Mario was one of the most flexible characters in Super Smash Bros. 4. He could be trained “legitimately” and yield acceptable results, but he could also be trained poorly on purpose to corrupt his opponents’ AI into making poor decisions. In other words, Mario was the key to dismantling amiibo AI, and this unique trait served him well in tournament play. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this quirk has been corrected, and Mario must now contend on his own merit alone.
Mario is a combo-oriented character with excellent frame data. His neutral attack and tilts are among the fastest of their kind and are optimal damage-rackers at low to medium percentages. The red-clad plumber also boasts powerful finishers in his forward smash, up smash, forward aerial, and back throw. His special moves, although somewhat laggy, also serve a variety of purposes. Fireball can harass opponents off-stage and set up for on-stage combos, Cape reverses enemies and reflects projectiles (which aids Mario’s matchup against the top-tiered Mii Gunner), and F.L.U.D.D. is a niche gimping tool that pushes its victims away.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has brought a slew of changes to Mario’s kit; among other buffs, his mobility and base moveset have been sped up a fair bit and a few of his special moves have increased range and utility. However, one specific change to amiibo mechanics is actually a significant nerf to Mario’s viability: the Learn button. In the previous title, a poorly-trained Mario amiibo could pass its poor decision-making skills to an opponent; Mario could then take advantage of its enemy’s confusion to win the match. In Ultimate, opponents can switch off their Learn button to become immune to this strategy. This leaves Mario with a poor AI that becomes spammy if left unchecked, and has resulted in below-average tournament results up to this point.
Stats & Spirit Effects
At the time of writing, a vast majority of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo tournaments have enacted a blanket ban on Spirits. Within only a few months of the game’s release, competitions that allowed Spirits became stale; this is because almost every entry utilized heavily defensive Spirits and stats. For more information, check the Spirits & Equipment page.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mario benefits most from Armor Knight and Move Speed ↑. Although the setup makes his recovery a tad unreliable, the attack and defense boosts it brings are invaluable and increase the character’s survivability. Other options include Physical Attack ↑, Special-Move Power ↑, Air Attack ↑, Toss & Meteor, and Strong Throw.
An amiibo becomes strongest if it is mirror matched all the way to Level 50 with its Learn button switched on. Playing a best-of-five match (configurable via the rules menu) will cause it to level up much faster.
Mario performs best with a snappy combo-oriented playstyle. He can afford to leave the stage and gimp opponents, but only to a certain extent; this is because his recovery is ironically weak. Although Mario’s grab game has been weakened from Smash 4, grabbing and throwing enemies to rack up damage remains an instrumental aspect of his play. Here is a complete breakdown of Mario’s moveset and which attacks to focus on during training.
- Neutral attack: Incredibly fast and a great neutral option. Use it at point blank range to rack up damage at low percentages.
- Forward tilt: A solid damage-racker that can be angled. Use it at close range to score damage.
- Up tilt: Its range has been nerfed from Smash 4 and it can’t combo into itself as easily. Doesn’t have much use.
- Down tilt: It can lead into an aerial move, so use it as a combo starter at low to medium percentages.
- Dash attack: Fairly strong, although it has a fair bit of ending lag. It can be used infrequently to slide in and follow up with additional attacks.
- Forward smash: A strong grounded finisher that can be used to read rolls or getup options. It deals more damage if the opponent is hit by the tip of the flame.
- Up smash (Lead Headbutt): Quick startup and can KO at medium to high percentages. Use it to punish aerial approaches!
- Down smash: Covers both sides with decent power. Don’t use it too often, as Mario’s AI may begin to spam it if left unchecked.
- Neutral aerial: A solid neutral option, but with below-average strength overall. Its power decreases over time, so try to hit with its initial kick.
- Forward aerial (Meteor Knuckle): Mario’s premier gimping tool that can seal the deal at low percentages. Try using down throw to forward aerial at higher percentages for a killer combo!
- Back aerial: Really fast and has decent range. It can be used out of a short hop to great effect and can also gimp opponents. If forward aerial is too risky off-stage, try using back aerial instead.
- Up aerial: Extremely fast and can even KO at high percentages. Use it to rack up damage, juggle, and kill off the top blast zone.
- Down aerial (Mario Tornado): Avoid it at all costs. The AI becomes incredibly spammy with it over time and the move itself isn’t very strong.
- Forward throw: Doesn’t combo into anything, but can be used to toss opponents off-stage. Mario can then follow up with a potential forward aerial to close the stock.
- Back throw (Airplane Swing): Mario’s strongest throw. Use it at the edge as a quick (albeit situational) kill move.
- Up throw: It’s best to avoid using up throw during training, as the AI will automatically learn to follow up with a down aerial at later levels.
- Down throw: Doesn’t combo nearly as well as it used to, but can still lead into a jab at low percentages or an up aerial at higher percentages. Past 80% it true combos (at least against AI) into a forward aerial, so use this as a kill setup as often as possible.
- Neutral special (Fireball): Don’t use Fireball as a neutral option, as it has a fair bit of lag and doesn’t deal much damage. It can, however, be used after you are launched. It can also be thrown off-stage to gimp opponents.
- Side special (Cape): Use it to reflect projectiles, but don’t bother trying to teach the amiibo to flip opponents. Its startup is noticeable and most opponents will be able to attack before Cape connects.
- Up special (Super Jump Punch): Ultimate’s AI becomes spammy with its up special if its trainer uses it too often, and Mario is no exception. Use Super Jump Punch for recovery purposes only.
- Down special (F.L.U.D.D.): Avoid F.L.U.D.D. at all costs. It takes a while to charge and leaves Mario vulnerable while doing so, and doesn’t bring enough benefit to make the downtime worth it.
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