Marth (マルス, Marth) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He was confirmed to be a playable character on the Smash Bros. DOJO on February 5, 2008. Despite being a "hidden" character, Marth appears in the game's opening video, standing back to back with Meta Knight. Hikaru Midorikawa reprises his role as Marth in all regions, with some of his voice clips being reused from Melee.
Marth currently ranks 5th on the Brawl tier list, at the very top of the A- tier. This makes him the highest ranking unlockable character and the second-highest ranking veteran in the game and still maintaining a top-tier ranking similar to Falco and the Ice Climbers. He possesses long-ranged sword attacks that give him among the best reach in Brawl, allowing him to space very effectively, especially against characters with poor range. Marth also possesses attacks that have remarkably quick startup and above average mobility, additional power when he lands an attack on the tip of his sword (his forward smash and down aerial being notable examples), strong combo abilities at low percents due to his fast attacks, and a strong aerial game overall and edgeguarding abilities (with his forward aerial being very powerful at both aspects). Marth has a few flaws however. His primary recovery move, Dolphin Slash, provides decent vertical distance, but only average horizontal distance, making his recovery predictable and rather easily edgehogged. Marth has difficulty KOing without edgeguarding if he fails to sweetspot his finishers due to the much weaker knockback delivered, requiring very precise hard reads to be effective. He can have problems getting off the ledge above 100% due to his ledge climbing options above 100% being poor, especially when he has RCO lag and especially against characters like Meta Knight. His options when directly above the opponent are fairly poor because his down aerial does not protect him very well from opponents that can juggle him. He also can have difficulty approaching due to his lack of a projectile. Regardless, Marth has among the strongest matchup spreads in Brawl (losing only to Meta Knight and King Dedede), and has achieved strong tournament results.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Marth must then be defeated on Castle Siege.
Marth in Brawl is essentially a reprise from Melee. He retains his status as a quick-footed, high-range lightweight; tall (for his weight class), with stronger aerial attacks. With a great aerial moveset and air defense, Marth is almost unparalleled in the air. Marth also retains certain qualities, such as increased power and hitlag at the tip of his blade, which defines a great part of his playstyle. This tipper mechanic is the basis for Marth's very potent down aerial meteor smash and for his down tilt edgeguard. His attacks, when not tippered, are relatively weak, and hitting with the sweetspot can be difficult (although some attacks are rather easy to sweetspot like his up aerial and down tilt). Most of Marth's attacks have quick startup and good reach, but his attacks can be easily punished if blocked and not spaced well due to often having noticeable ending lag (though his standard special has Shield damage). Marth himself lacks a projectile, but his high mobility allows him to avoid opponents' projectiles. Dolphin Slash, which grants Marth invincibility in its first five frames, allows Marth to escape chain grabs and gives him access to a powerful out of shield option that can KO at higher percentages, though it leaves Marth helpless and vulnerable until he lands, making it a high risk high reward move. As a recovery, the move travels a decent vertical distance, slightly higher than the distance between the main body of Battlefield and its highest platform. Though it can be aimed to travel farther horizontally, Dolphin Slash only provides average horizontal distance and suffers from the landing lag glitch, though Marth can augment his horizontal recovery by charging Shield Breaker. The latter attack has the most horizontal reach out of Marth's moveset, and true to its name, deals high shield damage. Marth players often follow up a shield break with another fully charged, tippered Shield Breaker for a KO. Dancing Blade does high damage and counts as four attacks in the refresh counter, making it great to refresh his other moves as well as inflict high damage on the opponent, and the last hit tilted upwards can KO at higher percentages. As such, Marth is arguably one of the characters least affected by stale-move negation and it is also a good out-of-shield option as it has almost nonexistent startup lag, though like many of Marth's moves, it is easily punished if shielded. Marth's Counter, the fastest counter in the game, can be used to punish opponent attacks and interrupt combos. Marth has good standing grab reach and a very long reaching pivot grab which is combined with the fact that he can chain grab a number of characters using his forward throw (if only for a couple of throws). He also has a grab release infinite on Lucas and Ness (making him a hard counter against those two characters), a chain grab-release to a down air meteor smash (or a slight step followed by a forward smash) on Squirtle, and grab release to down air, forward air, or Dolphin Slash on Meta Knight (although the latter is still considered a hard matchup for Marth). On the downside, his throws are extremely weak in terms of damage and knockback (usually doing only 4% per throw, with the exception of his down throw, which does 5% and his up throw is the only throw that KOs in Sudden Death), although their weak knockback also means they can link into his other moves fairly reliably for racking damage.
