Drop canceling, also known as platform canceling is a technique introduced in Super Smash Bros.. It allows one to land back onto a platform immediately after platform dropping and hitting something with an aerial attack, cutting aerial time to minimum.
In 64 and Melee, while characters are in the air, their floor collision points move according to their animation, and are usually a short distance above the character's position. Since the floor collision point is level with the characters position while a character is standing on a floor, and usually above the characters position while in the air, characters would simply land back onto a platform immediately after trying to drop down if there wasn't a mechanism to prevent that. For that reason, the floor collision point is locked to same relative height as before the drop for a brief period when dropping from a platform, instead of letting it shift above the platform according to the animation. However, the lock period also wears down during hitlag while a character is frozen still. That can make the character maintain enough height such that its floor collision point still rises above the platform after the lock period ends, and result in the character landing onto the platform.
Drop canceling is usually done by following a platform drop as soon as possible with a quick aerial that hits something. Alternatively, getting hit by a cape or even a phantom hit immediately after a platform drop can result in a drop cancel. There are many deciding factors to whether an attack can be drop canceled on hit. Characters with low gravity are more likely to have aerials that can be drop cancelled, and can have larger windows for performing the aerial. Attacks have to hit quite quickly for drop cancel to be possible. Aerial attacks that shift the character's body upwards (like Falco's back aerial or Captain Falcon's up aerial) are more likely able to be drop cancelled than aerials with unsuitable low reaching animations.
After Melee, Drop Cancelling changed slightly. Although traditional drop canceling does not return in later games, certain stall-then-fall aerials and even special moves can emulate the effect, albeit with varying utility and effects. For starters, the startup lag isn't always shifted to one frame before. Overall, while it becomes slightly easier, the payoff is nerfed a smidgen. However, characters like Pac-Man profit heavily off of this due to the combos it can enable, and some characters, like Corrin, utilize it when ledgetrapping.
With the introduction of Command Input Special Moves in Smash 4, drop cancelling was factored in through adding 5 extra platform drop frames to Ryu for the purpose of making them easier to use on platforms. These extra frames could only be cancelled through his command specials, making Ryu use his grounded versions. This is because without these frames, Ryu often ends up falling through platforms while attempting to use his command specials, thus using his aerial versions instead. This mechanic returned in Ultimate alongside the addition of Ken and Terry; Ryu and Ken received the extra 5 frames, while Terry received 9, likely to account for Power Geyser's noticeably longer input requirement. Kazuya does not have a frame penalty like the others, likely because his command specials are incompatible with drop cancelling.
How to perform
- Drop through a platform that the character is standing on. Both regular platform drop and shield drop work equally.
- Start a suitable aerial as soon as possible. In Melee, the aerial has to be initiated frame perfectly.
- (Mostly in 64 and Melee) Hit something with the aerial. Any target suffices, including character, shield, Fly Guy, or even a projectile hitbox the aerial clangs with.
- If done correctly, the character will quickly land back on the platform it dropped from before.
In Brawl onwards, drop cancelling is made easier in that hitting characters is largely unnecessary to successfully perform it.
When used with aerial attacks that have little lag, a drop cancelled aerial attack can lead to lethal combos due to the incredibly small amount of lag. Normally quickly performed aerials have long airtime, since they're done when the character is rising up. Drop cancel completely cuts that lag. In Melee, regular platform drop includes 4 starting frames of crouching before the character becomes aerial and aerial attack can be done. Thus the startup of a drop cancel aerial via regular drop is similar to jump aerial, or even longer with characters that have shortest jump squat, such as Fox. With shield drop, s character becomes aerial immediately and can therefore attack on 2nd aerial frame. Thus drop cancels out of shield drop can be done even faster than jump aerials. However point blank shield drops usually require a setup that loses that speed advantage. It is also possible to do this in Smash 64; however, it is only possible on rising platforms/diagonal platforms.
Applicable attacks in Melee
Unless noted, attacks have a one frame window. These apply to stationary platforms; for downward moving platforms, the window sizes may vary, and more attacks may be possible.
|Link||Neutral aerial, Up aerial||Neutral aerial has a two frame window, up aerial does not.|
|Luigi||Neutral aerial, Back aerial||Neutral aerial has a two frame window, back aerial does not.|
|Young Link||Neutral aerial||Yes|
Pseudo Platform Cancel
When sliding off a platform you start falling with lower velocity than when dropping through a platform. This allows you to cancel many more aerials than a regular platform cancel because you effectively have more airtime. In this example, Captain Falcon uses an aerial which cannot normally be platform canceled; by being hit during shield and shield DIing towards the edge, Captain Falcon is pushed off the platform, then the knockback pushes him back onto the platform. This technique still requires hitlag though, as hitlag allows the ECB to update and thus become above the platform. Some characters can't utilise this — such as Samus — due to having too low a fall speed.
