Super Smash Bros. Ultimate terminology vocabulary

So, it has come to my attention that readers may not quite understand all the hyper-nerdy terms I’m using in the recent Super Smash Bros. Ultimate articles I’ve been writing. That is quite the fair complaint, so I’m making a little list of all the basic terminology that would be helpful to know.

If you want to know every term that Super Smash Bros. players tend to use, there are great resources out there made by fanatics, like the Smash Directory. There’s also an incredible in-depth tips section within Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In any case, here’s a list to get you started.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Some Super Smash Bros. Ultimate terminology

  • Damage – The percentage underneath your character portrait. It increases after every attack you take. The higher the damage, the higher the knockback and the more likely you are to be KO’d.
  • Combo – A sequence of attacks that are hard or impossible to escape from. Can be any combination of specials, tilts, and smashes.
  • Edge guarding – Edge guarding has worked differently depending on the Smash game. But it simply means trying to keep your opponent away from recovering to the edges of the stage in any way possible.
  • Frame data – Games usually run between 30 and 60 frames a second, so there are 30-60 frames of animation that pass in a second. In Smash for example, when Inkling performs a forward smash, it has between 16-17 frames where its hitbox is active. That is when you can be hit.
  • Hitbox – A hitbox in really any game is the area where an attack collides with something else, be it an object or enemy. It’s an invisible box that denotes where an object or person will collide with another. So when Kirby swings his hammer and hits you, that is because you were inside of the hammer’s hitbox.
  • Invincibility – Frames where a character cannot be damaged, usually when dodging either on the ground or in the air.
  • Knockback – The distance your character flies when hit by a move, usually dependent on your damage.
  • Kill or KO – When your opponent is knocked off the stage far enough that they lose a stock or life. It’s when you see that “big shockwave” come up from the sides of the screen.
  • Meteor smash – Basically spiking your opponent downwards, and it usually can’t be recovered from. Mario’s forward air attack, for example, is one.
  • Recovery – When people talk about recovery in Smash games, they’re talking about how the character makes it back to the stage. The objective of Smash is to knock your enemies off the stage on any of the four sides, and how the player makes it back without falling off the screen is their recovery. Kirby’s floaty jumps would be considered part of his recovery, for example.
  • Smashes – The act of holding a direction down and the attack button at the same time. This charges your attack, and once you let go, you release a staggering blow in the direction you pressed.
  • Specials – The B button for most beginner players. You have a neutral special (pressing B by itself), a side special (forward and backward), a down special, and an up special. The up special is usually a means of recovery. These tend to be the moves that are trademarked to the character, like Mario’s fireball or Pikachu’s electricity.
  • Super Armor – Frames where your character can be damaged, but not interrupted. You’ll still complete the attack you were doing while taking the damage. Ganondorf’s Wizard Punch (neutral special) has tons of super armor, for example.
  • Tier – In fighting games, fans, pros, and professional leagues make lists that categorize the playable characters. They can be categorized in a number of formats, but Smash usually has two. There is either the low, mid, high, and top tiers, or the F through A tier with S at the top, above A. Basically, the most overpowered or useful characters are in the highest tiers, while the characters that are harder to win with are in lower ones.
  • Tilts – The act of pressing or holding a direction and only pressing the attack button, but not holding it. You have four smashes, four specials, and four tilts, each governed by right, left, up, or down. You can’t charge a tilt.

And there’s the list. Honestly, you’ll learn a lot of the terms passingly while playing the game or watching videos on it. But I hope this short list helps increase your comprehension, in addition to deepening your interest in the competitive Smash scene.

Jacob Buchalter
Writer, Illustrator, Graphic Designer, and "geek culture" aficionado. Jake B is an avid art lover based in San Francisco, California who has been hooked on video games and animation since he was just a wee lad.  As one of those so-called "creative types" Jake obsesses over art in any medium, whether it's video games, cartoons, or anime. Ask him about any artist, they're probably already in his bookmarks. Gaming is one of his biggest passions, and an industry he takes seriously.

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