Overall, Marth is a fast character whose attack range gives him very potent offensive and defensive options, especially in the air. Thanks to his safety of his moves and their ability to aggressively pressure opponents, he is one of the best offensive characters in the game. His strengths are tempered by his lack of a projectile and his light weight relative to his height, though he is heavy enough to make him vulnerable to King Dedede's down throw chaingrab. Marth also has difficulty KOing the heavier characters, especially those with good momentum canceling, due to his tipped attacks having high base knockback but low knockback scaling, which forces him to rely on edgeguarding to KO. While he has great options below 100% (best regular ledge climb in the game and a ledge jump which gives him up to +10 invincibility, allowing him to ledge jump into invincible any aerial), those options are replaced with laggy ledge get ups above 100% (with ledge jump no longer providing invincible aerials) which can be abused by several characters, especially when he has RCO lag. On the upper side, Marth himself has excellent options both juggling and racking damage on opponents who are trying to climb from the ledge thanks to his quick and safe zoning tools.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
It is debatable whether Marth has been buffed or nerfed from Melee, as he was objectively nerfed in terms of attributes, but buffed in terms of other areas. Marth's incredible ground movement is less effective than in Melee, due to the weakening of dash dancing and the removal of wavedashing. Additionally Marth's grab range is also much shorter, making it harder to set-up follow-ups out of his throws. Thus, Marth's neutral game as a whole is weaker, due to less safe movement, and Brawl's more defensive minded metagame, hindering his approach. Additionally, Marth's large combo potential and phenomenal edgeguarding ability were also toned down, as he can no longer create extended, near zero-to-death juggles with the aid of platforms and can also no longer close out stocks consistently when edgeguarding due to the loss of consistency in his down aerial as well as the altered physics of Brawl.
Despite this, his nerfed combo and edgeguarding prowess still remains among the best relative to the cast, and the new mechanics of Brawl help alleviate one of his critical flaws in his poor recovery. Contrary to popular belief, Marth's overall range was increased relative to the cast, combined with the universal nerf of mobility options, this helps Marth zone out his opponents somewhat better than before. The removal of crouch cancelling also removes one of his weaknesses in Melee, where many of his non-tipper moves were crouch-cancelable at low percents. His moves are also relatively stronger when tippered, giving him more KO potential.
As such, while Marth has more potential KO options at high percents, he can only secure such KOs by fishing for them in neutral, which requires incredible reads and thus cannot be done consistently at high level play. Despite this, Marth is still a very favorable character at high level play, and has fared much better in the transition from Melee to Brawl than other top-tier veterans, such as Captain Falcon and Jigglypuff.
For simplicity, if, for example, Marth's blade does 4% damage while the tip does 6%, and the attack has no other hitboxes, it is written as 4%/6%.
In competitive play
According to the matchup chart, Marth's matchup spread is the fourth highest weighted and unweighted rank. Marth has two soft counters, 9 even matchups, soft counters 10 matchups, counters 8, and hard counters 7. Marth has more even matchups than the other top tier characters, but has the tools to beat almost any character. Marth has a very strong air game, as his forward aerial is helpful in almost any situation, whether it be for camping, edgeguarding, or comboing. His ground game, while not as potent as his air game, is acceptable. His down tilt is fast, strong, and propels him forward. Marth can easily wall out characters like Wario and Pikachu, because of their relatively short ranged attacks and lower KO power, but because of Marth's dependence on edgeguarding, he struggles against characters like Meta Knight. He also has trouble against King Dedede, because of his chain grab, strong recovery, and longevity, forcing Marth to land tippers. Overall, Marth has strong matchups all around, but more even ones than most of the other top tier characters.
