Captain Falcon (SSBM)
Captain Falcon currently ranks 8th out of 26 on the Melee tier list, in the B tier. This is considered to be a minor drop compared to his previous placement in Smash 64, where he was ranked 3rd out of 12. One of Captain Falcon's primary strengths is his incredibly strong KO power. His knee smash is known as one of the best aerial attacks in all of Melee, due to its extremely high horizontal knockback. Captain Falcon has multiple setups and kill confirms that can all lead to a knee, which makes him the only top tier capable of reliably KOing all characters at or below 100 percent from center stage. He also has strong mobility, with the fastest dashing speed in the game, and a fast falling speed and air speed, giving him one of the best dashdances and SHFFLs in the game. His fast falling speed and heavyweight status give him great survivability, and he is especially difficult to KO vertically. Falcon possesses a strong combo game and tech-chasing abilities, with his up throw, down throw, neutral aerial, up aerial, down aerial, and Raptor Boost all acting as great combo starters, which can chain into each other or end in a knee.
Captain Falcon's primary weakness, however, is his slow and predictable recovery. His main recovery move, Falcon Dive, travels very slowly while providing almost no protection (only possessing a small grab hitbox in front of him), while also having high landing lag after touching the stage. This makes his recovery extremely easy to edgeguard or edgehog, and if Falcon chooses to land on the stage, he can be freely punished upon landing, resulting in him repeatedly being knocked off the stage. As such, getting sent far off the level almost always results in a stock loss against skilled players. Falcon also has limited reach, as he lacks a projectile, has a short grab range and very few disjointed hitboxes. His tilt and smash attacks, in general, are slow and unsafe on block, making him reliant on SHFFL'ed aerials to initiate openings. This makes Falcon's approach options rather predictable, and combined with his lack of reach, limits his effectiveness in the neutral game, especially against characters like Fox, who can overwhelm him with fast attacks. Falcon is also susceptible to chain grabs and combos due to his heavy weight and high falling speed, most notably against Falco, his most difficult matchup, who can combo him extensively with shine and down aerial. Overall, Captain Falcon has strong matchups against most of the cast, but struggles against many characters higher on the tier list.
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 Super Smash Bros.
In the transition from Smash 64 to Melee, Captain Falcon gained a mix of buffs and nerfs. His recovery has seen multiple improvements due to his higher air speed, Falcon Kick giving him his double jump back and Falcon Dive covering more distance. He also benefits from the fact that jumps carry over momentum from a dash moreso than any other character greatly improving his aerial approach. His forward aerial is now his Knee smash which has excellent KO potential and combo ability which along with the previous change, now gives him an extremely powerful and deadly approach option and combo ender. Captain Falcon's horizontal movement is better than ever due to multiple universal changes giving him access to new movement options such as more flexible dash-dancing, wavedashing and moonwalking. Captain Falcon has also gained strong tech-chasing potential due to both the universally increased falling speeds and his new up throw, down throw and his new side special Raptor Boost which also acts as a solid combo starter. 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. While he has more movement options and better aerial mobility, his dash speed (while still the fastest) has been decreased especially relative to the cast. His up aerial is no longer an extremely powerful juggling tool due to its clean hit now launching opponents horizontally (although it is still one of his best moves) and its late hit has drastically reduced power no longer being a strong KO move. His throws are also less reliable at comboing (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 due to both the introduction of DI and the fact that 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-cancelled. A decent amount of Captain Falcon's moves have increased startup lag (such as his smash attacks and aerials) and while some of his attacks have increased KO potential, others have reduced KO power (such as his afforementioned back throw and his aerials besides his forward and down aerials). Captain Falcon also suffers from the changes to shields as while he is less vulnerable to shield pressure, his moveset is less safe on shield with multiple moves (such as his up tilt, landing aerials and Falcon Punch which previous gave him frame advantage against shield) now becoming punishable and his own out of shield options are worse due to his slower and altered aerials making his out of shield game a bigger weakness than it was before. Lastly, his specials are worse in various ways. Falcon Punch is weaker and slower giving it less combo potential, Falcon Dive is considerably weaker and has seen other non-beneficial changes and Falcon Kick now decays over time making it less effective from afar.
Overall, Captain Falcon has a less consistent combo and punish game along with having many moves with increased startup lag and reduced KO power. Despite this, the few reliable KO moves he has are extremely effective and he still possesses a solid combo and punish game. Additionally, most of his moves which were nerfed in some ways were buffed in other ways and he has benefitted from numerous changes to Melee's mechanics which have made his excellent movement speed an even bigger advantage/threat. Nevertheless, Captain Falcon remains one of the stronger characters in the game and has still 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.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the 2019 MPGR, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Melee"From January 13th, 2020 to January 24th, 2020."
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. Despite being ranked as a top tier character, Captain Falcon has always been seen as less viable compared to the other top tiers, as no player has been able to consistenly win majors with the character. In addition, his tournament representation took a hit in 2014 when Hax, the best Captain Falcon player in the world at the time, switched to playing Fox, believing that the latter character was more competitively viable and would help him reach the highest level of play. As a result, Captain Falcon fell to 8th on the 2015 tier list, ranked below the Ice Climbers, considered to be merely a high tier.
However, since 2015, perceptions of Captain Falcon's viability have improved. Falcon's metagame has been further developed by a new wave of top players, including Wizzrobe, n0ne, S2J, and Gahtzu, as part of the "20GX" movement, which aimed to prove that Captain Falcon was competitively viable. Areas of play including edgeguarding, punishing, and reaction tech-chasing were further refined and optimized, and multiple Captain Falcon players have consistently been able to achieve top eight placings at major tournaments. Wizzrobe in particular became the first player to win a major with Captain Falcon at Smash 'N' Splash 5, defeating Hungrybox, the number one player in the world, and accomplishing what players like Hax had once called practically impossible.
Despite Captain Falcon's recent successes, his difficult matchups against the space animals (particularly Falco) has left him short of being able to consistently win majors. It is acknowledged that Wizzrobe's run at Smash 'N' Splash 5 was aided by avoiding Mango, who he has never taken a set off of in tournament. However, his viability is seen as far more improved than in years past. The 2015 tier list is now considered outdated, and Captain Falcon is always ranked no lower than 7th. A 2019 community voted tier list ranked Captain Falcon at 6th above Peach, largely due to his more favorable matchup spread against most of the other top tiers.
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: