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Introduction To Platform Fighter Neutral



So there's sorta two opening paragraphs I want to use here: one for complete beginners, and one for more intermediate players transitioning from other games. I think both are worth reading.

For the intermediate players: Lemme start this off by saying that platform fighters have some of the most diverse characters of any sort of one on one game. Different characters are going to have different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on who you play, you might need a lot better neutral, you might not need to worry about it as much, or you might end up with a really unorthodox neutral that's somewhat unique to your character.

For the complete beginners: what the heck do I mean by "neutral," or "neutral game", or sometimes, if I mispeak, "footsies?" Well, every kind of direct one-on-one competition has three phases: offense (or advantage), defense (or disadvantage), and neutral. In almost all fighting games, when the round starts off, you're in neutral. If you're a little familiar with sports, you can imagine this as being like the scramble at the start of a basketball game or hockey game, where neither team has the ball or puck. Or in Family Feud, this is like when both teams can buzz in once they think they have the answer. In short, neither you nor your opponent has a distinct advantage in neutral.

Advantaged and disadvantage

Before moving on with neutral, though, I think it will be good to qucickly cover what I mean by advantage and disadvantage as well. First, though it might go without saying, if you're in advantage, your opponent is in disadvantage. All fighters as I see them generally have two states of advantage: major and minor. I'm using sort of vague terms here, but you'll see why in a minute. Let's start with major (dis)advantage, because I think it's simplier in a way.

In platform fighters, major disadvantage is when your opponent has knock you off the stage and you're trying to recover. The reason why you're in disadvantage is not neccesarily because you're off stage, but because of a lack of options. Your opponent is on the ground; they can do whatever they want. Run, jump a dozen times, throw stuff at you, charge smash, grab ledge, whatever. All you can really do is drift, use one jump, a side special and/or up special, airdodge. You can attempt to grab ledge or land on stage. That's the real meaning of disadvantage: if you have less options than your opponent. Playing from that position is a whole nother topic by itself, so let me jump to minor disdvantage.

Minor disadvantage sort of comes in two flavors, but they're both related to positioning. When you're playing against very close range oriented characters, you're in minor disadvantage when they're right next to you. And, in particular, if they manage to get you to start shielding. Your options when shielding aren't as limited as when you're off stage, but they are still somewhat limted. During this time, your opponent will try to force you to make mistakes, and then punish you for them.

When playing against long range characters, you're in disadvantage when you're far away. They might get you to shield some as well, but generally they can't punish you for shielding just a bit. What they're trying to do is whiddle you down, force you to aproach them, because if you shield forever, they will punish you, very hard.


What happens in neutral

With those brief asides out of the way, finally time to get to neutral. Again, note that this may look very different depending on your character (especially if both players are using a long range zoner like Snake or Palutena), but in most matchups this should be a good starting point.

The goal during neutral, in a broad sense, is to force your opponent to make a mistake while avoiding making mistakes yourself. These mistakes can come in a few forms (and probably smore more not listed here):

For each of these, let's look at some of the tools available to both force and avoid making the mistakes.

What are the tools to force these mistakes?

What are the tools to avoid these mistakes?

For the most part, avoiding the mistakes is similar to forcing them. However, keep in mind a few things when playing against...

Close range characters:

Long range characters:

Characters with armor:


How do I know what's unsafe on whiff, on shield?

Look up frame data! Or just get a feel for it through playing. But for the more data minded players, frame data can be helpful. Check out character specific Discords and subreddits (there's probably Facebook groups, too), as well as frame data sites. Here's a few links to get you started: https://smashcords.com/ https://ultimateframedata.com/ https://www.ssbwiki.com/

Who are some good players to watch / What are some good matches to watch?

TODO: I have absolutely no idea

What are some good training methods to practice neutral?

First, find your go-to pokes. Pokes have medium-high range and are fairly fast. A lot of times this will be fair, bair, or nair. It might also be ftilt or dtilt (be sure you know how to dash cancel into tilts). Of course, if you have faster projectiles, it might be those too.

Then find your best out of shield options.

Play some games where you only use these moves, at least until you get your opponent up to a high percent. Don't worry about smashes or big combos. Your goal is to not get hit, to hit your opponent. If you see them starting to shield a lot, try going for crossups (if your character has decent crossups has them) or grabs.

While playing those games, especially try to hit those moves at max range. If you can, find a partner so that both of you can practice at the same time.