II. Falcon’s Moves/ Traits
III. Falcon Neutral
- Out of Shield
Hi, this guide’s to help beginners and pros alike get better at understanding/ playing Captain Falcon. Before I begin, sorry for taking so long and thank you so much to my fans. Love you all.
Captain Falcon is definitely viable for winning nationals consistently. Why? Falcon has no unwinnable matchups, not even close. People have learned how to play on his “bad” stages. With the meta progressing, every matchup considered bad for Falcon is approaching even. In addition, Falcon is strong against almost every (relevant) floaty in the game, making him at least a good dual main pick.
On the flip side, having holes in one’s Falcon game, whether it is matchup knowledge or sheer fundamentals will make Captain Falcon seem like one of the worst characters. Falcon does not have the luxury of being able to half-ass most matchups and still win. You HAVE to understand how to play matchups or you will lose to characters you are supposed to beat like Samus/ Ice Climbers/ Luigi.
Other “weaker” characters will appear to be better than Falcon, but they do not have the ability to win every tournament consistently because some matchups are extremely difficult to win. Even the most explosive Ice Climbers will randomly get bad placements due to running into Peach/ Falcon.
The general purpose of the guide is to help people understand Falcon through analysis of his moveset/ traits, giving a better understanding of neutral/ shield options, and a small discourse on stage picks/ strategies. Further releases of this guide will focus on in-depth matchup analysis and improving subtle micro situations for advanced C. Falcon players looking to level up their game.
II. ALL OF FALCON’s MOVES/ TRAITS
The purpose of this segment is to show the frame data/ gifs of every move before I add my own perspective. I’ll further go more in depth as I go to the neutral game part of my guide.
Also, I jacked all of the frame data from Scar’s very old C. Falcon guide. Hope he doesn’t mind… anyways
Falcon has amazing (aerial) horizontal movement. In addition, his relatively low falling speed allows him to combo/ cover off-stage edgeguards that almost no other characters can pull off. Fox is fast horizontally, but his fall-speed makes him suffer comparatively to Falcon in certain spots.
Window of the second punch: 3-25
Second punch starts: 9
First jab alone could be useful situationally. It can be done after certain aerials on shields to catch people trying to jump and generally mess up people’s timings.
Some people use it way too much, other’s never even consider it. I find it strong as a mixup, especially on platforms when you can chain together decent pressure strings.
There is a fairly large frame window between jabs, allowing for potential timing mixups.
I find myself using 1st jab alone as a mixup in certain situations. If not expected, it can interrupt opponents whether they are trying to do moves out of shield or the slight shield stun it causes can throw some people off. It’s value also goes up on platforms if you do something like jab on shield → fall-through platform up-air.
There is a fairly large frame window between jabs, allowing for potential timing mixups.
Window of the knee: 2-25
Knee starts: 8
Since most opponents expect a gentleman after the 2nd jab, you can mix up your options by instead going for a grab.
There is again a frame window between the 2nd jab and the 3rd jab (gentleman), allowing for another timing mixup.
3rd jab (GENTLEMAN)
Rapid Jabs Start: 13
KB: Above average
NOTE: to get the knee without the jabs, don’t interrupt either punch animation; instead, hit A after it’s
over. *Hitting your opponents with the jabs make this easier, if you do not, then following this rule of thumb will help for not doing the rapid jabs.
Gentleman is one of Falcon’s most useful moves. It is weak when badly-spaced/ used at low percents (due to Crouch-Cancelling). Strong in almost every other situation.
Even at low percents, if you think your opponent wants to jump out of shield/ do an aerial they will not CC it.
Connecting with gentleman at higher percents will knock down your opponent, setting up a good tech chase opportunity.
Again, there is a window between all 3 jabs. You’d be surprised when delaying the Gentleman works out since every Falcon main mashes A+A+A as quick as possible. The ability to space out the timing of the jabs make it so you can mix it up with other options as well.
Generally strong move. The ass/thigh hitbox helps a lot because opponents tend to DI the jabs in so that the gentlemen doesn’t hit them forwards.
Why did I mention all the timing windows between jabs? If you mix up your timings well enough against certain opponents, you can maximize the potential out of these 3 moves or even substitute in a grab after any of the hits.
Most falcon players opt to mash the hell out of gentleman fast as possible which is not always optimal.
Charge frame: 10
KB: Very good
Range: Disturbingly low
Often used as a finisher off of stomps or in some situations as a risky tech chase, this move has a situational place in the neutral due to the pull back from frames 1-17, allowing for trades/ clean hits to happen against some approaches.
