Posted by: professorpeanut | June 4, 2012

In-game Distance Measurement

Disclaimer: There’s a good chance you won’t even need to use these units unless a move surpasses a SBB in range, in which case any application of balance is your responsibility. After all, no one should dislike a moveset just because it won’t define how many millimeters its attacks will reach, but being a few Bowser-lengths off can be another matter. All measurements are taken with characters stepping right behind the line that defines the units in question.

This article was not written to favor using blocks and platforms over characters such as Bowser, Kirby and Ganondorf, or items. Neither was it written to favor one measurement unit over another. We’re creative thinkers, dammit, this shouldn’t even be an issue in the slightest.

Description is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of a set. Yet in a game running on a large scale X and Y axis, it’s not going to do much good to write “a shockwave that travels very far” or “a trap that appears a medium distance away”. Ergo, the application of universal distance measurements in Smash Bros.

Now, onto Stage Builder blocks.

A Stage Builder block

Show ya measurement units!

A single SBB covers a substantial amount of space by itself…

Stage Builder Blocks

…while a number of them side by side already make a useable arena.

*gasp* Brawl snapshots! How dare I post these in a Smash Bros. fansite!

Now, how much does the average Brawl set actually use SBBs? Hold your cries of “They’re too standard! MYM sets are far more complex and interesting!” A little bit of perspective goes a long way.

Small and medium sized characters barely reach half a SBB with their jabs and tilts.

Even Mario’s smash attack doesn’t go the full distance, it seems.

Meanwhile, characters with swords and other weapons reach further than their size would have let them.

The biggest guys obviously get to cover the most ground with just a jab, and that’s with a jointed hitbox.

Those smash attacks would have almost connected. Almost.

Alright, so what did that teach us? Obviously, these are the usual hitboxes to be found in practical Brawl sets, so they aren’t supposed to be doing anything too flashy; ergo, they don’t reach that far from the character. And the only reason the stronger attacks reach farther than the simpler ones is because of the lag, whether at the start or end, that comes with them. A trade-off between speed and reach.

And of course, there’s the specials. They reach far further than the usual speculation-thread-level moves that these sets have.

One block’s distance for a simple pseudo-grab. Any closer, and Kirby would be flinging fireballs right after.

Two blocks now, already quite a distance. I still don’t know why Project: M changed this back to the boring Melee version.

Three blocks, and enough distance to be regarded a good recovery. Yes, that’s Diddy Kong’s Side Special.

Four blocks’s distance, pretty much a stage away. That Up Special shockwave indeed ends right on the line.

In exchange for range, specials come with all sorts of odd start and end lags; if they aren’t a central theme, then they’re not really meant to be spammed as often as the usual attacks. There’s probably  significance with these long-range specials helping in positioning, poking and whatnot, but that’s not something I’m exactly entitled to talk about. The point is, blocks lend themselves quite easily to distance measurement

Battlefield platforms, on the other hand, are not as easy to use.


Platforms are designed to be stood on, to accommodate at least two characters who can duke it out for the right amount of time. Too short a platform, and it becomes plain impractical as a place to fight on. Too long, and it somewhat negates the purpose of the stage beneath it. So that’s one thing that the Brawl development team got right.

To compare the two units:

Marth’s fully charged Neutral Special covers a pretty good distance, actually.

It’s clear that it’s closer to a single BFP than two SBBs, though. So close, Marth, so close.

Of course, being designed to be brawled upon, far fewer moves conform to the distance of a platform in-game.

After all, that’s practically a defensive position for both characters already.

Medium characters certainly can’t cover that much distance with their usual moves except with a Down Smash.

Even the biggest fighters can’t reach as far, it seems.

Only through specials can anyone cross that line, no matter their size.

It’s mostly unfeasible to try make a jointed or disjointed attack reach as far as a platform unless you’re freaking Vorinclex, but platforms can be a decent measure of how far a character or projectile can travel, or how wide a certain prop is if it’s big enough. Obviously, their thin height means they won’t be used for height measurement unless as “can hit anyone standing upon the lower platforms of Battlefield form the main stage”. And putting two platforms together may not be as easy to visualize as one might think…

…thanks to this gap over here. It’s all part of decent stage design, though, so just subtract it from the total distance covered.

“So wait, Prof, what was the point of all this?” A matter of perspective, really. We can’t be playing Smash Bros. all the time, so hopefully this short article helped calibrating those mental parameters as to what counts as reaching too far and what needs to reach farther. After all, a simple block’s distance can make all the difference.

Here, have one more frame of reference for future use.

Maybe I’ll review height distances someday, if it’s needed.




  2. I came, I came, I five starred

    • I think I see…rage? But I honestly don’t know what the problem here is.

  3. But nope, lots of pretty pictures and talking about Brawl as if you know what’s going on. 5 star. Katapultar hiting like button is far too telling. Also it’s hipster. Even though being hipster is mainstream.

