Ice Climbers (SSBM)
They rank 7th on the tier list (in the B tier), highly accredited to the usage of Wobbling and Desynching and the fact that the fighter is literally "two-in-one", which helps the climbers rack up damage, combo, and KO opponents; this gives the Ice Climbers one of the best grab games in Melee. Additionally, good players can quickly rack up damage with the two, and they have good approach options on the ground, due to disjointed hitboxes and two decent projectiles. The two also have a very long and floaty wavedash, aiding their approach tremendously. The Ice Climbers, however, have a poor air game, and their floatiness causes them to be vulnerable to juggling and combos. Another vulnerability is that many of their benefits are lost if the second Climber is KO'ed.
The Ice Climbers have arguably the most unusual fighting style in all of Melee; the player is tasked with controlling two characters at once, and their fighting potential becomes considerably worse should Nana (or Popo depending on which costume is selected) be KOed. Outside of this, their unique physics make them difficult to use; they boast an above average jumping height alongside low air and falling speed, and their traction is also among the lowest in the game.
As a result of their unusual gimmick, the Ice Climbers have among the most powerful ground-based approaches in the game. Disjointed hitboxes, a variety of useful tilts and smashes, and a long, floaty wavedash give the Ice Climbers a wide variety of options on the ground, especially in approaching. Arguably their most powerful tool on the ground is their grab; despite having a below-average grab range, they boast low knockback throws, giving them significant chain throwing potential. They can also perform the Wobbling infinite out of a grab, which is arguably the most powerful single technique in the game if players can master it. In addition, the presence of Nana allows players to significantly rack up damage on opponents when they grab them. The presence of Nana also makes grabs and chain throws against Popo difficult to utilize, as she can potentially attack opponents during their grab to break it. Furthermore, the Ice Climbers have among the best projectiles in the game, Ice Shot; it is a ground-based projectile that limits the opponent's approach options, and falls off edges very quickly, allowing it to cover various low recovery options. While short-ranged, Blizzard can also have approaching applications, as Popo and Nana face the same direction when the attack is used during a short-hop; it can also be used as a reliable tool to rack up damage off a grab if Nana uses it while Popo pummels.
The Ice Climbers' desynching techniques also have powerful ground-based applications. Since it essentially allows the control of both Climbers to some degree, experienced players can force Nana to perform certain tasks while Popo is occupied. This includes grabbing opponents immediately after Popo has thrown them (known as a hand-off) and attacking them while Popo keeps them locked in place, amongst other powerful benefits. Desynching, however, requires significant practice to use consistently, making the Ice Climbers one of the most technically demanding characters in the game.
Despite a powerful ground-based approach, aerial approaches can prove to be difficult. A high jumping height, low falling speed, slow, laggy aerials, and the second lowest air speed in the game (behind only Luigi) give the Ice Climbers a poor SHFFL. Their low aerial and falling speeds also make pursuing airborne enemies extremely difficult. Some of the Ice Climbers' aerials have powerful applications; their down aerial keeps the enemy mostly in place due to its set knockback, allowing Popo to regrab if Nana uses it after a throw, and their neutral and back aerials are good spacing tools, with the latter having reliable KOing ability under 150%. However, due to their poor air speed and falling speed, and only one situational meteor (their forward aerial), their air game does not complement their powerful ground game overall. These various traits also give the Ice Climbers a below-average edgeguarding game, and they lack an extremely effective off-stage option. In addition, the Ice Climbers have the second worst traction in the game; similar to Luigi, this makes them highly reliant on wavedashing to approach, and technical errors, such as mistimed air dodges, can set them up for significant punishment. Owing to their light weight and low falling speed, the Ice Climbers are also highly vulnerable to being KOed from the upper blast line.
Players who use the Ice Climbers must also know how to prevent themselves from losing Nana, as when she is KOed, Popo cannot fight nearly as effectively. As the Ice Climbers' attacks were designed to be two-in-one, Popo's attacks alone lack damage racking ability, making it much harder to accumulate percentage on the opponent despite the power of his smash attacks. Popo also cannot perform nearly as many chaingrabs without Nana, and cannot Wobble by himself, greatly reducing the threatening nature of their usual grabs. In return, Popo is left vulnerable to chaingrabs and throw setups himself due to his low air speed and falling speed, and is limited in his recovery options; he is forced to recover with Squall Hammer, which travels only horizontally. Unfortunately, most high-tiered characters have attacks, such as Fox's shine and Peach's forward aerial, that can easily separate Popo from Nana. Their recovery, while long, is prone to endangering Nana, as she can either miss the ledge entirely or be left vulnerable against edgeguarders. All of these flaws force Ice Climbers players to be situationally aware and abuse their powerful ground and grab games to prevent their Climbers from being separated and KOed.
The Ice Climbers also have the ability to perform the Freeze glitch, which prevents their opponent from moving in any capacity when performed. Due to its game-breaking potential, the tactic is banned in tournaments.
For a gallery of the Ice Climbers' hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
The Ice Climbers have good matchups all around. They are countered by two characters, soft countered by 3, have 6 even matchups, soft counter 8, counter 4, and hard counter 2. The Ice Climbers generally do well against characters who are overly reliant on grabs to start their punishes, have a weight class that makes them susceptible to their own grab and wobbling setups, or do not have the appropriate tools to safely separate the two Climbers, such as Sheik, Samus, and Pikachu. They also do well against lower-tiered characters who do not have the tools to challenge their grounded mobility.
Conversely, they do not do well against characters who can zone them out, separate them, or combat their ground-based neutral game effectively, such as Fox, Marth, and Ganondorf. Peach is considered the Ice Climbers' hardest counter, as not only can she separate the Ice Climbers, but can also easily KO Nana with a string of float-cancelled aerials and stay out of harm's way by floating out of reach of the Ice Climbers' attacks and grabs. Regardless, the Ice Climbers still have one of the best matchup spreads in the game.
Tier placement and history
The Ice Climbers were once a middle to low-middle tiered character, as in the beginning of Melee, professionals had not made significant discoveries with them. With the discovery of the Ice Climbers' desynching combos, as well as wobbling (which guarantees a stock if performed correctly), they started moving up the ranks. The growing dominance of Chu Dat and then Wobbles and Fly Amanita inched them first to the middle tier, then to a tier of their own between the top and high tiers, where they resided for more than two years. Wobbles's second place finish at EVO 2013 with the Ice Climbers did not change their tier position but finally pushed them into the S tier, where they are at last recognized as a viable character for tournaments alongside the top tiered characters. With the release of the twelfth tier list, they moved up one spot, above Captain Falcon, for the first time.
In single player modes
In Classic Mode
Ice Climbers can appear in a one-on-one, as an ally, on a team with Kirby, or as a metal opponent. Ice Climbers are fought on Icicle Mountain except in the metal battle.
In Adventure Mode
Ice Climbers' sole appearance is on Stage 10: Icicle Mountain. The player is initially tasked with navigating the stage for 51 seconds; following this, two pairs of Ice Climbers attack the player. The player must then KO both Ice Climbers to proceed to the next stage.
In All-Star Mode
Ice Climbers and their allies are fought on Icicle Mountain
In Event Matches
Ice Climbers appear in the following Events: