Wolf (ウルフ, Wolf) is an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, who, along with Fox and Falco, originates from the Star Fox universe. Wolf's entry on the Dojo website was uploaded on March 31st, 2008, two months after the game's Japanese launch, rendering him the final officially confirmed character. His Japanese voice actor is Mahito Ōba, and his English voice actor is Jay Ward. Contrary to the common perception among newer and casual players that Wolf is a semi-clone, Wolf's move set is quite different from Fox and Falco's, though his special moves, floor and ledge recovery animations, and Final Smash are similar to theirs.
Wolf is currently ranked 14th on the current tier list at the middle of the high-mid tier. Wolf possesses tremendous mobility, with among the best air speed, and high, fast jumps. Wolf additionally possesses great air to ground transitioning, as he possesses fast falling speed, and aerials that either have low landing lag or can be auto-cancelled in a short hop. Wolf in general has fast attacks with disproportionally far reach (his back aerial being especially notorious in this regard), which when combined with the aforementioned mobility and an effective DACUS, results in effective approaching capabilities. Wolf also has an effective transcendent projectile in his Blaster, a very quick Reflector with both intangibility and hitboxes, an all-purpose throw in his down throw, well rounded power throughout his moveset, and rather strong comboing capabilities.
Wolf has two major weaknesses, however: his extreme vulnerability to chain throws and a very poor recovery. Because of Wolf's combination of heavy weight, fast falling speed and acceleration, four characters can chain throw him to his doom, and others can perform chain throws that result in significant damage. Wolf additionally possesses a recovery that is hard to rely on. Wolf is heavily susceptible to gimps, and has a particular vulnerability to meteor smashes, as Wolf suffers a 60 frame delay when meteor cancelling, over twice as much as most other characters (even low knockback meteor smashes can send Wolf down too far to recover). His two recovery moves both have poor edge sweet spots and do not move Wolf a very far way, which forces Wolf to rely moreso on his jumps to get back to the stage. Another problem for Wolf is his atrocious vertical momentum cancelling, which causes Wolf to have a vertical endurance potential that is significantly worse than what is typical of characters with fast falling speeds (thus losing one of their primary strengths while still possessing their general weaknesses). Overall, Wolf has above average matchups with only a few counters, and his tournament results have periodically fluctuated between being unusually good for a non-high tier character (where he has outperformed some high tier characters), and being just merely above average.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
The player must then fight and defeat Wolf on Lylat Cruise.
Of the three playable Star Fox characters present in Brawl, Wolf's characteristics as a fighter are the most individual. Wolf is by far the heaviest space animal, but ranks only three places above Mario in terms of weight. Despite possessing a larger body frame than Fox and Falco, Wolf leans down while standing and moving along the ground, and has the shortest stance of the three. His dash speed is slow, barely outpacing his walk, but he has the third fastest fall speed, and fourth fastest horizontal air speed. While these attributes provide him with good aerial mobility, Wolf is vulnerable to chain grabbing, juggling, and certain locks due to his heavy weight and rapid falling speed. It should also be noted that fast falling does not accelerate Wolf's fall by a considerable amount, which hinders his ability to vertical momentum cancel in comparison to characters with quicker fast falls, such as Captain Falcon. However, his ability to momentum cancel horizontally, aided by his fast back aerial and his horizontally based midair jump, is one of the best in the game when compared to other characters' abilities to momentum cancel horizontally without DI.
Most of Wolf's standard attacks start quickly and have good reach, and he has a DACUS that propels him a considerable distance along the ground. Many of his attacks have the potential to KO, such as back aerial, up tilt, and his smashes. The speed and reach of his attacks allow him to punish effectively on the ground as well as in the air, and their solid damage dealing properties can build opponents' damage quickly. However, since many of his standard attacks are effective for racking up damage, they may suffer from stale move negation if not used carefully, and cause problems when Wolf tries to KO. Many of Wolf's attacks also have poor shield stun effects, which allow opponents to shield grab him easily if they block his hits. His down aerial is a relatively weak meteor smash, but it starts quickly in comparison to other meteors, and has two large overlapping hitboxes.
Wolf's special moves are variants of Fox and Falco's, with different animations and properties. His neutral special, Blaster, is a gun that fires projectile lasers, and its firing rate is slower than that of its counterparts. However, its lasers deal significant hitstun, the most damage, and have the most vertical reach - no character is capable of ducking under these lasers on level ground. It also serves as a melee weapon, delivering extra damage to foes if the blaster itself contacts them. Wolf's down special, Reflector, is a versatile move that deflects projectiles and grants him invincibility frames, which may be used to avoid attacks, and escape chain throws if his opponent makes an error. The reflector has very short reach, and delivers very weak set knockback and the least damage, but it can be used to gimp fast falling opponents with poor and/or slow vertical recoveries such as Falco.
While Wolf's air speed and recovery moves allow him to travel a considerable distance in order to recover, these moves are easily predicted, and his ledge sweet spot is one of the smallest in the game. As such, he is easily gimped, and his recovery is susceptible to edge-hogging. Wolf also suffers from the highest meteor cancel delay in the game (a window of 60 frames, compared to the average of 25, with no other character having more than 32), making it very difficult for him to survive meteors even at low percentages. This, in combination with his vulnerability to chain throwing, poses a problem, since some chain throws, such as King Dedede's down throw chain throw, can force him offstage. His side special, Wolf Flash, sends Wolf diagonally across and upward in a fast 'flash', and is used to recover horizontally. It has the potential to meteor smash if sweet spotted. Wolf Flash also has unusual characteristics that may be utilised to help Wolf recover. His up special, Fire Wolf, is a move that propels Wolf in a direction of the players' choosing. It has the least start up lag in comparison to Fox and Falco's counterpart moves, drags opponents along with it, and delivers knockback at the end, but has a very small ledge sweet spot.
Overall, Wolf is a balanced character who may face problems when matched against opponents that can exploit his weaknesses, but has strengths that earn him the position of a viable tournament contender.
In competitive play
Wolf has slightly favorable matchups. He is hard countered by one character, King Dedede. Wolf is countered by two characters and soft countered by five. He has eleven even matchups, soft counters six characters, counters ten, and hard counters one, Zelda. Notably, Wolf has a surprisingly manageable matchup against Meta Knight (with the closest matchup against Meta Knight above Wolf's being Pikachu's matchup), which a lot of other mid tiers are significantly hindered by (most notably R.O.B. and Pit). He also has an even matchup with Ice Climbers, Olimar, and Marth. However, he lacks options against characters with strong chaingrabs and characters who are good at gimping. Wolf's matchup against Pikachu is particularly bad because Pikachu has a 0-to-death chain grab against Wolf: 2 forward throws, followed by a few down throws to a thunderspike. King Dedede hard counters Wolf because of his deadly set knockback down throw chaingrab on him. Wario counters him because of his superb edgeguarding and Wall of Pain ability. Overall, Wolf has fair matchups that excel for his tier.
Tier placement and history
Wolf was ranked 16th on the first tier list (September 2008), in the high tier. He then saw a large drop, falling to 20th place on the second tier list (January 2009), and again dropping to 22nd on the third (June 2009). He hovered around the 22nd spot for a few more revisions of the list. Wolf's drop was largely due to his extreme vulnerability to chaingrabs (some of which are infinites and 0-deaths), as well as having a poor recovery. Around late 2010, several Wolf players started doing very well in tournaments (Kain was noted for being of the most dominant forces in the American Midwest). Wolf's strong mobility, aerial game, and general all-around fighting abilities were recognized in the sixth tier list (July 2011), when Wolf jumped up six places to the 16th position. Wolf was also recognized to have one of the best matchups against the overly dominant Meta Knight, as well as many even or close to even matchups against the other top tier characters; Wolf generally had strong matchups outside of the characters who are able to chaingrab him effectively. Wolf is currently ranked at 14th place in the upper-mid tier, in the eighth tier list, as of April 2013.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Wolf, like Jigglypuff and Toon Link, does not play a major role, or influence the story of the Subspace Emissary, and is not even seen interacting with any other characters, but may join the player's party after Tabuu has been defeated. To encounter Wolf, the player must enter a particular Red Door in The Ruins stage, which will take them to Lylat Cruise after a brief cut-scene. In the cut-scene, Wolf is seen flying his Wolfen, jumping out, and landing on the cruise ship. Wolf strikes a pose, then rushes forward to attack. Although he is the only character present in the cut-scene, he appears to stare at his challenger. The player must then defeat him in a one-life stock battle, and if they win the match, Wolf joins the party. This will also unlock him if he has not yet been unlocked.
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