Get more tips with Prima’s Super Smash Bros. 3DS strategy guide!
Super Smash Bros. has a long and eventful history. When the original game landed on the Nintendo 64 in 1999, it created a new genre in the same way that Street Fighter 2 brought fighting games to the masses. Now, over 15 years later, a new Smash Bros. game is here for a new generation of players. It’s been six long years since the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, the most recent entry in the series. Due to the long wait between games and the fact that many new players will get into Smash Bros. on the 3DS, we compiled some basic tips to help you get started with your Smash Bros. adventure.
Scoring KOs in Super Smash Bros.
One of the unique aspects of the Super Smash Bros. series is how you win matches. At the bottom of the screen is a percentage for each character in play. When a match begins, that percentage is zero. As a character takes damage, the percentage increases. The higher a character’s damage percentage, the greater the distance that character will travel when hit by an attack. This is defined as “knockback,” with each attack having a set amount of knockback that is generally increased as damage percentage increases.
All stages are essentially big boxes. Once a character moves beyond the invisible boundary surrounding a stage, it’s considered a KO. At this point, the character’s damage percentage resets to zero, and he or she reappears at the top of the screen. In order to score KOs, you need to be the last player to inflict damage to a character before he or she suffers a KO. If no other player inflicts damage when a character leaves the center platform of a stage, it is considered a self-death or a suicide death, and no other players score points for the KO. However, the player in question still loses a life (stock).
Keep in mind that even if you have not attacked an opposing character at all for the duration of a match, but land the last hit before he or she is KO’d, you will still earn the credit for that KO. This is often referred to as “stealing a KO,” and occurs frequently in four-player free-for-all matches. It has also been known to end friendships from time to time.
Movement in Super Smash Bros.
Most movement in Super Smash Bros. is performed using the analog stick while your character is on the ground, and in conjunction with the Jump button to propel your character into the air. Each character has a double jump, allowing him or her to jump a second time in the air. This is important because you’ll need that second jump once you’ve been knocked off a stage. In addition, most characters have a “recovery move,” which is generally a special move that propels the character upward. Use this in combination with your double jump to make your way back onto a stage after being knocked off.
On the ground, think of movement like you would a 3D platformer such as Super Mario Galaxy. Move the analog stick slightly to the left or right and your character walks in that direction. Add more pressure to the analog stick and your character will begin to run in that direction. You can also drop through most elevated platforms by holding or double tapping Down on the analog stick. This is important to remember, as it can get you out of a sticky situation if an opponent is trying to attack while you’re on an elevated platform.
How to do Combos
Generally speaking, a combo is when a series of attacks are guaranteed to hit an opponent if the first attack connects. Unlike most other fighting games, Super Smash Bros. doesn’t have traditional combos. In Super Smash Bros., the higher a character’s damage percentage, the more knockback is inflicted when that character is hit. While some attacks have a set amount of knockback no matter what a character’s damage percentage is, this is the general rule for Smash Bros.
A combo that works on a character with zero percent damage may not work on a character with 70 percent damage. This is because some of the attacks in the combo may push the opposing character too far away, making the next attack in the combo miss. In many cases, combos in Super Smash Bros. are reliant on correctly guessing which direction your opponent will move after each attack lands.
After being hit, a character can double jump (sometimes referred to as a “tech”). A character can tech in a variety of directions depending on which direction the analog stick was held when the tech occurred. For example, if you get hit in the air, you may press Left and Jump to tech to the left. If the attacking player can guess that you’re going to tech to the left, they can move left in anticipation of this, ready to connect with the next attack in the combo. However, if the player guessed wrong and instead moved to the right, then the character that teched to the left would be out of reach of the next attack in the combo, effectively ending the combo.
It’s important to watch the tendencies of your opponents to have a better idea of which direction they will tech after being hit. While there are some combos that are guaranteed no matter the circumstances, many combos are going to be situational based on the damage percentage of the opposing character, the weight class of the character (how heavy they are and how fast they fall), what attack you hit them with and a variety of other variables.
