Piranha Plant (SSBU)/Neutral special
Piranha Plant spits out a spiked ball and blows it up and down. The ball is able to be blown for as long as the special button is held or until the ball hits something or is out of the radius to blow, and can be thrown left or right at varying heights depending on how high the ball is held, and also being affected by whether or not Piranha Plant is airborne whilst throwing. If the button is released, Piranha Plant will then try to swallow the ball, and won't stop until successful or the ball is intercepted, however it is possible to hit with the ball on the frame it is swallowed, which causes it to be counted as an item hit in training mode. It is by far Piranha Plant's most versatile move, and one of the very best projectiles in the game as a result. It is capable of comboing into aerials, dash attacks or up tilts with either hovers or throws, and can lead to massive damage from more advanced combo tools like up aerial. Ptooie throws increase the damage by 4%, and bouncing off anything reduces damage by ~15%, and knockback by half, and while the ball exists on frame 8, the hitbox doesn't start until frame 9.
One of the main uses of Ptooie is as a zoning tool. Due to the multitude of throw angles and the ability to mix it up with fake outs, it becomes a decent zoning tool at Piranha Plant's disposal. While it is very slow, the long lasting, highly damaging hitbox makes it good to throw onto shields and deal shield damage, in which Long-Stem Strike can be used to break it. It also forces opponents to avoid the ball, which can open up for anti-airing opportunities or punishing their other approaches. Hovering the ball close to Piranha Plant's lips will give a much longer shot, while holding it higher gives a slower, shorter ranged shot. Due to how slow it is to shoot the ball, however (frame 14 after inputting a direction), it ends up being very easily telegraphed, and Ptooie also has a blindspot in front of and below Piranha Plant, giving shorter characters an opportunity to punish Ptooie easily. This can be alleviated somewhat through the usage of Ptooie fake outs, by swallowing the ball instead of shooting it, and making Ptooie more ambiguous to the opponent.
Ptooie also works well as an anti-air attack. It is essentially a frame 9 disjointed hitbox, and upon hitting with a hover, provides plenty of hit advantage to make use of for combos, and can kill. Ptooie hovers are also +6 on shield on startup, and -3 afterwards, making them excellent to punish opponents who attempt to punish the move out-of-shield. Utilizing Ptooie startup, an up aerial can be used after, assuming Piranha Plant is in the air, and can either blockstring, or hit the opponent upon dropping their shield (after the Ptooie, the up aerial cannot be perfect shielded), and on the ground, it can blockstring into a jab or lead to a guaranteed grab. If an opponent tries to attack Piranha Plant whilst hovering the ball, it may end up falling on top of them, causing a trade. Ptooie trades work exceptionally well on a number of moves, notably dash attacks, however are easily beaten out by spacing or throw invincibility. It is also possible for some moves with enough damage to knock away the ball, preventing a trade as well.
As an edgeguard tool, Ptooie is highly versatile in its ability to edgeguard. Utilizing Ptooie trades is an exceptional way to edgeguard recoveries with hitboxes easily, and hovers can also cover high recoveries. Throwing Ptooie and attempting to snipe opponents offstage is also an effective way of edgeguarding, especially if they are in a position without an airdodge or double jump, or if an airdodge will cause an SD, and the increased damage allows it to kill even earlier. Throws are also generally quite safe since they can be done onstage, and the multitude of angles and ability to fake out can create many mixup opportunities to force bad recovery options. It is also possible to use Ptooie roll-offs on the ledge to catch two-frame animations, further strengthening their edgeguard ability.
Ptooie is also extremely useful in ledgetrapping. Rolling a ball off the ledge can force opponents to pick an option, otherwise the ball will hit them once their ledge invulnerability ends. Combined with Poison Breath, Piranha Plant can easily force options and punish what the opponent will do to attempt getting back onstage. Roll-offs can also catch ledge jumps and neutral ledge getups with correct timing, and cause hitlag on ledge attacks, making them easier to react to and thus easier to punish. A strange way to ledgetrap with Ptooie is to use it right at the ledge, in which it is possible to abuse the startup of Ptooie being +6 on shield against neutral getup, trade with ledge attacks (although beware of strong enough ledge attacks knocking away the ball), catching ledge jumps, potentially trading with ledge drop double jump attacks, and being able to be thrown behind Piranha Plant to hit a ledge roll.
