I know that some people are aware of this bug (EDIT: NOT A BUG,) but I don’t think anyone’s done any real digging into it. I decided that, you know what, it’s time someone did this thing! But to explain this, let’s take a hop, skip, and jump right on over to @infilament’s guide at ki.infil.net.
Now, something that’s stuck out to me for a while is that some characters in his counterbreaker combo section couldn’t get to level 4 on their counterbreaker combos. At first I didn’t think this was so odd, but the more I messed around with various characters, the more it stuck out to me. Barring exceptions like fulgore and cinder, each character’s doubles and linkers generally do about the same damage; most of the damage variance comes from unique combo routes, shadow linkers, ability to frontload damage, and enders. And yet, characters with doubles that appeared at first glance to be perfectly normal were struggling to reach that crucial level 4 ender. It turns out that, barring cinder, every character unable to reach level 4 from an immediate counterbreaker in his guide was suffering from the Scaling Bug. (EDIT: NOT A BUG WOWOWOW)
To talk about what the bug is, though, we first have to talk about how damage scaling works in KI. This honestly deserves a whole topic to itself, but to get to the most important bits: linkers and doubles are supposed to advance combo scaling by a fixed amount, regardless of strength. Manuals are supposed to advance scaling by a lesser amount, unless they’re more than one hit. I say “supposed to” because this is how most of the cast works.
But for some characters, this is not so! TJ, Maya, Riptor, Aganos, Kim, Arbiter, Rash, Gargos, and Eyedol all suffer from what I’m going to be calling the Scaling Bug. Kan-Ra and Aria suffer from a variation of it, but we’ll get to them later.
So, what exactly is happening? Simply put, for these characters their linkers are scaling per hit, rather than per move. This means that combos from these characters that include medium and heavy linkers will do much, much less damage. Because all counterbreakers trigger medium or heavy linkers (depending on if you hold the buttons or not,) this means that for these characters any counterbreaker combo they use will take a significant damage hit from the start.
But forget counterbreakers, let’s talk about the real consequences of this bug: essentially these characters cannot reliably build ender levels in combos that aren’t extremely predictable. As far as I can tell, these characters have always been like this, but various factors probably obscured this from most players. In addition to this version of the bug, there’s also some weirdness going on with Kan-Ra and Aria. For these characters, their medium linkers are normal, but their heavy linkers, well…for Aria, her heavy explosive arc linker counts as two moves for scaling. Not so bad, yeah? But for Kan-Ra, every hit of his heavy linkers advances combo scaling. This means that a sequence of, for example, heavy scarabs into heavy whirl linker results in scaling so intense that whatever combo that follows can’t even reach level 3 without spending meter.
EDIT: Also, not sure if this is intentional since it seems to be consistent across the cast, but shadow moves (normally unscaled in combos at 60% of total damage) scale per hit in juggles!
In the end turned out to be an intentional part of the game’s balance. Maybe not one I necessarily like, give how opaque it is, but it isn’t a bug.