My Thoughts on Palutena, strategies and how the future looks


Smash Rookie
Apr 2, 2019

This is something that I thought of doing on a whim. I will say this, I have not owned (but have played for fun) any of the other Smash Bro's games. I say this, which may discredit me, because I want to be completely open about these thoughts up front so I do not seem missleading. I did however buy a Nintendo Switch specifically for Smash Ultimate, practice religiously, and have entered the competetive scene slightly, but am no where near the top of my peers. I do however approach this game with a lot of thought and have improved very quickly by doing my own match up analysis for Palutena, and thought I would share since there isnt much on Palutena online that is comprehensive even though she is such a strong character with good results in major events. The reason for this seems obvious to me, as while Palutena may not do one single thing with mastery, she can adapt and change to any situation, which makes her hard to judge. That being said, lets begin.

Usually being a jack of all trades master of non is a bad thing, however in a fast paced game like SSBU, I think this is a great strength, because the game will go to different phases of nuetral, camping, advantage, and disadvantage state very quickly and often. This allows Palu to find an option in quickly, and if the character you are facing has a major advantage in a certain aspect of the game, you can use learned skill to force the player out of those situations and into a state of the game they are weak against. Let me explain further, in case my point is not quite clear. Let us take Ganandorf for example, as he is easy to break down. It is painfully obvious how strong Ganon advantage state is, as this character can, and will, consistently kill at low percentages, even as low as 30%. Now we all know that Ganon is also a very slow character in both ground and air speed. This makes his disadvantage state very exploitable. Now, I know most Palutenas will say that Ganon is no threat, however I would say that depends on the Ganon you play. A good Ganon is patient, will not over extend, and will WAIT for your mistake. But being knowing this, Palutena has options to also be patient and use her strong and unpredictable projectiles to force a Ganon to approach, give you an opening to put him in disadvantage state, making him weak. Of course he will have the opportunity to react eventually, but Patients and understanding matchups if how Palutena will win consistently and will win overwhelmingly.

This brings me to my next point. Palutena is an easy character to learn how to use. I will absolutely admit to this, and it is one of the things that drew me to her when I was looking for my main. Usually this means skill cap is low, and the character will eventually be maxed out, as all her best options, combos and strategies will be learned. I did notice though that after watching many pro players masterfully use her, that the amount of tools in her box are actually quite endless, and while easy to use, master of the basics of the game, such as spacing, turning around, and even how to input tilt and smash instead of just C stick is important if only for masterful use of explosive flame. If the basics are polished, this character can string any number of her moves together seamlessly (may not be true combo but her juggle is undeniable). Yet, after all my studying of top level play, I still pull off moves with her that blow my mind, and are unique. Her toolset, while most of it has a pretty demanding start and end lag (mostly in conjuntion with her ground game), can still be used effectively due to multihits and disjoint hit/wind box. She may as well be considered the swiss army knife of Smash.

Now that was a very brief explanation, though I would have ranted much further, of what I think makes this character strong, and makes her one of the lasting contenders in competitive play. (I wont say teir list as imo the game is way too fresh for teir lists to mean anything, even this many months into the game)

This next portion I will anylise her move set, what I think of the moves, and some of the ways I have found to use it creatively and effectively. (This will not include final smash, I dont play with smash ball or meter so I am not experienced with its use)

Jab + Tilts + Dash Attack

Jab - Hitbox active frame 8, making this quite slow when it comes to jabs. However do not discredit this jab as it is quite strong. I have found a lot of success using this against rush down characters and players who tend to grab a lot. It is a quick enough option for surprise catches and OOS option, can be used with tomohawk if your oponent reads the grab, will punish rolls, and will do decent knock back, allowing you to recompose and take nutreal of used defensively. Warning, it has more end lag than most jabs so use it with caution, and against shorter characters, this jab can be crouched. I have also found that having such a high hitbox on jab makes it near impossible to jab lock with her jab, however she has other options for jab lock I will explain later. Can create tech chase situations.

Dash Attack - Hitbox active around frame 7-8, this move comes out quite quick as you space her animation to compensate for this. This move has invincibility during the active part of her her hit box, and can challange most, if not all other dash attacks. (will usually cancel out with Ganon and has trouble with spacing it agains Mario whos slide goes below the shield.) This is a great punish tool, with good knockback, that can kill at higher percents. It does have significant and lag, so becareful of wiff punishes. I have also found success using this against recoveries while edge guarding against characters like fox, falco, wolf, pikachu and pichu when recovering high. This will also punish peach and daisy if they are doing a low float and spacing, if used with a bait. Another way this attack can be used, and it not used often enough, is to get through projectiles that are slower and easier to time. I have found myself powering my way through wolf blasters, which tends to be, at the very least, intimidating, but invincibility frames come out around frame 4 and last through frame 15, making it a faster option than reflect counter when you dont have time to react. Again, end lag can be punished when doing this, so spacing, spacing spacing. Great for tech chase situations.

