Dr. Mario (SSB4)
Dr. Mario (Dr. マリオ, Dr. Mario) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced on SSB4's official website on October 9th, 2014, during which Dark Pit was also revealed. Charles Martinet reprises his role as Dr. Mario's voice actor; however, he now uses Mario's voice clips recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, some of which have been muted.
Dr. Mario is ranked 49th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the F tier. This is a significant drop from his mid-tier placement in Super Smash Bros. Melee, where he was ranked 11th out of 26, and ranked higher than his normal self. This placement also renders Dr. Mario as the lowest ranking clone and unlockable character.
The implementation of multipliers to most of Dr. Mario's moveset and some of his attributes result in him functioning like a stronger, yet slower Mario. As a result, his overall damage output and KO potential are above-average for a character of his size and weight. Similar to Mario, Dr. Mario's frame data is very fast in regard to start-up lag. In addition to granting him a decent combo game, this trait makes him both difficult to punish and very effective at punishing.
However, the multipliers applied to some of Dr. Mario's attributes collectively result in him being considerably slower and less nimble than Mario. Due to changes to game mechanics and some adjustments to his moveset, Dr. Mario's combo game is also inferior to Mario's in regard to both versatility and consistency. Furthermore, Dr. Mario's recovery is inferior to Mario's overall, and he retains Mario's weakness of having short range in his attacks.
Overall, Dr. Mario's weaknesses outweigh his strengths, which has been reflected in his tournament representation and results both being extremely sparse throughout SSB4's lifespan. Although he is considered nonviable in competitive play, especially in comparison to Mario, Dr. Mario has nevertheless achieved instances of success, thanks to smashers such as 2ManyCooks, Nairo, Koolaid and B7Games.
How to unlock
After completing one of the two methods, Dr. Mario must then be defeated on Mushroomy Kingdom.
After completing one of the two methods, Dr. Mario must then be defeated on Delfino Plaza.
As a clone of Mario, Dr. Mario is a middleweight that can wall jump. Like his normal self, Dr. Mario also has excellent frame data: when not counting special moves, the overall start-up lag of his normal moveset is the fifth fastest in the game. As a result, Dr. Mario is both difficult to punish and very effective at punishing. Although they share an overwhelming number of identical animations and even the exact same values for certain attributes (falling speed; fast falling speed; traction; and gravity), Dr. Mario nevertheless has a number of traits that differ from his normal self. Like Mario, Dr. Mario's height is below-average; oddly, however, he is marginally shorter in comparison, and does not crouch as low as his normal self.
Unlike in Melee, Dr. Mario now functions like a stronger, yet slower Mario, owing to the implementation of multipliers to the majority of his moveset and some of his attributes. Aside from six moves, the remainder of Dr. Mario's moveset deals 1.12× more damage compared to Mario's moveset. Conversely, his walking and dashing speeds are 0.832× slower; his air speed, air acceleration, and jump heights are 0.808× slower. These multipliers result in Dr. Mario being distinctly affected by passive equipment physics, in which he specifically possesses a +15 Attack value and a -50 Speed value. Although Dr. Mario's lower jump height makes his short hop more effective than Mario's, these modified attributes collectively render his overall mobility as sub-par. Conversely, Dr. Mario's higher overall damage output results in him being noticeably more efficient at KOing in comparison to Mario.
Other noticeable differences between Dr. Mario and Mario are seen in their movesets and, by extension, their playstyles. Although Dr. Mario's frame data is only very slightly.slower than Mario's, his higher overall damage output and slower overall mobility make him unable to use a healthy balance of offense and defense like his normal self. Instead, Dr. Mario is much better suited to a bait-and-punish playstyle. On a related note, Dr. Mario's combo game is less varied and consistent compared to his normal self's. Despite this, his combos deal respectable damage in spite of their fairly short lengths, similarly to Ike's.
He also shares two useful combo starters with Mario, thanks to said moves being modified since Melee. Down tilt is the most effective of the two: although it is short-ranged, it is very reliable at low to high percentages, with useful follow-ups including itself, neutral attack, up tilt, his smash attacks, back aerial, up aerial, and Super Jump Punch. Like Super Jump Punch, forward aerial can function as a KO mix-up at high percentages, but requires a hard read. Up tilt can combo into itself reliably, albeit not as consistently as Mario's version because of its higher damage output. However, its higher damage output makes it better at juggling, and even enables it to function as a situational KOing option at very high percentages.
