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These two control changes will make you much better at Smash Bros. Ultimate

It’ll take some re-learning but it’s worth it

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

Smash Bros. Ultimate is phenomenal when it comes to control customization. Just about every button can be remapped to whatever action you wish. Which is great because the default control layout (at least when using a Pro Controller or in handheld mode) isn’t the best. Here are two changes that I made to my controller layout that made a huge difference in my performance.


This is going to be the hardest to wrap your head around, but it’s a massive improvement once you get used to it.

The two triggers (or ZL/ZR in the parlance of Nintendo) are, by default, dodge. Chances are you already default to using one of them as your go-to dodge button. Just make the other trigger “jump.”

So what’s the benefit? By default, you have two ways to jump in Smash Ultimate: The X and Y buttons, or by tapping up on the left analog stick. The X and Y buttons aren’t ideal, because they require you remove your thumb from the two main attack buttons (A and B). Tapping to jump is more preference, but I find it results in accidental jumps when I don’t want them, so I turn it off.

By using a trigger to jump instead, it means your thumbs can stay on the main attack buttons, which makes aerial attacks far easier to pull off. Hitting attack and jump at the same time actually results in a short-hop attack. This is far more annoying to execute if you have to be hitting two face buttons at the same time. Hitting attack and trigger at the same time? Piece of cake.

This change alone increased the variety of attacks I could pull out at any given moment and made me feel like I was more in control of situations. Give yourself a day to get used to it, and it should become second nature.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo


I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had no idea tilt attacks were even a thing until I looked at the control settings. These are essentially “strong” attacks, almost like you’d see in Street Fighter 2 with a Normal Punch and a Heavy Punch. They are not to be confused with smash attacks, which are different.

Tilt attacks in Smash are a pain to pull off, because they require you to hit A while pushing the left analog stick slightly in a direction. Push it too hard and far, and you’ll do a smash attack (those slow-charging hits designed to launch players). The difference is so narrow that I found I was almost never doing tilt attacks in normal gameplay.

Thankfully there’s a solve. You can reassign the right analog stick to perform tilt attacks instead of smash attacks. Don’t worry, you’ll still have access to smash attacks by holding down A and a direction on the analog stick. But now you’ve got another tool in your kit. Each direction of the right analog stick performs a different tilt attack, and there are even unique tilts for being in the air or on the ground.

And thanks to the first tip, hitting the right analog stick while jumping is no longer a pain!

A good technique is to use a variety of jumping tilt attacks to whittle down enemies until their percentage is high enough to knock them out with a smash attack.

If you’d like additional control tips, especially if you’re using a GameCube controller, check out this video from Zero, the world champion of the previous Smash Bros. game on the Wii U. He recommends increasing the control stick sensitivity to high, as well as a few other small tweaks.

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