But, I honestly don’t find it too useful in neutral in 2016. It has some potential as a gamble but the chances of it working decrease as you play against stronger players.
Hit: 21-22, 27-28
Charge frame: 8
KB: Above average
Range: Above average
Often used as a combo extender after the opponent is already popped up or on platforms. Could have potential in the neutral due to the slight pullback around frames 13-20.
A weakness of the move is that the first hit, if DI’d or CC’d can be make the 2nd hit not connect. But the 1st hit often pops them up in front of you, creating another tech-chase situation.
Hit: 19-22, 29-32
Charge frame: 14
KB: Above average
Used to cover multiple options (in tech chases).
A common pitfall of this move is to use it during throw tech-chases. Unless not DI-ed correctly, you usually do not have enough time to space correctly and use this move to cover multiple options.
It is much better IMO to use off of random hits in which case you can run up, cancel your run with duck and charge a d-smash (using c-stick). I also like it on platforms to guarantee a decent punish sometimes
Range: Above average
Although not as fast as Samus or as strong as Ganondorf’s, still has utility and a place in Falcon’s neutral game. Can catch some approaches.
(Up-angled F-tilt) is viable as a combo extender sometimes against certain floaties
It’s worth pointing out that it could be used to force some no-tech situations, I personally do not like this though as it relies on opponents being bad/ messing up.
KB: Very good
Decent move that while used mostly for guarding/ certain tech chases appears to have utility in the neutral.
KB: Average (Vertical height)
It’s spacing and potential punish after is great. There’s a lot of CC-able moves from your opponent where, after CC-ing them you can use D-tilt to pop them up at higher percents for a free kill. Because it hits on frame 10, sometimes you can CC some moves and mash out d-tilt, hitting them before their move ends.
You can also (barely) catch some of the laggier moves thrown out by opponents with d-tilt. It’s something every Falcon should consider in their repertoire especially against fast-fallers.
Range: Very low
Dash attack has 2 hitboxes, a stronger, medium hitbox on the first few frames before it’s replaced by a smaller, weaker hitbox.
The first hitbox has some utility due to being fairly fast and okay in power, giving it some use after medium percents, even for tech chasing.
The 2nd hitbox is pitifully weak and mostly useless, but it can cause some funny gimps in Falcon dittos if the other Falcon tries to sweetspot the edge without doing a reverse up-B.
Total ground (whiffed): 79
Hit window (ground): 15-34
Hit window (air): 17-34
When he hits: 4-8
Lag from hitting (air): 45
Lag from hitting (ground): 25
A move that’s good in neutral if you expect them to shield or get caught jumping out of shield/wavedashing out. Often, the spacing/ end lag of the move when hitting a shield won’t allow you to get punished and puts a bit more pressure on your opponent.
Has some trade potential against certain characters moves in neutral, making it a viable gamble move choice.
A perceived weakness of this move is that if you miss, you are open for counter-attack. There are ways to avoid the knockdown. For example, while tech-chasing if someone lands at the right edge, you can run to the right edge, side-b to the left and cover almost every option. If they end up teching to the right, you will miss, but still do an uppercut, making you safe.
Especially good vs marth in certain spots if you manage to cross them up and get behind them. Some marths will try to jump out of shield or wavedash out, you will catch them with side-b.
After low-mid percents, I find it to sometimes be the best possible tech-chase punish due to not being CC-able (during tech-chases). It just pops people up perfectly in spots where stomp/knee would not kill them/ send them to safety.
I think it is important to use this move. 20GX might disagree.
Can grab edges as soon as: 38
Sends away: 20
Underrated as an attacking move, especially on platforms.
In spots where opponents are shielding on a platform, instead of hitting them with an aerial and they get away, you can up-b and actually hit them. Not a lot of people see it coming. Even if they know you might do it, it’s a strong mixup. Weaker against opponents who always try to move/spotdodge and not shield.
Hit (from ground): 14-32
Hit (from air): 15-29
Recovery time (from ground): 29
Recovery time (from air): 28
NOTE: landing during the air recovery
time causes the ground hit
Ground hit lag: 45
Ground hit damaging: 1-2
Wall hit lag: 60
Falcon’s quick/ medium strength, gimmicky move.
A lot of people still use it randomly, hoping their opponent doesn’t expect it and hoping for the best.
Not gunna lie, whenever I use this move for that exact purpose, I get punished almost 100% of the time after. Use it with caution.
It has some potential for tech chasing since it has more range than side-b and pops up your opponent. Against certain characters you won’t get punished if you miss unlike side-b.
