Smash Bros. Ultimate is more competitive than you may think

Mechanics changed many many things about this game compared to its predecessors.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the latest game to the Smash Bros. franchise. It has brought back many mechanics from Super Smash Bros. Melee, such as directional air dodging and dash dancing. All this together makes the game much more competitive than its predecessors. Ever had a friend you wanted to beat? Learning skills, new and old, can help you improve your abilities as a proud player of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Mix ups are important to most fighting games. This means using different options to catch your opponent off guard. Mix ups give you the chance to fake out your opponent, often resulting in a kill or inflicting heavy damage. For example, by changing your dash attacks into a grab every so often, you’ll be able to grab your opponent instead of hitting their shield with a dash attack, which is the expected move.

A very good skill to learn is attacking while running. While you’re running, you can either slam your control stick down or return it to neutral position then input a command. By doing so, it forces your character to stop running and perform the action seamlessly. This allows you to be much more aggressive when approaching as you aren’t limited to using dash attack, aerials and specials since the attack button adds effectively 7 more approach options, with the possibility of leading into a combo.

Spacing is an important part of the Smash Bros. franchise. Spacing is the ability to hit your opponent while being as safe as possible to avoid any sudden counterattacks. This allows you to apply safe pressure on your opponent, building up percent, which is the “health bar” in the game. Similar to a real life fight, the person with the larger range has the advantage as it makes the shorter ranged person work around that huge range.

Defensive options have changed from the previous game. Power shielding is no longer in the game and was replaced by parrying. Performing a parry is done by releasing the shield button just as your shield gets hit. This briefly stuns the attacker and gives you time to counterattack, however you won’t stun the attacker if you parry a projectile attack.

Rolling was also changed to make the game much more aggressive than previous iterations of Smash Bros. The more you roll, the more likely you are to get punished for it. Spamming rolls is no longer an option as rolls can now become “stale”. This is indicated by slower rolls and longer vulnerability periods after the roll. These mechanics also apply to air dodging and directional air dodging, however upon using an air dodge, you won’t be able to perform another until you touch the stage or get hit.

When defensive options fail, hold towards the stage. If you’re being launched off the stage horizontally, hold towards the stage to survive longer. This is known as vectoring. Being launched vertically causes a different outcome. For vertical knockback, you should hold your control stick away from your attacker with exceptions such as Luigi’s and Dr. Mario’s up smash. In these cases you hold towards them to survive the longest. For perfectly vertical knockback, it doesn’t matter which direction you hold towards, however there are very few of these attacks in the game.

While you’re off stage, the up special is generally known as a recovery for all but one character, however it can still be used as an attack provided it has a hitbox without being off stage. There are multiple ways to recover, commonly using your double jump or directional air dodge towards the ledge. Characters with a recovery that sends them down as a second half may want to be above the edge of the stage. Most characters however have a recovery that only sends them up or at an angle. A safe way to recover with these characters is to be under the edge and catch the ledge as your recovery ends. This vertical distance recovered varies from character to character, thus experimentation against various opponents is ideal.

Teching is a slightly more advanced technique and if performed well, can change the tides. While you’re off stage, it’s likely your opponent will go after you and try to intercept your recovery. This is known as edge guarding. A popular choice in this situation is to hit the defender into the stage resulting in a stage spike. By pressing shield or grab as you hit the stage, will result in a tech. This saves you from being bounced off the stage and into oblivion. This can also achieved on stage if an opponent uses a spike or meteor spiking attack. You should also be aware that teching won’t work forever. Depending on the weight of your character, teching will stop working sooner or later.

Many of these skills are used on a regular basis by competitive players. Even if a certain character matchup is bad for you, whoever can “read” what their opponent is going to do more often is more likely to win the matchup. Confidence is key in most games as if you aren’t confident in your ability, you aren’t playing at 100%.

These are only a handful of technique in the game, however I believe the majority of these are what make the game much more competitive than its predecessors. Smash Melee for example had some really weird quirks, Smash Brawl was played a lot slower compared to any of the other games and Smash 4, while still being the most similar to Smash Ultimate, was played a lot more defensively due to defensive options being much stronger. I’m personally looking forward to how Ultimate develops along with the different strategies and play styles that are makes each player stand out from one another.

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