Mii Fighter Arguments are Ultimately Arbitrary

Out of all of the new characters introduced in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U (aka Smash 4), the Mii Fighters are among the most contentious in its competitive scene. Based off of Nintendo’s official user avatars, Mii Fighters can look like anyone, wear unique costumes, be any size (within certain limits), and have access to a full range of special attacks, more than any other characters by default. Ever since they were introduced, there has been an on-going debate as to what extent Miis should have access to their full range of customization (size, visual design, attacks). Recently, EVO 2016 announced its Smash 4 ruleset to include only 1111 guest-sized Miis, locking them into a specific size and a specific set of special moves that many Mii players deem unfair.

However, I’ve noticed a tendency on both sides to try and pass off some often small, minor detail as a deciding point that completely negates the opposing side’s concerns, when in fact many of these points have holes to them.

In my opinion, trying to build some watertight argument about Mii Fighters is ultimately futile because they’re mostly arbitrary. In showing this arbitrariness below, however, my goal is to actually direct the whole discussion towards the subject of the characters’ emotional resonance. The decision to #FreeMiis or not is ultimately about a base of players who want to play the character they want, and the discussion should go towards an emotional compromise.

Keep in mind that I am neither for nor against full Mii Fighters, so I have no hat in this race. Also, I’m coming from the perspective that, as far as we know, Mii Fighters do not have any extremely unfair advantage against the rest of the cast.

1) The “Menu” Argument

Aside from DLC, all characters in Smash 4 can get custom moves just like the Miis. Previous tournaments have tried custom moves for the entir ecast, but the general trend has been away from that direction. This is the reason why many tournaments that allow Miis require a single moveset and default to 1111.

Mii players point out that, even in a Customs Off environment, you can select Miis with non-1111 special moves. Thus, the argument goes that, if the UI deems it correct, then so it should be. The fact that customized Miis are also available in non-Customs online tournaments supports this idea.

The problem with this particular argument is that the Smash Community has never based its decisions on what the menu or standards tell them is correct. For Glory is played with 2 stocks/5 minutes, and Online Tournaments impose a 3-minute time limit on matches with “amount of damage done” being the criteria for a tiebreaker. Actual tournaments on the other hand go either 2 stocks/6 minutes or 3 stocks/8 minutes (that’s a debate I won’t go into), and handle tiebreakers differently.

Along these lines, the menu argument can be turned against the Mii Fighters just as much, because they by default do not appear on the character select screen, and must specifically be created in order to show up. Moreover, when you create a Mii Fighter, their attacks also default to 1111 and you have to specifically choose different ones.

The ability to twist the menu argument in either side’s favor is why I think it’s a point of disagreement that should just be dropped. It’s unproductive and kind of silly to begin with, especially because of how it’s used as “scientific” proof.

As an aside, Super Street Fighter II Turbo had hidden characters called “Old Characters,” alternate versions of the existing cast with different properties that could only be selected by navigating the character select screen in very specific ways to input a code. Ultimately, only one character out of these was controversial, and for the most part they are an accepted part of the game.

2) The “Adapt” Argument

There are three Mii Fighter archetypes: the Brawler, the Swordfighter, and the Gunner. Each of them has access to 81 possible combinations of special moves, though some are clearly superior to others lessening the number somewhat. One point of compromise is forcing Mii Fighter players to use only default size pre-made Miis that come with Smash 4 to avoid having to upload Miis to the system and create delays at large tournaments, but if size differences are allowed the amount of combinations goes into the thousands. There are small differences in frame data, endurance, reach, and power when adjusting size parameters that can make a difference in competitive play, where even shaving one frame off of a move can be the difference between it being useful or useless.

One argument against full custom Miis is that the ability to pick whatever moves you want is an unfair advantage when other characters cannot do the same. Why should a player have to prepare for all of these combinations of Mii Fighters, and why should the Mii player be able to cherry-pick their moves? Instead of that, it is argued that Mii Fighters need to learn to deal with having one moveset.

Full Mii supporters argue that players are already dealing with 55 other characters, and that having a lack of knowledge as to how Mii Fighters work is ultimately the fault of the opposing player. According to this point of view, Mii Fighters changing special moves is not nearly as drastic as someone who goes from Mega Man to Bowser, two characters that are different in nearly every aspect), so it’s arguably easier to adapt to that than a full character change between sets.

On either side of this fence is the implication that the opposition needs to learn how to “adapt.” In an age of balance patches for competitive games in general, where players will frequently complain that they need an official update in order to use their character competitively, it has become increasingly common to admonish newer players for their inability to roll with the punches and take the advancement of their characters into their own hands.

Just like with the “Menu Argument,” both sides can twist a this philosophy to their advantage. Why shouldn’t players adapt to new patches just as much they should adapt to a lack of patches? Similarly, the Limited/1111 Mii side argues that Mii Fighters need to learn to fight effectively with a locked moveset, while the #FreeMiis side argues that those against Full Miis should be able to handle the variations. Adapting has to happen at some point. I feel that if only there could actually be some compromise between both sides, it would go a long way towards settling this issue.

3) The “Mii Gimmick” Argument

This argument is derived from the idea that each character for the most part has some unique feature that defines them and their gameplay. Little Mac has KO Punch, Cloud has Limit, Ryu has Special Inputs, and so on. A lot of these features are not part of the standard Smash character, and so it’s argued that the variable movesets of Mii Fighters fall into the same category. In past games, you could even choose to transform into different characters, so why is that allowed but not full Mii moveset options?

What I find odd about this stance, however, is that it works ever so conveniently in the #FreeMiis contingent’s favor. When it’s pointed out that Palutena is built around a similar principle, it goes all the way back to the “Menu” Argument, that the simple press of the “Customs On/Off” icon is the dividing line that prevents Palutena from reaching her full potential but allows Miis more or less free reign. There are also some players who don’t just want to have custom moves but want to be able to switch their moves in between tournament rounds or even within individual matches, all under the umbrella that it is the “Mii gimmick.”

The idea that the spirit of the Miis is lost when you’re unable to play them exactly as you want them might be to some extent true, but competition isn’t necessarily looking at how the characters align with their players on a personal level. The use of Guest Miis already puts a damper on everyone who wants to be Proto Man or James Bond or any other custom Mii design, so at the end of the day it really is about the moves.

This does not mean that Miis should be restricted to 1111, but the idea that they should be allowed their full range of moves at nearly all times is as arbitrary a line as 1111, or, say, making it so that all characters have to use 1231 regardless of which Mii Fighter they’ve chosen. The question I want to ask here is, do Miis lose all purpose if you can’t customize their moves, and if so, is that a problem?

4) The “Moveset Synergy” Argument

It is objective fact that fully customized Miis have greater potential to succeed competitively than 1111 Miis, by virtue of the fact that, not only are many of the non-1111 moves significantly better, but the ability to pick just the right moveset for the character you’re facing allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your special moves. If you are a Mii Gunner and you are fighting a character without a projectile, you have less of a reason to use your Echo Reflector special move. If you’re a Mii Brawler, who normally is good at racking up damage but has trouble killing, getting access to Helicopter Kick gives the character a potent kill option, thus making them more rounded in general.

I think anyone who looks at Mii Brawler’s 1111 moveset will notice that it’s pretty bad. Why do they have both Soaring Axe Kick and Head-on Assault, when those attacks are pretty redundant? This potentially points to the idea that the Mii Fighters are not designed for 1111 at all, or even if they were the game is ultimately not hurt by them having their best special moves.

The problem with this position is that not all characters have perfect synergy in their movesets either. It is not necessarily an oversight, or something that is supposed to be ripe for the changing. Characters are generally designed to have pros and cons, and while they can’t totally erase many of the physical properties of a Mii Fighter, having special moves synergize better can be used to shore up their weaknesses. However, to go back to the “Adapt” Argument, the idea that it’s not right for Miis to have flawed existences can apply just as much to other characters. Maybe Mii Brawler is supposed to have trouble killing. Maybe Gunner is supposed to have holes in the projectile and range game. Who’s to say they’re not meant to be like Ganondorf, with very clear and extreme upsides and downsides?

Final Thoughts

I think the core of the Mii Fighter problem isn’t that Miis are too good, or they’re too bad, or anything actually having to do with competitive viability or fairness. The issue at stake is that Mii players do not feel much gratification playing 1111 versions of their characters. Without the right moves, they become emotionally empty vessels, perhaps all the more appropriate that they’re supposed to be combat-oriented versions of personal online avatars. That being said, I have to wonder if Mii Fighters could potentially provide “just enough satisfaction.” Mii Fighter users all seemingly want their preferred movesets no matter what, but perhaps it could be enough to have 50% or 75% a the preferred combination. For example, if everyone who cares about Miis were able to vote on a common moveset that had just enough appeal to all of the various Mii contingents, then maybe that sort of compromise is worth looking into.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.