Super Smash Bros. Melee/Ice Climbers

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Introduction

They rank 8th on the tier list (in the B tier), highly accredited to the usage of Wobbling and Desynching and the fact that the fighter is literally "two-in-one", which helps the climbers rack up damage, combo, and KO opponents; this gives the Ice Climbers one of the best grab games in Melee. Additionally, good players can quickly rack up damage with the two, and they have good approach options on the ground, due to disjointed hitboxes and two decent projectiles. The two also have a very long and floaty wavedash, aiding their approach tremendously. The Ice Climbers, however, have a poor air game, and their floatiness causes them to be vulnerable to juggling and combos.

"A" Moves Analysis

Note: A majority of the move summaries refer to the combined damage of the two climbers; one of the climber's attack is usually 1% less than the leader's. Total damage refers if both the climber's hammers connect, and they both usually do the moves in sync.

Ground moves

Normal
  • Neutral attack- Two hammer swings in front. 1-2% first hit (usually adds up to 3%), then both Climbers do 4% on the next hit, for a total of 11% damage.
  • Dash attack- Leap and swing hammers in front. The landing has some end lag, but both climber's hits add up to an impressive 17%, for a dash attack.
  • Side tilt- A similar swinging motion in front as their Neutral Attack, only slightly slower with more knockback and damage. 7% and 8%, adds up to 15% if both Climber's hits connect.
  • Up tilt- The climbers twirl their hammers in a somewhat short-ranged by highly damaging way above themselves. Many hits, usually does around 18-21% damage if most or all hits connect.
  • Down tilt- A sluggish swing to the floor. One of the climber's less damaging moves even with both their damages combined; 4% then 5%, 9% total if both climbers connect.
Smash attacks
  • Side smash- Somewhat quickly brings their hammers up and brings them down. 14% and 12%, adds up to 26% uncharged; 19% and 17% fully, adding up to 36%. Great knockback.
  • Down smash- Swirl their hammers below them in a 360° style. Fast but somewhat short ranged, good for tight spacing. 12% and 11%, 23% total uncharged; 17% and 14% fully, adding up to 31%. Good horizontal knockback.
  • Up smash- Swings their hammer in an rapid arc over their heads. 10% and 11%, 21% total uncharged; 15% and 13%, 28% total fully charged. Excellent killer at higher damages.
Other attacks
Note: only the lead IC can use the ledge attack, because the computer IC cannot hang onto the ledge. The partner usually makes an additional jump to get back on stage, though.
  • Ledge attack- Brings him/herself up and swings his mallet in a similar way to their forward smash. 8% damage.
  • 100% ledge attack- Slowly gets up and thrusts his/her mallet forwards. 10% damage.
  • Floor attack- Gets up and spins their hammers. 6% for one IC.

Aerial attacks

  • Neutral aerial- Twirl around in the air. Short ranged, but good for air-spacing and following up with neutral aerial if predicted right. 8-15% damage.
  • Forward aerial- Hold their hammers up and bring them down in a similar fashion to their forward smash. Can spike if sweetspotted. 10% and 10%, adds up to 20%.
  • Back aerial- Turns around and swings their hammers in a similar fashion to their forward tilt. 12% and 10%, 22% total.
  • Up aerial- Thrust their hammers above them like their up tilt, only with one hitbox per climber. Both do around 8-9% each, adding up to 17%.
  • Down aerial- They hold their mallets below them and fall downwards. Can be angled, has long duration and some landing lag (though L-cancelling helps). 7-9% per climber, totaling 17% damage. This attack has extremely low set knockback and therefore cannot KO grounded opponents at any percentage.

Grabs & throws

  • Pummel- The lead climber pummel the foe for 1-2% per pummel, whereas the player has some control over the partner while pummeling. The damage adds up quickly due to desynching.
  • Forward throw- Takes the foe and swings their mallets in a Bat-like way, launching the foe forward. 11% in two indiscernible hits.
  • Up throw- Bash the foe above themselves. Powerful, though it's power costs them combo follow ups, for a throw. 11% in two hits.
  • Down throw- Takes foe and slams them harshly into the ground. Only the lead Ice Climber attacks, doing only 6% damage, though the foe is usually knocked right in front of the IC, leading into many quick combos.
  • Back throw- Takes foe and flings them behind with one hand. 7% damage.

"B" Moves List

Move Analysis

  • Neutral B

The controlled Ice Climber summons a small stalagmite of ice and hits it with a hammer so that it slides off along the ground, damaging whatever it hits. This move is mimicked by the CPU Ice Climber if it is with the human-controlled one, so two shots at a time can be shot along the floor. Unfortunately, it shrinks in size as it slides, making long range Ice Shots undesirable.

Although this attack only does around 2% damage for each chunk of ice, it can be very useful in attacking and defending if used correctly. With both Climbers, you'll shoot out two Ice Shots. If used in mid-air, the Ice Shots fall fast until they hit the ground, and they travel very fast down slopes. If one gets reflected, the other can cancel it out.It is possible for a high-damage opponent to be frozen by Ice Shot, but the chances are slim. Using Ice Shot at very close range can catch enemies with both the ice blocks and the hammers.

  • Side B

Squal Hammer:The controlled Ice Climber spins around like a top and travels forward along the ground for a short moment, with the hammer extended so that opponents are harmed if they come into contact with the hammer. If the CPU-controlled Ice Climber is present, the pair will whirl around back-to-back together and the two hammers will make it twice as likely that the attack will connect with an opponent. Squall Hammer in Brawl.

Squall Hammer can be used as a recovery move. If the special move button is pressed repeatedly while the Ice Climber(s) is/are in their spinning animation, they will rise vertically in addition to their horizontal movement. The vertical boost is considerably greater when both Ice Climbers are present; however, given that Belay is next to useless as a lone Ice Climber, Squall Hammer should be used instead when only one Ice Climber remains. Unfortunately, in Brawl, using the Squall Hammer as a recovery move with a single Ice Climber is a bit hard, as the height gained is zero, however, it does get substantial horizontal distance. Using both Ice Climbers grants a good height, nonetheless, and doesn't risk separating them like Belay can.

  • Up B

Belay:It functions as a third jump, but only if the CPU-controlled Ice Climber is present. The controlled Ice Climber throws the CPU one up a short distance while the two are attached by a rope, and the CPU Ice Climber will then send the human one a long way upward by pulling on the rope, and both will enter the helpless state until they land, making them individually vulnerable until then. If this move is used to recover from falling off the edge of a stage, the CPU Ice Climber will likely fall to its doom while the human one will land on the stage safely.

Without the other Ice Climber alive or near enough in the air, the player merely does the motion for the belay, which will still grab the ledge when close enough, but gains very little altitude and leaves the Climber helpless to fall. A separated CPU Climber may also use the move alone to try and get back to their partner. Players typically use Squall Hammer-based recoveries when left with a single Climber.

A technique using this move (known as Bungie Jumping) allows a player to edge-hog for an extended period of time with invincibility frames that can be repeatedly attained. The technique also sets up to chaingrab any opponents who get past the edge-hog.

  • Down B

Blizzard:The controlled Ice Climber stays put on the ground and shoots out a stream of frigid air from the palm of its outstretched hand for about a second to damage opponents in front. This move is mimicked by the CPU Ice Climber if it is with the human-controlled one, and the CPU Ice Climber will shoot out Blizzard in the opposite direction while standing behind the back of the human Ice Climber.

If used in midair, the CPU Ice Climber's Blizzard will be used in the same direction as the human Ice Climber's, making it more powerful. This attack does ice damage and a good amount of hitstun when it connects with an opponent at a distance, and can freeze opponents very nearby, but the freeze effect does not last very long. Of course, this move also has more range than most of the Ice Climbers' melee attacks. This move can rack up to 18% damage if all hits connect.

Combos

Frame Data

Strategies

Desynching is an Ice Climbers technique that involves separating the two climbers' animations and controlling them individually. It is most commonly done during grabs to allow Nana to attack a captive opponent or regrab them, but the Ice Climbers can be desynched out of many attacks, allowing the player to perform an attack, move, jump, or wavedash with either Nana or Popo, whilst inputting a different command to the other Ice Climber.

Continuous desynch, as demonstrated in Two Climbers, Two Hands is a technique and strategy which involves keeping the the Climbers acting individually for extended periods of time. In addition to making the Climbers much more powerful offensively, they also become harder to approach with continuous desynch. Due to the extreme difficulty of timing and maintaining a continuous string of attacks, the in-combat potential of this approach is clearly substantial, but largely untapped.

Recently, due to the increased popularity of the Ice Climbers, desynching has quickly become a common tactic for a number of Ice Climber mains. Videos have been created solely for the purpose of demonstrating the possibilities of this technique.

Match-ups

Serious Advantage Match-ups

Roy, Kirby, Pichu

Advantage Match-ups

Shiek, Pikachu, Mario, DK, Y.Link, Mew2, Yoshi, G&W, Ness, Bowser

Fair Match-ups

Falco, C.Falcon, Doc, Link, Luigi, Zelda

Disadvantage Match-ups

Fox, Puff, Marth, Ganon, Samus

Serious Disadvantage Match-ups

Peach