I’m assuming capcom designed this to be the watered down X-Factor mechanic but probably severely toned down the effect due to many complaints on the power of X-Factor in Umvc3. However it seams that the mechanic is just very lacking.
Based on personal experience online and watching streams (when the game was played more often in weekly tourtements) almost no one uses this ability. The mechanic seams to have a few fundemental flaws. These are my opinions and observations so take it with a grain of salt, I’m no Justin Wong XD.
The greatest enemy to this mechanic i would say is the game clock. By the time you need to activate pandora in an even winnable match (both you are low to activate and opponent is low to finish off) the activation of pandora takes about 6 whole seconds! It doesn’t sound like a lot but in SFXT 6 secs is 6 game seconds. Because of this you are forced the activate this ability around the 16 to 14 second mark, other wise you’ll lose from time before actually losing from pandora. If you run the gem to increase pandora time then you need even more time on the clock left to make a come back. (making cinematic events stop the clock would help a lot also). By the time you can activate pandora for most games, either there isn’t enough time left when you are both low or the opponents health and meter is too high so pandora will run out before you can kill them.
Obviously the best fix would be to fix the clock which I assume capcom will do. However even with the clock fix pandora will still have mechanical flaws. The second problem with pandora is it is almost always more punishing than helpful. You are given such a short amount of time before you essentially lose you can’t really make a comback. Even with your infinite meter, you can’t even use a super arts for most characters without dying at the end of the cinematic. Even characters like ryu and his quick animation full screen super arts can throw maybe 2 shinku hadokens before he dies form time. Also with the ability to swap characters fairly easily, even if a character gets low its tagging to a higher health teammate buffers the overall damage you need to deal, you now have to deal even more damage in the small amount of time you have (This is a legitimate tactic but its too powerful when you have a few seconds to kill or be killed). Another popular strategy with characters like Rolento is to just jap lock the opponent upon activating pandora, however this an entirely different problem. A slight time increase pandora would help it but the best helping hand would to make it less punishing to use.
The reason why its so punishing as explained before because you don’t lose an advantage if you can’t win right away, you all out lose. However running away from a character with pandora is very easy. As long as you run away either jumping and then block they can’t win in time. Throwing takes to much time, super arts takes too much time. You basically have to high low mix and use ex. (Cross overs aren’t particularly an option if your opponent is just running backwards). Simply put its just to easy to avoid/ runaway from a character with pandora.
Using pandora really only works in a situation when your opponent is cornered, at least 50% health on both characters depending on the character, has no meter to swap characters or use a cinematic super and you pretty much have to get a lucky mix up. It is the sum of these 3 main factors why I personally feel this ability is so under utilized and overall inefficent.
How would you fix pandora? This is really a harder question than it sounds and would require a lot of testing and insight. Personally i’d try to fix the problems I stated above. First I’d make pandora pause game time during the cinematic or take at most 2 seconds to active, ideally this would also be in conjunction with increased game time. Secondly I would suggest having the character that activates pandora not die, but instead go to exactly 1hp (the magic pixel) with no regerable hp (no red health) and not lose the round at the end but lose all meter. With this change you don’t all out lose from pandora making it less of an unessescary risk to activate however still a vast risk. Should you fail to win using pandora you have a point character with probably not a good amount of health, a secondary character with 1 hp and no meter (no meter carries over to the next round as a reminder). If you don’t win during pandora it’s very likely you’ll lose the round, however its not GUARANTEED, you can still potentially make a come back. Lastly I’d extend the time of pandora and lower the damage slightly. It shouldn’t be a derp win but a viable comeback that both players should WANT to use, the mechanic was but in the game hopefully for a good reason and to bring “hype” with comback potential.
With that being my gripe with the ability, how do you feel about pandora? Is it good,fine, ok, not good enough, severely lack luster or far far worse? If it’s good/bad why is it and how would you fix it?
Also sorry for any typos
TLDR version: Pandora isn’t a viable option because the game clock runs out to fast to use it in time, its too punishing (death) for the buff it gives, it doesn’t last long enough (throws and super arts take too long to use time wise) before you die, and is easily avoidable (runaway, jap lock, hold block since throws not an option) and thus never a threat. Hope capcom improves it, how would you?