Monado Art Landing Lag Cancel
The Monado Art Landing Lag Cancel (abbreviated MALLC) is an advanced technique for Shulk in both Smash 4 and Ultimate. It allows Shulk to remove part of the landing lag of his aerials or air dodge by using the animations from selecting Monado Arts, which lets him apply safer pressure with his aerials, escape from juggles, perform longer combos or strings, and even take advantage of the few frames of intangibility during art activation to land safely onto stage.
MALLC has been refined by the Shulk community since its discovery in Smash 4: Erico9001 first explained the timings of MALLC in his YouTube guide. Later, Jerm provided a more in-depth video guide on the timings and added details of the technique. Finally, Paradigm/Erico9001 uploaded a video providing the exact frames to successful Art Cancel different moves on varying stages with their video guide.
To perform the technique, the player should start the activation of any Monado Art while in midair, use an aerial attack, and land with the aerial just before the Art fully activates. Shulk performs a pose after any Art activates (provided he isn't in a non landing lag animation), and this pose will replace the landing lag animation. The pose can be immediately canceled as if Shulk is standing still, allowing him to bypass the landing lag of his aerials and use any other action. As Shulk cannot act out of an Art's pose for 6 frames, this technique does not fully eliminate landing lag, but reduces it significantly.
This technique allows Shulk to make use of the 14 frames of intangibility gained right when he poses. Simply doing nothing leads to the longest possible intangible window (14 frames), while buffering an option allows Shulk to act out earlier at the cost of having a smaller window of intangibility (only 6 frames).
MALLC's timings are affected by what the player hits: if Shulk misses or clashes against a shield (even if perfect shielded), he will cancel successfully, but if Shulk hits an opponent, it will cause more hitlag and cause him to land slightly later, making the Art activate during hitlag and failing the MALLC.
In Smash 4
This technique is the most widely known Shulk technique and is extremely beneficial in Smash 4, due to Shulk's aerials having high landing lag; the lag reduction allows Shulk's high-ranged aerials to space more effectively, and makes him less open when attacking against shields. This technique also grants intangibility, which can act as a controllable and interruptible pseudo-sidestep, granting him a chance to dodge possible punishes from his opponents. If Shulk puts up their shield during these 14 frames, it will always be a perfect shield. Finally, it gives Shulk an accessible B-reverse while in midair, which gives opportunities for unique combos or a quick getaway. However, MALLC is used sparingly in top-level play due to the benefits of having an active Art, and is generally used as a mixup option.
MALLC sees much less use in Ultimate due to Shulk's landing lag being significantly reduced like all fighters, which mostly eliminates the need of reducing his lag further. Monado Arts (selected manually instead of the dial wheel) also activate significantly faster, which heavily affects MALLC timings. However, it is still useful for its other properties, such as B-reversing in midair or using the intangibility for mixups and unique movement options. The new dial method for selecting Arts also allows Shulk to access the brief intangibility from changing Arts at any moment. MALLC's offensive purposes have mostly been replaced by a new advanced technique, Dial Storage.
Examples of Beneficial Art Cancels
All his aerials have varying benefits from MALLC: back aerial benefits the most from this, as it suffers from high landing lag while having the longest range and good KO power. Neutral aerial and forward aerial benefit slightly less due to their speed, while up aerial and down aerial benefit the least, since connecting both hits of these moves cause too much hitlag to land at the correct time.
These are examples of some Art cancels in Smash 4:
Due to the changes to shield mechanics made in version 1.1.1 of Smash 4, cancelling a back air into Buster, and immediately following with a forward smash can instantly break a full-health shield without giving the target a chance to drop shield, provided the initial attack isn't perfect shielded, or aimed at another Shulk or Kirby with the Shield Art active.
Via copy ability, Kirby himself is able to make use of all Monado Art advanced techniques as well; while he can enhance his combo game with MALLC in theory, he benefits less due to his already fast attacks. Like Shulk, Kirby's down aerial suffers from significantly higher hitlag akin to his up and down aerials, making it the least optimal aerial for the technique. However, due to his quicker aerials and different aerial movement speeds, Kirby's timings for the MALLC vary a lot more, though the general principle is the same.
Extended Techniques Utilizing Monado Arts
Other techniques use the mechanics of Monado Arts, some of which are tied to MALLC. These all apply to both Shulk and Kirby.
