Flame Choke (炎獄握, Flame Prison Grip) is Ganondorf's side special move in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, replacing Gerudo Dragon from Super Smash Bros. Melee.
When used, Ganondorf charges at his opponent, similarly to Gerudo Dragon, but instead of uppercutting them he grabs them by the head and attacks them with a dark pulsing explosion, before the opponent is quickly slammed into the ground upon the explosion occurring. In mid-grab and while holding his opponent in his grip, Ganondorf has super armor, allowing him to, for example, snag a passing Wario off his Wario Bike while also preventing it from being interrupted; however the armor for mid-grab is removed in Smash 4. As a grab move, Flame Choke bypass shields and counters. Grounded Flame Choke also functions as a weak meteor smash, causing the opponent to weakly bounce upward and allow follow-ups such as Ganondorf's neutral attack (only on very large characters such as Bowser, Donkey Kong, and King Dedede), forward tilt, down tilt, and down smash (only on Olimar); however in Smash 4 Flame Choke is techable which can potentially negate follow-ups, though Ganondorf can still act very quickly out of grounded Flame Choke and perform tech-chases.
When the move is used mid-air, both Ganondorf and the grabbed foe will plummet directly towards to the ground, which can cause a Suicide KO known as "Ganoncide". In Brawl, if Ganondorf performs this move in the air while going through a soft platform (half body above platform and half below) then he will grab the opponent and plummet below the platform (however, he has no knockback resistance in the air); however in Smash 4, aerial Flame Choke lifts him and his opponent upward a bit before descending, making the two land on the platform. Unlike the grounded version, the opponent is immediately floored instead of bouncing and the move has some ending lag, making it difficult to follow up, though the aerial deals more damage and in Smash 4 it cannot be teched.
Also, when Ganondorf does the move in the air, he can slightly alter its path, slamming the foe more to the left, or more to the right. This makes it difficult to chase him off the edge, because as a last resort, he takes the opponent down with him; in Brawl, Ganoncide causes a Sudden Death or a loss, which can be negated if Ganondorf is a stock/point up, but in Smash 4, Ganonciding with one remaining stock on both characters will give Ganondorf the win. Note that Ganonciding an opponent in Smash 4 does not count as KOing them; credit for the KO goes to the last person to hit the victim.
Using this move on the ground with the opponent near the edge of the stage can meteor smash the opponent straight down off of the edge. However, this is not very useful as it has set knockback and is too weak to prevent most characters from recovering with their up special move, and they will also grab the ledge if possible. On the other hand, with Smash 4 altering ledge mechanics, using Flame Choke on someone during their standard get-up option will cause them to miss their ledge grab.
If Ganondorf correctly predicts his opponent's get-up option after a grab, or uses mindgames to predict where his opponent will end up, he can re-grab his opponent, allowing the possibility of an infinite chain grab: this makes Flame Choke one of Ganondorf's most reliable ways of comboing his opponent, as it will setup for the same strings at any percentage. In particular, at low percentages Ganondorf can follow with a down tilt and knock the opponent in the air, and then jump and catch them in another Flame Choke, and at high percentages, it will KO outright.
Unlike Captain Falcon's Raptor Boost, this move does not cause Ganondorf to trip and fall if he misses on the ground. It does, however, still put him into a helpless state if he uses it in the air. Similarly, if Ganondorf is too close to an edge when he uses the move on the ground, he will instantly go into a helpless state and fall. However, unlike Captain Falcon, Ganondorf has a chance to move towards the ledge and grab it (if it can be grabbed) before he falls to his death.
In Home-Run Contest, the move will fail if used on the Sandbag: Ganondorf will pass through the sandbag just like any other grab-related special on any other item. Enemies in Smash Run are not blasted downwards by the move, but instead away at a typical horizontal angle.
Special Move customization was added in Super Smash Bros. 4. These are the variations:
Ganondorf performs a similar rushing move in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess that kills one of the sages who impaled him, though lacking the dark flames. In the GameCube version of Twilight Princess, Ganondorf uses his right hand, which is inscribed with the Triforce of Power, whereas in Brawl, he uses his left hand. Ganondorf's slight ambidextrous capabilities in Brawl are likely due to the mirrored Wii version of Twilight Princess. Ganondorf holding the opponent in the air is reminiscent of him holding Tetra up by her throat in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. When using the Flame Choke mid-air, the consequential slam is very reminiscent of his ground-pound move from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, making the reference twofold.
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