A Screen KO (手前やられ, Forefront defeat) is a special type of KO which has a chance of occurring when characters are sent off the top blast line. Instead of being Star KO'd as usual, the character instead falls into the foreground and appears to crash into the screen before being KO'd. Whether a character is Star KO'd or Screen KO'd is random, though in the first three games, Screen KOs are considerably rarer than Star KOs; as a result, Screen KOs rarely involve two or more characters at once.
In Melee and Brawl, Screen KOs complete faster than Star KOs, which can, at times, affect gameplay. For example, when a character is KO'd by Jigglypuff's Rest, getting a Star KO means that the character will not respawn fast enough to punish the sleeping Jigglypuff, due to the length of the Star KO animation. However, if a character is instead Screen KO'd, this provides them with more time to potentially get a solid hit on the vulnerable Jigglypuff. The Screen KO's shorter duration can also influence the outcome of matches that have gone to a last stock situation. If both characters are KO'd off of the top at around the same time and one is Screen KO'd instead of Star KO'd, the Star KO'd player will win the match due to random chance and the lengthier animation. This time difference was reduced in Super Smash Bros. 4, though Screen KOs are now slightly longer than Star KOs in said game.
Differences between games
In Smash 64, characters yell out their Star KO scream and fall down between the front of the stage and the camera, getting KO'd by the bottom blast line afterwards. Depending on the camera angle, this may not always be visible. The distance from the camera is chosen randomly - sometimes doomed characters appear to be falling normally, while at other times they are just a quick flash of color going down the screen. Screen KOs in this game are only a couple of frames shorter than a Star KO.
In Melee, all characters have a unique tumbling animation for when they crash into the screen; upon striking the camera, the character also yells out one of their strong knockback groans, then gets KO'd by the bottom blast line without making any sounds. Screen KOs in Melee are significantly faster than Star KOs. All these traits would carry over to Brawl.
There is a bonus for getting Screen KO'd, Foresight, which grants the receiver 500 points for every time they are KO'd this way.
How close a character being KO'd is to the camera is no longer determined by randomness, but by the stage being played on. On Mushroom Kingdom II, for example, Screen KO'd characters are very close to the camera and thus appear much larger.
In Brawl, with the exception of Meta Knight, King Dedede, Mr. Game & Watch and Sonic, characters use a side version of their regular tumbling animations for a Screen KO, the animations for the actual impact are not as nuanced as in Melee. With the removal of strong knockback yells in Brawl, characters now either use their regular pain yells or say nothing at all when they hit the screen.
In SSB4, instead of using their tumbling animation, every character now uses a unique Screen KO animation depicting them flying towards the screen, hitting it face-first, then staying in place briefly before sliding down. Due to this new separate animation, several characters pose during their Screen KOs in a manner referencing their series, such as Kirby reusing a pose from Kirby Triple Deluxe, Cloud using a pose similar to his official artwork, and Shulk hitting the screen with his back in order for his Monado Arts to be visible. Characters who share the same base model tend to share the same Screen KO poses, such as Ness and Lucas.
As a direct result of the new Screen KO's "pause", Screen KOs in SSB4 take longer to complete than in previous games, making it so that Screen KOs and Star KOs take almost equally as long to resolve. Additionally, Screen KOs and Star KOs are both disabled during the final five seconds of a match (unless the End of Day glitch is successfully performed) - characters will simply create the usual colorful blast after crossing the blast line. Blast KOs still occur even if the match has no time limit or if it is in an early part of a timed match.
Screen KO'd characters in SSB4 no longer make any vocal sounds when they hit the screen, though there is now a comical "thud" upon impact. Some characters have different Screen KOs between the 3DS and Wii U versions, namely Mario, Luigi, Dr. Mario, Pit, Kirby, King Dedede, Pikachu and Pac-Man. The maximum amount of characters that can be Screen KO'd at one time is three. The lighting of the stage also reflects on Screen KO'd characters.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Screen KOs are disabled on Super Mario Maker, Jungle Hijinxs, Flat Zone X, Duck Hunt, Wii Fit Studio, Pac-Land and Umbra Clock Tower. In Umbra Clock Tower's case, Screen KOs are disabled on the 3DS version as well.
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