Kicks for Days - A Guide to Defensively using Fox's Back Aerial in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Wed 23rd Oct 2019 - 10:22pm
An Introduction to the Abilities of Fox
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Fox is one of the most capable characters both on offense and defense. Not only does Fox have strong offensive and defensive options, but he also has many different ways to play both the offensive and defensive game. Fox has a strong overshoot game and great aggressive movement options to play the offensive game and Fox has strong moves to wall people out and great movement options to both defensively play the ground game and camp the platforms. For his defense, Fox’s ability to wall opposing characters out while they’re in the corner is one of his greatest strengths. Much of this can be attributed to the versatility of Fox’s back aerial when put on a character with the attributes of Fox.
The goal of this article will be to show players how to effectively use Fox’s back aerial as a defensive tool in the neutral game. Fox does have plenty of defensive tools and even has more tools for walling opposing characters out, but Fox’s back aerial is arguably the most versatile of all of his defensive tools. The versatility of this back aerial comes from the variety of ways you can lead into the back aerial by using Fox’s incredible vertical movement options.
Now, let’s take a look at the breakdown of this article. We will be looking at what I believe are the four most important ways of using Fox’s back aerial. These four types of back aerials from Fox are full hop late back aerial, full hop to delayed double jump late back aerial, full hop rising back aerial, and short hop rising back aerial.
Now that you have some basic information on what the rest of this article is going to look like we’re about ready to move on. It’s important to be aware though that even though Fox’s back aerial is a very powerful tool, each of its uses has counterplay. With that said though by properly mixing up between the way you use these back aerials, you can defend yourself against almost any form of offense. Now that you now all of that though, let’s start kicking.
Full Hop Late Back Aerial
Fox’s full hop late back aerial is the bane of many characters’ existence. It racks up damage quickly, it avoids the opponent’s approaches very often, and its long-range allows you to maintain good positioning. Of the ways to use back aerial that I mentioned I would argue this one is the best overall and the most important to know.
In order to use this first tool effectively, you need to be able to understand what it’s good for. There are two main parts to be aware of. The first is using this tool to wall out opponents trying to directly approach on or near the ground. The second is using this tool to prevent your opponents from moving forward with shielding by pressuring them.
First, for this full hop late back aerial, let’s take a look at using it to wall out direct approaches. On a very basic level, the goal in neutral is to get an opening your opponent to lead into your punish game. This can be done in a variety of ways but is often done by approaching directly with an attack. Whether it be an approach right at your opponent or an overshoot, either can get the job done. Because of this basic concept, it’s important to be able to stuff out approaches from the opponent and that’s what full hop late back aerial is perfect for. By using the full hop to avoid your opponent’s attack and then using the strong hit of back aerial, you continually create space as long as your opponent is attacking. One character this tool can be especially important against is Luigi. Luigi is very often committed to playing on the ground due to his strong wavedash and poor air mobility. In addition, playing on the same horizontal range as Luigi can work to wall him out, but can easily result in unfavorable trades. Because of these two facts, full hop late back aerial is the perfect tool to wall Luigi out.
Second, for this full hop late back aerial, we have its use as a tool to start up pressure against an opponent moving forward with their shield. Often times to move forward, especially when playing out of the corner people will try to slowly take space. This is often done with running shield, especially with faster characters. In order to prevent your opponent from continually moving forward with shield, you need to be able to either force them out of shield, poke them while shielding, or get a grab. By using shield pressure, you can accomplish any three of these goals. One character that using full hop late back aerial as a tool to start up pressure is especially good against is Sheik. Sheik’s quick initial dash, incredible shield size, and strong out of shield game leads to her approaching with shield a fair bit, especially against Fox and Falco. By using full hop late back aerial against Sheik you can try to for a poke or even get a direct opening without the poke by transitioning into a shine turnaround grab.
Delayed Double Jump Late Back Aerial
Delayed double jump late back aerial from Fox is the perfect tool to pair with his normal full hop late back aerial. This tool has all the range, mobility, damage advantages of the full hop back aerial, but the timing difference allows to be stronger in some important situations.
Like the full hop late back aerial this tool can be used to set up pressure and wall out an attacking opponent, but it sacrifices one benefit to gain another. It sacrifices the ability to wall out an opponent immediately attacking out of the corner in order to bait and punish an opponent looking to whiff punish your back aerial attempt.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the purpose of this tool. When you’ve used your normal full hop late back aerial enough your opponent will look to delay their approach or to whiff punish with whatever will give them the best opening. Using a delayed double jump out of your in place full hop allows you to alter the timing of your back aerial in order to match the timing of your opponent attacking. One character that full hop double jump late back aerial is especially good against is Captain Falcon. Due to Captain Falcon having an incredible dash dance both in length and speed and struggling to beat out Fox’s back aerial directly, he will often look to whiff punish the back aerial instead. By full hopping when Captain Falcon moves forward and then doing a double jump at the last moment before you hit the ground you can bait a whiff punish attempt, usually a grab, and then come back down and punish with a back aerial.
Full Hop Rising Back Aerial
For the last of this article’s full hop options, we have full hop rising back aerial. This option can be a little more dangerous due to the time you’re committed to being in lag, especially if you whiff. It is a necessary addition to Fox’s defensive game as it covers some relatively common options from multiple characters.
For this section we will be looking at two different situations where full hop rising back aerial is useful. The first situation is when a character jumps to the side platform to reposition themselves and the second is when a character jumps out of the corner with a full hop or double jump trying to attack you.
First, for this rising back aerial, we have its use against someone trying to jump to the side platform out of the corner. Often when a character is cornered on any stage with a side platform, they will try to use the side platform to wave land onto in order to reposition themselves and then work from there. In addition, escaping to a platform is a much more common option now because of how strong shield dropping is. For many characters shielding on a platform is arguably the safest position to be in. Because of these factors being able to rack up damage against people for trying to continually escape to the side platform in the same way with a tool like Fox’s full hop rising back aerial is crucial. One character where this situation comes up a fair bit is Sheik. Sheik’s quick platform movement, limited direct approach options, great options attacking off the platform, and ability to camp diagonally with needles leads to her favoring the side platform above any position much of the time against Fox. By using a full hop rising back aerial when Sheik jumps to the side platform from the corner you can either rack up damage and push her further away or space a back aerial on her shield and remain safe from any shield drop punishes.
Second, for this rising back aerial, we have its use against someone trying to attack out of the corner with a more vertical oriented approach. When characters with strong vertical movement options, particularly the top tier fast fallers, are cornered they’ll often use their full hops or double jumps to try and get around zoning closer to the ground and approach you directly. One character where this situation arises a lot against is an opposing Fox. Fox has many aggressive options that lead him to favor being aggressive out of the corner. One specific option Fox has that you’ll see a lot is approaching full hop neutral aerial from any position, but still happens a lot from the corner. By using a full hop rising back aerial from your own Fox when the opposing Fox jumps in from the corner you keep the positional advantage and rack up damage.
In Place Short Hop Rising Back Aerial
For the last back aerial, we’ll be looking at we have short hop rising back aerial. This is an option that you’ll see Falco players use a lot but can still be quite useful as Fox. The biggest reason this tool is useful is its ability to wall out while keeping Fox super mobile.
Similarly, to the late back aerial out of a double jump or full hop, this back aerial can be safe on shield and can beat out opposing attacks from the opponent. Particularly this tool is best for walling out opponents attacking at you rather than as a shield pressure tool. While it is safe when spaced, the fact that you’re rising with it makes it and that it needs to be spaced leads to you not being able to directly pressure off of it with shine. By using this short hop back aerial when your opponent attacks into you, you can rack up damage and maintain your positioning. A matchup where this tool is especially good is the Captain Falcon matchup. Captain Falcon’s limited out of shield options, and poor ability to beat out opponents moves with his own leads to him getting easily walled out by in place short hop rising back aerial. If Captain Falcon tries to move forward out of the corner by attacking into you with one of his common short hop aerial options like short hop neutral aerial, then your back aerial will beat that move out and if he stays back you’re much less likely to get whiff punished because of how quickly the entirety of the short hop into back aerial happens and completes with you actionable.
A Conclusion to Fox’s Back Aerial
As you’ve learned by now, Fox’s back aerial is one of the best defensive tools in the game. It has speed and range and it can be used in so many different ways even when just done in place. This tool is not without its weaknesses though and properly mixing up between the options discussed in this article is key to not getting opened up for poor zoning attempts. With that in mind though, it’s time to get kicking.
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