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If you haven’t yet read it, check out my writeup of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Then come back here. (I've separated the two writeups because they're both quite long, and logically separate anyway.)

These advanced techniques will help you on your way to being a real jerk at Smash Bros., which is to say, a power gamer. Not all of these will come easily; some will require quite a bit of practice before you can incorporate them into your actual playing style. But it’s crucial if you want to get really good at Smash that you do practice these, as any good opponent will be using them as well. Even if you don’t use them, you will only benefit from knowing some of the stuff that will be thrown at you.

I’ve listed these alphabetically. It’s a good idea to read through them all if you’re new to advanced Smashing, as some are significantly easier to learn and apply than others. But even so, let me stress again that practice is a necessity for these. If you remember them part-way through a fight, and start trying them out, you will telegraph to your opponent that you are trying an advanced technique, and may get punished for it.

  • Chain Throw

    Chain throwing is the tactic of grabbing and throwing an opponent, and then grabbing them again before they can recover. Some characters do this with an up or down throw (depending on how quickly the person being thrown falls), or a forward throw followed by a dash grab. Chain throwing is almost always easier at lower percentages, when opponents won’t go flying quite as far after an attack. A chain throw is usually escaped with a tech roll.

  • Directional Influence

    When you hold a direction on the joystick as you are sent flying, you can influence your course. This is called directional influence, usually shortened to “DI.” For the math-inclined among us, the vectors are added by direction but not magnitude. For those not so, this means that if you hold the joystick opposite to the direction you’re heading, you won’t really affect it at all, but if you hold it perpendicular, you’ll see a difference. The simplest DI is to hold the joystick down (ie, towards the ground) while being attacked: you’ll influence your direction towards the ground, and not fly so far while attacked. This is a key technique for the more lightweight characters.

    You can also use the C-stick to influence your direction. By using both sticks, you will cause a significant change in your trajectory. Combine the two DIs by holding the C-stick beforehand, and then adding the Control Stick just as you begin to fly: you will effect a “Smash DI,” the most powerful use of this technique.

    Of course, in order for DI to work for you, you must know the direction you’re going to fly. For this reason, it’s important to learn about all the other characters, so you can anticipate finishing moves they might try, and they direction they will send you.

  • Fast Fall

    Once you’ve reached the height of your jump, press (or tap) down on the Control Stick to make your character fall significantly faster than normal. You can use this to deliver an attack (or escape from one) with a significantly different timing than your foe is expecting. Floaty characters (Kirby and Jigglypuff especially) can use fast falls to move in a way that will come as a surprise to opponents.

  • L Cancel

    Press the L or R buttons just as you hit the ground from an aerial attack to cut your recovery time in half. This is most noticeable with attacks like Link’s downward aerial (the sword plant), which has a cripplingly long recovery time that becomes tolerable with L-canceling. (In the original Smash Brothers, the Z cancel didn't just cut the time in half, it instantly canceled the attack, leading to some ludicrous 0-999 combos.)

  • Power Shield

    Pause immediately after putting up your shield, and you’ll discover something odd: a smaller circle that expands outwards from your character to the edge of the shield and then disappears. This happens in a fraction of a second, so you can only really see it through pausing. This circle is your power shield.

    Power shields are reflective. Any projectile striking you during a power shield will be reflected back at half damage. Although they’re very difficult to pull off perfectly (your timing needs to be more exact than nearly any other move in the game), power shields are crucial to characters who have difficulty against projectile users.

  • Shield Grab

    While you have your shield up, (hold L or R while standing on the ground) if an enemy attacks you, your shield will absorb their blow. As soon as their attacks end, you’re able to perform a grab through your shield. Notice when they hit you that there’s a small effect on your shield where the attack landed, and the shield will waver briefly. This is your cue to start tapping A, because as soon as their attack is over, you’ll be able to grab them.

    This is useful because once you’ve honed your reflexes, it gets easier and easier to predict when somebody’s going to attack you, and from where. Shield grabbing is great against ground attacks, and can even be used against aerial attacks, if you space yourself right from your opponent. Sound shield grabbing is a good way of discouraging some people from using some of their favorite attacks.

  • SHFFL (pronounced "shuffle")

    A short hop, followed by an aerial attack, a fast fall, and an L cancel. If you pull this off, you’ll start off on the ground, perform an aerial attack, and be back on the ground and recovered before your opponent knew what hit her.

  • Short Hop

    If you tap the jump button very briefly (a matter of only a few frames), your character will jump at half their normal height — a “short hop.” This is useful if you have a very strong aerial, especially spikes and other finishing moves, which you want to use on a ground-based foe. For faster characters, such as Fox, the short hop can be all but impossible.

  • Spike

    Some attacks will cause aerial opponents to plummet uncontrollably downward, savable only if another blow hits them. These are called spikes. The game calls them meteors, but that's stupid. They vary character to character, but it’s well worth finding out if you have one to be used against recovering opponents. Many (but not all) are aerial themselves, so you may need to leap off a platform in order to spike an opponent.

  • Tech and Tech Roll

    When somebody hits you hard, you’ll land on your back instead of your feet when you hit the ground. This is where teching comes into play. Press L or R within half a second of hitting the ground, and you’ll instantly recover. How is this useful? Well, of course it’s nice to be able to recover faster. But you can also use this to free yourself from a chain-throwing foe, since you can recover as soon as you hit the ground.

    Teching doesn’t just apply to floors, though. When you’re flying into a ceiling or wall, you can also tech off of it. A good place to practice teching is the lower level of Hyrule Castle: with practice, you’ll be able to get above 300% before anybody can manage to kill you.

    You should also become familiar with “tech rolling:” this is when you hold the joystick left or right as you tech on the ground. You’ll do a quick roll in the direction you chose, and still recover. As I mentioned above, this is invaluable for getting away from chain throwers. In addition, if you hold up on the joystick as you tech off a wall, you can effectively wall jump upwards.

  • Wall Jump

    A wall jump is very easy to do. Simply jump towards a wall, and tap the control stick away from the wall as you contact it. You’ll do a quick jump in the opposite direction, regardless of whether you have any jumps remaining (although if you’re helpless after a B attack or an air dodge, you cannot wall jump). In some levels, Fourside in particular, wall jumping can help you escape from some very sticky situations. Not every character can wall jump, so it’s worth your time to try this out in practice before using it in a match.

  • Wave Dash

    A wave dash takes advantage of a physics bug. It lets you quickly and accurately move around the arena. It’s faster than a roll, and you can attack during a wave dash; in fact, for some characters (such as Luigi), chained wave dashes are faster than running.

    The timing is different for every character (I’ll explain why in a bit), but the basic pattern is that you need to jump, and then air dodge (L or R plus a joystick direction in the air) back into the ground immediately after leaving it. This is why timing differs: some characters simply take longer to leave the ground during a jump.

    Depending on the angle at which you dodged (and the height from which you dodged) you’ll go different distances. The closer to horizontal, the farther you’ll go; the closer to straight down, the farther you won’t go. With practice, you’ll be able to calibrate your wave dashing so that at the least, you hop back slightly to avoid a strong incoming attack or grab the edge of a platform (which grants about a second of invulnerability), or at the most, go sliding half the length of the arena.

    Wave dashing is easier for slower characters, and gives them a good upper hand, as it can replace normal dashing with experience. It takes a lot of practice before you’ll be able to use this in your everyday playing, so get started now.

Some final remarks. Super Smash Bros. Melee is a great game, one of the best to come out in years. The size and competitiveness of the tournament scene only attest to this opinion. If you’re interested in getting better at Smash, do your homework first, then go out and practice. Play against friends and not the computer, since they’ll be significantly better at reacting to tactics and punishing you for being repetitive, as well as being able to give you advice and feedback after a match. (And, of course, aren’t people more fun than computers?)

If you are curious about any facet of Smash, feel free to message me and I’ll tell you what you can. The Smash World Forums at www.smashboards.com are also a fantastic option for finding out more, since many people there are much more dedicated to Smash than I could ever hope to be.

Happy smashing!

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