The buffer is a mechanic in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4, which allows players to successfully input actions up to 10 frames before they can actually be executed. Whenever a move is used in Brawl or Smash 4, a window of 10 frames is created at the end of every move and animation. During this time, any input will be carried out the first frame possible as soon at the move or animation is finished. This is beneficial, as it allows the player to perform a move the instant another move or animation is finished, allowing them to respond as soon as possible with greater input accuracy; a feat which would otherwise require frame precision. Buffering is highly beneficial, and sometimes required in many various combos to minimize the opportunity for the opponent to escape from hitstun. The buffering system in Ultimate was changed to work differently from this however.
There are negative effects to buffered inputs. Buffering may lead to unintentional attacks that carry out (e.g. attempting to buffer a jab nearby the ledge while shielding, which would result in using a neutral aerial off the stage). This kind of situation can be deadly to characters with laggy neutral aerials, such as Ike, whose recoveries do not provide enough vertical distance to recover after the attack ends. Frame delay coexists alongside the standard input buffer. When playing online, Wi-Fi lag due to poor connection greatly affects buffering windows. Unintentional inputs are even more prevalent as a result of these.
In Melee, it is possible to shield buffer some evasive options by holding the C-stick together with a shield input. The character will then proceed to jump (if held upwards), spot dodge (if held downwards) or roll (if held sideways) at the first instant possible. There is also a grace period of 3 frames in which one can fast fall after the peak of any jump.
In Smash 4, it is not possible to buffer the following; any ledge option using the control stick, grab aerials, airborne item catches after an air dodge, Z-dropping items after an air dodge, shield after dropping the input during the 10 frame period, and all down special moves during soft or hard landing frames. There is also a hierarchy of moves that will come out when multiple inputs are pressed at the same time; special moves have the highest priority, followed by shields, attacks, jumps, and stick inputs, in that order. This hierarchy is the reason why buffering both a control stick input and a button input at the same time is impossible and thus, a common problem when trying to buffer moves like dash attack or dash grab out of shield. For ledge options, ledge jumping has the highest priority, followed by ledge attacking and ledge rolling.
In Ultimate, the buffer system has been completely redone, and is now done by holding inputs in an window as large as the attack's length instead of pressing them in a given pre-coded window. For example, holding the foward smash input the entire time after using an recovery onstage will result in it charging when the character lands. This can also cause other negative side affects while bringing it's own advantages, such as making fullhop buffered aerials impossible due to the new mechanic added to the buffer made to have easier shorthops, but also making the online mode have more consistency in inputs.
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