Captain Falcon (SSBB)
Captain Falcon (キャプテン・ファルコン, Captain Falcon), commonly known as Falcon or C. Falcon, appears as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He was confirmed on February 22, 2008 on the Smash. DOJO!!
Captain Falcon is ranked 34th on the tier list in the bottom tier, thus being the third lowest unlockable character and the lowest ranked sole representative, a huge drop from his 8th position in the current Melee tier list and making Brawl his only appearance in the series where he is bottom-tier rather than high-tier or high mid-tier, and by far his worst placement in the series. Captain Falcon has his trademark speed-and-power combo, in addition to great mobility, great momentum cancelling and overall survivability, an all-purpose attack in his up aerial, and one of the best jabs. However, his combo and KOing power were nerfed from Super Smash Bros. Melee, with his finishers either being weakened (such as forward smash), or significantly more difficult to land (such as his Knee Smash). In addition to this, most of Falcon's attacks have poor hitbox placement, making safe approaches and spacing difficult, especially when considering his lack of projectiles. The impact of the new Brawl physics arguably hit Captain Falcon the hardest; the ability to act out of hitstun hurt the combo abilities of Falcon more than other characters, since his higher knockback attacks no longer keep opponents in longer periods of hitstun, and a less effective dashdance and inability to moonwalk give him even fewer approaching options. He also has fairly poor out of shield options due to his short grabbing reach and possessing either slow and/or poor reaching attacks. In addition, a predictable recovery, vulnerability to chain grabbing, and the general inability to pressure opponents or escape opposing pressure are also cited as problems for Falcon's metagame. As a result, he has terrible matchups as well as terrible overall tournament results.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Captain Falcon must then be defeated on Port Town Aero Dive.
Captain Falcon is a heavy character with great momentum canceling, especially vertically due his very fast falling speed, with strong attacks, and has the second fastest running speed, second to Sonic. However, though his speed is useful, his dash has very low traction, causing him to trip more often than other characters, although he has the shortest tripping animation in the game. His attacks mostly consist of kicks and punches, including the famed Falcon Punch, which is one of the most powerful moves knockback wise in the game. However, it is a very situational move because it has a very slow start-up and high amount of ending lag. He is also capable of performing wall jumps. He has the second fastest falling speed, but his air speed is one of the best in the game.
Many of his moves have high knockback and damage, lending him considerable power, but they also have considerable startup time and small sweetspots. His standard special, the Falcon Punch, deals high damage, can KO at early percentages, and can be reversed in direction after start-up, but its extremely slow start-up makes it extremely situational in a competitive situation. Raptor Boost makes him rush forward, then do a quick fiery uppercut that launches opponents upwards opponents in the air, but the abysmal shieldstun and slow start-up makes it very easy to block or shield and if he misses it he falls with considerable ending lag. When used in the air, he will instead swing downward, meteor smashing targets. This makes it useful when recovering, since it can meteor smash edge-guarders and even edgehoggers, but the attack is slow, predictable, and leaves Captain Falcon more vulnerable than the Falcon Dive. Raptor Boost also has the ability to cut through most projectiles, but Captain Falcon lacks a projectile himself. Falcon Kick sends him rocketing forward when used on the ground, and downward and slightly forward when used in mid-air. It deals decent damage and knockback, but it has below-average start-up and the hitbox is rather small, making it only good at surprise, quickly get downward or punish laggy moves. Contrary to the name, Falcon Dive sends him upwards with a little horizontal movement, which gives him a great horizontal recovery when combining it with great air speed. If the Falcon Dive connects, it will deal damage to an opponent and Captain Falcon will jump off from them (sometimes stage spiking when used against edge-guarders, although it can be teched to prevent that) and he will be able to use Falcon Dive again. Falcon Dive can also grab edgehoggers if they are within its grab range. In terms of recovery, though, Falcon Dive is a slow move, cannot auto-sweetspot ledges if he is using it in the opposite direction of the edge and it is easy to edgeguard because it has no grab box directly above him. Although Captain Falcon has a very big ledge sweetspot range, Falcon Dive is easily edge hogged, and if he still manages to get to the stage, his recovery leaves him in a fairly high landing lag, high enough to often allow the edgehogger to get up in time to punish it. Although it is a minor problem, Captain Falcon suffers from the landing lag glitch. Captain Falcon's very fast falling speed makes recovery problems even worse.
Many of his moves also make for powerful finishers. His forward aerial (informally known by many different names, of which "Knee of Justice" is probably the most popular) is known for having extreme knockback, but it is hard to sweetspot and has fairly slow start-up (the first frames of it are not avoidable on reaction but are still predictable). His back aerial has good startup and knockback, his down aerial is a powerful meteor smash, and his forward smash deals high damage and has very high knockback scaling.
Even though most of his attacks have high power and damage output, they have considerable startup and unfavorable hitboxes (which make it difficult to land his attacks), and his small amount of disjoints is a severe issue when against characters with disjoints that outrange him, especially the faster ones. His throws chain well, but Captain Falcon himself is an easy target for chain grabbing and comboing (like Ike's jab canceling) due to his heavy weight, large size, and fast falling speed. His poor, small hitboxes in his aerials and fast falling speed additionally make it difficult for him to hit grounded characters from the air. Falcon is also very easily outcamped due to his below average attack speed, unfavorable hitboxes, and unremarkable attack range. All of this, combined with his abysmal shieldstun (one of his biggest flaws), lack of a projectile, and slow ground attack speed, results in a very poor approach, though Falcon's high mobility slightly alleviates this. Captain Falcon also has a difficult time handling small characters, as most of his attacks have no low hitboxes. Captain Falcon's low tiering despite his speed and power is derived from his inability to combo characters effectively.
In the end, Captain Falcon relies on his weight, survivability, power, decent range, and mobility to make up for his abysmal approach options, poor amount of disjointed hitboxes, and his often sluggish attacks. He can KO and rack up damage quite easily when the opportunity presents itself, though he lacks a quick ground finisher.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
Captain Falcon has been heavily nerfed from Melee to Brawl. The vast change in physics removes many of his options while also significantly inhibiting his mobility, mixup options, and ability to play offensively. Additionally, his overall frame data is worse and his KO power was considerably toned down as many of his moves have reduced KO power, while his prominent finisher Knee Smash was nerfed to be rendered situational as its sweetspot has a shorter duration, a smaller hitbox and increased hitlag making it much harder to land and even if he does land it, his opponents have ample time to DI and SDI the move. The changes to hitstun and falling speeds, as well as changes to his moves that increased their lag or altered their angle, also harm Captain Falcon's hitstun-heavy combos. On top of this, none of Captain Falcon's major issues from Melee have been addressed: despite generally better aerial mobility, his recovery has been shortened and weakened even further elsewhere as Falcon Dive is more reliant on momentum while Falcon Kick no longer restores his double jump.
Captain Falcon has received a few buffs however. His specials have seen a few improvements as Falcon Punch can now be reversed giving it some extra power, Raptor Boost is far more useful off stage no longer being an instant death sentence and Falcon Dive can grab opponents hanging onto the ledge. Despite how much Brawl's mechanics have harmed him, Falcon does benefit from a few of the changes. As well as being harder to combo, he notably benefits from the changes to aerial grab releases which gives him some followups out of a grab even if the game's new mechanics have severely harmed his grab game overall.
Overall, Captain Falcon fares significantly worse off in Brawl than Melee as the handful of buffs he received do not make up for the nerfs to his kill power combined with the game's mechanics drastically harming him overall. While he still has great mobility and has a handful of solid moves such as his jab and up aerial, he lacks any remotely oppressive options to challenge his opponents and he overall has poor defensive capabilities. As a result, his tournament representation and results are significantly worse than they were in Melee resulting in him being a contender as one of the worst in the game.
Captain Falcon has abysmal matchups in Brawl. The only character he soft counters is Ganondorf, and goes even with six characters. However, he gets hard countered by six characters, countered by 16 matchups, and soft countered by seven. While he can take advantage of Ness and Wario’s grab release into a forward air, most other characters can easily gimp his recovery (such as Meta Knight or Sheik), camp him (Snake, Olimar, and Falco), or chaingrab him to death (Ice Climbers, Pikachu and King Dedede). In conclusion, almost every character in the game beyond low tier can negate his trademark speed-and-power playstyle.
