Ice Climbers (SSBM)
They rank 8th on the tier list (in the B+ tier). Among the Ice Climbers' strengths are their devastating grab game. When both Popo and Nana are alive, the Ice Climbers can land a zero-to-death on any character in the game off of a grab through wobbling, and can perform hand-offs in settings where wobbling is banned to achieve nearly as punishing results. They are immune to chain grabs and some other combo setups, as if one Climber gets grabbed, the partner can hit them out of the grab at any time. The Ice Climbers have access to fast and powerful smash attacks, great disjoint on their hammer moves, such as up aerial and back aerial, and one of the longest wavedashes in the game, aiding their offensive capabilities. They also can perform various techniques through desyncing, which allows the player to control both Climbers at different times; when combined with their Blizzard projectile, this makes the Ice Climbers especially difficult to break through defensively. Their unique attributes and threat of an instant KO off of a grab forces other characters to adopt unique and often frustrating playstyles against the Ice Climbers.
However, the Ice Climbers are crippled by the difficulty of keeping both Climbers together at the same time. The Ice Climbers can easily be separated when hit by most attacks, which gives the opponent an opportunity to freely KO the CPU-controlled Climber, leaving the player with just one Ice Climber until they lose a stock. A single Ice Climber, known as "Sopo", loses access to its grab punishes and has one of the lowest damage outputs and worst recoveries in Melee. The Ice Climbers also are hindered by their low traction, which causes them to slide farther across the stage when hit in shield, limiting their ability to land shieldgrabs and other punishes. Despite their threat of a zero-death, the Ice Climbers tend to lose against most other top tiers, as opponents can KO the partner climber to make wobbling difficult. This includes an especially poor matchup against Peach, as her float canceling techniques allows her to attack the Ice Climbers from the air without much fear of getting punished. Regardless, the Ice Climbers have strong matchups against the majority of the cast, and can hold their own against most high and top-tiers.
The Ice Climbers have arguably the most unusual fighting style in all of Melee; the player is tasked with controlling two characters at once, and their fighting potential becomes considerably worse should Nana (or Popo depending on which costume is selected) be KOed. Outside of this, their unique physics make them difficult to use; they boast an above average jumping height alongside low air and falling speed, and their traction is also among the lowest in the game.
As a result of this quirk, the Ice Climbers have among the most powerful ground-based approaches in the game. Disjointed hitboxes, a variety of useful tilts and smashes, and a long, floaty wavedash give the Ice Climbers a wide variety of options on the ground. Their most powerful tool on the ground is their grab; despite having below-average grab range, they boast low knockback throws, giving them significant chain throwing potential. They can also perform the Wobbling infinite out of a grab, which is the most powerful single technique in the game if players can master it. In addition, the presence of Nana allows players to significantly rack up damage on opponents when they grab them. The presence of Nana also makes grabs and chain throws against Popo difficult to utilize, as she can potentially attack opponents during their grab to break it. Furthermore, the Ice Climbers have among the best projectiles in the game, Ice Shot; it is a ground-based projectile that limits the opponent's approach options, and falls off edges very quickly, allowing it to cover various low recovery options. While short-ranged, Blizzard can also have approaching applications, as Popo and Nana face the same direction when the attack is used during a short-hop; it can also be used as a reliable tool to rack up damage off a grab if Nana uses it while Popo pummels. The Ice Climbers also have the ability to perform the Freeze glitch, which prevents their opponent from moving in any capacity when performed. Due to its game-breaking potential, the tactic is banned in tournaments.
The Ice Climbers' desynching techniques also have powerful ground-based applications. Since it essentially allows the control of both Climbers to some degree, experienced players can force Nana to perform certain tasks while Popo is occupied. This includes grabbing opponents immediately after Popo has thrown them (known as a hand-off) and attacking them while Popo keeps them locked in place, among other powerful benefits. Desynching, however, requires significant practice to use consistently, making the Ice Climbers one of the most technically demanding characters in the game.
