Is Nariko OP? A closer look at one of PS All-Stars' deadliest combos

  • Posted January 20th, 2013 at 01:34 EDT by Kyle Prahl

The beauty of a game like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is that it caters to every type of PlayStation fan. From ferociously mature warriors like Kratos and Sweet Tooth to heroes of yore like PaRappa and Spike, there's a character for you if you like pretty much any PlayStation franchise. The same variety permeates the game's mechanics, which (as discussed in my review) are as deep and nuanced as the industry's highest-tier fighters. But with extensive combat options matched only by the roster's size, the need for balanced characters and many viable strategic approaches becomes apparent.

Some of a truly great fighting game's most worthwhile secrets aren't immediately obvious, and characters that seemed balanced and valuable at first glance can become totally OP (or utterly worthless) given enough time on the competitive scene. With that in mind, I'd like to take a closer look at one of PlayStation All-Stars' quickest and most combo-centric fighters: Nariko, of Heavenly Sword fame. The female warrior - destined to lead her people to the promised land - is a perfect match for a game about kicking the living crap out of friends and enemies, but one move string in particular makes her highly effective - perhaps TOO effective - at doing so.

This information largely comes courtesy of the official PlayStation All-Stars strategy guide, published by Prima Games and co-authored by Josh Richardson, David Brothers, and Sam Bishop. The official guide covers combos and high-AP strategies not offered in the game's various tutorials. As any player can confirm, building up AP to unleash Super attacks is everything in PlayStation All-Stars, so these strategies are of utmost consequence. One such approach with Nariko involves an extensive and varied string of moves that, if executed correctly, is worth a whopping 150 AP. For Nariko, this means an entire Level 1 Super bar can be filled from zero, all with a single combo.

To put 150 AP into perspective, there is only one other "combo" - a specific string of moves with uninterrupted AP build - in the game's official lexicon capable of generating the same amount. With extensive knowledge of Dante's Bold Cancel mechanic, careful corner positioning, a successful parry, and no less than 12 unique move inputs, a skilled player could earn 150 AP with Ninja Theory's demon hunter. For one or two other characters, comparable amounts can be achieved with the same degree of positioning and mastery. It couldn't be more opposite for Nariko. Eight move inputs can be easily memorized, and her 150 AP combo can be performed from any flat horizontal surface - no corners or platforms required.

Here's how it works. Down-Square brings a roundhouse kick - Angel's Judgment - down upon opponents, causing what's called a "bounce reaction" in the game's vocabulary. This hit state sets up the opponent for Neutral-Circle (Warm Embrace), a grab-like move that shocks opponents. Link directly into Up-Triangle (Aerial Moment), and jump at the earliest possible moment to follow your opponent after the launcher. Another Up-Triangle (this time, in mid-air) causes Nariko to swing towards her victim with a few quick slashes, with no moment for recovery. What happens next is decided by your skill level and confidence. With expert timing (or rapid button-mashing), you could fit in a mid-air Neutral-Circle (Warm Embrace) followed by mashing Neutral-Square for a final three-hit Heavenly Depart combo that causes the eject tornado hit state. That mid-air Neutral-Circle is particular hard to nail (and the combo falls apart if you miss), so in a practical battle situation, it might be wiser to skip directly to the 3x Square combo for a 140 AP result.

If that last paragraph was a bunch of techical gobbledy-gook to you, here's the plain-and-simple move string:

Down-Square, Circle, Up-Triangle, (air) Up-Triangle, Circle, Square, Square, Square

Check out the video below for an almost identical example, courtesy of YouTube user CriticalFury. The only difference here is that the combo begins with Nariko's Down-Circle Purgatory, not the faster Down-Square roundhouse kick.


A couple sticking points make this combo trickier than your average mash-fest. As mentioned above, the second Warm Embrace is particularly hard to land before the opponent's air recovery and invincibility frames kick in. I find that mashing Circle immediately after landing the mid-air Up-Triangle produces best results, but more skilled players ... (continued on next page) ----

Kyle Prahl is a PSU senior editor and a Communications student at the University of Minnesota. If you care about PlayStation or the life of a pale Midwesterner, you should follow him on Twitter.
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