Captain Falcon, the bounty hunter and car racer extraordinaire, returns to action in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Unlike in Super Smash Bros 64, Captain Falcon is a starter character, and was first shown on 7 July 2001 at E3. In competitive play, Captain Falcon relies on his powerful aerials, fast run speed, and flashy combos, the combination of which allow him to sit at position eight on the tier list.
Captain Falcon is one of the fastest characters in the game. He is most well known for his extreme speed, maneuverability, flashy combos, and stylish kill moves. He has the highest running speed, and initial dash speed (which happens to also be faster than his full run speed), the second fastest falling speed (behind Falco), and one of the fastest lateral air speeds in the game. These traits, coupled with his high traction, good jumping prowess, the ability to wall jump, and the longest dash dance (because of his many dash initiation frames) give Falcon great maneuverability and very strong, and agile onstage game. He has a short wavedash but the longest moonwalk in the game.
Despite lacking a projectile, Captain Falcon's attacks and great speed enable great approach options to KO and combo reliably and efficiently. Many of Falcon's attacks have fairly long start-up lag, but deal incredible damage and knockback. Falcon's aerials are his most notable strength as they are similar in power to his grounded smash attacks while having much shorter ending lag to reduce punishability and increase his overall play speed. His low short hop, very fast falling speed (fast-faller category), and aerials that reliably chain into one another makes for an excellent SHFFL, giving him a great damage rate and a multitude of approaches and combo finishers.
His aerials are fast and powerful and allows for many approach and KO options. His neutral air has amazing range and can be used to combo in most matchups at a wide variety of percents—crouch cancel reduces its combo potential but does not generally allow for a punish when it is spaced properly. His forward aerial, the Knee, is the best aerial finisher in the game. It can chain into one another through a series of well-timed sweetspots and sourspots, dealing high damage and KO-ing at percentages as low as 50%. It can be a combo starter and finisher, killing at high percents and beating crouch cancel at lower ones. His back aerial is a quick and powerful backhand punch that is useful for comboing, edgeguarding and spacing. His up aerial is a long-ranged, strong bicycle kick with very fast-start up (6 frames, his fastest attack other than jab), and can be used much like a shoryuken. It is undoubtedly Falcon's best comboing move and is a huge staple of his arsenal. His down aerial is the fourth most powerful meteor smash in the game, and though it has huge startup time, its amazingly high hitstun makes it the perfect setup into a combo finisher. Falcon's dair has a second hitbox above the waist that is spike instead of a meteor smash. It is the strongest spike in the game but can be very difficult to hit due to its small size and high placement on Falcon's body.
All of Captain Falcon's smash attacks have high KO-ing potential. Captain Falcon's forward smash, despite its fairly long start-up lag, is the third most powerful forward smash in the game in terms of damage and knockback and can combo directly out of an upthrow on fast-fallers with poor DI. His down smash is his fastest, dealing great horizontal knockback, and his up-smash can act as a combo starter and finisher. All of Falcon's smash attacks are some of the most powerful in the game but are not often used due to their long startup time and long ending lag except for as combo finishers.
A combo notoriously difficult to execute is the infamous Sacred Combo, a two-hit combo involving a sweetspotted Knee followed by a mid-air Falcon punch as long as the opponent does not DI directly away. If executed correctly, the opponent is likely to be KO'd. However, there are severe consequences if Falcon makes a mistake while performing this technique; there is a chance he'll miss, and it's possible for him to jump too far while performing the Falcon Punch, which will result in a self-destruct. This combo was most notably performed by Westballz at Kings of Cali 3 on a Fox player from NorCal named Zeldafreak.
Despite having a poor grab range (the sixth shortest in the game) he makes up for it with great speed to allow for reaction based tech chases. Falcon's grab game is among the most flexible and devastating in Melee; his forward and back throws are rarely used, but his up and down throws can be used to start combos and reliably lead into kills, often regardless of DI.
One of Captain Falcon's glaring weaknesses is his awful recovery. He has high air speed, but the distance that he can cover is drastically shortened by his fast falling speed. He is prone to edgehogging because his up special is very slow and linear. He can extend his horizontal recovery by performing an uninterrupted Falcon Kick in the air; this restores his midair jump, but it usually forces him to recover from very low. Raptor boost tends to be a very poor recovery move as it has minimal horizontal length in the air, and can't grab ledges for a very long period of time after it ends. It also renders him helpless if it connects with anything in midair, halting recovery immediately and sending him down the bottom [blast zone].
Captain Falcon's fast falling speed also acts as a double-edged sword; while it does grant him a very good combo game and the best vertical knockback resistance in the game due to his heavy weight, he is also prone to chaingrabs and combos by other characters. Overall, Captain Falcon is a tank with gifted speed; he can deal a lot of damage and take much of the same punishment, while having one of the fastest movement speeds in the game. Players must take advantage of this speed and quickly adapt to their opponents to fully utilize his power.
Playing as Captain Falcon
Captain Falcon relies on his fast SHFFLs and intricate spacing, and takes a lot of practice to master. High-level Captain Falcon players are notoriously famous for their blinding speed, awe-inspiring agility and devastating combos, but newer and more inexperienced players often have difficulties controlling Falcon, and will often be more dangerous to themselves than their opponents.
If you want to learn more about playing Captain Falcon at a competitive level, you should check out The Captain Falcon Trials on smashboards. It is one of the best character-specific guides out there, listing all the techniques needed in order to become a formidable Captain Falcon. It covers everything from basic Melee techniques like SHFFLing and wavedashing, to some of the most advanced techniques like shield dropping and Hax dashing. It's set up like a set of challenges to help the players keep track of their progress and it's constantly being updated.
LittleEngland has uploaded a video on youtube that shows and describes many of the techniques featured in the Trials and also some that aren't, including some rarely seen techniques such as edgecancelled Up+B and "The Charlie" aka "boost run", which is an extension of moonwalking.
Be sure to check out this video by the 20GX founders: Gravy, Gahtzu and Wizzrobe.
These techniques will require alot of practice, especially the more advanced ones, but if mastered, one will have all the tools needed to reach the highest levels of play with Captain Falcon. As essential as these tools are however, they must be held in experienced hands in order for them to be effective. The Falcon Index on smashboards contains all the most useful Falcon-specific knowledge gathered over the years, as experienced Captain Falcon players have shared their wisdom.
- Captain Smuckers