What is a clone? What is a semi-clone? Is there any meaning to "echo" aside from PR? This page attempts to answer these questions via careful analysis.
For most games, we have official confirmation of which characters the developers consider to be clones. By their definition, the following characters, and no others, are clones:
|Unconfirmed||Luigi has a "differences from Mario" list on the website|
|DLC character status (Lucas and Roy) is unknown|
|Stated that DLC will not be clones|
This setup leads to the following wordy but fairly accurate definition of "clone":
- A clone is a character whose moveset is mostly visually identical to another character's, with most (if not all) attacks and special moves of similar (if not identical) mechanics and operation. Differentiation is primarily by tweaks to physics, alterations to attacks' hitboxes and timings, and unique non-combat animations, though they may also have a few unique moves.
So what does this mean for the term "semi-clone"? Not much really. It's used fairly consistently by the community to refer to characters that would be clones if they didn't differ from their parents in more substantial ways, such as having more than a few unique attacks or a different gimmick altogether. Clearly it's a continuous scale, even if the terms are used in a fairly hardline fashion.
This is the system I'm using to determine how much of a clone each character pair is.
- For each attack that the clone shares with its potential parent, add 1 point. Most attacks and special moves are weighted equally. The exceptions are:
- Neutral attacks are worth 1 for the entire combo as a whole. For example, if the first two hits are the same but the third is different, the total score is 2/3. Neutral infinites plus the finisher counts as one part. Similar applies to multi-part forward tilts and forward smashes (or, if the initial animation is similar enough, multi-hit attacks where the clone only has the first hit(s)).
- If a clone has attacks that involve more animations than the parent - which represents being given new, unique animations for the sake of differentiation - the move's clone score is halved.
- Examples: A clone has a 3-part neutral attack while the parent has 2, or the clone's f-tilt can be angled while the parent's cannot.
- The inverse is not true; while it's less clone-y to only have 1 neutral attack instead of 2, this doesn't require any additional differentiation effort.
- Floor attacks and edge attacks are only worth 0.25x, as there is significantly less room for designing such attacks.
- An attack is "shared" if any of these apply:
- The animation is similar or identical. (Does it look the same?)
- The animation is not too similar or identical, but the move's function is, or the special move's mechanics and operation are. (Does it do the same thing?)
- In the case of custom special moves, a unique custom is worth -0.125, while a custom that replicates the other's default (e.g. Luigi's Bouncing Fireball) is worth +0.25. Therefore, if a special move is a clone:
- Both customs are the same: 1
- One custom is unique: 0.875
- Both customs are unique: 0.75
- One custom is unique but the other is a copy of the other's default: 1.125
- One custom is the same and the other copies the other's default: 1.25
- If one of a pair lacks customs (e.g. Ness and Lucas), the "replicates default" penalty can still apply, but the "unique custom" bonus cannot.
- Some clones might have a special move that isn't cloned from their parent, but from a third character. If this third character is clearly related to the clone and/or the parent, this counts as a fully cloned move. If the third character is unrelated, the clone score is halved.
- An attempt will be made to avoid hedging - a move either is cloned or it isn't, there's no middle ground. But there may very well be cases where it's impossible to accurately describe something with only 0 and 1. If so, there will be an accompanying explanation.
- A difference in access to non-universal movement abilities is worth -0.25 for each difference. This includes wall jumping, wall clinging, crawling, and access to a grab aerial. A difference in number of jumps is worth -0.1 per jump if both characters have more than 2, or -0.25 if either has only 2.
- If there is a substantial difference (or similarity) between a clone and its parent not otherwise covered above, it may be worth up to +1 or -1. For example, a parent might swing battering items twice with a smash attack, while the clone swings only once. This is admittedly a highly judgemental category.
Because of these penalties and bonuses, it is possible to achieve scores outside the range of 0%-100%. That said, this is more amusing than useful, and so anything outside this range will be clamped come analysis time.
The colour of the value bar represents the calculated clone score. The colour behind the head icon represents the character's official status.
- Magenta: Ultimate character that is an echo
- Red: pre-Ultimate character that is a clone
- Orange: Ultimate character that is not an echo, but was a clone in the previous game they appeared
- Yellow: unconfirmed status (but highly suspected to be a pre-Ultimate clone)
- Green: none of the above
- Characters that share 85% of attack animations are clones.
- Characters that share 45% of attack animations are semi-clones.
- Characters that share 30% of attack animations are pseudo-clones. This is a new category.
- The gap widths between categories are:
- Clone/semi-slone: 10.4%
- Semi-clone/pseudo-clone: 6.1%
- Pseudo-clone/non-clone: 7.8%
- There is one larger gap (outside the non-clone section): 6.6% between Ganondorf (SSB4) and Luigi (SSB4). This makes Luigi (SSB4) and Ganondorf (SSBU) the most on-the-fence between any two categories (in their case, semi-clone and pseudo-clone).
- Some pairs of clones with identical parents should probably be checked against each other. Not sure if the data will be useful, but it could be interesting.
- In terms of the term "echo":
- Most echoes are full clones.
- Characters can be clones without being echoes, such as Dr. Mario.
- Characters can be echoes without being clones, such as Ken.