent.

Check out Ivan‘s NSpec:

Standard B — Mind Read — Sadly, there’s no way to make a move to actually allow you to read your opponent’s mind, but here’s the next best thing. Ivan’s Mind Read has a similar range to Jigglypuff’s Sing, but Ivan can start and stop Mind Read as he pleases by pressing, holding, and releasing the B button. Any opponent hit by the waves Ivan emits during that time are set to a 0.5 second lag for all their attacks for the next 5 seconds. A lighter, semi-transparent version of the character’s will, however, act without lag, allowing you to see beforehand what your opponent will actually do half a second later. The fake character does no damage, and is strictly to allow you to see your opponent’s move before they do it. You cannot use this move on a character for 20 seconds after you’ve used it on them once, and you cannot hit them with it while they’re under its effect to prolong it.

The moral of the story: there are apparently some ridiculously cool concepts buried in MYM2, just waiting for a contemporary MYMer to dig them up and actually make them relevant to a coherent playstyle. Hit the mines, folks.

[24] Umbreon – MYM 6

There’s two things to Umbreon: a (forced) mechanic that creates a day-night cycle on the stage; and a bevy of status effects that you stack on the foe and then punish. How well these two fit together is up for debate. One could say that the latter “playstyle” is intended for daytime Umbreon, a rather weak and slow creature. His specialty stat is his attack speed (and isn’t that broken in and of itself?).

By night, Umbreon becomes a predator who uses stealth and a few visual indicators (*) to figure out where he is at any given time and better punish the unsuspecting foe. He’s another superb mindgame character with all kinds of very dark, sinister tricks up his sleeve, and it’s a fun set from attack to attack.

Also, there’s a DTilt called “Into Smoke”. Yes, he uses smoke, and also invisibility. In case you haven’t seen the chain of succession, let me lay it out for you:

2006: Nightmare, and a single attack that causes him to be shrouded in darkness.
MYM 3.0: Kirby’s flash of blinding light.
MYM 4: Jafar, and the ever-popular Into Red Smoke.
MYM 5: Cannoli hiding in clouds and whatever the hell else he can come up with.
MYM 6: Umbreon, a dedicated “hider”.

And so on it goes, up to Gastly, Haunter and Gengar, three “hider” playstyles brought to the extreme. All the earlier sets were missing were duplicates (which Cannoli, for one, kinda had).

Umbreon was very fun to write; clearly, I’m drawn to this sort of playstyle, and I never thought I really got it down until Gastly. It’s challenging stuff to balance and make fun to use.  And Umbreon’s not unsuccessful, his status stuff giving him some added depth, although that mechanic is just painfully forced.

[25] Leafeon – MYM 6

Never before or after did I make sets for this generation of Pokemon, or even acknowledge its existence. I wasn’t pleased. A peek at the Pokedex entries instantly shows how much less Leafeon and Glaceon have going for them. They’re light, frothy Pokemon. Pointless stuff all around. All the better to make them plain embodiments of their elements.

And Leafeon I made a sort of “harvester” trap character; he has to do a bit of work, be kinda patient, passively grow his optimal stage. Once he does it, he’s got a jungle to play with. It’s very simple and not too interesting, if we’re being entirely honest. I hadn’t done a “straight” trap character, like The Kid or Lemmy or Metal Man, and I enjoyed the experience, but basically everything interesting here was already on display in Jafar and Galaxy Man – my trap characters, humble as they may be.

We’re also busy pillaging Junahu’s recent Cutesy, a set that really impressed me. Using leaves is an old, dull trope in plant-types, and the “gardening” aspect of Leafeon was done in a considerably fresher way in Jumpluff, as Wizzerd and others aptly pointed out.

I should use this chance to point out that repeated UAir in all seven sets. God, I hate it. Yes, at this point I had firmly decided that UAirs were the input of the devil, as evidenced by Genericskhan flipkick. But if I had just made this shared UAir something sleek and innocent and forgettable, it’d be fine. Noooo – I had to make it some sort of ridiculous protracted Pikachu UAir that would probably redefine how these characters move and behave on a very essential level. It’s not just silly – it’s actively detracting from these playstyles. Kill me now, because we still have Glaceon to go. Like Leafeon, and the original three for that matter, he didn’t place.

[26] Glaceon – MYM 6

This set was seriously perfunctory. It had to be done – but I didn’t want to do it, I coasted through it, everybody else coasted through reading it, Junahu snuck in a jab directly at it even as he said that he would never comment on the sets individually, and we all moved on. Glaceon is the most stupid-looking Pokemon ever, with the sherpa hat that looks like hair and the painfully incongruous floppy ears.

The set’s passive-aggressive, with this chill mechanic that kinda recalls my MYM4 sets in that it’s a cycle: you cool the foe down, making them take damage (and not making them slower, for whatever reason) and eventually freezing them solid, whereupon they break out and you start chilling them again. Ice-type sets had been done ad nauseum in MYMs 5 and 6, and I explored the trope to my own satisfaction in Shellder, so this was just a retread of the same ground as Khold’s Kholdstare, DM’s Abomasnow, Tanookie’s Mia, and many movesets since then. There’s some snowball play, of course falling back on traps and stage control, but not much else. This is, to me, the weak link of the Eevee cycle.

The reception to the group was every bit as bombastic as I’d hoped. It was an event, like Halberd Crew two contests earlier. Straying from the usual had been successful, this time. It wasn’t the last time I’d make a gutsy move, although perhaps I did it to diminishing returns. At the time, it washed away any bad memories of Kangaskhan and put me right back near the top of this increasingly playstyle-oriented and perceptive heap of commenters and movesetters.

[27] King Hippo – MYM 6

I’m willing to take a lot of the credit – or blame, depending on who you ask – for the ideology of the Punch Out movement. You’ve seen how the previous seven movesets are riddled with traps and stage control. It wasn’t just me, trust me. You look at big sets from anybody in early MYM 6 and you’ll find those, along with an excess of props, random tools being brought out of hammerspace just to make moves seem more flashy: Kupa made Hades; HR made Edward Elric; Warlord made Ludicolo, and even Sloth had his boulders; Chris made Thrall; Katapultar made Heatran; HR (again) made the original Spadefox; Shadow made Dr Wily; Wiz made Takamaru; and, most of all, MT with his Little Mac, a set for a boxer that turned the stage into a gym. Something wasn’t working, as you can tell by the less-than-auspicious list of movesets. We were “getting” playstyle, yeah, but we were still achieving it only through this constant flood of flashy individual moves, props and traps and god knows what else.

And so, the Punch Out movement. The challenge: you get no props, and no traps. Make an interesting moveset with just punches and character.

I can’t overstate how important this movement was for MYM. This is well and truly what brought us over to the other side, to understanding that a moveset could be good without fascinating us on every single attack. This is what killed off that old style of half-skimming movesets to catch the highlights, then commenting in one or two lines. These sets were lean, mean, and above all required some engagement from the reader to really catch onto what they were doing. In short, they emphasized the whole over individual move creativity, which we now hold as one of the central creeds of decent moveset-making.

And King Hippo did his bit. Like all combo characters from the time, he’s boring enough today, and you can question why this fatso should be a combo character in the first place (I suppose because boxers in general hit quickly? but King Hippo doesn’t!), but whether or not he’s interesting at all now is irrelevant. He, and sets like him, laid the foundation for more interesting combo characters down the road. At the time, combo characters, or offensive characters in general, were downright nonexistent, since traps don’t lend themselves to offense. Kupa’s legendary combo characters were riddled with props and stage control as well. It was a messy bloody time, and King Hippo, with his simple roster of punches and belly flops, was something new. [he also had really cool organization until the retro-looking FIXEDSYS font turned back into Times New Roman for whatever weird Crashboards reason]

More on how this set, along with Daddy’s Von Kaiser, Warlord’s Bear Hugger, Junahu’s Joe Calzaghe, Khold’s Great Tiger, and a handful of others redefined the way we MYM coming up.

[28] TAC – MYM 6

Let us say a prayer for TAC. It goes something like this:

In the distant future, when all MYM6 sets are considered absolute garbage, only TAC will remain relevant. The master of deception indeed…

This comes from Junahu’s advertisement for TAC, which very eloquently (and flatteringly) explains what’s going on here. It’s a serious moveset dressed as a joke moveset dressed as a serious moveset. And even though we now look back at MYM6 movesets and say “what the hell were we thinking?”, TAC could be reposted today and prompt the same debates, the same arguments and counter-arguments – in short, have the same value it did then.

This was the first time Warlord really hated one of my movesets. How ill-founded is the criticism that TAC is just a weakened mirror of the foe? How totally does it ignore FFAs (which, admittedly, I did as well)? How reductive is it of the formula that Junahu quite succinctly lays out in his advertisement? And how badly does it want TAC to be something he’s not, and never was going to be, never could have been? I have no answers. You’d have to ask him.

So let’s use this space instead to talk about my intentions. See, a moveset like this would get me accused of zero-effort movesetting in a second, so I embarked on the perilous and suicidal task of making a match-up for EVERY SINGLE MOVESET IN MYM. And it yielded some really interesting matches, at that, as I went along – VS Dingodile, VS Little Mac and VS Envy are highlights, and they really draw out how a simple tweak of stats and loss of mechanic forces TAC to redefine or reappropriate an established playstyle.

Of course, I gave up on making a match-up for EVERYONE. I just went ahead and posted it, literally getting the monkey off my back.

