Powershield

From SmashWiki, the Super Smash Bros. wiki
SSBM Icon.png SSBB Icon.png SSB4 Icon.png SSBU Icon.png
Move.png It has been suggested that this article be moved to Perfect Shield.
The reason given for the move is: Most recent name (Discuss)
In Melee, anytime during the first 2 frames of activation, powershielding will reflect any projectile, even ones that have already been powershielded.

A powershield (ジャストシールド, Just shield) (officially called perfect shield in Brawl onward) is a technique where one activates a full shield such that it connects with an incoming attack on the first few frames. In order for the technique to be executed, one must rely on timing and skill. When the opponent is ready to strike, the player must quickly use the shield. If done correctly, the character takes no shield damage (or shieldstun if a projectile was powershielded) and may immediately perform a counterattack while the attacker is stuck in hitlag. The powershield technique in Melee, Brawl, SSB4 and Ultimate is comparable to a parry in traditional fighting games, as it results in little to no knockback and freezes the opponent for a couple frames.

Powershielding up through SSB4 is done by quickly and fully depressing a shield button four frames before an attack connects. If done correctly, there will be a significant flash on the shield and a distinctive "chlink" sound (with the exception of SSB4, where a softer sound plays instead). Because it is technically a shield, it is ineffective against grabs. In Melee, powershielding can reflect projectiles during the first two frames, although they deal half their usual damage (unlike other reflectors, which increase their damage), and Poké Balls reflected in this way retain the ownership of the character that threw them. In Brawl and SSB4, perfect shielding merely redirects projectiles at an angle without changing their ownership.

In Ultimate the method has been reversed; after a shield has already been raised, perfect shielding is done by releasing the shield button immediately before an attack connects. If performed correctly the defending character will flash. Both characters will enter hitlag, but the defending character is still able to recover much quicker for a counterattack.

CPU players, especially level 9s, use this technique a lot to reflect projectiles in Melee, and against any oncoming attack since Brawl. Human players don't use it as much simply because of the reaction times and precision usually required, and as such, it often comes as a surprise and can momentarily disrupt a match. However, it has been made easier to take advantage of in Brawl onwards than in Melee due to the ability to drop one's shield twice as fast. At high level play, powershielding in Melee can be used to reflect a wave of incoming projectiles such as Falco's laser, to punish camping.

In Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]

Peach reflecting Samus's Missile via powershielding in Melee.

In Melee, the technique is known as power shielding (named for the Power Shielder bonus attained by using the technique multiple times). Power shielding is accomplished by fully pressing L or R such that the shield appears just before the incoming attack hits the player. More specifically, the full shield bubble's inner reflection hitbox[1] must connect with the hitbox of the incoming attack within 4 frames of activating the shield[2]. The noise heard by doing this is rather quiet compared to Brawl's, and should a projectile hit on frames 1 or 2 of the powershield, the technique will reflect projectiles at half the original damage. Though the technique is difficult to perform consistently, powershielding is extremely valuable in competitive play, as it allows players to punish moves with low ending lag such as Fox's neutral aerial. Its ability to reflect projectiles is even more valuable as it allows players to punish otherwise safe, predictable projectile spam, particularly in the Falco matchup, whose lasers can shut off many options and leave a player completely helpless if not dealt with properly.

Though extremely difficult, powershielding projectiles is still humanly possible to perform consistently. Players who use characters with projectiles often have an easily trackable firing pattern, such as firing projectiles only when there is a certain distance between the players. It is also important to note that players (again, Falco mains in particular) will short hop to move while firing. As such, a projectile user running or jumping away from pressure is often a surefire sign they intend to fire. If the projectile is thin like Falco's laser, another thing a player can do to ease the risk and timing needed to powershield is to crouch and wait for the projectile to pass over the character. Shielding while the projectile is directly over the character will ensure a powershielded projectile.

Powershield follow-up is also distance dependent. A laser is considered safe if fired when Falco and his opponent are standing a distance X between each other, where X is the max horizontal distance Falco can jump in 1 short hop. At this distance, powershielding the lasers yield no follow ups and attempting to move around them by jumping, rolling, or going under them with attacks that lower hurtboxes (like Marth's dash attack) put the opponent in positions Falco has an easier time winning neutral in. However, if the laser is fired too far away, for example at distance 1.5X, the laser is not safe, as powershielding does yield follow-ups such as a grab.

Due to quirks in Yoshi's shield, Yoshi sometimes powershields attacks even when the shield is already up[3]. This however only works against melee attacks, not projectiles.

Chronological frame data[edit]

By pressing L or R during an actionable grounded frame, the Guard animation will be triggered immediately. The ability to powershield with it depends on whether the button press was digital or analog:

1. Digital[edit]

GuardReflect is triggered. Reflecting projectiles is possible during the first two frames. During the first four frames, physical attacks will enable the subsequent cancellation of the GuardOff animation. Both are only possible if the incoming hitbox also overlaps the inner powershield sphere on the first frame of its collision with the shield.

1.1 If a projectile collides with the powershield sphere during the first two frames, it will get reflected. This has no effect whatsoever on the GuardReflect animation – it will play on just as if nothing had hit the character or his shield. Thus, physical powershields are still possible after a projectile has been powershielded.
1.2 If a physical hitbox collides with the powershield sphere during GuardReflect 1-4, the powershield sound and graphical effects are played and the GuardOff cancellation is stored.
1.2.1 If the first physical powershield was triggered before the 4th shield frame, subsequent hits up until the 4th shield frame will trigger the sound and graphical powershield effects once more. This does not provide an additional benefit, though.
1.2.2 If GuardDamage (the animation usually referred to as shieldstun) is interrupted by another hitbox colliding with the shield, the shielding character undergoes shield hitlag and subsequent shieldstun once more. This does not affect the eventual ability to interrupt GuardOff, even if the shielding character get hits by many attacks while in shield and experiences very long shieldstun.
1.2.3 As soon as GuardDamage is over, the character will enter his indefinite Guard animation if he still holds down a shoulder button. If he doesn't keep L, R or Z pressed, he will enter the GuardOff animation.
1.2.3.1 If the character immediately transitioned from GuardDamage to GuardOff or didn't spend more than 3 frames in the Guard animation before dropping his shield, the possibility to cancel GuardOff will still be available. GuardOff has a total animation length of 15 frames and can be interrupted by any action that can be triggered with the buttons A, B, X, Y and Z as well as with the C-stick. Additionally, grabbing with (L∨R)∧A, jumping with ↑ and spot dodging with ↓ on the control stick are possible. Up tilt and down tilt are only possible by keeping them pressed from at least 4 frames before the start of the GuardOff animation – otherwise, the input will still count as a smash input and trigger jump or spot dodge.
1.3 If a projectile connects with the powershield sphere during GuardReflect 3-4, the next incoming physical attack will be powershielded. (Details still left to figure out.)

2. Analog[edit]

GuardOn is triggered. This animation has no powershield sphere, but the shield sphere is active from the first frame on as well. It can be transitioned to GuardReflect by a digital shoulder button press only on frame one and only if no hitbox collided with the shield on this first frame.

2.1 If a digital press occurs before GuardOn 2, the GuardReflect animation will deviate from its normal behavior. During its first two frames, only projectiles are shielded (and reflected). Physical attacks hit the character just as if he wasn’t shielding at all. On GuardReflect 3-4, both the normal shield sphere and the powershield sphere are active.

Example of multi-hit attacks that still preserve the physical powershield benefit[edit]

Fox stands in front of Marth and does a SHFFL down aerial:

AttackAirLw 5: First active frame of Fox's dair. On this frame, Marth presses R digitally and immediately triggers a powershield. This frame is then repeated three times ("hitlag") during which Marth may use shield smash DI.
AttackAirLw 6: The initial dair hitbox is still active. Because Marth's shield has already been hit by it, there is no collision on this frame.
AttackAirLw 7: No hitbox is out on this frame. Marth is still in shieldstun.
AttackAirLw 8: The second kick hitbox comes out. Because this is still the 4th frame of Marth's GuardReflect (the entire shield hitlag is counted as only one frame), the powershield sound and graphical effects are triggered again.
Later kick hitboxes cause normal shield hitlag and hitstun without the powershield effects.
After Fox lands on the ground, Marth will transition into GuardOff if he does not press any shoulder buttons anymore and can cancel it after GuardOff 0 with any ground attack. If he still holds L/R down after GuardDamage, he needs to let go after 3 frames of Guard in order to not lose the cancellation option.
Here, up tilt was not an optimal choice, as on the frame its hitbox came out, Fox was just out of landing lag and could have shined. If he had done so, it would have collided with the up tilt hitbox, so Marth would still not have got hit.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

Bowser perfect shielding an attack in Brawl, creating a collision bubble where it was blocked.

The ability to powershield returns in Brawl, now officially known as a perfect shield. It works similar to Melee, but with a few notable differences. One major change is that perfect shielding no longer reflects projectiles; should a projectile connect during perfect shield frames, it will either disappear or rebound off the shield at an angle instead of back towards the owner of the projectile. A projectile that bounces off a character's shield can no longer affect that character unless it is a multi-hit attack. Additionally, perfect shielding a melee attack now incurs decreased shieldstun, and significantly less shield pushback, decreasing it by 0.15×. Lastly, a clear "clang" sound occurs when a perfect shield is executed.

In Super Smash Bros. 4[edit]

Mario perfect shielding Dr. Mario's Fast Capsule.

In Smash 4, perfect shielding initially worked the exact same way as in Brawl. As of update 1.1.1, however, its action time was reduced from 4 frames to 3 frames, making it more difficult to perform. In return, it decreases damage in the shieldstun formula by 0.66×, compensating for the increased shieldstun in said update and making it more rewarding when executed effectively. Perfect shielding in Smash 4 also produces a quieter sound effect than in Brawl; Ryu is an exception to this, as he instead uses a unique perfect shield sound effect based on the parry in Street Fighter III.

Certain equipment has special effects for perfect shields. The Easy Perfect Shield effect widens the window for performing a perfect shield, while the Explosive Perfect Shield effect causes them to create a small, damaging explosion.

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

Mario perfect shielding the third hit of Young Link's neutral attack.

Perfect shielding in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate functions completely differently than in previous games. It now requires the player to release the shield button when an attack connects against their shield, instead of the other way around. It is also significantly more dramatic upon activation: it creates a much brighter flash from the perfect shielder, causes their eyes to glow yellow, and they perform a unique animation similar to Ryu's shielding animation from Smash 4, while the sound effect produced is a bit louder like in Brawl. Ryu keeps his unique sound effect and now shares it with Ken. Due to these properties, the perfect shield in Ultimate is usually referred to as a parry by the Smash community, as it better resembles the namesake technique from traditional fighting games.

Perfect shielding is activated during the first 5 frames of a character's shield drop animation, which now lasts 11 frames (up from Smash 4's 7 frames), and the shield has to be put up for at least 3 frames before it can be dropped, essentially causing the technique's earliest possible activation to be 4 frames upon shielding. As a result, while it has a larger window, it can no longer be done immediately, and is less likely to be activated unintentionally, thus carrying more risk. However, unlike in previous games, the radius of a perfect shield does not shrink in proportion to the character's shield, and instead always matches the size of a full shield, increasing its consistency.

Upon successfully perfect shielding a direct attack, both the user and the attacker experience a considerable amount of hitlag (roughly twice more than on a normal shield), and the user is granted intangibility for the remainder of the animation. The user can then act 3 frames earlier compared to the shieldstun they would experience from shielding normally, so for example, an attack that would inflict 8 frames of shieldstun will leave them stunned for 5 more frames than the attacker if perfect shielded. If an indirect attack (such as a projectile) is perfect shielded, the hitlag the user experiences is unchanged, but they can only act 1 frame earlier than shielding it normally, reducing the technique's utility in this case. Prior to version 3.0.0 of the game, the user would instead act 2 frames later, which made perfect shielding indirect attacks undesirable.

With perfect shielding now being tied to the shield drop animation, certain limits have been implemented to it. If an attack is shielded normally, perfect shielding is disabled on a subsequent shield drop unless it is done at least 3 frames after shieldstun ends, preventing characters from easily perfect shielding multi-hit moves that do not possess enough shieldstun to keep opponents trapped inbetween their hits. Similarly, from version 3.0.0 onward, multiple perfect shields cannot occur within the same shield drop. An exception is if the first hit of a move with multiple hits separated by only one frame is perfect shielded on the first shield drop frame, which causes the next hit to automatically be perfect shielded as well; an example of a move that can trigger this is Wolf's forward tilt.

Much like equipment in Smash 4, certain spirits can affect perfect shields: the returning Easy Perfect Shield effect widens the window for performing a perfect shield, while the Perfect Shield Reflect effect allows them to reflect projectiles, similar to how they worked in Melee.

Trivia[edit]

  • In the E3 2018 demo of Ultimate, perfect shielding used the same sound effect as in Smash 4. This can also be noticed in the footage of the Nintendo Direct shown during the event.

References[edit]

External links[edit]