Smash Ultimate: Low Tier Love
Wed 13th Mar 2019 - 7:21pm
My friends like to call me a hipster and it’s not because of my clothes or my vinyl collection - they call me a hipster purely based on my love of lower tier characters and my unwavering dedication to the underdogs. Sure, this may present itself as an uphill battle, but there are a few advantages to playing the lesser picked characters. For instance, and I’m sure this is an obvious one, less people will know how to play against a lesser known character, potentially giving you an advantage. Granted, this alone won’t win you any matches at a local event, but the game is still pretty new, so it’s likely to work towards your benefit for the near future. In light of this, I wrote up some tips and some strengths of three lesser picked characters from the Smash roster to show some love.
-High vertical recovery with Side special-“Go-Kart” mixup potential
-Zoning with the Mecha-Koopa and cannon ball
-Fairly quick Forward air, Up air, and Down tilt
A strange character for sure, Bowser Jr. is perhaps one of my favorites to play based solely on his patrolling drone: the Mecha-Koopa. This Down special will drop on stage and start walking from one side to another before eventually exploding over time. The amount of pressure this little guy gives off is enough to make your oppoent rip their hair out as they now have to focus on where both you and the Koopa are while also thinking about their next step. On top of this, you can send out your cannon ball with its slow, but painful, hit to pressure even more. Do be mindful though, spamming these will become predictable and will almost certainly open you up to being punished. Here are some other things I’ve learned from playing the best of the Koopalings, Lemmy:
- The Mecha-Koopa sticks to your opponent on contact, so you can grab and pummel them until the Koopa reaches your opponent, then toss them in a direction. This takes some practice to get the timing down, but if done right, it can extend how far your opponent goes and can even kill at higher percents. Also works with Jr.’s jab string.
- Down smash/forward smash can be used as ledge guards in certain instances, but with a strong recovery, don’t be afraid to hop off the stage and pressure them with your forward airs and back airs
- The cannon ball seems to have gotten buffed in Ultimate (either that or people have forgotten how to play against it), and it seems to catch people off-guard a lot more now as it has pretty high priority. It even has a hitbox when its rolling out after its short flight. If playing against a trapper like Isabelle or Snake, you can destroy their mines with the ball and clear the way for your approach.
Gifs courtesy of RidgeTroopa.deviantart.com
-Forward air and Up air tend to combo at early percents
-Item versatility with Neutral special
-His dash attack is last pretty long and can punish opponents who don’t tech landings
Pac-Man was the first character I picked up back in Smash 4 and I was happy to see some of the changes that came through in Ultimate. For one, his grab has gotten buffed so it’s not as slow as it once was. While still a little sluggish, it can lead into a lot more such as up throw into forward air, up air, or neutral air. His item versatility remains his biggest appeal and can really confuse opponents if used correctly. Below are some of the techniques that should help you navigate the neutral game with Pac Man, as well help tack on the damage when you've closed the gap:
- Z Dropping can be a very pivotal technique in Pac-Man’s item-based play style, so it’s worth looking into as you are able to tack on a solid amount of damage by hitting with your items more than once. First, you have to throw the item you’ve selected with your Neutral special, then quickly grab it once it bounces off of your opponent. If done correctly, you’ll now be holding the item. Then, when in the air, simply press Z without inputting a direction and the item will drop below you while spiraling, so position yourself above your opponent for the second hit. As a bonus, when done with the Green fruit, dropping it will hasten the speed of the item while retaining the 14% damage for a total of 28% from both hits.
- Hydrant use is always something people know Pac-Man for, but it’s important not to overuse it as it can be easily punished. Consider using the horizontal water push from the hydrant to close the distance into a grab, effectively cancelling the longer grab animation that Pac-Man has. His dash attack and items are also somethings that benefits from the water’s boost, so keep that in mind when placing your hydrant.
- His side B is very predictable normally, but it’s gotten a little better since Smash 4 as the distance and speed has been increased, as well as having Super Armor once the final pellet has been eaten. I recommend using this as an unorthodox follow up when you’re able to get a solid hit. For instance, if you knock your opponent off screen, you can safely chase off stage and recover back with the Side special, potentially hitting your opponent once again. This will rarely be a game ender, but it’s pressure that could potentially throw your opponent off.
Gif courtesy of Peekingboo.deviantart.com
Mr. Game & Watch
-Up air, Back air, and Neutral air are multi hits
-Other aerials round out his kit pretty well
When it came to Smash Ultimate, nobody was more excited for Mr. Game & Watch than I was. And while my infatuation with this character has died down a little, I still think he can move with the best of them if deployed properly. His aerials are so enticing that I almost forget he has other moves, but definitely don’t skimp on his tilts or you’ll be missing a key component to his gameplay. His up tilt has been buffed since Smash 4 to land the second hit automatically if you land the first and his down tilt has been changed to form an angle rather than a flat plate like in previous games. As far as key points to keep in mind, these are some of the things I’ve learned through playing Game & Watch:
- Comboing off of throws is a must with Game & Watch as his aerials compliment their trajectory really well and give you some mix-up options. If you find that you’re being too predictable with a certain move, his others are all pretty quick options that you can rely on. Popular Game & Watch players may have popularized the down throw into side special, but he can do much more than that.
- Learning his forward air can be a little tricky just because you can be hit out of it before the bomb explodes, which will cause it to disappear. Being that it’s not a normal projectile like Link’s bomb, there are two hit box’s, the first when your pulling it out and the second when it explodes. Land both to max your damage output. Do be aware though, the bomb’s first hit will only land when it’s being taken out, not when it’s dropping.
- Don’t be afraid to dive off stage for your kills! Like Pac-man, Game & Watch has crazy off-stage game and can be really effective at pressuring. He’s not helpless after he uses his Up Special, so going low is no problem and won’t leave you without options after you need to recover. This is where Game & Watch gets fun, as things can get real dangerous, real quick!
Image courtesy of AndrewMartinD.deviantart.com
Hopefully these insights can help your versatility in picking characters as I personally gravitate towards the underused side of the roster. While meta is important, it’s equally important to remember that even though the game has been out since November, the meta is still very much solidifying, so you have a lot of time to practice with everyone available to you. But as always that’s very much the key: practice!
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