Posted by: Junahu | December 11, 2011

Roundtable Review – The Penguin

Rool: Welcome to another long-awaited roundtable review, folks! And this one’s going to live up to all the hype of the last two months.
Kibble: No pressure, guys.
LoL: Bah, who needs pressure, anyway?
Rool: We’re doing away with pressure altogether! We’re talking defensive characters here! Sort of… Anyway, this roundtable will be handled by SirKibble, LegendofLink, Junahu, agidius, and yours truly, KingK.Rool. Hello BladeKnight and everybody else. Now that we’re done with the hellos, let’s start at the top of the set: the title.
Junahu: The… title? Is there something special there?
LoL: If we’re talking presentation, then I guess it’s worth noting that Penguin uses the same color scheme as Batman.
Kibble: Well, it’s yellow…
Junahu: Batman’s was also yellow.
Rool: Penguin’s two-tone color scheme is not ineffective, simple as it may be. Recycling it from Batman as he has, BladeKnight has very clearly tied this moveset (as well as that one) to the cartoon as a source… I think.
Junahu: It’s also potentially just laziness, but your theory is nice too.
LoL: Either way, it’s easy to read, so it works.
Kibble: It’s definitely functional, if not elaborate.
Junahu: It has a surprisingly unassuming picture choice. Just a fairly small screencap of the animated series
Rool: Oh, I don’t know. I find it evokes a certain seedy infamy. Like a “wanted” poster.
LoL: The picture is small, but that’s a pretty good picture of the Penguin for showing off his character. Just a small, fat man with a cigar and an umbrella.
Junahu: I can’t see his feet
Rool: It’s also the first picture when you type “the penguin batman” into google images. Let’s move on.
Kibble: I do think a full-body picture would have been nice, but yes, let’s move on.
Junahu: Batman villains are hardly the easiest character to interpret into a moveset.
LoL: Well, the depends on how specific their gimmick is. Poison Ivy wouldn’t be too hard.
Junahu: I’m referring more to the villains who don’t like to fight, such as our Penguin.
Rool: One thing I always praised in DM’s early movesets, and which I find in display here, is the way the Penguin is described in such a way that he might be talking about either him in Brawl or him as a character. Right in the beginning paragraph, see it?
Agi: He’ll do his best to fight without degrading himself?
Rool: I was referring more to “he will preferably just entirely remove himself from the crime scene by having his hired thugs do the dirty work.” It’s very apt stuff.
LoL: That is indeed a great way to describe both his personality and approach to fighint in the set.
Rool: It’s like a thesis statement for an essay. Over the course of the moveset, he’ll demonstrate that this is a fitting, in-character and interesting way for The Penguin to function in Brawl. And for my part, I’m quite convinced. Perhaps we start at the very first attack, and the key attack for the whole set.
Junahu: Summoning the thugs? I’ll admit, when I was passing this set for the first time when it was originally posted, I was sceptical of the use of summons. Though reading the set in depth proved to me that there was a good deal of psychological interaction between the player, the penguin, and the thugs.
LoL: I find the move to be incredibly well characterized, with the thugs being very true to typical Batman thugs. They’re in it for the money, and (assuming the opponent is about as competent as Batman) merely a nuisance to their target without outside intervention or sheer numbers.
Junahu: LoL, that’s a good point. Batman, would likely be an excellent counter to this moveset
Kibble: The nifty thing about the move that kind of sets it apart from similar summoning/minion moves is that the Penguin doesn’t really have all that much motivation to care about them. Sure, they do a good portion of the fighting, but he’s just as quick to knock them out himself if it means he can grab the money and hire a new guy who’s fresh and ready to fight with full HP.
Agi: The thing I thought was interesting about the thugs is that they serve as Penguin’s true “killing” move – his smashes are there to deal mass amounts of weak hits, but it’ll be his minions that do the actual dirty work of taking out the opponent.
Rool: I like all four of the things you guys pointed out. Like Kibble says, Penguin is callous toward his thugs – he certainly doesn’t have any personal attachment to them. And it’s a good thing he doesn’t TRUST them, because they’re as treacherous as it comes (although, funnily enough, they keep faith until he breaks it). And the main other thing about this move is the currency aspect of it. It’s a simple bit of micromanagement, but pivotal to Penguin’s relationship to his summons.
Agi: That could have been an interesting dynamic, actually. Opponents can steal money by killing one thug, hand it to another to get them on their side. The thugs have no loyalty.
Junahu: For some reason, it tickles me to imagine the Penguin floating high above a bustling brawl, his thugs wrecking havoc while he drifts around.
Rool: There are a few really neat mental images like that in this moveset – I really like that of the Penguin impaling a dying thug from behind once he’s outlived his usefulness. BK seems to be a really cinematic moveset-maker, with a flair for neat, ticklish gameplay scenarios. I mean, “If a thug is close to death, this move also enables you to grab the thug out of the fray so you can privately loot their corpse”!!
Junahu: He is indeed the tickle monster.
Agi: Er… shoot, which move was that? (wary)Ah, FTilt, nvm
LoL: Outside the summoning special, the rest of his specials seem functional, with the main attraction being the smoke cloud. Now, as some of you probably know, random obscuring clouds are a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but here it’s done rather well IMO.
Kibble: That’d be the F-Tilt, Agi.
Junahu: I’d argue that Side Special is not the most logical place for such a feeble “feeling” attack. If it pushed the foe away as it comes out it would feel better…. or does it do that already?
Agi: Clouds are so useful.
LoL: It evokes an image of a hectic fight where you’re not quite sure what’s going on, again similar to fight scenes in the animated series.
Rool: This particular cloud seems to be less for obscuring and more for crippling the foe with weakness.
Agi: It really creates an arena of sorts – subtle stage control. Odd how Penguin himself is affected, though.
Rool: The status effect is mildly forced, but it’s clear why: BK wants the point of the attack to be for the foe to try to escape from the smoke cloud and be shoved right back in there by the Penguin or even a thug.
LoL: Forcing vulnerability like that is a bit weird, but it’s reasonable in a game where most characters have to breathe, though if this is Brawl, there there are some problems (I’m loking at you, ROB).
Agi: Just as a random complaint since one is necessary at this point, it kind of bothers me that the Smoke Ball item exists as a direct parallel to this move and yet is not acknowledged in the attack, even as a size comparison.
Junahu: Smoke balls? Man I remember those… nostalgic.
Kibble: The vulnerability the foe experiences is kind of interesting, though, as if Penguin chases after them himself, he’ll get the same negative effects from the cloud. It comes back to his thugs being a resource for him to avoid things like that. He doesn’t really care if they get stuck wheezing on smoke.
Rool: Someone’s gonna get their hands dirty, and it ain’t gonna be him.
LoL: Actually, now that you mention it, size is a bit of an issue here, as a Smart Bomb covers quite a wide area, especially in height.
Agi: Well, this IS half a Smart Bomb radius…
Junahu: I always thought Smart bomb explosions were fairly compact, with its hit detection being the only reason it felt “big”.
LoL: Oops, missed the half there. Half is fine, though I would think that a smoke cloud would hang low to the ground and not be spherical, but again, Smoke Balls.
Rool: The really neat thing about this moveset is the way the specials, and the minion centerpiece in particular, really redefine the rest of the attacks and their purposes.
Junahu: Indeed, a fair few attacks take on new meaning when you apply them to your opponent, or your thugs. And the context of a smoke cloud changes the situation even further, many attacks helping to shove foes into them.
Agi: Dat dash attack. Shove ‘em here, shove ‘em there. Doesn’t matter he doesn’t have a traditional throw, he can just push them where he wants them to be. (another random complaint – Bladeknight should add a kill switch to the dash so Penguin can stop before he blindly runs into the cloud)
Rool: The FTilt too. Generic swipe scooping the foe behind him becomes that awesome move of mock heroism. He’s saving a thug! Except… wait… he’s going to kill him for failing, and to get his refund.
Junahu: That made me laugh. I’d love to enact that in a real Brawl. Mostly though, I’d be shooting my thugs in the back. I’d imagine that’d feel awesome.
Rool: First sign of a sociopath?
Kibble: This moveset becomes a lot more interesting when you start thinking of applying these moves to the thugs and not just the opponent.
LoL:Indeed, you can tell a lot of planning went in to the purpose of even the simplest of attacks.
Agi: Junahu made a mention earlier about hovering over the battlefield as the thugs beat up whoever’s in the fracas, but Penguin’s jumps leave a lot to be desired. That DAir, though… it allows you to use the thugs as effective footstools to get you some more height.
LoL: The up special gets him the necessary height on demand, and he falls quite slowly thanks to the umbrella.
Junahu: The Down Air can still be used to keep him airborne. I’d imagine it might even refresh his Up-Special.
Rool: That’s another hilarious/awesome mental image, agi. Penguin is literally using his hired muscle as PLATFORMS. I mean, this says so much about his character in so few words. You can’t mistake him for someone who has respect for his fellow man.
Junahu: Personally, I wish he could shoot his umbrella at a downward angle while in mid-air, so he could snipe and such while floating about.
LoL: Yeah, being able to angle side specials almost seems like a given nowadays, and it can be pretty obvious when it’s missing.
Agi: But… wait, what? If it’s angled down he’s not going to be using it as a parachute and holding himself up (wary)
Junahu: of course, that’s the trade off. He starts falling faster until he stops shooting.
