So, Super Smash Brothers Melee introduced what became my favorite character in Marth. He had a sword, a stylish cape, taunted in Japanese, and even had new mechanics! Turns out he’s also in the higher game tiers, but I didn’t know that back then. All I knew was that when I played him against my friends I won consistently, and that was more than I could say for Mewtwo.
Marth’s Unique Play Mechanics
From the top, Marth has a counter. The first counter in Smash, in fact. It’s actually solid but can not be overly abused, completely punishable if you overuse it. The move adds a little sub-game when running up to people and gives a defensive option that isn’t just shielding or sidestepping.
Then there is Shield Breaker. Such an interesting move in that it’s mostly a worse forward smash. Unless they block it, then it’s suddenly really good. Just having a way to interact on a different level than before, even if it’s rarely used, was a nice use of design space that I really enjoyed. Plus, hearing that crash of your opponent becoming defenseless… so satisfying.
From a more technical standpoint, most of Marth’s power comes from the fact that he’s the longest ranged character without a projectile. Every move Marth has except his grab has all the hit-boxes (places where the game says “I’m damaging you”) in his sword, far away from his hurt-boxes (where you can hit me). Keeping reasonably safe while attacking is a huge advantage over many characters, and the speed at which he can chain his attacks together allows for some pretty fancy combos into high percentages or even death (sorry, ‘knock-off’) for the opponent. Additionally, the tip of the blade does the most damage and sends the opponent flying further, so you’re rewarded for spacing properly.
Marth’s Track Record & Future
The best thing about Marth from my perspective has always been that anytime I played the character I never felt disadvantaged. Any game I lost I always thought I could’ve won if I’d just played a little tighter. That feeling of being in control, no matter what was incredibly appealing in a game as chaotic as Melee can be, so I stuck with the character. In Smash 4, I hope I can continue to chew gum and kick ass since Marth hasn’t let me down yet. Here’s to hoping that Nintendo lets us see some Smash action at EVO!