Knuckles

        Lately I’ve been playing an interesting addition to the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise- Sonic Battle. This game is from the fighting genre, though it’s a rather unique case. While you do knock the enemy’s health down as per normal, you have a large stage to run around in, and a big part of the battle is knocking your enemy into walls so you can follow up with a downward strike.
        Aside from regular attacks, there are also power moves that can be altered at the start of the match, altering what move you use on the ground or air. You also set one of the three types, ground, air, or trap, to be something you are immune to. In addition, there is also a secondary gauge, called the “Ichikoro Gauge”, that fills up as you block attacks and take damage, which when filled entirely lets your next power move take a life off your opponent instantly.
        A lot of these characters can do a lot of damage in a hurry thanks to all this, but luckily there are defensive options as well. The guard button lets you block an incoming attack, though it only lasts for a split second. Holding the button makes your character stand in place and start to heal themselves, as well as raise your Ichikoro gauge, though every character raises both at different rates.
        However, the most notable part of the game, gameplay aside, is its unique character, dubbed Emerl by Sonic. The story mode of the game starts with Sonic finding the robot washed up on the beach, after apparently having been damaged an abandoned by Dr. Eggman for being useless. Sonic takes it to Tails, who quickly discovers that the robot has the unique ability to copy abilities of those it witnesses in battle, or battles itself.
        In the game itself, this works so that every battle Emerl is in, whether you play as him or not, if you win, he unlocks a new technique from everyone involved. So, if Sonic were fighting Tails, then he would get a move from both. Depending on how well you did in battle, you will get a certain number of skill points as well, which are needed to actually allow Emerl to use the moves.
        Winning the battle gets you one point, winning with no KOs is two, and winning without being hit is worth five. Getting a Chaos Emerald, which happens throughout story mode, gets you ten points. The moves you can use cost differing amounts depending on how they are ranked. So, for example, if you use a rank one move, it costs five points, two is ten, and it increases accordingly. As you might imagine, this means that in the beginning you can hardly use any of the moves you are gradually getting, unless you spend a lot of time grinding by having him fight Sonic and Tails repeatedly.
        At first, Sonic’s chapter is fairly easy to get through. The first few battles have you play as Sonic while you get used to the controls, and he is certainly powerful enough to deal with the enemies, so Emerl‘s own weaknesses are hard to notice. However, partway through you have to face a copy of Emerl made by Eggman, and you are put in control of Emerl. If you did not modify him, he plays like a massively weaker version of Sonic, with copies of his moves, but he is the slowest and weakest character, in every sense. Luckily, your enemy is equally weak, so again, it is not as pronounced as it could be.
        However, against anyone else it is obvious. Even the slowest of characters can catch him, everyone can deal out more damage and almost always more quickly, his jumps are pitifully small, the double jump getting him no extra height at all. He can’t even jump on top of any of the platforms, and his dash is a mere hop that actually would serve to slow Emerl down instead of just running constantly. His healing is also very slow, but workable.
        However, the game does a good job of making sure Emerl isn‘t much of a liability. When you have to face Gamma, you play as Sonic, with Emerl and Tails helping, and the only time you have to use Emerl is when you choose to fight Sonic and tails as Tail‘s Lab for training. However, the final battle of the chapter has you face off with Knuckles on your own, finally forcing you to face off with an enmy as the weakest character.
        If you were playing as Sonic or Tails, this wouldn’t be so bad, because while he would still outclass you in a couple of categories, he wouldn’t be so vastly stronger than you in every category. Knuckles is one of the stronger characters in the game, and his attacks can take out Emerl in a single combo. He also heals fairly quickly if left to his own devices, and as stated, will be faster than Emerl, so if he wants to come after you, there isn’t much you can do.
        The battle has both of you with five lives, and he will be chasing you constantly. However, you can use that to your advantage by making him run into your punches, allowing you to combo him. Even if you cannot do much damage, those do add up. You won’t be winning quickly, but winning is certainly possible.
        However, that was only round one. For round two, both of you have ten lives, and Knuckles is going about the battle more intelligently, trying to block when you strike. It is very unlikely you can strike faster than he can block, so most of the time you’ll leave yourself open for his crushing blows and help him build up his Ichikoro gauge.
        However, before the fight starts, Sonic does give you some good advice. Namely, he tells you that Knuckles has “lots of power, but his moves are simple to read”. Accordingly, what you should do is let him get close and move has he’s about to attack. He always goes on to do a full combo, so this gives you time to get behind him and hit him with one of your own. Again, it will be slow, but it is the safest way to beat him. You can also try blocking his strikes like he does yours, but that would be a bit more dangerous because if your timing is even slightly off, you‘ll be trapped in his combo.
        If you are lucky enough to pick up anyone’s running ability, I highly suggest you copy it. Ifyou don’t have it, you may want to go back and get it. Tails would be preferable, because it is faster without using up an extraordinary amount of points. If you want a good attack move, I recommend ‘Sonic Flare’, which you automatically get when Tails tells Sonic about Emerl’s abilities. It is identical to Emerl’s own combo finisher, except it does battle damage.
        Getting Sonic or Tails’ aim attack, that is, the one they knock the enemy to the ground with after smashing them into a wall, would also be a good idea, but if either of these means you cannot use another character’s speed, use the speed instead. After all, none of these attacks will mean much if you can’t hit Knuckles with them. Lastly, I’d suggest getting someone’s healing power, especially Tails, as he has one of the better ones. This will let you recover from Knuckles’ attacks, and raise your Ichikoro gauge faster. Those one hit KOs will help things go much more smoothly.
        As for Knuckles’ moves himself, as I said, he mostly will just follow you and try to combo you, but he may occasionally use one of his power moves. The first of these is to throw a boulder at you. While a powerful blow, it can be dodged fairly easily as long as you are not right in front of him, and if you are, as long as Emerl is sped up a bit he should be able to escape damage.
        His second attack has him float up into the air, making a rock smash down in front of him. This move moves a bit more quickly than his ground attack, and there’s less of a warning, but the same idea applies; good speed will get you to safety. Lastly is his trap move, where he throws a drill bomb at the ground under him. It will hide itself underground, waiting for you to step on it. The only advice is I can offer here is to remember where it is.
        Of course, one of these moves will be automatically guarded against for you- I generally pick traps out of habit, which makes the bombs just a quick way to raise my gauge, but picking ground may be a bit smarter in this case, as he seems to be pick it quite often.
        In any case, that’s all there is to the fight. Of course, if you come back to the first chapter later with a powered up Emerl, he won’t be nearly as irritating to deal with, but when you first face him he will be absolutely agonizing to deal with. However, following this advice should make things a little easier. I hope you enjoyed, my dear readers, and I will see you next time.

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