Falco (ファルコ, Falco) is a character appearing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He was confirmed to return as a playable character on February 20, 2008. Hisao Egawa reprises his role in the Japanese version from Melee, providing new voice clips, he is now voiced by Dex Manley in the English versions of the game, reprising his role from Star Fox: Assault.
Falco is currently ranked 7th out of 38 on the tier list, the lowest position of the A- Tier and top tier, and a slight drop from his Melee tier placement, where he was 2nd overall. Falco's Blaster shots are very fast, hard to punish, very long-ranged, transcendent, and allow him to camp and punish approaches easily. At low percents, Falco can rack up damage quickly using lasers and his down throw chain grab with many follow-ups such as the Gatling Combo or the meteor smash in his down aerial. He also has incredible vertical mobility, fast attack speed, a strong all-purpose attack in his back aerial, the aforementioned down air meteor smash (the fastest meteor smash in Brawl with only 5 frames of startup lag), a long-ranged Reflector, and other tricks such as his BDACUS.
Falco still has significant problems, however. While his vertical mobility is excellent, his horizontal mobility is sub-par as Falco has lackluster dashing speed and air speed. Falco can have difficulty KOing his opponents who can survive his meteor smash offstage from his chain throw, possessing few reliable KO moves that are not particularly powerful and stale quickly (made worse by the fact that some of his finishers are used frequently). Falco also has a poor recovery; while his Falco Phantasm provides great horizontal distance, it can be predictable and leaves Falco vulnerable for the duration of the move, allowing opponents to easily hit him out of it. Additionally, his Fire Bird travels a short vertical distance, has a very small ledge sweetspot, and is easily edgehogged. His fast falling speed also hinders his recovery, and the fast acceleration of it makes him vulnerable to chain throws from characters like Pikachu who can chain throw him from low percentages to a KO. Regardless of his disadvantages, Falco still has a large amount of favorable matchups, having only three disadvantageous ones, and has achieved very strong tournament results.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Falco must then be defeated on Lylat Cruise.
Falco has a diverse moveset featuring quick attacks, great follow-up ability, capable finishers, the ability to wall jump, the highest initial jump in the game, and a fantastic projectile. Outside of his forward aerial, all of his aerials cancel quickly upon landing, including his down aerial. Falco's Blaster has great range, transcendent priority, and decent speed. The ending lag of aerial blaster shots also cancel quickly upon landing. This gives him an incredible ability to approach or shutdown approaches, as short-hopped Blaster cancels can be immediately chained into many of Falco's other attacks at close or mid range. Although he has a great camping game, he also has a very good close-range game. He has a very fast jab which is can be used to rack up damage or set up for a grab, and his spot dodge is one of the fastest in the game. Falco can also bolster his approach with his dash attack, a quick, strong move that is difficult to defend against. Falco has a chance to forcibly trip opponents with his quick down special, Reflector to further harass their approach due its great range, although it is unsafe on shields and spot dodges due its fairly long ending lag and low amount of shield stun. Reflector can go through walls and also has the ability to reflect uncommon projectiles, such as Pikachu's Thunder. It can also be used in conjunction with his blaster to safely disrupt recovering opponents from a distance.
One of Falco's most potent moves is his down throw. Although impractical for KOs, it instead provides Falco with an excellent and easy to use chain-throw, chaining into itself up to damage percentages as high as 50% on most characters including the down aerial finish, and it affects more characters than King Dedede's down throw chain. When Falco gets to the edge during the chain-throw, he can unavoidably meteor smash opponents to their doom; should they be able to recover, he can simply edge-hog at the right time to prevent their return (on some characters, it doesn't work against most characters). This attack chain is particularly fatal to all the space animals, including himself, due to the delay and movement limitations in their up specials, though Fox can still recover thanks to his buffed up midair jump in the form of Rising Fair. Falco's down throw also combines well into down aerial and dash attack, and a popular alternative finish to the chain-throw is the Gatling Combo where Falco will hit with dash attack before instantly canceling into an up smash. As for characters on which he cannot initiate his chaingrab, his down throw still makes for a good setup move as he can follow up the throw with a wide range of attacks from his arsenal, such as his neutral and down aerials, side smash, DACUS, Blaster, Reflector, jab, and forward tilt. However, Falco's grab range is sub-par at best and as such, he can have trouble grabbing nimble characters who can potentially out-camp him such as Meta Knight or Fox, who would otherwise be helpless against Falco's chain grab. It should be noted though that if Falco lands close to his opponents after successfully connecting a short hopped double laser, he is almost guaranteed a free grab.
For finishing moves, one of Falco's lackluster areas, Falco can use his forward and up smashes to good effect, though his forward smash is slow and is weak in the tip (although it has a fast charge release, has fairly long range and the hitbox lasts some frames with the weak hitbox being during the last frames). His up smash has strong, purely vertical knockback if it hits during the upswing of his kick, and can be used as a DACUS to gain the jump on opponents further away, though its hitboxes have poor range. The hitboxes of the latter portion of Falco's up smash have little knockback and cannot KO below 200%. However, at high percentages, it acts as a somewhat effective semispike, which can prove fatal to opponents with poor recoveries. Falco is also armed with a fast and powerful meteor smash in his down aerial that can KO at percentages as low as 50%. However, although this move has a slight horizontal disjoint, it has little range with only a small sweetspot the very start on the move spikes, and sourspotting the attack knocks back horizontally with fairly low knockback and lasts a long time while in the air, which makes it dangerous to use off the edge given Falco's fast falling speed. Falco's down aerial excels at spikes near the edge and at spiking opponents above the stage, setting them up for punishment or even a different finisher as they get up from the floor. Falco also has an infinite in the form of his laser lock which can be set up up somewhat easily with his down aerial or down throw followed by a buffered jab (see the techniques section below for more thorough information). It can also potentially set up KOs from his BDACUS.
Falco's major weaknesses lie in recovery and finish ability. Although Falco Phantasm (side special) gives moderately good horizontal distance, Fire Bird (up special) has very short distance, leaves Falco vulnerable during the charge, and is easily edgeguarded, and its only real use is recovering from below or diagonally. His falling speed has some hindrances, such as making him a candidate for Pikachu's 0%-100% chain-grab (although he has resistance against chain-grabs that are ineffective against lightweights such as King Dedede's down throw chain-grab). Although planking can pose a problem for Falco, this issue is ameliorated in the tournament scene where it's usually limited or banned altogether. The main causes of Falco's poor finish ability stem not from a lack of KO moves, but rather his difficulty in landing them, particularly against quick, mobile characters, due to the fact that some of his moves used for racking up damage also happen to be his only KO moves, have poor range, and stale when his foes get within KO percentages, and his forward smash has its aforementioned power though slow start-up and ending lag.
Other than his recovery and poor finishing ability, Falco has no critical problems. Smart, experienced Falco players have overcome these setbacks with his defense and adaptability.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
Unlike in Melee where Falco was a clone of Fox, Falco's moveset received a massive overhaul, to the point where is now a semi-clone rather than a full clone.
While Falco is still a top tier character in Brawl, he has been significantly nerfed from Melee with little to no compensation, albeit to a lesser extent than Fox. His overall endurance has been worsened; his much slower falling speed and the changes to knockback formula have made him more frail despite his increased weight, similar to Fox. His Reflector has lost a lot of its utility: it can no longer be jump-cancelled, and the changes to hitstun have removed his high damaging combos and KO setups from Melee. Falco's overall KO power has been weakened, as his back aerial, down tilt, and forward smash are weaker. Down aerial is slightly stronger during its early hitbox; however, it now only meteor smashes during the first few frames, instead of throughout the whole move, similarly to how it was in the PAL version of Melee. Also, due to the removal of spikes, it is now meteor-cancellable, significantly worsening its KOing potential.
Falco's new moves have overall poorer utility than their previous iterations. Neutral aerial is less effective for approaching, pressuring, and comboing, forward aerial has very high landing lag, and up aerial deals less damage and is weaker. Forward smash's sweetspot is hard to land. His already poor recovery has been both buffed and nerfed: he can maneuver more effectively offstage due to his lower falling speed and faster air speed, and Falco Phantasm goes farther, but Fire Bird travels an even shorter distance than before.
However, Falco has received notable buffs. His grab game has better utility. Down throw can no longer be teched by opponents, and allows for easy and highly damaging chain-grabs, partially making up for the loss of his Shine combos. The addition of the DACUS gives Falco a new and reliable approach option, and aids his damage racking ability. The more defensive gameplay in Brawl has indirectly boosted his already strong camping game; the loss of several mobility options makes it much harder to overcome Falco's Blaster, and he has gained a few notable laser techniques, and he can also fire two lasers from a short-hop.
Despite his numerous nerfs, Falco still remains more effective than the majority of the cast since most other veterans were heavily nerfed to various degrees, as well as him being less affected by the transition of Melee's physics to Brawl's compared to other characters.
Falco is one of only four characters to speak in all three taunts in Brawl, the others being Zero Suit Samus, Peach and Pikachu (though Peach uses real words in two of her taunts, and Pikachu, like most Pokémon, only ever says variations of its name). Additionally, in the English version, Falco speaks in his taunts with a Brooklynese Italian-American accent (his surname, Lombardi, is Italian).
In competitive play
Falco has great matchups in Brawl. According to the current SmashBoards matchup chart, Falco's matchup spread has the fourth highest unweighted rank, fourth highest total (tied with Marth), and sixth highest weighted total. Falco is countered in two matchups, soft countered by one matchup, and has seven even matchups. He soft counters ten characters, counters nine characters, hard counters six characters, and has one close-to-unloseable matchup. He does have trouble against some other top/high tiers, being countered by Ice Climbers, whom Falco lacks safe options to approach without getting grabbed (allowing their 0-death chaingrab), and Pikachu, who can take advantage of his fast falling speed acceleration attribute by chaingrabbing him (if started at 20%, which can be reached with two forward throws, it can also buffer down throws and finish with a Thunderspike, as a 0-death combo). Falco is one of the few characters to have an arguably even matchup against Meta Knight, due to his ability to projectile camp against him, though this is stage specific, with him only coming close on neutral stages, specifically Final Destination. One major disadvantage against said character is that he can easily be gimped and edgeguarded.
Tier placement and history
Falco has always been seen as a top-tier character in Brawl, though he is ranked slightly lower in the most recent tier lists than in the previous ones. Falco was ranked 5th place on the first tier list (September 2008) in the top tier, and rose to 3rd in the second (January 2009; his highest position so far). He then remained at 4th from the third tier list to the sixth, before dropping to 6th on the seventh (April 2012), then 7th on the eighth and current list, as of April 2013. While Falco has had many notable players contributing to his metagame, as well as having always had great matchups against the majority of the cast, he does have trouble against some top/high tiers, and his less successful recent tournament results hold him back, though he still remains a top tier character.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Ejecting from his Arwing, Falco shows up just in time to save Fox from trophyization at the hands of Bowser and a Shadow Bug clone of Diddy Kong by flip-kicking the Dark Cannon from Bowser's hands and destroying it with dual lasergun fire, forcing Bowser to leave. He is shown to use two blasters, but only uses one when he is used in-game. This makes Falco the only character who destroys a Dark Cannon in SSE, no matter which princess the player rescues. The Diddy clone begins to absorb more Shadow Bugs, becoming gigantic, and after Fox revives the real Diddy, the three fight the giant clone. Falco then turns to leave, but is dragged back by Diddy and reluctantly comes along. A stupefied Fox shrugs his shoulders and walks off after them as he received the same treatment from Diddy earlier.
As Captain Falcon and Captain Olimar look down at the ship carrying Donkey Kong's trophy, Falco's Arwing shows up, ejecting Diddy Kong from the cockpit. Diddy then activates his Rocket Barrel Jet Pack and shoots the ship with his Peanut Popguns. Landing on the ship, he quickly detrophifies DK, and after DK, Diddy, Captain Falcon, and Olimar defeat the Primids that board the ship, Falco gives Diddy and Donkey Kong a thumbs up as he leaves.
He makes his next appearance in the battle against Duon on the Halberd, where he teams up with Fox, Peach, Zelda, Snake, and Lucario. When it's defeated, Peach revives Mr. Game and Watch as Meta Knight takes back control of his ship. He uses his Arwing during the attack on the Subspace Gunship and maneuvers effectively to avoid the cannons. He enters Subspace and stands loftily, as if he is above this. When he is turned into a trophy, he is rescued by Luigi, Ness and Dedede, and joins them in the Great Maze. He aids them in the fight against Tabuu.
These stickers can only be used by Falco or a select few including him.
In Event Matches