Learn how to tame the boss character of Pokkén DX
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 final character guide in the Trainer’s School series features the boss character of Pokkén: Shadow Mewtwo. In the brief Pokkén story mode, Shadow Mewtwo is an otherwise ordinary Mewtwo- well, as ordinary as a Legendary Genetic Pokémon can be- who was pierced by a massive Synergy Stone and corrupted into the form it takes now. The climax of the campaign involves the player searching for a way to defeat Shadow Mewtwo in combat and restore it to normal. While the version of Shadow Mewtwo fought in the campaign is a broken, utterly powerful boss fight, the playable character has been significantly adjusted for game balance. A quintessential boss character, Shadow Mewtwo has a wide variety of strong tools at his disposal that, when used properly, can prevent the opponent from even playing the game.
Shadow Mewtwo: Overview
Playstyle: The playable version of Shadow Mewtwo is a glass cannon with overwhelming damage and mixups. Miracle Eye changes the properties of certain moves, and several of his special moves cost HP, much like Blaziken’s recoil damage. Easy access to Burst and the Recover special move reduces his fragility, however.
Values: 480 Hit Points, 480 Shield Health, 100cc Synergy Gauge.
Poké Moves: Psywave (Duel 5A, Field n.A.) Psywave can be cancelled into other moves in series. Psywave: Blast (Duel 5AA, Field n.AA,) Psywave: Slash (Duel 5AY… Field n.AY…) Psywave: Vortex (Duel 5AX, Field n.AX) and Psywave: Teleport (Duel 5AB, Field n.AB.) The first hit of Psywave: Slash can be cancelled into any other Psywave action. Psywave has up to three levels when charged that affect each Psywave action. Zen Headbutt (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Miracle Eye (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Reflect (j.A.) Reflect can be cancelled into different moves. Reflect: Thunder (j.AY,) Reflect: Earthquake (j.AX,) and Reflect: Flamethrower (j.AA.) Recover (]A[,) Teleport (Duel only, 2A,) Psystrike (Duel only, 8A…)
High Stance: Much like Mewtwo’s High Stance, Shadow Mewtwo will charge his Synergy Gauge and can float forward and back a little bit if 7 or 9 are held.
Low Stance: Also like Mewtwo’s Low Stance, Shadow Mewtwo will counter armor low-hitting moves on frame 5, but cannot crouch under them.
Unique Features: In general, the two Mewtwos share some properties but with key differences. For instance, while Shadow Mewtwo also has a Midair Dash, he cannot halt the momentum of his airdash with the j.2R IAD input. Instead, Midair Dash’s momentum will be halted by aerials. Shadow Mewtwo also shares Mewtwo’s just frames and armor properties on Psystrike. 4X can be dash cancelled either before or after the move.
Pause! Recoil damage and Miracle Eye
Whereas Mewtwo spends Synergy on special moves, Shadow Mewtwo spends HP on every special move except the Psywave windup and charge. This is similar to the recoil damage Blaziken spends on EX moves, except Shadow Mewtwo will take the recoil damage regardless of if his moves are enhanced or not. Like Blaziken, Shadow Mewtwo will never KO himself from recoil. Shadow Mewtwo can recover 60 points of dark green HP with Recover. The HP costs are as follows:
- 10 HP recoil: Psywave: Blast Level 1, Psywave: Slash hits 1 and 2, Psystrike hit 2, Reflect: Thunder, and Reflect: Flamethrower.
- 20 HP recoil: Teleport, Miracle Eye, Psywave: Blast Level 2, Psywave: Slash hit 3, Reflect, and Reflect: Earthquake.
- 30 HP recoil: Psywave: Blast Level 3, Zen Headbutt
- 40 HP recoil: Psywave: Vortex, Psystrike hit 1
Miracle Eye is one of Shadow Mewtwo’s most important special moves. When used after certain attacks, the properties of those moves will change. Certain special-cancellable normals will also have greater advantage on hit or block when cancelled into Miracle Eye, making it an excellent tool for extending combos or creating new ones. The full list of Miracle Eye-enhanced moves is as follows:
- Field n.Y: The orbs fired will pause, increase in size, and track the opponent no matter their location on the screen. The main application for this is to have the orbs cross the opponent up after the projectile has whiffed and passed behind the opponent.