Tier placement and history
Similarly to Falco, Marth has remained a top tier character even after his transition from Melee. Throughout Brawl's history, Marth has always hovered around the 5th to 7th place positions due to his positive traits as well as his strong representation in tournaments. When Olimar and the Ice Climbers began to rise, Marth's position slipped back to 7th place, with some thinking he would fall further as professionals of characters below him, such as Zero Suit Samus, would discover new innovations in their metagames, while Marth's would remain mostly stagnant due to his simplistic playstyle. However, Marth still did rise back to 5th place for the current Brawl tier list. There are smashers who dispute this placement, stating that Marth is placed far too high; some (such as Keitaro and Mew2King) claim that Marth's nerfs going into Brawl overwhelmed his buffs, and that because his combo ability was completely compromised in the transition, he was a bad character in theory and should be ideally placed around middle tier. Due to these factors, Marth's tier placement is debated and some argue that characters, such as Snake, should be placed higher than him. However, strong tournament results from Marth professionals such as Mr. R and Mikeneko in high-level tournaments such as Apex 2013 have influenced the Brawl Back Room to place Marth at 5th above Falco and Snake.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Two R.O.B.s activate a Subspace Bomb in a barren battlefield. Marth is seen atop his castle watching helplessly as the robots detonate the bomb. He stands and shines Falchion, prepared to fend off the hundreds of Primids advancing toward the castle. Marth confronts the Primids, descending through the building until he reaches the grounds. There he is ambushed by Meta Knight. During the duel (in the same video sequence), they are attacked from behind by a group of Primids, at which point they simultaneously jump into the air, slicing the Primids in two with their swords. Realizing that they share a common enemy, they join forces to defeat the Primids. After fighting against the Primids, both Meta Knight and Marth aim their attacks at the Ancient Minister, who is carrying another Subspace Bomb. Marth misses with Dolphin Slash, while Meta Knight's wing is ignited by a laser shot from the fleeing Ancient Minister. Ike then shows up and dismantles the Ancient Minister's Subspace Bomb with his trusted Aether move. With the Subspace Bomb destroyed, the trio storm the castle once more.
In the desert, they see a vehicle driving off in the distance. Ike immediately jumps off the cliff to pursue it, followed by Meta Knight. Marth merely scratches the back of his head in disbelief before following them. When they find the vehicle, it transforms into Galleom, and the three fight it. The defeated Galleom falls through unstable ground, where it encounters Lucas and Pokémon Trainer in the Ruined Hall. Now severely weakened after being fought again, it grabs Lucas and the Trainer in an attempt to detonate an emergency Subspace Bomb, but Lucas manages to free himself and Pokémon Trainer from Galleom using PK Thunder, commencing a headfirst freefall. Meta Knight catches Lucas and the unconscious Trainer right before they hit the ground and meets them up with Marth and Ike. When the Halberd crashes the Great Fox into a mountain, Marth is unable to catch up with Meta Knight, who is climbing the mountain. Later, the Ice Climbers fall down and befriend Marth, Ike, Lucas, and Pokémon Trainer, only to be rained on by Shadow Bugs from the Halberd above. Mario, Pit, Kirby, Link and Yoshi come to aid them in fighting off the Primids that were dropped. After the battle, the Halberd (now under control of Meta Knight, Snake, Lucario, Zelda, Peach, Fox, Mr. Game & Watch, and Falco) and the Falcon Flyer (carrying Captain Falcon, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Olimar, Samus, Pikachu and R.O.B.) land to pick them up.
Marth and friends destroy the Subspace Gunship (though the Halberd was downed in the process). They enter Subspace and encounter Tabuu, who turns them all into trophies. Fortunately he, and some of the others, are revived by King Dedede, Luigi, and Ness, while the rest are revived by Kirby. Marth helps the heroes in the showdown against Tabuu.
The following stickers can only be used by Marth or Ike:
In Event Matches
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