F-Tilt - Hitbox active frame 14, this move is quite slow. Now that being said, do not discount this move. It will catch many agressive players off guard, as the hit box remains active for 22 frames, with 2 total seperate hits, the second having much more base and growth knock back, killing at higher percentages. It is also important to note that the second hit is also slightly further than the initial, and while in the lab the distance may seem negligeble, I have caught many players with good spacing awareness that think they are standing in a safe distance, waiting for the end lag punish window. This move can lead to an easy tech chase and edge guard. This can be used to space in nuetral, but can be punished easily so use with caution, however this will also catch high recoveries, rolls, and condition shield if the opponent spot dodges a lot, allowing for grab. It is definitely a move the is strong against reads, if you expect a roll, turn around f-tilt is a strong and quick option, and I can read short hop aerials and catch them with f-tilt constantly.

U-Tilt - Comes out frame 8, this is her fastest tilt (and sadly just as fast as her jab). I also believe this tilt is under utulized, and under appreciated. It kills early, some lighter characters as lot as 110%, is disjoint, and has multihit with 5 total hits, making a very active and long lasting hitbox. Ever face those pesky characters with a disjoint and powerful down airs like the Link(s), Cloud, and Game and Watch? This makes it hard for Palutena to do her arguably one masterful trait, and that is juggle. Up-tilt will catch those and punish them hard, making down air more of a danger than a useful tool out of disadvantage. It also catches ground opponents in front and behind her, which can be strong on shield if you condition with f-tilt, d-tilt and grab, but I tend to avoid using it in this way a lot as it might be easy to see coming if facing a smarter opponent. Use this against fox, falco, and the yellow mice a lot, as it will snuff out the strong ariel combo game.

D-Tilt - Comes out frame 14, This is become one of my favorite tilts very quickly due to its vercitility. The uses for this move come with your imagination. It has 2 hits, disjoint, and like f-tilt, second hit has a slightly further reach. This attack, also hits under the stage, making it a strong tool for edgegaurding, as it can catch the 2 frame window with ease. I dont go into too much detail about the uses, simple because there are so many that I have for this move, it would take too long. Let me know if you want another post about details of it's use. That being said, spaced right, this move is great as a shield poke, is Palu's best move for catching roles, has its uses for catching landings, and can also be used as a follow up for short hop auto cancel neutral air if at higher percentages where you cant combo with nair strings but cant kill either. I can not move on without mentioning this will kill at high percentages (120% at the ledge for most light-mid weight characters) but most importantly, will knock opponents down and away, creating situations where they must recover low, from underneith the platform, allowing for great opportunities to style, such as dair dunks or drop down nair. This is great as most Palu's moves knock horizontally and upward, allowing the enemy to recover high, which can be punished but is still the safest option against Palu.

Smash Attacks

Up Smash - Hit box active frame 18, this is my favorite and most used smash attack for Palus tool kit. It can catch inward DI when doing nair strings, extending combos, and creates easy juggle situations. This smash attack hits rediculously high, with a sweet spot at the base of the light pillar and sour spot at the tip, can punish platforms (usually only use when they are conditioned and react to jumps), double jumps, and due to it's rediculously long and active hitbox, easily punishes air dodges. Can kill quite early on light characters like the pikas. It is my favorite move to use against the electric mice, I catch a lot of recovers when they are attempting to recover using skull bash. Also catches the space furries recovery options (up and side special). It is worth noting that it does hit slightly below ledge, allowing it to 2 frame punish, however I opt for d-tilt as it is faster and has less end lag. You must have basic movement and spacing to use this move effectively as it only hits in front of palu, so what direction you are facing is especially more important for this smash attack than most, however it is not utulized enough and can kill very early.

F-Smash - Active frame 18, Palutena uses her giant wings to strike your opponent, this smash attack has great range, damage and kills very early, with the sweet spot being closer to her body, and the sour spot being the tip of the wings. This move also has a strong wind box that can be used to gimp recoveries, create pressure, and will help prevent wiff punishes, though I would not depend on this because end lag on this move is high, and if shielded to avoid windbox, you will be punished. I need to experiment more with this as it has some very unique properties, but There is a small hitbit behind Palutena when the attack is first released, as this is where her wings are winding up for the attack, and I want to experiment with the knock back as it seems like the sweet and sour spot knock back at different angles and distance at low and high percentages. Great OOS option.

D - Smash - Active frame 17, it is a good option when fighting for nuetral and playing footsies. This move has amazing range for a Down smash, so it can cover a lot of roll and read options, and is a great tool for edge guarding players mixing it up will, as you can stand a safe distance from the ledge and cover both roll and get up options. This move also has a slight windbox, though it is much weaker than the F-smash windbox and I don't have any real known practiculal uses for it as of yet. Great OOS option.

Aeriels - Palutena's bread winner

Nair - Do I need to talk about this move really? Active frame 5, this is the defenition of Palu, and her main combo tool. Use it. Use it a lot. Abuse it. This is probably your best OOS option, with 6 total hits, with knock back on the last hit, this move combos into any other aerial, and into itself. While trapped in the 6 hits of nair, you can glide forward, back or down to move the character, allowing you to walk the opponent off stage, pull them back allowing for more stage to extend the combo, and down, if you are wanting to auto cancel the last hit of nair and prevent knock back. I have not found a ton of uses for autocancel nair yet, except at high percentages I will cancel last hit to follow up with down tilt, causing a lot recovery edge guard situation. I will mention that this move is annoying but will be beaten out by a lot of other Aerials, and disjoint aerials will punish you hard, so be smart. Also has 12 frames landing lag so use it good spacing, smart opponents know how to punish this move. Great for edge guarding, this will kill at high percentages assuming you havent stailed this move like a cheeto that fell under the sofa.

Fair - This is you're main spacing tool, short hop fair is safe on shields when spaced, but dont over comit, you can be punished because her foot is both a hitbox and a hurtbox. Comes out frame 9, it is a bit of a slower aerial, and lacks any real kill potential, but it can still be a good combo ender. You will mostly want to use this with short hop, doing a buffered short hop against taller characters, and shorter characters, doing a short hop, fair, fastfall. Can start easy tech chases, and against larger, heavier characters, buffered short hop fair can walk them right off the side of the stage. 7 frames landing lag, it is a decently fast aerial to act out of, and is easier to punish at the start than at the end of the move.

Bair - One of your main killing options, this move has invincibility like dash attack starting frame 7, and hit box starts frame 8. Use this move to catch recoveries, able to bounce them off ledge, forcing them to tech, and can do a hanging ledge jump bair to catch high recoveries trying to drop low. This can also punish people camping and holding ledge to stall, but may be harder to pull off than an explosive flame, which hits under the ledge on the last hit, punishing ledge stall. This is a move you will use to challenge your opponent and make them back off. Will beat or cancel with any aerial, against other strong aerial attack characters, you will want to use this a lot. Be sure to know hot to use rar and turn around on commamd, When fast falling, it is best to use this move from a full jump, as it hits high. When spaced and timed right, it can still hit short characters, even pichu and will kill him earlier. Buffered shot hop bair is a strong challenge for other aerials.

Dair - I have heard mixed things about this but I personally love Palutena's dair. This move does meteor smash, allowing for some amazing gimp and style plays, This move also does a great stage spike, bouncing players up allowing for a nair/bair/fair follow up, or even a smash attack with bad DI.

Special Attacks

Nuetral Special - Autoretical : First of 3 lasers comes out frame 8, it is a great poking tool that can force the player to approach. It has minor knockback, that while not a killing move, can push players off if they are standing near the ledge, forcing a scramble situation. It auto targets enemies. however all the lasers will shoot at the location of the opponent at the time of activation, so it can be wiffed easily if not used right, it can still be a good gimp tool, especiall with slow start up recoveries, like ness PKthunder, and the spacies up special. What I really wanted to talk about this projectile is something not used often enough by people, but this move can and will put am opponent who missed a tech into jab lock. You must do a full hop and nuetral special next to them, then fast fall and catch them with a smash attack. This is a little hard at first, and the timing can be tight, so I suggest you lab this out hard. The slight knock back can also be used for spacing and while fighting for nuetral, disrupting approaches and allowing for you to follow up, and disrupting charge moves such as samus, DK and robin.

Down Special - Reflect Barrier - A reflector and a counter, dont depend on this too much, and use the counter only as a get off me move. If it is wiffed, the end lag is giagantic and you will not have a good time. This is a high risk - low reward counter, as while all other counters do increased knockback and damage to the opponent, this one does the same amount as the countered attack, only with a reflector attacked to it, which is alright unless the opponent can hit and cancel the reflected projectile with another projectile, and during all this you will probably still be stuck in the ending animation of the move. Easily her worst move, I would personally have wanted this to either be a fast and dedicated reflector that has low ending lag, or a stronger counter. As it is now, the counter comes out frame 8 and the counter lasts until frame 34 and then has another 37 frames of end lag. In comparison, Shulks counter, that has gigantic range, lasts from frame 7-41 with 29 frames of end lag. Not complaining, just saying I would rather have one or the other.

Forward Special - Everyones favorite move to complain about, Explosive flame is quite strong as a poke and punish tool that can kill quite early. This is a high risk - high reward move though, coming out frame 28, but is hard to for your opponent to read because it can be placed at a set distance close or far away using tilt or smash while imputing the direction. An important not here is that the ball will be placed that set distance exactly where the Special button was first pressed. What I mean by this is, if I am dashing away, and then do a turn around Side special explosive flame, I can seemingly manipulate the set distance of the move, because it will be placed the tilt or smash distance away from when I started the turn around special, not from where the animation began. This means you can confuse your opponents spacing when dashing, and that you can strategically place in the air to punish recoveries and DI's from landing enemies. In my experience, this move kills much earlier when catching opponents in the air, most likely because the opponent i already closer to the blast zone, but catching players is super fun. A lot of cool this cant be done with this move. The final hit on flame is a blast so it hits further, meaning it can catch players just outside of the ball, and final hit will hit beneath the platform, punishing players that hang on to the ledge too long. Get creative, but high end lag, you have been warned.

Up Special - Teleport has too many strong uses to talk about in a few sentances. This move has a fast startup with intangebility during frames 16-32, however end lag is punishable so be careful. While labbing I have noticed you can affect the distance of the teleport while on stage by manipulating the directional stick quickly, but is not consistant enough for practicaluse. This is an amazing recovery option that will actually grab the ledge automatically when aimed right, completely avoiding the 2 frame punish window, and can be mixed up with on stage recovers as smart players can punish the start up frames and if you are far from the ledge, you will be vulnurable at the end of teleport before grabbing ledge, so multi hit moves can hurt. Dont just use this for off stage recovery! Hit the lab and practive ledge cancel on many different stages, so you get used to the distance and spacing. This is a strong tool to take players by surprise, gimp recoveries with an edge guard, to get yourself out of disadvantage. I will sometimes teleport behind approaching players, as most people dont expect this, giving me time to act out of my end lag. Be careful as players can easily catch on and punish this. You will also want to lab your recovery well, because you can easily mess up at the start and miss ledge, making you free fall. However when practiced, palu can go very deep to edge guard and recover safely. This teleport is what makes Palu a viable character, as it is one of the strongest recovery options in the game.

Grabs - Palutena has a strong grab game, her Dash grab is strong but the most punishable when wiffed, but mostly I would get used to doing her pivate grab as that will catch many players.

Down throw is a combo starter, at low percents can lead to nair strings or short hop fair. Middle percentages you will want to short/full hop fair, depending on DI. High percentaged you want to do a rar full hop back air, as this will likely kill. At edge, can lead to a short hop dair for a quick gimp. At higher percentages, the bounce can lead to run up, up air.

Forward throw has a set knock back with low growth knock back. This move is my least used throw, which has very situational uses. I mostly use it at low percents at the ledge to force a ledge guard situation. Can sometimes confirm into an explosive flame, if the opponent misses a tech or techs in place.

Back throw has amazing growth knock back and is a kill move at higher percentages. You will use this a ton at higher percentages when at the ledge.

Up Throw has growth knock back, but kills at higher percentages than back throw, lower if on the top battlefield platteform. Can be used to for a juggle, use this against characters with a very weak disadvantage state in the air, such as Olimar, Bowser and Snake.


Now Im sure I missed a ton, but this took me a a few hours to put together and I hope it helps and at least gets my idea across about how Palutena may have no real advantages, but that also means she has no disadvantages either. It makes the game boil down to skill and strategy, and that is where I try to excel. I think unless she received some kind of major balance changes, she will remain a viable character that keeps consistantly winning major events. She is fun, and her possibilities are endless.

Hope you enjoyed it and tell me your thoughts. If you have anything to add or see anything I got wrong and should correct please let me know. Frame rates me not be 100% accurate, as it really depends on how and where you start counting, but it is close enough to get the idea across.

After writing all this, I will say, I am just holding out for Joker. I have already decided to main him, even if he turns out to be complete trash.:ultpalutena:
Last edited: