Captain Falcon leaps in the air, fist extended. The color of his fist changes in each game: it is green in Smash 64 and Melee, orange in Brawl, and engulfed in flames in Smash 4. While still ascending, he will automatically grab a single foe if they come in contact with his body. Once grabbed, he will launch the opponent with a fiery explosion, recoiling upwards in a flip while doing so. A successful attack will cause Captain Falcon to let out a triumphant cry of "YES!".
As with most recovery moves, Captain Falcon becomes helpless after using Falcon Dive. However, if a hit is scored, the move can be used a second time, and can repeat until Captain Falcon misses. When used on the ground or in the air, it can be reversed.
Falcon Dive can easily stage spike opponents while allowing Falcon to recover, although the fixed duration between the grab and explosion also makes it relatively easy for the opponent to tech and punish the move's ending animation.
In Super Smash Bros., this move was Falcon's main recovery move, other than the Falcon Punch angled upwards (which gave him a slight vertical and horizontal boost).
When the move connects with foes, it will strongly launch them at a 45° angle. It does a solid 20% damage upon connection with high knockback (average KO is around 130%). As with all of Falcon's special moves, it had 2D rendered sprites as special effects. When contact is successful, it will restore a foe's midair jump and Falcon will not be helpless, free to use the move again. The move also has a very fast start-up hitbox making it useful for grabbing shielding opponents, characters on platforms, and especially Yoshi's recovery.
Perhaps to compensate for its KO potential, Falcon Dive is one of the worst recovery moves in the game. In addition to the poor vertical boost it offers, Falcon Dive has high end lag upon hit and while ending, making it susceptible to edge-hogging if Falcon is forced to Up B at low percents. Fox, for example, can shine Falcon if he connects an Up B below 30% or Kirby can Down Air leading to low percent gimps. Multiple moves per character can also easily outspace the hitbox while recovering. Top level Falcon mains, however, have mitigated these issues by fading in and out and by mixing fall speeds with immediate up Bs, making the move much less predictable.
A string of multiple up aerial attacks from Captain Falcon followed by a Falcon Dive, throughout all of the games in the Smash Bros. series, is commonly referred to as an "SSB64 Combo", as this was a very common combo in said game. In Smash 64, this string is also referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven”.
Aside from better voice quality and better special effects, Falcon Dive travels farther than in Smash 64, though the hitbox isn't out for as long. It is also much weaker and cannot be reliably comboed into due to Melee's lowered hitstun modifier. Thus, it has very little offensive utility; while it can still be used in attempts to stage spike an opponent, the opponent can tech the incoming explosion and even counter with an aerial.
As with Smash 64, contact will allow the foe to reuse a midair jump and give Captain Falcon the ability to use the move once more.
In Brawl, timing and landing the move seems to be improved due to the floatiness and the slower falling speed of characters in Brawl. However, doing it in the opposite direction Falcon is looking drastically decreases the horizontal distance - which decreases the recovery distance, unlike Melee. Also, Captain Falcon is vulnerable to hits during the start-up and to moves that hit directly above him, though less vulnerable than in Melee, due to its grabbox having increased vertical reach, making it easier to grab opponents above him.
A number of things were changed from its Melee function to Brawl's. It no longer restores a foe's midair jump, though Falcon can still use the move afterwards. This move cannot break Smash Balls, but it is capable of destroying targets in Target Smash!! when the body comes in contact with the target.
Perhaps the biggest change and buff of the move from Melee to Brawl is the ability to grab and effectively stage spike foes that hang on the ledge much more efficiently; Falcon Dive in Brawl is capable of grabbing foes hanging onto the ledge and function as it normally would airborne, making Captain Falcon harder to edgehog than ever before, though it's still vulnerable to edge hogging if the edge hog is timed early enough. It is excellent at punishing foes who camp on ledges, as the incoming explosion after they get grabbed will immediately stage spike them if they do not anticipate and tech it in time. Since techs are considerably more difficult to perform in Brawl, this is considered one of Captain Falcon's few buffs from Melee to Brawl.
In Super Smash Bros. 4, Falcon Dive was buffed again; its start-up was slightly decreased, it covers more distance while losing less momentum, and deals slightly more damage. However, since regular hitboxes now outprioritize grabs, it is harder to land against more aggressive players. The move's animation after a connected grab's explosion is also modified, as Captain Falcon now does a flourishing backflip before righting himself.
In Ultimate, Falcon Dive has once again seen several improvements. Among other changes, its range, frame data, and damage have all been improved, and a successful grab now also deals knockback to bystanders (in addition to the damage it already did). The move has seen some aesthetic changes as well, and has a new animation.
Special Move customization was added in Super Smash Bros. 4. These are the variations: