The 'Shroom:Issue LXXXII/Brawl Tactics

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Brawl Tactics

by Timmy (talk)

Happy New Year to all you Brawlers! Timmy is back for this edition of Brawl Tactics, and this will be my fourth article being written here, as well as the first article of Brawl Tactics for the New Year! Like always, this'll be quite a long one!

Well, for this month... I'll cover a character once again! Who's the lucky character? It's the PSI Powered Youth who's been PK Rockin' in all 3 Smash games, and my true main, Ness!

Ness may not be easy to pick up at first due to his recovery, but he is a fantastic aerialist and has plenty of KO options. He's not bad at racking up damage either, he can actually heal from certain projectiles, has the ability to play serious mindgames with his PSI powers and he's got pretty good throws! However, not even my favorite character is perfect; just like every character. Let's look at his pros and cons, and again, I'll bold the best pros and the worst flaws he has.

Ness' Pros

  1. Awesome KO power, yet doesn't sacrifice mobility
  2. Good at racking up damage
  3. Has the 2nd biggest Double Jump in the game
  4. Can heal off of certain projectiles and stop some characters from camping
  5. Awesome aerials
  6. Decent weight (not too heavy, but not too light either) and speed

Ness' Cons

  1. Has an unsafe, predictable recovery AND requires precision
  2. Vulnerable to grab releases
  3. Sub-par ground game
  4. Sub-par range overall (only a few of his attacks actually have good range)

Again, I'll explain the bolded pros/cons in detail.

Ness has a long list of KO options. For his aerials, all of them (except for his Forward Air) can kill. His killing moves on the ground aren't bad either. There's also his amazingly powerful PK Thunder 2 (the term used to describe when Ness launches himself with PK Thunder), and the very slow but powerful PK Flash when it's charged. To make it simple, I'll provide the list of KO options he has and bold the more reliable ones. He has great KO power, but doesn't sacrifice speed, like Bowser or DK.

  • Up Air
  • Back Air
  • Down Air
  • Neutral Air
  • Back Throw
  • Forward Tilt
  • Up Tilt
  • Yo-Yos
  • Forward Smash
  • PK Thunder 2
  • PK Flash
Up Air is quite powerful (Ness has quite a hard head, shown here, at about 4:21, haha). Back Air is also powerful, but it requires the sweetspot to kill. Don't worry though; the sweetspot is quite easy to land (you get an electric effect when you connect the sweetspot, as seen here, at about 4:29.) and it's a matter of timing instead of position. Ness' Back Throw is actually the strongest killing throw in the game as shown here, at about 2:30, killing Mario from the center of Final Destination at about 130%., despite how little knockback it initially has at low percents. Try to not make it too obvious that you're going for a Back Throw if your opponent is at kill percents though; that'll make it harder for you to actually get the grab. Forward Tilt is a decent option; it's quick and has decent power, but of course it works better near edges as shown here, at about 4:51.

These are Ness' main KO options, but he still has more (though somewhat less reliable).

PK Thunder 2 is extremely powerful, seen here, killing Diddy at about 75%. The earlier hitbox is the sweetspot of it; if you hit with it a bit later, it'll do 22% of damage but with less knockback. Use it wisely though, because Ness will be an easy target and you may launch yourself offstage. Neutral Air is the same as Peach's actually; it's the same animation, but Ness' has more power and a bit less range. It can be used either for combos, or killing at the edges (shown at 1:38). Forward Smash is fairly slow, but when it hits, it packs a punch, and the tip of his bat is the strongest part (at 4:24). Down Air is fairly slow, but the spike is very powerful. If you're on a stage with water, you can sink your opponent in the water shown here, at about 0:24. There's actually a sourspot to Down Air well, but it's still powerful! It sends your opponent on a horizontal angle too, so it can be difficult for them to recover. Yo-Yos (both Up Smash and Down Smash) aren't really meant to kill, and are much better suited to catch someone dodging thanks to their long lasting hitboxes, but they can get a surprise KO at fairly high percents if they aren't stale. Down Smash has more horizontal range and some more power, but lags more than Up Smash as well. Up Tilt is also in the same boat since it's more meant for juggling, but at high percents, it's a decent killer. PK Flash will almost never kill since it's very easy to see it coming and slow as a snail, but a moderately charged one can kill (when it starts to descend). Hitting with a fully charged one is rare, but it's possible to pull it off with extreme mindgames. However, PK Thunder 2 is actually more powerful than PK Flash, even when fully charged and it's much easier to play mindgames with.