- Field s.Y: The arrows become mirror traps that will block enemy projectiles.
- Field b.Y: The pillar will expand and will now instantly Phase Shift on hit.
- 5Y…: You are more plus on hit and less minus on block when special cancelling into Miracle Eye.
- 6Y: The pillar, resembling the one created by b.Y, will detonate and launch the opponent.
- 6X: You are more plus on hit, and become plus on block, when special cancelling into Miracle Eye.
Miracle Eye, Psywave, and Reflect are crucial parts of Shadow Mewtwo’s mixup game. All of these moves expand Shadow Mewtwo’s options to ridiculous heights. Miracle Eye can make certain moves safer or even let you empty cancel normals that are special cancellable, granting you extended combos or EX versions of your normal moves. It also means your opponent has to deal with both the normal and enhanced versions of certain moves, greatly improving your keepaway game in both Phases. Psywave and Reflect both have a plethora of additional special moves they cancel into, making it hard for your opponent to predict what you’re going for. The armor on Reflect, rare for an aerial move, also makes it very useful for stuffing anti-airs. Mastery of Miracle Eye in particular is essential not only for combos, but so that you can get more mileage out of the rest of your kit.
Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.
Shadow Mewtwo is the most fragile character in the cast. With the lowest health bar in the game, tied for the weakest shield in the game, and spending health on necessary special moves, Shadow Mewtwo is the quintessential glass cannon archetype. However, Recover and his plentiful Burst Mode allow him to remain in the game and continue applying pressure to his opponent, and his incredible variety of mixup tools grant him access to one of the most expansive kits in the game. Miracle Eye, Psywave, Reflect, and Teleport all make Shadow Mewtwo an unpredictable threat at any part of the screen, and he even has a variety of normal tools that can be useful in any situation. While he is a powerful boss character who requires a lot of practice in order to use effectively, Shadow Mewtwo lives up to his reputation as being a devastating threat.
You will mainly be getting a lot of mileage out of both the normal and enhanced versions of your projectiles here. Miracle Eye n.Y is useful as a cross-up that can potentially save you if you get locked down, as the projectiles will hit your opponent and interrupt whatever they’re doing from a point of view where they can’t defend normally. The s.Y mirrors will also halt counter-zoning, and they even have hitboxes of their own, making them great at stuffing approaches or for okizeme. The b.Y pillar is likewise a great okizeme tool and its slow-moving nature makes it great for locking down opponents at range regardless of Miracle Eye or not. In terms of utility, the s.Y arrows are probably the only projectile here that are equally useful whether they are enhanced or not, with n.Y and b.Y only getting better when enhanced.
Your f.Y is one of several moves in Shadow Mewtwo’s kit where he swings large fire-and-ice swords at the opponent. These swords extend his effective range with large hitboxes, and f.Y also fires off a flame pillar that goes past the tip of the swords, increasing the range further. You also have access to a j.Y that is very useful for zoning and is also special cancellable into Reflect, making it safer and letting you get an armored aerial approach. Your j.X divekick is also relatively safe at -8, and charging it makes it safer and lets it counter-pierce, making it another useful air-to-ground option. Combined with your system options, special moves, and a Homing Attack functionally identical to Mewtwo’s very privileged move, Shadow Mewtwo should have no problem with keeping opponents out or rushing them down.
Much like his normal counterpart- and not unlike half of the cast- Shadow Mewtwo trades in a lot of his powerful setplay and zoning gimmicks for powerful close-to-midrange options and combo tools. With decent frame data all around and crucial moves being enhanced by Miracle Eye, Shadow Mewtwo has a lot of options to pressure his opponent. The 5Y… series, Miracle Eye cancelled into a 2Y… into a special move ender, is a staple short bread-and-butter that is made effective by relative safety on block and an i15 startup. At a midrange, moves like 6X, 5X, and the charged 8Y[Y] are useful for whiff-punishing or stuffing reckless approaches. The dash-cancellable 4X will also absorb some projectiles, and the crumple leaves your opponent open to being hit by nearly all of your lights, but be careful since it’s one of your slowest moves at i27.
6Y is another one of your most important combo tools. While the uppercut’s utility in combos will be discussed in the relevant section, the pillar can also be useful as a full-screen lockdown tool. Using 6Y explicitly for the pillar, especially frequently, is not recommended, however, since it doesn’t deal hitstun unless enhanced via Miracle Eye or an Attack buff, you can’t control where the pillar spawns, and if you whiff you leave yourself heavily open. Psywave is a much safer zoning tool for this reason, especially since you can cancel it into Teleport or Vortex if you need an escape or a reversal option. Remember to be frequently priming Recover as a healing tool if you need it- don’t be afraid to use it when your opponent is at full screen or knocked down. Shadow Mewtwo also has the red-armored Psystrike as yet another reversal tool to rely on- between this, several blue armored options, and Teleport, a competent Shadow Mewtwo can be difficult to lock down.
Shadow Mewtwo relies heavily on Synergy Burst to keep himself alive. At 100ccs of Synergy, Shadow Mewtwo will pop Burst either to keep himself alive in a pinch or to heal back damage quickly after dishing a ton of it out against his opponent. Some of Shadow Mewtwo’s enhancements as Mega Shadow Mewtwo X resemble changes that Mega Mewtwo X also benefits from, while others are completely unique to the boss variant. Either way, with the shortest duration in the game- a measly eight seconds- Shadow Mewtwo must make his Burst count if he’s going to burn it. Mega Shadow Mewtwo X gains the following properties:
- Poké Moves no longer consume HP on use.
- Field and Duel Phase grabs become new moves that deal additional damage.
- Field n.Y and j.Y both fire off more orbs, up to five at once.
- Field s.Y mirrors last longer and travel forward.
- Both versions of the j.X divekick surround Shadow Mewtwo in a thunder pillar. When charged, this pillar counter pierces.
- Homing Attack 2 is now a multihit flurry of kicks that deals more damage but otherwise features the same properties.
- 5Y… is similarly altered into a new attack: a punch into a pillar of dark energy that is more advantageous on hit and block than before.
- The 6Y pillar now deals hitstun.
- Duel j.Y becomes an axe-kick that deals more damage much like Mega Mewtwo X’s, but it retains the same frame data as before.
- 2X deals more hits, and thus more damage, and becomes plus on block.
- 8X is now a stretchy punch. Much like Mega Mewtwo X, this move is now plus on block, but instead of a knockdown on hit, it launches the opponent.
Mega Shadow Mewtwo X can rely on Burst Mode as early as the first round due to how quickly it builds, but will not be able to rely on it for a long amount of time since its duration is so short. This duration can be extended with the Synergy Crystals on the Field or by earning additional meter from winning exchanges, but don’t expect to stay in the mode for too long otherwise. The main advantage to Mega Shadow Mewtwo X is being able to use your special moves at no cost to your health, letting you press forward with Psywave and Zen Headbutt or extending new high-damage combos with Miracle Eye without hurting yourself. Shadow Mega Mewtwo X’s Burst Attack, Dark Nova, is an i23 dome that pushes fullscreen- or at least as close to it as it gets- and will counter-pierce. The move is invincible on frame 13 and is -20 on block but will be very difficult to punish due to the absurdly wide area of effect. The full attack animation will only land if the opponent is close enough when it hits, otherwise it will do a measly 80 damage. If it does land, though, expect to treat yourself to one of the coolest and most devastating supers in fighting games.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Shadow Mewtwo is, ironically, a much more polarizing and volatile character than his normal counterpart. While most of his flaws are balanced out by other parts of his toolkit- his fragility being offset by Recover and a small meter, for instance- he can still be caught off guard. Characters with similarly sized meters, like the Pikachus and Weavile, can access their Bursts for far longer, as can the rest of the cast. This makes an otherwise powerful install balanced or even weak in comparison to characters that only need to outlast the Burst transformation. Furthermore, despite his ability to rejuvenate himself, Shadow Mewtwo suffers from the same problems as any other glass cannon, and any character that does manage to lock him down or utilize their tools correctly in order to counter his escape or reversal options will easily blow him up for it. This makes Shadow Mewtwo especially vulnerable to characters who can steal or lock out Synergy, or characters who can counter-pierce at midrange and remain comfortable with not approaching until they’ve gained control of the neutral. This volatility and vulnerability makes Shadow Mewtwo harder to control or be consistent with when compared to vanilla Mewtwo. That being said, the sheer amount of mixup options can make the character unpredictable and hard to punish correctly.
