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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate basics: Defense guide

Blocking, shields, breaking, rolling, parrying, dodging and grabbing

In the first of our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate basics guides, we taught you about movement and attacks, but not how to not get hit. That’s irresponsible, so let’s discuss defense.

Shield block

As in many fighting games, just because the opponent is attacking you doesn’t mean you need to take the hit. Instead, pop up your shield and guard the attack. Press either shoulder button (ZL/ZR) to shield any attack, except for grabs.

As you will quickly find out, your defenses won’t hold up forever. Your shield will shrink as you take attacks or when you hold on to the button for too long. When it’s shrunk down to nothing, your guard will break and you’ll stand up dizzy, completely open to attacks. You of course want to avoid this happening at all costs.

If you stand your ground too often with a shield, anticipating an attack from your opponent, soon you won’t have any shield left to use at all. To avoid overusing your shield to the point of wearing it down, try to think of it as a last resort. If you can’t get out of the way of an attack, pop your shield as the attack comes in.

Rolls

You can also perform an evasive roll maneuver during a shield in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Press left or right while holding up a shield to roll. This move will quickly get you away from your opponent or even move you around them. On top of that, it’s invincible to attacks at the start of the motion.

However, as you fall out of the roll you become vulnerable to attacks again. At the very end of the video above, you can see Ryu roll “into” Sonic’s attack. If you’re too predictable with your rolls, your opponent is going to wait for you to roll and then hit you hard with a Smash attack as you recover.

And finally, grabs counter rolls completely.

Evasion penalty

There’s also a penalty for using too many evasive actions, including rolls, continuously. Roll over and over again, and you’ll see that the animation actually slows down. Above, Ryu’s back hop looks like he’s hopping on the moon. This slow roll is much easier to react to and is only invincible for the very first moment.

In other words, the more you roll, the less effective and the more dangerous the move becomes.

Shield parry

There’s one more way to use your shield. If you’ve got your shield up, and you’re able to guess the exact moment your opponent is going to strike, you can parry their attack and counter.

When you have your shield up, watch your opponent’s attack and let go of the guard button at the very moment before their attack lands. If you do it right, the screen will flash and you’ll recover a moment before your opponent. Depending on your range and the particular move you parried, it might be possible to counter with a fast attack like a neutral, tilt or grab.

The timing is very tight for this move, so you have to know your opponent’s move very well (or just get lucky) to pull it off. Use this against predictable opponents who come at you with the same move over and over again.

Parrying is a bit of an advanced move stuck in the middle of our beginner’s guide, so don’t feel bad if you can’t get it down: It takes practice to get right. Even if you can’t pull it off, it’s good to know exactly what is happening when you see that strange flash.

When you really have your timing down, you can shrug off predictable projectiles with a shield parry.

Air dodge

But what happens if you shield in the air, you ask? Well, you don’t shield, but you do dodge.

Press the guard button in the air to air dodge. You should see your character flash, which means attacks won’t hit them for that moment. If you press the button along with a direction, you’ll dodge in that direction. In the video above, Inkling uses a right air dash to move through Simon’s axes.

However, just like with rolling in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you are vulnerable right after the dodge animation finishes. Even if you dodge directly down onto the floor, you’ll be open for a moment as your character recovers. So again, if you’re predictable with your air dodges, smart players will just delay their attack a moment, and you’ll take the hit anyway. The same penalty that applies to rolls also applies to air dodges, so don’t overuse the move or it will quickly become useless.

Grabs

This isn’t really Super Smash Bros. Ultimate defense, but you needed to understand shield before we got into it. We have mentioned grabs before in the guide, but not yet how to do them. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy. You can either press the designated grab button (L or R) or press A while you are shielding. Grabs beat shields and rolls, but attacks beat grabs.

Once you have your opponent in your grasp, either press A to hit them and deal minor damage, or press up, down, left or right on the left analog stick to throw them.

Every character’s grabs are a little different, but you’re generally using these moves to either try and throw your opponent directly off the stage or to put them in a position where you can quickly follow them in an attempt to deal more damage.

In our example video above, Inkling uses her down throw to start a small combo with neutral attack, her side throws simply to push her opponent, and her up throw to chase her opponent into the air hoping to knock them off the screen.

To escape a grab, mash buttons, wiggle the analog stick and hope for the best. The longer your opponent decides to hit you before the throw, the more likely you are to escape.