Short hop laser
The short hop laser (also known as short hop blaster, abbreviated respectively to SHL and SHB) is a technique usually performed by short hopping with Fox or Falco, using their blaster to shoot a laser, and fastfalling. The technique has two additional variants; the short hop double laser (SHDL) and the short hop triple laser (SHTL), for which two and three lasers respectively are shot during the short hop and no fastfall is performed. The SHL techniques were first utilised in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and have since carried into Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
In Super Smash Bros.
In the original Super Smash Bros., Fox can perform a short hop laser and short hop double lasers. Both techniques are very effective, as the blaster's hitstun damage can stop opponent approaches and can deal damage while camping. It's usually better for Fox to shoot his lasers while short hopping instead of shooting from the ground as he can shoot and draw out his blaster more quickly in addition to avoiding ending lag. Due to his camping techniques such as short hop laser, Fox is considered one of the best characters on Hyrule Castle in Smash 64 competitive play, which gives him better matchups against characters who lack projectiles and/or ways to deal with them, such as Captain Falcon. One of the main reasons Fox and his matchups are considered worse on Dream Land is because there is less space to laser camp.
Along with Fox, Kirby can also perform short hop lasers if Kirby uses Inhale. However, Kirby can also short hop triple laser due to floatiness. This is a very lethal ability as these lasers combined can do up to 19% damage if all 3 hit and Kirby can get a free up smash or pivot up tilt out of it up close. This is also a common idea in doubles, especially if Hyrule Castle is allowed.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
In Melee, Fox can short hop laser and short hop double laser. Both techniques are used to camp and "tack on" small amounts of damage, but are much less effective at stopping approaches, due to the lack of hitstun that Fox's lasers deal. Fox's short hop laser and short hop double laser are considered more safe and flexible than shooting lasers from the ground, for a number of reasons. Short hops can be maneuvered toward or away from the opponent, and the lag caused by landing takes less time than that which occurs during a grounded blaster's ending lag.
Falco can short hop laser and fast fall while doing so, allowing him to quickly dash after firing a laser, meaning it can stun the opponent and allow him to followup with a grab, shine, or other combo starter. His short hop laser is used to camp and disrupt opponents' ground movement and approaches. Continuous strings of Falco’s short hop lasers are faster to execute than continuous grounded lasers.
Kirby can short hop triple laser after copying Fox, and short hop double laser after copying Falco, due to his higher short hop height and drastically slower falling speed.
Moving and weaving
Fox and Falco are able to cover horizontal distance while airborne during the short hop laser and, in Fox's case, the short hop double laser. By pushing the control stick left or right shortly after tapping B, Fox and Falco can move forward or backward after firing a laser. With Fox, B can be pressed a second time during the control stick movement, in order to fire a second laser and perform a moving short hop double laser. While this technique allows for horizontal aerial movement, it prevents players from fastfalling; slowing the speed at which they return to the ground. The moving short hop laser and short hop double laser can be used to approach and retreat while shooting lasers at an opponent, and is often more effective for this purpose than a still short hop laser and short hop double laser combined with ground movement. The technique can also be used to move swiftly in and out of an opponent's attack range while damaging them, a technique known as weaving.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Brawl, Fox can short hop laser and short hop double laser, the practical uses of which are very similar to those in Melee. Notably, if Kirby copies Fox's Blaster, he can short hop triple laser, being able to fire the third laser before landing. The reason Fox cannot do this is because of his very high falling speed acceleration.
Falco can short hop laser and short hop double laser, the use of which to camp and combo out of is considered a staple of his competitive metagame. If the special move button is pressed twice quickly, the two lasers will be fired at a near-identical height, though it is possible to fire the second laser later in the short hop animation. Firing a laser just before landing won't produce the blaster SFX, and is referred to as silent lasering. It is not possible to silent laser in a SHDL, due to the animation of Falco putting his blaster away occurring too early after firing the first laser.
Wolf can short hop laser, but since his blaster has a high amount of ending lag, he lands before it ends. B reversing short hop laser is a common Wolf technique. Wolf's SHL can be used as a followup to his neutral attack combo at higher percentages. If Kirby copies Wolf's Blaster, he will be able to SHL without landing before the animation ends.
In Super Smash Bros. 4
In Super Smash Bros. 4, while both Fox and Falco can still perform the short hop laser and short hop double laser, the viability of the technique is much lower due to Fox and Falco's lasers now having landing lag. Due to this, the technique is not used nearly as commonly. In Falco's case, the ineffectiveness of this technique has significantly impacted his viability, as he has lost the most pivotal option in his neutral and approach games. His blaster shots no longer auto-cancel, travel a shorter distance, and are much slower. Falco's tournament viability is thus far worse than in previous games.
While Fox is also adversely affected by these changes, they have not nearly had as much of an impact on his play style, and even with such nerfs, he is considered more viable than he was in Brawl. His Blaster is still a crucial aspect of his neutral game, as his lasers are much faster than Falco's and are thus more useful in forcing approaches.