How it works
Normally, when one is shielding and then lets go of the shield button, the shield disappears. This does not happen when the shield is under attack. If one lets go of shield while the opponent's attacks are making contact with the shield, the shield will stay until the attacks stop for a certain amount of time (this is called shield stun). As the attacks make contact, the shield gradually shrinks. If the shield size decreases too much, the shield will break, causing the shielder to become stunned in place for a few seconds, depending on the damage. Normally, there is enough delay after an attack to allow the shielder to remove the shield if he/she chooses to do so, but there exist certain combos in which attacks are executed quickly enough so that the shield stays up for the duration of the combo, at the end of which the shield breaks.
A shield break combo must have these properties:
- The attack(s) have very little start up or cooldown delay. In other words, there exists very little time in between hitboxes
- The hitboxes of the attacks are rather large. The hitbox must make contact with the shield each time or else the shielder will be shield jabbed. Therefore, a large hitbox is required to hit the increasingly diminutive shield.
- Ness's double jump cancelled down aerial chain, known as the shield break jump (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Kirby's down air attack into up tilt chain into side smash attack (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Yoshi's double jump cancelled neutral air attack chain into down smash (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Fox's Shine cancel chain (Super Smash Bros. and Melee only)
- Falco's Shine cancel chain (Super Smash Bros. Melee only)
Variants, special situations
There exist combos that are not always called "true shield break combos," but nevertheless can be utilized to break shields. These combos work only under certain situations. The two most common ones are the shield not being at full strength at the start of the combo and the shielder somehow being locked in a fixed position during the combo due to a feature of the stage.
- Samus's back air attack followed by up smash attack while the opponent is up against a wall (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Kirby's up tilt can chain repeatedly in any situation to break shields in Super Smash Bros., due to its abnormally long range. If the opponent ends up being pushed out of range of the last up tilt, a forward smash can be used as a substitute to finish the shield break combo.
- Link's neutral attack chain while the opponent is up against a wall (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Yoshi's double jump cancelled neutral aerial chain (Super Smash Bros. only)
- Pillaring with Falco (Melee only)
- Peach's down smash attack (Melee only)
- Yoshi's down air attack (both but much easier in Super Smash Bros.)
- A low-cooldown attack into a multi-hit attack is often considered a shield break combo
- Link's aerial bomb into neutral aerial into down smash in the 3DS/Wii U versions.
- A Pac-Man Bonus Fruit combo consisting of tossing a key against a shielding opponent, dropping a Fire Hydrant, then doing a back aerial to completely deplete a shield. He can then follow-up with an infinite by dropping the key, footstooling the opponent, catching the key, then repeating the process.