Outside of these moves, up smash functions almost identically to Luigi's version instead of Mario's version: it launches the opponent diagonally instead of vertically, and will launch them in the opposite direction of where Dr. Mario is facing so long as they are in front of him. Compared to Luigi's, however, it launches at a lower angle. As a result, Dr. Mario's version has much greater combo potential when uncharged: it can combo into itself, up tilt and Super Jump Punch at 0%-10%, and into forward and down tilt at 10%-15%. On an unrelated note, its launching angle also makes it much better at edge-guarding or setting up edge-guards compared to Mario and Luigi's versions.
Dr. Mario possesses a decent grab game. His overall grab is range is average, but each of his grabs have minimal start-up and ending lag. Dr. Mario's pummel also has the distinction of being the most damaging in the game by default, as it is surpassed by Olimar and Shulk's pummels only if they use White Pikmin and the Buster Art, respectively. Forward throw is useful for initiating edge-guards and can even combo into dash attack at 0%-20%, whereas back throw is a viable KOing option at high percentages.
Up throw is able to initiate aerial pressure, especially on fast-fallers, but is effectively his least useful throw. Lastly, down throw is able to combo into Dr. Tornado at low percentages, and into up aerial at low to medium percentages. It can also combo into up smash; reverse aerial rushed back aerial; down aerial; and even forward aerial and Super Jump Punch as KO mix-ups at high percentages. However, up smash is only effective against the majority of the cast at 0%-10%, whereas the latter four follow-ups require hard reads.
Like his normal self, Dr. Mario's air game is above-average. Neutral aerial is a "reverse sex kick": its clean hitbox deals minimal damage, whereas its late hitbox deals more damage. Thanks to it hitting on frame 3 and having low landing lag, its clean hitbox is ideal for set-ups. Conversely, its late hitbox is decent at edgeguarding. Back aerial is also fast; auto-cancels in a short hop; and possesses a powerful clean hitbox, which collectively make it viable for KOing, edge-guarding and approaching. Forward aerial has considerable start-up lag, but its clean hitbox makes it the third strongest aerial of its kind; as such, it is lethal when SHFF'd against unwary opponents that are near the edge.
Up aerial's horizontal launching angle grants its beginning and ending frames decent combo potential into Super Jump Punch and back aerial, respectively, at low to medium percentages. This angle also makes its beginning frames capable of edge-guarding, unlike his normal self's up aerial. However, up aerial's launching angle also makes it much less effective at starting combos when SHFF'd or juggling compared to Mario's. Down aerial hits multiple times like Mario Tornado, and its final hitbox has a horizontal launching angle like up aerial. As a result, it is much more effective for edge-guarding compared to Mario Tornado, yet completely unusable for juggling. Compared to Mario's up aerial and Mario Tornado, however, Dr. Mario's up and down aerials are unable to KO outright because of their much lower knockback scaling and less damaging final hitbox, respectively.
In regard to special moves, Megavitamins travel farther in the air without landing compared to Mario's Fireball, and they bounce twice instead of three times. Super Sheet's reflection hitbox has a longer duration compared to Cape's. Due to its hitbox being positioned higher, it also has more vertical range, yet less horizontal range in comparison. Most notably, Super Sheet no longer stalls Dr. Mario in midair like it did in Melee. To alleviate the removal of Super Sheet's recovery potential, Dr. Tornado is now a much more integral part of Dr. Mario's recovery, thanks to it granting him a decent amount of horizontal distance when it is button mashed sufficiently.
Unlike F.L.U.D.D., Dr. Tornado deals damage. When coupled with its very high knockback scaling, auto-link angle and transcendent priority, it is useful for edge-guarding, warding off edge-guarders, and even out-prioritizing attacks. However, Dr. Tornado's much shorter range makes it much riskier to use for edge-guarding compared to F.L.U.D.D. Due to Super Jump Punch consisting of a powerful clean hitbox and a weak late hitbox instead of multiple hitboxes like Mario's, it actually functions like a less polarized version of Luigi's Super Jump Punch. As a result, its clean hitbox makes it a viable KOing option unlike Mario's. Although it can no longer be canceled, Super Jump Punch can now be B-reversed upon landing its clean hitbox like Mario's can upon start-up. This makes it useful for edgeguarding, and can enable Dr. Mario to avoid punishment and/or hit an opponent behind himself upon hitting his primary target.
However, Dr. Mario's flaws are significantly more noticeable in comparison to Mario's. Although he boasts excellent KO potential, it is inconsistent. This is most obvious with up smash: its launching angle makes it reliable at KOing only while near the edge, whereas Mario and, to a lesser degree, Luigi's up smashes KO reliably from anywhere on-stage because of their higher launching angles. By extension, he has minimal KO set-ups like Mario. Additionally, Dr. Mario shares Mario's notable weakness of having short range in his attacks, which hinders his ability to fight characters with long or disjointed range. Dr. Mario's sluggish mobility compounds another notable weakness: his recovery. Despite now being able to wall jump, the combination of his slow air speed; slow air acceleration; and Super Jump Punch's mediocre travel distance results in his recovery being predictable like Mario's.
Due to his overall recovery granting noticeably less vertical distance compared to Mario's, Dr. Mario is very vulnerable to most meteor smashes. As a result, it is optimal for him to read the opponent when trying to return to the stage, as well as knowing when and how to make use of Dr. Tornado. Even though Dr. Mario may not need to use his double jump to recover, any sufficiently strong attacks, particularly semi-spikes, may launch him too far away to recover properly. Lastly, Dr. Mario is an all-rounder like his normal self, and is thus outclassed in certain aspects by other characters: Donkey Kong and Captain Falcon have more power and much better overall mobility; Mario, Luigi and Bayonetta have much more versatile combo games; Marth and Cloud have much more range; and R.O.B. and Duck Hunt are much better at zoning.
Dr. Mario benefits significantly from his custom moves. Like Mario, his custom moves define the fundamentals of customization, but in Dr. Mario's case, some of them alleviate his most significant flaws. Fast Capsule deals less damage and barely causes flinching, but covers more range at a much faster pace. Conversely, Mega Capsule has less range and is much slower, but deals repeated damage and lingers after being thrown. This allows it to shut down many approaches from characters that lack projectiles, as well as provide follow-ups. Breezy Sheet provides more safety when fighting near the edge but deals slightly less damage, whereas Shocking Sheet gives Dr. Mario another KOing option that has decent speed, but merely destroys projectiles instead of reflecting them.
Ol' One-Two gives Dr. Mario a fast and extremely powerful KOing option that can KO at very low percentages, but at the cost of further hindering his already sub-par recovery. Conversely, Super Jump functions in the exact opposite way: it grants noticeably better recovery, but deals no damage. However, Soaring Tornado is arguably Dr. Mario's best custom move because of its utility. It grants noticeably better vertical recovery; has incredible edge-guarding potential thanks to its windbox and hitbox; and its hitbox is powerful enough to KO early either on-stage or off-stage. However, these benefits come at the cost of it granting no horizontal recovery. Conversely, Clothesline Tornado is effectively his worst custom move: it boasts impressive power, yet further hinders his recovery; has a shorter duration; and has slower start-up lag.
Overall, Dr. Mario's fast frame data enables him to pressure and/or punish the opponent effectively at close range, while his above-average damage output makes him capable of KOing easily. Unlike Mario, however, his slow mobility hinders his neutral game to the point that he is largely reliant on baiting and punishing. By extension, his sub-par recovery makes him a less capable edgeguarder compared to his normal self, and he retains his normal self's lack of range as well. Although Dr. Mario's tournament representation and results are both extremely sparse because of his weaknesses outweighing his strengths, he has nevertheless achieved some instances of success, thanks to 2ManyCooks, Nairo, Koolaid and B7Games.
Grabs and throws
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Melee
Dr. Mario became one of the most noticeably reworked veterans upon his transition from Melee to SSB4. Unlike in Melee, he now functions as a stronger, yet slower Mario because of multipliers being applied to the majority of his moveset and some of his attributes. However, Dr. Mario's stronger moveset does not compensate for his much slower mobility. As a result, he is among the few characters to have been heavily nerfed in the transition to SSB4.
