Little Mac (SSB4)
Little Mac (リトル・マック, Little Mac) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. He was revealed during a Nintendo Direct on February 13th, 2014, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the North American release of Punch-Out!! Instead of retaining Brawl's 3D version of his original design from the NES version of Punch-Out!!, Little Mac now sports his updated design from the Wii version of Punch-Out!! Despite this, he is now voiced by Kōsuke Toriumi instead of Matt Harty, the latter of whom voiced him in the Wii version of Punch-Out!!
Little Mac is currently ranked 43rd out of 58 in the tier list, placing him in the upper portion of the E tier. Little Mac's greatest strength lies in the sheer effectiveness of his ground game; in addition to his outstanding grounded mobility, high traction, and fast/long-ranged dodges, he possesses the overall fastest grounded moveset. By extension, Little Mac's grounded moveset is very potent in regard to both offense and defense: his impressive combo potential, overall high damage output, and outstanding KO potential make him very threatening, whereas his anti-rebounding priority and super armor enable him to go toe-to-toe against incoming attacks. Lastly, his unique Power Meter allows him to quickly gain an advantage by KOing with a well-positioned KO Uppercut combo or read.
However, Little Mac's notoriously lackluster aerial attributes give him little to no defense when airborne. His poor aerial mobility and the very minimal utility of his aerial attacks make aerial combat extremely risky, while his status as a fast-falling lightweight with low jumps and a notoriously weak overall recovery make him glaring susceptible to gimping, juggling, aggressive edge-guarding, and combos, each of which can result in him being KO'd early.
Despite its effectiveness, Little Mac's ground game is not fundamentally perfect. Aside from his downward angled forward smash and sweetspotted up smash, the remainder of his attacks deal minimal shield damage and generally lack shieldstun. Little Mac's average size also results in the majority of his range being short; this not only leaves him disadvantaged against characters that have disjointed ranges and/or projectiles, but also results in him having a linear neutral game.
As a result of his polarized attributes and risky playstyle, Little Mac maintains only an average level of representation, with few dedicated mains. Despite his results being rather volatile, he has managed to achieve some success: Cagt and Destany have consistently achieved very high placings at local and regional tournaments, the latter of whom has also won a number of local tournaments, while Sol, Vash, Alphicans, and pu55yk1ng have each achieved a handful of respectable placings at regional and national tournaments.
Little Mac is a lightweight whose name is somewhat of a misnomer in regard to his size. While he is rather small in relation to the majority of realistically proportioned characters in SSB4, he is of average size among the entire cast. This, in turn, helps and hinders Mac; his size can make him a somewhat difficult target to hit, and results in his dash's animation allowing him to "pseudo-crouch" under many attacks with high hitboxes or certain projectiles, such as Hadoken and uncharged Water Shuriken. Conversely, it also results in the overwhelming majority of his moves having a short range, which makes spacing essential for him to avoid getting punished.
As mentioned within his reveal trailer, Little Mac performs strongly on the ground, but poorly in the air, with his mobility being measured in a way that reflects this polarization. Little Mac has the eighth fastest walking speed, the third fastest dashing speed, and is tied with Zero Suit Samus and Wario for the third highest traction. Altogether, these attributes give him arguably the best out of shield game of the entire cast. His sidestep and rolls are also the fastest in the game, with the latter also being long-distanced, which makes it easy for Little Mac to punish grounded attacks, even those with quick start-up lag.
Little Mac's below-average gravity and fast falling speed also give him exceptional vertical endurance for a lightweight, while his fast air dodge (surpassed only by Mewtwo's) and high wall jump (surpassed only by Lucario's) give him decent protection against edge-guarders so long as he is near the stage. Aside from his average air speed, however, the remainder of Little Mac's aerial traits are infamously sub-par: his jump is tied with Ryu's as the fourth lowest, his double jump is tied with Ganondorf's as the third lowest, and his air acceleration is the second slowest. Due to these latter attributes, it is mandatory for Mac to stay on the ground whenever possible.
