It’s been a little bit since I’ve made a post, but I’ve been busy fighting for that mythical full-time job. Good news though, totally got one! If you remember, I interviewed Becky Jewell of Graphicly a while back. I was really intrigued by their work and I wanted to get involved with their company somehow. Flash forward a bit and now I’m working as one of their Panel Cutters, slicing up comic/book pages for the optimum viewing experience on digital devices. Yessssss!
Also, less important, but it was my birthday two weeks ago. I’m now the venerable old age of 26, and the only thing that I really wanted was an El Gato video game capture doohickey. My lovely lady totally delivered. Now I can record my fighting game exploits in HD instead of balancing my phone on a DVD tower. Man that was annoying… I’ve already started recording some of my Injustice matches and I may go back to UMvC3, but hot dog is this thing fun to use. Here’s an example of what I’m up to and watch out for more fighting game stuff in the very near future!
It’s a straight up review deluge over at DestroyTheCyborg! I don’t know what’s gotten into me! First I take a look at Amala’s Blade, a beautiful little book coming out of Dark Horse by Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas. It has a very Avatar: The Last Airbender feel to it while remaining totally unique unto itself. It’s full of assassins and cyborgs and all manner of madness.
Then we dig into Justice League #21, the epic conclusion to Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s awesome Shazam story, which has been running in the back of nearly every New 52 Justice League issue to date. It’s great to see it finally take center stage for a full book.
Lastly I talk about a nifty little graphic novel out of Archaia, Pantalones, TX. It’s a lighthearted, all-ages romp that’ll get a giggle out of just about anyone. It’s not my usual kind of reading, but I really did enjoy the exploits of Chico Bustamante and his little gang as they tear across the blasted landscape of a small Texas town.
So yes, tons of reviews and you should head over and read them all!
Shazam, Captain Marvel that was, is by far and away my favorite DC hero and when I heard that he was going to be a playable character in Injustice, well I was more than a little excited. I’ve played over a thousand matches using Earth’s Mightiest Mortal and I think I’ve got enough experience under my belt to help anyone out who wants to give the character a try.
I’m going to break this up into a series of posts, starting with an overview of the character, what I think makes him fun to play, and a breakdown of his strengths and weakness. Let’s get this party started, time to level up your game! SHAZAM!
Billy Batson’s alter ego is all about the vortex. His skills are best put to use from two character lengths away and closer, that way he’s always in range for his unblockable, and unforunately crouchable, Herculian Rush. He’s a medium/high risk, medium reward character that relies on rushdown and great guesses to do the majority of his damage. If you can read your opponent and have a couple of meters stocked, he can do well over 70% damage in a flash. He’s got relatively easy combos and options to mixup opponents once he’s in close, but he’s at a serious disadvantage a screen away.
In short: Shazam is a mobile grappler/vortex character that requires quick reflexes and good reads to play effectively. Online it can be difficult to crank out victories because there’s no time to adjust to your opponents playstyle. But the wins are absolutely worth it.
Why Play Shazam? First ask yourself a few questions. Do you like Shazam? Do you like putting people in a blender of pain? Hate zoning? Like unblockable command grabs? Like easy combos? Do you like resets? Do you despise the top tier? If you answered yes to any of the above then I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll enjoy playing as Earth’s Mightiest Mortal.
He is not an easy mode character by any stretch of the imagination, so if you’re looking for Superman’s F2,3 you should try someone else. Like I said above, he’s one of the more challenging characters to use, but oh so satisfying.
Let’s talk about what makes Shazam a formidable fighting force that inspires fear when used to his full potential.
Impressive Mobility: Shazam has a pretty decent forward and back dash that cover space quickly. He also has access to Advancing/Retreating Mercury, teleports that turn him completely intangible for a brief moment, allowing him to bypass projectiles and cross up opponents on the ground. His teleports are incredible on wakeup, capable of escaping most enemy’s jump-ins.
The Vortex: Shazam’s game revolves around getting up close and assaulting the opponent with his unblockable command grabs. Herculian Rush grabs standing opponents from surprising range, while Achilles Clutch grabs crouchers. He has all the tools he needs to start the pain, with an above average sweep, nice J1, ambiguous J2, and some exceptional overheads that lead into grabs. After a knockdown he has a host of options with which to plague his enemies, but keep in mind that the majority of them lose to wakeup attacks.
Useful Specials: All of Shazam’s special moves have a place in his game plan. None of them are useless. We’ll talk about them more in subsequent posts.
Great Ways to Punish Turtlers: Down back really isn’t an option against a good Shazam. He has his low-hitting Achilles Clutch grab, but also F1,2 – B2 – F3 and 2,2 which can be used to hide command grabs. Your opponents will soon realize that standing is a much better option, though that opens the door to Herculian Rushes and electrocution.
Decent Character Trait: Under the right circumstances, his trait can ratchet up his combo damage enormously, sometimes upwards of 10% even on longer combos. It powers up his punch attacks, adding more chip damage as well, and as long as you can turn it on and manage to land a hit, you’re in the money. It’s just that landing a hit part…
Weaknesses Unfortunately Shazam does have quite a few more weaknesses than he does strengths, but don’t let that deter you from picking him up. They are all more than manageable if you’re smart.
No Wakeup Game: One of the most glaring weaknesses pre-patch, Shazam now can use his teleports to get out of sticky wakeup situations. However, that’s really all he’s got. I suppose in a pinch you can do a wakeup Herculian Rush to kind of move you out of harms way, but stick to Advancing Mercury.
Loses at Range: Shazam stands no chance at range. His lightning bolt trades in the enemy’s favor at best. His dash is good enough that you can close the distance quickly, but you still have to be very, very patient. Also, while the teleport seems like a great way to get in fast, timing it so that Shazam dodges completely through projectiles is tricky in most cases and impossible in others.
No Low Threats: Honest to goodness, I think this is Shazam’s biggest weakness, there is virtually no reason why your opponent should be blocking low unless you’ve been beasting them with your command grab. He has a grand total of two, yes 2, low attacks: B 1,2,3 where the final hit is low, and his sweep. The first can be rolled out of and the second causes an untechable knockdown, but sweet Christmas, he has virtually no real high-low game. You need to make people FEAR the grab.
Normals Lack Range: Aside from 2,2 the Big Red Cheese needs to be right up in their face to hit people. He can’t poke in any real sense of the word, and aside from B2,3 which is duckable on the second hit, he has no attack that threatens more than a character length away. Unlike a majority of the cast whose B3 covers serious distance to wallop foes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman anyone?) Shazam sways back and punches right in front of his face, going nowhere.
No Easy Confirms: Unlike Superman and Batman, Shazam doesn’t have any easy confirms or strings that lead to big damage.
Meter Hungry: To do any real damage, you need meter. Badly. Even then, off of a raw meter burned Herculian Rush you’re only doing 37% with no trait. He needs to meter burn on all of his specials for damage and positioning, so in the second round meter management becomes much trickier depending on whether or not you want to save up for a wager.
Hopefully you guys have some sort of idea about what Shazam is capable of, his playstyle, and his strengths and weaknesses. If you’re interested in picking up the character or you have any questions or comments, feel free to type them up below. Next time we’re going to be talking about strategy, his normals, and his specials, and what an ideal match looks like. Stay tuned!
Bill Batson’s alter ego, Captain Marvel that was, master of the living lightning, Shazam smashes his way onto the already star studded roster of Injustice: Gods Among Us, trading blows with the crimson speedster in the latest Battle Arena footage. The Big Red Cheese looks like a one-man wrecking crew and I aim to break down some of the gameplay in these vids, normals, specials, super, to give you a feeling for how the hero plays.
I’m going to tell you right now, I’m maining Shazam. He’s always been my favorite DC hero, and while I wasn’t too enthused with his appearance in MK vs. DC, his Injustice iteration looks absolutely sick. The concept art alone deserves some serious praise. The team at NetherRealm has transformed one of the most classic costumes in comics into an ominously radical harbinger of pain to come.
You do know what I’m talking about right? I’m not a huge fan of the hood, but I personally think that he has the coolest costume of the entire roster. The electricity coming off his gauntlets is brilliant, and I hope they make an honest attempt to include that in-game.
Gameplay Shazam’s Battle Arena video gives a pretty good indicator of what he’s capable of. He has some pretty quick normals, special moves that give him some very interesting mobility options, EX attacks that really allow for a teleport, a ranged projectile, and possibly a powerup special… Man Shazam’s looking like a bonafide jack of all trades here! But let’s break down some of his specials in a little more depth here.
Class Type – Super Strength
The wizard’s avatar is strong enough to take down Superman, so it’s no surprise that he’s going to be throwing around marquee signs (:31) and water towers (1:30).
I can’t say too much about Shazam’s normals unfortunately. He doesn’t look like he has a ton of range on any of his standard attacks. He has some punches and some kicks. That’s really all I’ve got for you.
Specials Courage of Achilles (:33): Shazam calls down the lightning, igniting his fists with eldritch electricity. This looks like one of the few power up speicals in the game and I’m guessing it powers up the Big Red Cheese’s already (likely) beefy damage.
Speed of Mercury (:25, :44): I have to say that this teleport is the last thing I expected Shazam to be sporting. I know he had one in MK vs. DC, but he doesn’t really have anything quite like it in the comics. Here can teleport a short distance infront of him, going what appears to be completely intangible (maybe to both physical attacks and projectiles?) and closing the distance very quickly. While great for dodging attacks, this will be a key way to keep the pressure up after knockdowns that send the opponent flying.
Strength of Hercules (:57) EX (1:04): Shazam hauls off, gathering his power, and unleashes a massive punch that, if it connects, causes a wall bounce for a big combo. The punch also has super armor at a certain point, and likely can be used to blast through overzealous mashers. The EX version is Shazam’s stage transition attack and appears to have armor upon activation instead of having to charge the attack.
Power of Zeus (:45): I think we can count on this being Shazam’s go to projectile. He hucks a lightning bolt straight at his enemy’s face. It reminds me a lot of Sagat’s high Tiger Shot in that a lot of characters can probably duck under it. Still, this appears to be his only projectile, so I’m sure it’ll have its place when Shazam feels like zoning a bit.
Lightning Strike (:58): Shazam calls down a bolt of magic lightning from the heavens to strike his foe. When utilized in combos it looks like it keeps enemies aerial long enough to follow up with extra hits, though this may only be possible in the corner. It recovers quick, quick enough for him to combo out of it, and depending on the block stun, this may be a good move to throw out if your opponent likes to whiff things just outside of normal range.
Lightning Crusher (:27, :49) EX (:37): Reminds me of a combination of Raiden’s lightning flight attack deal and M. Bison’s psycho crusher. Basically he spirals through the air doing damage. Might be good for a quick punish? You’ll notice that the EX version does two hits – the lightning crush, and then Shazam throws them bodily behind him. It almost looks like this might have a hit of super armor, but from what I understand EX moves can really only be triggered on hit so… Maybe not?
Lightning Tackle (:40) EX (:40): Shazam tackles his enemy and they get hit by a big ol’ lightning strike. If this is an unblockable command grab… Oh man I will be happy. However let’s just assume that right now it can only be used in combos. If it scores a knockdown it might be useful as a combo ender. The EX version bounces the opponent up with the lightning and Shazam can follow up with more punishment. I love how fluid his combos look, and his EX moves really add a ton of extra damage opportunities at the cost of lots of meter.
Aerial Slam (:41) EX (:41): Our stalwart hero grabs his foe, flies into the air, and hurls them at the ground. Simple but sweet. In the EX version Shazam spends a little bar to follow them down to the ground and slams into them feet first, bouncing them up into the air for a little extra damage. Like the Lightning Tackle, I’m unsure of the properties of this attack. Does it only work on airborne opponents in combos? Can it be used on grounded enemies? So many questions!
High Voltage (1:52): Prepare for pain. Shazam uppercuts his unfortunate adversary into the stratosphere where he puts on a clinic in extreme electrical prejudice. Amidst stormy skies he lands a few bone crushing blows and elbows them back to terra firma, though before they can hit the ground he snatches them, spins the living crap out of them, and then sends them hurtling to the ground. It looks EASY as crap to land, and could be done off of nearly any EX attack, or even his Lightning Strike. It’s just a simple uppercut. Depending on the damage and how easy it is to build meter, this may be a useful addition to Shazam’s arsenal.
I am LOVING the way Shazam looks in this game. His costume is one of the best, if not the best, in the roster and his combos look awesome as all get out. I also like that we can attribute almost every one of his special attacks to the deities that power him. The only people that seem left out are the Wisdom of Solomon and the Stamina of Atlas – Hercules, Achilles, Zeus, and Mercury are all accounted for. Right now, from what I can tell, he’s looking like a very very solid character. He has mobility, projectiles, a teleport, a plethora of useful EX attacks, and an easily comboable super. Prepare to get, THUNDERSTRUCK!
Not a great week for comics. I’m looking forward to Dash and Carol’s reunion in this month’s Scalped and I LOVE Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and I’m pumped for a Beasts of Burden/Hellboy crossover but other than that…
I try to pick up at least one issue that isn’t quite so “mainstream.” And by “not mainstream” I mean not Marvel or DC, so I guess the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy story fills my quota, but I don’t feel that great about it. Hopefully something from an independent pops up on the shelves and catches my eye come Wednesday!