How to do Smash Attacks
A Smash Attack is generally a very damaging attack with high knockback, which is performed by moving the analog stick as far as possible in a single direction while pressing A (using default controls). Think of it as though you’re “smashing” the analog stick in the direction. If you just move it slightly in one direction, you’ll get a different attack.
Each character usually has four Smash Attacks: Up, Down, Forward and Back. These attacks aren’t very fast, but they pack a big punch and can usually be charged (hold A) for extra damage and knockback. Some Smash Attacks can be used to end combos, while others are great when you catch an opponent off-guard. You should not rely heavily on Smash Attacks because they are relatively easy to avoid and your character is usually left vulnerable to a counterattack if you miss.
Smash Attacks are best used in situations when they are virtually guaranteed to connect. For example, if you knock an opponent off of a stage and he or she is trying to make their way back onto the stage. If you stand near the edge of the stage and wait until the opposing character gets close, this is usually a good time to use a Smash Attack. Likewise, if two opposing players attack each other, you can sneak in a Smash Attack while they’re preoccupied.
How to do Tilts and Aerial Attacks
Tilts and Aerials are generally not as powerful as Smash Attacks, but that varies depending on the attack. Some Tilts and Aerials are far more powerful than others. In most cases, these attacks are faster than Smash Attacks, and should be used more frequently during combos and throughout a match. If a Smash Attack is executed by moving the analog stick as far as it will go in a given direction, a Tilt Attack is performed by simply “tilting” the analog stick in the desired direction. Like Smash Attacks, most characters have a Forward, Back, Up and Down Tilt.
There are no aerial Smash Attacks, so while in the air, all you need to do is press in the direction of the attack you wish to use to perform the Aerial. For example, if you wish to use a Down Aerial (also known as a Down Air), simply press Down and A (default controls) while in the air. Unlike the difference between a Smash Attack and a Tilt Attack, the amount of pressure you apply to the analog stick does not matter when it comes to Aerials.
It’s important to note how much ending lag each Tilt and Aerial has. This is basically the amount of time between the completed execution of the attack and when you can perform another attack or action. For example, if you use a Down Air, then hold your Shield button, pay attention to the time between the end of the Down Air attack and the appearance of your Shield. The longer it takes for your shield to appear, the more ending lag the attack has. Attacks with a lot of ending lag are generally less useful than attacks with minimal ending lag. In other fighting games, this is generally referred to as recovery, but in Smash Bros. recovery has a different meaning, so ending lag is used in its place.
How to do Special Moves
The default control scheme assigns the A button to Smash Attacks, Tilts and Aerials, while the B button performs special moves. In most cases, these are a character’s trademark attacks. For example, Mario’s Neutral B is his trademark Fireball. Most characters have four special moves: Neutral, Up, Down and Side (left or right).
Special moves vary quite a bit more than Smash Attacks, Tilts or Aerials. Mario’s Tilts all have similar functionality when compared to Pit’s Tilts. However, Mario’s special moves may serve a completely different purpose when compared to Pit’s special moves. Some characters will have a set of special moves designed for close-range combat. Little Mac is a good example of this because he has no projectile attacks, and almost all of his special moves are designed to be used at close range. On the other hand, Fox McCloud’s special moves consist of a Laser Blaster and other attacks that should be used from a distance.
How to do Shielding
The primary form of defense in Super Smash Bros. 3DS is to use a shield bubble. By pressing the Block or Shield button, a bubble appears around your character. Hold the button and the bubble begins to slowly shrink. If the bubble gets too small it breaks, which temporarily stuns your character. Release the shield and it gradually regenerates back to full capacity.
In some cases the bubble will not cover your character entirely, especially once it has begun to shrink. Any portion of your character that is visibly outside of the bubble can be hit. Skilled players will frequently perform a shield stab, which means they attack the vulnerable area outside of the bubble to hit your character even while shielding.
