Ice Climbers (SSBB)
They rank 2nd on the current tier list, making them the highest-ranking veteran in the game. This is primarily due to their extensive and intricate grab game that can completely shut down opponents once it begins. Professional Ice Climbers players are known to chain grab opponents from 0% to a KO inescapably. The partner mechanism of the character also forces opponents to rethink their approach, as one target can easily break combos and chain grabs. The duo also have two decent projectiles, and they are armed with a relatively powerful meteor smash along with one of the largest disjointed up aerials in the game. However, if the partner is KO'd, the leader cannot use special moves correctly and is somewhat helpless during recovery; a lone Ice Climber also has drastically lowered damage output and KO potential, especially due to its inability to perform a meteor smash, and is considerably more open to chain grabs and combos. Regardless, the Ice Climbers have very strong matchups (losing to only four characters, with Meta Knight being the only top tier they lose to), and very strong tournament results.
The Ice Climbers are lightweight characters that have the unique property of being a "two in one" character, wherein the game considers each Climber to be a unique character in its own right. The follower is always slightly weaker than the leader, but only the follower can meteor smash with his/her forward aerial. The Ice Climbers are able to grab two different items and are even able to grab two separate characters. In addition, their unique property also makes them much harder to grab and throw effectively (when one Ice Climber gets grabbed, the partner can simply counterattack, making them immune to chain-grabs), and conversely allows them to have a superior grab game entirely unique to them (see "chain-grabbing and desynching" below). However, they can easily be separated by strong enough attacks. In this scenario, it is advisable to stick to and protect the partner, even if it puts the player in additional danger. Should the CPU Climber get KO'd during the stock, the remaining Climber will have drastically reduced damage output, KO ability, and recovery, with Belay becoming practically useless and Squall Hammer loses a good deal of distance (whereas with both Climbers they are excellent recovery moves).
The Ice Climbers are great at dealing damage when together, have decent attack speed, and possess a few interesting attacks in their arsenal. Their neutral special move, Ice Shot, is a projectile fired by each Ice Climber which slides along the ground, making it impossible to avoid by crouching/crawling. Blizzard, the down special move, can freeze opponents and even cover both sides if the partner is present, or alternatively can be made to cover one side if performed while jumping with the partner, giving the attack more power. Squall Hammer is a decent approach attack with good damage and speed, spinning the Ice Climbers around each other in a forward-moving hammer attack. Belay, the up special, is a powerful KO move should the second Climber connect with the opponent, but it is generally a risky use of the move given that it separates the Climbers and puts them into a helpless animation. A unique addition to their character is that the Ice Climbers are not affected by the conditions of slippery surfaces such as ice, and they won't slide on it. This is due to the fact that they are wearing cleats. Oddly, their cleats do not affect their traction on normal surfaces, as it is second-lowest in the game (Luigi has the lowest).
The Ice Climbers are not very good at using their standard arsenal of attacks for continuous hits, normally speaking. With weak throws, small hammers, and slow movement in general (slow falling, air, and dash speed), the Ice Climbers can usually only manage one or two good hits in close before they need to resort to Ice Shots or Blizzard again. With both Climbers present, KOing generally is not too much of a problem, although their smashes are generally better at racking up the damage than at KOing.
Chaingrabbing and desynching
Many players consider the Ice Climbers to be "the King and Queen of all chain grabs" due to the fact that their two-in-one property allows a variety of chain-grab options. For example, the lead Ice Climber can grab onto one opponent and use the forward throw. In the middle of the throw animation, the player can gain control of the CPU Climber, commanding him/her into performing a forward aerial spike, or grabbing again with the CPU Climber. while once again bringing the original, player-controlled Climber in for a new grab. Such strings create long and extremely damaging chain grabs capable of being performed at nearly any percent, on nearly any stage. A down side is that the Ice Climbers do not have a very good grab range and because of how much they slide (due to their low traction), it is almost impossible to grab an opponent when they hit the player's shield unless they powershield his or her attack.
The Ice Climbers' most effective chain throw is arguably their down throw. It is by far the hardest chain throw to escape from as it possesses the largest time window for Nana to grab the opponent mid throw. Performing the down throw chain grab is simple and easier relative to Ice Climbers's other chain grabs and becomes drastically easier when the throw is stale, but it is still nevertheless difficult to time. While performing the first down throw, the player should input the command for the subsequent down throw when the opponent hits the ground (when the colored shockwave appears). The down throw can also be used in conjunction with the footstool hop and ice shots for another infinite: the hobble, which is more useful on heavyweights. The down throw sends opponents into the air. Right before the opponent is released, the second ice climber should jump and footstool the opponent back on to the ground. As the opponent bounces, the first Ice Climber can trap them with multiple ice shots or move forward for another grab. Their next infinite chain throw is the forward throw. This throw is most likely the hardest chain throw to maintain, and thus the least reliable. The command for the second throw should be imputed the moment the first Ice Climber is about to swing his hammer. It should be noted that these chain grabs are not true infinites as they are limited by the stage length and the fact the opponents can tech after the footstool jump. The Ice Climbers' back throw is their only true infinite, as it is not limited by the stage length. The input for the second throw should be imputed as soon as the opponent is directly above the first climber's head. The back throw can also be used to start the hobble, but it is much harder. It should be noted that the timing for all of the infinite throws vary depending on the opponent's percentage and how heavy the opponent is.
For further two-in-one tricks, it is even possible to "desync" the CPU partner by confusing it with erratic movement (such as dash-dancing), putting the player in control of both Climbers for as long as they are capable of maintaining it. Once the partner is desynced, the player can have it perform any move while the main Climber is in the middle of one, providing for all sorts of possible attack strategies that can be exceedingly difficult for opponents to escape from (alternating Blizzard, alternating Ice Shot). While desynced, the partner Climber has restrained movement within an invisible box around the main Climber; should he/she be separated or removed from this box, the CPU will take over again. This invisible box makes it so that if the player desyncs from the AI so that it charges a smash attack and they start walking or running away, the AI will slide in the player's direction while charging the smash. A unique thing that the player can do when desynced is that if they desync the AI to charge a smash attack, their Belay will cancel the AI's charging sequence and teleport it into the belaying sequence.
Such techniques are extremely difficult to perform in combat, even for advanced players, due to the constant string of precise commands required for the Climbers to move/attack as intended. Nevertheless, these techniques are considered the backbone of playing the Ice Climbers at a competitive level. The extreme difficulty in pulling off any seemingly-unfair Ice Climber techniques has prevented them (outside of wobbling in Melee) from seeing competitive bans.
When a chain grab has raised an opponent's damage enough, the most typically used move to KO the opponent is their up smash, if a forward air meteor smash is inapplicable. All of these chain throws can be considered 0-KO combos.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
The Ice Climbers have received a mix of buffs and nerfs. Due to the changes in grab mechanics, they can no longer wobble, which previously played a part in their competitive viability. Additionally, the loss of wavedashing has also served to be problematic due to their already poor traction inhibiting their approach and mobility, though not as much as Luigi. However, due to the influence of chaingrabs, the Ice Climbers are considered to be overall buffed due to the improvements to their chaingrabbing ability in which makes them even more deadly than in Melee. As a result, they are one of the few characters considered to have been truly buffed from Melee to Brawl.
Note: This assumes that both Ice Climbers are present.
In competitive play
The Ice Climbers have one of the best matchup spreads. On the SmashBoards matchup chart the Ice Climbers have the third highest unweighted rank and the second highest weighted rank. The Ice Climbers are soft countered by four characters, have seven even matchups, soft counter 8 characters, counter 10 characters, hard counter 5, and have 2 nearly unloseable matchups. The Ice Climbers' 0-to-death chaingrabs give them an enormous advantage against the rest of the cast. The infinite chaingrab is the easiest and most consistent infinite to perform in the entire game. Their ability to camp from far away with their projectile and their desyncronization abilities make them a threat to any opponent. The Ice Climbers do well against characters that cannot approach while getting grabbed, like King Dedede, Falco, and Olimar. They also do well against heavy or slow characters, and as a result have nearly unloseable matchups against Bowser and Ganondorf. They perform more poorly against characters that have ranged KO moves, like Zero Suit Samus, who can sweetspot her Plasma Whip. The Ice Climbers also perform poorly against floaty characters or characters who specialize in zoning, such as Meta Knight, Toon Link, and Peach.
Tier placement and history
In the first few years of Brawl's metagame, the Ice Climbers were only ranked in mid-high tier, given their poor fighting abilities and vulnerability when the partner Climber dies, and their powerful grab tactics were unrecognized at the time. However, Ice Climber players soon began to utilize their infinite chaingrabs, giving them an extremely powerful zero-to-death option against any other character. Players soon found the technique difficult to handle, as it completely changed the way players fought the Ice Climbers. The Ice Climbers matchup now involved avoiding getting grabbed into a death, which can be difficult to avoid, and the Ice Climbers were able to completely shut down characters who lacked effective tactics to deal with the zero-death chaingrabs. Because of this, the Ice Climbers quickly shot up the ranks, rising to #5 in the fourth tier list (February 2010), and remaining in top tier; the Ice Climbers then rose to 2nd place on the current tier list, placed right underneath Meta Knight in their own tier above the rest of the characters. Some players even argue that since the Ice Climbers have access to a zero-death on every character that works at any percent, they could be tied for first place with Meta Knight, or could even be first place themselves. The Ice Climbers are among the most disliked characters in Brawl by both casual and competitive players, since they possess a zero-death option against any character, something no other character has access to, and they have been considered cheap and broken, with many players supporting the ban of the infinite chaingrabs in tournaments; however, with the definition of what construes an "infinite chaingrab" usually being rigid, players of the Ice Climbers have found many loopholes to avoid using it while still nearly securing stocks with each grab, making opponents' predicaments effectively the same. Many recent tournaments in the post-Smash-4 era, such as Glitch 2, have even banned the Ice Climbers altogether, due to their unpopularity among opponents and spectators alike.
Role in The Subspace EmissaryHalberd or they were just climbing. When Meta Knight passed them going up the mountain, the Ice Climbers took it as a challenge and jumped up the mountain with Meta Knight. Once they reached the top, the Ice Climbers celebrated with their "victory" for getting up the mountain first, until they and Meta Knight found Lucario, who was looking for a fight with Meta Knight, so the Ice Climbers watch from the side nervously. After the fight, the Halberd crashes the Great Fox into the mountain. Although Meta Knight and Lucario managed to board the Halberd, the Ice Climbers (ironically) are thrown back to the ground towards Marth, Lucas, the Pokémon Trainer, and Ike. After facing some more Subspace Army troopers (with help from Mario and Link's group), the Ice Climbers teamed up with the other heroes as they journeyed into Subspace but are turned into trophies by Tabuu. Ice Climbers are then revived by King Dedede, Luigi, Ness, and Kirby and help the other smashers defeat Tabuu and restore the World Of Trophies to normal.
These stickers can only be used by the Ice Climbers, or a select few including them:
In Event Matches
Note: Nana leads the pair in battle for their 2nd, 4th, and 6th costumes shown above, but they do not switch positions on the selection screen like they did in Melee.