On June 15th, Nintendo released the penultimate DLC character: Kazuya Mishima from the Tekken series. The prospect of Kazuya in Smash Bros was very intriguing, even though it wasn’t the most surprising choice. After all, Tekken is known to have some of the most unique gameplay in the fighting game genre. How would 3-D movement and a long list of execution-heavy moves translate to a platform fighter? On June 29th, Smashers finally got the chance to test him out; and they were equal parts scared and excited. As it has been some time since his release, let’s take a look at some of the recent discourse about Kazuya in Smash.
Much of Kazuya’s social media virality is owed to the countless combo clips and montages which players have been posting on Twitter. With nearly 40 different attacks at his disposal, Kazuya’s combo potential is near unmatched. The competitive Smash community has been rapidly uncovering the flexibility and depth of his kit. Here are just a few of the scariest combos that have been found thus far.
— Mr. Danish 🧈🍪 (@MrDanishButterC) July 3, 2021
THE COMBO WITH NO ELECTRICS 😳
— Armada | Vazzi (@Vazzittv) July 3, 2021
"Kazuya can't combo on platforms"
What about tech chases pic.twitter.com/uExAqi4JjP
— ESAM (Panda) (@imESAM) July 1, 2021
It seems that Kazuya has multiple true zero to death combos. Only a select few fighters have reliable zero to deaths, and none but Kazuya can initiate them with such a wide range of moves. Most outrageous of all is an apparent infinite which works on short characters. This can be performed with his high-stun side special. Kazuya has the second notable infinite in Smash Ultimate, along with Diddy Kong. However, Diddy’s could only be done on a specific stage, and its execution was more difficult than Kazuya’s infinite. It was removed from the game in patch 8.0, meaning that Kazuya’s side special will probably be nerfed in a similar manner.
— Prand Grix (@Prand_blog77) July 1, 2021
Thankfully, his most devastating combos are locked behind a high skill threshold. This is partially due to his large moveset and motion inputs. Furthermore, his most pivotal attack has the most difficult execution of any move in the game. I am, of course, referring to Electric Wind God Fist. However, a high skill threshold means a high skill ceiling. This means that players will continue to optimize him and find even crazier combos as they improve their execution.
Damage & Knockback
The lethality of Kazuya’s kit goes beyond his combo potential, though. His damage output and kill power seem to be near unmatched in Smash Ultimate. That’s right: on top of getting hit an ungodly number of times, each of those hits will inflict heavy damage on you. Furthermore, as soon as you get above 50%, Kazuya will have the means to finish you off. Here is a rundown of his most powerful moves.
- Electric Wind God Fist: 18% damage, combos into anything; down throw, uptilt and down-forward tilt combo into it.
- Up Smash: Kills at 90-115+%; EWGF combos into it at any percent.
- Forward Smash: Kills at 40-60+%; EWGF combos into it at any percent.
- Forward Tilt: Kills at 90-100+%; down tilt, up tilt, and down-back tilt combo into it at mid to high percents.
- Dragon Uppercut: Kills at 80-95%; uptilt, jab, down-back tilt, and nair combo into it.
- Spinning Demon to Left Hook: 27% damage, kills at 105-115+%; down tilt, down-back tilt, up tilt, and jab combo into it.
This is only a smattering of the powerful tools at Kazuya’s disposal. Along with these moves, he also has a window of damage percent wherein he gains access to Rage Drive. Rage Drive is a command grab input that kills at 50+% and does 38% damage, to the Smash community’s dismay.
"That has no business doing that damage" – Smasher on Kazuya's Rage Drive
He's been ported so well 😭
— Speedkicks (@Speedkicks) July 2, 2021
Additionally, this damage window includes a 1.1x buff on his attack power. Another part of his kill power comes from his spike moves: neutral air and down smash. Both are relatively fast, and other moves can be combo into them. His down smash also hits below the ledge, making his opponent’s recovery a risky process. In summary, Kazuya is like a walking ball of death. If he hits you, he just might end your stock with a single combo. And if you don’t die, you’ll still receive heavy damage for your trouble.
Tekken is well known for its unique movement, usually defined by dashing and backdashing. There was much discussion surrounding the implementation of Kazuya’s Crouch Dash in Smash. After all, wavedashing was a staple part of Melee‘s high-skill competitive scene and was removed from subsequent games for accessibility. After some testing, it seems the competitive Smash community views Kazuya’s Crouch Dash as being potentially as transformative as Melee‘s wavedash.
This is quite literally unprecedented in this game. This is a mobility tool you can simply walk out of. Do the Crouch Dash input, and gently tilt backwards. You will cancel it with a walk. This allows you to shield, do any tilt, spotdodge, etc. #SSBU_kazuya pic.twitter.com/2iY8YZ6q7i
— 👑TTTTTsd👑 (@TTTTTsd_) July 1, 2021
The character’s movement will be difficult to master, but it seems to have huge potential for tech chasing, micro spacing, and rush down. Players are already figuring out new ways to implement it, as shown below.
— WhyDo (OLED model) (@WDBTHtGP) July 5, 2021
Perhaps the most amusing development thus far has been the reaction to Kazuya’s CPU. In the past, CPUs in Smash have generally been weak and easily beatable for any seasoned player. However, Twitter has recently been lighting up with clip after clip of players getting humiliated by Kazuya’s CPU. This even happened to pros such as WaDi.
Can a TOP PLAYER beat a KAZUYA CPU??? (no)
— Panda | WaDi (@WaDiRob) July 2, 2021
Kazuya is an execution-heavy character with crazy attack power. Thus, a CPU (which automatically does the inputs) will have a great combo game, resulting in flashy clips. It also seems like the developers specifically programmed the CPU to do certain strings, such as the footstool combo, which frequently lands on players.
— Kirbo(Buy Metroid Dread) (@kirboandco) June 30, 2021
This man has killed careers day 1 pic.twitter.com/6sOoj9KQdE
— S+ (@SmugLore_yt) June 30, 2021
This phenomenon ascended to new heights when a few local tournaments actually entered Kazuya CPUs into the running. In a couple of them, the CPU actually won. These stories became viral on Twitter, to the behest of the losing Smashers.
NO WAYYYY pic.twitter.com/Oxz2AZlqha
— Dusty_Carpet (@Dusty_Carpet_) July 3, 2021
Proof that the Kazuya CPU won a game.
This video is set 1 where the Kazuya CPU went 1-2. You can hear how hyped we were in the background watching this.
Fortunately for the other player, the set where he went 2-0 was played off-stream 😅 pic.twitter.com/Hyvf09RELa
— Danny North | Chusta (@iamdnorth) July 2, 2021
The Kazuya CPU isn’t really invincible. It still has a lot of the same shortcomings as other CPUs and doesn’t do optimal punishes all the time. Also, most people were fighting it with Kazuya rather than their main fighter. This is probably why the CPU beat so many people. However, the bot’s clip-worthy combos added much entertainment and memorability to this DLC release. Here are some of the memes which came out of this situation:
Fun Fact: Level 9 Kazuya isn’t actually a CPU, it’s being controlled by Harada himself. https://t.co/j3QbDPLgef
— Ultima | #вʟм (@UltimaShadowX) July 1, 2021
Does anyone know how I can sign level 9 CPU Kazuya to my esports team?
— Panda | Dr Alan (@DrAlanB) June 30, 2021
This has been one of the more exciting DLC releases of Smash Ultimate’s lifespan. However, much of the current discourse is hype-fueled conjecture. Are his combos and techniques really going to flourish in the competitive scene? Will he be nerfed in a future patch? Will he be remembered as a great addition to the game? Only time will tell.