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An example of a buff, involving slightly increased hitbox sizes in Captain Falcon's down air.

A buff is a term used to describe the improvement of a character (or aspect of a character), either through updating a game or by releasing a sequel. Buffs are often done as an attempt to balance the roster, by strengthening characters that are too weak; however, buffs can also be inadvertently added if a character is indirectly strengthed by an external gameplay change. Buffs contrast with "nerfs", which involve the weakening of a character or aspects of a character between sequel games and game updates.

Notable Examples[edit]

Smash 64 to Melee[edit]

  • Jigglypuff's back and forward aerials were ironically nerfed in terms of power and knockback; these nerfs, however, provided a significant buff to Jigglypuff's aerial game, due to the Wall of Pain becoming easier and safer to perform. Buffs to its attack speed and air speed provided further strength to Jigglypuff's air game; buffs to Rest's knockback and the addition of several new set-ups for the attack also gave Jigglypuff more powerful KO options compared to its Smash 64 counterpart. A mid-tier character in Smash 64, Jigglypuff is now considered among the strongest characters in Melee.
  • Luigi was buffed by the addition of wavedashing to the game, improving his previously unreliable and unsafe ground approach from his poor traction; improvements to knockback on his grounded attacks, such as his down smash, and faster aerials, such as his forward air and neutral air, also made Luigi gain a variety of new, powerful options to both start combos and continue them. Considered the worst character in Smash 64, Luigi jumped to the mid-tiers in Melee and commands a sizeable playerbase.

Melee to Brawl[edit]

  • Kirby: To ail his status as the worst character in Melee, the changes in physics reduces Kirby's vulnerability to combos, and several of his moves have higher priority, damage, and KO power. The ability to grab ledges from behind via double jumps also aids Kirby's recovery, significantly reducing the already low difficulty of him returning to the stage. His air speed is also faster.
  • Pikachu's ground approach, manuverability, and getaway options were all significantly improved by the introduction of Quick Attack cancelling. Furthermore, buffs to Pikachu's forward and down throws gave them powerful chain-grab potential, especially against fast-fallers; adding to this, Pikachu's grab range was buffed from Melee, where it had commanded among the lowest grab ranges. Initially a high-mid tier character in Melee, Pikachu is considered a high-tiered character in Brawl.
  • Mr. Game & Watch's defensive options were significantly buffed in Brawl, with a larger shield, increased falling speed relative to the cast, higher weight, and new access to momentum cancelling via Oil Panic. Initially suffering one of the worst survivabilities in Melee, Mr. Game & Watch is surprisingly difficult to KO in Brawl; coupled with improvements to his ground game, Mr. Game & Watch went from a bottom tiered character in Melee to a solid high tier character in Brawl, with early tier lists ranking him as among the best characters in the game.

Brawl to Smash 4[edit]