Monado Art Ledge Snap
The Monado Art Ledge Snap or MALS is a technique in Smash 4 and Ultimate that allows the user to laglessly get up from their ledge hanging animation, with the added benefit of the Art activation's intangibility. This allows Shulk to both quickly return onto stage as well as avoid certain ledge traps, such as R.O.B's Gyro.
It is performed by cycling to an art prior to grabbing the ledge, dropping from the ledge, and double jumping onto the stage as the Art is activating. The Art's activation pose effectively 'clips' Shulk through the ledge as his hurtbox suddenly changes shape, forcing the game to snap him onto the stage. While difficult to time, this technique provides a much faster get-up option for Shulk compared to simply using a standard get-up from ledge. Aside from avoiding ledge traps, MALS can also be used offensively after a ledge trump to immediately return onto stage, allowing Shulk to perform a strong punish regardless of the opponent's actions.
The timing varies depending on the Monado Art being activated; for example, the window of success for a Monado Jump ledge snap is the largest, while the timing for Monado Smash is much harder to do consistently.
The technique cannot be performed on all stages. Of the legal (or formerly legal) stages of Smash 4, it can be performed on:
MALS was first discovered and explained by GetShulked, and researched on by Paradigm.
Monado Art Intangible Landing
Monado Art Intangible Landing (or MAIL) is a technique in Smash 4 and Ultimate that uses the activation of a Monado Art to give Shulk an intangible, lagless landing without any soft or hard landing lag. Performing this technique simply requires Shulk to perform MALLC out of an empty hop without moving. Applications include punishing shielding opponents (since they will tend to shield due to Shulk's aerial pressure) or phasing through anti-air attacks to land; the latter allows Shulk to put up his shield instantly.
Monado Art Run Cancel
The Monado Art Run Cancel, or MARC, is a Smash 4 technique that is essentially a dash cancel. It uses the cancellation of an Art to negate the ending lag/braking animation of the character's run in order to instantly change their running direction, or to perform tilts immediately out of a run. This allows the user to weave in-and-out to bait attacks or options and punish them, such as baiting out a jump and punishing with an instant up-tilt out of the MARC.
In Ultimate, the universal dash cancel eliminates the need of this technique.
Though clips of the tech had been seen prior, MARC was first explained by Catalyst.
Monado Art Buffered Deactivation
Monado Art Buffered Deactivation, or MABD, is a Smash 4 technique that allows Shulk to retain his jumping, walking and/or running speed immediately after canceling an Art. The effect will last until Shulk does another action, such as an attack. This has several uses, including fakeouts or doing attacks/combos that requires Monado Speed's mobility without being penalized by its lower damage.
Performing this requires the player to buffer-cancel an active Monado Art during an uninterruptible animation (i.e dropping shield or dodging), while also buffering a movement option during that time. If successful, the Art will cancel, but Shulk will technically begin moving before the Art disappears, causing him to gain the increased movement speed that is provided by the Art until another command is inputted. However, any movement speed gained will slowly change back to the default speed after a while: in the case of running, Shulk will initially start at the speed of Monado Speed or Monado Shield and then either slow down or speed up, respectively.
Uniquely, MABD enhances Shulk's jump height if Monado Jump is canceled and a jump is buffered as well. This is due to Shulk keeping Monado Jump's increased jump height, but not the increased falling speed, causing him to travel higher. This is pivotal for the Monado Purge combo (up throw to jumping up aerial) as the extra height turns the combo into a 50-50 that is only escapable with an air dodge at higher percents.
In Ultimate, MABD can no longer be performed since the bug which allowed this technique to occur has been removed; Shulk will now immediately change all his attributes the instant he switches or deactivates an Art.
The MonaDACUS (Monado Deactivated Art Canceled Up Smash), previously referred to as the SABDJCUS (Speed Art Buffered Deactivation Jump Cancelled Up Smash) is a Smash 4 technique that acts similarly to the DACUS technique in Brawl (as referenced by the name), using the previously mentioned MABD technique. However, it is extremely situational and hence almost useless in actual play.
By canceling out of the Speed Art during an animation where Shulk can buffer an Art deactivation, Shulk will keep his increased ground speed for a few frames while losing Speed's increased ground friction, allowing him to slide even further and punish opponents with a jump-canceled up smash. This helps Shulk hit opponents that he usually wouldn't be able to reach. As the technique also involves canceling the Speed Art, it also deals more damage compared to staying in Speed Art and up smashing, as Speed reduces damage output. It should be noted that this technique gains almost no distance without a jump-canceled up smash.
In Ultimate, this technique was removed, since it relied on MABD to be performed (which has been patched out indirectly).