Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fantasy Smash Bros.: Virus

It might surprise you to know that Mario's second most recurring adversary isn't actually Wario, Donkey Kong, or even Tatanga! No, it's the Virus trio of Dr. Mario! They've been major villains in every Dr. Mario title to date (including Dr. Luigi and the little-known Dr. Wario) and minor opponents in two Mario & Luigi series games--making them the only traditional villains other than Bowser and the Koopa Pack to oppose the plumbers in an RPG. While Wario, Waluigi, and Donkey Kong have all appeared in many more games than these ne'er-feel-wells (and sometimes even as antagonists, as in the introduction to Mario Power Tennis), they haven't taken their vendetta quite as seriously as these vile virii.

With the other villains already scumming up the scene, it's only fitting that the scummiest of scumbags should make their Smash debut--especially with their arch-rival Dr. Mario marking his return!


Up Special: Colonize - What is a virus' most principal power? Proliferation, of course! This ability works fairly similarly to Pac-Man's Power Pellet special, albeit in a terrifying way. The Virus will shake, giving birth to a swarm of smaller viruses which continue to reproduce along whatever path the player commans them to. When at last this colony runs out of reproductive steam, they'll deposit a large Virus at the end of the trail. Better hope you reach a ledge before then, however, or the large virus will simply plummet once more, with no energy left to resist. Enemies caught in the swarm won't necessarily be knocked away (unless the large virus spawns ontop of them, which acts as a launcher) but will succumb to the elemental effects of the swarm's color (more on that in a bit).

Neutral Special: Sneeze - Sneezing has got to be one of the worst parts about catching a cold. Sneeze here, sneeze there, leave your boogers everywhere. Since the viruses are essentially living sneezes it seemed only fitting to give them the one aspect not represented by a specific color. In this limited projectile attack (it has about the same range as the Ice Climbers' down special) the virus simply sneezes at his foe. Gross! The effect is different depending on which color you are: blue sneezes a frosty air, red sneezes a bust of flame, and the yellow's sneeze can cause a random status effect (either flower, sleep, or electrocution).

Side Special: Driver Virus - Mario Kart's little-known arcade equivalent, Mario Kart Arcade GP, introduced a very specific type of virus to the Mario universe: the Driver Virus. This little guy resembles Chill, although he wears a pair of swirling spectacles. In that game he would infect other racers' machines and slow them down. He acts much them same here, being thrown by the primary Virus. If it lands on an opponent, it'll circle around them and bog down their movements. Don't worry, it's not too difficult to eradicate the little pest--any attack will do, and it is possible to simply dodge-roll away. Bumping into another player will also pass the virus along, and it is possible to give it right back to the Virus. I guess it's true what they say: "What goes around comes around".

Down Special: Shake Off - The Virus is known for its trademark dance, and it has no problem with getting down right there on the field of battle! As it dances, small viruses of all colors launch from its body in a slew of different directions. They can protect the larger virus from attacks, or they can make other fighters ill if they come into contact with them. These viruses are a little like Pikmin, able to inflict a small amount of damage as long as they're attached. Fortunately they don't inflict any status ailments (aside from the red virus' burning sting).

Final Smash: Plague - All three viruses appear, performing their trademark dance while a storm of smaller ones rain down upon the stage. Players are given control of the falling swarm in much the same way that Mario manipulates his megavitamins in Dr. Mario. Unlike the little viruses in the down special, these ones will definitely inflict elemental damage when they hit opponents... so it's a good idea to watch your step!


Height: 3/10
Defense: 3/10
Jump: 8/10
Attack: 4/10
Speed: 5/10

Size - Viruses are usually tiny, but these ones come to about Mario's stomach. They're your typical ball-type character.

Defense - These little dudes aren't used to direct confrontation. They're pretty easy to knock away.

Jump - All viruses are great jumpers (how do you think they spread? Poor hygiene?) but these guys hail from the Mushroom Kingdom, where pretty much anybody can jump a mile high from a standstill.

Attack - They don't hit very hard, but don't let that fool you...

Speed - They're of average speed... They can get away from situations if they need to, but they won't be winning any footraces, that's for sure!

A Closer Look - It can be difficult to define the Virus stats because of they're gimmick. What? I haven't told you about their gimmick? Well let me fix that!

I know, I know, "Transforming Characters aren't in Smash anymore". While these guys technically are transformation characters, their method of transformation and the result of that transformation are pretty different from what we've seen in the past. Nothing as drastic as Zelda to Sheik or swapping between Pokemon, that's for sure. Also, this is Fantasy Smash Bros. I can do whatever I want. Originally the plan was to have them rotate in an out of battle like the Pokemon, but I thought: "No, they can be more unique than that!" For a while I went back and forth about making them a trio of clone characters or even alts. in the vein of Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings. Eventually I settled on a gimmick they exhibit in the Mario & Luigi franchise: damage-induced transformation. Because of this they are simply referred to as "Virus" on the select screens and victory menus (although they do actually have names--Fever, Chill, and Weird).

Whenever Virus takes a hit, even one as meager as 1% damage, it's forced to transform into another virus. The order is always Chill to Weird to Fever. Each virus has its own animations demonstrating their personality: Chill is cool, confident, and collected, Fever is jittery and craving to cause chaos, and Weird is timid. These personalities also give them slightly different stats, with Chill being the basic set posted above. Fever has a higher attack stat and can launch the farthest (the other two actually aren't very good for killing) while Weird is slower and has a bit of lag in its movements. The colors also feature different elemental attributes to some of their attacks. Chill can encase enemies in ice, Fever can engulf them in flames, and Weird... well, he's a little weird. Weird can induce flowering, sleep, paralysis, or electrocution entirely at random. This makes him the best at building up damage, even though he has the weakest launching potential.

Remember, the transformation is triggered by taking damage--it's impossible for the player to force a transformation. This can make it more challenging to find a winning strategy, but it also creates a conundrum for the opponent: they can attack the Virus, but this risks making it more powerful. The attack could also make it generally weaker, but also able to inflict more damage. Decisions, decisions.

Like any cold, it's best to take Virus out as quickly as possible!


Things got a little hairy when choosing the colors for this terrible trio. Since there's three of them, they used up the primary colors pretty quickly... but I had to fill out at least eight (as per the new rules of Super Smash Bros. 4. I guess I have to revise some of the older Fantasy Smash characters...). There also isn't a whole lot of material to draw from--the Viruses have been largely unchanged throughout their history. As such, this is going to be a lot less broken down than other palette entries have been...

Basic Colors - These are the primary colors for the trio, as of Dr. Mario 64.

Second Color - Yellow, cyan, and magenta are the colors of the new viruses (Drowsy, magenta, and Dizzy) in Dr. Luigi. I tried to match the colors with personalities. Drowsy is relaxed, basically, so yellow went to Chill. The magenta virus looks afraid, so I gave it to the timid Weird. Dizzy looked to embrace the chaotic nature Fever has, so obviously cyan went to her (oh yeah, Fever's a girl if you didn't know).

Third and Fourth Palette - Green, Orange, Purple and Black, Gray, and White palettes are just fillers. I finished the rainbow colors, and added the extreme ends of the light spectrum.

Fifth Palette - The fifth palette (first on the left, second row) is the basic NES colors. There's only a slight variation in tone and the colors for gloves and boots are different enough to the standard colors that I figure it should be okay.

Last Three Palettes - I really had to reach for inspiration with these last few. Eventually I decided to pull some influence from the other monster-driven Mario puzzler: Wario's Woods. These colors are all based on these weird little dudes that I thought looked suspiciously similar to the Viruses...



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