Posted by: darthmeanie | June 3, 2012

Time Warp Review — Pennywise

This is the face he makes when he's in a match

Pennywise’s reaction to being forced into a match.

 

Well, I lost a bet with ForwardArrow on the outcome of Warlord’s Top 10 moves, and he had me go back and finally read Pennywise as the terms of the bet, because there’s no way I’m actually going to get around to producing a moveset. So I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and write a review and get a nice mini in too.

 

So Pennywise. Kupa made the first Pennywise way back in MYM6, where it was seen even then as a tacky, awkward moveset that didn’t get much of a positive reaction. His remix, posted in MYMX though was widely considered one of the best movesets and gave Gengar a run for his money, coming in at the number two slot for that contest’s Top 50. Pennywise was popular for his unique take on invisiblity and confusing the opponent combined with a purportedly predatory playstyle. Whether he succeeded is something we will analyze here.

We’ll start with Pennywise’s balloons. They’re a move that, for the most part I like, floating tools to discourage approaches and deal damage, but not powerful enough to shut enemies down or prevent offensive play. The blood mechanic though does smack of some of Kupa’s traditional mechanics that exist purely for their additions to the playstyle. Blood-pools cause a 100% trip rate while running, while enemies with blood in their eyes are forced to run. The synergy is obvious, but it creates incongruities. It seems weird for characters like Olimar or Samus, who are in suits, to be hindered by a splash of blood, and even more so for Ganondorf, Bowser, or any of the even more heinous and debased MYM villains to be disturbed by blood. Further, it creates a bit of an anomaly that opponents have no incentive whatsoever to run while there’s blood. A risk to it seems understandable, but by making walking strictly better than running it creates an incongruity that no matter how terrified they are they will never run. Making it a very high chance would instead make it more of a risk for the opposing player rather than a frustrating stop.

As far as invisibility goes, he made some interesting strides with how to use it. Summoning balloons while invisible is a nice tactic of giving the player a controlled method of revealing their position without shouting it to the opponent. The issue comes in the fact that he simply focuses too much on supplementary ways of confusing the opponent to his location or behavior, when it simply doesn’t offer him enough benefit to do so. Moves like the Down Tilt, Forward Tilt, Up Smash, and even Back Aerial are devoted almost entirely to confusing and disguising where Pennywise is so that the opponent does not know. But the problem is that he doesn’t get much of a benefit from obscuring his position. A wayward trail of bloody footprints for instance, lets the opponent know one place that Pennywise either is or isn’t. Even if he attacks the place to try to discover whether he is or not, there’s not much Pennywise can do to benefit from it. And that is where we get to Pennywise’s ultimate failing lies.

Pennywise only has two attacks that can really threaten opponents with damage or kill power directly, his Side Special and Dash Attack, both charging rushing attacks that are, unfortunately, quite punishable. The Dash Attack has start-up and a great deal of ending lag, while his Side Special is a computer controlled attack. Pennywise isn’t even that fast to begin with, and his Side Special is telegraphed by jingling bells when he performs it. These two moves make up almost all of Pennywise’s kill options, which makes it quite difficult for him to even attempt to land a kill.

His invisibility game is also sadly a little lacking, because there’s simply not enough room for players to effectively hide from enemy attacks enough on most stages. Where is there that Pennywise can hide on Yoshi’s Island or Battlefield in order to prepare an attack? He has a lot of tools to fool opponents, even extremely intricate tricks that involve false tunnels, balloons and misleading trails, but the issue is that there is no way for Pennywise to effectively capitalize off of it. His attacks are too slow, his approach laughable, and he has no way to set a secret trap or deal damage for it. Even with a tunnel set full of balloons and other traps to put down, enemies can just shield his telegraphed kill attacks and punish them even if they fall for his traps. His smashes don’t have any immediate power, he simply has no good options.

To add insult to injury, he’s floaty but has no way to capitalize on his floatiness at all. His aerial attacks are generally weak and don’t do a good job of defending him. While characters like Game & Watch leverage their floatiness and high air movement speed to dart in and out with extremely powerful hitboxes like his back, forward and neutral aerials, Pennywise’s aerials are pretty… awkward. His back aerial has an odd delaying mechanic, his down aerial is not only incredibly tacky and in an awkward position, but isn’t really meant for combat, and his netural aerial is too slow to be effective in a fight. His forward aerial is punishable even on hit because the damage and knockback is so light. As a result, if he’s knocked into the air it’s a simple matter for any character to bait air dodges out of him and juggle him in the sky without much trouble.
Pennywise is a character with some good ideas inside, but ultimately fails to actually move them into good gameplay. He’s all bark and no bite, with no real way of dealing anything more than damage racking by cowering behind a wall of balloons. He has a great number of ways to exert a lot of effort into confusing foes, but he’s simply not effective enough to do anything with it; an important lesson for all of us to keep in mind with our own mechanics.

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Responses

  1. Pennywise for Top 26 most underpowered characters lol? There’s probably far worse anyway.

    This article might get some haters for obvious reasons, but it is most certainly interesting to go back to analyze the set and laugh at all the people who missed out on the factors. Anyway, I learned my lesson on this stuff with Agiri, something I’ll probably never forget.

  2. If I recall correctly, there was an attack that stored all of Pennywise’s sound effects then released them when re-inputted, something which technically does its job of confusing opponents by making them shield or dodge at the wrong time, or simply let Pennywise attack silently. Of course, that does mean an even greater level of skill required to use him properly, and I don’t recall anymore just how many KOing moves he has anymore.

    By the way, I will now forever pester you to do a similar analysis to Zexion. Sorry about that.

  3. [playing the part of ‘some haters’ in this episode is Junahu Juna Jameson]

    I don’t know. The combination of traps that keep the foe from moving around quickly, and the invisibility that let’s Pennywise manouver freely himself, carry with them a major advantage, bordering on broken in and of themselves. You could snap a KO attack in on any of the foe’s twitch reactions, or simply from them using safe attacks whilst facing away from you. With Pennywise only having such limited approaches to KOing, at least the foe has some kind of means to fight back with. Sure, he could certainly do with a third KO move, and a few additional attacks with more typical scaling knockback, just for the sake of variety, but that probably applies to every Bkupa/Warlord/Smady/FA/Kat/Dave set in some form of another [I assume]

    I agree with Pennywise’s aerial game being awkward, but he certainly doesn’t need anything near the realms of G&W aerials in order to dominate. Balloons and invisibility are still points to consider here. If the foe got him airborne without either of these things, I think he’s earned the right to juggle Pennywise, at least a little.

    Still, ranting aside, I agree that it’s fundamentally important to consider the moveset living and breathing as a whole, and to see where the moveset’s weaknesses and blindspots lie.

    • Whoa there, big boy. That’s an aggressively sweeping generalisation if I ever saw one, that will only cause offence. You are not excused of your ignorance for that “[I assume],” either – we know already that you refuse to read sets, that in no way gives you free ride to belittle sets based purely on… whatever else you do to sets aside from read them.

  4. I agree with Junahu. I think the idea of the moveset was for invisiblity and the balloons to make his attacks safer, and considering he can set up a whole line of them at once he doesn’t really need to worry about having the most reliable air game in the world. In essence, his floatiness and awkward aerials combined are meant to be a weakness rather than a strength; he doesn’t want to be in the air without his blood balloons to cover for his air attacks’ disadvantages.

    Having said that, it’s always nice to see the occasional article that tries to go a bit deeper into the balance side of things.


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