Luigi (ルイージ, Luigi) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced during a Nintendo Direct on August 7th, 2013, which coincided with the announcement of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and commemorated the Year of Luigi.
Luigi is ranked 18th out of 55 in the tier list, placing him in the B tier. This is a significant improvement over his low tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 28th out of 38, and is Luigi's best proportional tier ranking in the series to date. Luigi's most notable strength is the utility of his moveset: his overall fast frame data makes him difficult to punish and supplements his very consistent and strong combo game; his very potent air game is supplemented by a number of his grounded moves having favorable launching angles, as well as his high jumps and the utility of his aerials: all his aerials can autocancel in a short hop with lenient autocancel windows, generally have low startup and ending lag, are good for combos and his sweetspotted back aerial and clean neutral aerial are strong KO potions; and Fireball is a fairly quick projectile with decent range.
Luigi's attributes have also improved. In addition to a much faster dashing speed, his air game and aerial mobility benefit from his much faster fast falling speed; higher gravity; lower short hop; and higher jump. Lastly, Luigi's recovery remains unpredictable and long-distanced, as Green Missile and Luigi Cyclone are both risky to intercept.
However, Luigi has retained his noticeable weaknesses from previous installments. Luigi's mobility is still slow and awkward in spite of its improvements: his faster dashing speed is slightly below-average at best, while his low traction and slow air speed still largely hinder his out of shield options, punishment ability, and the versatility of his recovery. Despite having Fireball, the majority of Luigi's range is still short, which prevents him from racking up damage from a safe distance, especially against characters that have projectiles and/or disjointed hitboxes.
Overall, Luigi tends to run hot-and-cold like in previous installments. He initially had a large playerbase and excellent results, the latter of which was demonstrated by J.Miller winning B.E.A.S.T 5 with him. Although update 1.1.1 nerfed Luigi's combo game to the point that his playerbase has decreased, he has nevertheless continued to achieve excellent results at local and regional tournaments, and respectable results at national tournaments. This has been most evident with Elegant, whose consistent success--his highest point being barely finishing runner-up to MkLeo in GameTyrant Expo 2017--has caused Luigi's current tier placement to become somewhat debatable.
Luigi is a middleweight whose attributes differ noticeably from other characters of the same weight class. Although he has average walking speed, his dashing speed is slightly below-average and his traction is the lowest in the game. Luigi's aerial attributes are also very atypical for a middleweight: he has very slow falling and air speeds; low gravity; above-average air acceleration; the fourth highest jump; and the seventh highest double jump. As a result of these attributes, Luigi has overall slow mobility, and is one of the most floaty characters in the game.
Like his brother, Luigi can be very difficult to punish, thanks to all but two of his regular moves (forward smash and down aerial) hitting before frame 10. This, in turn, gives his frame data the distinction of being the fastest in the game in regard to startup lag and when excluding special moves. Luigi's excellent frame data is complemented by the impressive utility of his overall moveset. Neutral attack's damage output and range are decent, and it can be jab canceled reliably even at high percentages. Luigi's tilt attacks also have their own perks: forward tilt can be angled and, when angled downward, is capable of jab locking; up tilt has excellent combo and juggling potential; and down tilt can trip opponents or hinder their attempts at grabbing the edge.
Luigi's smash attacks are all among the fastest of their kind, have below-average ending lag, and possess enough knockback to be reliable finishers, allowing them to quickly and effectively punish opponents close to him, while being difficult to punish themselves on shield. Forward smash can be angled for higher power and deals extra shield damage, up smash is an effective anti-air attack due to rendering Luigi's head intangible while its hitboxes are active, and down smash is very useful for punishing rolls thanks to its minimal lag, respectable damage output and long range. Both up smash and down smash also have set-up potential at low percents if Luigi successfully covers the opponent's options afterward, and the latter is a reliable follow-up from down throw against heavyweights and fast fallers.
Luigi's aerial attacks are also very useful, due to their combination of fast startup, quick interruptibility (except for neutral and back aerials), and ability to auto-cancel in a short hop. Neutral aerial is a sex kick and, like in previous installments, the only one that launches opponents vertically, which benefits its clean and late hitboxes: the former is a great combo breaker and a situational KOing option near the upper blast line, whereas the latter is a very useful combo starter when SHFF'd. Forward aerial has the fastest duration of its kind and launches at the Sakurai angle; at low to medium percentages, these traits make it very reliable for approaching or down throw-initiated combos into itself, neutral aerial and up aerial, as well as a reliable edge-guarding option at high percentages. Back aerial has a very powerful clean hitbox and long range, which enable it to function as a safe and reliable KOing and edge-guarding option, or as an approach option via reverse aerial rush. Up aerial is useful for combos, since it can either extend them or, thanks to having the lowest amount of landing lag out his aerials, use its clean hitbox to start them at low percentages when SHFF'd. Lastly, down aerial has the third fastest duration of its kind, surpassed only by Meta Knight and Little Mac's, while its clean hitbox is a meteor smash.
Like Mario, Luigi's grab game is among the most effective in the game. His grabs are among the fastest in the game, while his pummel is tied with Mr. Game & Watch's as the fourth most damaging in the game. Down throw is not only Luigi's most useful throw, but also his most useful move. Although update 1.1.1 removed its ability to set up safe KOs, down throw's combos are still among the most versatile and consistent in the game, regardless of the opponent's weight, falling speed and gravity. In regard to middleweights, it can be followed up with forward smash at 0%-10%; up tilt, up smash, any aerial attack and Luigi Cyclone at low percentages; forward and reverse aerial rushed clean back aerials at medium percentages; and clean up aerial at medium to high percentages. Despite being weakened since Brawl, back throw is as strong as Lucas', and thus remains a reliable KOing option at high percentages. Lastly, forward and up throws have minimal utility, but are quick and deal respectable damage.
As a semi-clone of Mario, Luigi has two special moves that are derived from his older brother, yet his versions deviate in noticeable ways. Fireball is a projectile that is useful for pressuring, hindering an opponent's approach, or setting up an attack. Unlike Mario's Fireball, Luigi's is unaffected by gravity, which makes it somewhat less effective at hindering an opponent's recovery or edge-guard attempt. Super Jump Punch has very quick startup like Mario's, but propels him vertically instead of diagonally. By extension, it consists of a sweetspot and sourspot, instead of multiple hitboxes like Mario's. Its sweetspot boasts devastating power, which makes it a very potent punishment option, yet it is very risky because of its virtually useless sourspot and very high ending lag.
Aside from these, Luigi's other special moves are completely distinct from Mario's. Green Missile deals damage and covers horizontal distance, both of which can be increased thanks to its ability to be charged. However, it is also possible for Green Missile to misfire; in this case, it becomes even stronger than the fully charged version, and covers approximately 60% of Final Destination. Lastly, Luigi Cyclone can function as an approach option, a KOing option near the upper blast line and, with sufficient button mashing, a recovery option. With proper timing, it can even gimp recoveries as well.
However, Luigi has noticeable weaknesses, with the most significant one being his recovery. Green Missile is slow and can be stopped by opponents willing to endure its hitbox, and if fully charged or misfired towards a wall, Luigi will get stuck in it for a considerably long time, giving opponents ample time to punish him. Luigi Cyclone requires a considerable amount of button mashing (roughly 10 presses per second for maximum distance) to be effective without prior momentum. Lastly, Super Jump Punch is the least effective recovery option in his arsenal, owing to its lack of any sort of horizontal movement as Luigi ascends. When coupled with his very slow air speed, Luigi's recovery is similar to Yoshi's, in that he is overly reliant on his double jump to recover and is very susceptible to gimps.
As in previous installments, Luigi's mobility prevents him from approaching quickly, especially from the air. This makes it significantly difficult for him to keep up with faster opponents, such as Sheik, Zero Suit Samus and Sonic, which in turn hinders his otherwise excellent neutral game. As a result, Luigi is heavily reliant on using either short hopped neutral, forward and back aerials to approach, or Fireball to force approaches. However, there are a few methods that, at varying degrees, alleviate Luigi's problematic traction. Shield-stopping negates his dash's noticeable skid, which makes his approach safer.
Fox-trotting enables Luigi to dash while enduring only a very slight skid; although this makes it slightly risky, it allows him to go on the offensive more reliably, and even enables him to play mindgames. The last method is simply walking: although Luigi's walking speed is average, it is not as glaringly susceptible to his traction like his dash is. When coupled with proper usage of Fireball, this method can also enable him to maintain stage control. A notable user and proponent of the walking method is J.Miller.
Lastly, Luigi's moveset has noticeable weaknesses in spite of its impressive strengths. Due to most of his range being short and his lack of a reflection move, opponents with disjointed hitboxes and/or projectiles are very difficult for Luigi to fight against effectively. Luigi's unimpressive overall mobility also hinders his moveset. Down throw is an essential aspect of his playstyle, yet his dash grab and especially his shield grab are hindered by his slightly below-average dashing speed and very low traction, respectively. Similarly, forward and clean back aerials are reliable for edge-guarding, yet they are risky to use as such while far from the edge because of his very slow air speed.
The majority of Luigi's custom moves are useful, with his most notable ones being Floating Missile and Quick Missile. Floating Missile is much riskier to intercept because it propels Luigi in a perfectly straight line, charges much faster, and is only slightly weaker than Green Missile. Quick Missile travels much farther and moves much faster, similarly to how Green Missile functioned in Melee. However, it is slightly weaker, while its considerably higher ending lag and lack of traction upon landing on a stage or platform make it much more punishable.
Ice Ball has a slightly lower damage output, higher startup lag, shorter range, and travels slower. However, it momentarily freezes opponents beginning at 50%, while its slower speed enables Luigi to fire multiple Ice Balls in immediate succession. True to its name, Burial Header buries grounded opponents, but also covers much more vertical height; descends much faster; and has much less landing lag. However, it deals much less damage and lacks KO potential. Mach Cyclone covers almost no horizontal distance, and possesses a windbox and a concluding hitbox instead of multiple hitboxes. However, it covers a tremendous amount of vertical distance, while its lone hitbox is very powerful, making it very useful for edge-guarding. Aside from these, the rest of Luigi's custom moves are generally not worth using because of their advantages being situational at best.
Overall, Luigi can be a force to be reckoned with as long as his significant flaws are circumvented. Although his tournament representation has decreased following update 1.1.1's nerf to his down throw, Luigi has continued to achieve impressive results in tournaments regardless.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Luigi has been buffed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. Luigi drastically benefits from the changes to Smash 4's mechanics with the changes to hitstun canceling and DI greatly improving his combo potential collectively granting him one of the most potent and consistent combo games among the cast. Luigi's neutral game has also been buffed in numerous ways: Luigi's overall mobility has been improved especially on the ground; neutral attack has more range; late neutral aerial is much better at starting combos when SHFF'd due to the removal of hitstun canceling (despite the move being directly nerfed in multiple ways); forward aerial and Fireball have more range; and dash grab has much less lag. His grab game overall is much more effective not just because of his improved dash and pivot grabs but also because the changes to hitstun canceling and DI have made his down throw an extremely effective combo throw.
As with most returning veterans, Luigi's damage output has decreased, which contributes to his combo game, but in turn, it significantly worsens his KO power. Up tilt is the best example of this ambivalence: it has much better combo potential than in Brawl, but is no longer reliable even as a situational KOing option. His lower damage output is ultimately a mixed bag instead of a definitive nerf due to the fact that it improves his overall combo potential, as well as his damage racking potential as a whole.
However, Luigi also received some nerfs. His overall frame data is worse with a handful of his attacks having shorter durations, increased startup or ending lag and/or smaller hitboxes. Luigi's recovery has worsened because of Super Jump Punch and Luigi Cyclone each covering noticeably less distance, although he greatly benefits from the general changes to ledges, as the removal of edge hogging and the increased speed of his air dodge somewhat compensate for his worse recovery options. As mentioned earlier, Luigi also has reduced KO capability, which happened with many other returning characters. A few examples include his aforementioned up tilt, forward and up smashes, neutral aerial, down aerial, back throw and Super Jump Punch, all of which have reduced KO potential, and while a few of his moves have increased KO power, such as his dash attack, back aerial and the back hit of his down smash, as well as the introduction of rage and the removal of momentum canceling somewhat alleviating this, his KO power remains lower overall, especially when relative to the cast.
Despite the change's to the game's mechanics greatly benefiting Luigi, he has seen a few small nerfs from them, most notably the removal of DACUS and glide tossing. Luigi also received major changes in version 1.1.1 that ended up nerfing him. The changes to shield mechanics made his already poor out of shield game worse and his down throw's knockback was altered. In earlier versions, his down throw was identical to its Brawl counterpart, but it was far more effective due to the changes to hitstun canceling and DI, as it was an excellent combo throw at lower percents, and it even had KO setups at higher percents which worked at an extremely large percentage range. In 1.1.1, the throw had decreased base knockback, which improved its followup potential at lower percents, but it had significantly increased knockback scaling, which greatly hindered its followup potential at higher percents, and in turn it made his KO setups far more precise. This made the throw much worse at higher percents, which considerably hindered Luigi overall. Ironically, his post patch down throw would’ve been better in Brawl, as its lower base knockback would’ve given it guaranteed followups at very high percents, which it now lacks.
Overall, while Luigi's direct buffs don’t exactly greatly outweigh his nerfs, the changes to the game's mechanics were far more than enough to make him a much more effective character, and it has enabled him to attain consistent success in competitive play. All in all, he is one of the most buffed characters in Smash 4, alongside Mario, Captain Falcon, Bowser, Mewtwo, Sheik, Ness, Lucas, Link, and Sonic.
Luigi has been nerfed via game updates. Although he received a number of buffs, most notably to down smash, down aerial and Super Jump Punch, the nerfs that he received overwhelmingly offset them. Update 1.0.6 made Fireball's damage output inconsistent by making it consist of a clean hitbox and a late hitbox like Mario's, which in turn hinders its zoning potential. Update 1.1.0 further nerfed Fireball by increasing its ending lag, and almost completely removed down tilt's combo ability by altering its angle and reducing its trip chance. Most notably, update 1.1.1 altered down throw's knockback to the point of removing Luigi's guaranteed KO set-ups.
Luigi was also indirectly nerfed by the updates. The changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 make it even more difficult for him to punish from out of shield because of his very low traction. While this does also make his most damaging moves such as his smash attacks and sweetspotted back aerial safer on shield, while turning a fully charged or misfired Green Missile and sweetspotted Super Jump Punch into potent shield breaking moves, these benefits are comparatively smaller. Although these nerfs have resulted in Luigi becoming somewhat less effective than he was during the initial release of SSB4, his viability has remained largely intact.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Since SSB4's release, Luigi's placement was a topic of debate, as his buffs were quickly acknowledged in his transition from Brawl and saw him perceived as a mid-tier character. Positive opinions on Luigi, however, saw a sudden rise from early to mid-2015, as players recognized his down throw's outstanding combo potential. In addition, he was noted for having an even matchup against Diddy Kong, then considered the best character in the game, thanks to multiple high-profile cases of a Luigi player defeating a noteworthy Diddy Kong player in tournaments. The most notable instance of this was Mr. ConCon achieving a bracket reset against ZeRo. Thanks to these traits, Luigi was perceived by the community as both a viable main and a top-tier character, despite having fairly limited usage at high-level play.
However, Luigi's perception underwent a noticeable drop after update 1.1.1 altered his down throw's knockback to the point of heavily altering its guaranteed KO set-ups, and brought about changes to shield mechanics that made it harder for him to punish out of shield. Despite this, Luigi's down throw has shown to actually possess better combo potential at low to medium percentages, which was notably demonstrated by Poke and Boss. When coupled with his impressive performances up to update 1.1.1, Luigi was ranked 16th on the first tier list, his best ranking in the series at the time.
Although Luigi's combo potential remained largely intact, many players nevertheless dropped him because of his combo game's newfound flaws. This, in turn, was further compounded by the release of the DLC characters Corrin and Bayonetta, two matchups considered unfavorable for him at the time. As a result, Luigi was ranked 29th on the second tier list, which saw him go from being the third highest ranked mid-tier character to the middle of the mid-tier. Although respectable, this placement was nevertheless a considerable downturn, as Luigi's tier drop was tied with Wario's for the second largest between the first and second tier lists.
Thanks to his consistently strong results in some regions, Luigi was ranked 26th on the third tier list. Incidentally, this placement is roughly similar to where he was viewed as being in accordance to popular opinion during the very early months of SSB4's lifespan. Luigi's tier status would then improve even further, thanks to Elegant placing 2nd at GameTyrant Expo 2017 and 5th at 2GG Championship. In addition to these results, Luigi has managed to consistently achieve respectable results at the regional and national level, thanks to the efforts of Mr. ConCon, Scot! and Ron. To reflect his renewed tournament success, Luigi was ranked 18th on the fourth and current tier list, about equal to his rank before the down throw nerf, with some players arguing that Luigi should be ranked even higher.