Broken is a term used in many games, particularly fighting or otherwise competitive ones, to describe characters, techniques, or other elements or combinations of elements so overpowered that they make the game stop functioning as intended and/or severely skew the game's balance in a player's favor, making alternatives nearly irrelevant by comparison.
A classic example in the Super Smash Bros. series is Fox when the fight occurs in Temple in Melee: he can outrun almost every other character on the massive stage, and can chip at the enemy by using his Blaster to fire shots, allowing him to easily time out a match and win by percentage. Another classic example of a broken tactic is wobbling which allows Ice Climbers to take a stock from any character from a single grab. These types of strategies are almost always deemed "broken" and action is taken to prevent it from impacting competitive play; for instance, the former would be addressed by banning Temple, and the latter would be addressed by banning use of the technique. The definition is, by nature, subjective, so what is generally considered broken often changes as the community evolves, particularly after the release on a new game. Despite this, broken elements, per competitive philosophy, are usually banned from tournaments, or users of them are at the very least frowned upon: if a broken element is not dealt with, the concern is that the game would simply degenerate into players trying to be the first to make use of it, as nothing else would prove effective. Many casual players instead believe all parts of the games should be allowed; however, due to many broken elements being extremely frustrating to play against, there is a general consensus that using them excessively, or at all, ruins the fun.
Types of broken elements
Generally, broken elements in the Super Smash Bros. series come in three forms:
- A character has an overpowering advantage on a specific stage (as the Fox on Temple example above); this is dealt with by banning the stage.
- A character can create a situation where it is impossible for them to lose, such as stalling indefinitely with something like the Infinite Dimensional Cape or the Luigi Ladder; this is dealt with by limiting or banning usage of the technique.
- A game mechanic can completely subvert the challenge involved in completing a task, such as by abusing the pause glitch in the original Super Smash Bros. to get a time of 0:00:00; this is also dealt with by limiting or banning the technique's use.
A fourth form of brokenness can exist: a character can, without the aid of stages or techniques, overpower the rest of the cast to the point at which no other character can viably compete. Whether a broken character exists in the Smash series is heavily debated, though a few characters spark more discussion than others:
- Meta Knight in Brawl is the classic example, with his legality being disputed and experimented with at length for most of the game's lifespan as a tournament fighter.
- Cloud in SSB4 was considered by some to be broken in doubles due to his extreme advantages which allowed him to consistently win almost every match in double tournaments. This has been dealt with by banning him in certain tournaments.
- Prior to patch 1.1.6, Bayonetta in SSB4 was considered broken enough to be banned in certain regions, including St. Louis, Missouri and Tampa, Florida.
- To a much lesser extent, Pikachu and Kirby in SSB64 are considered by most players to be by far the best character in doubles. Certain rulesets have used other formats for doubles, either banning Pikachu and Kirby outright (ZPK/Zero Pikachu Kirby) or limiting to one Pikachu or Kirby (SPK/Single Pikachu (or) Kirby.) Tournaments will occasionally run both events as an alternative.
- Steve's brokeness in Ultimate is largely debated. People who think Steve is broken cite the incredible utility of every move he has, great recovery, and his ability to block attempts to intercept set ups, and create potentially near-unbeatable situations with his block placing mechanics. Particularly, the Phantom MLG tech which allows Steve to cancel hitstun and immediately counterattack has led many to argue that Steve should be banned from competitive play.
Though other characters have been at some points considered broken, none have been considered broken enough to be banned from most tournaments. In Brawl, the Ice Climbers were considered broken by many players, but a widespread ban was never enacted during Brawl's competitive life; following the release of Smash 4, they have been occasionally banned at the few Brawl tournaments hosted, such as Glitch 2. Smash 4 Bayonetta was hotly debated to be broken, with some citing statistics that show her to be very centralising, but because she didn't quite hit the standards of Brawl Meta Knight, bans in high-level tournaments never caught on during Smash 4's lifespan.
Bosses can be considered broken if they are accessed through hacking. Giga Bowser in Melee is an old, notorious example, with his Whirling Fortress equivalent having outright invincibility on start-up, massive amounts of movement potential, and extremely large hitboxes, making it almost unpunishable and resulting in an extremely warped metagame. Master Hand in Ultimate is another example, being intentionally designed to defeat fighters very easily in his playable appearance. However, not all bosses are created equal, with examples like Smash 64 Metal Mario being arguably worse than most of the cast, though they are generally kept banned due to crashes involving the results screen or other glitches that make organising tournaments difficult.
The term "broken" is often used colloquially to describe any strong or overpowered gameplay element, particularly one that is frustrating to play against. Though using the term in this way is not technically incorrect, as "broken" is an inherently subjective term, many discourage it, for misusing or overusing the term can lead to it undergoing semantic bleaching, and prefer the use of alternate terms such as "OP", "stupid", or "insane", which are more in-line with the more emphatic uses of "broken".
More colloquially, broken can refer to elements that are buggy, or do not work as intended in all circumstances. Broken can also refer to game glitches that cause the game to become unplayable on a greater than superficial level, such as game crash or game data corrupting glitch.
- Tournament legal (SSB)
- Tournament legal (SSBM)
- Tournament legal (SSBB)
- Tournament legal (SSB4)
- Tournament legal (SSBU)
- Banned stages