Dairantou Kanon Air Smash 2002 (2003)

Type: Sumo Game

Release Date: January 11, 2003

Developer: Micro Dream Studio ++

Available On: PC

Kanon and Air Smash is a Sumo game. While it takes obvious cues from Super Smash Bros, the actual execution is a bit too primitive to really count as a Smash clone (only as a Smash inspired Sumo game). The game is a doujinshi title and, from what I can tell, has a Versus mode (with four players), an Arcade Mode (with four difficulties), Options, a Statistics page and there are unique Win and Game Over portraits as well. There is a cast of 9 characters, the characters of which are taken from the Kanon and Air visual novels.

Gameplay Breakdown:

You have three buttons:
The attack button
The special button
The jump button

The attack button
-The attack button lets you do a single attack that can be spammed repeatedly if you press it in almost any direction. It is unsafe and attempting to fight this way is more likely going to result in you and your opponent trading attacks, but for characters with weaker projectiles, it’s a way for them to build damage.
-There is one Smash attack; inputting the command for a down Smash in this game will let you do what seems to be a Smash attack. It still comes out about as fast as a normal attack (and can be spammed just as often) and unlike a down Smash from Super Smash Bros, it only hits in whatever direction you’re facing (rather than around you). The hitbox on your Smash attack must have a very finicky sweetspot, because actually getting the attack to knock back is very, very inconsistent.
-You may pick up and also throw stage items at other players using the attack button.

The special button
-Unlike the attack button, this is only used for one move: your special attack. About 88% of the cast uses a projectile or space control move of some sort while only 1 character in the game can be said to have a special attack resembling a recovery move (said character will be mentioned in the upcoming character section)

The jump button
-As you may guess, the jump button is used for jumping. Almost every character in the game has two grounded jumps, or one jumps if they’re already airborne (with the exception of Ayu and Kanna, who get three ground jumps and two air jumps).
-Every character has a wall cling when done against certain surfaces that will allow them extra jumps. Characters will slip slowly down if they do not jump when clinging to a wall.
-Certain stage elements can be destroyed by jumping under them (like in Mario) and these will often drop recovery items.

Other System Mechanics
-Aside from the aforementioned wall cling, there is a command run (done by tapping twice and holding). There is no Running attack.
-It is possible to “Moon Run” (derived from Moon Walking, but running instead of walking). It is performed by running and then changing and holding direction; due to the lack of a pivot animation, you will be moving in the opposite direction, while still facing your original direction. It is not particularly useful, given that every character stops moving when they use their projectile. This is less of a technique and more of a bug.
-One stage has a slippery surface that will make you slide until you fall off the platform you’re on. The speed of your slide seems physics/momentum based.
-There does not seem to be anyway to block or air dodge


Characters
As stated before, the characters are previously existing characters from Kanon and Air (which is why Kanon and Air and mentioned in the title). There are many doujinshi games featuring these characters and most of this cast also appeared in the doujinshi fighting game “Eternal Fighter Zero” (more infamously, they also appear in SaltyBets, where they are commonly confused for Touhou Project characters; this is unsurprising as the creators of EFZ did actually create the Touhou fighters and they used a similar artstyle for both games).

Since almost every character feels functionally the same, save for their projectiles, we’ll just go into their projectile attacks. These characters are listed in the order that they appear on the Character select screen

01
Ayu
Special Attack: Big Fish (Projectile)
She summons a large fish projectile of considerable size that will slowly zoom across the screen. Its hitbox is a bit weird (the tail seems to have no hitbox at all) and there is considerable cooldown to the move (especially if you summon it and have it go from one side of the screen to the other)

02
Misuzu
Special Attack: Bird Assist (Homing/AI Based)
She summons an AI based helper bird that will circle your character randomly. It is probably more helpful in FFA matches than it is in 1v1’s

03
Minagi
Special Attack: Timer Sphere (Area of Effect)
She creates a slowly expanding bubble that, at full size, will count down and deal 15% damage to whoever is in the bubble when it “explodes”. The character is very vulnerable during the first portion of the move, but the range for the second half is considerably good

04
Kirishima
Special Attack: Star Shot (Projectile)
She fires a spinning star. As simple as it sounds, the move can be performed several times in a row, making it very easy to zone other characters, especially when they are off screen.

05
Kawasumi
Special Attack: Sword Thrust (Recovery)
She thrusts forward with a sword. This is the aforementioned recovery move. Depending on the height, it can be used multiple times and will definitely cancel your momentum. Despite the usefulness of having the only recovery move in the game, Kawasumi has a comparatively weaker offensive game since she that advantage comes at the price of lacking any projectile or space controlling move.

06
Sawatari
Special Attack: Exploding Bands (Projectile)
She throws a colorful band that will first move towards the opponent, and then will return to her (unless she jumps over it, in which case it will continue until it falls off screen or explodes). Despite the potency of this move, the attack causes self harm. It may also get caught on stage geometry, but this is stage dependent.

07
Shiori
Special Attack: Snowball Flurry (Projectile)
She fires an asymmetrical flurry of snowballs. The flurry is randomly generated and each snowball counts as it’s own projectile.

08
Minase
Special Attack: Timed Bomb (Mine)
She drops a timed bomb that will only go off when the timer reaches 0. Much like Sawatari, this explosive attack can cause self harm. Minase is capable of dropping multiple bombs in a row but cannot manually detonate them.

09
Kanna
Special Attack: Homing Feather (Projectile, Homing/AI Based)
As you might expect for a character that is infamous on Saltybets for having a Sore Loser mode (and for also being very unbalanced in her fighting game appearance), Kanna’s attack is very, very dumb. Her projectile consists of a feather that will explode on impact. Said feather homes in on opponents and causes about 24% damage on hit. Said feather can also be spammed over and over in quick succession. Said feather attack will also spawn an extra feather per opposing character. Did I also mention that the feather attack can be used up close and is also extremely hard to avoid?

If it wasn’t obvious, this move is completely borked. I get that she is the boss character, but the move is completely dumb. It’s basically a Win Button and the only way to counter this attack is to also pick Kanna and to also abuse the attack. It’s a really dumb attack.


Character Tiers
Normally, I’m not fond of speaking authoritatively on games and their balance. But with how simple and poorly balanced the game is, it is pretty easy to guess which characters are actually any good.

I would assume the meta-game would probably be dominated by those with good projectiles and/or hard hitting attacks (mainly because every character’s melee attacks are universally awful and janky). Items would also be part of the gameplay (not really by choice; there isn’t a way to toggle them off from what I can find). While it’s not so bad, as the throw-able items would speed up gameplay early on, this also means food items can prolong matches, which greatly negates the benefits of throw-able items.

The tiers here only take into consideration 1v1 matches. The tiers are also in reverse alphabetical order, going from God to Bad to Awful Tier.

(Winged) God(dess) Tier
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Kanna
Unsurprisingly, Kanna is the top dog in this game. It has all been explained in the section regarding her projectile. To add insult to injury, she also has three jumps like Ayu, making it harder to kill her at lower percentages (though Kawasumi still has the best survive-ability attribute, as she has an actual recovery move). Her only weakness is her bad melee moves (but that doesn’t count as everybody has bad melee moves). The only option to fighting her is really just picking Kanna as well. While some of the characters in the next tier CAN put up a fight, it’s still greatly stacked in Kanna’s favor.

Bad Tier
These characters are still relatively bad with some glaring weaknesses, but most of these characters actually have the ability to kill other players consistently (or at least, can knock them off stage consistently) so that puts them above the characters that have trouble doing so.

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Sawatari
One of the few characters that doesn’t struggle to KO opponents, her greatest weakness is that she can be harmed by her own projectile. This wouldn’t be a problem if her projectile was just your regular fireball, but Sawatari’s projectile is a boomerang-type projectile that will return to you after a certain distance is reached. You can easily eat accidental damage if you’re not careful. Certain stage layouts and the band’s unique properties can also lower its effectiveness (the move runs along the ground, meaning it can be caught on stage geometry, and also can’t be used to ledge guard as it’ll fall off stage). She is still very decent compared to the other characters despite some weaknesses.

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Shiori
Her projectile is really useful for building up damage and KO’ing opponents. She spawns multiple snowballs (meaning more hitstun than single shot projectiles) and she can spawn snowballs behind her as well (making it safe to use up close). She can also force opponents off really easily with her flurry. Her weakness is that her snowball patterns are randomly generated, which limits their effectiveness (if you’re really unlucky, she’ll spawn snowballs on a higher trajectory that will miss a grounded opponent. One of the better characters here, she lacks Sawatari’s ability to knock opponents directly off the stage, making her a weaker (though admittedly) safer option than Sawatari.

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Minase
The other explosive/self harming character. She’s less risky than Sawatari, since her projectile is based on a timer (and she can run away from them before they explode). She can play a decent run away game against characters with weaker/less abusable projectiles. She also has no troubles with KO’ing characters (if you ever knock them off stage, it is possible to stack several clocks where you think an opponent will land for easy kills, and her clocks have good, consistent knock-back too). Her biggest issue is that building damage normally is difficult; she can’t really rely on clocks to build damage because of the timer and the friendly fire. While she can punish other character’s recoveries very, very well, actually getting them off screen is a hassle. She’s also forced to approach characters with good projectiles. While admittedly not as good as Shiori or Sawatari, she does benefit from having good matchups against characters weaker than her.

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Kirishima
She has two advantages; she can reliably zone in the air (unlike other characters whose projectiles have slower startup) and she can kill opponents really easily at high percentages by forcing them off stage (which she can do, due to her quick cooldown on her projectile). The problem is that her projectile is ridiculously unsafe at low percentages, leaving her with the option of using her melee moves at lower percentages. She’s still better off than some of the characters, since she has a way to kill opponents reliably but she’s the weakest of all the characters in this tier.

Awful Tier
The rest of the cast is really bad by comparison. They all have awful or less abusable projectiles and/or also really struggle to KO opponents

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Ayu
While she admittedly has the biggest projectile in the game, the cooldown for the move is very, very long. Even with its size, it’s not a particularly good projectile; the hitbox is way too picky (with the attack missing at times when it really shouldn’t) and it’s ridiculously slow (so it can’t be used effectively during neutral, as opponents will see it coming). It does have the use of ensuring characters don’t return to the stage when they’ve been knocked off, but this is only applicable to certain stages. Her saving grace is that, like Kanna, she has three jumps, which increases her survival ability.

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Kawasumi
Admittedly, her move is very good at keeping her alive, but the attack itself is rather poor. It can take comedically high percentages for it to actually KO anybody. You also need to be up close to use it offensively, and while this is good for characters without proper projectiles, it’s not easy to land on those with more conventional ones.

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Minagi
Her move is incredibly useful on stages with lots of platforming but the biggest issue is that there is so much startup on the attack. You’re completely vulnerable during the startup of the move. Additionally, the move is only 15% damage (which is not a lot considering the risk involved, though the coverage of the move is really good). I did discover that if you are struck during the startup, there is a bug that allows you to move afterwards, but no jumping or attacking unfortunately. It’s definitely likely to be more useful in a FFA situation but not that much more useful.

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Misuzu
I think Mizusu may be the worst character in the game. Her move involves calling in a flying Helper that will circle around her as she moves around. The biggest problem is that Misuzu as 0 control over this Helper. It seems to be completely AI based, meaning it is impossible to maneuver purposefully. It also does not help that it circles around Misuzu, meaning that while it may be useful at the start of a match (where moves will barely faze other players due to the low knockback) it only gets less useful as time goes on (when projectiles or other moves start to have considerable knockback).  I could see it being more useful in a FFA match but even that would be debatable. Her only deliberate option is to rely on her melee attacks (yeah…)

 


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Links:

http://doujingravity-remaster.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/dairantou-kanoair-smash-2002.html

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