The general consensus surrounding Little Mac is that he’s one of the weakest characters in all of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And while Mac might lack some tools that could help propel him to the higher tiers of the roster, there’s already some serious inherit strengths that he already possesses, making him one of the most slept-on characters in the roster.
If you’re in the very large camp of Little Mac non-believers, perhaps a little bit of context might change your view on the character. Above anything else, Little Mac is a boxer. Although he may appear as a fighter in a fighting game, he can’t be played like a traditional Smash Bros. character. In order to find success as Little Mac, you need to abandon most of what you already know about playing Smash and transport yourself into the mind of a traditional boxer.
Little Mac doesn’t necessarily play like any other character on the roster. For starters, his recovery is pretty underwhelming, but at least the ability to chain your Side-B with an Up-B and an optional Airdodge could allow you to get back on stage. However, once you’re off-stage, all bets are off, as Little Mac’s air-game is notoriously atrocious. His ability fight off-stage is seriously lacking, as he struggles to string combos together when already on the back foot.
However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Boxers aren’t exactly known for their aerial attacks. In order to truly unlock Little Mac’s potential as a character, you’re going to have to spend most of your time on the ground looking for the perfect opportunity to strike. If you ever find yourself in the air for any reason at all- abandon all hope- you’ve already lost.
Yet, on the ground, Little Mac is an entirely different beast. As one of the fastest characters in the game with a dash-speed of 2.464 (only Captain Falcon and Sonic rank higher), Little Mac is able to get from point A to point B in nearly no time at all. With a 0-20 of 1.27 seconds, Mac travels ridiculously fast across every stage, and excels exceptionally well on bigger stages. On really large maps like Pokemon Stadium 2, Little Mac is able to prance around the stage and land intermittent strikes on his opponent- setting the pace and tone of any matchup in the process.
Perhaps his most effective maneuver when it comes to damage is a Down-Throw into an Up-B, but that would require going up into the air, which we’ve already established is a significant weakness for Little Mac. Temper your expectations when stringing together combos like Up-Smash into Up-air or something of the matter, as combos like this aren’t guaranteed to kill until your opponents are above a significantly high percentage- once again stressing the need to soften them up before going in for the kill.
And when it comes down to it, that’s really all Little Mac is about. Of course speed is a major factor in both Little Mac’s play-style and traditional boxing, but finding the perfect opportunity to land a punch is a significant part of succeeding as the character.
I like to play Little Mac like a real-life fighter as opposed to a Smash fighter. With a heavy focus on dash attacks, jabs, smash attacks, Side-B’s and grab attacks, Little Mac’s playstyle revolves entirely around running around the map like a maniac until you can find the perfect window to land one of the aforementioned moves. Running back and forth across the ground will probably be your best course of action until you’re able to get in close and land a few punches. Your ability to get in and out after a quick strike might get repetitive in the eyes of your opponent- and that’s when you switch to a neutral playstyle.
It’s easy to get caught up in the constant flow of running and attacking, so it’s important to throw in the occasional shield and spot-dodge to throw your opponent off their guard.
Playing Little Mac like a traditional Smash character will put you at a significant disadvantage, as he doesn’t really play like anyone else on the roster. The closest comparison one can make to Little Mac could maybe be found in Cloud, as the two share a very similar style on the ground. Granted, Cloud has a significantly stronger air-game, as his massive sword allows Cloud players to hit anything with their eyes closed.
However, in order to master Little Mac, your eyes must be open and your mind must be clear. The duality of the character is found most notably in his ability to find strength in both a neutral phase and an aggressive state. To find success as Little Mac, it’s important to abandon your Smash tactics and pick up Little Mac tactics. If you really want to be a top-tier Little Mac player, throw yourself in the ring for a few hours and see exactly what it takes to be a strategic fighter.
Get in, get out. This is the mantra every Little Mac player should strive to live by. A gameplan like this will significantly improve your chances of not losing, because actually winning as this character might be a bit of a stretch.
Photo Credit: Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate