Balance is maybe the most important aspect of a fighting game. While no game can ever truly be 100% balanced, devs must do their best to achieve a decent balance. When a fighting game becomes an esport, (whether intended or not) Tier lists will be formed and the community will begin to decipher which characters are better than the others. Every game is going to have their bad characters. If every character had the same strengths and weaknesses, they would have no personality. This type of system for creating characters would get boring to play very fast. However there are certain cases of characters being remarkably bad. So devoid of viability that they stand out from others. Today we’ll be looking at the meteoric fall of Smash 4 Jigglypuff.
Jigglypuff wasn’t always a terrible character. Puff was actually pretty good in smash 64 and great in Melee. Melee Jigglypuff was a great example of a risk/reward style character. She’s light so she gets KO’d early but she’s powerful enough to hold her own and take stocks quickly. Melee Puffs biggest skill was her ability to hit rest more consistently. Rest is the epitome of a risk/reward move, being one of the most powerful moves in the game. It kills at very low percents, but is not easy to hit and leaves you venerable to attacks if missed. This dynamic made Puff very deadly but also very venerable. Hitting rest can definitely clutch out a close game and help you make complete a comeback. However if you miss it, you’re almost certainly dead.
This combined with her great air mobility and edge-guarding ability made for a stellar character in tournament. She currently ranks 5th best on the official Melee Tier list. Puff was an amazing character, then Brawl happened. Brawl is definitely the black sheep of the smash franchise, and signified a darker time in the series. It was dominated by one character and divided the community, but was also the beginning of Puff’s downfall. Jigglypuff was heavily nerfed from Melee to brawl and it was obvious. Her ground speed was worse, she was slower, rest was less powerful and harder to hit and she had terrible range. All of this combined with Brawls very defensive play style made for terrible match-ups all across the board. She ranks as the 3rd worst character on the brawl tier list and would only get worse as time moved on.
The definition of AWFUL
Brawl Jigglypuff was bad, but smash 4 Jigglypuff is inexcusable. She’s such a laughably bad character that it’s honestly confusing and even seems intentional at times. One big reason for Puff getting worse since the release of brawl was the fact that she never changed with the times. Brawl was a very defensive game which made a slow character like Puff much harder to use. She had no real options for chasing a camping opponent. Smash 4 took this concept of not adapting Puff for a new engine and took it even further. Jigglypuff is terrible in Smash 4 because she has just about every possible disadvantage a character could have. She’s very light which means she dies very early, which in theory isn’t the end of the world.
However when this is combined with the rage mechanic things get bad fast. Puff will die at insanely low percents when hit by an opponent with rage. Even worse is the fact that she almost never gets to benefit from rage, since she will almost never live into the higher percents. Rest, her one ace in the hole is also much weaker and much harder to hit because it doesn’t have many true follow ups. Rest is also much more of a risk than a reward now because of RNG. If the opponent doesn’t get the screen splat or star KO death animation (which is completely random) they can easily punish Puff after dying by the rest and possibly kill her for it. Rest is hard enough to hit, but getting punished for landing it successfully is a bit harsh.
Oh and I forgot to mention SHE IMMEDIATELY DIES IF YOU BREAK HER SHIELD!
Getting no love
With Smash 4 getting consistent balance patches it’s crazy to see that Jigglypuff has never been touched in any of them.
Smash 4 is a much different game today, compared to the vanilla version. But throughout every patch, every buff, every nerf, two words have defined Smash 4 Jigglypuff: “No Changes”. Nintendo, and Sakurai definitely pay attention to the competitive scene and have historically patched the game accordingly. So it doesn’t make much sense that Puff has never been changed even slightly. Low tier characters are bad because they have fewer options than that of their counterparts. A great example is Ganondorf, a character who is next to Puff on the tier list and yet much better. Ganondorf is slow, gets combo’d easily and doesn’t have best options to escape disadvantage. However he is heavy so he lives longer, and he is insanely powerful.
Ganon can very easily kill you in 3 solid hits if you’re not careful because of his great killing power. He’s still a bad character, but he can still get the best of you if you’re not careful or make a mistake. Jigglypuff does not have this. Sure it’s possible to land a clutch rest on an opponent if you read a roll or catch them slipping. But the fact that she has to work so hard just to get a chance to possibly win, makes every fight an uphill battle.
Jigglypuff went from being of the best characters in smash to being a “joke character”. There must be some underlying reason for Puff to be so neglected by the devs. which is a shame because if she was a bit better, the community might have possibly been able to advance the meta and make new discoveries about her. But with the devs doing all they can to make her a chore to play, that may never happen. Maybe Jigglypuff can make a return to greatness in Smash 5, until then she will continue to be the laughing stock of Smash 4.
What do you think of Jigglypuff in Smash? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!
Featured image courtesy of Youtube.
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