Aside from the multipliers, changes to game mechanics have indirectly buffed and nerfed Dr. Mario. Rage makes his KOing options KO even heavyweights with relative ease. Additionally, the higher damage multiplier for fully charged smash attacks makes his fully charged forward/up smashes even more potent. Lastly, the changes to shields and shieldstun supplement Dr. Mario's smash attacks by making them much better at pressuring shields. However, the removal of chain grabbing significantly worsens his up and down throws' damage racking potentials, while the removal of wavedashing further compounds his already worsened approach.
A number of Dr. Mario's moves have received buffs and nerfs. Down tilt now functions like Mario's, and is thus a reliable combo starter at low to high percentages. Up aerial's lower launching angle makes it better for edge-guarding and partaking in combos. Down aerial and Dr. Tornado's hitbox alterations result in their hits connecting together better. Megavitamins have longer ranges, are no longer absorbable and, when used in the air, descend faster. Super Jump Punch now possesses KO potential, thanks to it functioning like a less polarized version of Luigi's Super Jump Punch. Conversely, neutral attack deals much less damage; forward aerial is only effective when sweetspotted; up aerial has significantly worsened juggling potential; down aerial and Megavitamins have lower damage outputs, more lag, shorter durations and, in the case of the latter, a smaller hitbox; and back throw's KO potential has worsened.
However, several of Dr. Mario's moves have been ambivalently buffed and nerfed. Up tilt's consistent angle makes more reliable for combo, but at the cost of its versatility. Up smash is no longer a spike, which makes its KO potential more consistent at the cost of significantly worsening its ability to start combos. Down smash's front hit is now a semi-spike, but has a much lower damage output. Neutral aerial's lower damage output makes its clean hitbox better for set-ups, yet removes its late hitbox's KO potential. Back aerial's clean hitbox now possesses KO potential, yet is no longer a semi-spike. Lastly, Super Jump Punch can now be B-reversed upon landing its clean hitbox, but at the cost of its ability to be canceled.
Despite being poor in Melee, Dr. Mario's recovery also received a mix of buffs and nerfs. His jump is higher, his air speed is faster, he can now wall jump like his normal self, and Dr. Tornado can now be moved horizontally. However, Dr. Tornado now covers much less vertical distance, while Super Sheet no longer stalls him in the air. As a result, Dr. Mario is forced to mix up the usage of Dr. Tornado by using it before his jump, before his double jump, or after his double jump.
All in all, Dr. Mario’s overhaul changed him for the worse, as he has become a significantly less effective character than he was in Melee, especially when comparing him to Mario. As such, he is widely regarded as an unviable low tier character, and is overall one of the most nerfed characters in Smash 4, alongside Wario, Marth prior to updates, Kirby, Falco, Olimar, Meta Knight prior to updates, and King Dedede.
Dr. Mario has been buffed slightly via game updates. Updates 1.0.4 and 1.0.6 improved his forward aerial's KO potential by increasing its knockback and its sweetspot's damage output, respectively. Update 1.1.0 followed a similar format in regard Dr. Mario's up smash, as it increased its duration and knockback. Unlike Mario, the changes to shields and shieldstun brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 are a mixed bag for Dr. Mario, instead of an indirect nerf. Although they hinder his out of shield options because of his low traction, his above-average damage output makes his most powerful moves noticeably safer on shield compared to Mario's.
For a gallery of Dr. Mario's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, Dr. Mario's weaknesses and inability to successfully adapt to SSB4's game physics saw him widely perceived as a low-tier or even bottom-tier character. Despite his poor perception, Nairo surprisingly used Dr. Mario for some matches at MLG World Finals 2015 alongside Zero Suit Samus. This notably resulted in a set against ESAM that concluded with Nairo winning 3-0 against him in Losers Finals after using Dr. Mario to defeat ESAM's Pikachu for the first two matches, and his Samus for their final match. Other professionals, such as 2ManyCooks, would also proceed to achieve decent results with him.
Despite these flashes of success, as well as vocal support of Dr. Mario because of his particular strengths, his metagame has remained stagnant because of his tournament results and representation being among the most sparse in the game. These aspects have been reflected in Dr. Mario's tier placement, in which he was ranked 45th on the first tier list, before dropping to 48th on the second tier list. After Dr. Mario's best player, 2ManyCooks, dropped him in favor of Mario, he dropped to 51st on the third tier list. However, the efforts of B7Games have seen Dr. Mario rise to 49th on the fourth and current tier list.
In Event Matches