Charles Martinet reprises his role as Mario, albeit via recycled voice clips from Super Mario 64.
Mario is ranked 15th out of 26 on the current tier list, placing him in the E tier. This is very similar to his previous ranking in Smash 64, where he is ranked 7th out of 12. It also places him four places lower than his clone Dr. Mario at 11th place and two places lower than his younger brother Luigi. Like in Smash 64, Mario acts as a well-rounded character, with average attributes across the board. He has above average comboing ability due to the somewhat low knockback and the angles at which his moves tend to send on, and a very versatile grab game: his powerful back throw can KO most opponents with ease and gimp some recoveries, while his up and down throws can chain-grab. Mario also has a solid edge-guarding game, with a solid projectile in his Fireball, and his Cape which can easily and efficiently gimp almost every other character's recovery. Mario, however, lacks a reliable finisher, with many moves with aforementioned low knockback with the exception of his forward and down smash. His recovery is also predictable and short, though he can extend it, which leaves him vulnerable to being gimped by characters such as Jigglypuff. His mediocre range also leaves him with trouble against characters with disjointed hitboxes such as Marth. Overall, Mario has average matchups in tournament play, with favorable matchups against most lower tiered characters though having disadvantageous matchups against higher tiered characters, especially against those who can either gimp or outrange him.
As a character, Mario falls under the archetype of being of an all-rounder character, with no particularly strong or weak traits; indeed, in terms of weight, falling speed, air speed, size, and dash speed, Mario tends to fall in the middle of these attributes.
One of Mario's strengths is his rather good combo ability. While not having an extremely high air or falling speed, Mario can easily and efficiently combo most other characters in the air; Mario has plenty of low lag and low knockback aerials, and the addition of a long wavedash and fast ground attacks give Mario plenty of combo potential. Mario also has a good SHFFL.
Mario also has an above average approach. Despite an only average air speed and dashing speed, Mario still has good options for getting closer to opponents. His Fireballs have good range and can disrupt opponents at a distance; differing terrains such as slopes and platforms can also give the Fireball many options. Mario, due to his average attributes in traction and falling speed, has a rather long and floaty wavedash; coupled with decently ranged smash attacks, Mario has good wavesmashing abilities.
Mario is also a surprisingly good edgeguarder. He has a meteor smash in his forward aerial, albeit it having high startup and ending lag and not being too powerful, and his back aerial sends opponents on a decent angle for edgeguarding. Mario's Fireballs can also gimp recoveries; its low knockback makes it effective in the regard. Most notably, however, Mario has what is likely the absolute best edgeguarding weapon in all the game: his Cape. When used, it can effectively and quickly gimp almost every recovery in the game; it's especially useful against linear recoveries, such as Fox's Fire Fox or Luigi's Green Missile.
Mario also has a surprisingly good grab game. Despite a rather poor grab range, Mario's throws are notable for their versatility; his forward and back throws can easily set up gimp KOs, especially the latter, while his up and down throws can act as combo starters, as well as very effective chain grabs: Mario's up throw can chain grab fast fallers such as Fox, Falco, and Captain Falcon, while his down throw can chain grab heavy characters, as well as being able to chain grab Pikachu and Pichu up to high percents, if not to a KO.
Mario, however, suffers from some KOing problems. He lacks particularly powerful or reliable finishers; while his forward smash has good range, coupled with a very visible and easy to land sweetspot, his other smashes are rather short ranged. Additionally, while Mario's back throw is strong, it requires grabbing the opponent first; this can be a challenge, due to Mario's poor grab range. Mario's single meteor smash is also rather unwieldy and risky to use.
Mario also suffers from a below average recovery. Super Jump Punch only grants average to slightly below average horizontal and vertical distance, while Mario Tornado can only grant vertical distance if the B button is tapped quickly. Mario, however, does have some options to improve his recovery; Mario's Cape can allow him to recover from the sides, and he has the ability to wall-jump, which can act as a help on stages such as Final Destination.
Overall, Mario could be considered to be a poor-man's Marth. While both characters have great combo ability and a similar recovery, Marth has a much easier time finishing off opponents as well as having longer range in his attacks and his grab range making it much easier for Marth to chain-grab fast-fallers compared to Mario.
Changes from Super Smash Bros.
When making the transition from Smash 64 to Melee, Mario got a mix of buffs and nerfs, but was neither strongly buffed or nerfed. Mario is faster on the ground and he greatly benefits from the introduction of air dodging giving him a solid wavedash which makes his grounded movement much more solid overall. The speed of Mario's attacks has been considerably improved as most of his attacks have decreased ending lag and a decent amount of them have decreased startup lag as well, and his new forward smash, a palm thrust that emits a fiery blast, has more range and is more reliable due to the addition of a sweetspot located on the explosion. His edgeguarding has also considerably improved as his back aerial is considerably faster and his up aerial has been retooled to give it more edgeguarding potential. His new side special Cape also gives him a new powerful edgeguarding tool as well as an extra tool for recovering.
