Super Smash Bros

I genuinely question why people like Incineroar in this game. Here’s a detailed write-up of why.

TL;DR below.

The funniest part is that I was actually ready to have a new character I liked and would main, which is usually a guarantee no matter the playstyle that I WILL play that char, and Incineroar is literally in my top 3 favorite Pokemon (Sceptile #1, Feraligatr #3, I never even played most of the generations past that). Everything about him SCREAMS at me:

-He's a hype type fire type


-He's a heel

-He's also a softie

-He's INSANELY flamboyant and a MASSIVE show-off

-He's LOUD in-game, even with no voice you could hear him swinging over everyone else

The amount of disappointment I had after a week or two of playing him (and still playing him for fun up until last year's end) was so high, it was the first time that a character I chose pre-release in a fighting game DIDN'T end up being one I play. The first time. Ever. Completely beating out my choice on Greninja when he was leaked, Duck Hunt in 4 was my favorite addition to any fighting game I've played so far just behind Rocket Raccoon in Marvel 3 (another disappointing moveset, but hey he was relevant for all of like a year and I still liked him enough to play him), and I've played an insane amount of other fighters. Duck Hunt was one of the most creative ideas both in concept and moveset and has become even more complex in Ultimate. Simultaneously, Incineroar is crying in a dumpster because he got the shortest stick in the dev team's right hand. His tournament results would get him kicked out of wrestling.

This character does not take a single hint from anything like it in gaming. The amount of effort poured into his animations, while I understand has nothing to do with how they worked on his moves themselves, really makes me think Incineroar was a rushed idea that they didn't want to really think about (unlike big DLC that gets all that 'resource'ful creativity). His moves are strong, and that's literally it. At best, AT THE VERY BEST OF CREATIVITY, you can say he hits hard and looks damn good doing it.

Congratulations, you created what a handful of the cast, a cast of 86(89) characters, already has built into them. KO power and flash. Now what does Incineroar have left that separates him from Ganondorf, which, meme or not, does accurately represent in THIS game what Incineroar also is (a heavy, slow but NOT Bowser/DK/Dedede sized brawler with a command grab that has nearly as much situationally present risk/reward as Incineroar's):

  • His normal moves are about as straight forward and uncreative as Isabelle's concept as an even more awkward Villager without being an echo fighter (because we have to make sure AC is relevant in the game without working too hard, I get that much).

R.Mika alone possesses most of what I wish this character's normals were. He should be slow, but his MOVES should be selectively fast, flashy, and potent. He should be throwing himself around the screen just to kick you, or moving through people on the ground with a quick side-switching move (again, same game where you can't pass through people yet Banjo dtilt exists). Instead I'm over here playing Ganondorf, whose moves are strong, but are literally 'swing in this direction'. Every. Time. No movement. No special properties. Just a funny little flex animation when your fsmash that you'll never actually land on decent people works, or you managed to trick me one out of ten times with dsmash! Nice. Again it's funny because this is the same game where Palutena has a normal move that can be spaced, used anywhere in the air, and is invulnerable when doing so properly. She also has a ground normal that does this with good frame data. She was in Smash 4. How does Incineroar not have a single normal on the ground that does even half of this without Revenge activated.

  • Revenge, as a mechanic, is both insanely cool, and so ridiculously stupid. Revenge in every situation but one requires you to win neutral twice AS A COUNTERATTACK. This as a mechanic has been tried again (Viewtiful Joe) and again (Videl) in MODERN fighting games, yet here we go again. Acting like getting the counter means you got anything to work. Incineroar gets the revenge and gets hit anyway. Gets the revenge and gets thrown. Gets the revenge and-…unintentionally encourage people to camp.
  • Alolan Whip (it's actually just called sideB because not even Incineroar players would say the name) is one of the worst concepts for a command grab I've EVER seen. What IS cool about this move is…the animations. What isn't? Why is this wrestler not doing some crazy, over the top backdrop, midair piledriver, backbreaker, suplex-…OH WAIT, THOSE ARE JUST ANIMATIONS FOR HIS NORMAL GRAB. He doesn't bring the opponent back to the earth from midair, or hurl them like a whirlwind in some controllable way (Bowser sideB, PM Wario). He spawns a set of ropes midair, makes the opponent defy gravity for three seconds, and plays a minigame to pick one out of two options, with the third being much more niche. Just remember that there's a chance the move just won't work if the opponent interacts with you in some unique way. Oops! Guess Samus' legacy continues.
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This move pisses me off.

There are so many examples of successful ROUTED command grabs in fighting game history. It's almost as if despite having Bandai Namco helping out with the game, no one on the dev team even THOUGHT to reference King, THE ONLY EXAMPLE YOU WOULD EVER NEED FOR A WRESTLER. And yet…he isn't even the only one they could've used as an example. Throws in this game are invulnerable for a time and can hit other players; chaining throws similarly to King could work just fine.

(they made Pokken YEARS before Ultimate for god's sake, come on)

  • Cross Chop seems to be the only move that they tried to be a little creative with. You CAN control it, but despite how many recoveries in Ultimate have so many different ways to use them, he only gets to choose VERY shallow angles to move in, and has literally no means of going high. If you go high as Incineroar you are dead. Cool. I can accept that. Why are there so many other characters who get recovery moves that have options. Allowing him to cancel this at some point wouldn't break the move at all, and I guarantee you if Incineroar were DLC, the dude could chain it into something before descending or jump out of it. Or at LEAST stop himself like Dedede.
  • Darkest Lariat.
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If it isn't enough that this move doesn't have fire involved whatsoever, then fine.

First and foremost, it needs to be accepted that Darkest Lariat is a defensive move that is immobile, but like most fighting games, contains invulnerability and is very hard to contest up close. I can accept that lariat not working like other lariats (or strong immobile defensive options) in fighting games is a thing. What I question is why there isn't anything to compensate for that when the move fails to do what it is intended to do. In traditional fighters the lack of movement space compensates for the fact that they are normally unsafe, because there's barely anything you can commit to that will beat it aside from patience and brainpower.

In Smash, there isn't a lot of reason to use an option like this defensively when majority of the time just shielding can grant you the same purpose (nair oos, rare upB, parrying, shieldgrab). On top of that, people inside the lariat aren't ACTUALLY threatened in shield (which is far more important in Smash than if someone does so in trad fighters, in that situation you just punish). Since each hit is separate by a wide amount, those who pay attention will know how to remove themselves without getting hit and punish.

This is the same game where the FE sideBs (which people use defensively often enough yet is an offensive move that requires you to guess to get out of early or to avoid shieldbreak), KEN AND RYU, TERRY, SEPHIROTH (it's crazy they just gave him a defense-capable shield break move post wing) and a WHOLE slew of other crazy shield-eating moves exist that are SAFER than lariat is and have MORE options when used, and Incineroar can't even cancel his lariat or make it any shorter. Which has also been a thing in the past. Even if that were changed, the move would STILL be easily punishable.

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What this does is force people to try and use the move as an offensive mixup to keep it fresh and unpredictable. The problem with that is, again, it isn't safe, there's no REAL shield pressure if you're smart, and he has no other option but to spin one inch toward or away from you and hope. That kind of risk in a heavy risk/reward character is NEGATIVE.

TL;DR: Incineroar is the only character in my history of playing fighting games I looked forward to that has disappointed me so much I can't even touch him for fun anymore. There's no substance beyond the character's animations at a lower level and at higher levels he simply doesn't have any reason to be played, and no matter how much people will contest that, his tournament results suffer gruesomely and he sees little to no play outside of rare counterpicks vs players who aren't ready for him. That is not healthy at all in this game. People will do their best to argue that, but again, tournament results and pick rates along with the creativity of the character against other designs in the game and the various unintentional bugs he has prove enough that Incineroar was one of the worst concepts Smash has come up with, and likely wasn't a well-thought process in the same game where Ganondorf exists, who has continuously been an example of how to do a character WRONG for his entire lifespan in the series. And even he's starting to feel like something better. I ask why people like him because I genuinely don't get what there is to like beyond details that don't matter when considering longevity and the attraction of the modern eye to a game where you can go as wild as you want. This character is about as wild as a used up bar of soap.


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