Trainer’s School: Croagunk Character Guide

Wait a minute, who let him in here?!

Image for post
Image for post

This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.

The sixteenth Trainer’s School character guide focuses on Croagunk, the Toxic Mouth Pokémon and a dark horse roster pick, both in-universe and out. When rumors of a ‘frog Pokémon’ being added to the game were circulated, Pokkén fans thought we were getting a version of Greninja not unlike his Smash Bros. counterpart. Croagunk is also already a Support Pokémon, so his appearance in the Ferrum League is uncanny- if he’s even doing any fighting at all. One of Croagunk’s win screens implies that every match he participates in is simply a vivid daydream. Nevertheless, players can still select Croagunk and employ his wild, unpredictable fighting style to carry them to very real victory. This eclectic Poison-Fighting dual type often seems to have a mind of his own, but players who dedicate themselves to mastering the character will be able to overwhelm their opponents with a combination of wacky aerial movements and random items and buffs.

(I normally never do this, but I wanted to give a brief but thorough thank-you to the Croagunk Discord- specifically the players who keep the Croagunk Google Doc updated. After compiling information for 17 character guides, the Croagunk Discord was the first Pokkén character Discord I’ve been in to have a nearly complete thirty-five page document going into every part of the character in painstaking detail. I assume this is likely a consequence of maining an RNG character. A majority of this guide will be cleaning up, rephrasing, and summarizing that document.)

Croagunk: Overview

Playstyle: Croagunk is an RNG-based items character. Several of his moves have completely random effects that may have positive or negative impacts on either player. Beyond that, Croagunk’s base kit is also wildly varied, from projectiles to up-close attacks to aerial movement.

Values: 540 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 150cc Synergy Gauge.

Poké Moves: Poison Sting (Duel 5A…, Field n.A…,) Poison Jab (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Thief (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Acupressure (]A[,) Gunk Shot (j.A,) Venoshock (Duel only, 2A,) Foul Play (Duel only, 8A.)

High Stance: Charges both Croagunk’s and the opponent’s Synergy Gauge.

Low Stance: Croagunk naps, restoring dark green HP while avoiding high-hitting moves.

Unique Features: Croagunk can perform Midair Float with j.R. He can move in any direction while floating and can cancel the move into aerials. If Duel j.Y is executed in any direction besides neutral, Croagunk will swim in the air. Since this can be performed in any direction, the notation for Croagunk swim is j.#Y. In Field, Croagunk can do something similar with j.s.X. Much like Pikachu Libre, Croagunk can wall cling (but not wall jump) with certain moves: Field j.s.X, Duel j.#Y and 6X. Wall clinging grants a three-second-long stacking Speed buff for every second Croagunk is stuck to the wall. Wall clinging can be cancelled into aerials, and after three seconds, Croagunk is forced to bail from the wall.

Several of Croagunk’s moves will do damage but not KO. In exchange, they do massive amounts of chip damage:

  • In Duel: 4X
  • In Field: n.Y/n.[Y], s.Y, j.Y
  • In both Phases: Poison Sting, the sludge trap from Gunk Shot (the projectile itself will not KO, but the trap will,) any move that places a bomb trap (neither the bomb hit or the explosion will KO either player)

Pause! Croagunk’s RNG, buffs and debuffs, and moves with variable properties

Croagunk has several moves that will randomly buff or debuff himself or his opponent, or that will randomly throw out a unique item. While many of these are his special moves, such as Poison Jab, Acupressure, and Gunk Shot, there are a few other normal moves that do so as well. Furthermore, several of his moves change properties completely depending on whether Croagunk or the opponent is buffed or debuffed.

Moves that have RNG items:

  • 6Y will sometimes throw a bomb instead of a rock.
  • j.8X will sometimes drop a bomb on whiff or block.
  • Gunk Shot is the most significant move with random items. Croagunk has a chance to throw: a rock, a small bomb, a large prematurely detonating bomb, a sludge trap, a Sandstorm tornado, or a rolling boulder. (Croagunk will have a higher chance of earning a tornado or a boulder when his HP is in the red.)

Acupressure and Poison Jab will randomly buff or debuff Croagunk or the opponent.

Acupressure can have one of four outcomes, and will always compensate Croagunk with Synergy gains:

  • Croagunk will receive a Speed buff. (Croagunk can also randomly take 30HP of recoil if he receives a Speed buff.)
  • Croagunk will receive an Attack and a Speed buff, and heal 60HP of dark green HP.
  • Croagunk will receive a Speed debuff.
  • Croagunk will receive an Attack and a Speed debuff, along with 80HP of recoil.

