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Little Mac (リトル・マック, Little Mac) is a playable character and a newcomer in Super Smash Bros. 4, making the jump from an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl to a fully playable fighter. Little Mac was revealed during a Nintendo Direct on February 13th, 2014, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the North American release of Punch-Out!! Instead of retaining Brawl's 3D version of his original design from the NES version of Punch-Out!!, Little Mac now sports his updated design from the Wii version of Punch-Out!!.
Despite its effectiveness, Little Mac's ground game is not fundamentally perfect. Aside from his downward angled forward smash and sweetspotted up smash, the remainder of his attacks deal minimal shield damage and generally lack shieldstun. Little Mac's average size also results in the majority of his range being short; this not only leaves him disadvantaged against characters that have disjointed ranges and/or projectiles, but also results in him having a linear neutral game.
Little Mac's greatest strength is his incredibly useful ground game. None of his grounded moves have more than 15 frames of start-up, whereas only his up smash has more than 30 frames of ending lag. Little Mac's neutral attack, in particular, is tied with Zero Suit Samus' for the fastest in the game, thanks to it hitting on frame 1. All of his grounded moves also boast impressive utility in certain ways. Jab canceled neutral attack, up tilt, and down tilt are great combo starters, the latter of which is especially effective thanks to its below average knockback and vertical launching angle allowing it to combo into any move aside from a grab, back aerial, down aerial, or Straight Lunge.
Despite being a lightweight, Little Mac boasts outstanding KO potential, largely thanks to his smash attacks' impressive damage outputs and high knockback scaling. Alongside being very fast for their power, his smash attacks also possess distinct perks. Forward smash can be angled, with its downward angle being very potent at pressuring shields. Up smash can function as an anti-air attack, and its sweetspot also deals heavy shield damage. Lastly, down smash is a semi-spike with rather long range, allowing it to easily edge-guard against careless recoveries.
In addition to their speed and strength, Little Mac's grounded moves are almost impossible to interrupt. His neutral and tilt attacks boast anti-rebounding priority, preventing any of Little Mac's tilts attacks from clanking with opposing grounded moves that are within priority range. As this also cancels out the opponent's attack and forces them into a rebounding animation, Little Mac can contest head-on against most opposing ground attacks, while allowing him to punish opponents immediately due to the speed of his own attacks. Additionally, Little Mac's smash attacks boast super armor for a respectable duration during their use, despite the hitboxes having standard priority. This allows Mac to effectively tank an opponent's attack as a unique way of punishing them. All of these traits make him arguably the most challenging opponent to deal with on the ground.
Despite his impressive strengths, Little Mac is held back by two very easily exploitable weaknesses. The most serious and notorious of the two is his recovery. As mentioned earlier, Little Mac's aerial mobility is arguably the worst in SSB4, as his very fast falling speed makes meteor smashes, semi-spikes, and even footstool jumps capable of almost instantaneously gimping him, even if he is undamaged and especially if he cannot use his double jump. His special moves also receive drastic downgrades when used in the air, further worsening his air game. Straight Lunge loses its long distance and high power, to the point where it cannot KO even well beyond 150%, and suffers from drastically higher ending lag, to the point where one would not be able to recover even after jumping from the edge of a stage and using it. By extension, KO Uppercut loses the majority of its power, to the point that it only KOs around 150%. Jolt Haymaker loses half of its momentum and start-up intangibility, Rising Uppercut loses half of its distance, and Slip Counter's counterattack loses its intangibility. His main recovery options, Rising Uppercut and Jolt Haymaker, can be easily gimped. Jolt Haymaker barely travels any distance in the air and leaves him in a fall state, rendering him useless and most likely to self-destruct. Rising Uppercut does not travel that much vertical distance and doesn't really allow much horizontal influence.
Furthermore, Little Mac has an infamously weak air game. All of his aerial attacks can auto-cancel with a short hop, while each one has certain perks: neutral aerial can initiate intricate combos, forward and back aerials are semi-spikes, up aerial is a fast anti-air attack, and down aerial is the fastest meteor smash in the game. However, his air game is overwhelmingly offset by his aerials' relatively high landing lag, very short ranges, and abysmal power, which results in Mac's aerial moveset having the lowest damage output in the game. These factors make him an easy target in the air, as he has no means of defending himself outside of point-blank range. This is further compounded by the fact that none of his aerials make the opponents reliably flinch until medium to high percents. Additionally, Little Mac's down aerial is unable to reliably meteor smash opponents until around very high percents, while its sweetspot only lasts for 1 frame. Unsurprisingly, Mac has no way of reliably KOing in the air without Jolt Haymaker, Rising Uppercut or, in extreme cases, Slip Counter, all of which are very likely to result in inevitable sacrificial KOs if used off-stage.
Little Mac's low endurance and vulnerability to combos further compound his weak air game. While his below-average gravity and fast falling speed gives him high vertical endurance for a character of his weight class, they also make him extremely susceptible to combos and juggling. The super armor granted by Little Mac's smash attacks are also a double-edged sword, as tanking an attack nevertheless results in Mac receiving damage. As a result, Little Mac can be very prone to momentum shifts, as his underwhelming aerial presence can allow opponents to combo him very easily, and in some extreme situations, zero-to-death him with a single attack or combo even if he has been dominating the entire match. These issues are what force Little Mac to almost always stay grounded, as he cannot afford to be trapped within aerial combos and dragged off-stage just for initiating an aerial approach.
Even though Little Mac's ground game is immensely effective, not all areas of it are perfect. Aside from his downward angled forward smash and sweetspotted up smash, none of Little Mac's other moves deal extra shield damage, making it deceptively difficult to get free punishes on opponents who overuse their shield. Neutral attack, up tilt, and dash attack are particularly prone to this, as they lack hitlag and have just enough ending lag to be punished from out of shield. Characters with counterattacks can also be detrimental to Little Mac, as a countered smash attack is often enough to be fatal because of the high power of his smash attacks. However, the super armor granted by up and down smashes last long enough to endure quicker counterattacks, such as forward-held Vision.
Little Mac has a number of potentially useful custom moves at his disposal. True to its name, Flaming Straight Lunge is a flaming variation that also hits multiple times and is a semi-spike that charges almost twice as quickly, but is considerably weaker and covers less distance. Stunning Straight Lunge is an electrical variation that travels farther and faster than Straight Lunge, but at the cost of damage and launch resistance. Grounding Blow moves higher and can bury grounded opponents or meteor smash aerial opponents, but its lower power and downward momentum make it much less effective for recovering. Tornado Uppercut grants more distance improving his recovery at the cost of removing one of his only aerial KOing options. Compact Counter is weaker and faster, opening up opportunities for follow-ups, but lacks the default version's immense power and one-hit KO potential, and Dash Counter is a double-edged sword, since its added momentum can either greatly help or greatly hinder his recovery. It should be noted, however, that none of these moves are unarguably better than Little Mac's default special moves. As such, the best option depends entirely on the player's preference.
Little Mac has received a mix of buffs and nerfs, both direct and indirect, via game updates. Update 1.0.4 noticeably nerfed his recovery and the utility of his neutral aerial. In comparison, update 1.0.6 increased Jolt Haymaker's knockback to the point of making it a reliable KOing option, even when stale. However, the changes to shield mechanics brought about in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 have also affected Little Mac for the better, as they improve his ability to pressure shields.
Little Mac was further buffed in update 1.1.4, in which the damage outputs of his smash attacks were increased. While their knockback was compensated, their increased damage outputs make them even more devastating on hit than they already were, as well as safer on shield. In particular, Little Mac's downward angled forward smash now possesses enough shieldstun that, when followed up with his down or forward tilts, can result in a combo that breaks shields even at full health. Aside from these changes, his up tilt's start-up was decreased by 1 frame while its duration was increased by 1 frame, which effectively removed the blind spot it had near the front of his torso.
Down: A body hook. It deals the most damage out of all three punch variations and does not possess a sourspot, but its extremely low knockback scaling makes it unusable for KOing. Its high shieldstun makes it safer on shield than the other two punch variations, and also makes it capable of breaking shields more reliably than any of Little Mac's other attacks. Due to its low knockback scaling, it can set up for a tech chase with an up smash, Jolt Haymaker or KO Uppercut. As of update 1.1.4, its deals enough damage and shieldstun to break full shields if a forward tilt is used immediately after it, and is notably tied as the most damaging forward smash in the game (alongside Ganondorf and King Dedede's). It also grants super armor on frames 9-15. 2b1af7f3a8