- For the defensive shields used by the various versions of Link, see Shield (Link).
A Shield is a circle of energy encircling the user that blocks all attacks with the exception of grabs and Final Smashes. One raises the shield by pressing a shield button (Z in Super Smash Bros., L or R in Melee, Brawl, and 3DS/Wii U) while standing on the ground. Shields cannot be held forever: they shrink as time passes and attacks are blocked, and break when held for too long (stunning the user, SDing Jigglypuff). Shields recharge when not in use.
Though the shield blocks most attacks without fail and comes out at 1 frame, their shrinking causes them to not always cover the character's entire damageable collision bubble - thus, the user is still vulnerable to shield stabbing.
If a projectile hits a shield at just the right angle, it will be deflected, rather than blocked. The initial raising of the shield creates a small energy wave; if that wave hits a projectile, it will be reflected.
When shielding in Melee, one can adjust the depression of the L or R button to alter the density of the shield. A light shield will cover a wider area and shrink more slowly than a dense shield, but the user will skid back a larger distance when hit. If one uses the Z button to shield, the shield will be maximum size, however this shield will take a bit longer to put up, as the character will try to grab first.
Interestingly, variable shield density has been removed from Brawl. Density was presumably removed because shielding can be assigned to buttons that aren't analog, as the GameCube Controller's L and R buttons are.
If a shield is fully raised and encircles an incoming attack, the attack will be Perfect Shielded.
Certain attacks have increased shield damage, meaning that they deal more damage to shields than to other targets. The Fan is one example, whose Smash Attack can break a shield in one hit. In the Nintendo 3DS/Wii U versions, specific characters have custom moves that can damage or break shields very easy.
In Brawl, a full shield can withstand 50 damage; shields take 70% damage from attacks, so this number is more like 71.5 in practice. Shields deplete by about 8.4 per second, while they recharge at about 2.1 per second. When a shield is broken, it is reset to 30.
When holding their shield, characters do not have all the same options as they do while standing, but they are still able to use many moves. A character can roll to reposition themself while retaining invincibility. If a player predicts that the enemy will grab to penetrate their shield, they can quickly sidestep to avoid the grab. If the control stick is tilted slightly, the shield can be shifted slightly to help block attacks from specific directions if the shield gets too small.
Characters can also grab and jump out of their shield. Grabbing after blocking an attack is a prevalent technique known as shield grabbing - it allows one to quickly retaliate against an enemy attacker. Jumping from the shield allows characters to immediately SHFFL, wavedash or jump-cancel into their Up smash or Up Special Move. All these offensive and defensive options make shielding the centerpiece to a player's defensive game.
- Donkey Kong's Shield is known to be very small related to his size (though it's big), making him very easy to shield stab.
- Mr. Game and Watch in Melee suffers from the same problem as Donkey Kong and Pikachu. A shield which is much smaller than him, making it easy to stab and break.
- Pikachu is known for having the smallest shield size, making both easy shield stabbing and shield breaking.
- In Ultimate, Olimar's shield also does not cover his entire head causing attacks for the top to shield poke.
Shield Break is breaking a shield with a particular size and strength. With each hit inflicted within a period of time, the shield will diminish until it is broken. This results in the character being thrown into the air, and being stunned for a few moments after landing.
Shield breaking moves are ones that can be comboed to prevent a character from rolling out or from dropping the shield without being hit. The easiest shield breaking move is Kirby's Up Tilt, which will break a shield in three to four hits without the shielder being able to roll out. Marth, Roy, and Ike's Standards, at a full charge, will break a shield.
If the shield breaks while at the very edge of drop-off stages, the possibility of the character being stunned until falling into a KO can occur. The knockback of some moves when breaking the shield transfers to the opponent, thus pushing the character with the broken shield off the edge. As of yet, it is not known if anyone can escape this type of KO once stunned.
One fact that fighters who use Jigglypuff should be careful about is its shield breaking. Like other characters, if Jigglypuff's shield breaks, Jigglypuff will fly upward and then be stunned for a short period of time. Jigglypuff, however, flies several hundred times farther upward than any other character in the game(s). This is well enough to KO Jigglypuff, unless there is a ceiling or some other obstacle preventing it from flying straight up.
The idea of protecting from some attacks originates from the guard move from Kirby Super Star which could block most attacks by holding L or R; powerful attacks would still deal Kirby minimal damage but not cause him to flinch. In Super Smash Bros., Kirby's pose while shielding is identical to his guarding pose from Super Star. The design for the shield bubble also originates from Kirby Super Star. When Kirby guarded while waering the Mirror ability, he could create a multi-colored ball around his body that would protect him from any attack (other than grabs), even reflecting some attacks. This shield was more effective than the guarding ability he normally had.
Yoshi's shield design, on the other hand, is possibly based on an occurrence in Yoshi's Island. When Baby Mario grabs a Super Star and starts running around, Yoshi follows by hiding in an egg and becoming part of his egg trail. The duo is invincible during this time. The shield may also be based on Yoshi becoming invincible once swallowing a Turbo Tulip in Yoshi's Story, although that is generally attributed to the Egg Roll instead. Why exactly Yoshi has a unique shield yet no other character does is a mystery.
- In Super Smash Bros., Kirby, Pikachu, and Jigglypuff will say their Star KO yells when their shields break.
- Ryu is the only character with a shield that uses sound effects. For example, pulling off a "Perfect Shield" will give a Parry (Blocking in Japanese) sound effect from the Street Fighter III series.