Mario (マリオ, Mario) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. He was confirmed on June 11th, 2013 during the E3 2013 Nintendo Direct. He was also one of the main subjects of the Developer's Direct for Super Smash Bros. later during E3 2013. He was among the first wave of amiibo figurines for Smash 4. Charles Martinet's portrayal of Mario from Super Smash Bros. Brawl was repurposed for Smash 4.
Mario is currently ranked 9th out of 55 characters on the tier list, in the A tier, which is at the lower end of the top tier. This is his best tier placement to date, and a huge improvement from his 31st out of 38 ranking Brawl where he stood at the top of the bottom tier and is the fifth highest ranking veteran, as well as the veteran with the most improvement in the transition. Mario's greatest strength is his effective frame data; most of his moves have little startup lag and have relatively low end lag. This results in Mario being fairly difficult to punish relative to most of the cast. His combo game, while not as versatile compared to Diddy Kong or Sheik, is nevertheless potent, as Mario can rack up damage quickly and reliably, most notoriously with his down throw into multiple up tilts. He also has a versatile moveset: a disruptive projectile in his Fireball, a reflection-based and reverse-based move in his Cape that can counteract camping, and a decent, if niche edgeguarding option with F.L.U.D.D..
Despite being buffed significantly from Brawl, Mario has several weaknesses. Mario's overall range is below average, giving him trouble against characters with long disjointed range such as Cloud and Marth. Furthermore, he cannot effectively outcamp other characters, due to Fireball being relatively slow compared to some other projectiles in the game. Mario also suffers from a lack of consistent KO setups, lack of strong and effective KO options outside of forward and up smash and along side his short frame and relative floatiness for a middleweight, a weakness to rage setups. Mario's average attributes do not allow him to quickly gain an advantage either, as the strengths of other characters can contest his, with the most notable being his overall mobility.
Due to his lack of severe weaknesses, as well as one of the lowest technical curves in the game, Mario has had among the highest representation in tournaments, and has achieved excellent results at top level play. Owing to Mario's incredible tournament placings, especially during the summer of 2016, many smashers have viewed Mario as one of the best characters in the game and possibly deserving of an even higher ranking on the tier list; ESAM, for instance, has notably argued that Mario is the best character in Smash 4, while others claim that Mario should be lower due to his not as dominant results and his glaring range issues.
Like in the majority of his games and spin-offs, Mario is intended to be a balanced character in terms of attributes, possessing average walking, dashing and falling speeds, air acceleration, gravity and weight. However, he also has high air speed and jumping force, but low traction. These balanced stats do not give Mario the edge when it comes to overall movement, but they nevertheless make him adept at most situations where a key attribute is needed to gain the advantage, which when combined with his very quick frame data, grants Mario a very effective neutral game. As a result, despite his attributes implying a jack-of-all-trades type of character, Mario is more of a rushdown character in practice.
Thanks to his incredibly quick attack speed, Mario shines in close-quarters combat, as few other characters like Sheik and Meta Knight are a match for this speed. His fast attack speed allows him to consistently apply pressure to the opponent, and he's capable of quickly racking up damage once he gets the momentum, which is easy to do so on characters that cannot match his attack speed without getting heavily punished for it, like Palutena. Excluding his forward smash, forward aerial and special moves, all of Mario's moves have fast startup and low ending and landing lag (the latter in the case of his aerial attacks). All of his grounded moves are prime examples of his quick frame data: his neutral attack is his fastest move and an overall effective way to rack up damage, along with handy combo capabilities, while his up and down tilts are very effective combo starters that can help rack up plenty of damage, and the former easily chains into itself at low percentages, as well as being hard to escape. All of his smash attacks are excellent KO options, as they can reliably KO at high percentages without being endlag-heavy; his forward smash has the highest power of all of his smash attacks when sweetspotted, down smash is a semi-spike, making it useful for forcing opponents offstage, and up smash is very hard to punish due to its speed, power and the fact it grants intangibility on his head.
Mario's aerial attacks are also very useful in many cases. Neutral aerial is a sex kick that can be useful in edgeguarding or for breaking combos. Back aerial has the longest reach and the highest knockback of Mario's aerial moves, allowing it to space effectively and reliably KO offstage. Up aerial's extremely quick startup, vertical launch angle and lack of sourspots let it combo into itself or other moves, on top of letting it easily break combos and setup the aforementioned. Down aerial is a great anti-juggling move that can also KO if used near the top blast line. It also benefits from frame cancelling, as its moderate landing lag is reduced, allowing for potential follow-ups. Finally, his forward aerial is a meteor smash with high base knockback for one, making it great for gimping all but the farthest reaching of recoveries.
His special moveset is highly varied and has plenty of uses. Fireball is a projectile with decently long range. It can be useful in the neutral game or in edgeguarding, thanks to its disruptive knockback, along with very useful chances to disrupt direct approaches. Super Jump Punch travels in a controllable diagonal direction and grants moderate distance, making it good at recovery. It also has intangibility upon startup, allowing it to be used out of shield very effectively. Due to its extremely quick startup, it is also a useful combo finisher, especially near the blast line. On the other hand, Cape reverses opponents, with the induced disorientation often being enough to allow a free hit or efficiently gimp a recovery, which aids in edgeguarding opponents. It is also a powerful reflector, making it highly useful in matchups against projectile-heavy characters, such as Mega Man. F.L.U.D.D. is a mechanism that shoots water, pushing opponents away, which compliments his Cape. Though situational, it can occasionally be used to give Mario some breathing space. As a result of his Cape, F.L.U.D.D. and his fast aerials, Mario also boasts a versatile edgeguarding game.
Another valuable strength of Mario is his grab game. Even though his grab reach is only average, his grabs are among the fastest in the game, and his pummel, while moderately slow, can rack up some damage before throwing the opponent. His forward and up throws have the same overall use: they send the opponent at a disadvantageous position, where Mario can capitalize on their mistake. His back throw is by far his strongest throw and can reliably KO below 150% near the ledge on any character, and even earlier with rage. Finally, his down throw is a notorious combo starter. It can repeatedly lead into up tilt at low percentages, or down tilts to regrab on fast fallers or heavyweights and rack up at least 20% in the process. Alternatively, it can lead into neutral attack, forward tilt, down tilt, up smash and down smash at low percentages, as well as neutral aerial, up aerial, down aerial and Super Jump Punch at medium percentages. Finally, and due to the favorable angles his moves send at, his tremendously quick frame data and his extensive amount of combo starters, Mario's combo ability is among the most reliable in the game, and it is also worth noting that seven of Mario's moves can lock (forward tilt, neutral attack's first two hits, Fireball, down aerials landing hit, and neutral, forward and back aerials (the former and latter being usually effective when sourspotted, though a majority of them are only usable at low percents). This makes it almost always imperative for Mario's opponent to tech all attacks at low percentages when needed, otherwise Mario can capitalize on the opportunity, and tack on unavoidable massive damage in the process.
Despite Mario's numerous strengths, he is not flawless. Most characters are able to outperform him in various areas: notable examples include Bayonetta having a more versatile combo ability, Sonic having better mobility, Donkey Kong having higher power right off the bat and Cloud having larger reach. In particular, the latter two are his main weaknesses: his KOing ability is largely inconsistent, with very few guaranteed KO set-ups, and all of them being hard to confirm. While much of his moveset can get the job done, there is a noticeable gap in power between his strongest moves and his other ones, with this meaning he'll usually have to rely on his sweetspotted forward smash, up smash, down smash's back hit, or back throw to score kills, which are all further compounded by the poor reach of his attacks. As such, he cannot afford to get predictable, especially with the existence of stale-move negation. His lack of reach also prevents him from fighting at a safe distance and consistently forces Mario to approach characters. This leads into having some difficulty against characters with large or disjointed reach, though fortunately, these types of characters tend to have significantly slower attacks than Mario, meaning that this tends to be the least of his worries.
Lastly, his recovery is rather limited. He has fast air speed, a high jump, and a very fast and safe up special in Super Jump Punch. However, Super Jump Punch does not travel a very long distance and is fairly linear, making it easy to predict. His other options also are unreliable, as Cape and F.L.U.D.D. each travel very little momentum and are extremely easy to edgeguard, F.L.U.D.D. being useful only to substitute for his air speed, and Cape only to guard break edgeguarders or wait them out. This necessitates that Mario returns to the stage quickly, as a single opening offstage may be fatal for him. Nevertheless, Mario's recovery provides serviceable distance, but caution must be exercised when offstage.