Other things of note are the fact that I’d exhausted all my desire to make decent organizations at this point and slapped TAC together whipstitch-style. Also, do note the fact that every stealing move does a random 5%, in an attempt to show Warlord how pointless his advised number tweaking really was. Naturally, it did nothing to change his ideological issues with the set. At this point, I was up to the gills with nitpicky balance complaints, from the Eeveelutions and from King Hippo, and maybe TAC started the long and difficult job of convincing people that they should have little import on how good a set is.

I would call TAC a must-read. After the Eeveelutions, I was settling into a cool groove as an explorer of new frontiers. And good thing, too – the old way of doing things, the pre-Punch Out movement way, was no longer satisfying me. These seemingly awkward experiments were, for me, a transitive phase. MYM 7 was to emerge as a new dawn, seriously, and some of the furious debates late MYM 6 produced (this era also saw stuff like Roller Coaster Tycoon, as well as DM’s rise) are to blame for it.

[29] Zant – MYM 6

This is a problematic moveset in my history. See, it’s the only true example of me trying specifically to pander to Warlord – after the controversy of TAC and the generally muted appreciation of King Hippo, I wanted to put out my big contender. I couldn’t rely on my Pokesets, not even Espeon and Umbreon. Zant, a set I had planned as early as MYM 3 but always given up on, seemed like the perfect opportunity.

At this time movesets are gauged by how much “playstyle” they have. Typically, that means how many interactions, be they hard or soft – in modern lingo, how much flow. We always did have playstyle in our movesets (it’s scarcely possible not to) but flow is a different matter entirely. And this concept, which we started getting down in MYM 6, has been taken to its logical extreme nowadays in most Warlordian, Smadian and Kupic sets, where no attacks lie outside of this tight mesh of a playstyle.

But enough of that. As I was finishing up Zant, although I was pretty confident Warlord would like it (and I was spectacularly right, by the way), I couldn’t shake this nasty feeling that the moveset was all surfaces, glitz and glamour and very little substance if anybody delved into it more closely. But its reception came and went and nobody scrutinized it too closely (except maybe HR, who quite disliked it), and once again I was flying high at that Miracle Matter/Headless Horseman level. I had my frontrunner. And Zant has hardly ever been looked back at since, hardly even been spoken of except as an example of my ultimately successful MYM6 showing. A good thing, too, because I always felt like I’d be found out if anyone actually took a closer look at the thing.

See, Zant has a couple of cool ideas. He can remake the stage to an extent that wasn’t seen for a long time to come; he covers the stage in Twilight, and within it his laggy projectile moveset becomes combo-based; and the combo moveset has some rudimentary but effective gestures to hold the foe in your patches of Twilight while you can. It’s all quite disjointed stuff, though, and attempts to grasp after every straw in this schizophrenic character’s potential. Maybe it’s fitting. I can’t say for sure. But I’m quite certain that it’s still possessed of some of the tackiness and individual move creativity of pre-Punch Out movesets. Old habits die hard – at least I was starting to question my old instincts, right? To recognize those old habits as negative? We were still pretty far off as a contest from disposing of them altogether. That’s the MYM 7 renaissance we’re talking about.

Maybe I should point out that somewhere around King Hippo I subtly phased in match-ups and seized the opportunity to phase out what few extras the Eeveelutions still had. I never looked back and it didn’t take so very long for others to get rid of those last vestiges of the once-great tower of extras every moveset was called on to have. Finally, I had my revenge for people criticizing Magikoopa’s lack of extras, way back in MYM 3.

[30] George A. Romero – MYM 6

I sat down one day full of enthusiasm for another Halloween set, and I wrote a solid half of it right on the spot. This went up to about the end of the tilts. Then I said to myself “wait, Halloween’s not for another month” and put the moveset on the backburner until the occasion was nearer, whereupon I finished it.

With Romero, I had a very clear and distinct intention: complex specials, simple attacks. This at a time when many movesets had intensely complex inputs in their standards, particularly smashes but also often aerials and, in Warlord’s case, throws.

And in fact if you try to pinpoint the spot where Warlord and I, previously more or less united in our initiatives to establish at first detail and later playstyle, began to diverge ideologically, it’d probably come right back to here, even though this is a moveset that he always liked a lot and that is not so very distinguishable from a more Warlordian set like Zant. This is where I started to question the linear path we’d been on up to that point; this is where what had previously been a mostly codified set of objective standards began to split into, more and more, different camps. Junahu had always been Junahu, of course, and the occasional dissent arose from Katapultar or PK-ow!, but before this, MYM as an entity had been largely homogenous in terms of what to look for in a moveset.

It wasn’t Romero that did this all on his own. It certainly wasn’t just me who did it on all on my own, either – the rise of DM and the increased prominence of Daddy, as well as Kupa’s total reformation, had something to do with it as well – but in these dying pages of MYM6, where the Punch Out movement’s lessons had been shared but not yet sunk in, were planted the seeds of so much, including our recent storms of controversy and reform.

Romero himself pales next to his historical significance. He’s a minion character, and he does his job well; the zombie apocalypse provides fodder for some very interesting, almost cinematic scenarios, although somehow I found the whole thing to be a bit untrue. The match-ups were somehow not as fun as I pictured they should have been. And above all I was chagrined by how badly I dropped the ball when I made the second half of the moveset, a month later. I mean, an aerial game based around zombie children? They’re practically an in-joke in Dawn of the Dead and I made them that central? Two years later I’d pillage the good ideas this set had to offer, reappropriate them, make them work as I felt they should have all along. I’d even make a set soundtrack that more accurately reflected the subject matter; I’d even massacre that organization, which wore its Headless Horseman pastiche on its sleeve, recalling that ever-popular set from one year before. This is a crowdpleaser of a moveset, and for a long time I was very happy with it, but it’s ultimately insubstantial rather than deceptively deep, and for all its good points it disgraces the amazing films it means to interpret.


I realize this is emerging more and more as a history. Most people would probably spend time talking about the actual content of their sets, as Silver did. I’m not one of them, though, and that’s for two reasons.

Firstly, I don’t think my sets have much to them. I’ve always been one to emphasize concept over execution – let me understand your idea, let me envisage it, and I can do without the technical details. As I said at the start of this novel, I enjoy movesets that unfold filmlike in my mind. This is the best way to approach mine – what does it look like? what is the experience of playing them like? And that sort of thing I can summarize in a few sentences, leaving the technical bits of how the moveset works to the more discerning reader. Nobody really cares about the balance issues of years-old movesets, after all.

Secondly, as egotistical as it may be, I think that my movesets, like the movesets of any prominent regular, can pretty accurately draw out the history of MYM. And it’s interesting stuff, no? By understanding our history we can understand the roots of present tensions (which over the course of this exercise I hope you can come to see as insignificant, trifling stuff), the conflict of movesetting ideologies, and just generally how fun and intense MYM has been as not only a blank slate for movesets but as a kind of stage, with cartoony and caricature-like characters waltzing back and forth across it.

If you’re actually still reading, I commend you. I also REcommend a break. If you’re skimming, I hate you. Here I am pouring my guts out and you’re bloody SKIMMING? Yes, I mean you, Dave.

The good news is we’re nearing my last active contest. After MYM7, my part in this story becomes a much smaller one, and you can no longer read as far into my moves. For now, let’s stick to MYM7, a contest I started out in drifting in a sort of half-hiatus.


[31] caterpie – mym 7

That I was trying to make a point with caterpie goes without saying. That I made it in an hour because Warlord obnoxiously pointed out in chat that I still didn’t have a moveset and was therefore a pretty shabby leader is probably not as well known. I think a conversation with Plorf was involved as well.

I’ve been talking and talking about how I have always valued the raw concept over how it’s executed, and how the best part of a moveset is simply a rough, abstract visualization of how it’d work in Brawl – its feel, its vibe. caterpie, then, is my purest moveset. This is the closest it gets to my actual values. Take of that what you will. And feel free to quote it ad nauseum, Warlord. I don’t regret this set for a second. Let’s review some of the stuff going on here.

1) Caterpie is the ultimate noob Pokemon, mostly used in the game by youngsters and bug catchers. Hence caterpie being presented as the ultimate noob set. Poor grammar, no capitalization, seemingly essential details completely absent, an almost painful simplicity – and even, maybe, a half-complete moveset. My regret here is just making the organization as sleek as I did, although at least I stuck to very mild colors and flourishes (indents were probably overdoing it).

2) caterpie’s playstyle as a sort of stage control character is not at all without merit. His attacks are very simple and involve manually covering the stage in sticky strands in such a way that caterpie is briefly out of reach of the foe, and has time to evolve. But those attacks involve some weblines and soft interactions that wouldn’t be out of place on Nick’s Spider-Man. There is no tacky unnecessary creativity in individual moves, not even in service of a playstyle. There is no attack in caterpie that pains me to look back on. That’s rare stuff.

3) Obviously, Butterfree is missing. Whether this makes caterpie half a moveset or not is still debated. For my part, I maintain that Butterfree’s presence, even as a tremendously simple moveset, would completely detract from the point. I also maintain that this is the only way to accurately make a moveset for Caterpie. I feel a little bit bad to say it, but as Nick doesn’t seem to have any particular affinity for his version, I’ll go ahead: his Caterpie comes off, in any interpretation, as a moveset for the line, not for the single Pokemon itself. And Caterpie must have his due! It’s noble work, and somebody had to do it, and here it is. As a fusion of character, presentation, and playstyle – all three, seamlessly, right down to the slightly awkward, spindly spacing of the organization – caterpie is pretty undeniably superb.

