Mind Over Meta 53 - RNG

Welcome back to Mind over Meta! We’re going to talk about an interesting topic this week: RNG!

 


 

RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR

 

For those who are unaware, RNG stands for Random Number Generator. This term is used to describe any randomness in a game, as most games’ use random number generators for these events. Some games have no RNG, others use RNG as a pivotal mechanic. You usually see RNG in the form of hit/miss ratios, critical hits, card games, some enemy patterns, and bullet patterns.

 

Games like Pokémon and Hearthstone rely heavily on RNG, but there’s still plenty of skill involved. For example, if I’m playing Pokémon and I have the choice between a move that’s super effective and has an accuracy (chance of connecting) of 80%, or a move that has no bonuses and less attack but has 100% chance to hit, I may choose to go for the 80% accuracy move to get the extra damage. Going even deeper, if the more accurate move is, say, a Normal type move, my opponent may assume I’ll use that move and switch to a Ghost type Pokémon, which would completely negate my attack by taking no damage from Normal type moves. By taking the risk with the less accurate move, I’m covering more options as well as potentially doing more damage. Situations like this come up in nearly every turn of a Pokémon game, and the game is designed to cater to the risk taking that comes with it’s RNG mechanics.

 

But what does any of this have to do with Smash?

 


 

THE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATION

 

Several characters in Project M have attacks that are affected by RNG. Some notable examples are Mr. Game and Watch (Neutral B and Side B), Luigi (Side B), Princess Peach (Down B), King Dedede (Side B), and Olimar’s Pikmin. There’s also a mechanic in which a character will randomly drop an item they’re holding if they get hit (commonly seen with Diddy Kong’s banana). But does it really make sense to have any aspect of RNG in Project M? I mean, the game is supposed to reward the player with the most skill, so why include RNG when the game’s mechanics aren’t focused around it?

 

Well, including RNG in a game that doesn’t focus around RNG is fine, if done correctly. While it can still be silly at times, RNG is implemented fairly well in Project M. Let’s take a look at some examples:

 

First off, let’s start with Game and Watch. Game and Watch’s Neutral B allows him to flip bacon at his opponent, acting as his main projectile. The path of this bacon is RNG, but, as Shockbound explains here, there are many ways this RNG is mitigated. First off, only the first 2 pieces of bacon have hitstun, meaning that opponents won’t be punished too hard after the first 2 pieces are thrown for guessing the wrong trajectory that the bacon flies in. Secondly, the bacon can be angled by the Game and Watch player into 3 different angles. This reduces the RNG by preventing the bacon from flying in certain trajectories depending on the angle the Game and Watch chose, making the RNG less stressful for the Game and Watch player. These trajectories also don’t have huge differences, meaning Game and Watch can often cover several trajectories at once. Of course, this doesn’t mean Game and Watch won’t miss an occasional bacon or two.

 

Now, onto his Side B, or Judgement. Game and Watch’s Judgement is considered by many to be one of the most unfair RNG-based attacks in the game, but this isn’t necessarily true. Judgement has 9 different effects, each represented by a number 1 through 9, and each number has an equal chance of appearing. However, the same number cannot appear within 2 Judgements of it’s last appearance. Upon using this move, one or two dots will appear above Game and Watch’s head. One dot means the next number will be odd, and two dots means the next number will be even. Before we go any further, I’d like to quickly go over each number’s effects. This will just be a basic rundown, but if you want specifics, check out this info dump that Shockbound made.

 

(A quick notation clarification: BKB means “base knockback,” the initial power of a move on a healthy opponent. KBG means “knockback growth,” indicating how much the move powers up as the opponent takes more damage)

 

NUMBER

EFFECT

DAMAGE

KNOCKBACK

1

Considered to be the worst hammer, the 1 hammer does no knockback and causes GnW to take 10% damage

1%

N/A

2

If hit in the air, the 2 hammer will spike opponents at a 45 degree angle in front of GnW. On the ground, it will cause a dazed state, letting GnW follow up with anything, even another hammer. Can also cause a poison effect, similar to White Pikmin.

8%, up to an additional 10% from Poison Damage.

32 BKB, 64 KBG

3

Sends opponents behind GnW and deals high shield damage. Has a cosmetic darkness effect.

15%

20 BKB, 80 KBG

4

Has a set knockback that will knock down any character in the game at any percent. Sends at the same angle as Melee Fox’s Shine.

10%

120 WDSK

5

Has 5 consecutive hits with a x2 hitlag multiplier for both GnW and his opponent. This hammer also applies an electric effect, adding an additional x1.5 hitlag multiplier on top of the opponent (meaning the opponent has a total hitlag multiplier of x3).

6% each hit (total of 30%)

50 BKB, 100 KBG

6

Sends at a low angle (20 degrees), making it a great kill option. Also applies the fire effect, which will thaw out frozen opponents (see 8 hammer)

14%

30 BKB, 100 KBG

7

One of the more powerful hammers, the 7 hammer will often kill at mid to high percents. When this hammer is used, GnW will heal 10%, and if the hammer hits an opponent (even on shield), an apple will appear, which heals 10% and can be eaten by either player.

16%

0 BKB, 140 KBG

8

Freezes the opponent on hit, sending them straight up. This freeze effect can be mashed out of, and the duration is not affected by percent. While frozen, you will only take half damage and cannot be grabbed. You cannot be frozen if you are crouching or have armor.

20%

N/A

9

By far the strongest hammer, can kill incredibly early and applies a x2 hitlag multiplier to GnW and the opponent similar to a 5 hammer.

32%

70 BKB, 80 KBG

 

So, as I’m sure you can see, this move can be a bit silly for both players. On one hand, you may see a Game and Watch “get lucky” with a 9 and get an early kill, while you may see the same situation, but the Game and Watch gets a 1 and gets punished for it. This sort of situation is made less common with the ability to “prime” numbers by watching the dots above Game and Watch’s head, as well as the aforementioned rule that doesn’t allow the same hammer twice a row. For example, if the Game and Watch gets a 1 hammer and then a 3 hammer, and happens to have one dot above his head, that means that his next number is going to be an odd number that’s not a 1 or a 3. You can use this fact as Game and Watch to manipulate the RNG a bit and set up for a more desirable hammer (or at least cover more options for each possible hammer), as it gives the other player a chance to prepare a counter play to each possible hammer when the moment arises.

 

Next, let’s talk about Luigi’s Side B, the Green Missile. Normally, this move isn’t too good for anything but recovery. Doing a measly 5% damage while uncharged and 26% fully charged, there’s not much of a reason to use this move in combos or anything of the sort. However, Green Missile has a mechanic called “misfire,” where there’s a chance of getting a stronger version of the move that, no matter the charge, that sends you a great distance, deals 24% damage, and has huge knockback. In Project M, misfires will always happen at least once every 8 times you use Side B, meaning the more you use it, the higher the chances the next Side B will be a misfire (this counter resets after every misfire). Misfires can also be stored by holding shield when you have one, meaning Luigi can keep the misfire for later use, such as recovering or combo’ing without having to worry about RNG. If a misfire is stored, the counter is still reset after it is used, and he can only store one misfire at a time. This gives much more versatility to a move that would otherwise only be used for recovery.

 

Moving on, Princess Peach. This is where RNG becomes a bit less justifiable. Princess Peach’s Down B allows her to pull a turnip out from under the ground, which acts as a normal throwable item. There are several types of turnips that Peach can pull, and this is determined by  RNG. She can also pull a Mr. Saturn (which does huge shield damage), Bob-ombs (which can kill very early with gigantic damage and knockback), and Beam Swords (which have massive range, but little knockback unless thrown). Peach’s turnips range from a normal smiling turnip (Smile), a turnip with large circular eyes (Circle Eyes), a turnip with horizontal lines for eyes (Line eyes), a turnip with half closed eyes (T-Eyes), or a happier turnip (Half-Circle Eyes) (all of these turnips deal 5 to 12%, depending on the type of throw and distance of the throw). She can also pull a winking turnip (Wink), which deals 9 to 17%, a turnip with two small dots for eyes (Dot Eyes), which deals 15 to 23%, and a turnip whose mouth is stitched shut (Stitch Face), which is considered to be the best turnip, dealing a massive 33 to 41%. All of these turnips are listed in order of most common to least common, with the regular smiling turnip having a pull rate of about 60%, and the Stitch Face of about 1.7%. The only drawback to this move is its slow animation (28 frames) and the fact that you can only pull a turnip when on the ground. Normal turnips may not be the strongest projectile, but still allow Peach to play a strong defensive game, as well as get some pretty strong edge guards, and the RNG factor only makes this better for Peach. However, All of the non-turnip pulls have different trajectories than turnips, and Mr. Saturn can often be used against Peach, since he doesn’t disappear quickly and many characters can exert great shield pressure with him.

