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, albeit via Mario's voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Dr. Mario is currently ranked 51st out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. This is a significant drop from his mid-tier placement in Super Smash Bros. Melee, where his ranking of 11th out of 26 placed him above his normal self. The implementation of multipliers to the majority of Dr. Mario's moveset and some of his attributes result in him functioning like a slower, yet stronger version of Mario. As a result, Dr. Mario's overall damage output is above average for a character of his size and weight, which makes his KOing options much stronger than his normal self's. Like Mario, his overall frame is also very fast, which makes him difficult to punish and very potent at punishing.
However, the multipliers applied to Dr. Mario's walking speed, dashing speed, air speed, and air acceleration collectively result in him being noticeably slower and less nimble than Mario. Although it is largely unrelated to his moveset's multiplier, Dr. Mario's combo game is also inferior to Mario's, owing to his down throw being much less effective at starting combos compared to his normal self's.
Due to his weaknesses outweighing his strengths, Dr. Mario's representation and results have both been very sparse throughout SSB4's lifespan. Although he is considered non-viable in competitive play, especially in comparison to Mario, Dr. Mario has nevertheless achieved minor success, thanks to 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 a Mario, Dr. Mario is a middleweight that can wall jump. Although they share an overwhelming number of animations and the exact same in-game values, Dr. Mario's height is below average because of him being very slightly shorter than his normal self, while his crouch is not as low as Mario's. Unlike in Melee, Dr. Mario now fights like a stronger, yet slower version of Mario: multipliers are applied to his walking and dashing speeds (0.83x), air speed (0.81x), and air acceleration (0.82x), while both his jump and double jump are both lower than Mario's. As a result, these modified attributes collectively render Dr. Mario's overall mobility as sub-par. Outside of these attributes, he and Mario share the same falling and fast falling speeds, traction, and gravity.
However, a multiplier is also applied to almost the entirety of Dr. Mario's moveset: aside from his up tilt, forward aerial, clean back aerial, down aerial, up special, and down special, a multiplier (1.12x) is applied to the remainder of Dr. Mario's attacks. As a result, he is noticeably more efficient at KOing in comparison to Mario, as his smash attacks, clean forward aerial, clean back aerial, and clean Super Jump Punch are all excellent KOing options. When coupled with his frame data being very slightly slower than Mario's in regard to start-up lag, Dr. Mario is also difficult to punish and very potent at punishing.
Other noticeable differences between Dr. Mario and Mario are seen in their 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 has higher positioned hitboxes and its reflection hitbox has a longer duration compared to Cape, but has much less horizontal range and, most notably, no longer stalls him in midair like it did in Melee. To alleviate the removal of Super Sheet's recovery potential, Dr. Tornado is now a more integral part of Dr. Mario's recovery, since it grants him a decent amount of horizontal distance when it is button mashed sufficiently. Dr. Tornado deals damage unlike F.L.U.D.D. and can be used for edge-guarding, although it is noticeably riskier at doing so in comparison to F.L.U.D.D. Super Jump Punch functions similarly to Luigi's version instead of Mario's version, as it consists of a clean hitbox and a late hitbox instead of multiple hitboxes, and thus possesses KO potential unlike Mario's. Unlike Mario and Luigi's versions, Dr. Mario's Super Jump Punch can be B-reversed upon start-up, which potentially allows Dr. Mario to counter shielded attacks behind himself.
In regard to playstyle, Dr. Mario's combo game is very different from Mario's, as it is more difficult to land more attacks without correct reads. Although he has a higher overall damage output, Dr. Mario's overall slower movement speed and largely higher knockback make him less capable of chaining hits together in quick succession, especially against lightweight characters. Despite this, his down tilt is a useful combo starter: although it is short-ranged, it is very effective against middleweights, heavyweights, and certain fast-fallers, with follow-ups including itself, neutral attack, up smash, forward tilt, up tilt, Super Jump Punch, or Dr. Tornado. Outside of this, his neutral attack is among the fastest in the game, while his up tilt can combo into itself reliably like Mario's, although it cannot be performed as consecutively because of its higher knockback. Lastly, the horizontal launching angle of Dr. Mario's up smash enables it to initiate grounded combos at low percentages when uncharged.
Like his normal self, Dr. Mario boasts an effective grab game, thanks to his throws' respective uses. His forward throw is useful for initiating edge-guards, while his back throw is a viable KOing option at high percentages. His up throw is able to initiate aerial pressure, while his down throw is able to combo into his up smash on the majority of the cast from 0% to very low percentages, a reverse aerial rushed back aerial from low to medium percentages, and even his forward aerial and Super Jump Punch at high percentages, although the latter two require very precise timing.
Dr. Mario's air game is also above average. His 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 follow-ups, whereas its late hitbox can be used for edge-guarding. Dr. Mario's back aerial is also fast and boasts a powerful clean hitbox, which make it viable for KOing and edge-guarding. His back aerials can also be auto-canceled with a short hop, making it useful for pressuring. Dr. Mario's forward aerial has considerable start-up lag, but it is the third strongest of its kind when landing its clean hitbox, making it lethal when it is SHFF'd while near the edge. Dr. Mario's up and down aerials, however, are different from Mario's in regard to utility. Both of them possess horizontal launching angles, which makes them capable of edge-guarding unlike his normal self's respective aerials. However, they also lack KO potential unlike Mario's respective aerials, while up aerial is also virtually useless for combos past low percentages.
Dr. Mario's flaws are significantly more noticeable when compared to Mario's. Although he boasts excellent KO power, his KO potential is inconsistent because of him having less guaranteed KO set-ups than Mario. Many characters also outperform Dr. Mario in several areas: Donkey Kong has more power, Luigi has much greater combo versatility, Villager and R.O.B. have stronger zoning abilities, and Captain Falcon has much better mobility. Out of these attributes, his most problematic ones are the latter two: his slow mobility compared to Mario gives him problems with approaching, which, when compounded by the poor range on his attacks, further prevents him from fighting at a safe distance compared to Mario.
Dr. Mario's sluggish mobility compounds another notable weakness: his recovery. Despite now being able to wall jump, the combination of Dr. Mario's slower air speed, slower air acceleration, and the mediocre distance Super Jump Punch grants results in his recovery being predictable like Mario. Unlike the former, he can extend it by making use of Dr. Tornado, which allows him to gain slightly better horizontal distance compared to him, as well as helping on fending off edge-guarders. However, his recovery gains noticeably less vertical distance compared to Mario, which leaves him vulnerable to most meteor smashes as they may launch him low enough to be KO'd. As a result, it is best for him to read the opponent when trying to return to the stage knowing when and how to make use of Dr. Tornado. Additionally, even though he 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 back to the stage.
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 compared to how Mario's benefit him. 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 an 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 functions like he was initially intended to in Melee: a slower, yet stronger version of Mario. These traits make Dr. Mario function like a slow, yet fairly powerful glass cannon, similarly to Zelda. As such, he performs optimally with a bait and punish playstyle, yet must remain on-stage more often than not because of his sub-par recovery. Although Dr. Mario's faults outweigh his strengths to the point that his tournament representation and results are both extremely sparse, he has nevertheless achieved some instances of success, thanks to 2ManyCooks, Nairo, Koolaid, and B7Games.
Changes from Melee
Dr. Mario received some of the most recognizable changes out of any veteran in the transition from Melee to SSB4, with all of his changes gearing him towards what he was intended to be in Melee: a slower, but stronger Mario. However, these changes result in Dr. Mario being nerfed significantly, as the nerfs to his speed and mobility have weakened his neutral game and approach despite having Megavitamins as a projectile. Many of his moves were also nerfed, with notable examples including his forward aerial and forward smash, which now require landing their sweetspots in order to be effective, and his Megavitamins, which now deal less damage and have noticeably higher lag.
Although Dr. Mario's punishment game is still potent, the post-Melee changes to game physics have also removed many of his set-ups into those potential sweetspots, making it much less effective as well. Furthermore, his recovery was nerfed because of Dr. Tornado's vertical coverage having decreased when used in the air (without the aid of his jump), while Super Sheet no longer stalls him in the air. As a result, Dr. Mario is forced to either mix up the usage of Dr. Tornado by using it early when recovering, or by using it with his double jump to cover more vertical distance. His new wall jump can also be used for recovery mix-ups, but this makes him predictable to edge-guard.
However, Dr. Mario has been buffed in other aspects. Like Mario, some of his moves had their ranges increased, which makes his matchups against characters with long/disjointed ranges somewhat less challenging. Dr. Mario's already high power has increased even further, thanks to the strengthening of some of his attacks' sweetspots. These changes, however, do not properly compensate for the overall decrease to his mobility. As a result, he is the only Melee veteran to have been truly nerfed in his transition, as Mewtwo has been significantly buffed via game updates, whereas Roy had already been buffed in various ways upon his return and was slightly buffed via game updates.
Grabs and throws
Dr. Mario has received a handful of buffs from game updates. Updates 1.0.4 and 1.0.6 increased his forward aerial's damage output and knockback, which allow it to KO earlier. His KO potential was further improved in update 1.1.0, which increased his up smash's duration and knockback. Unlike Mario, the changes on shieldstun in update 1.1.1 both help and hinder Dr. Mario: his above average damage output makes his most powerful moves much safer on shield in comparison to Mario's, but like Mario, the increased shieldstun makes it harder for him to punish from out of shield.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, Dr. Mario's slower mobility, lack of reliable KO set-ups, lower damage output, worsened combo game and recovery, and his inability to successfully adapt to SSB4's game physics collectively saw him widely perceived as a low-tier or even bottom-tier character. Despite his poor perception, Nairo surprisingly utilized Dr. Mario for some matches at MLG World Finals 2015 alongside Zero Suit Samus, with a notable example being 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 and vocal support of Dr. Mario because of his Super Jump Punch combos, his back aerial granting him a niche over Mario in very specific matchups, and his frame data being mostly identical to Mario's, Dr. Mario's metagame has remained stagnant. This is because of both his tournament results and representation being considered among the most sparse in the game, even more so than a few characters ranked below him. These aspects have been reflected in his tier placement, in which he was ranked 45th on the first tier list, before dropping to 48th on the second tier list.
Due to Dr. Mario's representation and results still remaining very sparse, as well as his best player, 2ManyCooks, dropping him in favor of Mario, he is now ranked 51st on the third and current tier list. However, it is unlikely that Dr. Mario will drop any further down the tier list, largely because of his strengths being greater than those of the characters ranked below him.
In Event Matches
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