Super Smash Bros. is a series that allows players to bring their imagination to life with all kinds of zany fights that pit characters from Nintendo and other big-name franchises like Final Fantasy against one another in a no-holds-barred brawl for fun and for glory. The action is fast-paced and unpredictable especially when there are eight characters on the screen all throwing Pokeballs at each other.
Some players, however, prefer a less casual approach to Smash. They study the ins and outs of advanced-level gameplay and have intense one-on-one battles with no items or stage hazards to come in clutch and snatch a stock away by pure luck. If one wants to compete with top players like MkLeo, Tweek, and MARSS, they're going to need to think like those players. For most of us, that requires a fundamental change in the way we play the game. Here are 10 tips to play Smash like the pros.
10 Don't Rely On Attacks
Smash makes it easy to want to attack fast and frequently with the strongest techniques available as one tries to send their opponent careening off the screen and out of the blast zone. At the competitive level, this is a quick way to find oneself overwhelmed by their opponent.
Each move has a period of cooldown before the player can take another action. Good players will seize those instances where their opponent is vulnerable and pile on the damage. If a player going to attack, make it count. Try throwing out attacks only when one knows they’ll land.
9 Use Shields Wisely
They say the best offense is a good defense, right? This does not apply in Smash. The shield is a great asset in smash and one should definitely use it, but the shield has three weaknesses to keep in mind. The first is that one is completely vulnerable to grabs and some “command grabs.”
Second, it will break. If enough damage is dealt to a shield, it’s going to break leaving the player completely vulnerable to punish. Lastly, the opponent can shield poke the player. Not to be confused with Marth’s “Shield Breaker.” As the shield takes damage or is held out it gets smaller, this leaves part of the character vulnerable to being attacked. So use the shield smartly and sparingly.
8 Be Sparing With Dodges
There are a lot of ways to keep oneself out of harm's way in Smash. Dodging is another defense technique that lets the player avoid their opponent’s attacks or even maneuver themselves into an advantageous position. However, they are vulnerable during certain points of the start-up and end of their dodging animation.
Further, dodging left or right over and over again will decrease how quickly one can dodge and increase the length of time that they are vulnerable during the dodge. Those moments of vulnerability will leave the player open to heavy punishes from their opponents.
7 Don't Stale Those Moves
In Smash, moves go through what’s known as a stale queue. What this means, is the more the same move is used repeatedly the less damage and less knockback the move does. For example, if a character's forward air does 12% of damage, if the player uses that move again and again within about 9 moves it will deal less damage and knockback.
This only applies to if one has hit the opponent or a shield. Contrarily though, a move that hasn’t been overused (one that doesn’t appear in the stale queue when it is used will get a damage increase! So be sure to mix up those attacks.
6 Work On Recovery Technique
Smash is unique from other fighters in the way that characters have a percent of damage versus an HP bar. The higher the percent, the easier it is for the player to be blasted off the stage. The battle doesn’t stop there though, as one can use their special moves and for some characters regular attacks to work their way back to the stage.
As a rule of thumb, try not to immediately mash the jump button when one is launched. Save it and make it count. Also, try recovering using the aerial dodges and techniques that aren’t Up+B. Some examples of this are Joker’s guns and Ryu’s Side Special.
5 Watch Others Play
If one is not watching the pros, how will they learn from them? Sure there’s only so much that watching can ultimately do for a player without practicing themselves, but watching players that are good at the game will help them see all of these esoteric techniques in action.
The pros make it look easy, but when one takes it into the lab to try for themselves they might quickly learn why they’re pros. Or, maybe they will just be a Smash prodigy, and we can cheer them on at Evo.
4 Think While Playing
It’s easy to fall into instinct and forget about strategies, observing the game arena, and the weaknesses of the other characters. We all have a way we’re predisposed to do things, and when one doesn't take the time to make conscious decisions in the match to do things differently, it will become easy for them to become predictable in their gameplay. When it comes to Smash, a predictable character is a dead character.
3 Don't Abuse The Counter Mechanic
Okay, so this one is specific to a couple of characters. These characters, however, are pretty popular among players. Characters like Marth, Joker, and Ken have counter mechanics that allow them to take a hit and strike back. This is extraordinarily useful if the player can read their opponent and turn the tables.
But if the player starts throwing out counters every chance they get, not only are they vulnerable to grabs, but they're also vulnerable to hefty punishes. Counters tend to come out relatively quickly, but they leave the player vulnerable for much longer than simply shielding or a fresh dodge would.
2 Learn Multiple Ways To End Opponents
Maybe it’s the forward smash, a back throw at the ledge, or that sweet combo the player tested out for hours in Training mode. Odds are, the opponent will catch on to the fact that the player only able to end them one way and will actively do everything they can to avoid situations in which the player could use their signature move.
That means that the player needs to know all of the ways that their character can potentially take that stock and close out a set. Nothing is more frustrating than having one's opponent against the ropes but being unable to close it out because the player can’t land the only final blow they know.
1 Use The Right Character
Smash Ultimate boasts a roster of over 72 characters so get out there and try some different ones. Everyone has a favorite, and one should absolutely practice hard with their main. That said, sometimes it takes a little bit of change to grasp the basics and carry them over to that main character.
If the player is open to new things, we recommend trying out some starter friendly characters who are pretty forgiving like Mario, Cloud, or Link. These are some of the simplest techniques one can use to up their smash game, but there are so many more so get out there and practice. Regardless of who the player picks, be sure to have fun! After all, that’s the only thing creator Masahiro Sakurai asks of players.