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How To Prefer The Air

How To Prefer The Air

Game Versions
Smash 3DS
Part I-A Falco Overview
As a seasoned Falco main, coming from Melee, going to Brawl, playing Brawl Falco, then coming to Smash 4, playing Smash 4 Falco, one might be able to understand the frustrations I initially felt playing as Falco in the first weeks of Smash 4. He's not the character he once was, a powerful, terrifying top-tier force to be reckoned with for the 12 or so years before Smash 4. When I unlocked Falco, I was amazed at how many nerfs had been slathered on him like icing on a cake. The startup and ending lag, most noticeable on his Blaster neutral-special, his poor(er) priority, and lack of outstanding kill potential--or so I thought at first. While it s true, Falco may not be the Melee/Brawl top-tier titan he once was, an experienced Falco player who really knows their junk can still be a very formidable threat to any Captain Falcon, Ness, Pikachu, or Sheik main.

Part II-Why Falco Over Fox?
Good question. Let me just put this out there, for beginners, there is little reason to pick Falco over Fox. Fox has better(ish) priority, is a lot faster, and is easier to control for beginners as his groundgame has drastic advantages on Falco. However, as one becomes more of the intermediate playing level, Fox's deficiencies really start to stand out. His lack of notable kill potential, lack of combos/chaining moves, and floatiness really start to stand out. This is where Falco comes in. Falco takes a higher degree of skill to use than Fox, as my personal experiences with Smash 4 Falco lead me to favor his airgame(He really does prefer the air), as his air moves can chain together, leading to some serious air punishment. Falco is also substantially heavier than Fox, and has a fair bit higher kill potential.

Part III-Falco's Strengths
Falco has many good points. He is actually somewhat heavy(for a bird), his Blaster can nullify charge-up projectiles(So sorry, Lucario and Samus), and his Reflector can be used as a combo-starter, as it does electrical damage, usually stunning the opponent for a couple frames(this is more useful in team battles than in 1v1s). He has one of the best airgames among fighters, as the knockback on his air moves, as well as Falco's own horizontal air movement speed, allows for easy chaining of his air moves together.

Part IV-Falco's Weaknesses
Despite the above mentioned strengths, Falco does have many weaknesses. First off, he has a somewhat subpar recovery, nowhere nearly as good as Fox's, has noticeable startup/ending lag that accompany each use of one of his specials, and has an overall suckish groundgame, unless played extremely carefully. His reflector cannot be held down, like Fox's, however, this isn't as much of a weakness as it is something to get accustomed to.

Part V-The Basic Airgame Falco
Falco's key strength lies in getting his opponent in the air, then battering them with a succession of powerful air attacks. Here are some methods to doing this:

0-40%-Grab, Pummel 1-2 times, up-throw, then Up-tilt. Follow with Up-smash after 1-2 Up-tilts if you want to.
40-65%-Same method as before works fine, or you can shove it and just go for the Up-smash.
65-90%-Grab, save the pummels, and just Up-throw.
90+%-Grab, pummel 2-3 times, then Up-throw.

Okay, so I have my opponent in the air. What do I do now? First off, it depends. Where are they in relation to you? If they're in a little in front of you, start off with a fair, then follow up with another normally. If they're straight above you(somewhere you should NEVER if you're up against a Falco), a uair works good. If they're behind you, spring for a bair. Repeat process until both of you hit the ground. I have been able to chain six air attacks as Falco in one air segment of the battle. I'm trying to break my record. Note: Falco's nair and dair aren't very helpful in air pursuit, as both of them lock Falco into place and give him no directional momentum, and dair is especially useless in this scenario, as you're trying to keep them in the air, not slam them to the ground. However, if your air-segment is over, and you're out of jumps, landing a dair on someone below you as they're trying to descend will allow you to knock them downward, them throw them upward, then you can touch down to refuel your jumps and continue the air punishment.

Part VI-Ground Options
While Falco has received some noticeable nerfs during the transition from Brawl to Smash 4, for example, the startup frames on his forward jab have been increased from 4 to 8, and the removal of auto-canceling out of Blaster shots and the removal of chaingrabs have hurt Falco a fair bit, he still has plenty of ground options. Down-throw into fair or forward-jab works, as well as forward-tilt into grab/down throw. Good follow ups also include forward tilt followed by forward jab, forward-tilt into forward-smash, and down-throw plus nair also works well. Also, his neutral attack followed by a forward jab has worked well for me in the past.

Part VII-Falco's Tricks
Falco has a multitude of tricks that can be used against the opponent to get you the upper hand(err, wing?). First off is his meteor-smash dair. This is a KO move at any character over 80%, if you sweetspot them with the beginning of the move while they're off the edge of the stage. Secondly, his side-special, Falco Phantasm, also has a meteor effect, though this is much harder to pull off. Another one worth noting is his Refector. Contrary to its name, I almost never use the Reflector to actually reflect projectiles. If I'm feeling like doing a bit of ground attacking before stepping into my air combos, a well-timed Reflector can stop an enemy jab and give you enough time to ready a move to strike them with.

Part VIII-A Summary of Falco
To wrap up this guide, Falco is a character that takes intermediate skill to use, relies somewhat heavily on his airgame, and has many chaining combos. He's considered a high C-tier character, is middleweight, has a subpar recovery, and is incredibly satisfying to kill with. Falco is a good character, if he's not one of your mains, he probably oughta be.

Thanks for reading,
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This certainly does bring info to the table. It's just it feels like less informational and more of a persuasive approach to the delivery. It's almost like you're trying to sell people Falco, when really, everyone reading this already picked up Falco.
I like that it seems that some of the old Melee/Brawl Falco mains are giving him a chance, but many things are being overlooked in this guide.

Despite Falco now truly preferring the air due to his recent buffs, you are missing his absolutely great ground game, jabs into grab, jab into tilts, and jabs into Smashes are all options that are useful in intense moments. You really didn't state much about his groundgame outside of it being suckish.
Back when we Falco mains didn't have much reason to get our opponent in the air (pre-patch Falco) we found that there is actually much use in his jab 1 and 2, especially when converting it into tilts.

Also, his up throw isn't the only way to rack up percent, I'd say that d-throw is still a good option with his rar bair > dsmash follow-ups or d-throw > nair-train follow-ups.
The main issue I have with Falco's groundgame is that while he has good grabs(sorry, forgot to mention D-throw), his moves are accompanied by a lot of startup lag(for example, his Blaster has 3-4 frames of startup lag), and can be read and punished easily due to these issues.
Mostly based on opinion with dubious claims that not supported by data. Possible spreading of misinformation to new players.
I'm working on gathering some of the frame data for his groundgame moves, and will sort out the dubious information tomorrow or the next day.
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