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Freeze glitch

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A screenshot of Melee taken after the freeze glitch was performed on Bowser. Note the number of hits.
Not to be confused with Freezing.

The freeze glitch is a technique unique to the Ice Climbers in the NTSC versions of Melee discovered by Philly Billy. It is caused by performing a grab with the trailing Ice Climber, having them use a throw that has a pre-release hit (f-throw or up-throw), or a pummel, and then using Squall Hammer with the leader while the trailing climber is frozen in hitlag. If done correctly, the opponent will be frozen in place and unable to do anything aside from take damage; the only way to free the opponent is by grabbing them or by throwing a Screw Attack at them.

The freeze glitch is banned in tournament play, as it guarantees victory if the Ice Climbers player performs it with a stock lead, and in the event both players have the same number of lives, the Ice Climbers can merely inflict damage on their helpless opponent to force a winning scenario. Since the freeze glitch also prevents the frozen character from performing any inputs and essentially stops gameplay for them, it can be considered an extreme form of stalling.


Freeze glitch is caused by a simple error in Squall Hammer linked hitlag programming. Linked hitlag is a mechanic which makes the Hitlag state of two characters connected. For instance, when one character grabs another character, a bidirectional hitlag link is established between them, they become "hitlag partners". If the grabbed character is hit without breaking the grab, then the grabber will also become frozen in hitlag due to the hitlag link. However, hitlag induced on hitlag partners isn't symmetrical: one of the characters' hitlag state becomes dependent on the other character, while the other character's hitlag is independent and works normally. The hitlag state of the character under dependent hitlag cannot end, even if they have hitlag frames run down to zero, until the independent partner signals them and terminates the dependency. A character can only have one hitlag partner at a time.

Ice Climbers Squall Hammer establishes a hitlag link between the climbers, when the trailing climber joins the move. The purpose is to have both climbers freeze when one of them hits something and undergoes hitlag. However, if the trailing climber is unable to join the move, then instead of making the leading climber hitlag partners with trailing one, for no good reason the game makes the trailing climber just forget their current hitlag partner. That can lead to the freeze glitch: When the trailing climber is grabbing a character, and hits the character they are grabbing, they induce linked hitlag on that victim, with the victim always being the dependent party in the hitlag. If the leading climber then starts a Squall Hammer during that linked hitlag, the trailing climber then forgets their hitlag partner i.e. their grab victim. Thus, the trailing climber ends up never sending the signal to terminate the grab victims dependent hitlag. As such, the victim is stuck frozen in eternal dependent hitlag, until some other character becomes their hitlag partner and can nullify their dependent hitlag state. Or, as mentioned earlier, a screw attack item is thrown at them, which also ends dependent hitlag for currently unknown reason.

The freeze glitch was fixed in the PAL version of the game, by simply leaving the trailing climbers hitlag partner untouched, in case they are unable to join Squall Hammer.

Barrel Cannon glitch[edit]

This is a variation of the Freeze glitch that can be used to get a large number of combos. It can be done by the Ice Climbers on any stage with a flat surface. The user must have a Barrel Cannon and at least two opponents. First, the player must perform the freeze glitch on any opponent. When the opponent is frozen, the player must grab a Barrel Cannon and throw it at the opponent. The opponent should be stuck in it if performed correctly. Then, the player must perform the freeze glitch on the second opponent. Once the second opponent is frozen, the player should throw said opponent at the Barrel Cannon. The frozen opponent should be stuck in the Barrel Cannon and rack up a decent amount of damage.

Andrew freeze glitch[edit]

A similar glitch occurs if the leading Climber uses Squall Hammer while the trailing is being thrown. This causes the thrown Climber and the throwing character to be frozen.


  • If opponents are hit up or down while frozen, they will slowly move in that direction, which may cause the Ice Climber to be unable to grab and release them from the glitch.
  • If a frozen character happens to pass a blast line, they will not be KO'd. This can happen in stages such as Corneria and Venom (as the stage floats around) as well as scrolling stages such as Rainbow Cruise. It can also happen if the frozen character is carried offstage by a Barrel Cannon.
    • However, there are certain circumstances where a character actually can be KO'd when in the middle of the frozen state, but they will never re-spawn until the match ends. One location where this can happen is if the freeze glitch occurs to an opponent when they are directly left of Venusaur's flower trunk in Poké Floats. This will cause the frozen character to be dragged off-stage and react to the blast line, but will not re-spawn until the match ends.
  • A similar glitch was present in Ultimate as of Patch 6.0.0. This time the only way to undo it was by an SD and only affected Terry. However it got patched out in 6.1.0. [1]