Rool: He DOES say that the gun shoots much like Sheik’s needles. Don’t those automatically go on a downward-diagonal angle if used in midair? (HMM)
Agi: They do. It’s rather sexy in FFA.
Rool: I’ll take the Sheik main at his word.
LoL: I miss fast falling speeds in Melee allowing me to cover a wide area with needles. Though Sheik in Melee was a lot crazier.
Rool: And hey, let me bring in the final move this set makes – that grab! Who remembers Delibird stashing foes in his bag and then hitting other foes with it? And Delibird happens to be a penguin, too!
Junahu: You do. You remember that.
Rool: I most definitely do. I loved that moveset. But here the mechanic is not a centerpiece, and as such the set doesn’t fall over outside of FFA; and furthermore, it works to some serious characterization purposes.
LoL: Rool has encyclopedic knowledge of MYM, he can remember anything as long as it’s relevant.
Junahu: Oooooh. Put a thug in your umbrella for a damage boost.
Rool: Even Doppelori couldn’t do that!
Junahu: (D) Doppelori didn’t get summons. Otherwise she could.
Rool: I’m sure Doppelori can do anything. Nobody would know to contradict you even if she pulled a rabbit out of a hat. In this case, though, I was referring to the way she appropriated Delibird’s gimmick for her very own… but not, perhaps, to the same extent as The Penguin.
Agi: …another interesting mental image ahoy. Grab a foe with the umbrella, walk into the midst of your thugs, Up Special away – they’re left on the ground, and it’s Custer’s Last Stand. Man, that’s cool.
Junahu: Everyone steals from Delibird it seems.
Rool: Delibird was one of the best movesets of MYM 3.0 and quite deserves to be pillaged.
LoL: As cool as the grab is, it does open up some of the few problems I have with the set.
Rool: Ah, problems! Yes, let’s open up some criticism. We’re mostly analyzing so far, which is the way I like it, but perhaps we can crack into potential improvement in future now.
LoL: The options for things to do with foes or thugs trapped in the umbrella are rather limited, as almost all of the moves open the umbrella.
Rool: It certainly seems like trapping the foe in the umbrella is more useful for pushing them in a direction of choice than for battering. Maybe, in FFA, we can use them as a living projectile against other foes?
LoL: It also has some visualization problems with capturing foes even of normal human size, like his thugs. How do you carry/swing an umbrella holding someone larger than you are? Does the umbrella visually stretch? It’s just a little weird.
Agi: It does kind of bother me that Bladeknight acted like using the foe’s projectile-esque knockback was a new thing, specific to that FSmash – heck, it’s in the core Brawl engine, even if it does only deal 4% or so. And if Kirby can swallow Bowser, Penguin can hold him in an umbrella. (crs)
Rool: I agree to a certain degree with both of these sceptical doubts. I’m not sure BK is terribly familiar with the Brawl engine, giving away as he does that he uses the Wiimote-on-its-side control scheme when describing “slowfalling”. We’re not all JOE, after all. In MYM you have varying degrees of interest in and knowledge of Brawl, and so I generally think we should let the more minor points slide. But on to other issues.
Junahu: Side Aerial. Side Aerial. Side Aerial. Swinging from side to side only makes sense if you’re slow-falling, and even then it’s functionally weird to envision.
Rool: It’s kind of cool, no? The Penguin is squirming about in midair to make his fiendish, diabolical escape! What a coward!
Agi: Having just beaten Skyward Sword, that’s the only thing I can think of, with the umbrella replacing the vine
LoL: The aerial doesn’t really function outside of the slowfall, which is what Jun was pointing out.
Rool: I like to think of it as a directional airdodge, Melee-style. It functions mechanically. Whether it’s easy to visualize or makes sense physics-wise is another question.
Agi: I’m not entirely sure why it needs to take up two inputs. I’d like to see it as a slowfall input of its own, like a glide input. Just hold A, and wiggle the control stick back and forth to build up your momentum.
Junahu: Or, just wiggle it while slowfalling… without pressing any buttons. He’s already drifting down like a feather.
Agi: That too. Which brings me to another one of my nitpicks. Why does Penguin double tap up to enter slowfall? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just hold the jump input?
Rool: This is what I meant when I referenced his use of the wiimote earlier, agi. In that mode, you double tap down to fastfall. Or so Junahu tells me – I’ve never used it myself. I think it was Kibble’s control scheme of choice, too.
LoL: Yeah, Peach’s float input is a great way to do those kinds of things, and I’ve always been disappointed that you can’t enter a glide with down+jump in Brawl.
Agi: Riiiiiight. Still, holding up is another way to glide. It’d be best just to mesh it with what already exists in Brawl – the glide/hover mechanic, whatever its equivalent is on the Wiimote.
Rool: As we’re currently in the “criticism” stage, I thought it might be interesting to bring up what our ever-critical Warlord had to say, and talk about it. Sound good?
Agi: Sure, summon him or paste it in.

Penguin seems to be focused on being a more FFA oriented character from what I can gather, but with the thugs substituting for other enemies in 1v1. Not many people have attempted this sort of thing so directly, with the only one I can remember using it as a blatant selling point being Etna. Penguin here, though, seems to do this a lot better. The attacks are very generic, yes, but they all seem to serve some context in a FFA situation. Yes, like everyone else, the grab concept is good, but it shouldn’t have eaten up all his throws – it probably should’ve been a Smash over that fairly pointless usmash so you could have a full grab-game. Heavies like Penguin have particularly high expectations for grab-games, as Kupa can tell you with Kaptain K. Rool. I also think the Penguin could’ve used some more attacks where he kept the umbrella closed to actually make use of a foe stuffed into his umbrella, but I guess utilt will have to suffice. In any case, a playstyle summary, again, really would’ve helped here, as a lot of people don’t seem to of picked up on your surprisingly well thought out vision.

Agi: God I love it when people acknowledge FFA exists in sets.
LoL: It’s nice, though a lot of concepts don’t break in FFA, so it doesn’t really deserve too much mention.
Agi: I disagree, but that’s hardly the point here
Junahu: Penguin’s grab game is fuller than most grab games we’ve ever had. Like, half the inputs would count as throws, and the other half abuse the fact there’s a person stuck inside.
LoL: Indeed, it’s not a “Warlordian” grab game, but it serves the purpose of a grab: to get around shields and move the foe around.
Agi: That’s… actually a very valid point that I hadn’t considered. Heck, even specials are throws, even if they aren’t labeled as such.
Rool: I think that he was a little bit off-base in saying that this moveset was specifically aimed at FFA. Essentially, as we’ve said, Penguin stages his very own FFA with his hired muscle. He’s very unwilling to fight alone.
Junahu: The Penguin would be quite lost in a true FFA. He likes being in control.
LoL: MW does seem to have it backwards, as the FFA aptitude comes from the minions and the ways to manipulate them, not the minions standing in to create the FFA he needs.
Rool: I think it’s the Grab that threw him off, convinced him that this was a Delibird version 2.0 As Warlord pointed out, there’s no playstyle section here, although for my part I thought that was an effective choice for a relatively explicit moveset.
LoL: Yeah, this set has what I like to call a “front-loaded” playstyle, as it explains itself in the set itself without you having to read a paragraph or two about it at the end. I personally tend to do the opposite, and not give too many ways to use things in the set itself so I can explain it all in full at the end.
Rool: That’s a nice term, and it applies in an especially lopsided way to The Penguin, as really the SPECIALS explain it fairly well. The rest is entirely put in context by the specials and the game they introduce, and without them would be dismissed as generic. I usually do the same as you, LoL, especially in sets like Tutankoopa or Fulci, but I do love this approach when it works.
Agi: And that’s the thing – it DOES work. The attacks themselves may be somewhat generic, sure, but they hold interest. And why? Because of all the cinematics we’ve talked about. The writing style in particular saves it from losing the reader’s interest.
Rool: Indeed. We haven’t talked too much about the psychology of playing Penguin, but it should be pretty clear that he calls for a certain callousness and almost gleeful villainery. There’s also a cool bully/coward dichotomy going on, where he’s either one or the other almost nonstop. Playing him wouldn’t get boring in a hurry.
LoL: Yeah, the plan is always the same, but the way you go about it is quite open ended and varies depending on the opponent’s behavior. Being callous to minions would probably come quite naturally too, considering the only minion like things in Brawl, Waddle Dees/Doos and Pikmin, are very disposable.
Rool: Some flexibility is permitted for particularly benevolent or sadistic Penguin mains.
Agi: Dees, Doos, Pikmin… these are people! And I think more importantly, the same species as the person summoning them.
Junahu: buuuuuuuuuuuuh? Dees and Doos are summoned by an eagle. Pikmin are summoned by an alien from another planet.
Rool: They’re human beings, not tools! Dammit, Penguin, how can you be so inhuman??
Agi: Er, well, the point I was trying to make is that Penguin should be relating to these guys, to some extent. Dees, Doos, Pikmin, they may as well be animals to the person pulling them out of nowhere.
Junahu: Compared to Dees and Doos, Penguin treats his summons like kings.
Rool: Dees and Doos behave very much like projectiles and have no free will of their own. If what they have is considered AI, it’s only a most rudimentary sort.
Junahu: That’s what makes them so under-trodden and disposable. By making the thugs useful (and disastrous if used wrong) the Penguin has to think much more about his summons and their well-being.
Rool: They’ve got a “If you betray me, you better pray I’m dead” thing going on with their employer. There’s a sense of back-and-forth that doesn’t exist between the king and his toerags.
Rool: So, any last thoughts? Anybody want to sum up our standing nitpicks?
Agi: I’ve… actually got to be going (wary) Sorry I couldn’t see this to the end, especially since it’s my fault it was delayed
Junahu: *laughs*
LoL: See ya, agi.
Rool: Well, I guess we’ll just skip on the nitpick compilation. We’ve got another man down – Kibble having bit the dust somewhere around the smoke cloud talk – and with some final thoughts from Junahu, we should be wrapping this up.
Junahu: You’re determined to have me see us off..
LoL: Don’t I get to sum anything up? (D)
Rool: I wasn’t so much trying to exclude you as put Junahu on the spot! Go right ahead.
Junahu: Oh gee thanks. Well, I did review Batman, so I am probably in a decent position to gauge how he has improved between him and the Penguin. Batman the Moveset was defined mostly by his abilities in a FFA, and filled in with his tools. He didn’t seem to be the best of characters for an up and coming MYMer to chew his teeth on. A bit too broad a person, especially since much of his character appears only when he’s played off against his enemies. But with the Penguin, BladeKnight successfully boiled down a tricky character into its most intrigueing and fundamentally entertaining parts, stuck to what he knew works, and created a moveset that feels both definitive and unique. Subtle plays on the standard ‘summon moveset’ gave the Penguin a genuinely fun context to wallow in, while judiciously restrained attacks kept the moveset focused and grounded, even when the Penguin himself floats high above the brawl.
LoL: Character choice has a bit less to do wit the success of this set here than the lesson learned from Batman. Batman struggled a bit in the character department, with a bit too much reliance of gadgets for my tastes, and it lacked the cinematic description to add to the flavor of the set that Penguin has.
Rool: I like that my word “cinematic” has entered the lexicon of this conversation. But it really is a very apt way of describing the appeal of a moveset like this, which is only limited by the reader’s imagination and ability to visualize it in context of various match-ups, on various stages, and in the hands of various players. This particular treatment of a minion character is surprisingly fresh and allows us to have our cake and eat it too – in-smash AND unsmash! Deep playstyle AND easy to pick up! OneVOne AND FFA! And so on it goes. It’s the sort of set that calls for a lot of engagement from the reader, lest they be fooled into thinking that it’s a mere rehash of Delibird or something, but the playstyle of manipulation, cowardice, sadism and proactive camping that emerges upon further analysis is a wonderful reward.
LoL: In summation: Penguin has exemplary characterization and implementation of its core mechanics, great simple ways of utilizing those mechanics, and very effective writing to show the uses of said moves. It does, however, suffer from a few issues of visualization of things like the grab and side aerial, and could use some control changes to make the set a bit smoother to play. All in all I think it’s an amazing piece of work, and BladeKnight should definitely be respected for it.
Rool: So, on those three high-flying notes, let us wrap up this review. Sorry about the long wait, BladeKnight – as you can see, assembling a team that can get through a single roundtable together is no easy feat. Hope you enjoyed our impressions and for my part I’m glad I finally cracked into one of your movesets.
Junahu: Indeed, it’s 7am for me right now
Rool: Junahu, you’re my own personal Jesus Christ. You deprive yourself of sleep for my sins.
Junahu: ¬_¬ I did it for BladeKnight, even though I’m not sure if he’s even around any more.
LoL: I think he posted somewhat recently apologizing for not being active, so he might return.
Junahu: Oh yeaaah. I remember that post.

Junahu: But anyway, let’s finish this. Thanks for tuning into another exciting episode of… whatever this is.
Rool: Junahu, Rool, and friends.
Junahu: Oooh. I like how LoL is a friend.
LoL: I’m a friend! 😀
Rool: You’re a friends.
LoL: I have the power of MYMX duplicates on my side. (chew)



  1. LoL: If we’re talking presentation, then I guess it’s worth noting that Penguin uses the same color scheme as Batman.
    Kibble: Well, it’s yellow…
    Junahu: Batman’s was also yellow.

    How ridiculous can we make ourselves look at the opening of the review? I think we just found out. Three lines of us puzzling out that Penguin and Batman both had yellow titles. (Y)

  2. I feel that this Roundtable Review is somewhat more in-depth and no-nonsensical compared to the previous ones. Getting a Roundtable Review is like being touched by God (every set roundtabled gets a dynamic feel to it); its a wonder why not all that many people ask for them.

    Anyways, if I’ve learnt anything from this review from a bystander’s point of view (and believe me, I learn at least one thing from all of em), it would probably be the charm that can potentially come with simplicity. Almost actually inspires me to continue with my stuff, which is good because its hard to get inspired and all.

  3. I think the reason no one asks for them is because they take a while to make

  4. And with this, the Review Queue is officially back on its feet!

    Apologies for having to drop out early in this conversation. Thought it might be appropriate to offer what would have been my concluding thoughts here:

    The Penguin has a fantastic simplicity to his moveset, so much so that an unsuspecting reader can almost miss his true appeal entirely. He has a well-defined and appropriately characterized playing style, and he’s not without options and choices in terms of how to execute it. The Penguin is only as deep as the player wants him to be, though–he doesn’t force them to learn the game a whole new way just to play him, but the opportunity is certainly there in mastering him. A few moves are a little strange or perhaps just in need of a bit better of an explanation, but on the whole, this is a good moveset that only gets better the more you read between the lines. Fantastic work, BladeKnight!

    PS: I use the Wiimote and Nunchuk combination, Rool, not the sideways Wiimote. (A)

  5. Alright, several hours of sleep and significant less grumpiness later, I can say it’s great to have the review queue back up!

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