Has interesting usage in the air due to the slight delay before startup, allowing Falcon players to punish get-up attacks without landing. There’s a hitbox while he travels in the air and another when he lands. The 2nd hitbox appears to poke beneath damaged shields as well.
If timed correctly, you can combo into this move from a stomp/ use it for edgeguarding. It’s decent hitbox makes it effective against opponents who are forced into coming in from above (Fox up-b some situations, Falcon up-b)
Hit: 7-12, 20-29
Auto cancel: <3 34>
N-air is one of Falcon’s best moves. It is also spammed heavily and used in not ideal spots in so many situations.
N-air has amazing range/ disjointed hitboxes and has a lot of mix-ups, whether you choose to only use the first hit, fastfall/ not fast-fall, crossing up/fade-back. It is amazing for spacing and solid for shield pressuring.
It is sometimes the best possible choice for extending combos where up-air wouldn’t work.
However, this move has a decent amount of weakpoints.
The first hit of n-air is bad for trading, making it bad for close-range exchanges because it just keeps them in place while their hit could knock you down. IMO, you want to use this move in mid-range the most unless you have a feeling they will not SHFFL an aerial at you.
In very close range spots, you want to substitute in instant Up-Air instead.
Seasoned pros know how to exploit the window between/after n-air hits to put Falcon in a bad spot.
The first hit can be DI-ed up so that the 2nd hit does not connect. You will see this a lot against good floaty players
Strengths: Amazing disjointed hitboxes making it a great low/mid range move
Solid for pressuring
Has mixup potential with using 1 or 2 hits, not-fastfalling, crossing-up, fading back.
Weaknesses: If hitting (floaty) opponents above you with a Short Hop N-air, the 1st hit can be (Smash) DI-d up enough that the 2nd hit won’t connect, setting up a counter-attack from your opponent.
Trading 1st hit of N-air is generally bad.
The first move can be CC’d and then punishedif not spaced correctly
Falcon’s most spammed move. Solid for pressuring shield, has mixup potential with both hits/ not-fastfalling
Great for spacing, has medium priority
Therefore, often trades with moves trading 1st hit n-air with almost anything is pretty bad
So in neutral game, it is not the best choice when your opponent is probably going to SHFFL a move at you.
You either want to use falcon’s ground speed to run away/ try to outspace an approaching move, or substitute in Up-air
Disjointed nature of the hitbox allows 2nd hit of n-air to beat out weaker priority moves
Auto cancel: 22>
Range: Above average
Instant short hop up-air is one of the best choices in neutral, having both good strength/ speed. If there is a go-to move out of shield, this is probably one of the best choices.
Because it starts on frame 6 with a relatively high hitbox, it has a chance of missing shorter opponents, including opponents who duck while dashing.
Short hop, no fast-fall / fast-fall up-airs are also good choices as a mixup. Some applications off of short hop up-air on their shield → gentleman, grab, more SHFFL pressure, dashing away/ through them. Analyzing your opponents tendencies can give you clues into which choices are the best to use.
Obviously a strong comboing tool, sometimes n-air is better.
Up-air, when used instantly after a short-hop is superior in neutral game when in SHFFL battles with your opponent. Against tall/semi-tall opponents, you can use this to up-air out of shield even and it will hit them. You can even block Shiek’s f-tilt and up-air out of shield and hit her.
However, instant up-air is weaker against opponents who are tiny or have a running animation where they are ducking, making them harder, if not impossible to hit
Another strong use of up-air is to short hop, then either delay or fast-fall up-air. Hitting their shield puts you in a pretty good spot where you can either continue the pressure with gentleman (ideally spaced), run away, grab, or continue shffl pressure if you want to keep doing shield damage
Auto cancel: <6 35>
KB: Very good
Often used as a combo extender with weak knee or a finisher with strong knee. Knee is pretty good in neutral. Hitting their shield with a strong knee gives you a +2 frame advantage, usually granting you decision points of whether you want to jab/ gentleman, grab, keep pressuring with more aerials
Weak knee is good for edgeguarding if you can predict their recoveries and catch them with a weak knee which often leads to a free up-air/ strong-knee at certain percentages.
Sometimes, in certain micro spots you can use spaced weak knee as shield pressure as a mix-up. Or you can knee past them if you believe they are going to be in shield. This is strong vs Marth/ characters with bad/laggy b-airs out of shield. This is worse in PAL however due to weak knee being nerfed.
IMO, for certain playstyle, mine included, the weak-knee nerf really hurts in PAL. I don’t think free Gentlemans in PAL make-up for that unless you suck complete ass at gentlemans.
Auto cancel: <3 36>
Often the hardest punish off of tech chases, but has the most landing lag, making it the most difficult to follow up if you do not correctly read them.
D-air is strong in neutral game against shield if you space or time the move well or both. It has enough shield stun/ damage that if you hit their shield and position yourself well you can find yourself in a better spot. It can’t be CC’d and countered.
I can’t stress how good it is in neutral. Getting a safe stomp on almost any characters turns a neutral game situation from a losing one into at least a slightly winning one. (i.e. Dash-dancing fox now is shielding against you from the stomp)
It can be used fairly late in a short hop while still having time to adjust your position so you won’t get punished.
It can also poke your opponent if you space/ time it really well against certain characters decaying shield
It pretty much has the same overall effect as F-air for pressuring, however, everyone in this day and age is adjusted to a knee hitting their shield and not so much d-air. It is trickier.
Auto cancel: <6 21>
KB: Very good
Pretty good if you run away and hit them with a b-air as they come at you with a SHFFL aerial. Good if your opponent is trying to overshoot you on bigger stages although I think d-air is sometimes better.
Has problems in that doing an instant b-air only covers taller characters/ SHFFLs and not necessarily dashes/ full-hops. A late b-air is situationally underrated to hit opponent’s shields with.
All variations of back-air (strong/weak/reverse) can be used as viable combo extensions, sometimes being the best choice.
Slight start-up/ relatively limited range makes it situational at best for people behind you out of shield/ people very close to you
Not jump cancelling dash grabs takes 4 frames longer. 4 frames is a lot in Melee and will make you miss grabs. Thus, you always want to jump cancel grabs unless you want to grab slower on purpose. (Trust me there are very situational spots where this is true).
Invulnerable: 4-29 out of 49
Invulnerable: 3-20 out of 32
Invulnerable: 4-19 out of 31
Dash becomes run at frame 16
Turn-jump Threshold: 16
Run turnaround: 28
Falcon has one of the strongest dash dances that allow him to simultaneously pressure in certain spots as well as readjust his positioning defensively.
Having a lengthy dash length, Falcon can cancel that dash at a lot of points, allowing you to make your dash dancing tighter/looser at will.
Doing so when your opponent is on the ground can bait out get-up attacks if you dash-dance close then slowly space away for the get-up attack.
It is strong offensively when opponents are cornered and are forced into potential bad decisions such as spot dodging/ rolling/ desperate aerials/ jumping out of shield/ as their shield decays
When sometimes combined with pivots, he can counter (overshoot) aerials
with either a grab or an aerial. Retreating d-air is a strong choice.
Jump: airborne on frame 5
Air time: 49
Earliest FF: 26
FF air time: 36
SH air time: 31
Earliest FF: 17
SH FF air time: 20
2nd jump earliest FF: 23
Landing lag: 4 frames
Note differences in backwards short hopping/ backwards full-hopping (slight height increase)
-Thanks Red Shirt KRT. Hope you don’t mind!
III. Neutral Game Tips:
Falcon’s neutral is, in my opinion, very matchup and/or heavily mix-up dependent that I feel it’s best if I go in-depth vs x character in followup segments to the guide. Furthermore, certain move choices are better/weaker based off of percentage/ stage dynamics. Characters being short/ crouching when they run also skew things too. Perhaps a certain character you can’t even mess around with in neutral and just want to purely space/ counterattack. Maybe your opponent is weak vs a particular option.
There is thus, no solid “best” option. Rather it’s a selection of good choices you should mix-up based on all of the aforementioned factors.
I can still, however, offer some general tips.
N-air – good at mid-range zoning, bad at close-range trades unless opponent’s character doesn’t have particular good trading moves himself/ is too slow. Also worse against more aerial dependent opponents due to being able to DI 1st hit of n-air up so 2nd hit does not connect. You want to substitute up-air in those spots.
Up-air – Instant up-air is perhaps Falcon’s only solid move at close-range exchanges, especially out of shield.
D-air- Stomp is strong BOTH offensively and defensively. Defensively, it is good at catching approaches.
Offensively, it is great and if well-spaced/timed puts you in a good spot even if you hit their shield. Stomp can’t be CC → countered in virtually any fashion and has enough stun on shield to allow you to space/ bait potential counterattacks. You’ll come out of it in a more favorable position than before if stomp connects. Offensive stomps are not used much and should be.
If you are going to pick a move to jump in and commit to, I feel that D-air is probably the best.
