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#1 Posted by Rokkaku (280 posts) -


Smash Ultimate looks great but it also looks chaotic. Could those with experience please explain the basics of how to play to someone who would like to get into multiplayer but has zero experience with the franchise. For instance what do those percentages really mean, when to attack and when to dodge, how to use items effectively, how the basic flow of combat works - really basic stuff!

Thanks in advance.

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#2 Posted by Yesiamaduck (2545 posts) -

When they hit 100percent theyre very likely to go flying if u strike them cleanly with a left/right + a attack

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#3 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2961 posts) -

The percentages are basically inverse HP. The higher the percentage, the further you get knocked away by an opponent's attack. While there are tons of alternate ways to customize the rules, in Smash, you normally get KOs from ringouts only. You wanna get that percentage high and then knock the opponent off of the stage. If the percentage is high enough and you hit them hard enough, they'll go flying right out. But you can also push them outside the edge if it's a stage with ground just leading straigh out to the edge of the stage, or if it's a stage floating in the sky, you can just get them off the edge and try to keep them away from coming back with attacks. That's what people mean when they say edgeguarding.

Your moves are relatively simple, but numerous. You've got attacks for all positions of the stick on ground plus the normal attack button(neutral, tilting the stick in a cardinal direction, smashing the stick in a cardinal direction and hitting the button at the same time, that last one being the Smash attacks that are powerful KO moves that can be held and charged). Then you've got holding up, down, back, forward(relative to which direction your character faces during a jump) or neutral position plus the normal attack button in the air.

You've also got your special attack button. It does a different attack depending on if you hold the stick neutrally, to one side, up, or down, and tends to do the same whether you're on the ground or in the air. These vary wildly depending on character, but neutral is often a projectile or powerful blow of some sort while up special is almost universally for recovery and will move your character long distances in the air so you can use it to get back onto a stage.

Adding to this is a guard button, which does a dodge if you tilt a direction while holding it and an air dodge if you use it while in the air. Guarding too much will make it break and stun you. You've also got a grab, which can also differ depending on the direction of the stick. Throws you do over your back has a tendency to move the opponent further away, and grabs go right through guards as in any fighting game.

The intuitive part of smash is that your character moves more like a 2d platforming character than a regular fighting character. All characters can double jump with a jump button(or pressing up with the control stick if youre that attached to it), jumps with quite a bit of freedom, and will turn away from their opponents if you move in the other direction from them. You can normally jump twice and then use your up special to cover huge distances, getting back onto a stage you've been knocked over the edge of. Tapping twice left or right on the stick will enter a run, from which you can do a dash attack with the regular attack button.

The other part of the intuitiveness is that the direction you hold your stick normally corresponds to what direction you will attack. You attack backwards in the air, the character attacks over their shoulder. A smash forward will hit forward. A tilt downwards will hit down in the air, or low to the ground if you're on the ground. It's easy to feel out that way.

I don't think there's much of a tactical way to use items. Just pick 'em up as you see them and use them, and if they aren't doing the job, drop them for something else with the throw button. When I played a ton of Smash with my friends or siblings, we usually played 30% with select(non-annoying) items on, and 70% items off, and usually one on one. Obviously this depends on your preferrence, but the more items and players you get the more random nonsense out of your control happens. For us it was fun, but in short bursts, while straight up no items duels was more in line with regular fighting games. That's fun because you actually feel like you're in control and competing against this other dude rather than being at the whim of whatever item the computer throws at you. Some people like painting it as the no fun brigade because it removes some of the party game aspects but it's literally the same appeal as any other fighting game. When you look at 3+ players, all items on high Smash and think "wow, that's a chaotic mess" it's because it is, and that is fun in some contexts but not all the time, that's for sure. The answer isn't to develop a higher awareness but to turn that shit down when it gets annoying.

In terms of tactics, as complete amateurs, we just tried dodging and blocking the attacks we saw coming and getting our opponent hurt through a mixture of weaker attacks to build up that percentage hit-and-run style mixed with the occasional big strong moves to knock them around. Once he's hurt enough you do a big smash attack and try push him the remaining distance with follow-up moves(projectiles, jumping after and hitting him) if it fails.

I'd recommend just trying out all the characters until you find someone that you like. There are tons of single player content if you don't wanna jump into multiplayer with a new one, too.

That's all the basic explanations I've got stored away, I haven't had a Nintendo console since the Wii so some of this might be out of date since I mostly played the first three Smash bros. games. Looks like they've kept this stuff intact from what I've seen though. I wouldn't worry too much about it. I laid out a bunch of stuff here, but Nintendo's stuff is as usual pretty approachable. Even old Melee had a tutorial video or two walking you through it.

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#4 Posted by nutter (2112 posts) -

The basics:

- Hit dudes

- Don’t get hit (block/dodge)

- The higher someone’s percentage meter, the further they fly

- When closing in on 100% (it goes higher), hit them with a smash attack to send them flying off-screen. If they don’t recover and get back to the playing field, you knocked them out!

- If you get knocked away from the area of play, use you jumps and any moves like upward attacks or dashes to get back to the area of play.