Tier placement and history
Captain Falcon was initially seen as the worst character in Brawl; right away players noticed the severe nerfs to Falcon's key traits (such as his Knee, his goto finisher in Melee, becoming extremely difficult to land), and that Falcon got adversely affected to a severe degree by the physics changes. It was additionally widely believed at the time that Falcon had "terrible priority" and would thus be unable to win any exchanges with opposing characters. As such, despite Falcon's still very fast movement speed and powerful attacks, players at the time did not believe Falcon could do anything to any competent degree in competitive matches. A year after Brawl's release, it was realised Ganondorf and Link were even worse characters than Falcon; as such, on the third tier list, Falcon rose up from last place and has never ranked there since. Players also began recognising some of the significant caveats Falcon had, such as his access to one of the best jabs, his still rather strong effectiveness at punishing, his still great mobility, and his incredible endurance potential while having a capable recovery that does not compromise it. Additionally, with Ally's tremendous success with Falcon in low tier tournaments, it was seen that Falcon had some clear advantages over his low tier brethren. With this, Falcon shot up to 32nd on the fourth tier list, and then consistently hovered around the 33rd-34th spot. However, he was still crippled by his remaining flaws; although Falcon's attacks enjoy the same amount of priority as any other characters', he still suffered from a lack of disjointed range that could not compete with other longer-ranged characters.
While Captain Falcon was no longer seen as a candidate for worst character in the game, the stigma from his previous last placings still held on, and thus he was commonly seen as a joke character on the level of Ganondorf. With this, Falcon had barely any serious players; nearly everyone who could play Falcon at a competent competitive level only used Falcon as a "low tier main" or "fun character", including his best players Ally and Stroumbert, leaving true competitive Captain Falcon mains very rare even at the local level. As such, Falcon's tournament representation was barren even by low tier standards, and only Jigglypuff saw even worse representation in Brawl tournaments, leaving Falcon's capability to perform beyond low tier play rarely seen in practice.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
In Subspace Emissary, Captain Falcon will team up with Captain Olimar and his Pikmin. When Olimar sends his Pikmin to attack a giant R.O.B., it wakes up the robot, causing it to shake off the Pikmin. Luckily, Captain Falcon drives his F-Zero machine straight towards them, jumps out in mid-motion, and Falcon Punches the ROB, thus destroying it, but upon landing, Olimar's remaining Pikmin (except for the red Pikmin beside Olimar) were killed when he slid into them. Once the two get out of the forest, they find a Primid transport platform, otherwise known as the Smash Skiff, that is holding the trophied Donkey Kong hostage. The two watch as Diddy Kong falls from Falco's Arwing, and fires peanuts at the ship. After Diddy Kong revives DK, Captain Falcon grabs Olimar, and jumps off the ledge and onto the ship. Then the four must fight off a horde of Primids. Afterwards, the ship will take them into the secret Subspace HQ, where they will meet up with Samus, Pikachu, and, eventually, a friendly R.O.B.
After fighting off a large army comprising of various Subspace troops with the others, the heroes are unable to stop the ROBs which arm the last remaining Subspace bombs. Captain Falcon seemed to be analyzing the power of the Subspace Bombs, because afterwards, he motions to everyone to leave quickly. Captain Falcon presses a few buttons on his wrist, summoning his ship, the Falcon Flyer. Everyone piles into the ship and prepares to escape the doomed base when they are attacked from behind by Meta Ridley. After defeating the monster, they escape the floating island where a massive number of Subspace Bombs destroy the island. Captain Falcon joins the other heroes and uses his ship to help in the assault on the Subspace Gunship. He also helps in The Great Maze.
Towards the end, Captain Falcon and everyone else confront Tabuu. In a single, devastating act, Tabuu turns everyone into trophies. All are brought back to life due to the Dedede Badges and the efforts of Kirby, Luigi, Ness, and Dedede. With the aid of Sonic, Tabuu becomes vulnerable, and a final battle between the characters and Tabuu begins. The player may pick Captain Falcon to fight Tabuu, if the player has collected the Captain Falcon trophy in Subspace.
The following stickers can only be used by Captain Falcon: