Super Smash Bros. series
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Out of shield

From SmashWiki, the Super Smash Bros. wiki
Zero Suit Samus grabbing Marth out of shield in Brawl.
Kirby using an up smash during the guard-off frames.

Out of shield (abbreviated as OoS) options are any moves or other actions that can be performed while a character is shielding. These moves are usually used in response to shield pressure from an opponent. Since only some actions can be performed out of shield, the player who is shielding has fewer options both for fighting back and for movement. A character's set of out of shield options consists both of "built-in" moves from shield such as grabs and rolls, as well as many other moves like wavedashes, aerials, and up smashes. Moves that have high ending lag or very little range are easiest to punish by performing a move OoS.

Of all of the options that a player has while shielding, the most important option is jumping. Players can cancel the startup of the jump with either an up smash or an up special. Any aerial can be performed immediately after jumping, or the player can wavedash or simply jump away. How soon a character will have access to their aerial options depends on the length of their jumpsquat. A shorter jumpsquat allows the player to access their aerials sooner, which is beneficial. While all up smashes and up specials are technically out of shield options, as they can be used while shielding, not many of them are effective. For example, Falco's Fire Bird in Melee can be used directly from shield, but is essentially useless due to its lack of hitbox while charging. The same goes for many characters' rolls or grabs, especially if they suffer from long lag. The quicker a move and the better its range, the better the move is OoS.

Starting in Melee, characters who can jump out of shield can also jump during their guard-off animation, providing all the same options as jumping OoS.

Differences between games[edit]

Between the different games in the Smash Bros. series, the amount of shieldstun has varied. As shieldstun disables a player's ability to use any of their out of shield options, the more shieldstun a game has, the more difficult it becomes to get out of shield. It is easiest to OoS in Brawl both because the amount of shieldstun is lower than in the other games, and because it takes only 7 frames for a player to drop a shield, making it viable for a player to drop their shield and then use any move. Conversely, it is the hardest to use OoS techniques in Smash 64 because of its high shieldstun. An example of this is that if a move deals 15%, it will have 28 frames of shieldstun in Smash 64 but in Brawl, it will only have 5 frames of shieldstun.

The amount of time it takes to drop shield without any shieldstun also varies between games. It takes 7 frames to drop shield in Brawl, and Smash 4, 11 frames in Smash 64 and Ultimate, and 15 frames in Melee. One exception with this however is with Yoshi prior to Smash 4. His shield drop is 15 frames long in Smash 64 and 16 frames long in Melee and Brawl.

When a character jumps out of shield in Smash 64, they are intangible for the first two frames of their jumpsquat. This can be used as a quick defensive option to avoid attacks, which can then lead into either an aerial or an up smash/up special. This was removed in all later entries however.

Another change which occured in Brawl is that players can now perform an up special during the first frame of their jumpsquat. In Smash 64 and Melee, the player would have to jump from one frame before they could up special or up smash. In Brawl however, the player can now perform an up special the same frame as their jump begins, effectively allowing every chracter to perform their up special one frame earlier OoS. As an example of the effect this has, Marth's Dolphin Slash comes out on frame 5 in all games. In Melee, it cannot be done until frame 6 OoS but from Brawl onwards, it can now be performed on frame 5 OoS. This change was not made to up smashes however, so the player still has to jump for one frame in Brawl and Smash 4 before they can up smash.

Melee introduced perfect shielding (also known as power shielding). If an attack hits a shield during its first 4 frames of startup, a power shield will occur. This has three useful effects. The first effect is that the player takes no shield damage. The second effect is that it can be used to reflect projectiles which is very useful against projectile users such as Falco. The third effect is that it allows the player to use any attack during their shield drop animation (known as power shield canceling) which can allow for punishes which would otherwise not be possible (Yoshi cannot perform this in Melee and Brawl.) Power shielding lost the ability to reflect projectiles in Brawl although it now induces much less shield pushback. Smash 4 (as of patch 1.1.1) reduced the power shield window to 3 frames although power shielding now reduces shieldstun.

Ultimate also allows players to use their up smash or up special out of shield without dropping shield or inputting a jump first. This particularly benefits up smashes as they can now be performed on the first possible frame rather than the second possible frame. Additionally perfect shielding has been reworked in Ultimate. A perfect shield is now performed if a player drops shield within 5 frames of an attack. When successfully performed, this enables the player to act 3 frames earlier (in addition to having access to their entire moveset), allowing for harder punishes.

Technical details[edit]

Understanding what the best OoS option to use is requires extensive knowledge of frame data. The player first needs to understand what their fastest options are and how useful they are. The faster a move is, the more moves it can punish. The usefulness of the option depends on its range, strength and reliability. For example, while Zelda's up smash in Melee is a frame 6 OoS option (her fastest option by a large margin), it is rather useless due to its abysmal range and reliability; with the move failing to hit multiple characters and even if it does, the opponent can easily escape the move. Bowser's Whirling Fortress in Melee is also a frame 6 OoS option but it is much more useful due to its greater range, ability to KO, its intangibility frames during its startup (which allows him to plow through moves, even if the move is not a guaranteed punish) and the fact that Bowser can move around while using it.

Knowing how fast an option is depends on what kind of option it is. An up special or an up smash simply requires knowing the normal startup frames of the move (in addition to an extra frame prior to Ultimate for up smashes and up specials prior to Brawl). An aerial requires the jumpsquat frames as well as the startup of the aerial. In Ultimate, all jumpsquats are 3 frames so for every character, the speed of an aerial OoS is 3 + the aerial's startup frames. Jumpsquat lengths in the earlier games however depend on the character, so the player has to memorise their character's jumpsquat frames to make the most out of punishing OoS. A shield drop simply requires the player to add the length of the shield drop (which is 7, 11 or 15 frames depending on the game) to the startup lag of the move. For shields grabs, the player needs to know the startup frames of the grab and in Ultimate, the players needs to additionally add an extra 4 frames onto the startup.

The second important thing needed to understand the best OoS option to use is knowing the frame advantage the opponent's attack has on shield. Frame advantage in this case is the difference (in frames) between when the attacker can perform an option and when the shielding opponent can perform an OoS option. Shield advantage is determined by how much shieldstun the move causes and how much ending lag the move has. If a move has high shieldstun and low ending lag, it will grant a greater frame advantage than a move with lower shieldstun and higher ending lag. If the attacker can act the same frame that the opponent can drop shield or perform an out of shield option, the attack is neutral (or +/-0 frames) on shield. If the shielding opponent can act before the attacker, the move grants frame disadvantage (or - frames) on shield. If the attacker can act before the shielding opponent, the move will grant frame advantage (or + frames) on shield.

Most attacks in the Smash Bros. series (at least after Smash 64), grant a frame disadvantage on shield. Moves with a greater frame disadvantage on shield can be punished by a wider arrange of OoS options. For example, if Mario is shielding and he is hit by an attack which is only -4 on shield, his only guaranteed punish is his Super Jump Punch (as well as Mario Tornado in Smash 64), as the opponent can shield any other attack he has or they can use a defensive option (such as roll, spotdodge, or an attack with intangibility, invincibility or super armor if the character possesses an attack with one of those properties) to avoid his grab. If a move is -30 however, Mario has enough time to drop his shield and hit his opponent with a forward smash (or almost any other attack he has). The shielding opponent should always go for the strongest punish they can. Using Mario shielding a -30 attack as an example again, while Mario can Super Jump Punch, he shouldn't use it as it will not KO the opponent. If Mario uses a forward smash, it will KO the opponent if their percent is high enough. As a result, Mario should opt to use to forward smash as it will grant him a greater reward. He should only use Super Jump Punch for less punishable moves when it is either his only option or if he has no other more effective practical option.

If an attack cannot be punished out of shield, it is considered to be "safe on shield". If an attack is safe, the attacking opponent can either shield, use a defensive option or use an attack to shield, avoid or even beat any of the shielding opponent's OoS options. Whether a move is safe or not can be character dependent as some characters can punish OoS earlier than others. When a move is universally safe however in all games is when an attack is -2 (so the attacker can only act 2 frames earlier than the shielding opponent) on shield or less. In this case, the shielding opponent should either keep shielding or perform a defensive option. While the shielding opponent can still use an OoS option, it is riskier as it is not guaranteed to hit the attacker (who can then potentially punish the failed OoS option). If a move grants frame advantage (+ frames) on shield, the attacker can act before the shielding opponent can. If the attacker throws out an attack before the shielding opponent can act, it will hit their shield before they can use any of their OoS options. In the most extreme cases, this can lead into a shield break combo.

