Smash 101: Combat tactics masterclass

As we pointed out in our review, to the untrained eye Super Smash Bros. Brawl looks very much like four people with severe grudges against their controllers giving them a thorough and impassioned beating. To those in the know however, it's a deep and complex game filled with nuanced and skillful play, and very rewarding with it. Naturally we can't have you wonderful people stepping into the fray with thumbs unprepared for properly unleashing Brawl's full array of arse-whuppery, so we've compiled a guide to the deeper and more advanced techniques you'll need to know about.

Sadly - or happily depending on your perspective - the techniques of wavedashing and l-cancelling (at least in its traditional form) have been excised from Smash's Wii edition, but there's still plenty of clever combat to be getting on with regardless


It's often overlooked in favour of the violence, but skillfully moving your character around the screen is a vital aspect of playing Smash well. These tricks will put you ahead of the competition.

#1, The short-hop

What it is: A smaller, faster jump.

How you do it: Give the jump button a very short stab rather than the usual press. The height and timing of the jump is different with every character, but with a bit of experimentation it’s not hard to pull off consistently.

Why you should use it: It might seem a bit of a pointless variation on Smash’s normal jumping, but in practice the short-hop is a move made of solid gold and kitten smiles. Most importantly, it allows you to pull off all of your mid-air moves at floor level, doubling up the array of attacks available in your ground game.

That alone makes it an invaluable move to learn, but it also makes your character’s movement around the stage a lot quicker overall and lets you hop swiftly over incoming ground attacks to get in a rapid downward strike. Combine it with this next trick for the complete coked-up Easter Bunny effect.

#2, The fast-fall

What it is: Exactly what it says on the tin. The fast-fall vastly quickens your descent from a jump.

How you do it: Jump, then pull down hard on the stick when you reach the apex of your ascent.

Why you should use it: Dropping from the air quickly makes you a lot harder to hit when an opponent leaps in for a bit of ariel combat. It’s a great evasive move, and can really throw your foe’s timing if you mix it up with normal falls. It’s also a brilliant move with which to drastically improve the maneuverability of your character. Some fighters in Smash fall through the air very slowly – Zelda is a perfect example – and end up losing the race to higher platforms as a result even if they can get up there first. Using a fast-fall after jumping above a platform will bring you to your destination a lot quicker and have you ready to make your next move while your opponent is still on their way up. For an example of just how powerful a tool the fast-fall is, try playing Event Match 17 with and without it. We guarantee you’ll never look back.

Doing an ariel move during a fast-fall is also the new replacement for Melee's l-cancelling (the technique which allowed faster recovery from landing animations).


  • twewy13 - November 8, 2009 2:55 a.m.

    I love this article, all of these are great ideas
  • game123 - October 18, 2008 8:15 p.m.

    good i just got smash and i dont have a clue how to beat my mate who got it when it came out-this is perfect for smashing him!
  • looijee91 - August 16, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    dont forget that almost all items can be used differently then thier acual use. like the homerun bat! sure u can swing it and send ur opponent fying but wat if the other guys a pro and he's too fast? simply whip the bat at him while running!!! or trow it at the smashball to get it in one hit...
  • tacolord - February 8, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    sweet, thx
  • sharker - January 9, 2009 9:58 p.m.

    very nice techniques, gotta try these
  • Duckmaster - June 17, 2009 4:15 p.m.

    My favorite tactic is shielding and pressing left or right. It is a great dodge move and can position you behind your enemy for a quick attack.
  • Javoyaru - May 20, 2009 2:22 a.m.

    Amazing! i got alot of stock knowleged of this even before i read it but..itis a great giude for people who want to compete online! good job on the guide what a Smashing Idea!
  • kamikaz3e124 - April 10, 2009 5:19 a.m.

    Nice lil' article we got here. Thanks to you, I managed to make my opponent (aka. my sister) cry and now she trys to concoct moves on me... but she recieved EPIC FAILZ. >:D

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