Mario wasn't great in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In fact, most competitive players will tell you he's low tier, and that wouldn't be much of an exaggeration. Now that the 3DS demo is out (and the full retail version in Japan), we can finally spend some quality time with Nintendo’s mascot. We'll have more in-depth breakdowns of every character in the game coming your way next month, but for now, here's a quick look at how Mario is shaping up.

While there's still a lot of testing to be done to determine how good (or bad) Mario is, one thing is for certain: Mario has some exciting new combos. There have been several "death combos" floating around YouTube. Most of these are not actual death combos, as they're being performed on the computer AI (which doesn't always tech out of combos in situations where a human opponent would), but that's not to say Mario is lacking when it comes to combos. He can dish out 20-30 percent damage in an instant, and it's not difficult to setup these combos.

At first glance, Mario is similar to how he was in Smash Brawl. However, one of the biggest changes pertains to his Down Throw. It's very easy to combo off of Mario's Down Throw, and it's easily the best way to get his combos going. At low percentages you should be able to inflict an easy 25 percent damage or more with almost any post Down Throw combo. At higher percentages and with the right combination of attacks, you should be able to score a KO. Of course, the environment will play a role, but the potential is there, and that's what's important at this early stage.

Mario's Up Tilt is one of the best attacks to use after the Down Throw. It's not good by itself, as it can be easily punished. However, following an Up Tilt, you can score a few KOs with this attack at moderately low percentages. His Forward Air, Down Air and recovery move (Up Special) all have great potential to be KO attacks. More testing needs to be done, but for now these are definitely the attacks to watch out for.

Recovery is a bit tricky for Mario in the new game. You can no longer use the Cap Stall as effectively as you could in previous games. For those unfamiliar with this technique, it basically allowed Mario to remain invincible for a longer period of time by resetting the invincibility after using Mario's Cape (Side Special). Essentially, you grab the ledge (which gives Mario limited invincibility), then fall and immediately Cape to grab the ledge again. With proper timing you get the initial ledge grab invincibility over and over again. Unfortunately, this isn't as effective in the new game due to some general system changes.

So far, Mario looks to be improved over his Brawl incarnation. Is he one of the best characters in the game? Right now it doesn't seem that way, but it's still very early. If you considered him low tier in Brawl, he has a good chance of at least being mid-tier in the new game. His increased combo ability alone is a significant boost over his abilities in Brawl.

We'll have more coverage of the Smash Bros. 3DS demo and the retail version in the near future.