Lucario is a steel/fighting type Pokemon who is sensitive to a special energy known as "aura." In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, this is manifested in a mechanic that grants his moves additional damage and knockback as he takes damage and loses stocks. Needless to say, we didn't think that rewarding the player for getting hit was the best possible design choice. In Project M we've opted to remove this system, replacing it with a new aura mechanic rewarding the player's skill instead of their mistakes. In line with his Pokemon type, Lucario's fighting style now encompasses an interesting blend of Super Smash Bros. and traditional fighting game elements.
Lucario's revamped move set contains new moves reminiscent of Chinese Kenpo. He also bears new traditional fighting game tools such as magic series, brand new special moves, and a super meter based on damage output. This martial artist is a highly technical character that requires quick and precise execution.
In traditional fighting games, "magic series" are a set of normal attacks that cancel into each other on hit in a distinct order. For example, a magic series could be something along the lines of Light -> Medium -> Heavy -> Launcher. Lucario can perform magic series in two different orders:
Step 1: Jab or Dash Attack -> Step 2: Tilt -> Step 3: Smash -> Step 4: Special
Step 1: Aerial attack -> Step 2: Special
An attack can be followed up with any attack from any later step; thus it is possible to go directly from Step 1 to Step 4, for example. Lucario can also jump out of up smash and follow up with the aerial series. The transition between steps in a series is almost instantaneous: it takes only one frame, but it can only occur if a foe or shield is hit. Due to this ability to rapidly chain multiple attacks together, Lucario's individual attacks are weak, and a miss is met with punishable endlag.
Lucario's specials have undergone a few changes from their Brawl counterparts. Aura Sphere functions as a charged projectile of moderate power, similar to its Brawl incarnation. A grounded Force Palm functions as a grab that can be used in a magic series, breaking an opponent's guard. In the air he will also grab, but will instead throw his opponent downwards. The aerial version can also be used as part of a magic series (after forward-air, for example).
His major recovery move is Extreme Speed, an aerial dash that causes very little damage and knockback. It can be curved to an extent, allowing you to recover with different angles. Double Team has been tweaked considerably, losing its utility as a counter and instead becoming an approach tool. Once it's initiated, a grounded Lucario will dash forward in a motion akin to a ninja step, benefiting from a brief moment of invincibility. If timed well, this allows Lucario to bypass projectiles, get behind foes, or dash in the direction he's facing after an attack as part of a magic series. In the air, Lucario can dash diagonally downwards. The same general rules apply to the aerial version.
Our new take on the aura system is made with the intention of rewarding a more aggressive play style. It takes the form of a super meter that builds by dealing damage. As Lucario connects with physical attacks (not including grabs) his new aura meter gradually fills up. Once it has reached 50% capacity, Lucario's hands will glow. This signifies that he has at least one aura charge available for use. Lucario can stack up to two aura charges and use them at any time he desires. However, if he's killed before he's had the chance, the meter is reset back to zero.
This aura system relies on your ability to chain moves together into combos, landing more hits in a row, and ultimately filling the meter faster. When Lucario does amass a charge, you can spend it on a super version of one of his specials. To do so, you must use a special move while simultaneously pressing the A button. These are the super specials you may perform:
Aura Bomb (B + A): Lucario will unleash a very large, powerful, and slow aura sphere.
Force Blast (Forward B + A): The super version of this move increases its damage and drastically increases its knockback, turning it into a potential kill move. The aerial version also throws his opponents at a downward angle rather than straight down.
Extreme Speed Cancel (Up B): This allows Lucario to end Extreme Speed prematurely by pressing A and quickly act out of it. One can use this to chase an opponent and then attack him. For recovery purposes, the cancel can also be used at the end of the move, allowing you to air dodge in an attempt to cover the little extra distance you may need to reach the stage.
Double Team Cancel (Down B): This allows Lucario to instantly attack out of Double Team by pressing A, making it a good frontal approach option. Using the cancel will briefly prolong the move's invincibility frames, giving you just enough time to land a quick hit. However, be wary, attacks can still clank, so time it right!
Aura is now a limited resource that should be used wisely. Keeping track of aura charges and deciding whether or not to save them or use them right away is part of this unique playstyle that can only be experienced in Project M.
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- Dantarion on behalf of the PMBR