A pummel (つかみ攻撃 or 掴み攻撃, Grab, grasp, grip or catch attack; referred to as CatchAttack by the internal game files, and officially as Grab Attack in Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) is an attack usable while an opponent remains trapped in the player's grab. It was first introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and is performed by pressing the attack or grab buttons after a successful grab. Pummels deal very low damage (usually from 1% to 3% per use), but can be used repeatedly at a relatively fast rate until the opponent is eventually thrown or breaks free from the grab.
Most pummels consist of knee jabs or headbutts, since the pummeling character will already be holding their opponent using their arms. Pummeling is primarily used to rack up extra damage before a throw, and to restore moves from stale-move negation. The latter utility becomes more critical from Brawl onward, as staleness has a greater effect on the knockback inflicted, allowing pummels to bring KO moves back to full strength, and in Brawl, to keep subsequent throws at the appropriate knockback for chain grabbing.
The higher an opponent's damage, the longer one can pummel before they're able to break free from the grab. If not executed swiftly, an adept fighter may escape before even a single blow is landed, which is one of the decisions a player must make when they grab an opponent: a character with a fast pummel (such as Lucario) can spare a few frames to get some extra damage on the opponent, whereas one with a slow pummel (such as Ganondorf) risks the opponent wriggling out of their grab if they pummel, making it more worthwhile to simply throw the opponent.
Pummels across games
The attack rate of pummels has been generally sped up throughout the Super Smash Bros. series, though their damage has also decreased in the process.
In Melee, all pummels deal 3% damage, and most characters' pummels last 24 frames, with only Ice Climbers, Jigglypuff, Kirby, Link, Mr. Game & Watch, Young Link and Zelda's being slower, causing them to be mostly identical across the cast. Jigglypuff, Kirby, and Mr. Game & Watch are tied for the slowest pummel, lasting 30 frames.
In Brawl, several characters have received more unique pummels that are faster, but deal less damage. The fastest pummel is Wolf's, which deals 1% damage and lasts a mere 6 frames, while the slowest is Mr. Game & Watch's, which deals 3% and lasts 29 frames. The average duration of pummels among the cast is 17 frames, down from 24 frames in Melee, making them much faster overall. Due to Brawl's lack of decimal values for base damage, all pummels deal either 1%, 2%, or 3% damage (or in the case of Olimar's pummel with White Pikmin, 4% damage).
In Smash 4, all returning veterans except Lucas retain their pummeling speeds from Brawl. However, due to several newcomers such as Mega Man, Mii Swordfighter, Robin, and Wii Fit Trainer possessing notoriously slow pummels, the average duration has been increased to 20 frames. The fastest pummel is now Lucario's at 7 frames, due to Wolf being cut from the game, while the slowest is Mii Swordfighter's at 33 frames. Pummels are also far more unique across the cast because of the new ability to give moves decimal base damage, with several of them dealing a variety of decimal damage values; this results in some more damaging pummels that the most damaging from Brawl (discounting Olimar's with White Pikmin), with Dr. Mario's dealing 3.64%.
In Ultimate, while some variance remains between characters, pummels have overall been standardized across the board, much like in Melee, except keeping the average pummel duration closer to those of Brawl and Smash 4; this applies to their damage as well, which is considerably lower overall, with a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 1.6%, and the majority of pummels dealing 1.3%. As a result of these changes, previously fast pummels such as Lucario, Ness and Samus's deal slightly more damage, but are noticeably slower, while previously slow pummels such as Ganondorf, Mr. Game & Watch and Robin's are significantly faster, but deal moderately less damage. This eliminates a large part of the imbalance between pummels in previous games, as characters no longer refresh other moves or rack up damage at a disproportionally fast rate compared to others based on pummel speed.
It is worth noting that like other attacks, pummels inflict freeze frames (hitlag), and opponents can still mash out of the attacker's grab during them, so they are another factor to consider for a pummel's practical duration. Because of this, pummels that inflict fewer freeze frames are more advantageous. In Ultimate, the actual duration of pummels is significantly shorter than in previous games (from 5 to 7 frames), but it is augmented by a much higher amount of freeze frames (from 10 to 16), which keep their average speed roughly the same as in previous games.
List of pummels
In the following tables, "Duration" means how many frames the attack lasts for until another pummel can be made.
*The partner can attack while the leader is grabbing the opponent, making it possible to deal more damage.
* This assumes the Mii is default height and weight.
NOTE: All values are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
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