  • In the transition, most veterans were notably buffed to varying degrees, largely due to universal gameplay changes, such as the changes to hitstun, reworked ledge mechanics, and removal of chain-grabbing.
  • Captain Falcon was significantly buffed by the removal of hitstun cancelling, restoring his previously powerful combo ability in Melee, including set-ups into his Knee Smash. Along with this, buffs to the distance granted by his dash grab also grant Captain Falcon a variety of new combo starters; general increases to his range also made Falcon's approach safer in Smash 4 compared to Brawl. The reworked ledge mechanics also buff his recovery, which was previously considered among the worst in Brawl. Considered one of the worst characters in Brawl, Captain Falcon currently ranks 19th on the Smash 4 tier list.
  • Of all characters, Mario is generally considered to have been buffed the most. The changes to hitstun greatly benefit him, allowing for great combos that the opponent can't escape from. Although the removal of chain grabbing means he can't rack up a high amount of damage with throws anymore, it also means he won't be in danger of huge combos anymore. With these buffs, he is ranked 9th on the Smash 4 tier list.
  • Ness was buffed due to Smash 4's physics changes, which benefitted his ability to setup and finish combos, most notably through PK Fire and his down tilt. Ness's aerials also saw major improvements, as all of them are now viable finishing moves to secure KOs. However, his grab and throw game were arguably buffed more than any of his other assets, since he now has one of the fastest pummels and the strongest back throw in the game, which can KO even the super-heavyweights at as low as 104%. The removal of the extra ten frames of hitstun Ness suffered from grab-releases in Brawl also removed many grab follow-ups that could previously be performed on the character. A low-mid tiered character in Brawl, Ness is now considered a high-tiered character in Smash 4, with a 28th place finish on the tier list.
  • Sheik's KO potential was significantly buffed to the addition of Bouncing Fish, her new down special as a result of Zelda becoming a separate character. The removal of hitstun cancelling also allows Sheik to combo into this new finisher, a significant buff compared to her poor KO ability in Brawl. Sheik's combo potential was also buffed by her higher air speed, while her recovery also became safer. Initially a low-mid character in Brawl, Sheik is widely considered one of the best characters in Smash 4, ranking fourth on the tier list.
  • Sonic was significantly buffed due to his poor KOing ability and poor moveset. He was a near crippled character, arguably the weakest character in Brawl. He now has more kill moves and is a much harder character to combo. He has gone from 22nd place in the Brawl tier list to 7th in the Smash 4 list. This also makes him the third highest veteran in the game, and his tournament results are still beyond average as of today.
  • Bowser also significantly shot up the tier list, with his speed and power greatly improved from Melee to Brawl, to the point where some players, such as ZeRo, started to consider a character infamously viewed as one of the worst characters in Melee and one of the worst in Brawl a high-tiered character, as he now is much more agile and speedy, has great range, his combo game is significantly more reliable, and the implementation of rage all but amplifies his immense power. As a result, he is now a mid-high tiered character, ranking 24th out of 55 on the Smash 4 tier list, a significant improvement from his low-tier placement in Brawl.

Smash 4 game updates[edit]

  • Marth was significantly nerfed from Brawl, with less effective range (despite it being increased slightly in the transition; other characters range increases were more significant), poorer frame data, poor approaching options, and a weakened grab game, resulting in a preciptous fall from the top tier in Brawl to the bottom tier in Smash 4. Updates however, slowly begun to improve Marth's standing in the competitive community, with said updates improving his frame data, granting him more interruptibility in his attacks to make his approach safer, and improving his range further. With these improvements, Marth's previously small playerbase has grown, and his standing in the metagame is more positively considered, with Dabuz even claiming the character was now back in the top tiers; in the second tier list, Marth ranked 19th compared to his previous 41st finish, and by the third tier list, Dabuz's prophecy would come true, as Marth was finally ranked as a top tier once again, ranking in the lower end of the top tier, at 10th place. He has retained his position as a top tier character on the fourth tier list, where he is ranked at the 11th spot.
  • While Mewtwo received some buffs in Smash 4 compared to Melee, such as improved strength and consistency in its aerial and special moves and speedier movement, Mewtwo was still initially considered a low-tier character in Smash 4, due to its poor approach in comparison to Melee; furthermore, one of Mewtwo's biggest flaws in Melee, its poor combination of being light, floaty, and large, was made worse in Smash 4. Updates, however, have improved Mewtwo's standing in the metagame, with its approach becoming safer and its survivability having been improved; initially 21st in Melee and 37th in the first Smash 4 tier list, Mewtwo jumped to the tenth position in the second Smash 4 tier list. Mewtwo has maintained this spot on the fourth and most current tier list.
  • After the infamous down throw nerf of update 1.1.1, Luigi was generally thought to be a mid-tier character, ranking 29th and 26th on the second and third tier lists, respectively. However, after Elegant won his way to the grand finals at GameTyrant Expo 2017 and ended up finishing second, as well as finishing 5th at 2GG Championship and many other consistently successful results, showcasing the character's excellent punish game, he rose to 18th on the fourth and current tier list, which is about the rank that he got on the first tier list, before the down throw nerf.

Smash 4 to Ultimate[edit]

  • In transition to Ultimate, almost all veterans have been buffed significantly due to a vast majority of universal changes mostly because the game was reworked to speed up gameplay such as landing lag reduction, air dodge mechanics, and offensive plays.
  • With the exception of Ryu, all returning veterans from Smash 4 have had their dash speeds increased.
  • Pokémon Trainer as a whole received significant buffs through the tweaking and removal of detrimental character mechanics. Stamina is no longer a factor so Pokémon are no longer forced to change, or fight at reduced strength; type effectiveness has been removed so Ivysaur no longer suffers additional knockback from fire damage; Ivysaur's Vine Whip can no longer be canceled out by ledge hogging and Pokémon Change is much quicker and can be used in midair, giving it applications as both a dodge and a recovery mixup tool.
  • Roy is arguably the character that benefits the most from Ultimate’s universal changes and mechanics. The nerfing of defensive options compliment his aggressive playstyle when compared to his parent character Marth, and the universal mobility buffs, landing lag reductions, and ability to cancel a dash into any ground attack greatly improve his approach and make landing the sweetspot of his sword attacks easier.
  • Compared to other fighters, Pichu was one of the most buffed characters. Pichu’s recoil, which is one of the big problems that caused its bottom tier status in Melee, was not only decreased, but also now benefits it with thanks to rage. Not only that, but its approach options are more effective, as Pichu’s fast mobility has improved and it can now crawl. Not only do Pichu’s electric attacks do more damage and less recoil, but it is now much heavier, although it’s still the lightest character in the game. This, combined with its fast mobility helps Pichu fight better. Pichu is considered to be a top-tier, though it was recently nerfed.
  • Palutena's zoning game has been significantly buffed in Ultimate. Her up smash lasts significantly longer and her neutral special Autoreticle covers more range. Her old side special has been replaced with Explosive Flame, improving her offensive game.
  • Shulk's aerials have decreased landing lag, thus improving his frame data allowing for more guaranteed follow ups along with his buffed Monado Arts which can now be switched faster. Additionally, he can now use the advanced technique Dial Storage.

Ultimate game updates[edit]

  • Ryu was notorious for his poor performance due to the nerfs he received during his initial release. However, his Echo Fighter Ken was less prominent as he performs slightly better than him. Possibly as a result of this, update 3.1.0 addresses several buffs that grants both Ryu and Ken even more combo potential. All of their moves were made to connect into each other much more fluidly such as their held attacks and longer input window.
  • Since the early metagame of Ultimate, Diddy Kong was designated as a lower tiered character. His combo game was significantly nerfed, going from among the best to just mediocre. He retains his weaknesses in the form of his bad damage output, bad KO game, and poor recovery. Thus led to a negative reception where Diddy Kong was regarded as unviable. Luckily, Diddy Kong was heavily buffed in future patches, which made him fare better relative to the cast.
  • Little Mac was generally seen as the worst character in the game due to his combo potential being reduced, and his notoriously poor recovery, which, while improved now, it is more inconsistent due to Jolt Haymaker no longer being usable again if he was hit. Update 3.0.0 benefitted him due to the changes to projectiles, making him harder to camp and update 3.1.0 gave him big improvements: his KO Uppercut is much harder to punish with a reduction of its ending lag by 20 frames, uncharged Straight Lunge and Slip Counter also have less ending lag, the first two hits of jab are faster and can now jab cancel, down tilt has noticeably more range and forward tilt connects better on opponents in the air. Those buffs improved his representation, and since then, he is now getting some impressive results in nationals thanks to new dedicated players such as Mr. Newport.
  • Kirby's range and KO potential were improved (forward tilt and dash attack receiving KO power), but despite that, he was still known among the worst, if not the worst character in the game due to his poor approach, vulnerability to camping and slow aerials. Due to this, game updates significantly buffed him. Patch 2.0.0 improved dash attack and forward tilt, while patch 3.0.0 reduced the ending lag on neutral aerial and made up smash more consistent. Patch 6.0.0 gave him the biggest buffs: both neutral and up aerials become active 2 frames faster and their knockback was increased to the point they both have KO potential, giving Kirby two new finishers and benefitting his combo game. His Inhale also was improved: it is now faster, is much harder to make him lose his Copy ability if he gets hit and the period of time in which he can't lose it was increased fourtold, going from 5 seconds to 20 seconds.