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Will Steve's edge guard game be too strong in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Here's why we're not too worried yet

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • October 1, 2020 at 2:38 p.m. PDT • Comments: 6

Given that the trailer was trending #2 on YouTube when we last checked, you're probably living under a 32-bit rock if you haven't heard that Minecraft's Steve (along with a few carbon copy alternate looks) is the next DLC character en route to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Already the internet has excitedly begun prospecting as we're seeing a collective effort to analyze and break down the handful of short glimpses into the new character we've currently got. One question seems to be floating up to the top of many a discussion, however, and it has to do with the fact that Steve can build blocks on stage and quite possibly dominate the edge guard game as a result.

You can't KO your opponent in Super Smash Bros. via the traditional fighting game means of reducing their health bar to zero. In fact, everyone in Smash starts off with a clean 0% damage indicator that grows as they take hits throughout the bout. The way you score wins in the platform fighter is to knock foes far enough away from the stage so that they cannot reach it and fall into oblivion below.

Given this general truth, a character's ability to guard ledges is an especially important part of their tool kit. Though we've only seen snippets of Steve, we did notice in his trailer that he's able to manifest building blocks and leave them on the stage for foes to have to traverse around. If he's able to knock opponents from platforms and then quickly build up a string of three or four blocks on the edge, it could mean he's got an incredibly strong advantage in the edge guard game.

Time will ultimately tell what the exact particulars of Steve's gameplay are, but we figured we could do a bit of speculation (and hopefully put some anxieties to rest for now) based on what we've seen thus far. The too long, didn't read version: we're not all that worried yet.

Even before we get into the footage we can remind ourselves that developers would be well aware of the potential effects having such a strong edge game might cause, and they surely don't want their game becoming incredibly imbalanced in such an obvious way. Creator, Masahiro Sakurai, has clarified in the past that Smash does exist as a party game before it exists as a catalyst for settling contests of skill, but that doesn't mean balance is thrown out the window.

Action on the new Minecraft stage

One of the first things we notice about Steve's blocks is that they appear to naturally decay after he lays them. This is briefly observed around the 1:26-1:28 window in the trailer as we see Lucas run up and into a tower of three blocks and then Pichu housed in a makeshift structure rapidly produced by three Minecraftian opponents.

Will they stick around long enough to be legitimate hindrances for recovering foes? Will they actually stop characters from grabbing ledges, or might they not even be effective for this purpose? There are clearly a few different ways this could play out.

At least four different types of blocks are shown in these sequences and some appear to deteriorate more rapidly than others. We don't know whether Steve players get to choose which type of block they are laying or if they'll need to generate resources before they're able to begin construction at all. If these objects do indeed feature different properties then maybe they also require varying lengths of start up to get out on the field of play.

The point here is that to assume it will be as simple as knocking a foe from the stage and quickly building a tower to ensure they cannot recover feels like a speculative equation that still has a ton of significant variables stopping us from seeing the final solution.

What's more, Steve and his buddies appear to move relatively slowly and have relatively short reach with many of their attacks. Perhaps developers did indeed give this new DLC fighter an incredibly powerful tool for keeping the opposition off ledges once they're launched, but have made it especially hard for users to earn their way into such situations.

We're going to hold off on any kind of final judgement for the time being and see what comes of Masahiro Sakurai's more in-depth presentation of the character on October 3, at 7:30 a.m. PT. If you'd like a deeper dive on the moves we did see in Steve's trailer you can check out our breakdown for a more refined early view of the character.

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