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To an absolute beginner, this is an incredibly confusing game. Though the controller and control interface are relatively simple, this game can still be very difficult to understand. This is mostly because of the innovative fighting style, but beyond that there are 4 main things you must learn to master this game.

First, you will need a sense of timing. Timing and speed are ESSENTIAL in SSB64. A hesitation of a tenth of a second can mean the difference between getting a kill and losing a stock, and all the advanced techniques require that you be able to time button-presses precisely. The better you can time your movements, the faster your character will become and the faster your character becomes the better you'll be able to combo and therefore win.

Secondly, you need to develop good pattern-recognition. If you can see your opponent's moves before he/she makes them, you can't lose. Even better, if you can get in your opponent's head and make them do the things that you want them to, they'll play worse and your victory will be much easier to attain.

Thirdly, you must have a crew. To get good, you must play with people at and around your skill level, so pull together a group of friends and get them interested in the game. However, if you are the best in the group and are constantly winning, you are learning nothing. The same moves work over and over ad infinitum, and your opponents are learning from trying new ways to counter your moves. A Smash crew must get better as a unit or the whole crew suffers. This means that if you learn something new you have to share it with your crew members so that you can start getting experience playing with it and against it. Only through playing with others will you get good enough to compete.

Finally, and most importantly, you have to love the game. You simply will not be able to gain the requisite experience to play well if you play only for the sake of winning. Love the game and enjoy playing it, and you'll get better quickly.

The Controller[edit]

The Nintendo 64 controller is an unconventionally designed and technically revolutionary device, considered by some to be superior to all current console controllers. Fitting the hand very well, its well-spaced buttons allow for much control versatility. For Super Smash Brothers, The Neutral dpad (cross on left prong of controller) is unused, so your left hand should hold the center prong, thumb on the Neutral control and forefinger on the Z button button (trigger on middle prong). Your right should hold the right prong, thumb near the A button and B button buttons, and forefinger on the R button button (shoulder button on right prong). Every other button except for the Neutral dpad is functional in this game, though it can be played effectively with just Neutral control and the A button, B button, and Z button buttons.

Movement[edit]

Movement in Super Smash Brothers is accomplished through use of Neutral control located on the middle prong of the controller. Right control makes your character move right, Left control makes him/her move left, etc. The Neutral control 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 control will cause your character to crouch, and if you are atop a platform that is not the main platform of the level, tapping Down control will cause your character to drop through.

Jumping[edit]

Note
Any of these four buttons, Left c, Up c, Right c and Down c, perform the same action.

Jumping is an integral part of SSB64 as jumps literally add a whole new dimension to the gameplay. There are 3 main types of jumps that you need to know.

  • Full-Jump: This is the simplest jump. To perform it, simply stand on the ground and either tap Up control or push Left c. Your character will jump off of the ground and then fall back down.
  • Shorthop: A very important type of jump that will speed up your game immensely. To shorthop, you must quickly tap Left c while standing on the ground. The amount of time the button is pressed is what matters, not the force with which you press it. When correctly performed, your character should jump a fraction of their full jump height off of the ground. To see the difference between a full-jump and a shorthop, stand under a platform and see where you jump in relation to it.
  • Double-Jump (AKA Second Jump): There is only one type of double-jump. This is performed in mid-air. All characters except Kirby and Jigglypuff have only one mid-air jump, while these two characters each have five. Any time your character is in midair, whether after jumping, falling, or being hit off of the platform, they have the chance to jump in mid-air. Once you use up your midair jump(s), you don't get them back unless you are thrown or you touch the level!

Edge-Recoveries[edit]

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 all the way 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.

  1. You can tap Up control, and your character will simply clamber up onto the ledge and stand there.
  2. You can tap Z button, and your character will climb up and roll a certain distance before standing up.
  3. You can hit an attack button (A button, B button or R button) 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 Left control or Right control away from the edge (letting go) and then double-jump back onto the stage attacking in order to defend yourself while recovering. However, attacking while falling past the edge is a bad idea: if your attack animation executes during the window where your character can grab the edge then he/she doesn't, 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. Remember, the only way to die is to be knocked off of the stage, so if you can consistently get back to the stage, you'll be very successful.

Getting Back Up[edit]

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. Once here, there are a couple ways to regain your feet and control of your character. Firstly, you can tap Z button, and your character will simply stand up, and you are invincible as you do so). Left control or Right control 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 different methods interchangeably to avoid being predicted and hit again.

Attacks[edit]

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 with one less life. 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.

There are two attack buttons, A button and B button. Their uses are multifaceted, and mastering all of them is necessary to become a Smash Master.

A-attacks[edit]

A-attacks are attacks that are performed through use of the A button 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.

  • Jab:
This attack occurs when your character is simply standing in place and you hit 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:
When your character is running, and you hit 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. They should be used sparingly, although they can be used as part of a combo to pretty good effect.
  • Tilts:
To perform a tilt, you must lean Neutral control lightly in any of the four main directions and hit A button at the same time. For upward tilts you must be very careful not to tilt Up control too hard or your character will jump. There are three tilts, an upward tilt, a downward tilt, and a forward tilt (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 jab, 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 starting and continuing high-damage combos.
  • Smashes:
Smashes are generally a character's killing move. Though slower in execution than tilts, on the whole, they are a great deal more powerful, making them ideal for finishing a combo. As with tilts, there are 3 smashes, upward smash, downward smash, and forward smash. To execute a smash attack, smash Neutral control hard in the direction you want the attack to go and hit A button at the same time. If you are having trouble with these, try smashing the stick slightly before hitting A button, and it should become easier. Because they're slow, these attacks are usually easy to evade if tried with no preamble. 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:
Aerials, not surprisingly, involve jumping your character into the air and pushing A button. There are 5 aerials, neutral air (no Neutral control), upward air, downward air, forward air, and backward air. The forward air and backward air depend on the direction that your character if facing. Neutral control pressure comes into effect here as well, for if you smash in a certain direction to attack in the air, your character will being drifting in that direction when attacking; however, if you tilt it slightly or tap it quickly, your character will attack without changing course. Aerials are very versatile attacks, and combined with tilts they make up 90% of effective combos.

B-attacks[edit]

These are your character's "special attacks". B-attacks are incredibly varied in their relative speeds, power, and applications, so the notes below are sparse. To see more in-depth coverage of these moves, see the In-depth character guides.

  • Neutral B-attack:
To do this attack, just hit B button without any Neutral control movement.
  • Up B-attack:
Simple enough. Up control+B button. This move, in all but two characters (Yoshi and Jigglypuff) acts as a recovery move, or a colloquial "third jump". It can give your character a chance to return to the stage when your double-jump will not reach.
  • Down B-attack:
Down control+B button

Throws[edit]

A button and B button are the buttons you use to strike your opponent. However, attacks performed solely with A button and B button can be blocked with a character's shield (more on this in Defensive Maneuvers). The only attack that can get through this shield is a grab. Once you grab somebody, there are two ways to throw someone. You have to be right next to and facing your opponent to grab them. Everybody's grab range is different, with Donkey Kong's being the longest and Fox's being the shortest. Once you are in range, you can either press R button (the shoulder button on the right prong), or Z button (trigger on middle prong) and A button buttons simultaneously. For future reference, pressing R button at any time does the same thing as Z button+A button.

Once you have grabbed them, you can either push Left control or Right control in the direction you're facing or hit R button again to perform a forward throw. You can also push Left control or Right control in the other direction. There are two different throws for each character, one forward, and one back.

You will be unable to move while grabbing someone, with the exception of Donkey Kong who can move around with the enemy on his back after the first part of his forward throw.

Defensive maneuvers[edit]

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 get hit, there is a low probability that you will lose. There are three basic ways to avoid taking damage:

  1. Blocking
  2. Rolling
  3. Action Blocking

Blocking[edit]

Note
When Jigglypuff's shield breaks, she flies straight up to her death instead of simply being dazed for a moment.

This is a very simple concept. Hitting Z button brings up a spherical colored shield that surrounds your character, protecting him/her from all attacks that touch it, with the exception of throws. This shield surrounds your character for as long as you hold Z button. However, as time elapses the shield will slowly shrink, so you can’t just stand there indefinitely 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 Neutral control, 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. 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. Also 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, although it is still a very useful defensive technique.

Rolling[edit]

While you were practicing moving your shield about, you may have noticed that pushing Neutral control 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 button and then push Left control or Right control. 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, the game doesn't always make sense. However, learn to use your rolls effectively, because although you will learn more efficient evasive tactics later, many players have trouble keeping up with you when you are rolling.

Action Blocking[edit]

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 action blocking. This technique can be used to cancel out another fighter's attack, by just using another attack of your own. Certain B button attacks can only be nullified by another attack of the same type. To cancel out another fighter's attack, the hitboxes of the two attacks must come in contact and the two attacks have to be around the same power level. For example, a jab will not stop a falcon punch.

Don't rely on action blocking your opponent's attacks continually, as it cancels out both of your attacks so none of you do any damage. Because of this, the main use for action blocking is approaching a projectile character. For example, if you're playing against Mario, you can stop his fireballs with an attack while moving towards him so that you can approach without being damaged or stunned.

Interrupting an attack is not the same as action blocking an attack. In this case, the hitbox of your attack hits your opponent's body hitbox instead of their attack hitbox. This means that their attack doesn't connect but yours does.