Knee- Good shield pressure and offers a lot of different followups after. Knee → grab on shield. Knee–> jabs , etc. You can’t fly in with it and expect as good results as stomp however due to the weak-hit/cc. It’s more of a close-range pressure tool.
Side-b- Potentially good at catching people trying to do aerials/ out of shield. Good gamble move that’ll work great against certain players.
Down-tilt – Well-timed/ after CC can be good against certain approaches.
F-tilt – Good for catching some dash-in attempts.
Pivots are great defensively. Being able to pivot n-air/ pivot up-air/ pivot grab/ pivot knee even is great for getting that extra spacing needed to catch approaches.
Running the hell away is a very underrated option. If a situation is bad, don’t try to combat it just get out of it and reset it.
Once again, unless you’re playing against non-top tiers (usually), it’s bad to be too predictable. I believe in a strong mix-up game with adjustments based on which options work better/worse against certain opponents.
What to do when you are stuck in shield:
Most Falcon players do not know how to react correctly when they are trapped in their shield. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but there are many choices that Falcon players do not even consider.
I’d say a good number default to either a desperate aerial out of shield, rolling, doing nothing, shieldgrabbing.
Attacking out of shield from the back is often a mistake, b-air/stomp is usually too slow vs. most people.
You want to be able to wavedash out of shield (practice wavedashing out vs strong/weak hits), Shield DI, (buffering) jump out of shield (using c-stick)
In today’s meta, it is more often than not better to run the fuck away rather than try to counter attack out of shield. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to learn the spots where you definitely can punish them out of shield.
Up-air out of shield is a strong option for people closely in front of you or you predict they will aerial at you. N-air out of shield is weak if they are very close due to 1st hit n-air trading with most moves generally being bad.
Rolling is pretty good against slower characters, not as good, but still useful against the faster ones. Try not to be predictable.
You will play against opponents who know you just want to escape when under pressure. You’ll just have to do your best to read their intentions.
Falcon is absolutely weak in shield, and you will be in spots where you are forced to shield. You just have to do your best to minimize the damage done.
Falcon’s best overall stage. Falcon does not get screwed over by any matchup on this stage. The spacing is simply perfect for escaping pressure/ not getting abusively camped. Also, the nature of the edges make some recovery options very one-dimensional, especially the spacies.
Good stage against floaties/ players you are confident that you will win neutral against. Bad stage where getting hit by certain characters means you can get combo’d, tech-chased/ chain-grabbed to death off of one hit. No platforms to save you/ assist you in recovering.
So, a better stage if you are amazing at tech-chasing, suck at platforms more than your opponents. Don’t pick this stage if you suck at winning neutral in any circumstances, even if you think it is fine on paper (Ice’s C. Falcon vs PPMD’s Marth)
This stage is a gamble. Although the starting neutral stage is arguably perfect, the transformations can really screw you over or help you. Personally, I love it. If you are mindful of the random dips/ stage factors I think it is fine. Good edges for knee kills/ low ceiling/ transformations help you escape certain situations that no other stage offers.
A strong falcon stage due to the killbox being large as well as the stage being big itself. Many characters will be screwed when they get knee’d off stage, while Falcon will have many chances to still live and use platforms to escape getting combo’d/ aid in recovery.
It is only bad if you are versus a skilled campy opponent and you are not good at dealing with that person’s playstyle.
Small stage lets you kill quicker, but have way less space to get yourself out of bad neutral game situations. You need to be really good at dealing with getting pressured since you don’t have a lot of space to run. But you can kill easier off of a good opening.
The platform/cloud/walls of Yoshi add Falcon in recovery
Fountain of Dreams:
Notorious for being a bad falcon level, Shield dropping turns a clunky stage into one where it could be one of Falcon’s best.
I’d say being mindful of the heights of the platform and which aerials you can use at the varying heights go a long way. Edge-cancelling helps too here.
The boundaries of the stage are almost Dreamland-like, Falcon can live for a long time and use platforms to save him
Personally, I like to play lamer and camp d-airs on platforms and feel good about it. Usually it’s some asshole that counter-picks you here.
No bans in bo5 forces you to play a bad stage against certain characters, really hampering his ability to win bigger tournaments as you play against experienced opponents who WILL abuse tough stages. You have to get good at all of them if you want to be a solo Falcon main.
Hope you gained more insight into how Captain Falcon works as a character. Further releases will go deep into character matchups, micro improvement tips, and how to play Falcon in teams. If you have any questions/ think I can make some edits, feel free to hit me up.