Fox McCloud (フォックス・マクラウド, Fox McCloud) is the main character from the Star Fox series and appears as a starter character in Super Smash Bros.. He is known for his amazing movement speed, running and falling fast, as well as being equipped with a small Blaster and a reflector for defensive purposes. He is voiced by Shinobu Satouchi, who also voiced him in Star Fox 64.
Fox ranks 4th on the tier list, mainly due to his very quick movement speed and versatile combo ability. He has the second fastest dashing and falling speeds in the game, along with the fastest walking speed, and the third fastest air speed, allowing him to get around very quickly, which not only helps with evading opponents, but also to get around during combos. His combo moves typically include his up tilt, down tilt, down aerial, the first hit of his neutral attack, etc. He is able to rack up damage in a variety of ways such as up tilt chains and repeated down aerial to down tilt chains. Fox is known for his Blaster, among the best projectiles in the game for numerous reasons - its hitstun allows Fox to effortlessly counter opponent approaches, while it also helps him approach. The lag of the move can also be avoided using the techniques short hop laser and ledgehopped double laser. While the majority of Fox's moves are low power, combo-orientated moves, he does have high power attacks such as his up smash and up aerial. Fox additionally has multiple quick, low power aerials which can easily combo offstage and reliably edgeguard opponents, along with an effective semi-spike in his down smash and a set knockback semi-spike in his shine, notable for the shine spike technique.
However, Fox does have some weaknesses. He has an over-reliance on his up smash and up aerial for onstage KOs, and his only reliable way to finish off the opponent outside those moves is edgeguarding. His other onstage moves are either generally lacking in power, predictable, inferior to up smash and up aerial, or all of the above. Fox is additionally a vulnerable character to combos - despite his moderate weight and size, his fast falling speed makes him vulnerable to characters such as Pikachu and Kirby, who can easily get Fox offstage, where his predictable and linear recovery, along with his fast falling speed, puts him in a bad position offstage. With the banning of Hyrule Castle, Fox has slightly dropped in the most recent tier list, since it is more difficult to camp on Dream Land, the only legal stage, due to its smaller size. Nevertheless, Fox remains a high tiered character in competitive play with great matchups, as well as strong tournament representation and results. He also ranks slightly higher in the Japanses tier list at 3rd.
Fox is a character who is all about speed. He has the second fastest dashing speed (second only to Captain Falcon), third fastest air speed (behind Yoshi and Pikachu), the third fastest falling speed, a fast roll, and generally very fast attacks in terms of both startup and ending lag. Fox also has a good and useful short hop, which he can easily perform Z-cancelled aerials out of quickly. Fox can sometimes have trouble KOing because the majority of his attacks have low knockback, excluding his up smash and up aerial, which he sometimes relies on for KO'ing onstage. This problem is bigger against characters with strong vertical endurance, such as Captain Falcon and other Foxes. The up smash can easily KO most characters under around 90% (KOs at 76% on Dream Land), and can be combo'd into in a variety of ways, such as the using a Z-cancelled down aerial (which can be used during aerial approaches), or the first hit of his jab, then using the move while the opponent is in hitstun. The up aerial is mainly used as an aerial combo finisher, but can be used on its own as an effective aerial finisher. However, the generally low knockback of Fox's attacks means that he has amazing combo potential, having the ability to zero-death many other characters. Both Fox's forward and back throws can additionally chaingrab at very low percentages and combo into moves such as dash attack, short hop laser, or short hop double laser. Additionally, though Fox can have trouble KOing onstage, he does have a strong edgeguarding ability. His forward and back aerials can easily be used in offstage aerial combos or combo'd into from a move such as an up tilt at certain percentages, and his neutral aerial is a pretty powerful aerial when it first comes out. He also has two effective semi-spikes - down smash (best used near the edge), and his shine (which allows the shine spike technique, and can also be used just after an edge drop to cover the area around Fox).
Fox's Blaster is an extremely useful projectile that covers a very large distance and causes opponents to flinch. This allows him to combo from a considerable distance (as it will stun the opponent, and Fox's very fast dashing speed allows him to get to them quickly). Due to its hitstun, it can prevent enemy approaches, and it can also be used while approaching to give the opponent a hard time. Fox can use the Blaster to easily and effectively camp, which is also one of the core tools to use if the player wants to prevent 0-death combos: Fox relies on camping with his Blaster to prevent opponents from getting near, using his very quick movement speed to get around the stage, while he can start a combo on the opponent when they are left vulnerable. His Reflector, informally known as the Shine, is also a reliable way to deal with projectiles and projectile camping from opponents.
On the downside, Fox has problems with his recovery like many characters in the game. His fast falling speed and predictable and linear recovery make him easy to edgeguard and combo offstage into a meteor smash or powerful aerial finisher. His primary recovery move, Fire Fox, additionally requires charge-up time, and cannot damage opponents during that time, leaving Fox vulnerable; it is also possible to hit him out of the move using a projectile such as Thunder Jolt to gimp him repeatedly. With the correct timing, hitting him out of Fire Fox while moving is also possible. Fox's aforementioned problems with recovering also put him in a bad position when too far offstage, so he must be careful when combo'ing offstage against characters who are able to fight back easily such as Pikachu and Mario. Fox is also vulnerable to combos that work on fastfallers, but due to his average weight, he is conversely resistant to combos effective on lightweights.
Fox is considered to be slightly worse in doubles than singles as it is more difficult to laser camp and put opponents in poor positions to start combos, one of his main strengths in singles. Fox's recovery is an issue and the fact that he has problem gimping unless close to the edge is also a weakness. If he gets the chance, however, Fox is one of the better characters at starting combos. He is considered a good combo with Ness, as Fox can laser Ness's PSI Magnet to help him recover damage. Fox is an overwhelm based character in teams, helping his partner combo, and using an up smash or up aerial to KO. Fox is also a great team partner for Pikachu and Captain Falcon due to his aerials and up smash being able to mix very well with Pikachu's recovery and Falcon's air game and combo ability.
Differences between game versions
Japan to NTSC
In his transition to NTSC, Fox got a mix of buffs and nerfs. Some of his moves deal slightly more damage, his special moveset's tools have been generally improved. On the downside, his Reflector is slightly worse for shinespiking and Fire Fox has no invincibility frames, making his recovery slightly riskier. He also suffers from the removal of momentum sliding. Lastly, the higher SDI presence makes him down aerial easier to escape as well, but it also allows him to escape combos easier. Overall, Fox doesn't perform either better or worse than in the Japanese version.
NTSC to PAL
In Competitive play
Fox has an above average matchup spread on Dream Land, despite being solidly countered by Pikachu and having some trouble against Kirby and Captain Falcon. Fox does very well against floaty characters, who he can KO early with his powerful vertical finishers in his up smash and up aerial. His fast falling speed and subpar recovery makes him a target for combos leading to edgeguards, which are easily performable by characters such as Pikachu and Falcon. Dream Land, being a somewhat small stage, means he doesn't have much room to evade characters with disjointed moves and great spacing ability. The reason why Fox's matchups are so much better on Hyrule Castle (on par with Pikachu's for being the best matchup spread on that stage) is because he can simply projectile camp to prevent opponent approaches, giving him difficulty getting up to Fox and starting combos on him. Fox's very fast dashing and air speed also allow him to get around fairly quickly, meaning he can outrun characters with subpar movement speed such as Mario and go up close to combo then when they're left vulnerable. Fox has a close to even matchup against Pikachu on Hyrule, with this and Falcon on Dream Land being the only close to even matchups against Pikachu in the game.
Short hop laser
Main article: Short hop laser
A very useful and frequently used technique that is great for approaching and stopping opponents' approaches alike. It is performed by simply short hopping, then firing a laser. If one's reflexes allow it, it is possible to fire two lasers in one short hop, known as short hop double laser (SHDL). As the lasers cause hitstun on the opponent, it can give characters without projectiles and/or reliable ways to deal with them serious trouble approaching, plus the stun can allow laser followups, which can can be used for combos to rack damage (at low percentages) or to lead into a move like an up smash for raw KOing.
Ledgehopped double laser
Main article: Ledgehopped double laser
Similar to the short hop laser, only this is done by edge dropping, jumping, then firing one or two lasers while moving onto the stage. Very similar uses to the short hop laser, but obviously for different situations.
Main article: Teleport (SSB)
A technique that allows Fox to slide forward a short distance. Fox can attack, jump, or perform other actions out of the slide (it even allows him to go offstage), and with it giving him some speed, it can be used for movement, though simply dashing is usually quicker due to Fox's very high dashing speed.
Main article: Shine spike
An edgeguarding technique that simply involves using the shine offstage on an opponent. Its semi-spike trajectory and set knockback make it effective for edgeguarding and gimping alike. It can be used on its own or combo'd into via moves such as up tilt or down tilt.
Dash turnaround ledgegrab
Fox is the only character in the game along with Ness who can use the turnaround animation of his full sprint to grab a ledge whilst running off of the stage. This is due to his turnaround animation changing the faced direction before the character "brakes". This technique is obviously useful for being Fox's fastest way to edgehog.
From the Game
Following his dead father's footsteps as the young leader of the Star Fox Team, Fox McCloud's piloting of the super-high-performance combat ship ARWING for the Lylatian System is still fresh in our memories. His one weakness may be his difficulty earning the trust of his teammates.