Support and Cheer Pairings
Espeon, Togekiss, Cresselia, Eevee, and Jirachi are all easy and obvious Supports to pick for Shadow Mewtwo. They all will either heal you immensely, provide you with a valuable buff, or both. You can also use Supports like Umbreon, Mimikyu, or Sets like Yveltal-Latios to enhance your lockdown pressure while also sapping your opponent’s meter, potentially offsetting one of their main advantages in the matchup against you. Beyond that, everything else is basically player preference, even your Cheer Skill since you’re not exactly hurting for meter at all. Standard and Support will be pretty decent options if you want to rely on assist calls more frequently, with Special being a valuable snowball option as usual.
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.
Shadow Mewtwo’s routes are drastically different than vanilla Mewtwo’s combos. Since Shadow Mewtwo lacks the same type of IAD, 8Y, and 2X, his combos rely less on extending combos with long launchers into air juggles and more on confirms and extensions with Miracle Eye. Here is a short bread-and-butter that I described in the Duel Phase section above as an example:
5YY 4A 2YY 8AAA
…Or your special ender of choice. Miracle Eye here makes you more advantageous after the 5Y… series, letting you either reset or confirm into combos not normally possible. In this way, Miracle Eye kind of works like the Force Roman Cancel or Force Break mechanics of Guilty Gear XX, except you’re spending HP instead of meter to use it. Here are some more complex but higher damaging combos that make use of the 6Y uppercut into Miracle Eye-enhanced pillar to elongate the combos:
6Y (uppercut hit, knocking the opponent into the pillar) 4AY 66 (aka dash forward) j.Y 8Y[Y]
5X 6Y (uppercut into the pillar) 4Y 66 j.Y 6Y
When performing into these combos, the hardest part will probably actually be the j.Y after the pillar explosion. Doing the j.Y too early or too high will result in the j.Y landing, but your opponent teching out too early before the ground ender. Doing it too low will result in a whiff. Proper practice and familiarity with the height of your j.Y is important in getting the final hits to land. Also, landing all of the pillar and j.Y hits will let you squeeze out more damage, so keep practicing these types of combos.
Shadow Mewtwo is a rebalanced variant of the boss that probably gave you a tough time while you were going through the short campaign in order to unlock new clothes for your avatar. With an absurd amount of mixup potential and powerful moves and combos at any part of the screen, Shadow Mewtwo’s strength is offset by his fragility and his need to spend health on said moves and combos. While he can restore this HP, he needs to create opportunities to do so with Recover, and his main method of earning health back is his oppressive Burst Mode. This transformation allows Shadow Mewtwo to use special moves more recklessly, but it is once again offset by the shortest duration in the game, meaning that every second spent in Burst Mode counts. Still, if a player decides to put the time into learning the character, they will find a very effective and unpredictable character with a freedom of expression unlike anybody else on the roster.
That ends the Trainer’s School series of character guides! There will be one more guide for me to work on- an advanced tutorial that goes into more depth regarding Pokkén’s defensive options- but that will have to wait for a while. For now, I’m going to enjoy a bit of time off, since it’s the end of 2020 and the holidays are coming up for me at the time of writing. I will also make updates to existing Trainer’s School guides as needed, be they clerical edits or additional revised info, as time passes. In the meantime, you can always tune into my Twitch streams for more Pokkén content, or even for other fighting games! Thank you as always for supporting and reading my work. I hope to see you all for the true final lesson of Trainer’s School soon.