Super Smash Bros. series
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Hitlag

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Not to be confused with hitstun.
An example of hitlag in the first hitbox of Wolf's forward tilt.

Hitlag (also known as hitstop or freeze frames, and officially known as hitstun in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[1][2]) is a phenomenon that appears in all games of the Super Smash Bros. series, which involves attacks freezing the victim and (generally) the user in place for a certain amount of time when they hit.

If successful with most attacks, both the attacker and target are frozen in place for a certain number of frames; the attacker in the frame when they landed the hit, and the victim in the first frame of their flinching animation while shaking. This effectively extends the duration of the attack compared to if it had missed, while the target has a short time to react before the knockback occurs. Most noticeably, attacks with a large amount of hits such as Yoshi's down aerial take considerably less time to finish if they do not hit anything. As another side effect, the attack's hitboxes remain active during hitlag, thus extending its hit detection for targets other than the one hit; this can even be taken advantage of with damageable stage objects, such as the platforms in Skyworld, to allow attacks to hit opponents more easily.

Once hitlag has passed, both sides resume action. During hitlag, defending characters are capable of performing smash directional influence to get out of combos or multi-hit moves, or to increase their chance for survival.

Hitlag serves two primary functions. The first is a visual indicator that an attack connects; the brief moment where both fighters freeze gives both players more time to plan their next moves. The second is to add more emphasis to the power and impact of particularly strong attacks, which usually produce a high amount of hitlag. In several other fighting games, hitlag frames are often correlated to the power level of the connecting attack, ranging from light to heavy; Smash games achieve a similar hierarchy by giving attacks higher hitlag the more damage they deal (though this is more customizable in later games).

Formula[edit]

The formula for calculating the number of frames of hitlag experienced by both the attacker and victim has been different for most of the games (⌊x⌋ means to round down):

  • In Super Smash Bros., it is ⌊⌊⌊d/3 + 4⌋ * e⌋ * c⌋ in the Japanese version, and ⌊⌊⌊d/3 + 5⌋ * e⌋ * c⌋ in international versions.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee, it is ⌊⌊⌊d/3 + 3⌋ * e⌋ * c⌋
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4, it is ⌊⌊(d * 0.3846154 + 5) * h * e⌋ * c⌋, where the last frame is interruptible.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it is ⌊⌊⌊(d * 0.65 + 6) * h * e * s⌋ * p⌋ * c⌋
    • When spirits are enabled in the Rules and the above formula exceeds 15 frames (10 when crouch cancelling), it is ⌊⌊⌊⌊(d * 0.65 + 6) * h * e * s⌋ * 0.3 + 10.5⌋ * p⌋ * c⌋[note 1]

The values correspond to the following (all apply to both the attacker and victim unless stated otherwise):

  • d, the amount of damage an attack would deal (rounded up in Smash 64)
  • e, electric effect; 1.5× (for the victim only in Melee, and for both the attacker and victim in every other game)
  • c, crouch canceling; 0.666667× in Melee and 0.67× in Brawl onward (for the victim only in every game except Ultimate, where it is applied to both the attacker and victim)
  • h, hitlag multiplier; defined by every hitbox and defaults to 1×
    • For example, the majority of Marth's attacks have a hitlag multiplier of 1.25× if the tipper connects, and 0.7× otherwise.
    • Some moves are coded to deal no hitlag at all, either by being given a hitlag multiplier of 0×, or in Brawl and Smash 4, using a special parameter that disables hitlag when turned on. Examples of such moves are Bowser Bomb in Brawl and Falco's Reflector in Smash 4.
      • In Brawl and Smash 4 prior to version 1.1.0, shielding opponents were not affected by these hitlag multipliers; therefore, moves with below-average multipliers were safer on shield, while those with above-average multipliers were less safe, as the attacker experienced less or more hitlag (respectively) than the shield user. Beginning in version 1.1.0 of Smash 4, shields are properly affected by hitlag multipliers, therefore removing the difference in shield safety caused by them.
        • In Smash 4, starting in version 1.1.0, if the hitlag multiplier of a move is higher than 1×, it is multiplied by 0.8× if it hits a shield, though without dropping below 1×. For example, the 1.25× hitlag multiplier of Marth's tippers is reduced to 1× if they are shielded. This applies only to the attacker in 1.1.0, and to both the attacker and victim from 1.1.1 onward. As a result, in the former case, moves with above-average hitlag are effectively safer on shield, while in the latter case, shielding them merely reduces the usual hitlag period.
  • s, shielding; 0.67×
    • Hitlag multipliers less than 1× are ignored if shielding. This is especially noticeable for moves such as Cloud's Limit Cross Slash, which normally uses a hitlag multiplier of 0.3× for its linking hits; the move's hits transition considerably slower if it hits a shield. However, the electric effect's multiplier is still taken into account, which effectively raises the final multiplier to 1.005×, causing projectiles such as Thunder Jolt to be safer on shield than usual.
  • p, based on player count; values are listed in the table below. The exact value is based on the prior hitlag frames, scaling from almost no change below 10 frames to the listed values at 30 frames. The formula for scaling is currently unknown.
    • Does not affect fighters hit with projectiles.
    • Based on the number of players at the start of the match.
Players 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Ultimate 1.0 0.925 0.862 0.8116 0.77464 0.752464 0.75

As shown by the formulas, the general amount of hitlag on moves is at its lowest in Melee, and has since increased throughout the series, with Ultimate having the most hitlag. In all games, hitlag is higher the more damage a move deals; weak attacks such as Mario's jab have minimal hitlag, but the hitlag of strong or sweetspotted attacks can last much longer. For example, a move that deals 15% damage with no other factors would inflict hitlag of 10 frames in Smash 64 (9 in the Japanese version), 8 frames in Melee, 9 frames in Brawl and Smash 4, and 15 frames in Ultimate. In addition, Brawl introduced the mechanic of hitlag multipliers, causing variance in the hitlag duration of attacks; this is in contrast to Melee and Smash 64, where the duration of hitlag was predictable.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This formula is used even if no spirits are used. In Training Mode, after version 3.0.0, this formula is only applied when a spirit is used.

Properties[edit]

  • Hitlag has a cap of 20 frames in Melee, and 30 frames (20 for the victim if crouch cancelling) from Brawl onward.
  • Hitlag only affects the object that deals the damage; all other game elements (including, interestingly enough, any particle effects the attack generated) are uninterrupted. For example, both Captain Falcon and his opponent sustain hitlag upon a sweetspotted Knee Smash, while Samus' movement is not interrupted by a Charge Shot hitting someone, since it is a projectile not attached to her. Hitlag is also exaggerated if two attacks clash, or if an attack is perfect shielded; in the latter case, the attacker suffers from hitlag while the defender receives none.
  • Hitlag affects the attacker as long as the attack connects, even if it deals no damage as a result of hitting opponents with invincibility.
  • If an attack deals no knockback, the target does not experience any hitlag.
  • Attacks with the electric effect uniquely increase the amount of hitlag, multiplying its duration in frames by 1.5 (rounded down), which stacks with the hitlag multiplier that the move otherwise has. For example, an electric attack with a hitlag multiplier of 1.2 deals 1.8 times the amount of hitlag.
    • Interestingly, in Smash 4 if a character is hit by an electric attack from another, and either character is affected by slowdown (such as the Timer item), then the target receives additional hitlag, while the attacker does not. This phenomenon does not occur with non-electric attacks, even those that have a hitlag multiplier.

A peculiar aspect of hitlag is how it is handled for throws. In Smash 64 and Melee, throws inflict no hitlag when releasing the opponent, but their pre-release hitboxes still do, such as those in Captain Falcon and Link's throws. From Brawl onward, throws can inflict hitlag on release, which only affects the opponent, effectively adding to their hitstun and giving the user more time to follow up; this is noticeable for throws such as Luigi's down throw in Smash 4, and Pikachu's down throw in Ultimate. However, hitlag remains manually disabled for the vast majority of throws' releases, especially in latter games (to the point Ultimate only has it on Mythra, Pikachu, and Pyra's down throws), leaving it as an uncommon advantage. In Ultimate, certain throws that lack hitboxes use an effect similar to hitlag before releasing the opponent, such as Marth's forward, back, and down throws; however, this effect has a set duration specific to each throw, and affects both the user and victim and makes the victim invincible alongside the user's natural throw invincibility.

As characters originating from other fighting game series, Ryu, Ken, and Kazuya have pronounced hitlag multipliers throughout a major part of their movesets, referencing the hitlag mechanics of their respective games. Ryu and Ken inflict above-average hitlag, with a multiplier of 1.5× for most attacks (1.8× for Ryu in Smash 4), while Kazuya's is below-average, with multipliers from 0.2× to 0.6× for most attacks. Notably, Terry does not have such a distinction.

External links[edit]

References/notes[edit]

  1. ^ https://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/43317
  2. ^ Although officially the term "hitstun" refers to hitlag, the community term of the same name refers to a different mechanic.