To say that Little Mac was notorious in Super Smash Bros. 4 would be a huge understatement. He wasn’t just notorious, and he wasn’t just broken, either. He was the metagame. With equipment allowed, Little Mac’s forward smash could shatter a full shield or deal well over 100% via the power of critical hits. He was quickly banned, though he was allowed later on with strict equipment restrictions. Is he this good in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? No. But he’s still got potential, and much more of it than he does in competitive play (humans versus humans).
Little Mac has been nerfed for his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And let me just say — thank goodness. He was way too much last game, but this time around, he isn’t much of a problem for the metagame! We’ve got bigger, more turtle-and-cat shaped problems now. Mac has retained his signature strengths, including his excellent ground game, powerful damage-rackers, and reliable finishers. Plus he’s got built-in super armor on his smash attacks, which other AI opponents try to challenge anyway. When Little Mac’s on-stage, he’s tough to stop. But as you probably very well know, that changes when he’s forced to go airborne.
Though Little Mac’s recovery is more flexible than it was in Smash 4, it isn’t much better. Back then, Figure Players never left the ledge to gimp. They’d just stand there. Now Little Mac will be fighting his own recovery and his opponent as he tries to get back to the stage. This means he’s actually more prone to being gimped, whereas previously the opponent wouldn’t try to stop him from recovering. His AI also can’t use its Slip Counter too well anymore, which is a bummer, because it used to be a one-hit KO when activated against certain moves.
In terms of tournaments, Little Mac has done very well in Ultimate. He isn’t banned, and he isn’t even quite top-tier, but he is perfectly viable and can perform well in competitions. We’ve also got a wiki page on Little Mac, so be sure to give it a read if you’ve got another moment!
Super Armor is simultaneously redundant and useful on Little Mac. Having built-on super armor on his smash attacks is Little Mac’s claim to fame on our tier list. Even so, Super Armor is generally his best setup, as having armor all the time makes it more difficult to throw Little Mac off-stage. Armor Knight ranks in at a close second, but that massive defense buff only means so much to a character who ends games in a few minutes (be it through a win or a loss). Autoheal and Great Autoheal aren’t great on Little Mac, as he shouldn’t be camping to maximize their healing benefits. Slow Super Armor’s armor effect is nice, but the reduced movement speed makes him ever vulnerable to failing his recovery.
“Big five” aside, Hyper Smash Attacks is absolutely ridiculous on Little Mac. So ridiculous, in fact, that the word has to be italicized for maximum effect. Fist Attack ↑ and Physical Attack ↑ boost Mac’s entire kit, so there’s merit to running both bonuses. If you’d prefer to improve his recovery instead, you could go with Floaty Jumps and / or Move Speed ↑. Floaty Jumps is a bonus we don’t talk about very often, but it lowers its user’s fall speed. This goes a long way in helping Little Mac more easily chain a Jolt Haymaker into a Rising Uppercut off-stage.
Little Mac wants to close out opponents’ stocks as fast as possible. Depending on his bonuses, though, he might not be able to afford taking too much damage or else he’ll fly too far away to recover. For setups that don’t include a recovery-boosting bonus effect, I would recommend anything from a balanced (2100 / 2100) to offensive-leaning (3000 / 1200) setup. If your Little Mac does run Floaty Jumps (or if you’re just confident in its recovery), a fully offensive spread (4200 / 0) works too.
As usual, be sure to play as Little Mac as you train your amiibo! If you’ve never trained an amiibo and would like some general tips, read this post first and then come back here for some Mac-specific knowledge. Here’s a full list of all the moves you should be prioritizing during training:
- Forward smash: Hits hard, hits fast, and can be angled to launch enemies farther (upward) or deal more shield damage (downward). Absolutely essential to Little Mac’s success, and should be heavily prioritized.
- Forward tilt: Forward smash and forward tilt generally cover the same area. Luckily, Little Mac uses them interchangeably instead of focusing entirely on one move. Try using forward tilt and forward smash in a 40 to 60 ratio, respectively. Forward tilt is a bit quicker than forward smash, but still has KO power and strikes twice. It’s always good to use multihits when training amiibo, as the game’s AI doesn’t deal with them very effectively.
- Up tilt: A solid anti-air move that combos out of down throw and chains into itself a few times. Use it every so often during training!
- Up smash: Extremely powerful, especially at the base of the attack. Very important for punishing aerial landings! Use this one often.
- Down smash: This move is vital to Little Mac’s kit, but also must be used cautiously. It should only be used to try and hit opponents as they recover to the ledge. This habit is crucial to Little Mac’s matchups against high-tier characters such as Ness, Bowser, and Incineroar. Down smash’s built-in super armor and low hitbox make it the perfect move for such a task!
- Neutral special (KO Punch): In the first version of Ultimate, Little Mac’s AI didn’t really like to use its KO Punch. This seems to have been fixed, but it’s still important to make sure your FP uses it often. KO Punch only. No normal neutral special.
The moves above are the ones you should be using most. There’s a few more secondary attacks you can use, too. Try them out every once in a while, but don’t let them take priority over Little Mac’s stronger options (forward smash, forward tilt, and the like).
- Up special: The only special move Little Mac uses that should see any use (besides KO Punch, which is a form of a special move). Throwing out too many Rising Uppercuts is a surefire way to get knocked off-stage, but it can sneak in extra damage or even a KO. Use this only against aerial opponents, and not very often at that.
There’s a few more important notes with Little Mac training, too. First, his aerials are mostly useless, but you’d be surprised how well the AI seems to be at stitching together small aerials into impressive strings. They’re still weak and don’t kill, but can rack up a bit of damage in a short amount of time. You can use them a few times at most during training, but try not to let the FP hit you with them. Just a tiny, tiny bit of aerials.
Moves to avoid: Straight Lunge, Jolt Haymaker, and Slip Counter. They aren’t at all necessary to Little Mac’s success and actually distract him from his stronger moves. Slip Counter used to be strong in Super Smash Bros. 4, but Ultimate kind of ruined its AI’s use of counters. So that one’s a no-go now.
Writing so much about Little Mac reminds me: in both Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a lot of the strongest Figure Players are trained to act like Little Mac. Stay on the ground, use smash attacks, and stay on-stage. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but hopefully this guide has warmed you up to the concept! In the meantime, if you have any amiibo training questions, be sure to join our Discord server and ask! Until next time — happy training!
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