Shulk 101
Shadow Eye
Shadow Eye

Introduction

Shadow Eye is the term used to refer to Shulk's application of Shadow I-Frames, a phenomenon that occurs in Smash 4 when you land on the last frame of a move's aerial intangibility, but only when the move has unique aerial and grounded variants, but does not have unique landing lag. For Shulk, this can be triggered with landing on frame 8 of aerial Vision, and leads to him being intangible for the remainder of the move-- over a full second of inantibility. He can perfect shield any hitbox inside of him when Vision is over, as well as can buffer other actions (such as a roll, spotdodge, or attack) to perform after this intangibility. This makes a successfully performed Shadow Eye incredibly safe, and impossible to directly punish by some character. There are some exceptions to this, however, named in the "Punishes" section below.

Applications

1. Baiting the opponent into attempting a hard punish

Prior to the knowledge of Shadow I-Frames, seeing a Shulk wiff a Vision has usually been a sign for opponents to ready a large punish, as normally the move lasts for over 70 frames before Shulk is capable of attacking, shielding, or otherwise acting again. Given that the opponent is not familiar with Shadow Eye, or simply does not recognize that the Shulk has performed it, Shulk can use this desire for a punish to his advantage. 

As the simplest method of performing Shadow Eye is a Vanilla FH up air, it is not recommended to attempt to bait the opponent with this method. While the Vision itself is unpunishable, even if the opponent is aware of the technique, you risk being punished during the setup, as the setup does take a significant amount of time (Shulk spends 60 frames exposed in the air prior to the Vision), and up air does not have a very large or lingering hitbox to threaten an opponent. In addition, by making your intent so obvious, you put yourself at risk of having your defensive options read after the I-Frames have ended. Instead, faster methods (such as Monado Speed SH FF or Monado Shield SH) are better for attempting to trick your opponent with this bait.

2. Safely attempting to Vision

Normally, Vision is a high-risk, high-reward move, that requires Shulk to successfully read his opponent's attack in order to secure a stock. However, if executed properly and safely, Shadow Eye can lower the risk substatially, allowing for Shulk to make such reads without worry of being hard punished if the opponent does not trigger the counter. 

An example of Shulk using Shadow Eye to cover Peach's attempt to land. Even if Peach does not trigger the Vision, she is unable to directly punish the attempt.

In certain matchups, this could be more prominently used. For example, oppnents with recovery specials that ofter risk extending onto the stage (i.e. Cloud, Ike, Shulk, etc), you can safely attempt to interupt their recovery at no risk to yourself.  

An example of Shulk using Shadow Eye to gimp a careless Cloud at the ledge, while being unpunishable himself.

3. Stalling strategies

This is a bit more unorthodox of a strategy, but by employing methods that use airdodges (such as Monado Shield SH Airdodge, or Town and City methods), Shulk can potentially stall for time, either to time out his opponent, or to wait for a Monado Art that is currently on cooldown. The viability of this application will vary greatly depending on the factors of the match-- the speed and tools of the character Shulk is against, the size and layout of the stage, Shulk's defensive options before and after he performs Shadow Eye, etc. As with all stalling strategies, it will require practice and thoughtfulness on the part of the Shulk in order to do so effectively.

Punishes

As mentioned in the introduction, many character have no way to directly punish Shadow Eye when performed by Shulk– they can only attempt to read his action after the I-Frames have ended. However, there are three main exceptions to this:

1. Lingering Command Grabs

As both rolling and attacking have a small amount of start-up frames, Shulk's only option to instantaneously avoid an opponent is holding shield. While this protects him from lingering hitboxes, this means he is suceptible to being grabbed. Characters capable of this include:

  • Wario (neutral special)
  • Kirby (neutral special, must not rely on windbox)
  • King Dedede (neutral special, must not rely on windbox)

2. Lingering Projectile Hitboxes

A second way of exploiting Shadow Eye's defensive options is by forcing Shulk to shield a lingering projectile, and then grabbing him while he is shielding. Characters capable of this include:

  • Robin (i.e. arcfire into grab)
  • Megaman (i.e. leaf shield into grab)

3. Purposefully Activating Vision

While this is a bit more of an elaborate punish, if the opponent recognizes that you are performing Shadow Eye, they could intentionally activate Vision with a fast move or projectile, and dodge the counterattack. Shulk does not keep the I-Frames once Vision is activated, and both forms of the Vision Counterattack (forwarded and non-forwarded) have a very high first actionable frame, allowing for sufficient time for the opponent to punish Shulk.

In addition to these three basic options, some character-specific punishes also exist, such as Diddy Kong's Banana, as well as Pacman's Trampoline

Clips in Actual Matches

Proficient in this tech: GetShulked, Tremendo Dude, Masonomace, Zens

Final Destination: Buffered Methods

Vanilla / Buster / Smash Full Hop

Shadow Eye can be performed on landing from a Vanilla Full Hop. This can be done buffered with up air, to guarantee the timing of the Shadow I-Frames. However, as this method can leave you exposed, it should not be used excessively in neutral, but instead as a way to set up your Vision in situations where you are able to do so.

Instead, you can learn to time the Shadow Eye with fair, bair, or air dodge out of a vanilla full hop, allowing you to mix up your methods and be less predictable

Alternatively, you can short hop and double jump immediately for the same effect.

Final Destination: Timed Methods

Speed Art Short Hop Fast Fall

This is the fastest setup for shadow eye, aside from platform drop downs and some special methods on Lylat Cruise and Town and City. Short hop in Monado Speed, buffer fast fall, and time down B right on landing. Seems hard to do, but can probably be trained into muscle memory.

Shield Art Short Hop

Shadow Eye can be timed from Monado Shield short hop. There is no method to make this a buffered input, but there are some ways to make it close. Air Dodging from jump squat puts you one frame off from being buffered, so you can attempt to delay the down B to one frame after air dodge is over. Of course, you may also use the floor as reference in doing so. Alternatively, as thought of by ArtAtk, you can do a Monado Art Buffered Deactivation of Monado Shield - delaying the air dodge by one frame and then buffering vision from the air dodge. The use in this is if Monado Shield does not deactivate, then you know you did not delay by one frame, and when you land your air dodge will autocancel. However, if you do see the art deactivate, you did do it right unless you accidentally delayed by 2 frames.

Speed Art Full Hop Forward Air → Buffered Double Jump

Shadow Eye can be performed from Full Hop Buffered Fair in Monado Speed, if you double jump and do not fast fall. This method could be useful in the neutral, or after a Down throw → FH Fair. For extra safety, you can airdodge with the double jump to provide extra intangibility prior to landing, but note that buffering Vision after the airdodge will not result in Shadow I-Frames.

There is no way to make these inputs fully buffered, but if you did input a down air the frame after the double jump is started - an input that cannot be buffered, you will be able to buffer vision from the down air on landing. Alternatively, since up air has a 1 frame less of lag, up air can be used but by 2 frames after the double jump

Jump Art Short Hop Air Dodge → Double Jump

There are no buffered methods for this, it is pure timing. It's at it says though. Short hop in Monado Jump,  buffer air dodge, buffer double jump, and time on landing. 

Jump Art Ledge Jump

Shulk can time a landing with Shadow Eye from a ledge jump, no fast falling. 'Nuff said.

Battlefield: Timed Methods

Rising to platforms:

You can perform Shadow Eye by coming upwards through a number of platforms.

  • Jump SH to lower platform
  • Speed FH to lower platform
  • Vanilla FH to lower platform
  • Shield FH to Upper Platform

Low Platforms:

  • Vanilla Full Hop To Ground
  • Vanilla Dropdown
  • Shield Short Hop to Ground
  • Jump SH from ground to Lower Platform (timed on rising)
  • Speed FH from ground to Lower Platform (timed on rising)

Top Platform:

  • Monado Jump short hop to ground
  • Monado Jump Slip Edge to ground
  • Speed FH Rising from lower platforms (timed on rise)
  • Shield FH Rising from lower platforms (timed on rise OR on landing)

Lower Platform Vanilla Drop Down

Like most lower platforms, Shadow Eye can be performed simply by dropping through the lower platforms to the ground, and timing on landing.

Dreamland 64

Vanilla Dropdown, Lower Platforms

Like most lower platforms, you can time from a Vanilla dropdown.

Smashville Platforms: Timed Methods

Vanilla Dropdown

Like most low-height platforms, you can time from a Vanilla dropdown.

Shield Short Hop To Ground

You can time from short hopping down from smashville's moving platform while in monado shield.

Town and City: Buffered Methods

Transformation 1:

Rising Platform - Vanilla Short Hop Buffered Vision

As the platform is rising at around its full speed, you can shadow eye merely by inputting short hop and vision. It's incredibly easy and can be done multiple times in a row, with shield between if necessary.

Side Platforms - Vanilla Short Hop, Airdodge x2

Full Hop, Buffer Air Dodge, and Buffer another air dodge from that as you head toward the ground of the stage.

Town and City: Timed Methods

Transformation 1:

Side Platforms - Shield Full Hop

For this method, there are no buffered methods found as of yet. You can time Shadow Eye from a short hop from the side platforms.

Transformation 2 (moving platforms):

  • Speed Short Hop
  • Speed Full Hop
  • Vanilla Drop Down
  • Vanilla Full Hop
  • Shield Full Hop

Lylat Cruise: Timed Methods

Regular Methods of Shadow Eye are not recommended on Lylat Cruise, due to the tilting. However, there are actually several methods for getting Shadow Eye simply buffered from jump squats in various arts.

No Tilt

Side Platforms:

  • Speed Dash Short Hop
  • Vanilla Dash Short Hop

 

All Shadow Eye Methods

Here are all of the known buffered and quasi-buffered methods to performing Shadow Eye. All methods involve Shulk transitioning to the floor unless otherwise stated. Here is a sortable (if duplicated) Google spreadsheet of all the known "Flatground" Timed Shadow Eye methods.

METHODS Vanilla Shulk/Buster Art/Smash Art Jump Art Speed Art Shield Art
Stage Platform Method 1 Method 2 Method 1 Method 2 Method 1 Method 2 Method 1 Method 2
Flatground Stages Base Stage FH Uair SH → DJ | Dair

FH Uair → DJ | Bair PFF

FH (off-stage) Bair PFF → DJ (on-stage) | Uair PFF

JAM (f1) … VA FH (f2-7, off-stage) → 2x VA AD → JA DJ (on-stage) | Uair → SE

FH Fair → DJ | Dair 

FH Dair (off-stage) → DJ (on-stage) | Fair 

BD FH AD (f2) → VA DJ | Fair → AD BD SH AD (f2) FH … PFF … DJ (f35 in 38) | Bair → SE

Battlefield

Higher Platform     Slip-edge AD          
Lower Platforms FH AD → DJ | ADx2 to Higher Platform SH Bair → DJ | Dair            
Smashville Moving Platform         FH B-air → DJ | 2x AD FH D-air off platform → DJ | D-air    
Town & City v1 Higher Platforms SH 2x AD               
Town & City v3 Lower Platform                
Lylat Cruise Middle Platform                

Duck Hunt

Bush                
Tree 1 (Lowest)             FH Bair + AD  
Tree 2     FH AD x3 FH U-air to Tree 4        
Tree 3                
Tree 4 SH Bair → AD       SH Fair → Fair      
Tree 5 (Highest)                

Dream Land 64

Higher Platform                
Lower Platform                
Normal Landing Lag Crouch Super Priority

Normal Landing Lag Crouch Super Priority (NLLCSP) was a phenomenon discovered by ArtAtk. Essentially, holding the Control Stick downwards out of Hard or Soft Landing Lag will always cause a crouch, to the effect that it will out-prioritize all other moves. An article came out a few weeks after this discovery explaining how this was actually just an intended mechanic (shoutout to Tremendo Dude!) that Sakurai wanted to implement after Brawl (not solely meant for Shadow Eye). http://sourcegaming.info/2017/06/23/internalnotes/

Even so, this means late Vision inputs can be overridden with Crouch! However, if Shulk is still in an aerial's IASA frame animation before landing he still has a chance of Vision Sliding when inputting Vision on the frame he landsWhat this means is, empty-hopping or waiting out the aerial's animation to return to the neutral fall-animation (AD is the shortest with a 49 frame animation!) allows Shulk to make use of NLLCSP as a fail-safe for late Vision Inputs when attempting Shadow Eye! 

Here is a table of Shulk's aerial moves and their respective FAFs and animations lengths in frames (as labbed by Mace):

 

   Aerial Move   

   FAF   

   Animation Length   

Art Pose

6

69

AD

34

49

Fair

42

69

Bair

55

72

Uair

60

78

Dair

61

78

Vision

70

79

Nair

71

79

 

 

 


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