Little Mac's greatest strength is his incredibly useful ground game. None of his grounded moves have more than 15 frames of start-up, whereas only his up smash has more than 30 frames of ending lag. Little Mac's neutral attack, in particular, is tied with Zero Suit Samus' for the fastest in the game, thanks to it hitting on frame 1. All of his grounded moves also boast impressive utility in certain ways. Jab canceled neutral attack, up tilt, and down tilt are great combo starters, the latter of which is especially effective thanks to its below average knockback and vertical launching angle allowing it to combo into any move aside from his back aerial, down aerial, and Straight Lunge. Despite being a lightweight, Little Mac also boasts outstanding KO potential, largely thanks to his smash attacks' impressive damage outputs and high knockback scaling. Alongside being very fast for their power, his smash attacks also possess distinct perks. Forward smash can be angled, with its downward angle being very potent at pressuring shields. Up smash can function as an anti-air attack, and its sweetspot also deals potent shield damage. Lastly, down smash is a semi-spike with rather long range, allowing it to easily edge-guard against careless recoveries.
In addition to their speed and strength, Little Mac's grounded moves are almost impossible to interrupt. His neutral and tilt attacks boast anti-rebounding priority, preventing any of Little Mac's tilts attacks from clanking with opposing grounded moves that are within priority range. As this also cancels out the opponent's attack and forces them into a rebounding animation, Little Mac can contest head-on against most opposing ground attacks, while allowing him to punish opponents immediately due to the speed of his own attacks. Additionally, Little Mac's smash attacks boast super armor from start-up to the end of their final hitboxes, despite having standard priority. This allows Mac to effectively tank an opponent's attack as a unique way of punishing them. All of these traits make him arguably the most challenging opponent to deal with on the ground.
Little Mac's special moves have fairly respectable utility. Straight Lunge can be long-ranged, boasts very high power, and grants damage-based launch resistance when it is sufficiently charged, allowing him to tank minimally damaging attacks and retaliate immediately afterward. It can also be used as a situational move mid-match to enforce a poor approach or input from a reckless opponent, with it notably giving Mac the ability to escape certain combo moves such as Witch Twist. However, Straight Lunge's very slow speed and considerable ending lag through all charge levels limits its usage, and making it easily intercepted in almost every other case. Jolt Haymaker propels Mac with a leap that travels far, can be unleashed on command and grants intangibility during start-up, making it ideal for tech-chasing, re-positioning, and escaping or punishing laggier moves. Despite this, it does not stop at an edge upon performing it, which can inadvertently lead to a self-destruct if used near an edge.
Rising Uppercut grants brief intangibility upon start-up, and covers a fairly long amount of vertical distance and if used on the ground. Its extremely fast start-up and initial intangibility also allow Little Mac to use it out of even the smallest pause between an opponent's combos, potentially shifting momentum in his favor. When these traits are coupled with its last hit's extremely high knockback scaling, it is deceptively potent from out of shield, and is his most reliable aerial KOing option. Slip Counter is the overall fastest counterattack in the game, which makes it great for escaping pressure, especially aerial combos. It is also one of the few counterattacks that slides a distance before attacking; this enables Little Mac to not only close a gap between himself and an opponent, but also results in it having potential as a horizontal recovery option.
Lastly, the Power Meter is a mechanic unique to Little Mac. It is a visible meter that charges by either dealing at least 333% (assuming the player is never hit), or receiving at least 100%. When it is fully charged, Straight Lunge is replaced by the KO Uppercut, which is strong enough to KO any character at roughly 30%. When coupled with it being unblockable (except on Witch Time), its fast start-up, and its ability to be used as a follow-up from his tilts for almost guaranteed KO combos, KO Uppercut can easily turn the tide of a match when it is used successfully. However, it is lost after holding it for 4 seconds and then being tumbled by any move (except footstool jumping), which enforces quick and precise use. KO Uppercut also has considerable ending lag, regardless of whether or not it hits. As a result, it is unarguably one of the riskiest, yet most rewarding attacks in the entire series.
Despite his impressive strengths, Little Mac is held back by two very easily exploitable weaknesses. The most serious and notorious of the two is his recovery. As mentioned earlier, Little Mac's aerial mobility is arguably the worst in SSB4, as his very fast falling speed makes meteor smashes, semi-spikes, and even footstool jumps capable of almost instantaneously gimping him, even if he is undamaged and especially if he cannot use his double jump. His special moves also receive drastic downgrades when used in the air, further worsening his air game. Straight Lunge loses its long distance and high power, to the point where it cannot KO even well beyond 150%, and suffers from drastically higher ending lag, to the point where one would not be able to recover even after jumping from the edge of a stage and using it. By extension, KO Uppercut loses the majority of its power, to the point that it only KOs around 150%. Jolt Haymaker loses half of its momentum and start-up intangibility, Rising Uppercut loses half of its distance, and Slip Counter's counterattack loses its intangibility.
Even though Jolt Haymaker and Rising Uppercut are Little Mac's two most effective KOing options in the air, they are very poor as recovery options. Their overall travel distances are very minimal, they have small edge sweetspots, and they lack invincibility frames until they conclude. These two traits result in Mac being unable to grab an edge unless he is directly beside it, and an opponent being able to launch him away before he grabs on, even if his arm pokes above the edge. While Straight Lunge and Slip Counter can also be used as recovery options, they are very situational as such and require extremely precise timing in order to be properly used for recovering. Unsurprisingly, these traits collectively result in Little Mac having the most difficulty with recovering out of any character in the game, which in turn results in him being commonly cited as having the overall worst recovery in the game.
Furthermore, Little Mac has an infamously weak air game. All of his aerial attacks can auto-cancel with a short hop, while each one has certain perks: neutral aerial can initiate intricate combos, forward and back aerials are semi-spikes, up aerial is a fast anti-air attack, and down aerial is the fastest meteor smash in the game. However, his air game is overwhelmingly offset by his aerials' relatively high landing lag, very short ranges, and abysmal power, which results in Mac's aerial moveset having the lowest damage output in the game. These factors make him an easy target in the air, as he has no means of defending himself outside of point-blank range. This is further compounded by the fact that none of his aerials make the opponents reliably flinch until medium to high percents. Additionally, Little Mac's down aerial is unable to reliably meteor smash opponents until around very high percents, while its sweetspot only lasts for 1 frame. Unsurprisingly, Mac has no way of reliably KOing in the air without Jolt Haymaker, Rising Uppercut or, in extreme cases, Slip Counter, all of which are very likely to result in inevitable sacrificial KOs if used off-stage.
Little Mac's low endurance and vulnerability to combos further compound his weak air game. While his below-average gravity and fast falling speed gives him high vertical endurance for a character of his weight class, they also make him extremely susceptible to combos and juggling. The super armor granted by Little Mac's smash attacks are also a double-edged sword, as tanking an attack nevertheless results in Mac receiving damage. As a result, Little Mac can be very prone to momentum shifts, as his underwhelming aerial presence can allow opponents to combo him very easily, and in some extreme situations, zero-to-death him with a single attack or combo even if he has been dominating the entire match. These issues are what force Little Mac to almost always stay grounded, as he cannot afford to be trapped within aerial combos and dragged off-stage just for initiating an aerial approach.
Little Mac is also the character most adversely affected by stale-move negation and projectiles. As only his grounded moves possess respectable levels of utility, Mac may find his KOing options scoring KOs later than usual compared to other powerhouses. By extension, his dependence on being grounded leaves him comparatively vulnerable to ground-level projectiles when he is not using his fast dodges and Jolt Haymaker to avoid them. With all of these points taken into account, Little Mac's polarized playstyle makes him the most notoriously affected by stages, with several competitively legal stages being highly campable by opponents, or too risky for him to maneuver simply because of the existence of platforms.
Even though Little Mac's ground game is immensely effective, not all areas of it are perfect. Aside from his downward angled forward smash and sweetspotted up smash, none of Little Mac's other moves deal extra shield damage, making it deceptively difficult to get free punishes on opponents who overuse their shield. Neutral attack, up tilt, and dash attack are particularly prone to this, as they lack hitlag and have just enough ending lag to be punished from out of shield. Characters with counterattacks can also be detrimental to Little Mac, as a countered smash attack is often enough to be fatal because of the high power of his smash attacks. However, the super armor granted by up and down smashes last long enough to endure quicker counterattacks, such as forward-held Vision.
Despite having throws with passable damage outputs and a fairly fast pummel, Little Mac's overall grab range is tied with Cloud's for the third shortest among the cast. The ending lag and knockback values of his throws also render them unreliable for KOing and, under normal circumstances, starting combos. Down throw is able to combo into aerial Jolt Haymaker for damage, or Rising Uppercut to potentially score a KO, but both can be avoided with DI. In comparison, forward throw is able to combo into a dash attack or Jolt Haymaker, but only if the opponent misses a tech. As such, Little Mac's throws are generally only used to deal damage, as he cannot add any grab options that can truly give him the upper hand when an opponent is shielding.
Little Mac has a number of useful custom moves at his disposal. True to its name, Flaming Straight Lunge is a flaming variation that also hits multiple times and is a semi-spike that charges almost twice as quickly, but is considerably weaker and covers less distance. Stunning Straight Lunge is an electrical variation that travels farther and faster than Straight Lunge, but at the cost of damage and launch resistance. Grounding Blow moves higher and can bury grounded opponents or meteor smash aerial opponents, but its lower power and downward momentum make it much less effective for recovering. Compact Counter is weaker and faster, opening up opportunities for follow-ups, but lacks the default version's immense power and one-hit KO potential. Dash Counter is a double-edged sword, since its added momentum can either greatly help or greatly hinder his recovery. It should be noted, however, that none of these moves are unarguably better than Little Mac's default special moves. As such, the best option depends entirely on the player's preference.
Ultimately, Little Mac's optimal playstyle requires the player to fight akin to a boxer: keeping constant control of the middle of the stage, effectively reacting to the slightest openings, minimizing any damage taken with his extreme ground mobility, and staying out of the air as much as possible. Little Mac has just as many strengths as he does weaknesses, though the sheer level of polarization can render his potential as deceptively difficult to use to the fullest in spite of his straightforward fighting style. This is most apparent with a single mistake usually being enough to completely shut down his momentum, which thus forces him to optimize every recovery and opening.
Because of his polarized attributes and risky playstyle, Little Mac's tournament representation is merely average. However, he has nevertheless achieved varying levels of success: Cagt has achieved several top 10 placings and a few top 25 placings at the local and regional levels respectively, whereas Destany has won several local tournaments in both singles and doubles play, in addition to achieving a handful of high placings at the regional level. By comparison, dedicated mains like Sol, Vash, Alphicans, and pu55yk1ng have each achieved a number of respectable placings at the regional and national levels.
Little Mac has received a mix of buffs and nerfs, both direct and indirect, via game updates. His recovery was noticeably nerfed in update 1.0.4, though he has received minor buffs since update 1.0.6, such as giving some his specials longer lasting hitboxes, and also receiving knockback increases on Jolt Haymaker, making it a reliable KO option, even when stale. However, the changes to shield mechanics brought about in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 have also affected Little Mac for the better, as they improve his ability to pressure shields.
Little Mac was further buffed in update 1.1.4, in which the damage outputs of his smash attacks were increased. While their knockback was compensated, their increased damage outputs make them even more devastating on hit than they already were, as well as safer on shield. In particular, Mac's downward angled forward smash now possesses enough shieldstun to combo into his down or forward tilts, which in turn can break full shields. Aside from these changes, his up tilt's start-up was decreased by 1 frame while its duration was increased by 1 frame, which effectively removed the blind spot it had near the front of his torso.
Overall, Little Mac's ground game has been improved, making his most dominant trait even more imposing. However, the worsening of his already abysmal recovery has resulted in it becoming even more exploitable.
Little Mac has a unique mechanic called the Power Meter. When fully charged, it replaces his neutral special with the KO Uppercut, an extremely powerful uppercut. Although it was claimed by Masahiro Sakurai to be a one-hit KO attack, this is not true. Nevertheless, it is strong enough to KO opponents at extremely low percents, depending on their weight. In keeping with Little Mac's abysmal air game, an aerial KO Uppercut deals significantly lower damage and knockback, to the point that it cannot KO an aerial opponent unless they are at least around 150%.
The Power Meter charges when Little Mac deals and/or receives damage. However, when he is attacked, the Power Meter will fill by double to quadruple the amount compared to if he hits an opponent. The Power Meter will also be maxed out if Mac receives exactly 100%. The uppercut can be canceled by another character's attack, blocked by a perfect shield (although it is unblockable) or dodged, meaning that you have to catch opponents off-guard to guarantee it hits.
Unless the match is a Team Battle, all of Little Mac's victory poses involve Doc Louis. If Little Mac's team is victorious but he does not have the most points, Doc Louis will not appear and Mac will perform his second victory pose.
Each of Little Mac's victory poses has Doc Louis saying one of the following at random.
In all of Wireframe Mac's victory poses, Doc Louis will say one of the following at random:
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Since SSB4's release, Little Mac has been a very contentious character among casual and hardcore players alike. He was very controversial among less experienced players who struggled against him (most notably on For Glory), owing to his excellent grounded game, abundance of KOing options, and outstanding frame data. However, he has never been considered a serious threat in competitive play due to his abysmal recovery and nearly useless air game, making his endurance and aerial escape options significantly poor in a highly-skilled environment where flaws were heavily capitalized upon. Players were quick to note that Mac's vulnerability to juggling and gimping would allow a competent opponent to swiftly KO him more often than not, and with his inability to move safely between platforms, he was derided as only being able to fight effectively on Final Destination.
With a lack of high-level results during SSB4's early days and the gradually shifting perceptions of the community, Little Mac's popularity diminished immensely, due to him being frequently perceived as a gimmicky character in competitive play, especially after he was nerfed in update 1.0.4. This was reflected in him being tied with Duck Hunt for 43rd/44th place on the first tier list.
However, the efforts of dedicated Little Mac players like Sol have shown that Little Mac can perform well when played intelligently, even on stages with platforms, and proved that Mac's comeback potential was significant enough to be a considerable mindgame despite his aerial weaknesses. Furthermore, the buffs Little Mac received from game updates made his grounded moves even more rewarding and granted him more reliable combo potential from his grounded game. Improvements in Little Mac's metagame also resulted in newfound techniques for him, which further reinforced his fearsome comeback potential. While he is still considered too polarized to be truly viable in singles play, Little Mac is considered to fare much better in doubles play, thanks to a teammate covering his weaknesses and assisting him in setting up his powerful attacks.
These traits, combined with the expansion to his metagame and better, albeit still rare results, resulted in him being ranked 39th on the second tier list. While he has since dropped back to 43rd on the third and current tier list, Little Mac's tier placement remains very contentious even within the current metagame, owing to his results being relatively sparse at national tournaments.
In Event Matches
Little Mac has sixteen alternate costumes, half of which sport a wireframe design based on the original arcade version of Punch-Out!! His wireframe palette swaps have slightly brighter cel-shaded colors compared to his default costumes.
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