Captain Falcon (SSBM)
Captain Falcon currently ranks 8th out of 26 on the Melee tier list, in the B tier. While this is considered to be a minor drop compared to his previous placement in Smash 64, where he was ranked 3rd out of 12, he still ranks rather high likewise in the Smash 64 tier list because he retains his incredible comboing abilities; he has a fast falling speed and air speed, and the single fastest dash speed of all characters, giving him one of the best SHFFLs in the game. This also makes him the highest ranked of the heavyweights. His fast falling speed and heavyweight status make him the most resistant character to vertical KOs. His speed, fast rolls, and Raptor Boost enable an excellent dodging and tech-chasing game. Falcon also has multiple quick KO moves, most notably his Knee Smash, forward smash, and down aerial, all of which can be powerful combo finishers. Against other high- and top-tier opponents, however, Falcon is susceptible to chain grabs and combos due to his high falling speed. He is also prone to edgeguarding, since he has a predictable recovery that, like in Smash 64, cannot grab ledge-hanging enemies. Falcon lacks a projectile, impairing his approach in some matchups, while most of his attacks have long startup and lack extended hitbox duration, making his approaches very committal in general. As such, Falcon is considered to have one of the most inconsistent neutral games among the higher tier characters. Regardless of his weaknesses, Captain Falcon still has an impressive number of winning matchups, including six that are near-unloseable.
Captain Falcon is arguably the fastest character in the game. He has the single fastest dash speed, the second fastest falling speed (behind Falco), and one of the fastest lateral air speeds in the game. These traits, coupled with his high traction, good jumping prowess, the ability to wall jump, and the longest dash dance (because of his many dash initiation frames) give Captain Falcon great approach options, a short but quick wavedash, and the best moonwalk in the game.
Despite lacking a projectile, Captain Falcon's attacks and speediness enable great approach options to KO and combo reliably and efficiently. Many of Falcon's attacks have fairly long startup, but they deal incredible damage and knockback, have great range, and have little ending lag. His low short-hop, very fast falling speed, and aerials that reliably chain into one another makes for an excellent SHFFL, giving him a great damage rate and a multitude of approaches and combo finishers.
His aerials are fast and powerful and allow for many approach and KO options. The second hit of his neutral aerial has sex kick properties and can be SHFFLed very easily. His forward aerial, the (Knee Smash), is arguably Captain Falcon's best move. It can chain into one another through a series of well-timed sweetspots and sourspots, dealing high damage with little startup and KOing at damage percentages as low as 60%. It can be a combo starter and finisher. His back aerial is a quick and powerful backhand punch that is useful for edgeguarding. His up aerial is a high-reaching, strong bicycle kick with very fast startup (5 frames), and can be used for edgeguarding or as an out-of-shield option. His down aerial is the fourth most powerful meteor smash in the game. It has minor startup, high hitstun, and can chain itself into another down air by SHFFLing. If the down aerial hits above Captain Falcon's waist, then it acts as the most powerful spike in the game, though landing this sweetspot requires good spacing and timing.
All of Captain Falcon's smash attacks can be powerful combo starters and finishers with high KOing potential. Captain Falcon's forward smash, despite its fairly long startup, is the third most powerful forward smash in the game in terms of damage and knockback and is an excellent combo finisher and reading tool. His down smash is his fastest, dealing great horizontal knockback, and his up smash can flexibly act as a combo starter and finisher.
A combo notoriously difficult to execute is the infamous Sacred Combo, a two-hit combo involving his Knee Smash followed by a midair Falcon Punch, before the hitstun of the previous attack wears off. If executed correctly, the opponent is likely to be KO'd. However, there are severe consequences if Falcon makes a mistake while performing this technique; it's possible for him to jump too far while performing the Falcon Punch, which will result in a self-destruct.
Despite having a poor grab range (the sixth shortest in the game), Falcon's grab game is among the most flexible and devastating in Melee; his forward and back throws can easily send opponents off the stage at higher percents and create an edgeguard situation, while his up and down throws can be used to start combos and chain grabs.
One of Captain Falcon's glaring and famous weaknesses is his mediocre-at-best recovery. He has high air speed, but the distance that he can cover is drastically shortened by his fast falling speed. He is prone to edgeguarding because his recovery move cannot grab edgehoggers. He can extend his horizontal recovery by performing an uninterrupted Falcon Kick in the air; this gives him back his midair jump, but it usually forces him to recover from the bottom blast line, as the Falcon Kick sends him very far down. Using Raptor Boost is a decent horizontal recovery option, but it grants nonexistent vertical height and cannot instantly snap to the ledge. It also halts recovery immediately if it connects with anything in midair, sending him down the bottom blast line.
Besides somewhat crippling his horizontal recovery, Captain Falcon's fast falling speed also acts as a double-edged sword; while it does grant him a very good combo game and the best vertical knockback resistance in the game due to his above average weight, he is also prone to chain grabs such as Pikachu's and Peach's up throws; combos that utilize moves with decent vertical knockback, such as up tilts and up aerials, are also easier to land on Captain Falcon due to his relatively large hurtbox.
Overall, Captain Falcon is a tank with gifted speed; he can deal a lot of damage and take as much punishment, while having one of the fastest movement speeds in the game. Players must take advantage of this speed and quickly adapt to their opponents to fully utilize his abilities.
Changes from Smash 64 to Melee
In the transition from Smash 64 to Melee, Captain Falcon gained multiple buffs and nerfs, but was slightly buffed overall, His recovery has been considerably improved due to his higher air speed, Falcon Kick giving him his double jump back and Falcon Dive covering more distance. His forward aerial is now his Knee smash which has excellent KO potential and combo ability. Captain Falcon's grounded movement is better than ever due to his faster dash speed and he has access to new movement options such as wavedashing and moonwalking. Lastly, many of his attacks have reduced ending lag and some of his attacks also have increased KO power (such as forward smash, down smash and the aforementioned Knee smash).
Falcon has also received some significant nerfs however. His up aerial is no longer an extremely powerful juggling tool (although it is still one of his best moves) and his throws are less reliable at comboing into up aerial depending on the character (although he now has the potential to chain grab or tech chase his opponents out of his down throw) while his back throw has much lower KO potential. His combo game in general is less consistent and effective with some of his other moves having reduced combo potential (such as up smash and down aerial which also have drastically increased startup lag and are less reliable as his up smash no longer consists of one hit and down aerial can now be meteor-canceled). His specials are also worse in various ways. Falcon Punch is slower giving it less combo potential, Falcon Dive is considerably weaker and Falcon Kick now decays over time making it less effective from afar.
Nevertheless, Captain Falcon is one of the stronger characters in Melee and has seen a fair amount of success in tournaments.
Grabs and Throws
Like some other characters, Captain Falcon was slightly changed in the PAL version of Melee.
For a gallery of Captain Falcon's hitboxes, see here.
Note: Captain Falcon and Pichu are the only characters in the game to have two different taunt animations.
In Competitive play
Captain Falcon has strong matchups. He is countered only by Fox and Falco, soft countered only by Sheik and Jigglypuff, has 3 even matchups, soft counters 7, counters 5, and hard counters 6. He does well against relatively floaty characters, such as Peach and Dr. Mario, as he combos these characters the easiest at mid-percents. He also has favorable matchups against slower characters, such as Yoshi and Ganondorf. His even matchups with Marth, Ice Climbers, and Pikachu are widely disputed; Marth has superior range and attack speed, while Captain Falcon has a much more solid combo game on Marth than Marth does on Captain Falcon. The Ice Climbers have intricate setups into Wobbles and even inescapable handoffs on Captain Falcon, but he can just as easily separate them with his stronger moves. Pikachu can juggle Captain Falcon for long periods of time, but is otherwise lacking the range to consistently win the neutral game.
He has some trouble against characters that can either edgeguard him efficiently or outprioritize his moves, such as Jigglypuff and Sheik. Fox and Falco in particular can do both of these as well as combo Captain Falcon consistently, as he can be juggled very easily; Falco is notable for easily disrupting Captain Falcon with effective use of his lasers, leading many to regard Falco as his worst matchup. However, it is not impossible to win against the space animals, as Captain Falcon can combo them in return if he wins the neutral game. While the ease of juggling Captain Falcon can be exploited by Pikachu and even lower tier characters such as Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and Mewtwo, they usually lack something the space animals do not, allowing Captain Falcon to gain the upper hand regardless. Overall, Captain Falcon has a good matchup spread, and can win against any character.
Tier placement and history
Captain Falcon was considered a low tier character on the first tier list; inexperienced panelists felt he was inferior to his Super Smash Bros. counterpart, and failed to overcome the high technical skill demands required to play him. Captain Falcon then moved up to the middle tier, but was not recognized as being a solid character until one year after Melee began being played competitively. Dedicated Falcon mains such as Isai showed how powerful his comboing abilities were, and how well he could KO out of a combo with the deadly Knee Smash. Falcon mains began placing very high in tournaments, inching him up the list into the high tier as old high tier characters, such as Mario and Luigi, began falling. Today, although Captain Falcon does not often win tournaments, he is one of the most common characters that place within the top rankings, resulting in him being at a solid 8th place on the current tier list, being placed below the Ice Climbers for the first time.
Captain Falcon only received two changes in the transition to PAL, the more welcome of the two being that the Gentleman can now be done with just three A button presses, without any extra inputs or timing alterations required. The other nerfed his soft Knee Smash, making it hit only half as hard as the NTSC soft Knee Smash. The Gentleman is now much easier to perform and Captain Falcon's jab combo is overall a much more viable damage racking option than it is in NTSC. The nerf to the soft Knee Smash, however, prevents a guaranteed followup into another Knee Smash, slightly weakening Falcon's edgeguarding and combo potential, though this can be worked around by using up aerial instead. With almost all of the characters who would years later be above him in the tier list receiving nerfs (particularly Fox and Sheik), he fares better in those respective matchups, but due to considerably less representation of Captain Falcon in Europe, he remains at 7th place.
Captain Falcon appears in a one-on-one, as an ally, on a team with Fox, Falco, or Samus, in a giant, multi-man, or metal battle. Captain Falcon appears in Mute City or Big Blue except in the metal battle where he appears on Battlefield.
Captain Falcon appears in the second portion of Stage 8: F-Zero Grand Prix.
Captain Falcon and his allies are fought on Mute City.
Captain Falcon is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Captain Falcon as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Captain Falcon on any difficulty:
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