  4. And that is Bower’s ftilt, not his jab. And you got a screenshot of him in the middle of it without his hand being fully extended, which is a good bit longer range.

    • FTilt doesn’t come with blue scratch-effects.


  6. This article honestly feels so much like something you’d see on Smash Dojo. Very nostalgic.

  7. I think I see…rage? But I honestly don’t know what the problem here is.

    I will say, however, that the reason I tend to not use them as frequently is because of the way they squash and stretch their hitboxes as they move and attack in-game. Doesn’t Bowser shorten his width whenever he uses his Up Special? Doesn’t Kirby reach further with his feet, or become notable shorter whenever he ducks?

    Battlefield platforms, on the other hand, are not as easy to use.

    This comes across as an argument piece in favor of SBBs. I don’t see why else Junahu and DM would fap so terribly hard, much less when Junahu has a long history of adoring these bloody things. Tacking on disclaimers will not change that. My post was a counter-argument in favor of platforms/Bowsers. I get many, many hippoish replys on my articles no matter how many disclaimers I put on.

    Rage indeed.

    • I’m just surprised that you think me as someone who attacks your opinions on purpose.

      I’d like to understand, though. Just what is the significant effect of the identity of the measurement unit that people use in movesets, assuming that they all exist within the game and thus can be used to compare distances?

      Article somewhat edited.

  8. I do now believe that you your article was not intended to cause this now, in the least, especially with the new disclaimer at the beginning. You couldn’t really know about this bitter game of ours. I probably wouldn’t have even commented the article if not for the replies. DM’s doesn’t really matter, but Junahu adoring the article so much made me think it was a pro SBB piece. While you insist that it’s a neutral article throughout the article itself and nobody is better or worse for picking Bowsers/Platforms or SBBs, you do say that your opinion is that you generally prefer the SBBs in those quotes. You can understand the interpretation, yes?

    • Wake up next day, lots of rage. I really don’t care as much about using SBB blocks or not to measure moves or distances, I just thought that the fact that there was actual effort in this article instead of pointless theorizing was impressive.

      And the point of the article wasn’t even to use stage builder blocks as a tool of measurement, but to help clarify what attack length really looks like and reorient ourselves back to how brawl actually works and the length actual attacks reach.

    • What the? Warlord man, ya gotta stew before you leap into and attack things. This isn’t the days of Rool, where a spiteful entendre could lurk behind every corner.

      I don’t endorse SBBs. I endorse SBUs (Stagebuilder Units) which are unmistakably the smallest unit of measurement within the Stagebuilder. There’s no ambiguity with SBUs.

    • I resent that. My spite was always entirely in the open. Ya gotta see that, maaaan.

    • I totally uh, meant Bad Days: by Rool
      It’s got like these undertones man, a creeping meloncholy or somethin’.

  9. @Falco’s Down B: It was changed because the Brawl version had a fraction of the utility of the Melee Version

    • But its boring. They should have just made the brawl version more useful.

      While there are things I think project m got right, there are some that just boggle my mind.

    • The Brawl version was 1: too slow and 2: hit at a bad angle for Falco’s cool thing: Pillaring

      It hits the foe upwards at a steep angle, so he can follow with Dair, then Fast Fall down to another Shine, etc, or even kill off the top with it. He can also use it to pressure a shield by jump-canceling it, and immediatley SHFF’ing it again (or Waveshining) to keep the pressure on.

      You simply cannot do any of these things with the Brawl Shine, even if it hit at the same angle all because of the animation.

    • Project M’s has its uses. But Brawl’s does too, perhaps not for the crowd who SHFF’les and jump-cancels, but certainly for those who appreciate a “creative” move that involves a reflector that you kick away from your hurtbox.

    • Brawl’s only had 2 uses: combo off a jab combo, which did nothing better than any other move that comboed from it, and reflect projectiles.

      Melee Shine lets you: Waveshine, Kill off the top, Reflect things, Combo off of it both on the ground and in the air, Slow your decent slightly.

      Sure the Brawl one may be a bit more creative, but it unfortunately has only a fraction of the utility of Melee Shine.

  10. They got rid of Bowsercide in Project M FFS. What do you expect?

    • They got rid of Bowsercide in exchange for Superarmor on a variety of moves, increased size/weight/range/power while keeping his speed from Brawl, Flame Canceling (if you short hop and Fire Breath, landing causes there to be 0 startup to the flames), ability to Jump out of his Down B for a super-jump, and the Koopa Klaw, which gives him 2 throws (forward/back) for either 15/18% and a free aerial follow-up.

      He’s a tank now, and he doesnt really -need- to suicide.

  11. *popcorn*


  12. I’m not touching the Project M stuff with a 10-SBB pole (smirk2)

    Pretty interesting stuff. Makes me wonder if Sakurai was using these things as a standard for range.

    Smash 4 should use Stage Builder Bowsers to make everyone happy.

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