Poison Jab is forward-moving red armored throw crush. On hit, there are three possible outcomes:

  • Poison Jab will deal no damage and in fact will heal the opponent for 10HP of dark green HP, along with giving them a guaranteed Attack buff and potentially a Defense buff as well.
  • Poison Jab will debuff the opponent’s Defense, and Croagunk will score a knockdown.
  • Poison Jab will debuff the opponent’s Attack and Defense, and launch the opponent.

Guaranteed debuffs: Foul Play is a move with counter armor from frame 5–60. On successful counter, the bomb that Croagunk drops will counter pierce and debuff the opponent’s Defense. Gunk Shot Sludge Pool will also debuff the opponent’s Defense.

The following moves have variable properties based on whether Croagunk or the opponent are buffed/debuffed:

  • Duel Phase grab, enhanced by Croagunk’s buffs (deals 100HP for one buff, 150HP for two)
  • ]X[ Shoryuken, enhanced by Croagunk’s debuffs (two additional hits for one debuff, full invincibility and six additional hits for two debuffs)
  • Duel Phase 4X, enhanced when Croagunk has two buffs (the move becomes unblockable.)
  • Venoshock, enhanced by the opponent’s debuffs (one additional counter-piercing laser per debuff.)
  • Thief will steal buffs and Synergy from the opponent, and the move itself will become enhanced based on how many buffs the opponent has. Buffs stolen by Thief will always last for 10 seconds.

Using Croagunk’s RNG moves is critical to his gameplan. You cannot get the most out of playing Croagunk if you don’t take risks with his RNG-based moves. The various Gunk Shot projectiles can be employed for block pressure, keep your opponent out, or to set up traps. Poison Jab is one of your best moves due to its red armor, and you can use Thief to steal buffs from your opponent if you get an undesirable outcome. Furthermore, many of your moves get stronger and are more valuable when there are buffs in play, which thusly encourages you to earn buffs with Acupressure or Poison Jab. While Croagunk may often accidentally give his opponent an advantage with his special moves, he will still have an incredibly uphill battle if he doesn’t use those same moves at all.

Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.

Croagunk takes after fellow wacky wild-card fighting game character Faust in many ways. Every item that Croagunk tosses with Gunk Shot must be reacted to differently and can often lead to their own unique combo routes. On the other hand, Croagunk can just as easily put himself in compromising situations with his own moves, by either damaging himself or buffing his opponent. Still, if all of the stars line up in Croagunk’s favor, he can manage to be a very devastating foe. Approaching a buffed (or lucky) Croagunk can be difficult due to the chip damage and counter-pierce from Poison Sting, Venoshock, and Gunk Shot traps. Catching him out can also be frustrating due to the red armor on Poison Jab, his ability to low profile with many moves like 2Y, 2X, and Thief, and the air mobility granted to him by j.#Y, Midair Float, and Wall Cling. Overall, while a less skilled player will look like a fool when playing Croagunk, a masterful Croagunk can be an incredibly frustrating opponent to play against.

Field Phase

Don’t worry too much even if you don’t get lucky with traps. It’ll work out (hopefully.)

Croagunk’s zoning game in Field Phase is augmented by his ability to set up poison hazards and manually lay bombs. Your n.Y is a very valuable, multifaceted tool: it can delete projectiles, can be used as a trap to halt approaches, or can be used as an okizeme tool on any knockdown that doesn’t Shift (or as a setup after a Shift.) The poison bubbles from j.Y and s.Y both cover a wide area and can limit your opponent’s movement alongside lucky Gunk Shots. B.Y and the charged version of f.Y also guarantee a bomb plant, meaning you have an easy method for utilizing bombs as traps for any appropriate situation. Your normal f.Y will be your close-to-midrange projectile that you’ll utilize once you’ve gotten in on your opponent. Your only special move projectiles in Field will be your Gunk Shots and Poison Sting, but Poison Sting’s properties in Field are dramatically different. The charged 5[A] will split off into five angles, meaning that you can cover nearly the entire arena with it. Only the first 5A can be charged, but you can dodge while firing Poison Stings by inputting a dash left or right with each press of A. Remember that many of Croagunk’s poison attacks and the bomb explosions will do damage, but may not KO.

Remember the rest of your movement options as well- both system options like CADC and Homing Attack, and Croagunk’s unique options like j.s.X. Moving around with j.s.X and Midair Float can let you prolong your time in the air, and if your opponent doesn’t have any good Field-specific antiair options this can be incredibly frustrating for them. All of your aerial options, including your wall cling, can also cancel into your aerial moves, including Gunk Shot and j.Y, meaning you can make your projectiles a little more unpredictable. Croagunk’s j.X divekick creates a shockwave and will also cause a Shift, but it’s also -8, so it’s a bit more risky than similar divekick moves. Also, if you’re having a hard time scoring Acupressure, you can gain a free one after a successful CA if you simply let go of X and continue to hold A until Acupressure is primed. Likewise, you can charge your ]X[ Shoryuken in the same way. You can also use Poison Jab at a midrange in order to armor through your opponent’s approach.

Duel Phase

Even when an opponent manages to get in on Croagunk, it’ll be a hard-fought victory and may still not end up in their favor.

In lieu of your Field Phase Y projectiles, Croagunk mainly alternates his zoning between Poison Sting, Gunk Shot, and Venoshock (which gets powerful based on debuffs.) Your main goal is to irritate the hell out of your opponent with your zoning tools, make them approach recklessly, and then punish them for their bad approach with Poison Jab and Thief. You also gain access to Foul Play, another command counter that you can score big punishes with. Croagunk’s big bait-and-punish gameplan is further augmented by moves like 4YY/4YX- the former will launch the opponent, and the latter will counter pierce and is +8, but both require a decent windup due to being i19. Similarly, 4X (a reference to Miguel’s one-hit punch from Tekken) requires a lot of windup but can be made unblockable with buffs, which is why you can sometimes use it as a goony meaty option to flex. (You can cancel 4X with R so that you don’t get stuck looking like a moron for trying an i160 move in neutral or on okizeme.) Moves like 2X and Thief are also much safer on block when initiated at a distance rather than at point blank.

Similarly to j.s.X in Field, j.#Y in Duel can let you ‘swim’ in the air. We will talk a lot more about j.#Y and how crucial it is to Croagunk’s combo gameplan later, but right now it’s also very important to understand its properties and how it augments Croagunk’s aerial movement. Inputting 7, 8, and 9 will let you swim up-back, up, and up-forward, while inputting 1, 2, and 3 will let you swim down back, down, and down-forward. You can swim up to two directions in a row and you can cancel your swim into different aerial normals, and j.Y can also cancel into Gunk Shot. You can even cancel into and out of Midair Float with j.#Y (but you are still only allowed one upward and one downward swim per sequence.) If you downward swim directly into the ground, you will get j.#Y Crash, a -8 psuedo-divekick that will launch your opponent. The launcher is itself the crux of many of Croagunk’s combos, but you can also confirm a Poison Jab off it in a pinch. You can also end your aerial sequence with a j.7/8/9X, which is a teleport move that can potentially drop a bomb trap on your opponent. Warping with 7 will drop you in the spot right below you; warping with 8 will drop you a little bit forward; warping with 9 will send you further than the position at 8.

Beyond that, you also have several basic moves with universal properties that are still good to rely on in a pinch. Your 8Y can be charged, and the little shout that comes out of Croagunk’s mouth is technically a projectile. You have a typical 2Y special cancellable throw crush, and since Croagunk is so small and so low to the ground, you can low-profile a ton of moves.

Synergy Burst

Croagunk’s Burst Mode isn’t a particularly fancy transformation and lasts for about 12 seconds. Still, if you have been playing properly, you will likely have built up Synergy very quickly for your 150cc meter via Thief, self-buffs, and all of the tools you have that circumvent the Attack Triangle. The one major buff that it grants Croagunk is also worth the activation, so feel free to use Burst mode aggressively. Burst Mode Croagunk gains the following buffs:

  • Croagunk’s RNG-based moves have a higher chance of providing better outcomes.
  • Poison Sting’s first hit now has hitstun.
I didn’t know Croagunk was a master of the kage bunshin no jutsu…

Obviously, your gameplan is the same as it was prior to Burst, but you can now rely more heavily on your RNG-based moves, and get better items or buffs from them. Having better items, like more frequent tornados and boulders, along with the additional hitstun on Poison Sting, makes Croagunk’s zoning pressure even more of a threat. On top of that, continuing to earn good buffs also further enhances Croagunk’s strength in Burst. Any special-cancellable moves can also be cancelled into Croagunk’s Burst Attack, Alter Ego Army. Alter Ego Army is an i23 divekick that will counterpierce and is invincible on frame 13 (when activated from the ground. In the air, Alter Ego Army is invincible on frame 1.) On a successful hit, Alter Ego Army will remove all of your opponent’s dark green health (which will surely have accrued from blocking Poison Sting and Gunk Shot items) as well as debuff their Speed for seven seconds. Use Alter Ego Army as a mixup super to punish your opponent’s attempt to antiair your aerial movement, or out of a 5Y… blockstring when you catch them mashing.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Croagunk can be powerful when played correctly and when you’re dealt a favorable hand. Much like Pikachu Libre, if Croagunk is fully buffed and his gameplan is allowed to progress, his zoning tools and ability to open up his opponent becomes incredibly powerful and he can stuff out most of the cast. On the other hand, if you’re unlucky and your opponent is able to capitalize on your mistakes, it can feel like you aren’t getting to play. Beyond that, Croagunk’s longer combos, with and without specific items, can still be difficult to figure out. (In the Target Combo section we will go over combos that don’t rely on RNG.) Since Croagunk is an item character who doesn’t also have a variety of good normal tools, and is very difficult to play, he is often considered to be a low-tier character compared to the rest of the Pokkén roster. That said, it’s not as if Croagunk can’t succeed against stronger opponents, since his RNG and unpredictability grants him an X-factor that allows him to overcome a variety of situations. However, being able to outplay opponents due to a combination of luck and knowledge checks is different than outplaying them by having a variety of tools that will work consistently and cover multiple situations.

Support and Cheer Pairings

Go ahead and pick the Croagunk Support for the meme. You can do whatever you want. Support Croagunk will set up a good area-of-effect that will force your opponent to stay away under threat of eating a Defense debuff, so it’s certainly not a bad pick at all. If you really want to play full RNG, you can play Croagunk, pick Mew Support, and select Whimsical Cheer, and everyone will know that you’re a god and a madman who lives and dies by the roll of the dice. Otherwise, there are a variety of Support Sets that are more practical and valuable in all situations. Quagsire and Yveltal-Latios can let you control space in a similar way to Support!Croagunk; Victini can guarantee you some crits and powerful damage; Espeon can allow you to heal away debuffs and Umbreon is a powerful reversal option. Support and Standard are valuable, non-RNG Cheers that you can use when starting out.

Target Combos

These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.

Croagunk isn’t the type to fish for long combos, instead earning most of his damage off of projectile pressure, chip, and buff-enhanced moves. That being said, he can earn swim loop links whenever he earns a launcher (j.#Y Crash, 4YY,) an 8Y antiair, or a similar midair interaction. These combo loops are very difficult and require a lot of precision, so I still recommend that you mainly follow the shorter combos from the ingame tutorial or simple confirms like the 5Y… Poké Combo into Poison Jab or Thief for most of your basic strings. For the notation, ijc represents a move that is jump-cancelled from a move on the ground, such as 5Y into j.#Y Crash. Since the swim loops can be repeated multiple times, I have put parentheses and a multiplier notation around the part of the combo that gets looped.

This might seem like I’m phoning it in, but I’m gonna keep it real: these loops are harder than most combos in this game. I only put the one loop here so you can see what it looks like.

5YY ijc.3Y Crash (5Y ijc.9Y j.3Y j.XR)(x3) 5Y j.9Y j.X

4YY (5Y ijc.9Y j.3Y j.XR)(x2) 5Y j.9Y j.X

(On anti-air hit) 8Y j.9Y j.3Y j.X 8Y j.3Y j.9Y j.8X

There are three main components of these combos that make them difficult: the initial launcher (such as with the ijc.3Y Crash,) linking the 5Y into a jump-cancelled j.9Y to continue the juggle, and cancelling the j.X with R early so you can loop the combo again. Don’t worry about it if you can’t hit these full combos or if you drop the loop, as you’ll still earn a knockdown and some decent damage. Again, try to prioritize damage from Croagunk’s other sources.

Conclusion

Croagunk is an RNG item character whose gameplan revolves around a keepaway and bait-and-punish loop. The Toxic Mouth Pokémon forces his enemy to approach with annoying projectiles such as Poison Sting, Gunk Shot, and Venoshock. Once they’ve entered the midrange, they will be tripped up with normals that begin at midscreen such as 4YY/4YX or powerful specials like Poison Jab and Thief. In both Phases, Croagunk also has strong, floaty aerial mobility using wall clings, Midair Float, j.s.X, and j.#Y. In Field, Croagunk’s poison projectiles cover a wider part of the screen and he can guarantee some bomb trap placements to hamper his opponent’s progress. In Duel, Croagunk can rely on Venoshock to fill the screen with counter-piercing lasers, or Foul Play to escape bad situations. Croagunk’s Burst Mode turns the odds in his favor, literally, by promising him higher chances to procure better boons for himself via his special moves. In general, Croagunk is very difficult to pick up, even as far as RNG characters are concerned, and requires mastery and patience in order to use properly.

That’s about all the time we have for Croagunk’s character guide! We’re already halfway done with the Speed-type Pokémon, and we’re also approaching the end of the Trainer’s School character guides. Next week, we’ll be delving into Sceptile, the Forest Pokémon!

Written by

Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” Dhami can be found on Twitter (@LiteTheIronMan,) on Twitch (twitch.tv/litetheironman,) and at your local.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store