 

Dedede’s RNG isn’t as bad as Peach’s, but it still leaves room for some silly results. Dedede’s Side B allows him to throw a Waddle Dee, which will then waddle around the stage for a short period of time after hitting the ground. Dedede can throw existing Waddle Dees, allowing him to Waddle Dash by air dodging into a Waddle Dee to throw the Waddle Dee and conserve the momentum in from the air dodge. But there’s a catch: Dedede can also throw Waddle Doos, which will waddle across the stage while occasionally shooting electric beams, and Gordos, which will bounce off the stage and travel in a different trajectory than waddles, as well as deal much more damage. The chance of pulling a Waddle Dee is 71.3%, pulling a Waddle Doo is a 20.4% chance , and pulling a Gordo is an 8.4% chance. Waddle Dees have little knockback and deal only 5% damage, Waddle Doos have more knockback and deal 8%, and Gordos deal 22% and kill incredibly early with massive knockback. Dedede can also Waddle Dash with Waddle Doos and Gordos. The RNG doesn’t stop there, however: Waddle Dees have random AI that will allow them to jump upward, jump forward as an attack (having similar properties to a thrown Waddle Doo), or trip. This doesn’t really affect a whole lot, but can lead to some Ice Climbers-esque reversals. If anything, the Waddle Dees will jump more often than they will attack, which affects Dedede more than the opponent, as they know have to adjust their stage positioning to Waddle Dash if they had planned on waiting for the Waddle Dee to walk towards them. The same can be said about the Waddle Dees tripping. I have personally lost several sets due to my Waddle Dees tripping right as I try to waddle dash with them, preventing them from getting into my range and making me air dodge uselessly in neutral. Gordos can also kill the Dedede if they attempt to waddle dash to recover while off screen and they pull a Gordo. This was made less common with a change in their trajectory and the addition of Gordo Dashing, but certain off stage Waddle Dash setups are made much riskier by the chance of pulling a Gordo.


 

 

OUT OF THIS WORLD RNG

 

Finally, the most interesting case: Olimar. Unlike the previous characters, Olimar is essentially designed around RNG. Olimar’s Neutral B let’s him pluck a Pikmin from the ground, and there are 5 different Pikmin he can pluck. These Pikmin are separated by the colors red, yellow, blue, white, and purple, and they are all unique. The chance of pulling each Pikmin is ⅕, so there’s no rare or common Pikmin. The Pikmin will also “grow” into three different stages the longer they’re alive; Leaf, Bud, and Flower. Flowered Pikmin do the most damage and knockback, and some Pikmin have other certain effects that are increased with their evolution. I’ll give everyone a quick rundown of their basic strengths and weaknesses, but if you want a really in depth look, check out this guide made by Orange Chris.

 

First off, we have Red Pikmin. Red Pikmin are considered by many to be the “basic” Pikmin, having decent stats all around the board, but they have the most damage on their attacks. They also gain an extra 2% damage on all of their moves with each bud evolution.

 

Yellow Pikmin are interesting, specializing in speed and range. They have the fastest startup out of all the Pikmin, their fastest move being fair (which comes out on frame 4). Their hitboxes grow in size which each evolution, and when flowered, their bair has even more range than Jigglypuff’s.

 

Blue Pikmin focus around grabs. They have by far the largest grab range, as well as the strongest throws. Their throws also increase in damage which each evolution, which gives them even more knockback. They also happen to have the second most HP behind Purple Pikmin.

 

Speaking of Purple Pikmin, let’s move on to Purples! Purple Pikmin have the most knockback, and are often used for killing with their smashes and aerials. They also have the most health at 25 HP, and are unique in that they will not latch onto opponents when thrown, but instead deal damage and knock them back, like a normal projectile. Their damage and knockback increases with each evolution.

 

Finally, White Pikmin. White Pikmin have the least health at 10 HP, often causing them to die after only one or two hits. They have incredibly low knockback and damage, but can apply a damage-over-time effect. They also have the strongest pummel, which caps at about 6% damage per hit when in Flowered form. When they latch onto you, not only do they deal the most damage overall by applying a damage over time effect, they will also explode after a short period of time. This explosion isn’t the strongest, but can still easily lead to a combo and even kill at higher percents when Flowered.

 

Seems like a bit much, right? Most of Olimar’s moves need Pikmin to even be used, so Pikmin management and adaptation is key when playing this character. Which is why he’s almost the perfect example of a character that revolves around RNG in a game which is not designed around it. If it weren’t for the fact that Olimar can have more than two of the same Pikmin, I think he would be that perfect example. Every Pikmin has it’s own unique pros and cons, and he still has some universal moves he doesn’t need Pikmin for. The ability to cycle through Pikmin is a huge plus as well. The only problem is, like I said, bad lineups. There are certain lineups where Olimar can’t really do a whole lot to his opponent. For example, having one or two whites is great, since they apply an urgency when latched on that no other Pikmin does, since not only are they dealing huge damage, but they’re quite literally a time bomb. But having 3 or 4 white Pikmin is anything but ideal, since your options are severely limited. Sure, throwing Pikmin off stage is always an option, but that’s slow and punishable, and then you have to pluck more when you get to the ground. Olimar works great on paper, but in practice, he can be a bit more challenging than intended due to these RNG mechanics.

 


 

PRAISING RNGESUS

 

Hopefully, what I’ve covered thus far has given you an idea as to how most RNG in this game works. RNG can be annoying, but it’s balanced well in Project M. There’s almost always a way to predict RNG and how your opponent will react to it, as well as ways for you to fight against it through these predictions. Luigi’s Side B misfires are predictable, and can be punished like his normal Side B, or just avoided all together. Game and Watch’s Side B can be silly, but it’s situational, can be predicted to an extent by both players, and is still rewarding no matter what number the Game and Watch gets (unless that number is a 1, of course). The most important thing about RNG is simply to not get mad.

 

I hear players say things like “I only lost that game because he got a 9”, or “He wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for that Stitch.”, and these statements aren’t really true. For example, if a Game and Watch hits you with a 9 hammer at a high percents, most hammers would have killed you anyway, or at least put you in a position where Game and Watch could finish your stock easily. And if you got hit by the 9 at a low percent, it’s silly that you died at 30% from a combo you couldn’t escape, but who’s fault was it for getting comboed in the first place? I know the Game and Watch didn’t RNG you into his down tilt. The same goes for Peach. That turnip would have hit you no matter what turnip she had throws, she just happened to pull a stitch. This still means you could have caught it, or not gotten caught by the combo that made you get hit by that stitch in the first place.

 

As for the random item drops I had mentioned earlier, those can be pretty silly, but maybe you should have accounted for it in your combo. Maybe you should have ended it early just to be safe, or used longer range moves to avoid the item, or even just put yourself in a position where the item couldn’t hit you. The only situation I can think of where RNG becomes a legitimate john is a very specific scenario in which you hit Dedede out of a waddle throw, but he happens to throw a gordo. Dedede will drop the gordo in place and it will retain its hitbox and often hit whoever hit Dedede, despite the fact that you just punished him for using an unsafe move in the first place. But even in this situation, one could argue that you should have accounted for something like that and punished at a range where the Gordo would have missed you.

 

In the end, RNG can be obnoxious, but it’s not why you lost, and it’s not why you won either. Just because you’ve been dealt a bad hand doesn’t mean you still can’t win if you play that hand carefully.

 


 

CONCLUSION

 

Project M isn’t balanced around RNG, but the little RNG it does have is balanced around the characters they come from, their toolkits, and the risk vs. reward factor that comes from using them. Overall, Project M’s RNG attacks are balanced and, for the most part, quite fair for both players.

 

HUGE shoutouts to Shockbound for help writing this article. Pretty much all the parts about Game and Watch wouldn’t have been possible without him, and when I say that, I don’t mean I happened to stumble across the info that he posted, I mean he made that pastebin for me at 3 AM while I was writing this. On that note, quick shoutouts to Orange Chris for the Olimar data, Steelguttey for teaching me about that character, and Orangegluon for proofreading. Thanks again for reading, and we’ll see you all next week!