GC Super Smash Bros. Melee "Classic Mode" in 05:36.93 by Noxxa
In the interest of avoiding getting spoiled, please make sure to watch the movie before reading about the nitty gritty details.
Table of contents
- GC Super Smash Bros. Melee "Classic Mode" in 05:36.93 by Noxxa
- Tricks and mechanics
- Intermediate techniques
- Advanced techniques
- Stage-by-stage comments
- Stage 1 - Vs. Pikachu
- Stage 2 - Vs. Team Mario & Peach
- Bonus Stage - Break The Targets
- Stage 4 - Vs. Zelda
- Stage 5 - Vs. Giant Donkey Kong
- Bonus Stage - Snag Trophies
- Stage 7 - Vs. Kirby
- Stage 8 - Vs. Team Captain Falcon
- Bonus Stage - Race To The Finish
- Stage 10 - Metal Ness
- Stage 11 - Master Hand & Crazy Hand
- Bonus - Challenger Approaching
- Final notes
- Emulator used: Dolphin 5.0-10707
- Game version: Super Smash Bros. Melee, NTSC-USA v1.02
- Beat Classic Mode
- Very Hard difficulty
- No damage
- Starts from clear save file
- Manipulates luck
In essence, this TAS aims to serve as a counterpart to the Adventure Mode TAS by numerics, which follows a similar goal of entertaining the viewer while still being pretty fast.
While numerics used Samus, I chose to use Yoshi. Naturally I picked a different character for the sake of variety, but Yoshi in particular was selected for various reasons:
- Since the movie starts from a clear save, it has to be a starter character, eliminating nearly half of the options.
- Yoshi has overall good speed across the board, and his double jump properties enhance it with various extra movement options in ways that only a few other characters can do. Putting everything together, Yoshi has some of the highest mobility in the game. Many viewers of competitive Melee have been wowed by the movement of top-level technical competitive Yoshi players such as aMSa or nebbii, and a TAS naturally takes this to its logical conclusion.
- Yoshi's double jump cancel as well as a good set of aerials and generally nice moves gives him a strong and varied comboing game.
- Yoshi also has various other tricks that are unique to him as a character, such as light-shield sliding or parrying that are also interesting to play around with and have some interesting or funny interactions.
- It's not a very commonly seen character, including in TASing environments (where characters such as Fox or Captain Falcon are much more common), so this leaves room to show something unique.
About the game
Super Smash Bros. Melee (or just Melee for short) is a game that should hardly need an introduction. Released in 2001 as a launch title for the GameCube, it has maintained a worldwide competitive tournament scene from its inception, which is still thriving to this day.
Despite being released just two years after its prequel Super Smash Bros. for the N64, and with a development time of just 13 months, Melee introduced a lot of new content to the series, more than doubling its cast compared to Smash 64, nearly tripling the amount of stages, adding many new game controls, mechanics and game modes, and having vastly improved graphical and sound/music quality to show off the new GameCube's power.
Mechanically, gameplay was also updated to be generally faster paced and tighter controlled - this is a large aspect of what still makes the game as popular as it is today, even compared to newer installments in the franchise. Utilization of various mechanics in the game (both new and old), including techniques such as wavedashing, L-canceling, short-hop fastfalling, and much more, also add to its popularity as a highly technical fast-paced fighting game with an intricate combo system and free-form movement options.
Tricks and mechanics
Melee has countless little tricks or mechanics - this section is not nearly going to cover all of those, but it will cover techniques that are relevant to this submission in particular.
List of basic moves that characters can do to navigate through levels, using the control stick and/or jump buttons:
- Double jump (midair jump)
List of moves that the player can do using the shield buttons:
- Shield - holding down L or R puts up a shield. The strength of the shield depends on how deep L or R is pressed - light-press shields are larger, but you get pushed back more when hit. Yoshi's shield in particular has a few unique properties - you can read more about this in the Advanced Techniques section.
- Roll - pressing left or right while holding L or R will have the character roll left or right (during which they are invincible for most of its duration). Yoshi's roll is notoriously slow, so it's never used in this movie.
