Trouble punishing blocked attacks in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? The out of shield mechanics work differently and require a change of habits

Shield grabbing is nerfed so you're probably better off going for a short hop aerials instead

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • December 20, 2018 at 5:47 p.m. PST

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been in the hands of the public for about two weeks now. We're all slowly but surely starting to learn the optimal way of playing this game. Some of us might be having a hard time punishing moves that were obviously unsafe in previous titles.

More specifically, gamers who spent years playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4 are very used to the idea that unsafe aerials are to be punished with shield grabbing. Under normal circumstances, there are recovery frames associated with letting go of the shield button to attack. However, certain actions — like grabbing — would circumvent these shield drop frames altogether.

In layman's terms, most actions will take longer to initiate after letting go of the shield button. Exceptions are made for grabbing, jumping, up smashing (after a jump cancel), using an up special (after a jump cancel), rolling, or spot dodging.

Coming from these games, the typical habit is to grab aerials that connect with your shield. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this may not necessarily be the most consistent punish to go for.

There are two factors at play here. First, the game will purposefully keep you in shield a little longer when you attempt to grab specifically after blocking an attack. In other words, grabs will be slower to initiate after defending against anything that hits your shield (about 4 frames).

Second, landing recovery has been dramatically reduced across the entire roster. This means that everyone is able to act faster after landing with an attack from the sky. They'll more easily be able to frame trap or evade your grab attempt.

So what are our options at this point? Many of us will need to change our habits in order to keep up.


Click images for animated versions

How effective would releasing shield be when compared to shield grabbing? This might actually be the worst option unless you are punishing something that is particularly unsafe.

Super Smash Bros. 64, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Super Smash Bros. 4 all kept opponents in a state of recovery after releasing their shield for the same amount of time (about 7 frames). Super Smash Bros. Melee forced players to undergo the highest amount of recovery after releasing the shield button (about 15 frames) which is part of the reason why that game favors offense more so than Brawl and Smash 4.

As for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the amount of recovery a character undergoes from simply releasing shield lies in between Super Smash Bros. Melee and the rest of the series (11 frames). Effectively this means that if you're coming from Super Smash Bros. 4, you will notice that your ability to act after letting go of the shield button is a little sluggish by comparison.

However, one technique has been faster for the entire roster. Simply put, the amount of time required for a character to get off the ground after pressing the jump button — also known as jump squat frames — is as fast as it has ever been.

Throughout the series, jump squat animation have had a varying amount of time needed for each individual combatant to actually jump (between 3 and 9 frames). Now, everyone's jump squat is universally 3 frames.

"The optimal punish method for most characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is jumping and then using your character's fastest aerial."

Remember that players can forego the shield drop recovery frames if they jump out of shield. This means you'll undergo less recovery time before being allowed to attack (3 frames instead of 11 frames).

The optimal punish method for most characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is jumping and then using your character's fastest aerial.

Remember that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a shortcut macro that will allow players to easily perform a short hop aerial if you just simply press jump and attack at the same time. Of course, short hop aerials in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will only deal 85% of their normal damage when compared to a drop off or full hop aerial.

Depending on your character, you could also go for an up smash or up special. You won't go through the 4 frame or 11 frame penalty for doing this.

So the next time your opponent tries to bully you with insane block pressure, try incorporating some short hop aerials. This of course assumes you're playing a character that has great air attacks for this purpose. Sorry Little Mac mains, you still aren't an air fighter in this series.

GIF Sources: Chiroz.

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