When frame data resources state the frame advantage a move has on shield, it makes certain assumptions. For grounded moves, they assume that the move is landed on the first possible frame. For aerials, they assume that you land the frame after landing the move (Smash 64 and Melee resources will also take L-cancelling into account in this situation). Because of this, an attack may be safer or less safe than what is commonly stated within an actual match. As a result, a move can sometimes be punished, even if it should be safe in theory. Additionally, an unsafe move can go unpunished if the shielding opponent mistimes their OoS option (which is especially easy to do in earlier Smash titles) or if the attack is landed during its later active frames, giving the shielding opponent less time to punish.

This concept is not exclusive to the Smash Bros. series as it also applies to any other traditional fighting game. The main difference between Smash Bros. and other fighting games however is that in other fighting games, the player has access to their entire moveset immediately after blocking while in Smash, the player has restrictions on what they can do due to how shields work (except after perfect shielding).

Examples of OoS moves[edit]

  • All grabs are effective OoS moves (known as shield grabbing). Some characters like King Dedede in Brawl and Marth in Melee have fast grabs with great grab reach, allowing them to punish most attacks with a shield grab, while some like Ganondorf have very poor grabbing reach and will have to be very close to the opponent in order to punish with a shield grab. Tether grabs have even better reach than other grabs but are much slower. As such, they tend to be more effective at shield grabbing after being hit by a slow but strong attack that causes non-tether grabbers to slide too far away to shield grab but is less effective shield grabbing weaker but faster moves, where they may be too slow to grab in time. In Ultimate, four additional frames of startup lag have been added when performing a shield grab after blocking an attack, making shield grabbing less effective than in previous games and more punishable overall.
  • Jumping (not possible for Yoshi in Melee and Brawl).
  • Many characters have many aerial moves that are quick and thus can be used as a response out of shield. In Ultimate, the short hop aerial shortcut allows aerial attacks to be used more effectively as out-of-shield options when combined with the universal 3-frame jumpsquat.
  • Wavedashing can be used from a jump in Melee, to either retreat or advance. A Wavedash straight down can also be used, since it's faster than dropping the shield for some characters.
  • Fox and Falco's shines in Melee (and Smash 64 in Fox's case) can be used OoS by jumping and using them immediately after leaving the ground. The shine cancels the momentum from the jump and the character returns to the ground, able to jump out of the shine. This technique is nearly identical to multishining. Fox's is more effective as an OoS option due to his 3 frame jumpsquat (as opposed to Falco's 5 frame jumpsquat) and its greater range.
  • Any up special move can be used from the shield by jump canceling, except for Yoshi's in Melee and Brawl. Some are more effective than others, though. In Ultimate, jump-canceling is not necessary in order to perform an up special out of shield, as one can merely drop one's shield and bypass the shield-dropping animation entirely with an up special input; if the C-Stick is set to special moves, one can also merely flick it upward while shielding to perform an immediate up special out of shield.
  • Bowser's Whirling Fortress, which is very fast with adequate horizontally reach while striking powerfully. It also allows Bowser to move pretty far across the ground in either direction, allowing Bowser to escape pressure easily. Bowser is also intangible during its startup in Melee and Brawl, allowing him to escape pressure in cases most other character's cannot while in shield.
  • Donkey Kong's Spinning Kong, which works similarly to Bowser's, except as of Brawl, it is much slower, much weaker (except in Ultimate, where it is actually stronger), and while Donkey Kong can move just as far as Bowser's forward, he barely moves if he tries going backward. In Smash 64 and Melee however, it is a rather effective OoS option, being a frame 4 OoS option in both games. In Smash 64, DK is intangible during the move's first 5 frames although in Melee this was reduced to 3 frames once the hitboxes became active. In Melee, the move's initial hitbox is very powerful and can easily KO opponents once they pass 100%.
  • Link's Spin Attack, which is decently fast with a great horizontal reach that strikes equally on both sides. It's a very powerful and effective option in all games except Brawl where it is noticeably slower and weaker than in other entries.
  • Mario's Super Jump Punch, is one of the fastest possible attacks out of shield, being a frame 3 OoS option (frame 4 in Melee). It deals low damage and knockback, however, and is very punishable if it misses due to its helplessness and high landing lag, limiting its effectiveness. Additionally prior to Smash 4, the opponent could potentially SDI out of the move and punish Mario.
  • Dr. Mario's Super Jump Punch also comes out on frame 3, and in Smash 4 and Ultimate, it has a strong initial hit, making it a highly effective OoS option, especially when a move is perfect shielded.
  • Marth's Dolphin Slash has a very fast frame 5 start-up, with great horizontal reach, and striking powerfully. It is especially effective in Brawl, as it is not only stronger than in later entries but it also has intangibility during its first 5 frames, which can allow Marth to use it to escape pressure in situations most other characters cannot while in shield. While extremely effective and capable of punishing nearly any move out of shield, it carries great risk, as it leaves Marth helpless in the air, which leads him wide open for a punish if he misses.
  • Meta Knight's Shuttle Loop, which works similarly to Marth's Dolphin Slash, except it is slower, hits vertically and has less horizontal reach. In Brawl, Meta Knight initiates his glide after using Shuttle Loop, making it extremely difficult to punish. In Smash 4 and Ultimate however, Meta Knight is left helpless after using it, leaving him in a vulnerable position.
  • Zelda's Farore's Wind as of Smash 4 is a very powerful, as well as deadly OoS option, the first hit combos into the second; this combo is often called "the elevator". However, it is very risky to use carelessly as if she misses, she will be left open to punishes.
  • Mr. Game & Watch's Fire is a useful OoS option in every game. In Melee, it is a frame 2 OoS option, making it the fastest OoS option in both the game and the series. This allows Mr. Game & Watch to punish moves which would be completely safe against every other character. In Brawl in Smash 4, it does not come out until frame 9 however, Mr. Game & Watch now uses a parachute after using the move and he gains intangibility while jumping up, making it a great option to escape pressure. The move is most effective in Ultimate however. It not only retains the added benefits it received in Brawl but it has once again become an extremely effective attack out of shield due to its frame 3 hitboxes with long range that can be comboed directly into Mr. Game & Watch's own aerials.
  • Chrom's Soaring Slash possesses immense range on the first hit and impressive damage output should all of its hits connect, which makes it an extremely effective out of shield option.
  • Any jump-canceled up smash can be used from shield, except for Yoshi's in Melee and Brawl. Many of these are situational, as they are either too slow or have an insufficient horizontal range to hit an attacking opponent out of shield. Some though can be especially effective, however. In Ultimate, jump-canceling is not necessary in order to perform an up smash out of shield, as one can merely drop one's shield and bypass the shield-dropping animation entirely with an up special input; if the C-Stick is set to smash attacks (which is used by default), one can also merely flick it upward while shielding to perform an immediate up smash out of shield.
  • Charizard's, which is decently fast (being a frame 6 option in Brawl and Ultimate and a frame 7 option in Smash 4) with large hitboxes that reach decently far horizontally, while also being quite powerful. It also strikes on both sides, but there is a delay to the second hit that strikes behind, which is usually too long for it to effectively hit an opponent attacking from behind.
  • Fox's, which has a combination of fast start-up, decent horizontal reach, and fearsome power (particularly in Smash 64 although he has less oppurtunities to use it as an OoS options compared to later games due to the game's high shieldstun). It can't effectively punish those attacking from behind however, as it doesn't reach behind until the end of the move, and it has less horizontal reach striking behind while striking much weaker.
  • Olimar's, while its horizontal reach is poor, strikes equally on both sides, and is very fast while being very powerful (especially if done with a Purple Pikmin), enough so that it can be even deadlier than Fox's. It is the most effective in Brawl due to its lower startup lag, greater range and stronger hitboxes although it is still a rather solid option in Ultimate.
  • Marth's from Brawl onwards, as it is not too slow and has moderately sized vacuum hitboxes on the sides that suck opponents into the main attack, dealing very high damage to those who attack Marth's shield a bit too close. It is mainly useful if Marth's opponent is behind him.
  • Wolf's, which with its decent start-up and horizontal reach that strikes equally on both sides, combined with Wolf's high traction (in Brawl), is perhaps the most landable up smash out of shield. It allows Wolf to punish a variety of moves from various positions with it.
  • While this is not generally used as a punish, Lucario's Aura Sphere charging hitbox can be canceled with shield, allowing it to perform a jump-canceled up smash as a kill confirm while its opponent remains in hitstun. The effectiveness of this technique scales with aura; due to the fact that the charging hitbox's size increases with aura, it becomes considerably more difficult to escape from at higher percents. Note that up smash can be substituted for Lucario's additional kill options, such as back air.
  • Some characters have the same freedom while shielding.
  • Duck Hunt's special moves, when deployed, can be used while shielding, and this provides an attack option while defending.
  • Rolling (which also allows glide tossing).
  • Sidestepping, while not especially effective at moving the player away from danger or countering with a hit, can be used out of shield.
  • Quick shield-dropped moves (almost exclusively in Brawl) like many jabs and tilts.