Falco is currently ranked 2nd in the Melee tier list. Professionals have adapted many unique strategies for Falco; his throw and waveshine combos are especially effective, racking up damage very quickly and putting enemies in unfavorable positions. Falco's most infamous move is his down air attack: a horrifically powerful spike that can be easily comboed into, has almost no starting lag and no sourspot, and can score very fast gimps on characters with bad recoveries as well as KO efficiently at rather low percentages. This makes Falco's presence in the air and ground commanding, with many options for combos and KOs as well as very effective edgeguarding options, such as his back air, forward and down smashes, and his aforementioned down air. Falco, however, is not flawless; he suffers from an extremely high falling speed, a very low air speed, and short, limited recovery options, resulting in one of the worst recoveries in the game. His high falling speed also makes him extremely vulnerable to chaingrabs and combos, especially from characters such as Marth, Captain Falcon, and Jigglypuff. Regardless of these flaws, Falco's strengths greatly overwhelm his weakness and he has amazing matchups, lacking any negative ones (making him and Fox in Melee, Pikachu in Smash 64 and Meta Knight in Brawl the only characters with no negative matchups) and having only a handful that are considered even.
Players can unlock Falco by completing 100-Man Melee with any character within any time limit. Alternatively, players can take part in 300 VS. matches to unlock him.
Falco falls into a similar character archetype as Fox: he possesses rather high speed to quickly overwhelm the opponent as well as a slew of effective finishers both on the ground and in the air. Contrary to what Falco's in-game trophy says, he does not sacrifice offensive power at all to gain increased jumping prowess; in fact, Falco seems to have gained even more options for KOs, attacks, and combos at a variety of percentages over Fox. Falco's attributes include high traction, the highest falling speed in the game, and low air speed; this gives Falco a short wavedash.
Falco's primary strength is his raw ability to KO without compromising too much speed or combo ability; many of Falco's KOing moves are very fast yet powerful with relatively low startup and ending lag. Falco's sliding forward smash covers a good distance, KOs easily at 90% and makes for a good edgeguard option. Falco's down smash is a powerful semi-spike that is also useful for edgeguarding. Falco's down tilt can KO some characters at as low as 90%; despite its short range, it also comes out quickly. Falco's aerial KOing options are also highly varied; Falco's neutral and back aerial attacks are fast with high knockback and duration, and his dair is among the most feared attacks in the game; with no sourspot, high speed, spike properties, and a long duration, Falco can quickly and efficiently KO almost any character at low percentages if used correctly. A grounded dair can easily combo into a forward smash for yet another deadly KO option.
Falco's approach is also highly effective; with a very versatile projectile in his Blaster, Falco can perform the short hop laser technique, either as a pressure option or as a way to approach. Performing this technique close to opponents almost guarantees free grabs, smashes, or ways to start shine combos. Coupled with low-lag aerials, a short short hop and a high falling speed, Falco has among the best SHFFLs in the game, giving him an incredible aerial approach. On the ground, many of Falco's attacks, while short-ranged, pack good power and relatively low ending lag; despite a short wavedash and a decent dashing speed, Falco can still use these two to his advantage, with them being integral to his superb combo ability.
Falco sacrifices a bit of his clone's speed for power, but still excels at performing devastating combos. Many of Falco's approach options also make for great combo starters as well. The core of Falco's combo abilty lies in his good SHFFLs and ability to waveshine. Falco's primary form of comboing comes in the form of his pillar, which is notorious for wearing shields down quickly. Pillaring, in its most basic form, is simply chaining the upward vertical knockback of Falco's shine into the spiking hitboxes of his dair. To keep his moves fresh, Falco can combo into his other moves, most notably his down and up tilts, wavesmashes, his up throw, and his back and neutral aerials. Falco's d-tilt and up throw are viable substitutes for his shine, while his up tilt racks up damage and segues directly into more shines. His smashes also rack up damage quickly but also make excellent KO options after enough beatings from the pillars have been dealt. Jump-canceled shines combo directly into bairs and nairs. Should the opponent DI close the ground, Falco can chase his opponents with multiple waveshines, depending on the direction. Falco can alternatively wear down shields by weaving back and forth with waveshining.
Additionally, Falco's grab and throw game is decent. Falco's grab range is above-average (tenth longest in the game), and his throws have multiple options; his down throw can potentially combo into a down tilt or start a shine combo, his up throw can start up aerial combos, and his forward and back throws can start edgeguards. However, although he can chain throw floaty characters with his forward throw, he lacks a reliable chain throw, his throws have poor damage output, and his down throw can be teched, leaving him vulnerable.
Falco's properties, however, also compose his weaknesses. Despite his high jumps and ability to wall jump, Falco's recovery is among the worst in the game; due to a low air speed and a high falling speed, Falco cannot maneuver effectively off-stage. His up special move, Fire Bird, is also short and easy to gimp; due to its linear nature, attacks such as Marth's Counter, Link's Spin Attack, and Mario's Cape can easily knock Falco away from the ledge when using the moves. Additionally, due to its inability to harm attackers while it charges, Falco is vulnerable to meteor smashes and spikes while using the move; with correct timing, opponents with reliable spikes, such as Marth or even another Falco, can easily gimp his recovery. As such, Falco is primarily reliant on his side special, Falco Phantasm to recover; however, even that doesn't travel a significant distance, and it still suffers from the linear problems of Fire Bird.
Falco's high falling speed also makes him a target for chain throws, especially from characters such as Marth and Peach, though it also gives him the 3rd highest vertical endurance among Melee characters, despite being light. Falco, along with Fox, has the dubious distinction of having an entire combo named for KOing him easily simply due to his high falling speed (the space animal slayer).
For a gallery of Falco's hitboxes, see here.
Falco scoffs while spinning into a pose. In the Japanese version, he speaks one of two phrases: "Ore no emono ni te o dasu na!" (俺の獲物に手を出すな！, which is translated as "Hands off my prey!" in Brawl) or "Nigasu ka yo!" (逃がすかよ！, meaning "Like I'll let you escape!").
 In Competitive play
Falco is one of the two characters in the game to have no disadvantageous matchups whatsoever, along with Fox. Compared to some other top/high tiers, however, he has a lot of even matchups. Falco has seven even matchups, soft counters three characters, counters seven, and hard counters eight. He has the tools to beat every character, though he is particularly vulnerable to chaingrabs from characters such as Marth and Peach, as well as being very easy to gimp or edgeguard, giving him some trouble against characters who can do this effectively, such as Jigglypuff, Marth, and Fox. He tends to do well against characters he can combo efficiently, such as Captain Falcon, and does very well against characters with a lack of reliable horizontal finishers and/or edgeguarding ability, such as Young Link. Overall, Falco's matchup spread is among the best in the game.
 Notable players
 Tier placement and history
Throughout the Melee tier lists, Falco has always been in the high/top tiers along with Fox and Sheik, with his lowest position being fifth place. While his current position (second) is debatable, with some players claiming there are other candidates for second position (such as Marth and Sheik), Falco and Fox can be considered "the best characters in Melee" with a noticeable margin between them and other fighters; Sheik, the third place character, has a numerical ranking of 3.43, compared to Fox's 1.39 and Falco's 1.68. Some players even think that Falco could be at the top of the tier list above Fox, claiming that Falco succeeds in notable tournaments more consistently than Fox, while Fox's position is based more on potential than performance.
 Differences with Fox
While Falco and Fox are considered clones, there are many differences between the two.
In general attributes, Falco has better jumping prowess than Fox, with his full jump being much higher than Fox's. Falco, however, moves more slowly on the ground, due to lower walking and running speeds. Falco is also slightly heavier than Fox, allowing him to survive slightly longer.
In standard attacks, Falco has a stronger forward smash, but a weaker up smash than Fox. His forward and down tilts are also stronger, but his up tilt is weaker than Fox's. Falco's down air lacks Fox's multi-hit properties, but it spikes considerably more powerfully than Fox's. Falco's up air is also easier to sweetspot and hit with, but it is weaker and better for juggling. Falco's back and down throws are also weaker than Fox's, in damage and knockback output, with the down throw being harder to meteor smash. Additionally, Falco's up throw does not combo as well as Fox's, with a followup often being dependent on the opponent's directional influence.
For special moves, Falco's Blaster is among the most drastic in differences; it fires more slowly, but it causes opponents to flinch, allowing for better combo setups and better capability at hindering an opponent's approach. Fox's Blaster's rapid fire capabilities, however, cause Fox to be able to fire two shots in one short hop, and makes it more effective for tacking on extra damage. Falco's Falco Phantasm also travels faster and it meteor smashes; Fox's Fox Illusion, however, travels farther. Fire Bird is stronger than Fire Fox, but its recovery distance is almost half of that of Fox's, and it cannot harm opponents while it is charging. Falco's Reflector sends opponents upward vertically and has knockback scaling, making it a potential KO move; Fox's, however, semi-spikes the opponent with low set knockback, allowing Fox to have more options for infinite combos.
 Similarities with Fox from Super Smash Bros.
It has been said that Falco's play-style in Melee is very similar to Fox's in Super Smash Bros. His special moves are arguably the most obvious. Below is the list of similarities:
 PAL differences
Like other characters, Falco has received some changes in the PAL version of Melee.
 In Single-Player Modes
 In Classic Mode
When unlocked, Falco can appear either in ordinary one-on-one matches, in a team with Fox or Captain Falcon, as an ally in team and giant battles, or as a metal opponent in the game's penultimate battle. With the exception of being on a team with Captain Falcon and the metal battle, Falco appears on either Corneria or Venom.
 In Adventure Mode
In the game's Adventure Mode, Falco can appear in Part 2 of Stage 6; when unlocked, the player has the possibility of fighting against Falco in the stage, instead of Fox again.
 In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Falco and his allies are fought on Venom.
 In Event Matches
Falco appears in the following event matches:
 Ending images
 Trophy descriptions