Yoshi (ヨッシー, Yoshi) is a starter character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He was announced as a playable character at the E3 2001. He possesses a more realistic dinosaur crouching posture and mottled skin in Melee.
He is currently ranked 12th on the current tier list, in the D tier. Yoshi has outstanding combo ability with his double jump cancelling (especially against fast-fallers like Fox), a great aerial game (coupled with the third most powerful meteor smash in the game), and some decent approach options. He can also play mindgames and extend combos with his unpredictable Egg Throw, and has a very reliable finisher in his down smash, which has almost no start-up lag, outstanding reach and knockback, and a very favorable launch angle that is hard to DI against or recover from. However, Yoshi has a number of significant flaws. One is his lack of a "true" third jump, which creates a reliance on his large double jump; although it gives Yoshi super armor, he has almost no chance of recovering if he is hit out of it. His high falling speed also makes him a target for combos. Additionally, his shield acts as a double-edged sword; while it protects Yoshi from shield stabs, it cannot be jumped out of, limiting Yoshi's defensive options.
Yoshi has long been considered to have some of the worst matchups all around, with five matchups considered nearly unwinnable, and only one being considered favorable against Kirby; he also has the dubious distinction of being one of only three characters that have an even matchup against Pichu. However, due to large innovations in Yoshi's metagame by aMSa, as well as strong tournament placements by him, Yoshi's matchups have been debated in the Melee community, and his placement has greatly improved in the most recent tier lists. When aMSa's results are not counted, however, Yoshi has had one of the worst representations in top-level play.
Yoshi does not fall into an specific character archetype, due to a large amount of strongly varying characteristics. Yoshi has among the highest jumping prowess in the game, as well as a very high air speed, fast falling speed, low traction, and fast dashing speed. As a result of these properties, Yoshi has a rather long wavedash. He is also a heavyweight, giving him great survivabilty all around, and when combined with his super armor on his double jump, it's somewhat common for Yoshi to survive at over 200% damage.
Among Yoshi's greater strengths is his air game. His high air speed and a highly maneuverable midair jump, as well as fast, low-lag, sometimes multi-hitting aerials, aid his comboing game; the addition of a meteor smash via his forward air also gives him a viable combo finisher. Adding to this, Yoshi's small short hop, above average falling speed and low-lag aerials make his SHFFL useful for approaching. Additionally, Yoshi's aerial attacks can be of significant power; his neutral and up aerial have KO potential, as does his forward aerial due to its meteor smash potential. Yoshi's down aerial is also one of the most damaging attacks in all the game; if all hits connect, it can deal 53% (38% in PAL) on the outset, aided by a variety of weak meteor smash hitboxes. Adding to this rather strong aerial game, Yoshi can also double jump cancel, leading to a variety of interesting possibilities and mind games in his combos.
Yoshi's ground approach is also good, due to a variety of ground-based tactics. In addition to a down tilt with semi-spike and fixed knockback properties, Yoshi has among the most flexible projectiles in all the game; Egg Throw is a powerful spacing tool as the eggs can be aimed in nearly limitless trajectories, allowing them to aid in camping on the ledge, playing mindgames against opponents, disrupting enemy recoveries, and extending combos. Yoshi's grab game is also good; in addition to a ranged grab, Yoshi's up and down throws can lead to a variety of combos, and his forward and back throws can force edgeguarding situations.
One of Yoshi's biggest flaws, however, is his lack of a true third jump, which makes his recovery game rather polarizing. His midair jump does certainly have its advantages; it is the longest-traveling jump in the game, goes a considerable distance due to his good air speed, and comes with armor frames, which makes edgeguarding Yoshi a surprisingly difficult ordeal unless the edgeguarder has extremely powerful attacks or Yoshi is at a very high percentage. However, if Yoshi does end up interrupted during his recovery, he will often be knocked back far enough to where he cannot recover with a directional air dodge, sending him to his doom. A lack of damaging hitboxes in his limited recovery options makes Yoshi easy to edgehog, and gives Yoshi almost no mix-up choices in his recovery. However, he can protect himself to some degree by using a well-timed forward aerial during the jump, threatening incoming foes with a quick meteor smash down into the abyss should they improperly space their attacks.
Yoshi's shield game is also a double-edged sword. Yoshi's shield is unique in that it completely protects his body, leading to an impossibility of shield stabbing, and it also has the unusual property of randomly perfectly shielding attacks, including grabs. Additionally, when Yoshi is light shielding and is hit by an enemy, he will slide an abnormally far distance away, especially if the attack has a great deal of knockback; this property of Yoshi's shield allows him to keep himself safe. However, such a shield also takes away options from Yoshi that all other characters in the game have. While his spot dodge and rolls are decent, he is notably unable to jump out of his shield. This leads to a lack of options, especially in the punish game, when put onto the defense. Yoshi's grab is slow, short, and easily telegraphed, making it difficult to punish an attack on his shield with a shield grab, and he is unable to wavedash or do a short hopped aerial out of shield to capitalize on an enemy's mistakes. Additionally, while Yoshi's light shield is able to keep him safe, it may also move him into less desirable positions on the stage, especially if the enemy is looking for stage control. It is difficult for Yoshi to regain momentum near the edge after an enemy in the middle hits his light shield away.
Changes from Smash 64 to Melee
Yoshi received a mix of buffs and nerfs. While Yoshi's comboing ability has been further improved due to the much faster falling speeds, as well as retaining the ability to double jump cancel, his out of shield game has been nerfed due to the fact he can no longer jump out of his shield. Despite this, he is still seen as a viable character.
Like other characters, Yoshi received some changes in the PAL version of Melee.
For a gallery of Yoshi's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
According to the most recent character matchup chart, Yoshi has terrible matchups all around. He was thought to only have an advantageous matchup against one character, Kirby, while he was hard countered by five characters (three of which are in the top tier), countered by ten characters, and soft countered by three characters. He was thought to have even matchups with only six characters, most of whom were in the low tier. Yoshi's strengths were not as prevalent at the time due to his stagnant metagame, causing professionals to weigh his poor range and recovery heavily against him. Characters who could exploit these weaknesses, such as Fox, Falco, Sheik, and Samus, were thought to have clearly winning chances against him.
With new innovations in Yoshi's metagame, however, many of these matchups have since been considered outright inaccurate. Developments in Yoshi's punish game have showed that he has the ability to consistently combo and edgeguard his then-perceived counters, and that his defensive game is not as bad as once thought, primarily due to the greater use of Yoshi's unique light shield and the prevalence of shield dropping. As a result of this, many of his matchups, especially against Marth and Ice Climbers, are greatly debated, even by top professionals of said characters. This forces even characters ranked higher than Yoshi to respect and play precisely against him to maintain their advantages they have against Yoshi in the neutral game. Owing to all of these factors, Yoshi's matchup spread is expected to improve significantly in the next iteration.
Tier placement and history
Yoshi has almost always been viewed as a nearly nonviable character for high-level play. He was often accused of having a terrible shield game, slow attacks, and an inflexible recovery, all of which many top and high-tiered characters could easily exploit. Yoshi's advantageous properties, such as his deadly double jump cancel combos, ability to parry, and flexible projectile, were not fully developed and written off as gimmicks. Initially starting as a mid-tiered character in the first tier list, Yoshi's standing consistently fell, with only Fumi and Bringer of Death making any significant impacts with him. By the ninth tier list, Yoshi had dropped to 22nd place on the tier list, firmly within the bottom tiers; by this point, Fumi and other Yoshi professionals had begun to retire from Melee, leaving Yoshi's metagame relatively abandoned in the competitive scene.
Several years later, Leffen and V3ctorman both began to use Yoshi in tournaments, revitalizing and innovating Yoshi's previously stagnant metagame. They found that Yoshi's combo and punish game could easily capitalize against characters who were once thought to outperform him in every situation, especially against fastfallers, who were found to be vulnerable to Yoshi's deadly double jump cancelling combos. They also showed the many uses of Egg Throw, developing it as a zoning and edgeguarding tool. Despite these developments, Yoshi failed to rise out of the bottom tiers, and eventually, their standings with Yoshi started to falter as well. Leffen lost the drive to develop Yoshi and switched to Fox, while V3ctorman suffered from declining tournament placings as more people in his region learned the Yoshi matchup.
In late 2012 to early 2013, however, aMSa made his professional debut in Japan, taking top 8 in a Japanese tournament with only Yoshi, with his performance quickly piquing the interest of the American and European scenes. He later finished 25th place in EVO 2013, sweeping his pools and taking a game off of Mew2King, a placement that convinced the Melee Back Room to move Yoshi up 3 places on the tier list following said tournament. aMSa later reappeared with Yoshi in several future tournaments, including Apex 2014 and Republic of Fighters 3, and, to the surprise of many, placed 5th at Apex 2015, defeating several renowned players of top-tiered characters, namely Lucky, Silent Wolf, Fly Amanita, and SFAT. aMSa's use of Yoshi was considered completely unique from those of Fumi, Leffen, and other previous Yoshi mains; he showed the use of parrying and spacing that was previously never seen before and demonstrated that Yoshi's ability to punish errors made by opponents was far greater than expected. While the Melee community has not yet updated the matchup chart in response to these developments, Yoshi has risen 6 places in the twelfth American tier list and 8 places in the third PAL Tier List, making him a mid-tier character.
In Classic Mode, Yoshi can appear as an ordinary, giant, metal opponent, or teamed up with Ness or Luigi as well as an ally in team and giant fights. In his appearances in one-on-one fights, he either appears in Yoshi's Island or Yoshi's Story.
Yoshi's appearance in the Adventure Mode occurs halfway through the first stage of the Mushroom Kingdom stage. Once the player reaches an elevated platform, a team of 10 Yoshis will appear, who must all be defeated to continue.
Yoshi and his allies are fought on Yoshi's Story.
Yoshi is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Yoshi as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Yoshi on any difficulty: