Is Falco just an bad Wolf??

Nohbl

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Jul 20, 2017
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#1
I received this question in my conversations box some months ago. I haven't logged on in quite a while, so I only recently saw it. The asker joined the same day they questioned me, and has only posted a little since then, so I worry that they won't ever get the reply I sent.

I thought the question interesting and an answer important anyway, so I will provide that here as food for thought.

I've started trying Smash Brothers recently and started with Melee on Dolphin and fell in love with Falco's gorgeous beak and Back-Air. Now I'm trying to get into Project M because it just seems like the superior game and my brother likes Snake so this way we can both play together. (only real complaint is the lack of light shield)

But I've read in several places that in Project M he is no longer the hunk he once was. Is this true? I'm mostly just curious; even if Wolf is better I'm gonna stick to Falco because he is my one and only (of course I'll be a little sad for Falco that he may be past his prime). But I would like to know if this is gonna be an uphill battle like Axe's Pikachu. BTW I'm aware of most beginner basic information and the trap that many intermediates fall into when they plateau with FAlco cuz his bad habits still work up to a certain point. I;m not reaally aware of any character meta though
I'm kind of guilty that I didn't reply sooner. Hopefully they get the reply and it means something to them when they do. Here was my reply [be warned: it's unpopular opinion]:

Falco is not just a "bad wolf". The truth is that Fox, Falco, and Wolf were made to be balanced variations of each other. I have my theories about how this shakes out, but I'll save them for another time.

One of the differences you'll notice is in Falco and Wolf's lasers. Most people might see Wolf's laser as strictly better: it has a larger hitbox on the actual projectile that will never miss a grounded opponent [unless they spotdodge, obviously]; it has a hitbox that has nothing to do with the laser; it does 4% damage; and Wolf can literally run behind it for approaching. In comparison, Falco's laser has a much smaller hitbox that depends on precise short-hopping and fast-falling to hit certain opponents in certain situations, has no extra hitbox, does no more than 2% (if I remember correctly) damage at its best range, can't be followed (you have to jump in laser the opponent in the face to get a followup), and the rate of fire for grounded usage is only marginally better than Wolf's. Altogether, this makes Wolf's neutral, if not better than Falco's, significantly easier to do if technical execution is not an issue.

However, you need to identify the perspective here. This is all from the perspective of neutral, and a grounded neutral at that. What if you start comparing them in other scenarios? How does Wolf's laser stack up against Falco's when it comes to edge guarding? The slower rate of fire and slower travel time of Wolf's laser definitely hinders its usefulness as an edgeguarding tool. The inability to alter the height at which lasers are shot (because Wolf needs to be grounded in order to cancel the blaster's endlag) also makes Wolf's laser worse than Falco's when it comes to edgeguarding. Additionally (I might be wrong here), I think Falco's laser travels farther than Wolf's, which means that Falco can "snipe" where Wolf cannot. And because the point of shooting lasers here is to change positioning and not to tack on damage, Falco's laser being weaker is irrelevant. Altogether, this means that Falco's laser works better than Wolf's when it comes to edgeguarding.

So Wolf's laser fares better in neutral, but Falco's laser fares better at edgeguarding. When you start thinking in these terms, you notice that none of the Star Fox characters are strictly "better" than the others in all categories. They are in fact suited to different aspects of the game, and even still, they are compensated for their strengths and weaknesses in relation to their fellow characters. So while Falco may be slower on the ground than both Wolf and Fox, he can jump much higher than both of them. Going back to neutral vs edgeguarding, it turns out, in my view, that Wolf was given arguably the best neutral out of the three characters, but the worst edgeguarding out of them, too. Where Fox has the reflector, and Falco has the laser and dair, and both have down smash, Wolf really only has dair (a laggy meteor smash). I'm sure you get the idea now, and could start contrasting all their other qualities with one another on your own.

So I don't believe that Wolf is the best of the three; furthermore, I highly doubt that any one of them is anything but overall equal to the others. Not a popular opinion, but you've seen my reasoning. Which SF character you should play comes down to a matter of which character best suits your playstyle, let alone which character just feels the most natural. I, personally, just have a feel for Falco best---in comparison to Fox, he's generally stronger [although I couldn't find the data to back this up, for example, with the aerials], easier to control, and has some tricks that are not possible with Fox. In comparison to Wolf, I suppose Falco is just more familiar. I could go on.

It's easy to doubt Falco in Project M---it's easy to doubt Falco in Melee, where he undoubtedly has a much easier time staying on top. Silver Alloy's (the premiere Falco player in Project M for the past year and a half) Twitter profile picture is of PM Falco's dair hitbox not extending to the bottom of his boot (which is to say, the move was nerfed). Starting from 2017, Falco has not won a major Project M tournament, while Wolf has won plenty. But the truth is that Falco has pretty much everything he needs to be considered one of the top characters in Project M. He's just a difficult character to play---both from the standpoint of technical execution, as well as tactics and strategy. Improving your edgeguards with him is a good place to start.
 

The_Bookworm

Smash Champion
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
2,478
#2
It is mainly of the fact that Fox and Falco cannot really handle much of PM's powercreep, with their tools being overall nerfed from Melee and much more characters in the game able to exploit their vulnerability to punishes. While Wolf does suffer from this as well, he received a stronger and more consistent combo game by the mod itself, as well and approach tools as well. Slow moving lasers does have it's benefits for edgeguarding, as it limits were the opponent goes more effectively (although I do think Falco's is still better for edgeguarding).

Also, you based your reasoning on their lasers alone, and not the other tools and attributes. While I don't think Falco is "just a bad Wolf", as both characters are unique in terms on playstyle and tools, Wolf has definitely shown to handle the powercreep of PM more than the other two spacies.
 

Nohbl

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#3
It is mainly of the fact that Fox and Falco cannot really handle much of PM's powercreep, with their tools being overall nerfed from Melee and much more characters in the game able to exploit their vulnerability to punishes. While Wolf does suffer from this as well, he received a stronger and more consistent combo game by the mod itself, as well and approach tools as well. Slow moving lasers does have it's benefits for edgeguarding, as it limits were the opponent goes more effectively (although I do think Falco's is still better for edgeguarding).

Also, you based your reasoning on their lasers alone, and not the other tools and attributes. While I don't think Falco is "just a bad Wolf", as both characters are unique in terms on playstyle and tools, Wolf has definitely shown to handle the powercreep of PM more than the other two spacies.
I used the lasers as an example of the line of reasoning that one has to follow to get away from this mentality that Wolf is best and Falco is worst. Like I said, I could go on.

I disagree that we can conclude that Fox and Falco can't deal with everyone's buffs. What we have seen instead is that few people want to play Fox and Falco in PM, and those that do have no had major success with them yet.

Take Fox as an example. Ask yourself why people would play Fox in PM if they can play Fox in Melee---almost exactly the same character, but in a game with more opponents, more glory to be had, and an easier time of winning. I wouldn't doubt at all that Melee saps potential Fox talent away from PM; so why not think similarly of Falco?

Even so, in Melee, the situation is that Mango is really the only "good" (as in, a serious contender for winning majors) Falco player, with Westballz only barely making it into Top 8s these days, and no serious successors on the horizon. Why would that be? Is it because Falco is just a bad character? I don't think so---I would say it's because he is difficult to play well, in both SSBM and PM. Being difficult to master doesn't make a character bad necessarily. And so I think it's inaccurate to say that Falco can't handle the powercreep---more like, our Falco players haven't been able to yet. I've yet to see attempts to breakdown Falco's matchups in this game to support your statement.

Finally, I believe that Wolf was made to emphasize comboing---or at least to make his combos more fluid than Fox and Falco's. Contrast his up air with theirs. His up air doesn't work like a kill move as theirs can (except it could kill horizontally), but due to its larger hitbox and the angle it launches the opponent at, it's much easier to keep the opponent in a combo. Wolf does gain by having this kind of up air, but he also loses something that Fox and Falco retain. Same with nair. Wolf's nair is good in its own way, but it isn't Fox and Falco's nair. One has to think more closely about this calculus.
 

The_Bookworm

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#4
I used the lasers as an example of the line of reasoning that one has to follow to get away from this mentality that Wolf is best and Falco is worst. Like I said, I could go on.

I disagree that we can conclude that Fox and Falco can't deal with everyone's buffs. What we have seen instead is that few people want to play Fox and Falco in PM, and those that do have no had major success with them yet.

Take Fox as an example. Ask yourself why people would play Fox in PM if they can play Fox in Melee---almost exactly the same character, but in a game with more opponents, more glory to be had, and an easier time of winning. I wouldn't doubt at all that Melee saps potential Fox talent away from PM; so why not think similarly of Falco?

Even so, in Melee, the situation is that Mango is really the only "good" (as in, a serious contender for winning majors) Falco player, with Westballz only barely making it into Top 8s these days, and no serious successors on the horizon. Why would that be? Is it because Falco is just a bad character? I don't think so---I would say it's because he is difficult to play well, in both SSBM and PM. Being difficult to master doesn't make a character bad necessarily. And so I think it's inaccurate to say that Falco can't handle the powercreep---more like, our Falco players haven't been able to yet. I've yet to see attempts to breakdown Falco's matchups in this game to support your statement.

Finally, I believe that Wolf was made to emphasize comboing---or at least to make his combos more fluid than Fox and Falco's. Contrast his up air with theirs. His up air doesn't work like a kill move as theirs can (except it could kill horizontally), but due to its larger hitbox and the angle it launches the opponent at, it's much easier to keep the opponent in a combo. Wolf does gain by having this kind of up air, but he also loses something that Fox and Falco retain. Same with nair. Wolf's nair is good in its own way, but it isn't Fox and Falco's nair. One has to think more closely about this calculus.
I never said that Fox and Falco were bad in PM lol.
 

Nohbl

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#5
I never said that Fox and Falco were bad in PM lol.
I hoped it went without saying I wasn't putting words in your mouth. What you were implying however was that Wolf was in some way better than them in PM. Either assertion warrants more or less the same response.

And of course, all this argument is done in good faith.
 

R3D3MON

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KeeHwang2010
#6
Hmm, very interesting post. From what I have read of PPMD's posts on the SSBM Falco character boards, I don't think Wolf's laser is strictly better than Falco in the neutral game. Falco's laser is just so good at pressuring opponents into very uncomfortable situations near the ledge or baiting out reactions and letting the falco player quickly adapt to player habits (everything from how they block falco's laser into the dash distances they make go after a laser; this is primarily how Mang0 uses falco's lasers). It's such a good conditioning tool in the neutral, and it becomes even more useful for mixups and baiting when you can precisely adjust laser positions with short hop and full hop. Even with the damage nerf, I think falco's lasers may be better in neutral than wolf's, just because of the awesome conditioning and baiting you can do with precise laser timings and laser positions from jumps, as well your ability to quickly move after the laser (once again, there is so many different things you can do with just dashing distances).

I agree falco is very hard to master, especially at the high/top levels of play, and I think PM falco's lack of performance comes down to similar issues that melee players face in their gameplay: not abusing lasers enough.

But what do I know? I'm just a scrubby G&W player haha.
 

~?~

The Strangest Link Main
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#9
Falco is not a bad Wolf. To be frank, Wolf is just an overpowered Falco.
So the question should be "Is Falco a Wolf that doesn't carry 95% of the people who main him?"
 
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