- Spot dodge - pressing down while holding L or R will have the character do an dodging motion; it functions similar to rolling, but usually faster, and without moving in any direction. Yoshi's spot dodge is quite normal, but at a TAS level there are better ways to get past attacks.
- Air dodge - pressing L or R in the air will have the character do a dodging motion in mid-air. This action will also freeze their momentum for the duration, and afterwards the character will fall in a helpless state during which they cannot perform any action until they land. If the player holds any direction on the control stick while starting an air dodge, they will also move a bit in that direction.
Every character has 20 basic attack moves
- Dash attack
- 3 tilt moves - side, up, down
- 3 smash moves - side, up, down
- 5 aerial moves - neutral, forward, back, up, down
- Grab and dash grab
- Pummel and four throws (followups from grab)
Going into detail about how each of those moves for Yoshi is used in this particular movie alone would take forever - all the attacks, except standing grab and some of the throws, see at least some use in the course of the movie.
Each character has 4 special moves - neutral, side, up, and down. For Yoshi, they are as follows:
- Neutral Special - Egg Lay: Command grab, which eats up a character and spits them out as an egg. The enemy can then break out of the egg by mashing.
- Side Special - Egg Roll: Yoshi turns into an egg and rolls around. Highly useless. It's only used at the end of some stages to have a funny end frame (the first few frames are a jumping animation, then Yoshi becomes an egg).
- Up Special - Egg Toss: Yoshi throws an egg, with a trajectory and distance that can be controlled with the control stick and holding down the button respectively. Highly versatile, can be canceled on a ledge (see "Egg-Stalling" below), does good damage, and can be used in combo's sometimes. Used in many stages.
- Down Special - Yoshi Bomb: Yoshi jumps into the air (if on the ground) and does a ground pound. It's mainly useful as a combo ender; especially the ground version is quite powerful.
Most solid floors/platforms in the game can be hung on the side by a character if they face towards the edge (with a few exceptions) and if they are close enough in the air, falling downwards.
Once a character has grabbed the edge, they have a few options available, after a brief delay:
- Press forward on the control stick to get up the ledge normally
- Press an attack button to get up the ledge while doing an attack
- Press the roll button to get up the ledge and roll onward, covering a further distance than regular get-up
- Press the jump button to do a jump from the ledge
- Press away or down in order to drop down from the ledge. The character is immediately actionable if they do this; they can, for instance, immediately do a double jump to get back on stage instead. Many advanced techniques using the ledge make use of this option.
Notably, the character gains invincibility for a time when grabbing the ledge, and retains some of this invincibility even if they let go off the edge as soon as possible. The character is also invincible during any of the normal get up actions.
Directional Influence (DI)
A key aspect of Melee's dynamic comboing game and general gameplay is the influence the player has on their trajectory when they get hit by a move. Put simply, if a move for example sends a target straight up, if the target holds left during the moment they get hit they will get sent up and slightly left instead, or if they hold right they will get sent up and slightly right. This is what's known as Directional Influence, or DI for short.
In competitive play, this is a major aspect of the game, as proper DI in the right circumstances can make a player escape combos (by DIing outwards), or survive moves that otherwise may have killed (by DIing inwards).
Opponents in single player also have DI of their own, although it's generally pretty simple. The CPUs generally tend to DI in when they get hit or not DI at all, which generally helps the player. Sometimes it opens up extra combo options that otherwise might not have worked.
During the startup of a dash, if the player flicks the control stick in the opposite direction, they will near-instantly turn around and start a dash in the opposite direction. Doing this rapidly is known as dash dancing, and is a popular technique in competitive play as it allows the player to move around quickly and put pressure on the enemy.
At a TAS level, perfect dash dancing becomes more of a stylistic option than anything else.
When turning around in a dash (as in dash dancing), the character takes 1 frame to turn around. If the player releases the control stick after this frame, they will come to a stop immediately in the turnaround animation. At this point, the player can use almost any ground option, including almost all regular attacks, defensive options, jump, special, and so on.
Because the player is actionable immediately out of a pivot, it is a popular micro-spacing option, and it can be used for particular combos.
One of the best known of Melee's "advanced techniques", the wavedash is a combination of two actions: jump, and as soon as the player is airborne perform an airdodge diagonally back into the ground. This will result in the player sliding along the ground. It's a fast movement option, and because it ends with the player in a standing state, it allows for a lot of versatile options.
For Yoshi in particular, it's also one of the fastest forms of movement on the ground. It's used a lot just to get to places quickly.
Where wavedashing is jumping from the ground in order to air dodge and slide down on the ground, wavelanding is the act of using an air dodge to land on a platform either when jumping through from the bottom, or when coming down from the air and being about to land.
Usually this is one of the faster or most convenient ways to land on a platform, while also allowing a horizontal momentum boost in either direction, so it is a commonly done action whenever moving around platforms.
If a player stands on a platform and presses down, they will fall down through the platform. If the player shields, however, pressing down will trigger a spot dodge instead. However, there are a few very small windows on the control stick where pressing down while holding shield on a platform will actually allow the player to fall through immediately. This is one of the more popular ways to be able to immediately act with an aerial move when standing on a platform, as it is faster even than jumping.
Another one of the most well known of Melee's techniques, L-canceling consists of pressing L, R, or Z just before landing with an aerial move (within a 7 frame window before landing). If done correctly, this will cut the landing animation from the aerial in half, allowing the character to perform their next action sooner.
Naturally, a TAS will never have any reason to miss an L-cancel.
If a character lands on the ground while doing an aerial attack, they usually will have a landing animation that's specific to the attack. However, depending on the aerial, the landing animation will not trigger if the character is early enough or late enough into the aerial's move animation while landing. In those cases, the normal 4-frame landing animation will play instead.
Where L-canceling cuts landing lag from a move in half, and auto-canceling cuts it to the regular landing time of 4 frames, there is in fact an even faster option, which can cut it down to 1 frame.
When landing with an aerial while having some horizontal momentum, the character can still slide a slight bit during the landing. If during this time they slide off a ledge, it will cancel the landing animation entirely - if the player is facing in the direction they are sliding, it will cancel into their teeter animation (which can itself be cancelled by any ground move); if the player is facing the opposite direction, they will slide off the edge and immedately be able to act in the air.
Since this is the fastest way of landing with a move, it is used quite often wherever possible in the submission.
Yoshi's shield has various unique properties. Instead of every other character which generates a colored bubble for a shield, Yoshi instead encases itself into an egg.
During the startup animation of entering shield, Yoshi is fully invincible. If a move hits Yoshi during this timeframe (the timing window for this can be between 2-4 frames, depending on a few factors), it will bounce off and not affect Yoshi at all. Yoshi can also jump out of this state, enabling a quick counter-attack. Using this window to block attacks is what is known as parrying.
Parrying does have some limitations - because of the short window and the fact that it needs to be cancelled into a jump, it is not possible to parry most multi-hit moves.
While parrying is a tight technique that's hard to perform consistently in realtime, the submission exploits it in many areas as it is one of the fastest way to block enemy attacks.
If a character light-shields and their shield gets hit by a move, they will be pushed back and undergo a lot of shield stun. In Yoshi's case, he doesn't really get shield stun, but he will be pushed back ridiculously quickly, typically quickly sliding him off the edge of whatever platform he is on. While Yoshi cannot immediately act out of this, it still sees use sometimes as a quick escape option.
Double-Jump Cancel (DJC)
There are four characters in the game whose double jumps have an unique trajectory pattern, as opposed to it just being a quick upwards boost. These characters are Yoshi, Ness, Peach, and Mewtwo. Their double jumps all first move the character down slightly before they go upwards.
One particular property of these characters' double jumps is that if they are cancelled by an aerial, it cancels their trajectory. If they were not already moving up, this means that they immediately fall down. Therefore, these characters can perform a jumping aerial attack very quickly by jumping, then immediately double jumping, then immediately cancelling the double jump with an aerial, and the character land almost directly afterwards.
DJCing is a staple technique with Yoshi in competitve play, and the submission also makes frequent use of it. DJC neutral airs of up airs can be done very quickly and have a lot of comboing potential.
Because of the aforementioned double jump property of moving down before going up for certain characters, if they do a double jump low enough to the ground, they will land on the ground instead and immediately be actionable.
Compared to wavelanding, this allows the character to act sooner on landing, but doesn't add any additional movement. It is commonly used for landing on platforms
Egg-Stalling (Egg Toss from ledge)
Yoshi's Egg Toss can be cancelled after the egg is launched by grabbing a ledge.
One way to utilize this is to run off an edge, press Up B before going off to throw an egg, then have momentum slide Yoshi off the edge so he will be in position to grab it when the egg is released. This is done in the submission in a few locations.
Another, more commonly known utility is to throw eggs from the ledge itself, by hanging from the ledge, double jumping, and throwing an egg when Yoshi is high enough to grab the ledge again after the egg is thrown.
This technique is useful because it allows for faster chains of egg throwing than normally is possible, while also putting Yoshi in a relatively hard to hit position, where he also is invulnerable for most of its duration thanks to the ledge invincibility.
Ledgedashing is the action of letting go from a ledge, immediately double jumping, and then wavelanding on stage. It's a popular technique in competitive play, as it is generally the fastest way to get on stage and be actionable. If a player is fast enough, they will still have ledge invincibilty when they are actionable, giving them extra options.
Where ledgedashing uses an air dodge when double-jumping from the ledge in order to get on stage, haxdashing consists of instead using an air dodge to slide back off the stage and onto the ledge again. If Yoshi does this fast enough, he is fully invincible. The submission makes use of this to dodge one particular attack in Stage 11.
Characters in Melee use a diamond-shaped Environmental Collision Box (ECB for short) to determine how their collision model interacts with platforms, walls, ceilings, and so on. This ECB contorts around as the character performs certain animations or actions, which can affect how the player interacts with stage collision.
In some particular cases, it's possible for an ECB change caused by performing an aerial attack to trigger the character landing on a platform, when they normally would not have landed. This is known as an Aerial Interrupt.
Specific to this submission, one utilization of aerial interrupts is where Yoshi jumps from a ledge and performs an up air, causing him to land on the stage directly after the up air hits an enemy. This is used on a few occasions in Stage 11.
By dashing in one direction, and then moving the control stick in a way that does not trigger a dash turnaround (as in dash dancing) - which can be done, for instance, by pressing the stick diagonally down and back instead of directly back - the character will reverse momentum, and depending on the speed and traction stats of the character they can end up running backwards. This is known as moonwalking. It's typically considered a stylish option, but it can have its uses.
By performing a moonwalk and then moving back the stick again to initiate a run turnaround (turnaround after the initial dash is complete and has transitioned into a run), the character will continue to move onwards in the middle of their turnaround animation.
Yoshi's charlie walk is somewhat interesting by itself because Yoshi has a long run turnaround animation, which makes it more effective. It's also one of Yoshi's fastest ways to move along the ground, and as such sees use in a few places in the submission.
- This movie starts from a clean save (no memory card inserted), but does start from a custom time: this is done in order to seed the RNG, which is used for the Classic stage layout.
The chosen starting time is Epoch time 1009756843, or December 31st 2001, 12:00:43 AM. The date was chosen more or less arbitrarily; the timestamp was chosen to generate a hand-picked starting state for Classic mode.
What this RNG seed does, is as follows:
- On startup, the player randomly receives one trophy that is normally obtainable from the lottery. This is manipulated to be the Birdo trophy, which as a side effect immediately unlocks the Mushroom Kingdom II stage as soon as the game starts up. The chance for this is approximately 1 in 84.
