Super Smash Bros./Gameplay
To an absolute beginner, this is an incredibly confusing game. Though the controller and control interface are relatively simple, this game is often very difficult to perfect, even for hard-core gamers. This is mostly because of the innovative fighting style detailed above, but once you play the game enough, it all makes such perfect sense that you wonder how you ever could have had trouble with it.
To master this game, though, you need two main things. First, you will need a sense of timing. Once you master all of the moves, the only way you will hit with an attack or dodge someone else's is if you have very accurate timing. Secondly, you need to be able to recognize patterns well. A predictable opponent is a dead opponent, so figure out what he likes to do and when he likes to do it, and you've got him right where you want him. However, to be able to play enough to develop the two essentials above, one must have a good sense of humor. You will loose in humiliating fashion. You will explode for no reason whatsoever. You will toss your controller onto the ground in frustration and hang your head in shame. But if you can laugh at your character's surprised expression as he/she goes sailing off into the great beyond for no good reason, or at the utterly amazing series of coincidences that ended up with you in the KO wall, you will persevere easily, and will most definitely master the game. However, one must crawl before one can run, so let's start with the basics.
The Nintendo 64 controller, to many gamers, is one of, if not the best controller ever designed. Fitting the hand very well, its well-spaced buttons (A, B, C-pad, D-pad, R, L, and Z) allow for much control versatility. For Super Smash Brothers, The D-pad (cross on left prong of controller) is unused, so your left hand should hold the center prong, thumb on the control stick and forefinger on the Z button (trigger on middle prong). Your right should hold the right prong, thumb near the A and B buttons, and forefinger on the R-button (shoulder button on right prong). Every other button except for the D-pad is functional in this game, though it can be played effectively with just the stick and the A, B, and Z buttons.
Controlling Your CharacterEdit
The first time you take out a game, you just want to get in there and fight. This usually involves copious amounts of button-mashing. However, Super Smash Brothers 64 and its sequel are a couple of the few (if not the only) fighting games in which button-mashing simply does not work. So, before you get into epic battles, I suggest first learning how to control your character.
Movement in Super Smash Brothers is accomplished through use of the control stick located on the middle prong of the controller. Tilting this stick to the right makes your character move right, left makes him/her move left, etc. The stick is sensitive to pressure, so pushing it hard to the right or left will make your character run in that direction, while tilting it will make them walk, and there are even different walking speeds, depending on stick pressure. Pressing down on the stick will cause your character to crouch, and if you are atop a platform that is not the main platform of the level, tapping the control stick down will cause your character to drop through.
Pushing the stick up makes your character jump (once again, different stick pressures will make him/her jump higher, a light upward movement will not make them jump at all, for reasons that I will go into later). However, the C-pad (the yellow buttons on the right prong of the controller) can also be used to jump as well. Pressing any one of these buttons will cause your character to jump; the direction of the arrows on the buttons doesn't matter. C-button jumps send your character higher, but stick jumps are variable in height. It is important to master these jumps, as both types are necessary in different situations. Also, your character has not one, but two jumps. He/she can double-jump in mid-air, allowing for more altitude and maneuverability. Even better, Kirby and Jigglypuff, being puffballs, can fly, allowing for 5 separate small jumps.
Oh no! You've been thrown off of the stage by your opponent, who is now gloating over your inevitable death. Are you just going to fall into oblivion? No! You're going to get yourself right back up there on the stage and smack your opponent one good! If you're hit or thrown off of the stage, you're going to want to try to return, as falling off makes you die, and that's bad. You'll notice that if you're in midair, you get an extra jump. If you're Kirby or Jigglypuff, you get 5 extra jumps, but with every other character, you get but one. Every time you touch the stage, this number of midair jumps resets to its maximum. If you're hit after using this second jump and you fly off of the stage without touching the ground, you don't have that jump any more, though something to remember is that if your opponent throws you you get your second jump back, even if you didn't touch the ground. So you're off of the stage and you've jumped in midair. Now what? You're still not close enough to the stage. Well, this is where your recovery move comes in. Every character except for Yoshi has a recovery move of some kind or another. In most cases, it's an up-B attack. Doing this move will net you extra vertical and/or horizontal (depends on your character) distance with which to reach the stage. You should plan your approach accordingly. Kirby can come from nearly directly below the edge, as his up-B is mostly vertical, while Donkey Kong wants to start his up-B while he's close to the level of the edge, as his is very much horizontal. Now, if you can't quite get far enough to land on the stage, that's OK! Your character is smart, and will grab the edge of the stage and hang from it. Every level (except for Peach's Castle) has an edge to the level from which your character can hang. From there, you have a few options for returning to the stage proper that will be detailed in the next section.
NOTE: Not all recoveries are up-Bs! For example, Mario's and Luigi's down-B will give altitude to the player if the player pounds the B button in sync with the spinning of the tornado, and Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch gives a little horizontal distance without much loss in height. Samus' bombs slow her descent speed, and Jigglypuff (with no usable up-B for recovery) can do her B button Pound attack (sliding the stick upwards after each Pound keeps more height) to slide across the sky with very little loss in height. This is another of the things which differentiates the master from the apprentice; the use of non-up B moves for recovery. These moves will be categorized seperately in each character's in-depth guide.
After playing this game a few times, you will notice that when you come back from being thrown off of the stage, sometimes you don't make it back onto the ledge, but you end up grabbing the edge and hanging from it. Landing on the edge like this is a necessary strategic part of competitive play, as you are invincible for a few seconds and it provides you with new ways to return to the stage. From the edge, there are a few ways to get up. Firstly, you can tap the control stick up, and your character will simply clamber up onto the ledge and stand there. Secondly, you can tap the Z-button, and your character will climb up and roll a certain distance before standing up. Also, you can hit an attack button (A, B, or R) and you will attack as you climb back up. These three recoveries are executed quickly at damage percentages below 100%, but are clumsy and slow when you are at higher damage, as your character has been weakened. The final thing you can do is to tap the control stick down (releasing the edge) and then jump back onto the stage attacking, in order to get your opponent off of you. However, attacking while right next to the stage is a bad idea, as if your attack animation executes during the window where your character can grab the edge; he/she doesn't and it's lights out. Careful use of edge recoveries can make you much more difficult to kill, but don't become predictable, or you're as good as dead.
Getting Back UpEdit
If you get hit with a powerful enough attack (or you have high damage and get hit with ANY attack), you will be lifted into the air and will fall down, either on your stomach or on your back (prostrate or supine, for you English majors out there). Once here, there are a couple ways to regain your feet and control of your character. Firstly, you can tap the Z-button, and your character will simply stand up, and you are invincible as you do so). Tilting your stick left or right will cause your character to roll in that direction and then stand up. Finally, hitting an attack button will make your character attack as they stand up. There is a certain attack for on your back, and one for on your stomach, but only two (it doesn’t matter what attack button you press). Use these unpredictably to avoid being “camped” (gamer term for when someone waits for you to be vulnerable again so that they can hurt you as soon as you get back up).
Directional Influence (DI)Edit
Another very important thing to master is the art of DI, or directional influence. If your character is falling through the air, pressing up will make him/her fall slower (unless you have a jump left, in which case your character will jump), down will make him/her fall faster, and left or right will make him/her move in that direction. These movements, especially the vertical ones, are minimal, but they make a big difference. Directional influence is crucial to survival, because with it, you can slip out of combos, change trajectories in mid-air, dodge projectiles, and avoid death for a while by DI’ ing away from the KO barrier.
Now that you can move about, it's time to get down to the reason why you are here. There are many theories as to who hit whom first, or what feuds developed into this intra-Nintendo war, but the purpose is clear. You are here to knock your pitiful opponent out of the arena. This arena is, in essence, just a great big box. Off of the fighting platform there is a certain distance of free air where you can maneuver to come back to the stage; however, this ends at a certain distance from the stage, where there are the KO barriers. There are two KO walls, one KO ceiling, and a KO floor. If you pass over these boundaries, you die, and are respawned. Therefore, to defeat your opponent, you must get them over these boundaries. To do this, you will need to get their damage percentage up to a lethal level (usually around 80% - 100%). Everyone starts off with 0% damage, and as you get hit, this percentage increases. With each increase in damage, there is a subsequent increase in the distance that you fly when hit by a certain attack. Therefore, the higher damage they are, the easier it is to kill them. However, in order to do all of this complicated stuff, you need to learn how to bring the pain to your opponent.
Before we begin, let's talk about some basic Smash nomenclature. There is a large following around this game, as well as its sequel (and soon even another is coming out), and as is American nature, we get tired of speaking full-length terms. So, the names of these attacks have been shortened in a very logical way. The way you do it is to put the first letter of the direction of the attack (Front, Back, Up, and Down) in front of the type of attack (tilt, smash, or air). Therefore, a forward smash would become an "fsmash" and a back aerial would become a "bair".
There are two attack buttons, A and B. Their uses are multifaceted, and mastering all of them is necessary to become a Smash Master.
A-attacks are attacks that are performed through use of the A-button. Although beginners usually shun these in favor of powerful, cool-looking B-attacks, masters end up using these attacks to an incredible degree. These are your character's basic physical attacks (punches, kicks, head butts, etc.), and there are many types.
- Neutral A
This attack occurs when your character is simply standing in place and you hit the A-button. If you hit it repeatedly, it will hit them multiple times with different small attacks. Though not really a very useful move, it can act as a disruption to the opponent (it will knock them back a little ways) so that you can escape.
- Dash Attack (DA)
When your character is running, and you hit the A-button, your character will perform a dash attack. Usually, this involves your character dropping his/her head or shoulder and slamming it into their opponent, sliding to a stop in the process. Compared to other attacks, the cool-down time is a little excessive as compared to the knock-back, and they are relatively easy to avoid, so I rarely use them, but I have seen them used as part of a combo to pretty good effect.
To do a tilt move, you must lean the control stick lightly in any of the four main directions and hit the A-button at the same time. For utilts (up tilts, remember?) you must be very careful not to stick-jump, or you will lose the chance to tilt-attack. There are three tilts, a utilt, dtilt, and ftilt (tilting in the opposite direction that your character is facing will simply cause them to turn around and execute the tilt in the new direction). These attacks are inherently more powerful than the neutral-a, but weak enough that they knock the enemy back just far enough so that you can press the attack.. They are also generally quick, which makes them perfect for high-damage combos.
Smashes are generally a character's killing move. Though slower in execution than tilts, on the whole, they are a great deal more powerful, allowing for the unlucky opponent to be sent through a KO barrier. As with tilts, there are 3 smashes, usmash, dmash, and fsmash. To execute a smash attack, smash your control stick hard in the direction you want the attack to go and hit the A-button at the same time. If you are having trouble with these, try smashing the stick just the slightest moment before hitting the A-button, and it should become easier. If used openly, these attacks are easily evaded by any Smash player worth their salt. Therefore, you use other moves to set your opponent up for the smash (tilts are great for this), so that even if they see it coming, they can't avoid it.
Aerials, not surprisingly, involve jumping your character into the air and pushing the A-button. There are 5 aerials, nair (neutral, no stick), uair, dair, fair, and bair (stick in the direction opposite the one your character is facing). Stick pressure comes into effect here as well, for if you smash your stick over to attack in the air, your character will being drifting in that direction when attacking; however, if you tilt it slightly, your character will attack without changing course. Aerials are very versatile attacks, and combined with tilts they make up 90% of effective combos.
These are your character's "special attacks". B-attacks are incredibly varied in their relative speeds, power, and applications, so the notes below are simply a rule of thumb.
- Neutral-B: To do this attack, just hit the B-button without any stick movement. If your character has a projectile, this is usually it.
- Up-B: Simple enough. Stick up and B-button. This move, in all but two characters (Yoshi and Jigglypuff) acts as a recovery move. By recovery move, I mean that doing this move acts to get you closer to the edge so that you can successfully recover when with just your jumps you could not. This has caused many smashers to refer to it as a "third jump".
- Down-B: Just lean the stick down and hit B. These attacks are most likely to be an area-affect attack, but these attacks are very difficult to generalize.
Remember when I said that there were only two attack buttons? Well, there are, if you're just looking to physically hit your opponent. However, attacks performed solely with the A and B buttons can be blocked with a character's shield (more on this in Defensive Moves). The only attack that can get through this shield is a throw. There are two ways to throw someone. You have to be right next to them, and facing them to grab them (though Ness can somehow grab people behind him on rare circumstances - must be all that psychic mumbo-jumbo). Everybody's grabbing range is different. Once you are in range, you can either press the R-button (the shoulder button on the right prong), or the Z (trigger on middle prong) and A buttons simultaneously. For future reference, pressing the R-button at any time does the same thing as pressing Z and A.
Once you have grabbed them, you can either push the stick forward (or hit the R-button again) or you can push the stick in the other direction. There are two different throws for each character, one forward, and one back. In my experience, rear throws are generally more powerful, but once again, it is difficult to generalize many things about this most excellent of games.