Similar to drop canceling is the aerial interrupt: a technique in Melee that causes a character to land on a platform earlier by doing an aerial attack at a certain frame. The reason it works is that the character's environment collision box (ECB) is shifted downwards due to the attack's animation, making it connect with a platform and triggering the landing animation. It can be used to preserve enough ledge intangibility so that a grounded attack can be carried out whilst being still intangible. Its use can replace the need to air-dodging onto a platform since the aerial interrupt is the fastest possible way to get onto a platform from under it.
Applicable attacks in Brawl
Due to Brawl's changes to platforms and gravity, drop cancel-applicable moves are scarce. However, options exist that are arguably useful for some characters, particularly Snake's back aerial. On platforms which can be platform canceled onto, more moves can be drop canceled.
|All characters||Item toss||Only works on platform cancelable platforms. Can only throw the item down (or sideways if the character possesses an item based down special such as Vegetable).|
|Bowser||Bowser Bomb||Tight frame window, has landing hitbox come out immediately on the platform with decent KO potential. High startup makes it difficult to justify.|
|Captain Falcon||Falcon Kick||If timed perfectly, the aerial hitbox will come out. If timed late, only the landing hitbox will come out, which is unsafe on hit at lower percents and it only works on grounded opponents. If timed very late, Captain Falcon will instead go through the platform.
When used on a platform cancellable platform, Captain Falcon will land immediately, making the move come out almost instantly.
|Falco||Reflector||Only works on platform cancelable platforms. It creates two graphic effects and sound effects when performed.|
|Fox||Reflector||Only works on platform cancelable platforms. It creates two graphic effects when performed.|
|Ganondorf||Wizard's Foot||Unlike Captain Falcon, instead of landing on the platform when timed early, Ganondorf will still travel through it.
When used on a platform cancellable platform, Ganondorf will land immediately, making the landing hit come out almost instantly.
|Ice Climbers||Ice Shot||Snaps to the aerial version, but floats higher than usual.|
|Ivysaur||Vine Whip||Hops higher than usual, even when used during the period in which Ivysaur is considered grounded.|
|Meta Knight||Drill Rush||Fairly liberal window, allowing for movement across platforms on stages like Battlefield.|
|Mr. Game & Watch||Down aerial||The normal hitbox will come out and then the landing hit.
When performed on the second frame of Mr. Game & Watch's drop on a platform cancellable platform, Mr. Game & Watch will immediately land and auto-cancel the move. If performed earlier or later, it will function like it does on normal platforms.
|Peach||Float||When used on a platform cancellable platform, Peach will immediately land and auto-cancel the move.|
|Peach Bomber||Snaps to grounded range.|
|Pikachu||Down aerial||Only works on platform cancelable platforms. Pikachu immediately lands with the move and the landing hitbox comes out, being Pikachu's fastest option out of a platform drop.|
|Sheik||Down aerial||The normal hitbox will come out and then the landing hit. However, it has little follow-up potential.|
|Snake||Back aerial||Strong KO option.|
|Missile||Snaps to grounded state almost immediately, no utility.|
|Sonic||Down aerial||Frame perfect. The normal hitbox will come out but it has limited range. If done any later, the move goes through the platform instead.
When used on a platform cancellable platform, Sonic will immediately land and auto-cancel the move while still vocalising, which can throw off the opponent.
|Toon Link||Down aerial||Can lead into 50/50 situations. The windbox also comes out.|
|Wolf||Reflector||Only works on platform cancelable platforms. It creates two graphic effects when performed.|
|Yoshi||Egg Roll||No competitive use.|
|Egg Throw||Even if done during the period Yoshi is in a grounded state, he will rise as if it were aerial, and higher than usual.|
|Yoshi Bomb||Immediately performs an aerial variation, even if performed during the drop's grounded state. If done properly, Yoshi will land on the platform and hit opponents with the stars. Does not work on platform cancelable platforms.|
|Zero Suit Samus||Down aerial||Frame perfect. The normal hitbox will come out and then the landing hit.
When used on a platform cancellable platform, Zero Suit Samus will immediately land and auto-cancel the move.
Applicable attacks in Smash 4
|Pac-Man||Up aerial||Gets a lot of mileage, being able to combo into his Bonus Fruits with the correct inputs.|
Applicable attacks in Ultimate
Largely the same as in Brawl and Smash 4 in execution.
