Dr. Mario (SSB4)
Dr. Mario (Dr. マリオ, Dr. Mario) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was officially confirmed on October 9th, 2014 as part of a post-release announcement, during which Dark Pit was also confirmed. Like Dark Pit and Lucina, Dr. Mario was originally planned to be an alternate costume. However, all three were instead converted into being clones late in SSB4's development, with Masahiro Sakurai explaining that the reason for doing so in regard to Dr. Mario was in order to appeal to his fanbase from Super Smash Bros. Melee. Dr. Mario is also the first of three Melee characters that were cut from Super Smash Bros. Brawl to return for SSB4, followed by Roy and Mewtwo. However, he retains his status as an unlockable character, whereas Roy and Mewtwo are now downloadable content.
Like Mario, Dr. Mario's moveset has very slightly changed since his last appearance, though he now possesses a Final Smash called Doctor Finale. Charles Martinet reprises his role as Dr. Mario's voice actor, albeit via Mario's voice clips from Brawl. However, Dr. Mario is less vocal than his normal counterpart.
Dr. Mario is currently ranked 48th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the G tier. This is a vast drop from his placement in Melee, where his ranking of 11th out of 26 placed him in the mid-tier and higher than his normal self. While Dr. Mario's power has increased overall, his mobility has become noticeably slower and less nimble, with these traits having been implemented in order to differentiate him from Mario. Dr. Mario's recovery and combo game are also inferior to Mario's, which altogether have resulted in him having poor representation and below average results in competitive play.
Despite his glaring flaws, Dr. Mario has gained status as a niche character in competitive play. This is courtesy of his metagame being expanded by professionals, such as 2ManyCooks, Atomsk and Nairo, who have shown that he can still be an effective choice in certain matchups.
How to unlock
Dr. Mario must then be defeated on Mushroomy Kingdom.
Dr. Mario must then be defeated on Delfino Plaza.
Dr. Mario is a clone of Mario: he is a middleweight of average stature and can now wall jump, just like his normal self. However, while they share animations and overall design, Dr. Mario functions differently due to his differences in speed and power. As such, he fights like a stronger, but slower version of Mario, just as he was originally intended to be in Melee. Although Dr. Mario has the exact same in-game values as Mario, his overall mobility is sub-par due to multipliers being applied to his walking and dashing speeds (0.83x), air speed (0.81x), and air acceleration (0.82x), in addition to having lower jumps. Outside of these attributes, both Dr. Mario and Mario share the same falling and fast falling speeds, traction, and gravity.
However, Dr. Mario's entire moveset deals noticeably more damage and knockback than Mario's, due to all but his up tilt, forward aerial, back aerial, down aerial, and down special using a 1.12x multiplier on his normal self's respective attacks. As a result, Dr. Mario is noticeably more efficient at KOing in comparison to Mario, with all of his smash attacks, his forward and back aerials, and his Super Jump Punch being excellent KOing options. Dr. Mario's above average damage output and knockback also grant him a very capable punishment game once he finds the proper opening.
Other noticeable differences are seen in his special moves: Megavitamins deal more damage than Mario's Fireball whether they are early or late. However, the angle between the two attacks are more defined, as Megavitamins travel farther in the air without landing and bounce twice instead of three times. Super Sheet has higher hitboxes and its reflection hitbox has a longer duration compared to Mario's Cape, but it has much less horizontal range and, most notably, no longer stalls him in midair like it did in Melee.
To alleviate the removal of Super Sheet's recovery potential, Dr. Tornado is now a more integral part of Dr. Mario's recovery, since it grants him a decent amount of horizontal distance if it is button mashed sufficiently. In addition, Dr. Tornado deals damage unlike F.L.U.D.D. and can be used for edgeguarding, although it is noticeably riskier at doing so in comparison. Super Jump Punch functions like Luigi's version of the move, as it consists of a sweetspot and a sourspot, rather than multiple hitboxes. This makes Dr. Mario's Super Jump Punch a very effective KOing option, especially from out of shield. In addition, Super Jump Punch can be B-reversed upon startup, potentially allowing Dr. Mario to counter shielded attacks even from behind his back. While Dr. Mario's Super Jump Punch is considerably weaker than Luigi's, it's less punishable thanks to its lower ending and landing lag.
In regard to playstyle, Dr. Mario's combo game is very different from Mario's, as it is harder overall to land more attacks without correct reads. While he has a higher overall damage output, Dr. Mario's slower movement speed, increased knockback and his up aerial's different angle can noticeably hinder his ability to chain hits together in quick succession, especially against lightweight characters, which gives Dr. Mario's combo game less flexibility. Despite this, his down tilt is his most versatile combo starter; although it has poor reach overall, it is particularly effective against middleweights, heavyweights and certain fast-fallers. It can chain into either his neutral attack, up smash, forward tilt, up tilt, Super Jump Punch or Dr. Tornado. Outside of this, his up tilt can also chain into itself as reliably as Mario's, though it can be performed less consecutively compared to his normal self's due to its higher knockback. Lastly, Dr. Mario's uncharged up smash can also initiate grounded combos, particularly into itself at low percentages, due to its horizontal launching angle.
There are some things Dr. Mario shares with Mario, however. Like his normal self, he boasts an effective grab game due to his throws' respective uses. His forward throw is excellent for initiating edgeguards, while his back throw is a viable KOing option at high percentages. His up throw is able to initiate aerial pressure, while his down throw is able to combo into his up smash on the majority of the cast beginning at 0%, his back air at early and mid percents, and even his forward aerial and Super Jump Punch at higher percentages, although the latter two require very precise timing. Dr. Mario's air game is also above average: his neutral aerial is a "reverse sex kick", meaning it has lower knockback at the start, but higher knockback throughout the rest of its duration. It also comes out quickly, which makes it ideal to break combos and lead into another move when late due to its low landing lag. His back aerial is also fast and powerful, making it a viable KOing and edgeguarding option. His back aerial and up aerial can also be auto-cancelled from a short hop, making them good pressuring and combo tools respectively.
His forward aerial, while slow in execution, is the third strongest of its kind when sweetspotted and is a tremendously powerful punishing option, making it lethal from a short hop while near the edge. His up and down aerials, however, are different from Mario's in regard to utility. His up aerial launches at a more horizontal angle and has much less knockback, making it his most difficult aerial to chain at low percentages. His down aerial is a drill kick with considerable start-up, but a longer duration and a much lower launching angle, making it better than Mario's Mario Tornado for edgeguarding. In addition to his down tilt, the majority of his other grounded moves have some utility: his neutral attack is among the fastest in the game, his up tilt can chain into itself, and all of his smash attacks boast great power.
Dr. Mario's flaws are significantly more noticeable when compared to Mario's. While he boasts excellent KO power, his KO potential is inconsistent due to having fewer guaranteed KO set-ups than Mario. Many characters also outperform him in several areas: Donkey Kong has more power, Luigi has greater combo versatility, Villager and R.O.B. have stronger zoning abilities, Captain Falcon has better mobility and Shulk has greater range. Out of these attributes, his most problematic ones are the latter two: his slow mobility compared to Mario gives him problems with approaching, which, when compounded by the poor range on his attacks, further prevents him from fighting at a safe distance compared to Mario.
Dr. Mario's sluggish mobility compounds another notable weakness: his recovery. Despite him now being able to wall jump, the combination of Dr. Mario's lower jumps, slower air speed, slower air acceleration, and the lower distance Super Jump Punch grants compared to Mario's results in his recovery being predictable. Unlike Mario, he can extend it by making use of Dr. Tornado, which allows him to gain slightly better horizontal distance compared to Mario. However, his recovery gains noticeably less vertical distance if not used early compared to the latter (unless used with a double jump) which leaves him vulnerable to most meteor smashes as they may launch him low enough to be KO'd. As a result, it's best for him to read the opponent when trying to return to the stage knowing when and how to make use of Dr. Tornado. Additionally, even though he may not need to use his second jump to recover, any sufficiently strong attacks, particularly semi-spikes, may launch him too far away to recover back to the stage.
Dr. Mario significantly benefits from his custom moves. Like Mario, his custom moves define the fundamentals of customization, but in Dr. Mario's case, some of them alleviate his most significant flaws compared to how Mario's benefit him. Fast Capsule deals less damage and barely causes flinching, but covers more range at a much faster pace and thus improves his already decent projectile game. Conversely, Mega Capsule has less range and is much slower, but deals repeated damage and lingers after being thrown. This allows it to shut down many approaches from characters that lack projectiles, as well as provide follow-ups. Breezy Sheet provides more safety when fighting near the edge but deals slightly less damage, whereas Shocking Sheet gives Dr. Mario another KOing option that has decent speed, but merely destroys projectiles rather than reflecting them. Ol' One-Two gives Dr. Mario an extremely powerful KOing option that can KO at very low percentages, but at the cost of further hindering his already sub-par recovery. Conversely, Super Jump functions in the exact opposite way: it grants noticeably better recovery, but deals no damage whatsoever. Soaring Tornado is arguably Dr. Mario's best custom move due to its utility. It grants noticeably better vertical recovery, has incredible edgeguarding potential due to its windbox and hitbox, and its hitbox is powerful enough to KO early either on-stage or off-stage. However, these benefits come at the cost of granting less horizontal recovery. Dr. Mario's only sub-par custom move seems to be Clothesline Tornado: it boasts impressive power, yet further hinders his recovery, has a shorter duration and has a bit of start-up lag.
Overall, Dr. Mario functions like he was initially intended to in Melee: a slower, but stronger version of Mario. These traits make Dr. Mario function like a fairly slow, yet fairly powerful glass cannon, similarly to Zelda. As such, he performs optimally with a bait and punish playstyle while remaining on-stage more often than not due to his sub-par recovery. While Dr. Mario's faults outweigh his strengths to the point that his tournament representation and results are both poor, he has a few notable players to his credit, such as 2ManyCooks, Atomsk and Nairo.
Changes from Melee
Dr. Mario received some of the most recognizable changes out of any veteran in the transition from Melee to SSB4, with all of his changes gearing him towards what he was intended to be in Melee: a slower, but stronger Mario. However, these changes result in Dr. Mario being considerably nerfed overall, due to the nerfs to his speed and mobility weakening his neutral game and approach despite having Megavitamins as a projectile, which means Dr. Mario must now rely more on baiting the opponent rather than approaching. Many of his moves were also nerfed, with notable examples including his forward aerial and forward smash, which now require landing their sweetspots in order to be effective, and his Megavitamins, which now deal less damage and have much worsened lag.
Although his punishment game is still potent, the post-Melee changes to game physics have also removed many of Dr. Mario's set-ups into those potential sweetspots, making it much less effective as well. Furthermore, his recovery was nerfed due to Dr. Tornado's vertical coverage having been decreased when used in the air (without the aid of his jump) while Super Sheet no longer stalls him in the air. When combined with his lower jumps, this forces Dr. Mario to either mix up the usage of his Dr. Tornado by using it early when recovering or by using it with his double jump to get more vertical distance. His new wall jump can be used for recovery mix-ups but this makes him predictable to edgeguard.
However, Dr. Mario has been buffed in other aspects. Some of his moves have increased reach, benefitting his match-ups against characters with long reach such as Marth. However, Mario also benefits somewhat more from the latter change in comparison, due to his better mobility. Dr. Mario's already high power has increased even further, due to the strengthening of some of his attacks' sweetspots. These changes, however, do not compensate for the overall decrease to his mobility. As a result, he is the only Melee veteran to have been truly nerfed in his transition, as Mewtwo has been significantly buffed via game updates, while Roy had already been buffed in various ways upon his return and was slightly buffed via game updates.
Grabs and throws
Although his core problems have not been addressed, Dr. Mario has received a handful of buffs nonetheless. Updates 1.0.4 and 1.0.6 increased his forward aerial's damage output and knockback, allowing it to score KOs easier. Update 1.1.0 slightly improved his up smash by giving it an extra frame, as well as making it capable of scoring KOs easier near edges due to increasing its knockback. Like Mario, the changes on shieldstun in update 1.1.1 make it slightly harder for him to use his patient playstyle effectively, as the increased shieldstun makes it harder for him to punish out of shield. This change, however, also benefits him due to his overall damage output being higher than Mario's, which makes his most powerful moves much safer on shield in comparison to Mario's.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Since SSB4's release, Dr. Mario's nerfs were immediately noticed. His slower mobility, lack of reliable KO set-ups, reduced overall damage output, worsened combo game and worsened recovery, alongside his inability to successfully adapt to SSB4's game physics, contributed to a negative perception of Dr. Mario. As a result, Dr. Mario was widely perceived seen as a low-tier or even bottom-tier character. Despite his poor perception, Nairo surprisingly utilized Dr. Mario for some matches at MLG World Finals 2015 alongside Zero Suit Samus, with a notable example being a set against ESAM that concluded with Nairo winning 3-0 against him in Losers Finals after using Dr. Mario to defeat ESAM's Pikachu for the first two matches and his Samus for their final match. Other professionals, such as 2ManyCooks, have also achieved decent results with him.
Despite these flashes of success, and many more arguing in support of him, citing the fact that, in spite of his greater power, his frame data is mostly identical to Mario’s (which is considered outstanding and lets him abuse otherwise unsafe moves like charged smash attacks) and his Super Jump Punch combos and back air grant him a niche over Mario in very specific matchups, Dr. Mario's metagame has remained stagnant. This is due to both his tournament results and representation being considered among the most scarce in the game, more so than some fellow low-tier and even some bottom-tier characters. These aspects have been reflected in his tier status, in which he was ranked 45th on the first tier list before dropping to his current ranking of 48th on the second tier list, with both rankings placing him in the G tier and only being due to his strengths being greater than those of some low-tier and bottom-tier characters.
In Event Matches