- Floaty flashy balls with the SMASH logo can be hit until they break. He who breaks the ball gets a final smash (finisher). These are usually good to knock out some number of players pretty much immediately.

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#5 Posted by fnrslvr (579 posts) -

Your main goal in Smash is to knock your opponent(s) out of the arena -- that could be by falling through the bottom, or by being sent flying off through one of the sides or out the top. Knocking your opponent out of the arena will cause them to lose a life (or "stock") and/or give you a point, depending on whether you're a score-based or stock-based game. Last player alive or player with highest points at the end wins.

The percentage indicates how much force the next hit will you take will impart. When you take damage, the percentage for your character goes up. When you percentage gets up around 100% or higher, a smash attack gets pretty likely to send you flying out of the arena. If you ever get up to some silly percentage like 300%, even a random jab will likely send you flying.

I gave a bullet-point overview of the controls in another thread, quoted here for convenience.

@fnrslvr said:

Casually the game is incredibly simple. Here's a breakdown, I've bolded the stuff I think is most worth absorbing.

  • A button for normals.Combining A with each direction gives a different normal, and in the air each direction combines with A for yet another normal.
  • B button for specials. Again, direction+B gives different specials, though I don't know of any characters who have a different set of specials in the air.
  • L or R to perform a grab. You can hold a grab, and you can hit people whilst you have them grabbed by mashing A or B. Inputting a direction whilst grabbing will throw in that direction. Some characters can walk whilst holding a grab.
  • Up or X or Y to jump. Whilst in the air you get to do one double-jump. Most characters' up+B special serves as a triple-jump.
  • Double-tap left or right to run. Pressing A whilst running gives yet more normals.
  • ZL or ZR to shield. If your shield takes too much damage then you get stunned. Pressing a direction whilst shielding gets you a dash. Casual players basically never do this stuff, so don't worry about it.

You'd probably know more-or-less what you're doing at a casual level after an hour.

I forgot tilt/smash attacks, which @spunkyhepanda chipped in:

@fnrslvr: All very good info! One thing I would add is tilt vs. smash attacks, because I can't think of many other games that use the analog stick this way. While on the ground, 'tilting' the stick in a direction and hitting A will get you a tilt attack, while a quick flick + A will get you a smash attack (which you can charge by holding the button). Smash attacks are one of the more reliable ways to finish off your opponent. Alternatively, you can use the right stick to do smash attacks.


I don't think you need to worry about strategy to anywhere near the extent you seem to be. Just pick up a controller and mess around and have fun, it's a very easy game to understand at a casual level.

About the only advice I think is even worth giving is, you might want to use the A button more often than you might be intuitively inclined to.

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#6 Posted by cubidog (96 posts) -

Just look up smash for beginners on YouTube. Having visuals helps a lot

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#7 Posted by Sweep (10595 posts) -

I haven't played Smash since the gamecube days, so there was an element of having to relearn the game (a lot of the characters have different movesets from what I remember) and adjusting to the new controller.

  • First things first it's important to just get a feel for the movement. Try new characters and play a few games where you're just using the A button for regular attacks and jumping. Hold a direction button and A to charge more powerful attacks - these are good consistent finishers.
  • Once you've found a character you like the look/feel of, take them into training mode and learn what their B (special) attacks do. If you're new to the franchise then I recommend a straightforward character like Kirby/Mario/Samus/Link/Donkey Kong/Fox - any of the characters you start with, basically. If you can't figure out what a certain move does just from messing around with it a bunch, check youtube for a full character breakdown. Alternatively, play a few games where you set the AI as the character you want to learn and see how they use the attacks.
  • The basic flow of combat is about chipping away at your opponent until you can hit them off the stage, then trying to prevent them from getting back on. The higher their percentage, the harder it will be for them to recover, so the best way to score points in bigger battles is to keep track of who is badly damaged and aim for that character. However if you're trying to learn the game then jumping straight into an 8-player smash battle is not the way to do it - that's too chaotic. When I'm learning a new characters moveset I like to play in a 1v1v1. This gives you enough room to move around and practice while also giving you a couple of targets to hit.
  • One other tip, when you're at the stage selection you can press X on the "random" stage to set it to only select battlefields/flat stages. It can be pretty nutso on some of the bigger stages with weird stage-specific mechanics complicating the whole thing, so if you just want some space to fight then this is a good option.
  • The items can be a little crazy, but as a general rule you should prioritize grabbing the spirits and pokeballs, as these are the most powerful items that summon allies to help. Everything else is basically just for goofs, and you can grab it at your own discretion depending on your playstyle.
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#8 Posted by KingBonesaw (1399 posts) -

I've been playing Super Smash Bros. for going on 15 years (casually) and still forget that there are shield buttons and grab buttons. They seem important so you should remember to use those.

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#9 Posted by AlKusanagi (1649 posts) -

I'm assuming it's "no," but is there any way to change the controller input to the bad instead of the analog stick?

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#10 Edited by selbie (2567 posts) -

@sweep said:

I haven't played Smash since the gamecube days, so there was an element of having to relearn the game (a lot of the characters have different movesets from what I remember) and adjusting to the new controller.

The Gamecube adaptor for switch is available for those who want to use their old wavebird / gamecube controllers.

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#11 Posted by chaser324 (8650 posts) -

I'm assuming it's "no," but is there any way to change the controller input to the bad instead of the analog stick?

This is a game that really requires analog input, so a d-pad isn't a viable option.

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#12 Posted by AlKusanagi (1649 posts) -

@chaser324: It let me map the analog inputs onto the right stick, so I was hoping I could use a proper pad for controls.

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#13 Posted by Dan_CiTi (5199 posts) -

yeah, using the d-pad for this game is like using a d-pad for Halo or GTA, it just doesn't really work.

You really don't need to know the intimacy of the mechanics tbh. Just find a handful of characters you find fun and play them often. Yes, it is best to know how the normals, specials, smash attacks, dodging, guarding, throwing, dashing works - but that is about it. Learning what each button(s) do and their basic context is enough. Beyond that you're becoming pretty serious with the game and that's a ballpark fit for a Smash-centric place, not a general video game site like GB.

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#14 Posted by doombot13 (308 posts) -

Triumph or Die

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#15 Edited by Quid_Pro_Bono (1130 posts) -

Here’s some advanced stuff if you’re interested:

DI/SDI: you can move the left stick or right stick (c-stick in smash terminology) perpendicular to your trajectory after you’re hit and flying towards a blast zone (the outside of a stage where you’ll die) to help shorten the distance you fly and maybe live through an attack that would otherwise have killed you. Smashing this input (doing it fast) is an SDI, otherwise it’s a DI. You can also influence yourself into walls to attempt to tech to reduce your knockback.

Teching: tap the shield button (typically R) when colliding with a surface to completely stop your momentum and allow yourself to recover back to the stage. Your timing will need to be very good as you only have a few frames to tech successfully.

C aerials: you can use the C-stick to perform the same attacks that a direction on the left stick and A would perform. This can be useful as you don’t need to influence your character’s positioning with the left stick to perform a forward aerial (fair), downward aerial (dair), etc. In smash ultimate there appears to be no way to perform a neutral stick aerial (nair) with the c-stick, but this is unconfirmed.

Short hops: a quick tap of the jump button allows for a short hop, a jump which is low to the ground and allows you to attack quickly, which is good for advancing. I’ve had trouble getting natural short hops to work in this game, though, and have been sticking to the shortcut they added of pressing jump + A at the same time, which performs a short hop nair. If you hold a direction while using this input shortcut, you can perform a short hop uair, dair, fair, or bair.

Shield grab/alt grab input: a lot of smash players like to keep their fingers on the shield button to easily react with a shield, roll, or spot-dodge if they need to. If you don’t want to use a separate button to grab or throw items, just hold the shield button and tap A, or tap the shield and A at the same time. This is functionally the same as a throw button input, but allows you more options. You can, for instance, allow someone to hit your shield and immediately grab them after to retaliate. This won’t require you to drop your shield and press grab; instead you can hold your shield and then tap A to grab them, all while protected from attacks.

That’s all I can think of now without getting into some of the really convoluted stuff. I think learning these techniques are good habits that will help you get better at smash after you get comfortable with the basics.

Important note: I do all this stuff and still mostly enjoy FFA with items on. Play smash however you want, it’s primarily a game about having fun however you like.

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#16 Posted by doctordonkey (1819 posts) -

I recommend the stuff ZeRo (professional player) has been putting out. It's good for anyone new to smash, and focuses on Ultimate.

Loading Video...

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#17 Posted by MrGreenMan (195 posts) -

The 8bitdo sf30 pro controllers are a good cheaper alternative the the Switch Pro controller. Personally i prefer the feel of the SNES then the god awful switch controls for fighting games on the switch. The buttons and stick controls for movement is just unusable for me especially in handheld mode. The SF30 makes playing fighting games and Smash not only more natural for my hand but makes for less strain on them for long periods of time.

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#18 Posted by Asmo917 (829 posts) -

Complete Smash newcomer with a question on unlocks. It looks like I can unlock every fighter if I play through "Classic" mode like 70 times. Is that right? Are there any fighters I'd have to do something else to unlock?

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#19 Posted by shivermetimbers (1706 posts) -

Probably mentioned a million times and I'm talking as someone who hasn't played Smash in....forever, but:

1. Abuse the shield dodge roll. Try not to just shield attacks, but abuse the invincibility frames you get from rolling. They can grab you while shielding and it drains faster that way. If you roll, you have a brief invincibility time. Try and practice timing it with enemy attacks.
2. Try and get items if you're close enough, if your opponent is closer than you are to an important item, try and stay away from them depending on the item. Something like the fire flower isn't too bad, but a hammer is a no-no for example.
3. Stay out of grab range at first until you know how to use and abuse it. Some characters have better grab ranges and missing a grab leaves you open for nasty attacks, so again, something to practice, but at first I'd say avoid it.
4. Know your character and remember to charge attacks when you can. This takes practice.
5. Practice.