It is also possible for Ptooie to be B-reversed. While seemingly useless at first glance, due to the fact that Ptooie always sends in the direction Piranha Plant is facing when it first appears (and launches in the direction it is thrown or bouncing towards), B-reverse Ptooie can be used to use seemingly good DI against the opponent, KOing them earlier, and can also help Piranha Plant combo off Ptooie trades easily, or even force a stage spike (in which the power of the ball can end up causing the stage spike to be untechable at higher percents). It is further helped with the ambiguity of a B-reversed Ptooie, as it is essentially impossible to tell if it is B-reversed until the animation ends. It can also be B-reversed on the ground while running, for a slight shift in momentum, which can be useful in micro-spacing scenarios.
Ptooie also works well in disadvantage. Offstage, it can be used as a deadly reversal, due to the hitbox, and with B-reverses, can end up KOing them for attempting to edgeguard Piranha Plant. It is also useful as a ledge drop double jump option, as it can punish opponents aggressively ledgetrapping from a safer distance, and opponents attempting to attack from above can be hit by the hover as well. When landing, a Ptooie trade can be used against aggressive landing punishes, as long as the move isn't spaced, a throw, or knocks away the ball. While it is slow to be a conventional string breaker, it can be used against over-extensions as well, and trade with the opponent.
Ptooie also features strange tech, although mostly frame perfect and situational. 'Dropshot' is a tech in where the ball falls right through Piranha Plant despite being thrown. While its use is extremely minimal on stages without platforms, with platforms, it gains more utility. It is able to drop straight through any passable platform, giving it a bizarre niche in alleviating platform pressure from below, or on stages where the platforms aren't covered by the stage below, giving Piranha Plant a strange way of edgeguarding. The positioning gained from a Dropshot is generally quite good, and can even be bounced off ledges for more unique edgeguarding tricks. To perform this, the Piranha Plant must land at around the same time Ptooie is shot, which can be done from specific points in Piranha Plant's short or full hops, although the timing is quite strict, being frame perfect.
'Spallow' is another tech, in where Piranha Plant enters the swallow animation whilst simultaneously throwing the ball as well, leading to Ptooie's throw lag essentially being cut in half. While the tech seems quite useful on paper, the fact that it is again frame perfect makes it far less useful, and the inputs are similar to Dropshot, meaning that with the wrong input, it'll be a Dropshot instead and Piranha Plant will be put into needless lag as a result. It is also possible to drop the ball without hitting it via 'Loss-shot', where the ball simply drops with no real input from the player. There are two methods to doing this; the first it by full hopping onto a Battlefield platform, inputting and holding Ptooie on exactly frame 18 on the full hop, then holding it until landing, where it'll drop shortly after. A more easier setup can be done by simply falling through the Battlefield platform and inputting Ptooie as soon as Piranha Plant falls, then hold it until landing, in which the ball will drop onto the platform above. This tech is not too useful, however, as the ball exists for very little time. There is yet another tech, where shooting the ball towards a ledge right as it touches it will cause the ball to bounce away with much higher speed and farther distance, however is somewhat difficult to pull off due to the specific spacing needed. It is sometimes referred to as the 'Steph Curry'.
Ptooie can have trouble against reflectors. Due to being easily telegraphed, it is fairly easy to reflect on reaction, however thankfully the way the ball is thrown makes it easy for Piranha Plant to dodge it, and reflected balls from bounces go nowhere. However, Ptooie hovers can still get reflected, which can cause overwhelming damage to Piranha Plant and essentially are impossible to dodge unless the ball is reflected from below, in which it'll bounce upward slightly, giving Piranha Plant some time to be able to dodge. As a result, Ptooie must be used less in reflector matchups, and only used when the opponent least expects it, or where their reflector will make little use. Ptooie fakeouts can also be used to bait out reflectors.
Overall, Ptooie is an extremely powerful and subsequently important move at Piranha Plant's disposal. It provides it combo potential, a method of anti-airing and forcing approaches, and is an exceptional advantage tool, even with uses in disadvantage as well. It is a very complex move as a whole, and has plenty of shortcomings which can be alleviated through using Ptooie differently, or Piranha Plant's other moves, which makes it incredibly dangerous to deal with.