Thursday, April 30, 2015

Questions for Puff Mains to Consider

Questions For Puff Mains to Consider:

The Donphan in the Room

An idol to depose: Hungrybox’s puff is not in direct opposition to Mango’s.
While this was effectively true in 2008 or so it’s a ridiculously erroneous comparison to make in 2015 for two reasons. First, Hungrybox’s jigglypuff is radically different. Second, Mango’s jigglypuff is no longer meaningfully relevant.
In 2008 Hbox’s puff relied heavily on you running into one of his many many many many backairs. While he still plays spammy to this day he does so in subtle, not explicit, ways and it’s not fair to consider his 2015 puff identifiable with his 2008 one. They’re different animals.
Mango’s puff retired more than 5 years ago. While it was arguably ahead of its time it was not 5 years ahead. The gameplay in his old sets is old, usually very old and not usually comparable with the current level of play. For this reason holding up an archaic MangoPuff to a contemporary Hungrybox puff is totally unproductive. It’s effectively a different game.

A Puff Problem

With the loss of Mango’s puff we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of having but one jigglypuff to look up to. Hungrybox is left far and away the most successful puff player. He is currently borderline the only relevant jigglypuff. Due to the absence of other high-level puff players he has a sort of monopoly on the puff meta. Consider too that Hungrybox does not contribute to jigglypuff verbally. Traditionally his advice is generalized and obvious (stuff like, “you should bair a lot. And then rest.” It’s been that way for years. The puff boards reek of it). This has contributed to a stagnation of thought and action in the vast majority of play in an already unpopular character. Any new puff stuff has to be either observed or developed independently. This is not exactly unusual for a top player. Mango rarely publicly talks about high level fox ideas/techniques. However, there are other high-level foxes that pick up and distribute his innovations. This is not true for puff. As far as I can tell, there is little to no meaningful jigglypuff discourse at all. I’ve heard more new jigglypuff ideas from PP in passing than from puff mains. I’ve invented/discovered more niche techniques in 3 months than I’ve seen from other puffs in an embarrassingly long time. That’s a sad state of affairs and one that I hope to see change, hence this blog.

Jigglypuffs and Existing Puffs

Lets define the root of the problem that I’ve been dancing around, the question of why Hungrybox has the only good puff in the world. What does Hungrybox have that other puff players don’t? In my opinion:

* Hungrybox has amazing focus. He’s able to make more clutch plays in high-stakes moments for this exact reason. He doesn’t get distracted. In any instance where it matters he sits down and does his best.

* Hungrybox has amazing spacing. It’s clear that this is the single most important attribute for a puff player to posses. He does.

* Hungrybox has years on years of high-level tournament experience. 

* Hungrybox’s punish game, while far from perfect and possibly largely internalized, is highly developed. He can and will kill you off of stray hits, so he can afford to fish for them. He only needs 4 good ones maximum.

But while Hungrybox’s methodology has been demonstrated successful, we might also consider that it’s been demonstrated utterly unsuccessful for every single individual that’s tried to replicate it (success here being defined as sustainable top of the top level tournament performance). This could be because it is misunderstood, too few cases, or because it isn’t broadly applicable. In any case, imitating hungrybox does not appear to me to be a good way to become a high-level jigglypuff.

I think that a lot of people pick up on this intuitively and for that reason look to find another resource. Naturally, it usually ends up being MangoPuff. Unfortunately, I don’t think that imitating Mango’s puff is a viable strategy either. I know for a fact that it is misunderstood and as such is not broadly applicable for reasons beyond its being obsolete. As has already been stated, MangoPuff is no longer a wealth of useful material. Even in footage recorded since retiring the character, Mango’s puff offers next to nothing beyond “What does it look like when the best player in the world picks puff for a few matches?” He is a good player making temporary use of puff’s tools. He is not a puff main and he is not using or developing good puff strategies. I think that this is a valuable distinction to make and one that points toward the solution to the greater puff problem: adopting an attitude to pilfer rather than imitate. Take away from rather than move toward. Good artists steal.

Other material that puffs could be stealing from:
* S0ft has a lot of ideas but you have to ask him specific questions since he's a little less active now/playing sheik.
* I haven’t looked at Darc’s vids since starting this project but as I recall he has good platform tactics.
* I think that Tekk is suuuuuper interesting but it’s difficult to find much footage from him.
* Andale’s puff is a god with downB but good luck finding anything from him.
* There might be mystery good jigglypuffs that I’m just not aware of.

Future Puff

Personally I think that jigglypuff is an amazingly interesting and unique character in melee’s beautiful engine. The impulse to look to Mango’s puff betrays the inclination that puff could be played much more aggressively (read: actively, less passive decision making, not more stupid risks or attacks) than we are used to seeing. This is a small statement with big implications. I think that she deserves to be reinvented from the ground up to better suit herself and me (or any individual puff player). All of this is obviously easier said than done well.

While my theory is rudimentary, my intuition after initial thought and research points toward:

* Implementing claw grip. I started learning claw this week because I can’t excuse not having full control of my aerial drift any longer. The effect is immediate and dramatic, if at this moment uncomfortable.

* Developing clearly defined punish trees. 

* Expanding on the possibilities of rest including but not limited to more true combos, shielddrops, canceling hitstun via asdi etc, etc.

* Platform play, including but not limited to ledgecancel combos.

* In general much more specific information that encourages active play (i.e. "this is how to edgeguard this character in this situation every time" vs "space more bairs better lololol")

* As I understand puff, she can better support and reward a kind of thinking and playing that is closer to street fighter than the rest of melee in addition to traditional melee paradigms. That is, her insane horizontal mobility enables actual footsies rather than the watered down version that we’re used to as melee players. This includes being willing to take (smart) risks in neutral positions. Refer to

(please note that future puff is no more a foil to hbox’s puff than mango’s is. It’s just a different idea. Hbox is just another imperfect puff to learn from on the way there, a valuable resource)



  1. Your thought process about how to develop this character is exactly in line with what I think needs to happen. Too many Puff mains either play using only Bair pokes or "mang0puff" balls to the wall with random moves that get them punished by any fox that knows how to upsmash. You're doing fantastic things for this character

  2. Have you tried Hungrybox's method for using the controller? (tap jump/z for ariels/lcancelling) How is this method restricted do you think?

    1. tap jump is better than button jump for puff (unless you claw) but Z for aerials is exactly as suboptimal as A (you have to temporarily give up aerial drift control in order to press up for upair etc). I think that hbox uses a mixture of Z and C but I've definitely seen him drop followups because of the above.