- This article is about the technical definition of "spike". For information about the mechanic commonly incorrectly referred to as a spike, see meteor smash. For the customization piece, see Stage Builder.
A spike is an attack that sends the opponent downwards but cannot have its knockback interrupted via meteor cancelling. As a result, they are significantly more dangerous than the similar meteor smash.
In most games of the Super Smash Bros. series, there are no spikes - all attacks that hit downwards are meteor smashes. However, in Super Smash Bros. Melee, a technical oversight results in two types of downwards attacks - those that can be meteor cancelled, and those that cannot - the first group are meteor smashes, while the second group are spikes. Despite this clear distinction, many players use the term "spike" to mean "meteor smash" regardless of the game, referring to spikes as "true spikes" to reflect their inability to be canceled.
Attacks with angles outside of this range are not recognized as meteor smashes, and if they hit below what is considered a semi-spike trajectory, they are spikes.
In Melee, hitboxes that send opponents at an angle between 260 and 280 degrees are recognised by the game as meteor smashes. However, there exist some hitboxes that send opponents downward, but at a diagonal trajectory outside this angle window (for example, 290 degrees). As a result, the game does not recognise them as meteor smashes, and are thus unable to be meteor cancelled. In Brawl, the angle window for what the game recognises as meteor smashes was increased to being between 230 and 310 degrees, enough so to cover the downward diagonal trajectory the spikes in Melee had. As a result, the spiking hitboxes in Melee that retained their trajectories are recognised as meteor smashes in Brawl, and are capable of being meteor cancelled.
Spikes have the benefits of meteor smashes: knocking the opponent downward with gravity assisting the knockback. But they do so without the drawback of the opponent having the ability to completely negate the knockback with a jump or recovery move. As a result, spikes are extremely effective KO moves in edge guarding situations - recovering from even moderately powerful spikes is usually impossible above extremely low percents. Because of this, many smashers who main characters with practical spikes try to integrate spikes into play as often as possible.
List of spikes in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Characters with usable spikes
- Captain Falcon - Down aerial; of its three hitboxes, the topmost of them produces the so-called nipple spike. This hitbox produces the most powerful spike in Melee, but its small size makes it impractical to use; while it can potentially be comboed into, the Knee is generally a more practical option as a combo finisher.
- Falco - Down aerial; while the spike lasts for its entire duration in NTSC regions, only the first half of the attack spikes in PAL regions. The attack is powerful, effective, and is very easy to land due to its low start-up lag; the attack can also be easily comboed into from Falco's Shine, and it can act as a a very effective combo starter on grounded opponents when used by itself. The attack, however, is of extreme risk to use offstage, due to Falco's high falling speed and poor recovery.
- Fox - Down aerial, with all of its hits being spikes. The attack's spike properties, however, are extremely weak and uniquely have set knockback, making it almost impossible to KO with unless the opponent has a high handicap. However, this also makes the attack useful for comboing, especially on floaty characters.
- Ganondorf - Wizard's Foot when used in the air, with all of its hitboxes spiking opponents. Despite its high power and long duration, the attack has relatively high start-up lag, and when used off the ledge, it forces Ganondorf into an inconvenient recovery position; recovery attacks that feature damaging hitboxes can also prevent Ganondorf from landing the hitboxes. While using it towards the centre of a stage can prevent the difficulties with recovering, Ganondorf's other edgeguarding options, such as his up air, are generally more practical and efficient to use.
- Marth - Down aerial, when tipped; its angle was adjusted in PAL regions to a meteor smash angle, thus being a meteor smash in PAL regions and suggesting that it being a spike was an undetected error. With its high power, long reach and very low start-up lag, it can be easily landed, and can effectively KO offstage opponents at low-mid damages, particularly in combination with the Ken Combo. The attack can also potentially tech-chase grounded opponents, but its high ending lag makes it of high risk to use off the ledge.
- Roy - Up smash, when an airborne opponent is hit with the tip of the sword in its first few frames. The attack, however, is impractical for edgeguarding, as the spiking hitbox is small and has a short duration; Roy also cannot potentially combo into the attack.
- Dr. Mario's up smash is a spike, but only on grounded opponents; aerial opponents are hit upwards instead. The attack has an angle of 259, as close to the meteor detection window as it can get without being considered a meteor smash.
- Master Hand and Crazy Hand - The lower hitboxes of the Finger Drill and the Finger Walk are spikes designed to keep targets in place for the next part of the move.
- Poké Ball Pokémon:
- Entei - The very tip of the attack spikes opponents into the thick of it.
- Clefairy - When Gust is used, the topmost part of the attack has a spike.
- Ho-oh - The entire attack except the last hit involves two spikes of slightly different angles.
It is technically possible for spikes to exist in unmodified Brawl; the increased meteor smash angle window does not include all downward angles. Additionally, if the angle of a hitbox in Brawl is hacked to outside the standard 0-360 range of angles (for example, 630, which would equal a meteor smash angle of 270), the game will not recognize it as a meteor smash, and it will therefore act as a spike.
There are a few boss hitboxes with angles in the -70 to -90 range, which while unconfirmed is very likely not to be detected as a meteor smash. This includes Petey's jumps and the start of Rayquaza's digging and explosion attacks. Aside from these bosses, however, no known hitboxes in the game naturally have such angles, and there are no known hitboxes that hit opponents at an angle lower than what would be considered a semi-spike, but above what the game would consider a meteor smash. As such, spikes are considered a removed element in Brawl.
- Meteor smash - an attack that deals downward knockback but that can be recovered from through meteor cancelling.
- Semi-spike - an attack that hits the opponent at a low horizontal angle that hinders recovery opportunities.
- Stage spike - a spike performed by bouncing an opponent off an angled part of a stage to send them downward.