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Piranha Plant's neutral and side specials are great but its aerials are laggy — impressions for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's newest fighter

Troubles predicted for Piranha Plant users

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • February 1, 2019 at 4:29 p.m. PST • Comments: 15

Patch 2.0.0 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released earlier this week on January 29th. Since the game was updating from version 1.2.1 to 2.0.0, many were predicting that the Piranha Plant would become available to play.

This prediction ended up being correct. Despite there being 75 characters in the game, Piranha Plant's general game plan somehow manages to be unique.

We've had some time to dissect the Piranha Plant's tools. This gives us a general idea of what Piranha Plant wants to do in every match.

Like any character for a fighting game, the Piranha Plant has its set of strengths and weaknesses. I've developed an analysis for these attributes.

At the very end, I'll be giving my prediction on where I think the character will end up on the tier list without any changes. Keep in mind that this is merely a prediction and is subject to change.

All it would take is a single player discovering something that everyone else overlooked to really shoot a character up the tier list.

Now let's dive right into it.


Piranha Plant's aerials... leave a lot to be desired. They feel very lacking in terms of speed, power, and range.

Most notably, the landing recovery for these attacks are very unimpressive. Considering that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's landing recovery has been reduced for the returning roster across the board, Piranha Plant's landing recovery wouldn't even be that great in Super Smash Bros. 4.

Here's a look at the amount of time needed to recover while landing from each of its aerials (based on the frame by frame function in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's training mode):

• Up Air — 10 frame landing recovery
• Forward Air — 13 frame landing recovery
• Neutral Air — 15 frame landing recovery
• Back Air — 16 frame landing recovery
• Down Air — 18 frame landing recovery

In terms of the start up time, Piranha Plant's fastest aerial is his up aerial at 7 frames. All things considered, this aerial is alright but it'll be difficult to hit grounded short characters with this.

Its next fastest aerial is the neutral air at 8 frames. Despite the lack of range, this move's start up time is the same as Ridley's neutral air which is known for having huge area coverage.

What's also bad about the Piranha Plant's aerials is that none of them will auto cancel if performed as fast as possible from a short hop, with the exception of its up aerial.

Overall, Piranha Plant's air attacks aren't the greatest for juggling opponents and don't rack up a large amount of damage. Generally, you'll be hitting the opponent with an aerial one or two times, and then reset the situation.

In addition, most of the Piranha Plant's aerials lack kill power. Back aerial and down aerial tend to be ideal for this.

Having said that, back aerial has a whopping 14 frame start up, poor reach, and quite a bit of recovery. While this is a fairly strong kill option, its power is a little low considering all the downsides.

Typically, a character with laggy landing options have historically had poor disadvantage states. At the very least, Piranha Plant's aerials are usable, unlike Little Mac's who still retains access to the worst set of aerials in the game.


Piranha Plant's specials are actually really good. In particular, its neutral and side specials are among its best tools.

Upon pressing the special move button without any direction, the Piranha Plant will begin keeping a spiked ball afloat by blowing upwards. From here, you can throw it left, right, or swallow (cancel) it.

This attack deals between 18-24% damage. As a result, this move is actually very efficient at taking stocks and racking up damage.

You can actually combo into this move from the Piranha Plant's up aerial. The combo can even be continued after hitting with the attack.

The spike ball really shines as an edgeguarding tool. Unlike other projectiles that are often used to hit recovering opponents — like the Villager's bowling ball or the Belmont axe — Piranha Plant's neutral special doesn't have the "low priority" attribute attached to it so you can't swat it away in order to get past it.

Bear in mind that if you shoot the spike ball while it is descending, it'll go even further. Of course, this tactic is very telegraphed.

Players can even use the spike ball as a pseudo counter since it will drop straight down if the Piranha Plant is struck while keeping it balanced. This can make getting off the ledge very difficult since the plant will be able to cover most options this way.

Most reflectors won't send the spike ball directly towards your location. Be aware of the Villager and Isabelle's pocket though.

After the opponent blocks this, you get some pretty nice pressure since you'll be able to act very quickly after using it.

As for the Piranha Plant's side special, this move can rack up an insane amount of damage. This is especially true if you can lock the opponent down in your poison cloud with a series of jabs or a grab. You can build around 60-90% damage with a single interaction.

Although you can charge this special, it's still very good damage even while uncharged. You can really condition opponents to behave a certain way with the damage that comes attached to this.

The poison also does a good job of obscuring the screen from the players. You can hide behind it and charge the plant's down special for a long-ranged surprise inside of it.

There is a downside though. This move offers no hit stun. It can actually be somewhat difficult to use this move without getting hit, but it's often worth the hassle of trying to figure out when to best throw this out.

For the down special, its utility is a little more limited. Usage of this move is probably best reserved for situations where you're hidden behind a cloud or in edge guarding scenarios.

Although it is an armored attack with huge range and damage potential, it tends to be a slow and telegraphed attack. Aiming with it is also a commitment since you can't change directions while tipping over the plant's pot.

Disappointingly, there's no way to cancel the attack once it is initiated like Ryu's focus attack or Little Mac's lunge punch.

The Piranha Plant's up special covers a lot of distance. It's range of mobility appears to be weakened since we saw it in the first trailer. For example, the Piranha Plant isn't able to travel downwards and land while recovering like this.

Its spinning leaves can deal quite a bit of damage and potentially stage spike the opponent if they don't tech correctly. This does make it vulnerable from overhead spikes though.

Grounded Normals

The Piranha Plant has access to some fairly basic yet decently good grounded normals. First off, it has one of the fastest jabs in the game since it comes out in two frames.

Its grab is also among the fastest in the game as it will nab opponents on the sixth frame. This is nice considering that it can combo into an aerial from its down throw.

Like Snake, you can input forward tilt twice for two strikes. It's quite a bit weaker and slower than Snake's forward tilt combo, but it's still a good move in its own right.

While the Piranha Plant's down tilt lacks range, it can combo into an aerial just like the down throw. Just be careful when using this as it also has a slower than expected start up period.

Unfortunately, its up tilt is a little awkward to use. It has a strange hit box and doesn't really combo into itself particularly well.

Finally, its smash attacks are pretty standard. A direct hit will send opponents launching with decent strength. Nothing particularly good or bad about them.

Considering the weaknesses of the Piranha Plant's aerials, players will likely be using jabs and forward tilts a fair bit.

Kill Options

Although the Piranha Plant is good at racking up damage, getting the KO might prove to be difficult at high level play. The best options look like its neutral special, down special, back aerial, down aerial (spike), and any of its smash attacks.

Outside of these attacks, you'll probably be going off stage in order to edge guard recovering opponents. At very, very high percents, forward tilt can work as an option while close to the ledge.

Also be aware of its up throw which will start taking stocks at around 150%. This may seem like a lot, but a single sequence involving the poison cloud could rack up half of this damage on its own.

You really have to condition the opponent and fish for kills. The Piranha Plant is not really armed with effective kill confirms.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I foresee many struggles for the Piranha Plant. While it might be bold to say so at this point, I'm predicting that the Piranha Plant will end up being one of the weakest characters in the game.

Most of the fighters that are looked at as "top tier" often have very useful aerials to work with. Unfortunately, the Piranha Plant does not have access to this attribute that top tiers enjoy.

While its neutral and side specials are very good, this makes the Piranha Plant feel as though it relies too heavily on a gimmick rather than fundamental tactics. At the very least, its edge guarding abilities are fairly good.

Its ability to rack up damage insanely fast in specific situations is hindered a bit by its kill options. Many stocks will probably be taken by up throwing opponents at over 150%, but there are plenty of characters that seek confirms way earlier.

The Piranha Plant's tools and attributes means it is better at fighting opponents that want to try to approach it. When it is forced to approach zoning or camping opponents, it will have a particularly difficult time.

Given, it is entirely possible that someone will discover something about the Piranha Plant that will allow it to set up guaranteed damage or KOs. Until that happens, I have a hard time seeing a player winning a super major with the Piranha Plant.

Having said all that, I do think the Piranha Plant offers a fun and unique play style that makes it a great addition to the series. I look forward to playing it more and seeing some high level gameplay in the future.

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