Ness is pretty good at racking up damage as well! His main source of damage comes from his grabs, PK Fire and Forward Air. Many Ness players love doing a PK Fire to a Down Throw, and then following up with a Forward Air. It does about 30%-40%, so you've already got yourself some nice damage! Forward Air is Ness' bread and butter move. It has great range, and the hits connect well to help you lead into another aerial. Neutral Air is also good for racking up damage simply because of how long the attack stays out.

Ness (and Lucas) are the only characters in the game that can heal (reliably; Peach needs the Smash Ball and Game & Watch has to get a 7 with his Side-B, but there's also the chance of him getting a 1 which self-inflicts 12% haha). Ness has the ability to absorb energy projectiles, such as fireballs from the Mario Bros., lasers from the Starfox characters, Pikachu's thunderjolts, etc. It makes your opponent think twice about using these types of projectiles against you and they'll generally have to approach you instead. You can even absorb missiles from Master Hand and the pink lasers from Duon! But of course, not all projectiles can be absorbed. That would be too broken otherwise, haha. The PSI Magnet can also be used to stall Ness in the air for a bit and delay your landing to make it a bit safer.

Ness also has one of the best aerial games in Brawl. Forward Air is his bread and butter move, and gives you some breathing space between you and your opponent. Back Air combos at low percents with the sweetspot, and KOs as well. Neutral Air works well for combos, catching a dodging opponent, and even killing, thanks to its long duration to attack. Up Air is more meant to be a killer, but at lower percents it can juggle an opponent and even lead to a PK Thunder 2. Finally, his Down Air is one of the strongest meteor smashes in the game, and even though it's slow, hitting with a Down Air just might be what you need to win. There's even a point during the move where you can land with no lag, which is always nice. PK Fire also works well in the air since it goes at a downwards angle and traps your opponents better. Ness can still Double Jump Cancel, but that's only with his special moves.

Nes has the 2nd biggest Double Jump in the game (just behind Yoshi). An interesting thing to note about his Double Jump is that the Bunny Hood doesn't change the height of his Double Jump. Ness also has decent weight as well; he's not heavy enough to be juggled like crazy, but he's not too light either since he's got the weight to survive.


Ness definitely has these great things going for him, but there's also a few downsides to him (like any other character, obviously) that can hold him back.


His recovery... While having a great Double Jump helps, his recovery is still easily interrupted. Recovering offstage after using a Double Jump may not happen, as I fail to do so here (at about 2:12). There are also many paths you must control PK Thunder, so that you don't accidentally bump into the stage.Here, I barely manage to recover after losing my Double Jump (at 0:48). You also have to be sure that your PK Thunder doesn't hit anything while recovering or is absorbed/reflected, such as the stage, Olimar's Pikmin, the balloon from Smashville, or your opponent. Otherwise, Ness will fall to his doom. However, it can be risky being a meatshield to his PK Thunder. If you only get hit by the tail of PK Thunder, it will not disappear, and you'll probably get hit by Ness' PK Thunder 2 as he recovers. To sum it up, Ness' recovery requires proper timing, placement and precision. Try to not use it if you don't need it to recover, like in Delfino where there's water! Stages where you can jump from under its platform also help Ness' recovery, such as Brinstar, Halberd and Delfino.

Ness (and Lucas) also suffer from a somewhat longer grab release animation. Basically, when an opponent is grabbing him, and Ness escapes (and slides on the ground), Ness has to wait a little bit longer before he can react. However, the grabber recovers before Ness does, so many characters can either regrab him after releasing him and just pummel him, or follow up with a quick, ranged attack. Seen here, Marth can grab Ness repeatedly and follow up with a Forward Smash or Down Smash at the end... It's not just who has grab release shenanigans either. While some characters may not be able to regrab Ness, they might be able to follow up with a Smash attack afterwards. Avoiding grabs as Ness is essential as well.

Ness' ground game isn't that great either. While he has quick grabs and good throws, his grabs are rather short ranged. His Tilts are decent at best, but they have mediocre range as well. His Smashes aren't so great either; while they have the range and his bat has great power, they're fairly slow in both start-up lag and cooldown. However, that's not to say his ground game is useless. His Tilts and Smashes are quite helpful when used correctly! For example, I actually find myself using Yo-Yos often to catch a dodging opponent. However, you need to be smart and spontaneous!


Well, after seeing Ness' pros and cons, let's get into his best moves!


Forward Air: The bread and butter of Ness' aerials. It's quick, has huge range, leads into many other moves, good to refresh your other moves, a great combo finisher and is great for keeping away an opponent.

Back Air: This electric drop kick has some serious power and it's quite easy to land the sweetspot. Great damage as well; the sweetspot does 15% before Stale Move Negation.

Neutral Air: Pretty much like Peach's Neutral Air. Lasts long, good damage, decent KO power and a great counter attack to about anything you shield. If you want breathing room from you and your opponent, Neutral Air gets the job done!

Up Air: Ness has the hardest head in the universe... Anyways, it's another quick and powerful move, that's also good to rack up damage at early percents. It may seem easily airdodged, but I've hit my opponents many times by tricking them. How? I fake them out by jumping up to them when they're above me, wait for them to airdodge, and hit with the Up Air after their airdodge is done. You can also drop down from a platform and Up Air them like I showed earlier.

PK Thunder: My personal favorite move as Ness, I love doing mindgames with this move, like simple loops. The best part of this move is the tail; it makes a good wall and airdodging it is not easy since they'll most likely get hit by the tail, followed by the head. When used in mid-air, the tail stuns your opponent long enough for them to get blasted by a PK Thunder 2! However, make sure you aren't too close to your opponent, otherwise you're left vulnerable while controlling PK Thunder. If you want to cancel it, direct it to the stage as soon as you can to escape the lag earlier.

PK Fire: Many people see this as an annoying move when fighting Ness, and for good reason. Ness' PK Fire traps your opponent, but the hitbox continues to shrink until it disappears. PK Fire can lead into Ness' Aerials, a Grab, a Tilt, or a Smash, though the last option isn't always reliable since your opponent may escape before it can hit. It can also create a nice wall when used on things like Waddle Dees, Pikmin, or the statues on Castle Siege. It is quite laggy though, and can leave you vulnerable if you miss, so use it with caution!

PSI Magnet: The tool to shut down camping (at least those with energy projectiles). If you're playing Doubles, have Team Attack on and a partner that can heal you (such as Pikachu, Lucario, Zero Suit Samus, etc.), if you find the opportunity (like when the other team is being Star KO'd or they're just sitting around), heal up! It definitely helps Ness with his survival and one of the things that makes Ness so great in Doubles. There's also a slight push of wind upon releasing the PSI Magnet as well. In a Singles match, the wind is relatively useless. In a Double match, the wind can negate knockback of someone who's been flying and save your partner, or set up a crazy combo shown here, from 13:10 to 13:20. Finally, with the PSI Magnet, when you absorb something, you can immediately cancel it into a roll (press left or right), a sidestep (press down) or a jump (press up or your jump button).


Finally, for Ness' Final Smash; the PK Starstorm... Honestly, it's not that impressive. Lucas' PK Starstorm is better since his comets are in more of a random pattern and then bunch up at the end, but Ness' PK Starstorm comes down in more of an upside down fan pattern, and there are some areas on some stages where the PK Starstorm can't hit. Not to mention it relies on luck as well, so it's a hit or miss kind of thing.


Well, that wraps up Brawl Tactics for this month, Brawlers! Hope you can see the awesomeness of Ness, and enjoy using him! Happy New Year once again, and I'll see you next time on Brawl Tactics!

Issue LXXXII
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