Fun With The Gun - A Guide to Using Falco's Lasers in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Mon 29th Jul 2019 - 6:15pm
An Introduction to Falco
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Falco has always been a strong tournament threat. Opinions of the character have gone up and down, but there’s no denying that you always need to be prepared for the bird. Various factors have led to some believing that Falco is worse in the meta than in years past, but there is one strength that Falco can boast above all other characters. That strength is lasers.
The goal of this article will be to go over the uses of Falco’s lasers in neutral and what those uses are good for based on the position. Most people realize the potential of Falco’s lasers as a camping tool, but they are so much more powerful than that. This tool can be used in nearly all positions effectively and allows Falco advantages that no other character has.
Now, it’s time for the breakdown of this article. At the most basic level, this article will be divided into the offensive uses and defensive uses of lasers in neutral. For the offensive uses, we’re going to be taking a look at using lasers as a tool to directly get openings and as a tool to take stage. For the defensive uses, we’re going to be taking a look at using lasers as a tool to camp and force approaches and as a tool to create distance in scramble situations.
Before we move on it’s important to note that although lasers are a powerful tool, every use of laser has counterplay. Be sure to be aware of Falco’s other many strengths. With that in mind, let’s get to shooting.
Attacking Directly with Lasers
Falco’s laser can be used as one of the strongest and safest tools to get an opening on your opponent directly. This tool can be used to connect directly into what is Falco’s often most reliable combo starter in shine and its lack of lag makes it super safe.
For this section, we’re going to be looking at three different ways of directly opening the opposing player up with an approaching laser. First, you can use your approaching laser to get an opening with shine. Second, you can use your approaching laser to get a grab. Third, you can use an approaching laser to more safely poke with a move like forward tilt or down tilt.
First, let’s take a look at using approaching laser as a tool to get an opening with shine. For Falco, getting a shine can mean death for his opponent in a matter of seconds. This tool is great when you have a read on your opponent’s dash dance pattern. By using this tool against a player who’s not properly protecting themselves you can easily get meaningful openings. One character that approaching laser to shine is very reliable against is Fox. Fox will often use short dashes back and forth to set up his defense and potentially get a whiff punish as a result of you approaching. By placing an approaching laser correctly, you can easily stop his movement and land what is very likely your best combo starter in the matchup in shine.
Next, let’s look at using approaching laser as a tool to get a grab. Playing the laser game can very often get your opponent to start shielding in which case at a point grabbing becomes necessary. This tool can be used as a way of getting a direct opening, but that opening serves another purpose. By grabbing players who get too shield happy you can either continue winning neutral against those defensive players or force them to stop shielding in which case your bigger combo starters become available. Now, by rolling between the laser and the grab characters can shield and get away from this setup, however by mixing in an approaching laser to shine grab you can prevent immediate rolls and often get a follow up off the shine even if the shine hits and the grab whiffs. One character that this approaching laser to grab is very effective against is Sheik. Sheik will often use shield to move forward and backward to take stage and thanks to her quick neutral aerial out of shield she can beat a large portion of Falco’s pressure. By using approaching laser to grab you can prevent Sheik from taking stage or counter hitting you this way.
Finally, let’s look at using approaching laser as a tool to lead into safer pokes such as jab or forward-tilt. Often in neutral, you don’t need to get big combo starters and are just looking to stay safe to either prolong neutral or, in this case, to attempt to get a kill without putting yourself in unnecessary danger. Approaching laser to jab or forward-tilt can allow you to lead into a kill by using a tool like jab to back-air or can easily set up for an edgeguard by having forward-tilt send your opponent off stage. One character that this tool is super effective against is Marth. Marth relies heavily on his defensive movement and one whiff punish opening from Marth can lead to death for Falco. With this in mind, it’s important to be able to be offensive while not taking unnecessary risks against Marth, especially when he’s at higher percents. By using a safe poke like forward-tilt, you can push Marth away and prevent yourself from getting opened up in a way that is much more likely to lead to you losing a stock.
Taking Stage with Lasers
Now, you already know about some of the ways to get direct openings with Falco’s lasers, but Falco’s laser is also arguably the best tool for gaining a better position. Approaching while creating frame advantage from a distance is something Falco excels at above all other characters.
For this section, we’re going to be looking at two different ways of taking stage with approaching lasers. More specifically, we’ll be looking at two different positions where this tool is valuable. First, there’s using approaching lasers as a means of taking stage in the ground game. Then, second, there’s using lasers as a means to take back stage from a platform.
First, we have taking stage with lasers in the ground game. In order to get your offense reliably started, it’s important to get to your threat range. Approaching lasers can allow you to get to this range while creating frame advantage and without being susceptible to tools like running grab which could beat you trying to take stage with just shield or dash in wavedash down. One character this tool is super effective against is Captain Falcon. Captain Falcon will often try to stay further away to set up for whiff punishes while avoiding the scrambles that heavily benefit Falco. This often leads to Captain Falco cornering himself and by using approaching lasers you can take the better position closer to center stage and then set up to wall Captain Falcon out.
Second, we have taking stage from a platform using lasers. Due to shield dropping being so prevalent players will very often not even try to attack into characters on a platform due to the likelihood of getting counter hit. This leads to a lot of characters trying to just play the ground game while they wait for the opponent to come to the ground so they can potentially get a whiff punish. Using a short hop laser off the side platform can allow you to get back to center stage while preventing yourself from getting directly whiff punished. One character this tool is especially good against is Marth. Marth very often will look to use his long dashes to poke in and bait Falco into coming off the platform, so using a laser coming off the platform in this matchup can be very effective.
Camping with Lasers
As far as Falco’s laser goes, its best use might be for camping. Lasers can easily disrupt your opponent while racking up damage. No other projectile can accomplish these two goals simultaneously with the speed of Falco’s lasers.
For this section, we’ll be looking at the uses of Falco’s lasers as a means of playing at a distance against two different types of play. First, we’ll look at using lasers as a means of camping in the ground game. Then, we’ll look at lasers as a means of camping against characters playing more vertically.
Starting off, we have using Falco’s lasers to camp against characters playing closer to the ground. By playing at a distance with short hop lasers you can force characters like this to play into your threat range on your time and from there you can much more reliably get meaningful openings. In addition, you can more reliably time your zoning to wall character’s out once they get closer. This tool is especially good against a character like Luigi. Luigi’s great wavedash coupled with his abysmal air mobility leads to him being very reliant on grounded approaches to get his offense started, especially against more patient players. By using short hop lasers in place when you have a good bit of distance between you and Luigi you can rack up damage while reliably preventing him from getting to a position where he can threaten you without you being able to react to the situation and escape.
Second, we have using Falco’s lasers to camp against characters who are playing a more vertical game. Often to get in against Falco using short hop lasers to keep himself away from his opponent characters will try to get in by approaching from above him. By using full hop and double lasers and/or by using lasers from a platform you can harass characters playing with more vertically oriented strategies. In addition, by doing so you can coerce your opponent into playing closer to the ground where you can set up more powerful openings. A character that these types of lasers are very effective against is Peach. Peach often will try to avoid playing on the ground against Falco due to her slow ground speed, and will instead opt to user her float in order to approach over the lasers and then try to get an opening with an aerial attack onto Falco. Using these lasers aimed at hitting Peach floating allows you to not only rack up damage, but it also disrupts what is arguably Peach’s best tool for getting an opening on Falco.
Escaping with Lasers
Now we’ve discussed what to do with lasers when you have some distance, but what do you do if there isn’t a lot of space between you and your opponent? Creating space is one of the most important things to be able to do, especially as a character as fragile as Falco.
For this section, we’ll be looking at using Falco’s lasers as a means to escape from dangerous situations. We’ll be looking at two situations where this is useful. The first situation is when you’re very close to your opponent and the second situation is right after you whiff an attack.
First off, we have using Falco’s laser to escape close up scramble situations. As we’ve discussed already it is often important to have a bit of distance between you and your opponent so that you can properly set up your neutral. In scramble situations, it becomes much more difficult to react properly and as such being in those situations can prevent Falco from playing an observational neutral which benefits him heavily. By dashing away and doing a turnaround short hop laser in these spots you can get back to those spots where you can play more reactionary while preventing your opponent from chasing you down. One character this is especially good against is Peach. Peach heavily benefits from being in close-quarters situations due to the strength of her aerials, crouch cancel, and down smash. Unfortunately for Peach though, she is very slow. By creating space with a dash back laser, you can easily create distance while disrupting her with a laser if she makes an early call-out on your escape.
Second, we have using Falco’s laser to escape in situations after you whiff. Specifically, I’ll be discussing the situation where you whiff a move close to your opponent’s threat range. In neutral characters are often looking to get to their threat range either by moving into it themselves or by letting their opponent get there for them. Often times it’s important to set up undershoots or zoning with your aerials as Falco around your opponent’s threat range and at that point, it’s also important to be able to escape upon your move whiffing. Again, dash back laser is very strong here. One character this is especially good against is Captain Falcon. Captain Falcon struggles to beat out Falco’s hitboxes. This along with Captain Falcon’s great grounded movement can lead to him playing further away to look for whiff punishes. By using a move like a short hop down aerial in place and then dashing back and lasering you can easily bait whiff punish attempts and rack on damage at the same time.
A Conclusion to Lasers
At this point, you’ve probably realized lasers are a super powerful tool for Falco. Their ability to be used in a variety of offensive and defensive ways is something almost unrivaled in Melee. Remember though each of these uses has its weakness. By being aware of those weaknesses though you can create game plans that cover all of those weaknesses just by using lasers correctly at the correct times. With that, all in mind though, have fun with the gun.
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