|Bowser||Down aerial||The meteor smash hitbox comes out, and combos into the landing hit at lower percentages.|
|Bowser Bomb||Tight frame window, will trigger the spike hitbox, followed by the landing hitbox immediately on the platform. High startup makes it difficult to justify.|
|Ice Climbers||Down aerial||Can potentially mean a desync, otherwise, if only Popo is present, can go into Popo's forward tilt.|
|Sheik||Down aerial||Very much like in Brawl. Similar to Bowser's, the meteor smash hitbox comes out and goes into the landing hit. However, there are no potential combos out of this, making its utility questionable. Needle Storm can be used out of this in niche circumstances.|
|Mr. Game & Watch||Down aerial||Only the landing hitbox comes out, making it relatively useless in a competitive field.|
|Zero Suit Samus||Down aerial||Frame perfect, only the landing hitbox comes out.|
|Sonic||Down aerial||No hitbox comes out, making it useless.|
|R.O.B.||Down aerial||If timed too early, the hitbox won't come out in a similar way to Sonic's. However, if timed correctly, this can hit through platforms.|
|Toon Link||Down aerial||Can lead into 50/50 situations, and the windbox comes out allowing for situational gimping at the ledge. Can go into Spin Attack at low percentages with 12 hits, and lead into a jab lock situation at around 10%.|
|Greninja||Down aerial||Has many issues hitting opponents, requiring Greninja to be inside the opponent's hurtbox a lot of the time. If timed too late, the hitbox doesn't come out.|
|Pac-Man||Up aerial||Pac-Man gets a lot of mileage off of this, allowing him to perform numerous combos due to how quick his up aerial is. Currently the only drop cancel which functions similarly to Melee.|
|Ryu||Hadoken||Done naturally to make it easier to input.|
|Shakunetsu Hadoken||Requires a 4122 → 36B input.|
|Tatsumaki Senpukyaku||Snaps to the grounded version, works as one would expect.|
|Shoryuken||Snaps to the grounded version.|
|Ken||Hadoken||Exactly the same as Ryu's in context.|
|Tatsumaki Senpukyaku||The same as Ryu's in context, only the window is significantly smaller. Tends to transition to the aerial version.|
|Shoryuken||Similar to Ryu's, but fallouts happen quite often.|
|Nata Otoshi Geri||Difficult to perform with little utility.|
|Oosoto Mawashi Geri||Can be drop cancelled using a 4122 → 36B input, little utility.|
|Corrin||Dragon Lunge||Hitbox can come out on frames 3 to 4, which helps with landing the tipper hitbox near the edge of platforms, such as on Battlefield.|
|Down aerial||Multihits and the landing hitbox come out, although the utility is questionable.|
|Bayonetta||Down aerial||2 frame window. The landing hitbox comes out if done correctly which can allow for a surprise kill option. Otherwise, can be held for the Bullet Arts to activate.|
|Ridley||Down aerial||Due to how strong it is, this can be considered a niche KO option, but the sluggish nature and small hitbox makes it questionable.|
|Simon||Down aerial||No hitbox comes out, making it useless.|
|Richter||Down aerial||Exactly the same as Simon's, with the hitbox not coming out.|
|King K. Rool||Up aerial||Improves the 50/50 situation it provides in tandem with up tilt when landing on a platform, but the hitbox makes it a niche if not unviable option.|
|Banjo and Kazooie||Down aerial||Not a very viable drop cancel, but does provide some niche uses if the opponent doesn't tech. Only time it would be somewhat useful is on a platform like Smashville. A demonstration of it being used to set up a jab lock can be found here.|
|Terry||Burning Knuckle||Very viable, and can be used to keep the usual arc rather than using Tiger Knee. Mainly designed for allowing grounded command specials to be used without falling through platforms.|
|Crack Shoot||Mainly designed for allowing grounded command specials to be used without falling through platforms. Since Crack Shoot isn't restricted to platforms, it's much more viable with drop cancelling compared to Burning Knuckle, which leaves Terry extremely vulnerable if it fails to connect.|
|Power Dunk||Full move comes out with little difference to the grounded version. On Battlefield, it will travel to the top platform if used from the left or right ones as usual. Command inputs can be used to initiate the tech, but it is fairly difficult.|
|Buster Wolf||Same as Burning Knuckle, only it can't travel off of platforms at all, making its utility questionable at best.|
|Power Geyser||Very tight, but made easier by Terry's unique 11 frame platform drop animation. Can be used to reposition Power Geyser's hitbox below the platform if done late.|
|Min Min||Punch (Side special input)||Min Min "hops" up, making this an intentional drop cancel. Does not occur with any other input.|
|ARM Hook||Even on the first platform drop frame, Min Min will use ARM Hook despite being in a grounded state. Min Min will "hop up" while using ARM Hook if done successfully, similar to Punch.|
|Down aerial||If done frame perfectly, it goes directly through the platform. Only the landing hitbox comes out.|
|Steve||Minecart||Acts as if Steve was grounded.|
|TNT||TNT is placed with a pressure plate right next to it.|
|Down aerial||Anvil is placed directly under Steve on the platform.|
|Sephiroth||Scintilla||Frame perfect. Acts as if it were grounded.|
|Down aerial||Landing hitbox comes out, goes through the platform. Can be used to alleviate platform pressure.|
|Pyra||Swap||Can be done from frames 1-3, the 3rd frame of which has Pyra go halfway through a platform and still appear on it as Mythra.|
|Mythra||Swap||Can be done from frames 1-3, the 3rd frame of which has Mythra go halfway through the platform and still appear on it as Pyra.|
|Kazuya||Down aerial||If done late enough, a grounded meteor smash comes out and nothing else, allowing a potential combo; it's very slow, however. Otherwise, the stronger hit comes out.|
- https://twitter.com/WoahAnton/status/1248409463146442754 Drop Cancelled Dragon Lunge.