I think Little Mac in the Super Smash Bros. series is in dire need of a moveset redesign

His polarizing strengths and weaknesses create a serious design issue

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • January 9, 2020 at 7:33 p.m. PST | Comments: 20

Little Mac is the worst designed character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the series in general. Essentially, he's made to oppress the opposition with his grounded attacks while being vulnerable in the air.

While this extreme design philosophy seems like it would be interesting and fun on paper, we've had two games with Little Mac to learn that it doesn't work in actual practice.

It's easy to notice how Little Mac often finds himself at the bottom five portion of top competitor tier lists. Notably, he ranks dead last on our community voted tier list for the game.

This is due to how exploitative his weaknesses are. There's not a lot of difficulty involved with either getting him off stage or forcing him into non-interactive situations that result in his lackluster aerials.

Although he is both strong and fast on the ground, the opposite is true for Little Mac while airborne. Being the third fastest on the ground really doesn't mean much when the opponent chooses to camp Little Mac on a platform.

Having an air acceleration that's only faster than the Street Fighter and Konami challengers isn't really doing him any favors either. Successfully hitting Little Mac off stage as he's trying to recover will often result in a stock loss. This is because he won't regain his ability to perform aerial side specials after receiving said hit.

Of course, Little Mac isn't exactly a fighter that has no redeeming qualities. As mentioned before, his performance on the ground is top notch. Unfortunately, the way his grounded attacks are designed only escalate the problems with how Little Mac functions in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Little Mac is tied for having the fastest jab with Zero Suit Samus (one frame start up), amazing tilts armed with something called a "trample property" (which makes it so that the attack effectively has "priority" over other attacks, similar to Palutena's dash attack and back aerials), smash attacks with super armor, an wide hitting dash attack that functions well in collaboration with his dash speed, and an unblockable K.O. Punch that is unlocked once his meter is filled up.

Since his attacks are fast, strong, and difficult to contest on the ground, what's the point of even interacting with Little Mac? By design, Little Mac essentially encourages players to get the lead on him then platform camp.

Mac's K.O. Punch will completely vanish if the boxer is placed in a tumble state after a certain amount of time has expired. Basically the correct thing to do in this situation is to just camp with projectiles and spam safe pokes until Little Mac is successfully swatted away. Danger averted.

Funnily enough, Little Mac actually has near unwinnable match ups against specific fighters on certain tournament legal stages purely because of the positions of the platforms.

All of this results in a combatant that is widely inconsistent during tournament play. If Little Mac loses a single interaction, he's probably going to be camped out. This is neither fun for the players or the spectators.

In truth, nobody wants a game where Little Mac is top tier (at least in terms of how he's currently designed). So giving the character straight buffs would actually be a bad idea.

For Little Mac to be improved, he would also need to be nerfed in some ways. His extreme glass cannon design has to be more balanced.

First off, his aerials need to have a function that extends beyond the meme of "Air Mac." As of right now, a large chunk of his moveset has no viable purpose. Unfortunately, this is a large area where other characters want to fight at.

The buffs to Little Mac's aerials don't necessarily need to make him the best air character in the game, but they should at least have practical applications. Of course, he'll also require better attributes in the air. Improving his jump height would be a good start.

He should also have an easier time of recovering back to the stage. The ability to effectively guarantee a "one-and-done" against Little Mac by throwing him off the stage at 0% shouldn't be so simple.

In return, the frame data and power of his tilts and smash attacks should probably be toned down a bit in order to level out his grounded options compared to the rest of the cast. Still, I think he should keep the armor for his smash attacks as that "feels" like it's something Little Mac should have.

Additionally, maybe his K.O. Punch should be weaker and shouldn't be unblockable. It'd also be nice if it didn't disappear after entering the tumble state. Making the K.O. Punch function better for recovery applications would be a more "fun" way to make Little Mac waste it (similar to Cloud's Limit Break Climhazzard).

Finally, make his grab and throws do more. While it's true that grappling isn't really something boxers do during a boxing fight, Little Mac's options shouldn't be shut down so much by holding the shield button.

For all intents and purposes, Little Mac is character that most certainly deserves his spot on the roster. His gaming legacy and status as a boxer makes him very unique.

Personally, I doubt any of these changes will be implemented for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but they'd be nice to see if Little Mac were to return in a future title.

Little Mac is a cool character, who unfortunately suffers from terrible design philosophies. Honestly, I think he deserves better.

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