Mario's custom moves define the fundamentals of customization, with all of them following an "X over Y" pattern. Fast Fireball deals less damage and barely causes flinching, but covers more range at a much faster pace and can further improve his already above average camping abilities as well as disrupt most attacks. Fire Orb has less range and is much slower, but deals repeated damage and lingers after being shot, allowing for potential follow-ups. Shocking Cape is electric and has actual KO power, but cannot stall in the air as much as its other variants or reflect projectiles. Gust Cape pushes opponents away, especially at point-blank range, but it deals less damage and possesses more ending lag. Super Jump grants almost twice as much distance, but is unable to hit opponents. Explosive Punch deals high flame damage, but travels a short distance at a fixed direction. Scalding F.L.U.D.D. hits multiple times and can disrupt an opponent's approach better, but is not as useful in edgeguarding and has less reach. High-Pressure F.L.U.D.D. takes much longer to charge, but its push effect is greatly amplified.
Overall, Mario has many clear strengths, and very few glaring weaknesses. Despite being intended as a jack-of-all-trades character, his very quick speed overall and largely reliable combo ability allows him to get the edge easily against most characters, as it is hard to escape from him once he gets to combo the opponent, while being easy for him to escape and regain the advantage. However, because of his low range, Mario must almost always fight in close quarters. Mario has to be very careful offstage as well in spite of his viable edgeguarding game, as a single vent in his defenses can cause him to be unable to recover.
Nevertheless, Mario's favorable attributes give him numerous advantages. Because of this, he has the one of, if not the, lowest technical learning curves in the game, which has secured him high representation in all levels of play, with high-level professionals such as Ally and ANTi achieving a slew of strong tournament results.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Mario was regarded as an unviable low tier in Brawl due to him having significant disadvantages including poor range, limited/difficult to land KO moves and a poor recovery that resulted in him being an unpopular choice for beginners despite being a balanced character. As a result of this, Mario has been significantly buffed from Brawl to Smash 4. Mario's mobility is overall better especially in the air; with his jumps and up special being higher and his air speed being much higher which along with his faster air dodge and the removal of edge hogging, significantly improves his recovery.
Mario is overall more capable of comboing and KOing both due to universal changes and changes to some of his moves. Mario's forward and up smash which were already his main KO moves have been made stronger. The changes to hitstun canceling and directional influence have significantly improved Mario's combo potential and two of his moves have been altered to further enforce this. Mario's down throw has significantly reduced base knockback which has made it a much better combo tool at low percents while still being a much more reliable combo tool at higher percents due to the changes to hitstun canceling/DI. Mario's grabs are also faster; making it easier for him to start his powerful grab game.
Mario's up aerial now launches opponents vertically like its Smash 64 counterpart which has made Mario's already decent juggling potential much more potent especially with the afforementioned changes to hitstun canceling/DI. The move can very easily chain into itself and lead into a Super Jump Punch making it a very powerful juggling tool. Mario's forward aerial is also noticeably more effective. The move is not only stronger and naturally benefits from the removal of meteor canceling, but it can also be comboed into due to the afforementioned changes to hitstun canceling/DI as well as his altered down throw/up aerial.
Mario also greatly benefits from the introduction of rage as it not only allows him to KO earlier as well as allowing his combos to work sooner but it also enables him to KO opponents at insanely low percents with his Super Jump Punch; giving him a cheesy KO option which can occassionally allow Mario to score insanely early KOes. Mario's solid weight also means that he is capable of building up a decent amount of rage before getting KOed.
Mario has received some nerfs however. Mario's damage output has now been decreased noticeably even relative to the cast, now being average. This makes it harder for Mario to rack up damage although his more consistent combo game somewhat alleviates this. This also means that quite a few of Mario's more situational KO moves (such as the front hit of down smash, neutral aerial and back throw) are weaker than they were before meaning that Mario still has to rely on landing a forward or an up smash to secure a KO if he does not score an early KO from an edgeguard or a Super Jump Punch. Mario's frame data while still solid is also worse with multiple moves having increased ending lag as well as some moves having shorter hitbox durations.
Mario's Fireballs and Cape have also seen some nerfs. Fireballs; while travelling further are laggier and weaker making them a worse camping tool overall. Cape's reflection period has been reduced and the removal of edge momentum shifting has hindered Cape more than almost any other special significantly hindering its edgeguarding and approach potential. Even before edge momentum shifting was removed in patch 1.0.8, Cape did not gain as much momentum when used off an edge. Cape is also hindered by the removal of edge hogging and the speeding up of air dodges although Mario still overall benefits from these changes.
Mario's traction is also lower which hinders his ability to punish out of shield despite still possessing excellent out of shield options. Mario can also no longer use a pivoted forward smash to make it cover a lot more distance which considerably hinders Mario's ability to whiff punish moves while being on the ground.
Overall Mario's strengths are much more pronounced and effective and while he still has poor range and inconsistent KO potential outside of his smash attacks, his recovery is significantly better and the universal changes to Smash 4 have greatly benefitted him overall. The universal changes have allowed Mario to have a very consistent and powerful combo game while also greatly aiding his recovery and his KO potential to the point where he can occassionally score extremely early KOs. Mario also benefits from the fact that a majority of characters who gave him a hard time in Brawl have been nerfed which along with numerous characters having reduced range, weaker projectile games and the removal of chain grabbing, has allowed Mario's improved combo game to shine even further relative to the cast while his poor range has become less of an issue. As a result of these changes combined with Mario being a rather simple and effective character to use for beginners and high level players alike, Mario has become a much more viable character in competitive play resulting in him having the largest tier rise from Brawl to Smash 4.
Unlike other characters, Mario has only received minor changes in updates. The changes to shield mechanics in 1.1.1 have slightly harmed him overall; while the higher shieldstun increases the safety of his smash attacks on shield, especially his forward smash's sweetspot, they also make it harder for him to punish out of shield due to his low traction. Nonetheless, this has not significantly affected Mario's viability in tournament play, and he is considered to be much better relative to the cast than he was during the initial release, which is further compounded by the nerfs game updates have brought to his hardest matchups, most notably Diddy Kong, Sheik, Zero Suit Samus and Bayonetta.
Technical changelist 1.0.6
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon the game's release players immediately noticed the significant buffs Mario had received to his mobility, combo game, and most notably his KO power and reach. Meanwhile, although not a direct consequence, his tougher matchups from Brawl such as Marth, Meta Knight, and King Dedede were nerfed (especially with the former two's range reduced; the lack of range was Mario's critical flaw in Brawl). These buffs and the less hostile competitive environment caused Mario to be viewed as a viable character unlike in Brawl, where he is ranked as a low-tier character. The result of these buffs was a character with the lowest learning curve of any character in the game, who provides high reward for little effort, with caveats including great all-around mobility, a powerful, yet easy combo game, a useful zoning tool in his Fireballs, outstanding frame data that, in some cases, can leave him near-unpunishable (letting him abuse otherwise unsafe moves like charged smash attacks), and a strong recovery aided by a Cape that also works as a reflector. While some of these strengths were not perceived until much later, these caused him to quickly gain good tournament representation in all levels of play, and was considered a mid to high-tier character. Despite this, opinions of Mario slowly began to rise due to the fact he remained stagnant in game updates, as well as the nerfs to Diddy Kong, who was one of his most troublesome matchups. As a result of this, he started to gain much higher representation and results, especially by top players such as Ally and ANTi, both of whom have placed among the top 8 in large tournaments such as The Big House 5, with ANTi also taking top player ZeRo through very close games in the former tournament. This resulted in Mario ranking 8th on the first 4BR tier list.
On the earlier half of 2016, Mario's already strong results would significantly improve. Game updates would nerf Sheik, Zero Suit Samus and Bayonetta, some of his most difficult matchups, while Mario himself remained unchanged. Although it was unknown how these nerfs to the top tiers would affect him at first, it later became clear many characters (and players themselves) started to have a hard time fighting even inexperienced Marios. Furthermore, Ally would go on to win Get On My Level 2016, Smash 'N' Splash 2 and EVO 2016 using Mario (the latter being the largest Smash 4 tournament to date), while ANTi won CEO 2016 using Mario for the majority of the tournament (although he only won games with Cloud in Grand Finals). Due to this streak of successes, players would go on to say Mario was among the Top 5 characters in the game, which would coincidentally be reflected in him rising to 5th place on the second tier list, officially entering the highest tier. On the third tier list, Mario suffered a very slight drop to 6th place and the A tier, as while he remained a very successful character, his results had dropped compared to Summer 2016, and this drop also paved the way for Bayonetta to claim the 1st place. Despite this, many players argued that Mario still deserved a Top 5 ranking due to his spectacular prior results, and the tier list also marked the first time he surpassed Rosalina & Luma as the highest-ranked Mario character.
Recently, however, Mario's top level results have become noticeably worse than some top tier characters such as Fox, Marth, Ryu, Sonic and Zero Suit Samus, all of whom have received stronger tournament representation and results. Players also eventually learned that some of his even or disadvantageous matchups lurked in the lower tiers and do a solid job at exploiting Mario's below average range, with Corrin, Donkey Kong, and Lucina being particular examples. As a result, Mario's decline in tournament results saw him drop to 9th place on the fourth and current tier list. Regardless, it is certain that Mario is by far the most improved veteran from Brawl to Smash 4.