Despite a powerful ground-based approach, they have a difficult aerial approach. A high jumping height, low falling speed, slow, laggy aerials, and the second lowest air speed in the game (behind only Luigi) give the Ice Climbers a poor SHFFL. Their low aerial and falling speeds also make pursuing airborne enemies extremely difficult. Some of the Ice Climbers' aerials have powerful applications; their down aerial keeps the enemy mostly in place due to its set knockback, allowing Popo to regrab if Nana uses it after a throw, and their neutral and back aerials are good spacing tools, with the latter having reliable KOing ability under 150%. However, due to their poor air speed and falling speed, and only one situational meteor (their forward aerial), their air game does not complement their powerful ground game overall. These various traits also give the Ice Climbers a below-average edgeguarding game, and they lack an extremely effective off-stage option. In addition, the Ice Climbers have the second worst traction in the game; similar to Luigi, this makes them highly reliant on wavedashing to approach, and technical errors, such as mistimed air dodges, can set them up for significant punishment. Owing to their slightly below-average weight and low falling speed, the Ice Climbers are also highly vulnerable to being KOed from the upper blast line.
Players who use the Ice Climbers must also know how to prevent themselves from losing Nana, as when she is KOed, Popo cannot fight nearly as effectively. As the Ice Climbers' attacks were designed to be two-in-one, Popo's attacks alone lack damage racking ability, making it much harder to accumulate percentage on the opponent despite the power of his smash attacks. Popo also cannot perform nearly as many chaingrabs without Nana, and cannot Wobble by himself, greatly reducing the threatening nature of their usual grabs. In return, Popo is left vulnerable to chaingrabs and throw setups himself due to his low air speed and falling speed, and is limited in his recovery options; he is forced to recover with Squall Hammer, which travels only horizontally. Unfortunately, most high-tiered characters have attacks, such as Fox's shine and Peach's forward aerial, that can easily separate Popo from Nana. Their recovery, while long, is prone to endangering Nana, as she can either miss the ledge entirely or be left vulnerable against edgeguarders. All of these flaws require Ice Climbers players to be situationally aware and abuse their powerful ground and grab games to prevent their Climbers from being separated and KOed.
For a gallery of the Ice Climbers' hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
Most historically significant players
Tier placement and history
The Ice Climbers were once a middle to low-middle tiered character, as in the beginning of Melee, professionals did not discover their powerful grounded presence and threatening wobbling techniques, as their flaws, such as their poor aerial approach and difficulty in maintaining both climbers, were highlighted more often. With the discovery of the Ice Climbers' desynching combos and wobbling, more players advocated for their potential, showcased in ChuDat, Wobbles and Fly Amanita’s discoveries. Wobbles's second place finish at EVO 2013 with the Ice Climbers did not change their tier position but finally pushed them into the S tier, where they are at last recognized as a viable character for tournaments alongside the top tiered characters. With the release of the twelfth tier list, they moved up one spot, above Captain Falcon, for the first time. In the thirteenth tier list, the Ice Climbers are ranked 8th, however this placement was determined with the assumption that wobbling is not banned; their viability without wobbling allowed is yet to be assessed.
In single player modes
In Classic Mode
Ice Climbers can appear in a one-on-one, as an ally, on a team with Kirby, or as a metal opponent. Ice Climbers are fought on Icicle Mountain except in the metal battle.
In Adventure Mode
Ice Climbers' sole appearance is on Stage 10: Icicle Mountain. The player is initially tasked with navigating the stage for 51 seconds; following this, two pairs of Ice Climbers attack the player. The player must then KO both Ice Climbers to proceed to the next stage.
In All-Star Mode
Ice Climbers and their allies are fought on Icicle Mountain
In Event Matches
Ice Climbers appear in the following Events:
Nana becomes the leading, player-controlled character when using the 3rd and 4th costumes shown below. The stock icon and character select portraits for these costumes change to reflect this.