The following are all the types of damage that certain characters in the game can inflict. The type of damage inflicted dictates the state your character is in when hit/knocked off etc. eg. If you are smoking momentarily, then you were hit with fire damage, or if you are shocked momentarily, then you were hit with Shock (Electric) damage. Not all characters can inflict all types of damage, but all characters can inflict Melee damage (from a punch or headbutt etc).
- Fire Damage (Falcon Punch, PK Fire) Average Damage Bonus of 2%
- Melee Damage (Punches, Head Butts etc) Average Damage Bonus of 3%
- Shock (Electric) Damage (Thunderbolt, PK Thunder etc) Average Damage Bonus of 2%
- Magical Damage (Only Kirby, Jigglypuff and Yoshi can inflict magical damage, however only with certain attacks)
Fire damage attacks include:
- Captain Falcon: Falcon Punch (B), Falcon Kick (B + Down), Uppercut Grap (B + Up), Fire Kick (fsmash)
- Samus: Flamethrower (usmash or fair)
- Link: Bombs (Down + B)
- Luigi and Mario: Fireball (B)
- Kirby: Can use Falcon Punch by absorbing Captain Falcon (except base damage is lowered by 3%, can't notice though), Final Cutter (B + Up, note that only the final hit in this move does fire damage, the first two inflict melee damage. The smokeyness of the fire damage is not shown however)
- Ness: PK Fire (B) Note that on Ness, the attack is an attrition. Bonus damage of 4% is applied each time the attack hurts someone consecutively; this attack can be used to stack on damage on another fighter and then knock him off when his damage is high enough.
- Fox: Fire Fox (B + Up)
All fighters can do melee damage, which is basically a normal punch, headbutt etc. Donkey Kong however, is the only character that cannot inflict anything else than melee damage. Link is another unique character that can inflict melee damage from a distance using his boomerang. Unique Melee attacks include:
- Links Hookshot (R)
- Kirby's Final Cutter (B + Up, note that the first two hits in this move do melee, the final one does fire damage)
- Pikachu's Forward Throw (R without control stick modifier)
- Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch does fire and melee damage, which includes the damage bonus from the two; very powerful attack.
- Yoshi's Egg Throw (B-up)
Shock (Electric) attacks include:
- Samus's Charged Shock Cannon (B) and Grappling Hook (R)
- Pikachu: Electric Shock (B), Thunderbolt (B + Down), Shock Spur (fsmash), Electric Fizzle (dair), Lightning Drill (fair), Backward Throw (R + Backward)
- Fox: Laser Gun (B), Shine/Reflector (B + Down, note that this move reflect projectiles back at the enemy with a damage bonus applied of 50%, so the attack is thrown back usually much stronger)
- Ness: PK Thunder (B + Up, note this move can be directed and controlled using the control stick), PK Thunder Recovery (B + Up + Maneuver the bolt to hit Ness, this move is the largest triple jump in the game, having the greatest distance)
Magical Damage is not normal damage, but affects the other player in a detrimental way. One example is on Jigglypuff and her singing. It puts the other player to sleep, but doesn't hurt the player. Such is considered a magical attack and the game engine doesn't add damage to the player getting hit by one if a magical attack was used.
Okay, so now you know how to hurt your opponent. Now all you have to do is learn how to keep from being hurt yourself, because if you don’t take damage, there is no way that you can lose. There are two basic ways to avoid taking damage: blocking, rolling and nullification.
This is a very simple concept. Hitting the Z-button brings up a spherical colored shield that surrounds your character, protecting him/her from all attacks that touch it. This shield concept makes a lot more sense than does blocking in your average Street Fighter style game, where Chun-Li can block a Hadoken from Ryu by just putting her forearm in front of her face. Anyway, you have a shield that surrounds your character that will stay as long as you hold the Z-button. However, as time elapses, the shield will slowly shrink, so you can’t just stand there with your shield up. Secondly, damage to the shield causes it to shrink faster, so your opponent can beat at the shield in order to open up a piece of your body to hit around the shield (hitting your unprotected body while you have the shield up will knock the shield down). By gently tilting the control stick, the shield can be moved to cover different parts of your body, but if allowed to get too small, it will eventually break, leaving your character dazed and senseless (in Jigglypuff’s case, breaking her shield sends her sky-high for no particular reason). So, you will eventually want to let go of that shield. However, when you are attacked, you are stunned for a moment and cannot release your shield. The more powerful the attack, the longer the stunned period. AND the shield is not infallible; even when it is at full strength, people can still throw you out of it. So, don’t depend on your shield overmuch, but it is still a very useful defensive technique.