As for his nerfs, Mario's damage output has been decreased and his KO power has been considerably decreased as many of his previous KO moves have been greatly weakened making it far more difficult for Mario to KO his opponents. In particular, his new forward aerial, while now capable of meteor smashing and losing its sourspot, is much slower and weaker and has less range. His strongest KO moves (his forward and down smashes) while faster now have sourspots making them more difficult to use effectively. While Mario has a few new options to recover such as his cape and wall jump, his recovery is overall worse (especially when relative to the cast) as his air speed is slower, he falls faster, his fireballs are smaller making them a worse option to wall out opponents while recovering and his Super Jump Punch travels less distance making him easier to edgeguard.
Overall, Mario is largely a much weaker character as his damage output is lower, his combo game is weaker in some aspects and many of his previous KO moves can no longer KO under 90-120%. In exchange, his attacks are much faster and his grounded movement has been improved especially due to the introduction of wavedashing. Mario remains in a similar spot on Melee's tier list and he overall struggles against higher tiered characters limiting his success in competitive play.
Mario was nerfed in the PAL version of Melee although due to many characters ranked above him being nerfed, his viability remains similar overall.
For a gallery of Mario's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
Mario has an above-average matchup spread, as he is not as harshly countered by top tier characters as other mid-tiered characters are. He is countered by two characters (Marth and Jigglypuff), soft countered by eight characters, has four even matchups, soft counters three characters, counters seven (including Pikachu and Yoshi, despite them being 6 and 3 places higher, respectively), and hard counters one, Pichu. Mario tends to struggle against characters who can space him easily or edgeguard him, such as Marth and Jigglypuff, and tends to do well against characters who he can combo or chaingrab (especially Pichu). Overall, Mario has the tools to take on most characters in the cast.
Mario's matchups against two characters who are higher then him, Yoshi and Pikachu, are being called into question due to their increasing dominance in the metagame, while Mario's own metagame has began to stagnate. As it now stands, he loses to Yoshi and only has a slight advantage against Pikachu (due to his chaingrab) in the current metagame instead of cleanly countering them. His matchup with Young Link has also been called into question, with many players claiming the matchup to be even or in Young Link's favor, rather than a counter for Mario. Fox, Falco, Marth, and Sheik remain highly problematic matchups that often impede Mario from advancing in bracket, and he has had few competitive developments that have helped him in those matchups. Since Dr. Mario has much stronger matchups all around, including a close to even matchup against Jigglypuff, many competitive players opt to choose him instead of regular Mario, further leading to metagame stagnation.
Tier placement and history
Very early in the Melee metagame, when few players knew the potential of now-top tier characters, Mario was considered one of the best characters in the game, ranking as high as 5th on the first tier list. This could be attributed to Mario's simple but effective combo setups, strong attacks, low learning curve, and lack of any outstanding drawbacks due to being well-rounded, as well as his extendable recovery. As the metagame advanced, however, Mario's average statistics were magnified as the potentials for many other superior characters, such as Peach, Captain Falcon, and the Ice Climbers, were discovered. This caused Mario to slowly slip down the tier list as time progressed, as well as lose significant placing in large tournaments; eventually, Mango (under the alias "Scorpion Master") was the only person who placed anywhere significant with him, but even he rarely placed high enough to earn money from playing Mario, cashing in at 25th place at Apex 2010 instead of his usual top 8 placements when using better characters. On the current tier list, he ranks 15th place in the E tier; on the other hand, his clone Dr. Mario and semi-clone Luigi, who were once widely considered worse than Mario, have surpassed him in ranking. In today's metagame, some players, such as Shroomed, believe Mario could potentially be better than Doctor Mario, due to his faster aerials, better recovery, and longer reach and disjoint in some of his attacks, such as Forward Smash and Down Smash, and A Rookie has represented the character with many strong placements. Otherwise, many people still place him below many characters and the whole metagame of Mario has remained stagnant.
In Classic Mode, Mario can appear as an ally in team and giant fights, a solo, team, giant, multi, and metal opponent. In Mario's appearances, he either appears on Princess Peach's Castle or Rainbow Cruise. On a team with Bowser, he appears on Battlefield and with Peach, he appears on Mushroom Kingdom II; during the battle against Mario + Bowser on Battlefield, the stage will play the Princess Peach's Castle track.
Mario is one of only two characters who can appear twice in Adventure Mode, alongside his brother Luigi.
In the game's Adventure Mode, Mario teams up with Peach against the player in the second part of the first stage, taking place on Princess Peach's Castle. If the player finished the previous segment, Mushroom Kingdom, with the remaining time registering 2 in the seconds digit, his younger brother Luigi will take his place in a cutscene that will trigger right before this battle, which has Luigi stomping on Mario's head to get to the top of the castle.
Later on, in the second half of Stage 11, Metal Mario will fight the player's character on the Battlefield stage, where he functions as simply a Mario permanently under the influence of the Metal Box item. If the player unlocked Luigi, Metal Mario will be joined by Metal Luigi, and they both team up on the player, making for a harder fight.
In All-Star Mode, Mario and his allies are fought on Rainbow Cruise.
Mario is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Mario as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Mario on any difficulty: