Lucky's Stylish Movement Tips
Wed 3rd Oct 2018 - 12:58pm
One thing that all Melee players tend to agree on is how amazing Melee’s movement feels and looks when done correctly. Move choice is a key factor of how a player can express themself, but besides a player’s move choice, a player’s movement decisions act as the glue that pieces move choices together. I asked Lucky about what his thoughts on Melee’s movement were.
Lucky: “Melee just has so much freedom in its movement that no other fighter or platform fighter will ever have. The limitless options there are for movement are what makes it unique, but also what really allows player to express themselves by just moving around a stage. So it's hype because you literally won't see anything like it anywhere else.”
Beyond just knowing how to play the game, how a player plays the game says a lot about what they want to achieve from the game. Whether that is by winning games doing the “best, optimal answer” to any situation, or rather express themselves through “cool combos”, movement is an integral part of how the game is progressed.
How to Improve Your Movement
Well, everyone knows that practicing is your best friend when it comes to improving anything. It’s very important that you practice correctly, but that’s an issue for later on! For now, you should focus on what you want to practice.
Lucky: “Watch matches to see how your favorite players are moving and then try to move similar on your own time. If you can move even close to your favorite player, then you can probably come up with way more movement ideas on your own.”
So, when trying to decide on what new movement technique to learn, watch what your favorite players do. Let’s say you’re a Sheik main looking to improve your techchase game but you aren’t sure how top players like Plup are able to move and execute grabs as fast and effectively as they do. Well for starters, you want to imitate what Plup does when techchasing as closely as possible before learning how you can make your movement unique to you. Whenever you see a scenario where you notice a top level player moving faster or better than you, you want to ask yourself if there is something else they might be doing that makes them move in such a way. You can apply this level of thinking to any general scenario. If you glance at Plup’s techchasing and wonder how he is able to catch Foxes that roll away so easily while you can’t, maybe there is something he’s doing that isn’t as visible from the spectator end. The best way to find out what might be happening is to ask more experienced players or go online to maybe find some answers. (In the scenario above, Plup is using a dash-attack-cancel-grab, which is a way to make the grab hitbox go farther in exchange for slightly more lag if you miss.)
Some players have different ways of learning than others. Lucky told me that he wasn’t the type of player to practice specific techniques when he started out.
Lucky: “I can't say that there is anything I did off the top of my head. I just played a lot and that lead to natural improvement on my movement.”
In this case, Lucky learned how to improve his movement by simply playing a lot. This is something that is also incredibly important to keep in mind along with any solo practice you might be doing. Being able to comfortably execute in games is a key aspect of movement improvement that many players might take too lightly. If you can hit 100/100 of your Fox ledge-dashes in solo practice that’s great, but if you can’t do 50/100, 70/100, even 90/100 (hold yourself to your own realistic standards here) against real players in a real game, then there is no point in being able to do them in solo practice. You should apply this method of thinking to any aspect of movement or tech, but also keep in mind that other players that have been playing longer will have a much easier time picking up and using new techniques in actual games than beginners.
A great way to practice movement is by setting a goal for yourself in solo practice before bringing something to an actual match. Good starting goals generally are simple, “If I can hit 10/10 shield-drop back-airs as Falco, I’ll start trying it in matches.” Goals that are realistic are also much easier to achieve and you should also be aware of your own skill. If you get frustrated while you’re playing someone about the fact that your Falco’s shield-drop back-airs aren’t coming out and you’re getting spot-dodges on the platform, maybe re-work your original goal and go back to practicing that later.
The General Usefulness of Practicing Movement
Melee is a game that is so movement driven that by having a solid understanding of the game’s general engine you can learn how to play other characters easier and faster. The best way to improve in general is by focusing on one character, although once you have a secure grasp on how fundamental movement options work you can apply them to any character.
Lucky: “Every character will benefit from good movement. Obviously some characters might have better movement in general but at the highest level, your movement needs to be on point with any character. With the limitless options that the game has, players are always finding new things to implement.”
One thing that isn’t highlighted enough though is how different types of movement aid different characters, and by playing those characters to their strengths you as a player can benefit from learning how specific aspects of movement can be applied to other characters. A couple general examples are Captain Falcon and Marth’s dash-dance, Jigglypuff’s aerial drift, and Sheik/Falco’s shield-drops. While all of these elements of movement are important for every character, certain characters tend to do better when specific parts of their movement kit are good. Players that use this to their advantage become better at performing that specific movement in general and can then apply this to other characters. This is a good benefit to playing multiple characters, however it is important to remember that this will probably stunt your overall growth if you’re still starting out/fairly new. Once you feel like you have plateaued with a character for your skill level at the moment, trying out a new character can definitely help you bring new elements to your previous character after time.
Habitual versus Intentional Movement
While movement eventually becomes second nature to any Melee player, it’s important to remember the reasoning behind doing certain movement rather than just doing it. A lot of players who feel like they are struggling to get to the next level might want to start thinking about why you move in certain ways. While some habits may be good against certain players, part of what makes top players so strong is their ability to recognize when their opponent is falling into habitual movement patterns and then punishing appropriately.
Part of why newer/intermediate players struggle against other certain players can also be due to having clashing habitual movement patterns. Now however it may look I’m not trying to say habitual movement is bad, just that it can be punished by higher level players easier. A difficult but good trick (especially when trying to improve as a player) is to make a dedicated effort into thinking about why you move in the ways you do.
Lucky: “I'd like to say it's all intent, but I do catch myself slipping into movement or options by habit from time to time.”
Even top players like Lucky can realize when they are moving out of habit rather than with purpose, and that’s okay. This game can be extremely taxing on your brain, so going into "autopilot" especially against newer players can become the normal way of playing. "Autopiloting" can become any intermediate player's weakness especially when trying to best a player better than them. This is where putting dedicated effort into thinking about where you move pays off.
When trying to work on your stylish movement, you need to create a process for implementing it into your game. First, watch other players do something you find interesting, second, set reasonable goals for yourself to practice movement tech, and third, use the specific piece of tech against other players in friendly then competitive matches. It's important to remember to try and do these steps in order, otherwise you might run into feelings of frustration or disappointment. You can also find your own sick techniques or sequences and make them your own! Especially if you've never seen other players doing the same thing, you can practice whatever "off-meta" type of movement you might find in order to catch other players off-guard!
Finally, Lucky's favorite type of movement:
Lucky: "Perfect wavedashes are gorgeous. Other than that, there are too many to talk about."