Trainer’s School: Suicune Character Guide

The Aurora Pokémon has a set of frigid moves

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 eighth character guide focuses on Suicune, a Legendary Pokémon widely remembered as being the mascot character for Pokémon Crystal. The Aurora Pokémon is a Water-type, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise given that he has a crystalline appearance and uses several Ice-type moves as the main part of his gameplan, both in and out of the mainline games. Suicune is an original Pokkén roster member who makes use of his zoning tools in order to force his opponents to approach- or simply do damage from afar. Once they’ve got in on him, Suicune can punish their mistakes with a quick but powerful close-range combo. As a Standard-type, Suicune is a prime example of straightforward zoning and is very easy to pick up and play.

Suicune: Overview

Playstyle: A bait-and-punish zoner.

Values: 630 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 200cc Synergy Gauge

Poké Moves: Aurora Beam (Duel 5A, Field n.A,) Hydro Pump (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Mirror Coat (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Blizzard (Duel j.A, Field. j.n.A,) Icy Wind (]A[,) Hail (Duel only, 1A 2A and 3A,) Aurora Beam: Upwards (Duel only, 8A)

High Stance: Decreases the duration of debuffs- they will disappear three times faster.

Low Stance: Is invincible against high-hitting moves from frame 1 on.

Unique Features: The counter armor that Mirror Coat provides only blocks against projectiles. Regular CA has an anti-air follow-up (X+A Y) that can also be executed by pressing Y during the charge. 5X/6X, Icy Wind, Hydro Pump, and Blizzard can all be cancelled with R. Icy Wind has three stages depending on how long the move was charged.

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

Suicune is fairly straightforward- even his combo theory, which we’ll get into later, is easy to grasp. The depth of his gameplan comes not from any mechanically complicated character-specific tools, but from pressuring his opponents with powerful projectiles and then capitalizing on any mistakes they make while trying to approach. His bulky, above-average health means he can take a beating for longer than other zoners like Braixen, and Mirror Coat even lets him repel his opponent’s projectile game, meaning most characters have no other choice but to face him at close range. In order to get there, they’ll have to weave through moves like Aurora Beam, Hydro Pump, and Blizzard, but they have to be wary not to get hit with a devastating 6Y donkey kick. Moves like Icy Wind, Hail, and b.Y can also serve to both halt the opponent’s approach and pressure them in disadvantageous situations.

Field Phase

Weave around your opponent’s opening gambit with your Y projectiles.

Suicune thrives when he’s playing Field Phase at a distance, and his Y button projectiles are all useful tools that Suicune won’t be able to access in Duel. Weaving around your opponent in neutral with s.YY will probably come naturally, and holding the button will also let you delay the projectiles in order to mess up your opponent’s approach timing. N.Y and F.Y can also stuff reckless straightforward approaches. Your more useful Field-specific buttons are going to be b.Y and j.Y, both of which are very useful tools for okizeme and trap pressure. B.Y can also be charged, but this version of the move shouldn’t be used too often in neutral since the windup can be easily caught. The icicle wall that it produces can do a very good job of halting approaches or even blocking projectiles, so try to set it up whenever you can.

Suicune’s light projectiles can be combined with moves like Aurora Beam, Blizzard, and Hydro Pump at further ranges and will also likely quickly earn Shifts. You can also repel enemy zoning with Mirror Coat, but remember that if you mistime or rely on it too much you can be stuffed at close range. Getting used to the timing of your opponent’s approach and moves is the key in learning how to punish them. J.X is also a pretty useful traversal move in Field, since Suicune does a sort of trotting airdash forward before the divekick that can fake out less knowledgeable opponents. Your regular options like Homing Attack and CADC are also useful- remember that you have a followup on CADC that you can use at any point during the move. This upward angled attack can be used as an antiair, or it can make your CA safer- it will beat nearly every option your opponent tries after block and will let you soar over their own CAs.

Duel Phase

Punish your opponent’s approach with your long-range tools and force them to make mistakes.

Most of what was discussed in Field still applies, but Suicune will no longer have access to many of his Field Y projectiles in Duel Phase. Even your Duel j.Y is a different move than the Field version. In exchange, you get new tools and traps for setplay, like 5X/6X and Hail, and moves that will allow you to defend yourself at close-to-midrange. That being said, many of your moves that aren’t explicitly zoning tools are either unsafe on block or have middling frame data, which is why Suicune won’t actively seek confrontations up close. When beginning Duel Phase, use moves like Icy Wind, 5X/6X and Hail to hamper your opponent’s progress, and then use Aurora Beam (and its antiair version,) Blizzard, and Hydro Pump for more straightforward zoning. Remember to use Mirror Coat to punish long-range pokes and counter-zoning. If they eventually make their way in, you’ll have to pick between all of your options to stuff what they’re going for. 6YY and 8Y will both lead to big damage off an antiair hit, while 2X will catch opponents in the middle of their grounded approach and knock them down. Once you’ve reset neutral, you can loop back into the same type of gameplan- if you earned a juggle, you can go for a combo into a Shift, which we’ll look at later.

As previously mentioned, Suicune can cancel several of his moves into an empty action with R. This is mainly used as a fakeout or to exit the laggy startup of a move so you don’t get punished. The utility of these mindgames gets more useful at higher levels, but when you’re just starting out it doesn’t matter too much since your opponent is usually forced to respect a move like Icy Wind or 5X/6X anyway. It’s still useful to learn the timing to cancel moves like Hydro Pump and Blizzard so that you don’t get punished too hard for trying them at inopportune moments. Remember that these cancels don’t directly go into anything, so your mixup options are mainly just what you can do out of neutral. You also can’t do anything in the air after cancelling Blizzard besides fall down, so take care not to get anti-aired. On the ground, your 2Y throw crush will be a useful i11 move, but it won’t cancel into special moves. 8X can be angled with 7 and 9, is +4, and is invincible against lows, meaning you can try it to beat other low-pokes and be safe on block. J.X is likewise only -4 and will let you start a combo on hit, so if you’re in the air, try catching forward movement with your divekick.

Synergy Burst

Suicune’s Synergy Gauge is slightly larger than average at 200cc, but it grants the character a very valuable transformation that should be tapped into in a pinch or to counter other Bursts. The Aurora Pokémon’s Burst Mode will last for 14 seconds and generally improves his zoning game for the duration, while also providing him with a powerful Burst Attack that can make approaching him dangerous. Burst Suicune gains the following unique properties:

  • Duel Phase j.Y will fire an additional beam.
  • Icy Wind will always have the properties of the level 3 charge.
  • Hail will drop three waves of icicles instead of two.
  • Blizzard will freeze the opponent before crumpling them, should all hits land.
True Sheer Cold can stop opponents who think they have you locked down dead in their tracks.

Suicune’s projectiles become more fearsome in this form, especially Blizzard. If you manage to freeze your opponent, you can score a combo on them before they crumple, opening them up to a ton of damage. Icy Wind, Hail, and j.Y will provide additional support in keeping your foes away. If they somehow manage to get in on you and try to open you up, you can punish them for it very effectively with your Burst Attack, True Sheer Cold. True Sheer Cold is an i25 command counter with additional invincibility from frame 20, right before impact. The main draw to True Sheer Cold is that any move that hits you while the command counter armor is up will immediately trigger the hit before i25, and the Burst Attack itself will do enhanced damage. Any move that is special cancellable can also be cancelled into True Sheer Cold, meaning you can end a combo with it fairly easily. However, remember that this is a command counter- you can actually lose to a throw if your opponent is prescient enough, so take care.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Suicune has a very low learning curve and is possibly one of the easier zoners to use in this game. He’s not really about enhancing himself or being difficult to catch (Braixen and Darkrai) nor is he about filling the field with traps (Gardevoir.) Instead, he’s all about walling the opponent off and donkey-kicking them away should they manage to successfully approach him. This means that characters with very few safe options to approach Suicune outside of system options like CADC and blocking will have a rough time, like Blaziken and Machamp. Since your main gameplan revolves around baiting your opponent to approach and punishing their mistakes, it can be very easy to catch opponents off-guard when you force them to play your game. On the other hand, fast characters who have plenty of good options for closing in and can shrug off both zoning and up-close aggressive options, such as Weavile, Scizor, and Sceptile, can be a pain for Suicune. Playing directly offensive is where Suicune’s rewards tend to diminish, so matchups like those where his opponents can control the pace or are difficult to hit while they’re approaching are where he struggles.

Support and Cheer Pairings

Suicune can be paired with pretty much any Support Set, so your personal preferences and what the matchup demands will be your main determinant factors. Emolga-Fennekin, Mimikyu-Mega Rayquaza, and Espeon-Umbreon all provide some degree of reversal option or extra zoning tool- in the case of the first two, you get both. If you want more pure lockout, you can use Sets like Snivy-Lapras or Yveltal-Latios, and if you want to buff yourself up, you have a plethora of options like Jirachi-Whimsicott. I have personally been using Yveltal-Latios as Suicune in order to hinder my opponents’ movement and provide major debuffs. Likewise, your Cheer Skill is also fairly malleable, but you aren’t necessarily hurting for Synergy, so Standard and Support are probably decent picks.

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.

Suicune has very straightforward combo theory at the low level: Earn a launcher or earn an antiair punish, mash 5YYY, cancel into 8A, repeat until Shift or wallsplat. Alternatively: after a launcher, 6YY, into 8Y Hydro Pump ender. Here’s a few examples of midscreen combos. You can start these combos without the j.X, but it’s good to practice it anyway.

You can earn 6YY into 5Y… loops with or without the j.X starter.

j.X 6YY 6YY 8Y 6A

j.X 6YY 5YYY8A 5YYY8A (Both of these combos have comparable damage, but I put this one here so you’d be comfortable with the loop.)

(On an antiair hit) 8A 5YYY8A 5YYY8A

The main thing to practice is linking the next 5Y… loop before your opponent falls. If you feel like you’re not going to get it from where you’re standing, you can even walk forward a little bit and then catch them with the next 5Y. (We call movement like this in the middle of a combo a microwalk or microspacing.)

Conclusion

Suicune is a bait-and punish zoner who puts up a wall of pressure that his opponent is forced to navigate through. In Field Phase, these walls are often literal, with tools like b.Y and j.Y that can halt approaches. In Duel Phase, these light projectiles are instead replaced with moves that can either knock down the opponent in order to set up okizeme situations, or knock them away and put them in range of a projectile. In both Phases, Suicune can fire off Aurora Beams, Hydro Pumps, and Blizzards, and punish counter-zoning with Mirror Coat. Burst Mode provides Suicune with additional zoning power, and True Sheer Cold is a powerful punish for anyone who dares to get in close and attack. The Aurora Pokémon excels against opponents who can’t do much about the pace of the match, but struggles against characters who can simply ignore most of his tools. Your Support Set and Cheer Skill should thusly be changed up according to your own preference and the matchup.

This concludes not only the Suicune guide, but the series of character guides that focused on the Standard Pokémon on the Pokkén roster! This also means we have covered roughly one third of the entire cast over the course of Trainer’s School. The next character guide will be the first in the series of Power Pokémon guides, and will thus focus on a major area of expertise of mine: my main character, Scizor, the Pincer 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