While you were practicing moving your shield about, you may have noticed that pushing the stick too hard to either side would cause your character to roll, and lose the shield. Rolling is an important maneuver, especially because when you roll, attacks pass right through you. To roll, tap Z and then push the stick to either the left or the right. Some characters roll faster than others, and the pattern seems to be that the more suitably you are shaped for rolling (the spherical Kirby and Jigglypuff, Samus in her Morph Ball, etc.) the slower you seem to be able to roll. Luigi has one of the best rolls in the game, but he’s a green-capped, lanky plumber. Hey, I never said that this game would make any sense. However, learn to use your rolls effectively for, though you will learn more efficient evasive tactics later, many players have trouble keeping up with you when you are rolling.
The third overall logical defensive strategy, after blocking the attack or getting out of the way, is to cancel it out with one of your own. This is, in essence, nullification, or "action blocking." This technique can be used to cancel out another fighter's attack, by just using another attack of your own. Certain (B) attacks can only be nullified by another attack of the same type. To cancel out another fighter's attack (nullify it), the two attacks must be executed near-simultaneously. The breakage point (the point onscreen where the attack hits the other fighter) is where you have to aim. Your counter-attack (your attack you use to nullify the other attack) also has to inflict at least equal or higher damage than the other attack your countering. For example, if you wanted to nullify Samus' fully charged shock cannon, a simple punch or head butt will not work; your punch's breakage point will be penetrated and you will still be hit!
Don't rely on nullifying your opponent's attacks continually, as nullifying cancels out both of your attacks so none of you do any damage. It can be a quick way of saving yourself from a humiliating KO if you keep forgetting the Z button (though simply blocking is a bit simpler), if you're paranoid that people will keep shattering your shield and making you go all dizzy, or if you are in a situation where you want to stop an attack without becoming stunned (if you stun your opponent at the same time, it's the same as not being stunned at all).
Some attacks that can be nullified:
- Any normal punch or head butt (A once, or A while running)
- Any normal down kick (Down + A on ground)
- Any bonus triple punch move (pressing A repeatedly)
- Some normal upward moves (Up + A on ground)
- Some (B) attacks (Samus' non-fully charged gun can be nullified with a B-projectile or a thrown item, for example)
- Any recovery counter move (A or B or R or Z while laying on ground after being hit or thrown)
- Thrown items (nair with many characters will deflect thrown items, though it doesn't work with the bat, sword, wand, or the Bomb-Omb)
Some attacks that cannot be nullified (though they can be interrupted):
- Any triple jump move that inflicts damage, such as Captain Falcon's Uppercut Grab (B + Up) or Fox's Fire Fox (B + Up) or Ness' PK Thunder Recovery (B + Up + Maneuver bolt to hit Ness) or Samus' Screw Attack (B + Up) or Link's Master Sword Swing (B + Up). Note: While you can try to nullify a damaging triple jump move, the breakage point of your attack will still be penetrated by the triple jump, and you may still get hit.
- Grabs and throw downs (R or Z + A)
- Downward attacks (Down + A while in the air), like Pikachu's Lightning Drill for example
- Most attacks while in the air cannot be nullified
Some special conditions for certain (B) moves are present though:
- Pikachu's Thunderbolt (B + Down) can only nullify an attack if the thunderbolt successfully strikes Pikachu
- Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch (B) can nullify more than one attack because of the short distance his 'punch' travels
- Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch (B) can only be nullified by another Falcon Punch, Samus' shock cannon (fully charged) or Pikachu's Thunderbolt (successful strike), or a successful smash attack.
Interrupting an attack, though it sounds similar, is not the same as nullifying an attack. If you interrupt an attack, you void the other fighter's attack and damage him with yours. This can be done quite easily with Samus, for example, when she is charging her gun. This is preferable to nullification, as you get a leg up on your opponent and can get free damage and maybe even begin a combo. To do this, you simply hit your opponent, but not their attack. Say Kirby is doing his B-up, and right before he lands you put a smash out there in his face. His attack stops, and he goes flying like the little balloon he is. See? Easy. However, if you smash as he lands and the projectile begins moving across the ground, your attack will only hit that and nullify it.