A combo, short for combination, is a sequence of attacks that is guaranteed (or very likely) to occur if the first attack hits the enemy. The exact definition of a combo may change from player to player. Some definitions may include:
Combos are used to quickly rack up damage on opponents. In Super Smash Bros., long, highly-damaging true combos are commonplace, due to the hitstun being much higher than in subsequent games. The lack of DI contributes to this, resulting in attacks sending opponents in consistent directions. This is also compounded by the lack of wall- and ceiling-teching, which allows for well-known tent combos. In fact, every character in SSB64 has a confirmed zero-death combo.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, hitstun was reduced, and the introduction to DI makes combos more difficult to pull off consistently. However, with the increased game speed and new mobility options, such as wavedashing, along with the ability to fastfall during an aerial attack, combos are still very common, usually racking up around 50% damage. The decreased knockback on throws and the aforementioned physics changes make chain-grabs more common. In both of these games, L-cancelling also allows for faster attack speed, contributing to the ease of combos.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, characters can air dodge almost immediately out of hitstun, greatly reducing the frequency of combos. This is compounded by the slower falling speeds and more limited mobility, as L-cancelling and wavedashing were both removed. The airdodge's lack of landing lag also makes it hard to keep your opponents pressured in an aerial string. As such, true combos in Brawl tend to work only at very low percentages with quick moves that deal very low base knockback. The ability to negate hitstun results in gameplay having a heavy emphasis on locks, infinites, and chain-grabs.
In Super Smash Bros. 4, the ability to air dodge out of hitstun has been reduced, making true combos much more common, and the increased falling speeds also help in this regard. However, with the ability to air dodge out of a tumble, the increased base knockback on many moves, and the heavier landing lag on aerial attacks, true combos are still harder to pull off than in Melee and Smash 64, and generally revolve more around memorization and DI reads than "cookie cutter" combos compared to the aforementioned games. Characters can also no longer be locked indefinitely, and chain-grabs have been completely removed. As a result, most SSB4 characters have a simple combo that is often initiated with a throw and lasts for 2-3 hits, usually racking up 15-20% damage, with any further follow-ups requiring the player to read the opponent's defensive options. However, characters such as Greninja, Mewtwo, Sheik, and Bayonetta, as well as many others with item-based projectiles, have more diverse combo games, which often involve the use of aerial footstools and jab locks.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, every character received a 3 frame jumpsquat, which when combined with the generally faster run and air speeds makes air combos easier to perform than in Brawl and Smash 4. The ability to perform any ground attack while running (including pivots) and the much lower landing lag across the cast (rivaling L-cancelling in Melee) also make combos easier to perform when on or close to the ground. Air dodges have been significantly reworked; directional air dodges make a return from Melee and no longer cause helplessness, but air dodges, in general, have much more endlag and can no longer be performed more than once without landing or getting hit. Thus, air combos tend to involve either guessing which direction the opponent will dodge, or pressuring the opponent into air dodging early. However, grabs have received a significant endlag increase and can now clang with each other, and shield grabs are slower overall, making Smash 4-esque throw combos less prevalent across much of the cast. Jab locks no longer force a standard getup and footstools can now be teched, reducing the effectiveness of both techniques in combos.
Types of combos
Below is a list of commonly used terms referring to specific types of combos, along with examples of each