Of course, the issue is similar to that of Magikarp. That character, and therefore presentation and playstyle, is meant to be pathetic. Warlord was terribly offended by this moveset, as he saw it as my spitting on playstyle and creativity and everything for the sake of an organizational experiment. If I had squandered Salamence or something for this, I could appreciate the point. But it’s caterpie. I did what I had to do, and I’ll defend it until the day I’m banned from MYM.

[32] The Elves – MYM 7

The Elves I have never defended, and not because I can’t but simply because the accusation that I’m subordinating playstyle and creativity and gameplay and everything to presentation is pretty much true. It’s a Christmas treat for MYM, and only winkingly a moveset. Why this should be so appalling is beyond me – if this had been made by MT or Khold, maybe it wouldn’t have been taken as such a slight by Warlord. He had very high expectations of me, perhaps? I’ll go with that story.

And indeed at this point I was being a bit deliberately subversive. After my slightly experimental MYM6 and my disappointment after trying to go back to old styles of movesetting, I was ready to keep messing around with the fabric of how movesets are made. I’m not very fond of The Elves now, firstly because the underlying playstyle has dated quite poorly and secondly because I’m atrociously patronizing and dull as a Christmas writer. Clearly my forté is not children’s storybooks.

But back to that underlying playstyle. I’m going to explain to you, as a Black Friday treat (yes, at time of posting it’s no longer Black Friday), precisely what’s going on here, because with every chapter I had the moves in mind first and only then covered them up in layers of ambiguity.

NSpec, FSpec and DSpec each create a toy – a train, robot or dollhouse, respectively (if you’re having trouble with where inputs begin and end, pay attention to subtly bolded words – they’ll give it away each time). The rest of the inputs are split between the three Elves, in the manner of a Hugo set, although they move together Ice Climbers-style. These inputs can be used during the seconds-long construction process of one of those three toys to essentially customize it. There are various ray guns, fans, status-inducing lights, property-changing paints, shield generators, wings, grabbing claws, or even explosives that you can sneakily add to one of your three toys to make it a thoroughly unpredictable and fully interactive tool of mass destruction. The possibilities, I never fully thought through, but with the mobility option of the toy train and the robot as well as the immovable potential hitbox of the dollhouse, the moveset really does provide a limitless sandbox for the player. The train is meant to be used as the Elves’ main means of moving around the stage and getting a safe vantage point from which to design their toys, for in Roller Coaster Tycoon tradition, they don’t physically fight. They start the game by either making one of those or a quick dollhouse to hide in (protected by a shield or by the ability to fly or some nonsense like that) and from there send own a horde of robots that can be designed as suicide bombers, combo machines, trappers, or whatever else you can think of.

And it gets even more complex when you combine a sticky train with the ability to explode, or a flying house with the ability to grab.

Some details I never quite worked out – the Elves don’t really have an aerial game, and I think I imply that only one of them can jump – but this wasn’t a set for the details. Like caterpie, this was a concept, unconcerned with execution. Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was misinterpreted, then. There’s definitely stuff here, though – subordinated to an organizational experiment that wound up being a bit more dominant than it should have been, yeah, but after all it was a spot of holiday fun. I sure did pay for that spot of holiday fun. I wasn’t very used to negative reception, see, and even though another seven of my sets had missed out on the recent top 50 – prior to that, it had been only Galaxy Man – my big fat ego was pretty crumpled by the sheer dislike these two adventures spurred on. Dammit, Rool! This is early MYM7, the renaissance! This is a time for serious sets like Subaru, Macho Man, Silver, Kel’Thuzad! Can you dig it?

[33] Abra – MYM 7

Calling anything a defense mechanism is terribly patronizing, but when you’re talking about yourself it’s just honesty – Abra was a defense mechanism (fitting that such a reactive, timid Pokemon would be my refuge, no?). I was far from ashamed of my last two sets, but I was once again starting to question whether Diddy Kong was right back in 2006 when he complimented me as a moveset-maker. So here I come right back to familiar ground, to what has always been safe, stable ground for me – Pokemon. I allowed myself one tongue-in-cheek flourish by “hiding” the actual moveset, but otherwise I played this one straight.

The first thing to notice is the very dense, cool, distant, and verbiose writing style. It’s a psychic-type, and I’m really getting into the Junahuian groove of expressing character through writing – hence the brainy, unemotional writing. It earned me my one and only writing style-related complaint, in 8 contests of MYM – Ocon accusing me of writing pretentiously. Well, and since the set feels like I just memorized a dictionary, I can’t fault him for getting that idea. Then again, he was probably just mad that I poked fun at his humorous misspelling of “somersault” (“summersalt” (hehe)) in his – quite impressively flowing – Vaati moveset.

After that comes the organization, which is one of my best – a seriously cohesive, appealing piece of work. I’m very pleased with it.

And the playstyle! Abra’s terribly simple, all of his attacks serving as both teleports and attacks to give him a reactive, chase-based playstyle, both defensive and aggressive, ridiculously elusive and tricksy. It’s supremely fitting stuff, and at long last I’m accepting standard attacks that aren’t flashy, drawing attention to themselves. I tried it in the first half of Romero and gave up in the second half. I did it with King Hippo, but that didn’t last. Here you can tell that the lesson of the Punch Out movement has gotten through to me, and if you look around, to all of MYM. Individual move flashiness is out, way out. The overall playstyle is what we’re all talking about. No longer is it a question of simply having playstyle. Now we’re talking about how interesting that playstyle is. (it isn’t until later that we add how fitting that playstyle is)

There’s talk of duplicates again in this moveset, although they don’t do anything but distract the foe. The throws are the only place where the graceful simplicity of his standards gives out. I always have had a lot of trouble with throws: to make them playstyle-relevant without making them either centerpieces of the moveset or hardly conventional grabs at all is terribly difficult, as I think many of you have figured out by now. They can set you up for playstyle-relevant moves, but that’s boring – and they can introduce a whole new level of playstyle, but then they’re seriously veering off into unsmashness, and at this point that debate was coming up seriously for the first time as Warlord, never one to be outdone, was doing his own moveset experiments. And his were all about pushing gameplay.

[34] Team Rocket Grunt – MYM 7

A lot of time and a few furious debates went by before my next moveset. This was my first and most notable hiatus. I was still commenting, but my activity was seriously dwindling. It was also a tempestuous time for MYM, with serious disagreement cropping up around sets like Sukapon, Bomber, Subaru, Alucard and also Lunge, VideoMan.EXE, and the Spy. Those paths that had split around Romero were starting to really make themselves manifest. Abra had been well-received but had not absolved me of culpability for caterpie and Elves, as far as Warlord was concerned. To make matters worse, and I apologize in advance because I know he doesn’t like it being brought up, Daddy had brought up those infamous proposals, which in conjunction with his general inactivity were exposing some intense rifts in the leadership. At the time, I was seriously intensely peeved with the negativity everyone was directing at everyone else, and especially at Daddy, who was suddenly the target of hate that I had never known existed in MYM. He’s done a spectacular job since of burying the past and emerging as one of the leading members of the community, but that potential for passionate hate – at all kinds of different quarters – has never completely gone away. It was very disillusioning for me, and I don’t exaggerate if I say that the wild middle portion of MYM7, during which I seriously considered quitting the contest altogether, was the third great formative event in MYM history, after the posting of Dracula and Voldo and the lesson of the Punch Out movement.

But as all that was going on, I was working on an opus, a set I intended to be my ultimate moveset, and very likely a big finish for me. Grunt was the result of multiple long work sessions and meticulous planning, two things that can’t be said for almost any of my other movesets. I had mapped out many of the inputs before I started, as if I were agi or something. This set was to be based on move interactions – more often soft ones than hard ones, and I did my best to make them natural. Wind naturally moves gas clouds and fans flames. Fire naturally makes unstable compounds explode. Stuff like that.

And it’s a riveting read, I think, even today, although this approach to flow is no longer in vogue, and rightly so – it’s a bit restrictive and unintuitive, as was demonstrated to us all most clearly in MYM8 with Empoleon. But the sheer number of ideas I draw out here is pretty much unmatched in all my other sets. The Grunt is supremely versatile, with multiple potential paths of racking damage and KOing, but his central conceit is three separate characters that really do play on one another, that can be on the field at the same time, their attacks overlapping and making something more than the sum of their parts. This is a touch of a predecessor to Hugo sets, I think, as The Elves were. The ganging-up concept and that of multiple movesets working together for a greater good is very distinct here.

There’s a solid, clear playstyle nucleus – poisoning the foe. This is the most frantic way the Grunt can play, and lets me have my cake and eat it too by working on both versatility and a clear, cohesive playstyle concept. And what I reckoned was my masterpiece did indeed go over well. Pokemon trainer sets were always flawed, I felt. I set out to make three movesets that lived and breathed as one, and I did just that. If today Grunt has not aged well, with his interactions coming off as occasionally strained, at the time he did his job very well.

I seriously did intend for this to be my last. But then I counted my movesets and remembered how many Brawl had – 35. The chance to “complete” my canon was clear to me. And I do love my cycles, as we saw in my MYM4 movesets. To complete my cycle… what a wonderful thought. And so I set out on another, secret “final” set. My intention was absolutely iron. I would go back to the beginning, and then call it quits.

[35] Kamek – MYM 7

Everything in Kamek recalls Magikoopa.

The organization is as kaleidoscopic as Magikoopa’s, which was the rough work of a newbie trying to differentiate attack sections – but polished, pretty, turned to characterizing effect. The very organization is transforming.

If you look at the phrasing of the introduction next to Magikoopa’s, you’ll catch an awful lot of winking references to it. Same in the stats, and especially in the extras – I actually did extras! I thought it was somehow necessary to have a direct link to “the original” , and I did indeed work it into the Final Smash, putting its very simple and primitive magic-based moveset to good use as a generic minion. And the specials definitely have their clear parallels to the original four, awful simplistic attacks that they were. I even forced the set not to be at the very top of the page, as Magikoopa wasn’t. Also, look at my reply to Warlord’s comment (at the bottom of the post). Nonsense, isn’t it? But then you check out my reply to smashbro’s comment on Magikoopa, my first ever non-moveset post in MYM…

The negative reception of Kamek is the deepest personal insult I’ve ever felt MYM dealt me. This was a terribly personal set, as I’ve said before, and I poured everything I had into it to make it a fitting culmination to my body of work. And it was totally spat on! Warlord quibbled about how weak the minions are – the biggest balance nitpick ever! – and nobody else said anything! They silently voted it into the top 10 without my ever knowing why, and since then Kamek’s placing has been tacitly considered a terrible mistake. And for what? What did Kamek do so very wrong?

The playstyle is so simple, so elegant. He summons weak minions, then does precisely what he’d do in the games – make them huge, turn them into a threat. Also, because he’s a brainy character and not some idiot incapable of adapting his strategy in a different environment, he makes the foe huge, makes them a very easy and obvious target. Between the two he has a bevy of attacks with small, specific hitboxes, attacks that are so effortlessly and gracefully flowing. And most of all, he has the ability to set up a magical arena in the middle of the stage, in which the giant foe is forced into pitched combat with a giant minion. I mean, it’s gladiatorial combat in the midst of a Brawl! It’s cinematic, it’s epic, it’s cool to imagine, it’s one of my best ideas ever. Nobody even commented on it.

And now at long last I’ll address n88’s Kamek. I’m a forgiving person and I never held it against him, but when it was posted I was terribly peeved. I had come to see Kamek as my character – and that he had been ever since MYM3 – and here’s someone else making a moveset for him, right on the heels of my own deeply personal work, and not only that, receiving way more praise than I ever had! And for what? His Kamek magnifies himself, randomly pulls out a broomstick on jumps, fights straight instead of through minions, has some Harry Potter-esque wand mechanic, turns the stage into a level from a Mario game – I couldn’t even begin to conceive why this trappish mass of magic syndrome and individual move creativity could gather so much acclaim from so many sides. This was a trap character! And there wasn’t even a hint of an advanced multiplayer playstyle to be found!

Naturally there is plenty of value in his Kamek, and if I were looking at it unbiased I would probably quite like it. But how detached and flippant he was about the character – as he is with all of his Mario minions – really rubbed in the fact that this set had no specific significance for him, and it rankled. Since it came at a time when I was already utterly down and out – MYM 8 – it didn’t really have any visible effect, except maybe spurring me to not quite vanish entirely. My swansong had not fazed anybody. Damn. Diddy Kong was wrong. He was wrong when he complimented my very first Kamek, way back in 2006! After all of my successes, all of my high placings, all that nonsense about me as one of the top 3, I was hardly anything at all. Grunt’s success turned to ash in my mouth. I had a few last debates with Warlord and earned his neverending emnity somewhere around this point in a long and furious argument in the thread regarding our very different top tens. And then I stepped down from leadership, for reasons I’ve outlined in TWIL’s interview, and got ready to go on my ultimate hiatus.


I spent most of MYM8 doing nothing. After the craziness of MYM7, it was a very dead contest. Even Warlord sets ultimately had to wait days for comments, leading to my “end of comment, end of MYM” comment, which is in fact not a prophecy but a movie reference (and which was supposed to be my last post ever in the thread). Go figure. For the most part, I felt free of culpability, as I had already long since decided that my place was no longer really here.

I planned the end of MYM 8 to mark my true and final departure from the contest. I even went so far as to write myself out of the contest in the definitive roster – I had always had a lot of fun with making those my main place for history discourse, and this seemed like a particularly good way to end it all off. Here’s what I wrote on the entry for Grunt:

KingK.Rool produced an odd mix of presentation experiments and serious entries throughout MYM 7, but it was with this, ostensibly his last set, that he once again gained the public eye; Grunt was a massive implementation of a three-in-one Pokemon character that revolved around highly interconnected move interactions and the ability to have more than one Pokemon on the stage at a time. K.Rool, meanwhile, disagreed with Warlord’s new theories on MYM and debated them at length, believing that more value lay in risky – but feasible – implementation and successful characterization than sheer creativity. By the end of a setless MYM 8, losing sight of movesets as objective experiences that could be properly ranked or rated and foreseeing the contest’s inevitable end, KingK.Rool faded out of MYM.

Those “new theories” I referred to were the unSmash ones – that Brawl was a terrible game and that we’d do better essentially designing our own.

Of course, I did not fade out of MYM. Here I am today. And it wasn’t a “setless” MYM for me; I did make one set, albeit not under my own name. Kamek was it, remember? Any further sets would be like zombies sets, made strictly for dead and/or undead character.

We’re getting to the home stretch, folks. Take your break, grab your popcorn, stop skimming, and listen up.


[36] Skeleton – MYM 8

We’re talking zombie sets, posted during a zombie time. For Skeleton, I revved up the ol’ alt, which I’d created some time previously when Warlord had half-jokingly challenged me to a contest of who can make the most convincing alt (that a “serious” attempt from him has never been discovered since is unsettling to me, but then again this was hardly a serious attempt of my own). Posting a moveset under an alt was really just child’s play, but it was also somehow liberating: for a little while, at least, before people paid a little bit of attention to the writing style and realized that it was just a wee bit familiar, I was operating from ground zero. Flashback to 2008 or whatever year it was, and copy-pasting a moveset from 2006 with minor tweaks. How will I measure up now?

And Silver and TWIL came out of the woodwork to give me fairly positive comments, although both were tempered with this sort of “for-a-newcomer-set” attitude that really revealed its inadequacies at that moment. To my general surprise, it was Warlord who said that the set was not good for-a-newcomer but just plain good. And it did rank among his supervotes for the contest.

If you ask me, Skeleton is easily in the top five of my movesets. I don’t think that “newcomer” stigma ever really got washed off, and once people knew it was me, it felt out of sync with the direction MYM was generally taking – quite without me – at the time. Sets like Dark Bowser and Octillery and Nurse Joy really show the time’s preoccupation with soft, almost gentle move interactions. Skeleton’s flow is not on a move-to-move basis at all, and his concept is terribly simple: a rushdown berserker of a character who makes his hurtbox vanish as he fights.

And this simple emphasis on madcap offense differentiates the set from the more conventionally stage-controlling Potato Head, who, don’t get me wrong, definitely takes the concept of spreading your hitboxes to greater heights. That was never the focus of Skeleton, an inordinately simple moveset with only touches of my former fetish for individual move creativity, in the throwgame and an NSpec that draws on my favourite move from Wiz’s Sukapon.

I’ve always been very fond of berserker characters, especially when they have some incentive to keep attacking that isn’t combo-centric. It’s my reason for digging Jack the Ripper, and it’s probably why I look back on this set as one of my most successful. From the stilted, jangly organization to the Dracula-lite means of conveying concepts before mucking it up with execution, and most of all by taking my brightest idea from Cutter Matter and at last showcasing it in a moveset quite unlike any before or since, Skeleton is chillingly effective. A shame that he wasn’t too popular, which I attribute at least partially to people thinking that I was just trying to take advantage of no vote split to place highly. In truth, the incongruous MYM7 top 50, on which Kamek placed so well on apparently no actual esteem (among many other oddities), had showed me the limitations of the top 50 as a form of critique, and I wasn’t really concerned with placing at all.

But hey, they told me that I might be the best newcomer so far! Man, Diddy Kong, you were right all along! And so on a much better note than Kamek, having redeemed myself with a very spontaneous set that I never expected to make, I was ready to go back on my indefinite hiatus. And I did just that.


I’ll just quickly cite something I posted in the wake of the Jecht debacle that really sums up why, then and now, I find the top 50 to be a useless exercise in, for lack of a better word, circlejerking. There’s nothing wrong with circlejerking per se, but it’s when we’re trying to make the people who aren’t included feel bad, then… well, then we’ve taken the metaphor disturbingly far, so let’s just go on with the quote:

Choosing between, say, Magmortar and Hariyama or Hannibal and Dark Bowser is hardly anything more than a subjective thing – influenced with a sprinkling of presentation and character bias, whether you pretend it’s not or… not. The top 50 will reflect the whims of a very small group of people who can no longer properly categorize one set as better than another.

I long for the day when we stop trying to “boil it down to one”, stop dealing with movesets like a bunch of amateur scientists, and really come around to appreciating different approaches in different ways. Instead of the top 50, perhaps, a series of personal top tens in the vein of what I do at the contest’s end. And nobody derided or mocked for their preferences, or the grounds of their preferences. This is why Katapultar and, more recently, Khold, are so essential to MYM – they expose its ugly side, and remind us of just how far we still have to go.

Enough politics. Some interlude. Aren’t these things supposed to be light diversions or something? Back to the stuff that really interests us me – history, movesets (in this case, mine), and how to get into the top 10 in two hours.


[37] Tutankoopa – MYM 9

In many ways, this is the set on which my current reputation rests. If I’m still a big name and a respected movesetter, it’s because of this moveset – not because of my pre-Skeleton sets, which are now considered old and decrepit like almost everything made before MYM 8, and not because of Gengar, who for all his success already has a horde calling for Pennywise’s rightful restoration to the top of the heap. This is the set for which they still say I should have won my second MYM, and which was met with almost universal applause, especially from Warlord, who considered it his favourite set of the contest.

Like Skeleton, it was the spur of a moment that drove me to make it. Actually, I’d long had vague ideas for a Tutankoopa set in my head, but never set them down or ordered them in any cohesive way – until a chunk of the way into an MYM9 that I had been entirely absent from. And here I come, cataclysm-like into a thread that has all but forgotten me, writing myself right back into the contest I had supposedly faded out of, with a block of comments for every set thus far – all 40 of them – and my own set, the first posted under my name since Kamek.

Like Skeleton, it’s bewitchingly simple and a complex, unique playstyle emerges from a lot of quite simple attacks, generic in a vacuum. I provide minimal detail on how it all fits together until the playstyle section. This is the style of movesetting that most excited me at the time, and still excites me most today – and Tutankoopa is the most successful example of it.

Your minion is as dangerous to you as to your opponent. You have to use what tools you may have to keep Chompy attacking the foe, and not yourself. As you become a more expert player, you can take greater risks to potentially greater rewards. It’s all very sleek stuff, and luckily it still holds up, so my reputation has not yet fully gone down the tube.

In Fulci, I’d revisit this idea of one’s own moveset posing a danger to one. The difference is that where Tutankoopa had a number of attacks with unique properties when used on Chompy – most notably, and painfully, the throwgame –  all of Fulci’s attacks are functionally the same on either zombies or foes. More on that most recent of my sets coming soon.

As for Tutankoopa, he’s probably so seemingly polished and intent because I made him almost directly after doing a tremendous amount of reading of recent sets. That wall of commenting was a crash course for me in how setmaking had changed since late MYM7, and sorted my thoughts out for me in a way that let me proceed on Tutankoopa with absolute clarity and focus. Great writers tend to do a lot of reading; great filmmakers often watch a lot of films; and to be a successful movesetter, it’s amazing how helpful it is not only to read, but to comment, to force yourself to organize your thoughts and pour them out in a coherent way. Roundtable reviews, this goes double for – you can’t imagine how helpful those are at getting the participant’s thoughts and beliefs in order.

[38] Gastly – MYM X

The Gastly line is both a passion project and a cohesive statement, a backward progression (or forward progression, depending on your point of view) through styles of movesetting, both for MYM at large and for me personally. In the early stages of its inception, I was actually considering making three very different Gastly movesets. It would have had other significance, but it would have been no less fun for me. In the end, though, I decided that it was a bit too edgy, a bit too risqué for me at this point.

Gastly is my favourite of the trio, a set made in the same style as Tutankoopa and Skeleton (and, arguably, Wolf Man). It’s fresh in all of your minds, so I don’t need to remind you of his needling, paranoia-based playstyle which is so reminiscent of a lighter Pennywise – we’re not quite dealing in fear here, but just minor spooks and startlings. The attacks are individually very simple, even the trace of duplication playing a quite feasible, relaxed role in the bigger picture. What I’m up to here is once again that progression of obscuring what you’re up to, of deception, of mindgames, that goes from Umbreon way back to 2006 Nightmare. But now I’ve finally figured out how to make invisibility work. Finally, I’ve got an in-Smash way of letting Gastly hide from the opponent but still know where he is in a way that lends itself to coherent strategy.

Warlord’s clash with me over this set is also probably fresh in your minds. He maintains that the opponent’s strategy against Gastly will always be to generically mash quick inputs in an attempt to hit him, as they have no idea where he is at any given time. I deeply believe that it’s a wrong-headed complaint, and that any half-competent foe will realize that this strategy would necessarily be a losing one. Instead, a decent player would move slowly and carefully, keeping an eye out for the same visual indicators that the Gastly player is using, and drawing on the patterns of play that the Gastly main falls into to inform the best way to following his erratic, hidden movements. It’s a matter of perspective and not something he’ll ever agree with me on. In any case, it’s a question of execution. I don’t care as much about that as I do of the visceral experience of playing Gastly, of playing against him, or of seeing him played – of that creaky, uncertain haunted house he makes of the stage without doing any trapping or summoning. And in that sense, I find this to be a complete success.

[39] Haunter – MYM X

Has ever a set of mine so quickly been forgotten? Yeah, probably with Glaceon or Galaxy Man or something – but still, in this day and age, I hadn’t expected that one of my rare movesets would be relatively glossed over.

This is really a moveset in the same vein as most of my movesets. As Kamek, yeah, as Abra and Zant and Romero and Jumpluff and so many others. Same approach to detail and playstyle and creativity. Still individual attacks that I feel overdo it and try to steal the spotlight from the overall playstyle, here in the throws. That Soul Eater that earned me criticism as Haunter’s only KO method was really a fun afterthought for me, almost an easter egg for a ridiculously lucky Haunter player messing around with a friend in casual.

Haunter has his cake and eats it too. By keeping the player in the dark as to what fear does practically until the end of the moveset, we can establish the strong sense of paranoia and even terror that playing against Haunter does to you. Then we bring in the playstyle-relevant passive-aggressive damage stacking, which turns Haunter into a much more active hunter and the farthest thing from a camper. I have it both ways, and maybe it results in a slightly diffuse moveset that wouldn’t completely satisfy either side – and not even me. Not fully.

That said, apart from the further complaint of the relatively unintuitive controls of his hands, the moveset does what it does very well and serves his purpose as the middle brother. We’re putting the invisibility to different use here, both mechanically and thematically, and in the context of the progression Haunter is just sadistic, unpleasant and mysterious enough.

[40] Gengar – MYM X

It can’t be said that I didn’t pour my little heart out into this moveset, as I did for Grunt or Zant. This was a set of serious effort and some intense brainstorming and I’m still a little taken aback by the generally prevailing opinion that this is just the obvious way to do Gengar that anybody would have taken. Am I that stupid, then, that I had to rack my brains to come up with a way to make all this hang together in a playstyle? And that I thought that the ridiculous web that made up his playstyle was actually one of the most over-the-top, out-there and unique things I’d ever come up with? Are duplicates, invisibility and shadowgames really that easy to mesh together?

I have no answers. For my part, I found it a very hard moveset to make, not least because I was working with five inputs more than usual and not less, as I often had in cutting out throws. I stalled at the aerials and had to think for days, often writing notes on a pad at work this summer as I tried to put it all together. The fine balance I had to maintain was a moveset in which every attack is deliberately, deliriously, deliciously creative and in which the playstyle is almost seamlessly flowing. Attacks like the absolutely ridiculous satirical NAir, in which Gengar turns into a miniboss, would take over any simpler moveset in an instant. To make it work, it had to be only one over-the-top option among many. And yet at the same time I wanted to make Gengar somehow approachable, somehow intuitive to play. This I did accomplish by making his duplicate game self-managing, his invisibility game short, and his shadow game self-explanatory. I mean, this is good stuff and I do feel slighted a bit when Gengar is described as a derivative of Pennywise. Go figure when a moveset I thought would be one of the most creative ever made wound up being no more creative than a typical Kupa moveset. [and besides the fact that I didn’t read Pennywise until after, and that Gengar was already half-done at his time, there was a progression at work in the three movesets that could be seen from a mile off by a discerning reader; Kupa posting Pennywise when he did came off very much as slipping in just before the bell, just before Gengar came down to finish the narrative at work]

None of which is to disparage Kupa’s set. I’ve said that Gengar is not my favourite of my own, but as you can see I speak of him in glowing terms. For what I wanted him to be, as with many of my sets, I succeeded. That what I wanted him to be was a stage of my – and MYM’s – development that I no longer really endorsed (Father Time, Espeon and Team Rocket Grunt can serve as reference points) is another point entirely.

It was nice to win with this set, even though I haven’t been concerned with the top 50 since MYM7. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t even see it coming from a mile off – I thought that a solid handful of movesets were ahead of him in their chances. But since it’s a relevant set in my body of work, the culmination of a handful of my recurring themes (even a hint of a cycle!), a favourite Pokemon of mine, and a quite clever satire in his own right, if I had to hog another win, I’m glad it was with him.


I’ve dropped the history stuff because this is all recent. We can’t pinpoint the trends we can now read into MYM 6 or 7. I’m sure we’ll soon be able to look back and precisely see why MYM8 was marked by such listless apathy, or why opinions diversified so radically over the course of MYM X, but that’s not my job here, today. Now I’ve entered the simple, barebones part of this exercise. I’m just talking about sets, that’s all – giving you my impressions on movesets that you may not have sorted out your own thoughts on anyway.

One thing I will say is that Haunter and Gengar destabilized me a bit. After Skeleton/Tutankoopa/Gastly, I thought I had a very firm grip on the sort of set I wanted to make from now on. But Gengar tripped me up, and my MYM 11 sets reveal me as an amateur who’s almost lost his footing. Now is as good a time as any to reflect, because it’s an apocalyptic time for me – whatever happens now for me in MYM, it’s clear that I can’t go on as I’ve been doing. After Gengar, I came back in full force as an active member of the community. How do I reconcile that with the hiatus-me? How do I explain sets like Mouse Man and Flat Top? How do I go back? How do I go forward? Something’s going to break down in the process. Maybe irreparably. Maybe I’m done. Maybe this burst of activity was never meant to last. Maybe 20 000 words is enough for me to get this published as a novella. And with those philosophical musings, let’s wrap this up with some short impressions on very recent movesets.


[41] Mouse Man – MYM 11

No, no, I don’t like it. How nice, how elegant the idea of popping in and out of holes to move across the stage is! How cartoony! And yet… and yet… it’s not the balance problem that does it in, but its complete lack of coherence as a moveset.

With a vague idea of the specials I set out on my usual movesetting style, laying out the standards first this time. Then I realized why I always did the specials first. Without any clear idea of the moveset’s centerpiece, I could hardly produce anything remotely interesting in the standards. The result is, as DM put it, a cartoon Donkey Kong whose attacks are so utterly minimalistic as to leave his specials to do all the heavy lifting.

The pancake never tied into anything, and when I put it in I had only the vaguest idea of where it could. Likewise, balling the foe up, while kinda neat in multiplayer, has no relevance to Mouse Man’s weird mobility outside of a forced but admittedly cartoony interaction with the mouseholes.

I really hated this moveset upon finishing it, as perhaps evidenced by the playstyle section. I love writing those – they’re the climax of almost all of my movesets, and some of my best MYM-related writing – but here I was so listless that I just resorted to a Dodongoesque reciting of plot points for those who missed them. It’s just like Powers Kirby, all those years ago, ending on a bum note because I was disappointed with what I’d done.

Well, at least it was for a good cause – a dubious movement of potentialless characters made for the lulz! Right?

[42] Flat Top – MYM 11

You’ll permit me to very slightly tweak my set order to reflect how I made them, I hope. Flat Top actually came a good month before the other two, or Fulci, right at the inception of the movement.

The first thing this set shows is that I’ve more or less lost my zeal for organization. Ain’t that a bad sign all in itself.

What it is is an example of me doing my usual thing – writing a moveset all in one sitting and having it come together as I go along – without ever really having a concrete idea of how it’ll come together. Flat Top has a decent theme of retreating from battle, a generic one of manipulating his “summons”, and a mildly interesting one of projectile comboing. How do these three really combine? If you ask me, they don’t. It’s a hideously tacky moveset because of that, not because of randomly pulling out a cannon in an aerial – that’s just me being true to my cartoony source material in a way I wasn’t in the relatively serious Mouse Man and Wolf Man.

If there’s something this trio of sets does right, it’s taking on the idea of the chase that’s so central to their appearance in Duck Twacy. Flat Top is about mounting an active retreat, a getaway in gangster lingo; Wolf Man is about the pursuit, as in the episode itself; and Mouse Man is about spontaneously switching from one to the other, or something like that.

I haven’t often disliked my sets before posting them – or even after. Kangaskhan, Glaceon, Powers Kirby. Anomalies, every one. This Duck Twacy thing was not good for my health.

[43] Wolf Man – MYM 11

After those two muddled sets, I got up one morning and sat down and almost effortlessly made Wolf Man in precisely the way I wanted to.

It’s a set influenced by a Smadian way of movesetting, really: you have an overall objective that is really quite simple, and a bajillion ways of doing it, of continuing to move toward it despite the shifts in the tide of battle. It’s not a path I’ve really done before – or at least not consciously – and I think that in the context of a very simple aggro character, it worked out.

I’ve said a lot about the playstyle and the characterization in my fireside chat with Warlord. I think it works very well, although it runs the risk of making Wolf Man too distant from the cartoon that is his source – the moveset’s goal is somehow too crystalline for Looney Tunes. In fact, maybe the moveset is simply too good for its source material. There’s a certain tackiness that Looney Tunes sets call for. It’s a quirky sort of irony.

I’ll just quickly address smashbot’s ideological complaint that any character can be a momentum character, like so:

Dude, any character can be a trapper, too. The question is how you use traps – or momentum (a better word would be motion) – to set your moveset apart. If you simply blanket all movesets that attack while moving as the same, and equally lazy, you’re missing out on such a huge world of nuance and very different playstyles indeed. In Wolf Man, the motion is put to use to keep the foe in a small, constrained space face-to-face with a wild animal. Why that should be the same as Daffy’s Piggybank simply because of the commonality of attacking while moving is quite beyond me. It’s like saying that all movesets that prefer to be still for the most of the game (which is a lot of them) are the same, and equally lazy ways to adapt the character.

And so we move on to my actual passion project for Halloween, and draw this novella to its dramatic close.

[44] Lucio Fulci – MYM 11

I don’t hesitate for a second to say that Lucio Fulci is the best moveset I’ve ever made.

Let’s put aside for a moment how any tackiness in his attacks forcing the foe to bleed or any seemingly jarring use of props is here showcased in a supreme example of how tackiness and prop use can ultimately be conducive to not only deep characterization but also a more significant, layered playstyle. Let’s put that aside.

Lucio Fulci’s moveset is really absurdly simple; a player could pick him up in a matter of minutes, with the exception of maybe the acid’s intricacies and the slightly unusual grab. And in those very, very simple attacks, everything is given him that he could need to have a thousand different playstyles, against a thousand different opponents.

This is the ultimate culmination of my intention to make Brawl essentially a cinematic game. It’s absolutely all about the visualization, about seeing how this plays out. If it helps, imagine a character like Cairne, creating a pit on the stage; imagine Cairne and Fulci grappling with a horde of zombies clawing at the edges of the pit, the loser doomed to fall into their clutches. Imagine the urgency and sheer visceral thrill of killing zombies willy-nilly –  a thrill which, of course, can turn in a second into terror. Imagine the temporary truces, the begrudging cooperation, the shocking backstabbing going on between even two players engaged in a fight on this zombiescape, let alone in a multiplayer game. Hell, I’m turning the set and its playstyle into a running commentary on human nature! Can we cooperate in stressful situations? Are we ultimately selfish beings? Are we driven primarily by self-interest? Are we predators or prey? Imagine everything that emerges in a team battle in this sort of situation! How can I not be pleased with myself for something like this, pretentious as I am?

Romero didn’t do the zombie apocalypse justice. The problem was that he turned this really complex menace into a simple, kinda dull brand of minion character – the zombies are interchangeable with any other kind of minion, the zombification is tacky and nonsensical, and there’s scarcely any sense of fear on the part of either player. There’s a constancy and predictability to his gameplay that you never see in Fulci. Fulci operates differently with each foe, from player to player, from stage to stage, and I’m going to give you a handful of arbitrary examples to show you exactly how, by taking my three most recent non-Fulci sets and theorizing (and remember, we’re talking concept, not strictly execution) on how they’d work against him:

Flat Top: Just think of how Flat Top’s planes turn the game into a sort of repeated divebombing of Fulci, way over on the other side of the battlefield; here, Fulci is playing the role of the American military, bleeding lead on all sides as he sends air raids against his foe. Fulci’s strategy here becomes not only fighting for his life against the zombies but beating his way through the hail of gunfire launched out by Flat Top to take out the planes at their source.

Mouse Man: How carefully do you have to plant your mouseholes in this matchup? Very, that’s how. This is your ultimate escape route, your Harry Potteresque disapparition if all other paths are blocked, your measure of last resort. Fulci’s goal, then, becomes ensuring that the other side of Mouse Man’s tunnel is overrun by zombies. He’s not killing them here so much as corralling him, to the limited extent that he can do that, that is.

Wolf Man: Wolf Man can block off areas of the stage and keep zombies from crossing them! Of course, Fulci can dissolve those fenceposts with his acid, and he too can limit the ground they cross via his fires, you’ll recall. All the same, Wolf Man is going to set up his game as usual and on either side will be a crowd of zombies. How urgent, then, is his usual comboesque game when falling beyond the limits of the fenceposts means certain death? Fulci’s going to have to shed blood over Wolf Man’s territory, to ensure that zombies rise there and that he has to directly engage them to keep his land – but to do that, he has to cross that zone, and maybe he’ll get dragged down to ground level in the process. In any case, that little hunting ground is going to be the most dramatic of arenas for combat. It’s like in any zombie movies – the survivors are closed in, eventually doomed to the zombies waiting outside. Their fate may be sped up, depending on how they interact. This is what Wolf Man sets up.

These are literally three examples that were in no way premeditated to work with Fulci. You can pull out a hundred more from any one MYM. This is a character who can scarcely fail to keep building and building his playstyle as new sets are posted. Consider how careful a Madrox player will have to be against the zombie horde, and how the very Wii will break by the sheer amount of carnage going on at any one time! With each set that’s posted, each idea that’s developed in a new idea, Lucio Fulci’s playstyle will continue expanding, continue creating new apocalyptic scenarios of intense emotion and complex on-the-fly decision making. He commandeers Brawl for his purpose, yes. In the process, even through a moveset that has nothing particular un-Smash or glaringly out-of-place, he creates such a depth and breadth of gameplay scenarios that we might without much exaggeration say that he establishes a whole new game mode.

I think he’s perfect, and maybe I can at long last stop chasing a distant, foggy ideal moveset.

And maybe here, at 23 000 words, I can end my odyssey. If you read it all, thank you – let me know what you think of it. If you revisited even one of my movesets during it, thank you – let me know how your opinion has changed. If you skimmed it with an expression like this  O_o , thank you – let me know that you think I’m insane.

Most of all, now that you understand that I’m egotistical, vain, spiteful, self-absorbed, and insecure, and that I curse like a goddamn sailor, thank you for putting up with me for all this time. This is not a one-sided discourse. You’ve all been there for a very long time, and I’m deeply, deeply grateful, guys. If I didn’t namedrop you at some point in this thing, it’s because of how rushed this thing ended up being, not because I don’t care.

I’ll leave you with something a bit more tangible –  a rough list, in no order but chronological, of what I feel are my ten best movesets.

Galaxy Man
Miracle Matter
Lucio Fulci



  1. Welp.

    I guess I’m making Parasprite now.

    Also, my guesses were totally wrong. (crs)

    • It’s a KIND of history! 😉

  2. Goddamn, Rool. So bloody nostalgic revisiting all of these movesets, and it’s far better than I could’ve hoped for even for a self ranking from you. You’re the most suited to write something like this when there’s always been such a clear hand of intelligent design in your sets – most “flaws” are simply due to your concept over execution philosophy which you’ve only recently made clear, and your sets are quite rarely irredeemable from your point of view.

    You may not remember, but my opinion of Jolteon actually improved immensely after MYM 6 – making match-ups for sets is a similar exercise to making comments and roundtabling, and it helped me realize just what the hell Jolteon boiled down to. Yes, a lot of attacks are just another way to discharge energy and he needs more to do when he’s uncharged, but it’s all execution quibbles. It feels like it’s the best example of your philosophy at work, as several of your other strong conceptual sets have Warlordian execution at work, sometimes even intentionally to appeal to me.

    Yes, I was wrong to originally say that Fulci’s acid will cover the whole stage, as Fulci can (Albeit rather awkwardly) get rid of some of the blood so only the zombies (And hopefully the foe) will get killed. Most of my complaints about the melee moves not being good against actual foes are fairly number cruncherish I’ll also give you at this point. But to say Fulci’s so versatile is giving the set too much credit, as it’d need a significant overhaul to make his melee attacks divert into being all that versatile at fighting the -foe-, seeing the designed intent for the moves is very clearly for use against zombie first, foe second.

    Kudos for having the balls to step down from your lofty pedestal with Romero and for actually talking about your thought process during MYM 7/8.

    One thing that’s become very clear in your better recieved movesets is that they’ve almost always been for characters who almost come with their concepts as package deals, or in the least have plenty of stuff to play around with to make a nice concept. A 2 hour design period for Tutankoopa is just all too telling. Until the Duck Twacy sets in MYM 11, you hadn’t made anything difficult since the likes of King Hippo and Kangaskhan. When finally given difficult characters, you finally produced some sets that you weren’t as proud of and weren’t as well received. Yes, you have Wolf Man, but I’d propose it’d be a good challenge for you none the less.

    I have to this day not read Galaxy Man, though I’ll confess that it wasn’t the only one. Axe Knight I didn’t feel obligated to read because I couldn’t vote on it – I read none of the other sets in Steven Stone either (When history has told me time and time again I should’ve read Cradily). Kudos to you for actually making Axe Knight acknowledge the other members of the team.

    You’re really obligating me here to go make one of my own, though I don’t know how it’d even compare to this when I’d be repeating earlier lists made before. I could do it chronologically like yours here, but there’s not much insight that I can give on a lot of the older sets due to the hand of intelligent design being so absent until later works, so I’d be reduced to tearing apart the movesets themselves for the first half of the list.

    • Bunch of different stuff to address. Let’s give it a shot. And before all that, glad you liked it – at some points the article is about you almost as much as it is about me. You seem to be consistently the most prominent character in my MYMing story. 😉

      Fulci’s attacks are versatile in their simplicity, and I’m content with that. I’m content with, say, the DSmash changing how Mouse Man views his mouseholes, or, say, with Fulci’s ability to light a fire in the middle of Wolf Man’s pen and trap him on the other side with a fire on one side and a fencepost on the other and a zombie stuck there with him in between. It’s the very subtle nuances that I’m happy with, and to make him more explicitly versatile would drag away from the very obvious centerpiece of the zombie invasion – which I never, ever wanted to become an afterthought, as it kinda became in Romero.

      I never recognized Romero’s flaws until comparing him with Fulci. I liked him because of what he was about, and it wasn’t until I tried to redo it that I realized that he wasn’t really about it at all.

      It’s hard to define “difficult characters”, because there are definitely some sets in my past that have no obvious concepts associated with them and that still turned out well. Often in the process I might make the concept SEEM very obvious to them. I mean, we can discuss Haunter, Skeleton, or Grunt here. But on the whole it’s a good observation. I do well when there’s a clear and distinct centerpiece to a moveset. I excell when it comes to translating that in a fairly flowing, deep way (damn, I feel stupid praising myself like this)… but I’m not a specialist at drawing potential out of nothing, like many MYMers are. It’s definitely a challenge to pose to myself, like how I asked agi to make a one-day set way back during his own MYMer review.

      I’d like to see a self-ranking from you that actually uses text, but I’m not sure you should try to do it in the same chronological format as me – this historical sort of thing going together with the moveset progression worked for me because I’ve always been a sucker for history, but if repeated it might get a bit stale.

  3. Well, this should be fun.

    “Dude, any character can be a trapper, too.”

    Sure, though that’s more a matter of how it’s carried out. The same can be said about momentum, or motion, as you more accurately call it I admit, but not EVERYONE can have a trapper playstyle. For the most part, there are very few moveset options that would NOT work with a motion mechanic in comparison.

    “If you simply blanket all movesets that attack while moving as the same, and equally lazy, you’re missing out on such a huge world of nuance and very different playstyles indeed.”

    This is probably a miscommunication of my part, but I don’t believe attacks with motion as the same. I do think, however, that the momentum mechanic is an incredibly overdone cop out if you lack any sort of idea for a character. Yes, I did mention that it can fit a character quite well for folks such as Mach Rider, Burter, and Rainbow Dash, though in my personal opinion they don’t have much else to offer setwise. Neither did anyone in the Twacy movement, I would say. However, talented set makers, not to imply you’re not among them, proved me wrong. I more or less wish there was more done with Wolf Man outside of momentum and an additional mechanic to make use of said mechanic.

    “In Wolf Man, the motion is put to use to keep the foe in a small, constrained space face-to-face with a wild animal. Why that should be the same as Daffy’s Piggybank simply because of the commonality of attacking while moving is quite beyond me.”

    It’s not how they use motion, it’s more that they use it at all. Hell, I’d say it fits Piggybank even more in tandem with the coin mechanic, considering she has ways to ditch and gain coins to change her stats. It’s also fitting for Wolf Man to use motion as a way to trap his foe like a wolf would. That’s also the issue; I would’ve preferred to see either set make use of something ELSE. Piggybank has the coin mechanic, I’d have preferred to see more drawn from there rather than make her attacks stronger/weaker and weight heavier/lighter. Wolf Man… well, other than touching down more upon his gangster side, maybe even combining some cronies of his with the pack mindset of the average wolf, I doubt there’s much else you could have done.

    “It’s like saying that all movesets that prefer to be still for the most of the game (which is a lot of them) are the same, and equally lazy ways to adapt the character.”

    Most of the time, they’re standing still for different reasons. When they’re in motion, it’s almost always to increase the potency of their attacks proportionate to their momentum. Yes, Wolf Man does this with several moves, even the drool. I still think motion is a very overused mechanic.

    • I’d love to have an extended debate about some of these points – because you definitely made some decent ones – but I’d rather not do it here, if you don’t mind, man. In any case, it’d make a really interesting topic for a roundtable sort of situation.

  4. You say that you want your own medium for projects akin to Warlord’s voice-overs and Junahu’s videos, but you’re already the master of the written word in Make Your Move. This is an excellent and highly enjoyable article.

    I will say, though, that I do hope you don’t die off because you think Fulci is your best set [talking up this set to that degree made me grimace]. Your input is an essential part of the community and after Halloween, your philosophy has much room to grow. Disappearing rather than facing up to the challenge is a massive cop-out.

    Your humility in this article is as present as ever, yet I find it hard to fully believe that you don’t value your canon. If that’s true, then there are very few worthwhile collections out there… which is stating the obvious.

    On the whole, a fascinating read.

    • Thanks, Daddy! That’s heavy praise, especially coming from you, and I really appreciate it.

      I don’t expect my view on Fulci to be a universal one – he’s a very personal project for me, and fits perfectly this almost cinematic conception of movesetting that I think I’m more or less alone in having. All well and good, and in fact as the contrarian that I am I kind of like Fulci being a cult classic. 😉

      As for valuing my own canon… again, we’re talking about specific and pretty much unattainable ideals I would really like this platform to live up to, and it typically refuses to, however much I stretch my brain muscles. This is not the philosophical Rool, or the objective Rool, or even the subjective Rool talking. This is the subconscious bit that I really only drew out in trying to spill all my guts out over the course of these memoirs, and should not be considered serious criticism.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, dude!

  5. Dave, I know you’re reading this. I’ll get started on Blueblood tomorrow (contempt)

    This is a really great article, Rool. You know, I was recently evaluating what my favorite movesets are (for personal reasons. I have no intention of releasing the list to the public for fear of probable mockery), and to my (not so much) surprise, several of your movesets towered over others, the only other person so dominating my list would be Junahu. Since I started, actually, right around the time I got “serious” about the contest after making RTS Army, I’ve been going back and reading all of these movesets that have shaped the contest into what it is today, along with all the recent ones. Among those that topped the list for me, of yours at least, were Rocket Grunt, Romero, Tutankoopa, Gengar, and Skeleton, 2 of those taking spots (Romero and Grunt taking 3 and 1, respectfully) in my personal top 3. It’s very interesting to see your own take on your rather prolific career, and I’m very happy that you decided to stick around to deal with all of us. 😀

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Pony set to make.

    • Hey, great to hear, geto! I’m often so wrapped up in my own ego that I don’t pay enough attention to how others look at my movesets, and which ones they see as the best – I suppose that’s why in the distant past I was sometimes criticized for generally shrugging off criticism (WARY)

      If all goes well, someday soon you’ll be able to post a list like that WITHOUT fear of probably mockery. And on that day I’ll be very eager to read it. 😉

      Good luck with your… uh… pony.

  6. I don’t think anyone else in MYM could possibly write something this long that would keep me reading the whole time; I admit to ignoring your pleas and going through the whole thing in one sitting. These things aren’t the nosalgic trips for me that they are for some; I haven’t been around quite long enough for that, and at most I vaguely remember seeing (I can’t honestly use the word “reading” here) some of these MYM3-5 sets.

    You know, I did feel bad about Kamek back when I posted him (feelings you’ve dredged up a bit here); I had actually written a decent chunk of it in MYM7, and the set died for a while when you posted your own glossy version that made the Top Ten. I even deleted what progress I had (as I recall, Specials, Smashes, and maybe a Standard or two) on the set. I was still seen as a newcomer back then. How could I possibly go up against that competition? But I couldn’t stay away from a character I had already put so much thought into, and I ended up recreating my deleted work a while after I finished Pokey. Also, you did steal the whole Gastly line out from under me (CRS)

    But I’m being very selfish and getting off-topic; this is a Rool history article, not a Nate history article. This is an excellent read, and I do love hearing more about your sets (or any sets) from your point of view rather than Warlord’s. (Yes, other people do chime in, but Warlord’s opinions are usually the loudest)

    • I’m especially glad you liked it, n88! I was afraid that people reading it all at once would kinda overdose on my writing style – good to hear that, for you at least, that wasn’t the case.

      I sort of flew into a rant at the Kamek part, didn’t I? Well, we all have our biases. I didn’t blame you in any way, then or now – and if your posting Kamek was the crucial step you needed to break through a movesetter (I wonder whether an n88 review would shed some light on that…), then I’m very glad you did it.

      And yes, this is indeed a shrine to my own selfishness – get your own! But seriously I’m working on something else that, if not quite as grandiose as this, is at least less of an ego trip. I’ll actually be talking about the movesets of others! =O

  7. Studying for finals, hyper-ventilating due to stress, etc. etc. Make mistake of checking the bunker to see what my old friends are up to…

    … One hour of not-studying later… (FLIP)

    Of course, I guess I should comment on what I think about what you said. Granted, I have read only a fraction of the sets you made, seeing as we traded off during MYMX and I didn’t join until MYM7. Your analysis is, of course, about the development of Make Your Move as a whole. I have a few strong opinions on this, but it’s a fascinating take on it. What I find most interesting is what you said about the Punch-Out movement as a complete change in direction, or at least a split of focus. It’s telling when you look back at MT’s kick-off moveset, Little Mac, which had props out the wazoo and general silliness that everyone shied away from making their own sets. It was a new direction on playstyle and opened up two avenues: the avenue of simple moves working well into each other, as well as the path of our increasingly technical, intricate movesets. I was actually earlier reminiscing about BubbleMan.EXE and wondering why it felt that my recent movesets couldn’t achieve the simple yet imaginative and unique playstyle (especially for the time) that BubbleMan.EXE did. Part of that was that change in perspective.

    On the subject of Kangaskhan, it is in its own way one of your more influential movesets. While it’s encouraging to see your perspective, it also helped us ask the question of what a character should be doing and the challenge of making a playstyle not just a summation of elements of a character, but a representation of the character’s personality and fighting style.

    As for the Eeveelutions, first off, I have absolutely NO recollection of whatever you could possibly be referring to about Flareon, except that I disliked its mechanic. And I probably had an unusual opinion on those seven Pokemon, I disliked Umbreon’s night/day mechanic and Leafeon’s sudden desire to grow trees in the midst of a battle. While it has been a while though since I read it, from what I remember of Jolteon it’s a set that I could easily see myself playing, enjoying, and could be competitive in this contest. Of course, my idea of what a good moveset is has drifted from popular opinion as well, if not as far as Katapultar and Junahu, who I salute for being their own islands, if not always agree with.

    I also find it quite amusing that Zant was written as a ‘Warlord Appeal’ moveset. I did the exact same thing with Bizarro after the whole deal with Crustle I’d like to bury and the deal with Luvia which I am ready to fight about on a moment’s notice. And I hope that Warlord can learn from that when either of us have made movesets he dislikes, it’s not that we’re incompetent or screwed up; it’s that we have our own ideas that we want to put forward that we know conflict with his own. And it’s okay to dislike those sets (I dislike PLENTY of Warlord sets myself) but it’s not a measure of our value as human beings or even as members of the community.

    As far as caterpie and The Elves go (and TAC too), I hope I wasn’t a part of the escalation involved there, and I remember that essentially I felt that they were both unjudgable by the standards of Make Your Move. I appreciated what caterpie was as a concept, but the lack of Butterfree made a nice statement but a pretty mediocre moveset overall, since there was no way to appreciate what the ultimate goal was. And as for the Elves, I think that the controversy stemmed from the fact that it was fresh on the heels of another controversial moveset, and you did such a good job of writing it that people couldn’t tell if it was serious or not. And it was serious, serious as a contribution to the community, but we were to narrow in our thinking of what makes a moveset to like it for what it was. We might still be too narrow.

    I’m afraid I didn’t really get into the latter half of the article that much though; I never read those sets and I have a memo due Friday, outlines to write, career services meetings to go to, and of course three straight weeks of finals hell to look forward to coming up, so I’m a bit swamped, but I’m sure it’s all quite fascinating stuff.

    • Glad to distract you from more pressing concerns as ever, DM!

      Kangaskhan definitely did make us reconsider how we approached characterization, although I don’t think that the lesson really sunk in until further examples and a lot of time had passed. Nevertheless she remains the staple example and a very useful illustration of what playstyle can mean for a character.

      And you know, regarding Flareon, I think I mixed you up with Wizzerd. You both griped about the overuse of the word “charge” in Jolteon, so maybe I just fused your two opinions into one in my mind. ; )

      I don’t begrudge your not reading the second half – not much point if you haven’t been following the sets themselves, generally, although I think that the most recent MYM 11 ones you could probably find something of interest in. In any case, thanks for checking and chipping in.

  8. I have to say Rool, this was an incredibly enjoyable read. It’s long, sure, but it’s far from tedious to read with all the insight that was given on the various aspects of MYM, as well as on all your sets. You were a lot more self-critical than I expected, really, especially on Zant and Romero. It’s kind of nice to see one of MYMs “hot shots” showing so much humility, particularly on the sets that are often declared as his magnum opus. Also a touch reassuring for me considering the whole crisis I’m going through with my moveset quality.

    The MYM history part of the article was also great, you know, hearing how each of the events transpired and your views on them. Honestly, I’ve never really been able to appreciate the Punch Out movement until reading this, admittedly. God that was so hard to stomach at the time, though that was when I was still so stupid I though Sloth was worse than Envy. It also gives something I don’t think I’ve seen other rankings give, a bit of perspective on the time period they were made that puts the set in context.

    As for your Duck Twacy sets, I’m going to go and use what Smash Daddy said to me on the subject. When you are striving to improve, your failures tend to be more important than your successes. So while yes the Twacy sets were far below your normal quality level, it will only help you be even more successful in the future. Yes, Rool, both you and Warlord are perfectly capable of improving. And you might want too, Smash Daddy and Rool are catching up.

    Anyway, excellent read Rool, this is definitely one of, if not the best article written about MYM.

    • Hey, glad to hear it, FA! Best article written for MYM?? Clearly it should place at the top of the upcoming MYM article top 50! (SMIRK)

      Whether I’m striving to “improve” – or ever really have been – is debatable. I’m neither as intent as Warlord nor as innovative as Junahu. But we’ll just wait and see where I go from here, I suppose.

      Thanks for reading and commenting and it’s nice to know that relatively recent newcomers (despite your long and auspicious history as a lurker) still enjoyed the article.

  9. You confused me with wizzerd?

    I’m pretty offended.

    • I always liked the little guy.

    • He made Lucario.

      Then he made Strangelove.

      Then he somehow made Top 5 with Strangelove. I’m still a little mad about that.

    • It’s ridiculous how much Wizzerd’s name has been smeared over time. I really do hope he comes back.

    • ^

    • >implying Strangelove did not deserve Top 5


  10. An interesting read, though a couple points about my own sets I can’t resist clarifying…

    The possible robot master I’d considered in place of Galaxy Man was Gravity Man (the side special is really the idea the set was originally born from), but he just didn’t seem to give me enough to work with.

    And as far as Caterpie goes, IIRC one of the webbing moves I actually copy/pasted over from Spider-Man. The set itself was mainly a challenge as far as to how far I could take a character with almost no potential. There were a couple of other draws, with the self-mocking writing style being rather enjoyable, and the organization making it look like a joke (or just outright bad) set before giving an actual payoff when Caterpie evolves. It’s obviously not an amazing set by any standards, but I feel it’s still decent, and worth the effort it took to make.

  11. One thing I should have mentioned in my original reply is that I strongly endorse what you said about reading and commenting. Without these two things, one cannot hope to become a prominent moveset maker. You make the comparison I would – famous writers got to where they are due to reading a large amount of literature, and it’s the same with movesets. Commenting forces you to articulate that knowledge and put it to word; the helpfulness of this exercise cannot be overstated.

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