If you press left or right while shielding, your character will roll in the desired direction. You can roll through a variety of things from attacks to items to platforms and obstacles. Rolling is a second line of defense that allows you to move immediately while shielding. You are vulnerable for a brief period during the roll, so be careful not to be too predictable. Some opponents may close in on you, anticipate a roll, then attack as soon as you’re vulnerable.
How to do Grabs
Grabs (also known as throws) are one of the few ways to break through an opponent’s defense. Even while shielding, an opposing character cannot avoid a grab. Most characters have multiple grabs depending on the direction used once a grab has been initiated. For example, if you grab an opponent and then press Down, your character performs his or her Down Grab. In most cases the direction of the grab coincides with the direction the opponent travels at the completion of the grab. Some grabs can be chained together or followed by an attack (or series of attacks) to create a combo.
Characters such as Link or Samus have tether grabs. These grabs almost always have longer reach than a normal grab, but suffer from considerably more ending lag. However, these tether grabs can generally be used to latch onto walls or the edge of a stage and can be a great help to prevent your character from falling off the stage.
Recovering in Super Smash Bros.
Once your character has been knocked off the stage, one of two things occurs: your character is knocked far enough away that they exit the “box” of the stage and die instantly (KO), or you’re merely knocked away from the central portion of the stage and have the ability to make your back to the center platform. Trying to get back to the center platform is generally referred to as “recovering” in a Smash Bros. game.
Every character has a recovery special move (usually Up and B), which almost always launches that character high into the air. In most cases, your best option to recover back to the main platform is to get as close to the stage as possible, then use a double jump, followed by a recovery special move. However, some characters have better recovery options than others. For example, Kirby has multiple air jumps (double jumps) he can use, which are a tremendous aid when attempting to recover.
Edgeguarding in Super Smash Bros.
While you’re attempting to recover back to the stage, your opponents will most likely try to keep you off the stage. This is referred to as edgeguarding, and can end friendships if done correctly. While edgeguarding varies from character to character, generally speaking it involves using special moves to keep an opponent away from the main platform in the center of a stage. However, there are more advanced tactics, such as grabbing the edge of a platform, thus making it unavailable to your opponent.
The most basic flow chart of edgeguarding is as follows: Knock an opponent off the main platform > wait by the edge of the platform for the opponent to approach > use an attack to keep the opponent away from the edge > the opponent falls to an easy KO.
If you want to experiment with this, some skilled players will jump off the main platform to follow an opponent making a recovery. While in the air, they will use an attack with considerable knockback, or a special move to hit the opponent farther away. This generally causes an instant KO, or makes it considerably more difficult for the opposing player to get back to the center of the stage. Once the opposing player has been hit, the skilled player uses a double jump or recovery special move to get back to the center platform.
All Super Smash Bros. games have featured some sort of directional influence. Simply put, if you hold a certain direction after being hit, your character’s trajectory will be influenced. For example, if an opponent hits your character up, holding left as soon as your character is hit will cause your character to move slightly to the left.
In Super Smash Bros. 3DS, directional influence works a little different than it did in previous Smash Bros. games. In the past, it was not possible to decrease the knockback of an attack. Instead, you only had the ability to alter your trajectory. In Super Smash Bros. 3DS, you can directly decrease the knockback of an attack by a predetermined amount. For example, if an opponent uses an Up Smash to knock you into the air, and you would have flown up 50 feet without directional influence, by holding down on the analog stick your character may only travel 40 feet into the air.
Learning how to properly use directional influence can save you from a KO on many occasions. The timing can be tricky, and in some cases it may not save you at all, but once mastered it is a very powerful defensive tool. Almost all of the top Smash Bros. players use directional influence like it’s second nature.
We’ll have plenty more on Super Smash Bros. 3DS in the days ahead.