- Then, the RNG generates the following randomized elements for Classic mode:
- Vs. Pikachu (Pokémon Stadium)
- Vs. Team Mario & Peach (Mushroom Kingdom II)
- Vs. Zelda (Hyrule Temple)
- Vs. Giant Donkey Kong (Kongo Jungle)
- Vs. Kirby (Green Greens)
- Vs. Team Captain Falcon (Mute City)
- Vs. Metal Ness
There are many, many possibilities for each stage, but I decided on this list as I figured it would allow for interesting fights or stage interactions as much as possible.
- The Classic Mode setup is set to Very Hard and 1 stock. Very Hard is obvious, while the 1 stock adds an additional layer of challenge (traditionally speaking) as it rules out being able to die at any point in the run.
Stage 1 - Vs. Pikachu
- Pokémon Stadium is a nice stage to start on because the characters start on some platforms, which immediately opens up some nice movement options.
Stage 2 - Vs. Team Mario & Peach
- Fox is our team partner for this fight, but he is so useless that he dies in a single hit less than two seconds after "GO!". So much for top tiers, right?
- It's subtle, but the first few uses of parry are done in this fight. The first is done on Peach's dash attack when she first approaches Yoshi, and the second one is done on Peach's neutral air when she meteor cancels one of Yoshi's forward airs.
- The waterfall log allows for a funky ledge-grabbing interaction. Yoshi grabs the ledge but it is immediately cancelled by landing on the log, so Yoshi can immediately move on and do other things instead.
Bonus Stage - Break The Targets
- Replica of the world-record 6.80 TAS time set by PracticalTAS. Even though the timer displays in the end as 1:53.21 (as it counts down), it is recorded as 6.80 in the game. This happens because the game runs at 60FPS and not every centi-second fraction is actually representable in this framerate range.
Stage 4 - Vs. Zelda
- A Charlie Walk is performed to traverse the first stretch. One interesting property of Yoshi's dash turnaround animation is that he internally does not change direction until the animation is finished; therefore, while it looks like he runs off the platform facing right, the game actually still considers him to face left, which is shown in the air movement afterwards.
- Since the stage is Hyrule Temple, I of course could not resist going into the fan-favorite "Cave of Life". In normal play, it's a great place to get bounced around until ridiculous percentages while trying to avoid death from being launched out through one of the openings. Here...the principle sort of applies, but it's a bit more one-sided.
- When Zelda is smashed away, she slides off the ground platform, making her immediately actionable while she is still flying away because of the momentum. This gives her a chance to still try to recover. Or, well, "try"...
Stage 5 - Vs. Giant Donkey Kong
- Yoshi has a very big mouth. Giant monkey gets chomped.
- Ally Fox returns, and this time he actually does something useful by doing a Forward Smash on Donkey Kong between a few of my own hits. That's still much better than Ally Peach, who does literally nothing useful.
Bonus Stage - Snag Trophies
- Most people always skip this minigame, so I figured I would instead not skip it, and take the time (and platforms) to show off some movement.
- Lining the trophies up to fall precisely where I throw eggs at required quite a bit of luck manipulation.
- The trophies are meteor smashed into the funnel as fast as possible - the aim here is to get a three-trophy success state, as fast as possible.
Stage 7 - Vs. Kirby
- The platform above Yoshi is made use of to get Yoshi to be able to do a reverse forward air while jumping above Kirby's inhale.
- The bomb block explodes because Kirby does a get-up attack on top of it. Yoshi, of course, was already prepared.
Stage 8 - Vs. Team Captain Falcon
- In a non-TAS setting, this team on Very Hard is absolutely brutal. The Captain Falcons are generally quite aggressive, can easily overwhelm you with numbers (being with up to three at a time), you have very little room to escape (and no edges!), and they are surprisingly hard to kill. In a TAS setting? Well, let's parry basically everything.
- Yes, let's also parry a Falcon Punch. And punish it with a charged forward smash.
- Even with the general lack of edges, the different stage layouts do enable some creativity with platform movement in some areas.
- This is one of few battles that's long enough to have items spawn in it, so I made sure to have a Poké Ball appear.
Bonus Stage - Race To The Finish
- This is another bonus stage that is commonly ignored and/or skipped, so I wanted to do this one as well.
- A common strategy here is to take the middle route with lava pits, and taking damage in order to damage boost with momentum to reach the exit faster. I did not do this, as I chose to make this a No-Damage run. Instead, I take the bottom route, which has a lot of jumping on some platforms instead.
- The overall goal here is to be generally fast, albeit trading off time for some movement variety. Just wavedashing all the time would eventually get annoying, and I wanted to avoid that. Only approximately one second of time is lost, compared to a "optimal" version of this route.
Stage 10 - Metal Ness
- The Metal character on Very Hard has such high knockback reduction that, on low percentages, it is barely possible to have your moves be safe on hit. To get around this, Yoshi actually has to parry between most hits in the first half, because Ness would jab him out of his moves otherwise.
- On the top platform, frame-perfect shield drop up-airs are used. If these are done perfectly and hit a target, Yoshi will land on the platform instead of falling through. This is a good way to get multiple hits in quickly.
- Ledge invincibility is abused to dodge a PK Thunder. The quick ledge grab here is also an unique Yoshi trick, as Yoshi is the only character that has a double jump that can turn around the character and that also has a trajectory that starts by moving down before going up.
Stage 11 - Master Hand & Crazy Hand
- More parries are used to block attacks and counter-attack quickly.
- Edge cancels are also used a lot in order to hit the hands with air attacks quickly.
- The double hand floor slap could not be parried because the attacks happen too quick in succession; instead, Yoshi dodges it by using the invincibility from a haxdash.
- Formally speaking, input ends after pressing start at the Game Clear screen after the Master Hand and Crazy Hand battle - this is the last input needed before the game progresses to the credits and ending screens. As a bonus for the encode, I added some extra material, which goes through the credits and last end screen, as well as the unlock battle that comes afterwards.
- For the credits, I just take the classic strategy of pressing Start to speed it up, and then hitting every credit while in high-speed mode. Whereas numeric's TAS gets 172 credits, I get 173, because a Doshin the Giant trophy I obtain throughout the run unlocks one extra credit target.
Bonus - Challenger Approaching
- After destroying everything Classic Mode had to offer with ease, we now get to meet the true final boss of the game. This can, of course, only be Hungrybox.
- Unfortunately there isn't really any opportunity to have anything resembling Hbox when you have an AI that only walks around and jabs a bit.
- There's also no timer in this fight, which means I can't even replicate any of the popular aMSa vs. Hungrybox tournament battles. (They also never play each other on Pokémon Stadium, as it isn't a good stage for either character, but let's ignore that detail).
After the Challenger is defeated, a list of trophies obtained and achievement message notifications is rapidly fired through, and then the game returns to the single-player menu. The end!
This movie marks my tenth anniversary of my first TAS submission. Oh, how we have come a long way since then.
The submitted movie file ends after pressing start at the Game Clear screen after the Master Hand and Crazy Hand battle - this is the last input needed before the game progresses to the credits and ending screens. The encode has extended input which goes through the credits, end screens, and plays out the Challenger Approaching battle that comes after beating the game for the first time. It ends when the game returns to the main menu.
The extended movie file can be found here: userfiles/info/63092637727919299
Thanks to my local Melee community, including Yoshi players such as nebbii and Peridot, who helped inspire me to make this movie.
Thanks also to aMSa for putting Yoshi on the map in Melee worldwide and likewise being a source of inspiration.
And speaking of Yoshi mains, shoutouts to smack, particularly for his Yoshi resources on SmashBoards.
Thanks to everyone who watched my WIPs and gave feedback:
- Gecko Liv
And thanks to you for watching!
Memory: From a playaround perspective, it is evident great care went into this TAS. Attention to detail is very present.
This TAS was very creative and amused me greatly. Personally I loved the end to the fight with Zelda. The audience for the most part largely appreciated the TAS as well. Some people voiced negative opinions but their arguments were largely based on incorrect assumptions and had to do with "optimization" in a TAS where the focus wasn't based on time anyways.
Accepting to Moons as a new branch.