Stale-Move Negation, also known as Repetition Effect, or Staling, is a gameplay mechanic present in all installments of the Super Smash Bros. series. It refers to how certain moves will cause less damage and knockback if they are used repeatedly.
Series creator Masahiro Sakurai created the mechanic to the Super Smash Bros. series to encourage players to try different attacks out and use characters to their fullest potential instead of spamming. When a character uses an attack too many times, the damage and knockback goes down until it becomes less than half its original power. Using different attacks will reset the damage of the spammed attack(s) at about the same rate it was cut, while being KO'd resets all a character's moves. This is something to remember in the Home-Run contest, as some combos will get progressively weaker.
Characteristics of staling
- Moves that have not yet been used are considered "fresh".
- Moves will not stale by just being used; they only suffer this penalty when connecting with an opponent or an object that can take damage (such as the ducks from the Duck Hunt stage or balloons in Smashville).
- A move will be staled applied to the whole attack rather than individual hitboxes. As such, landing the weak hitbox will weaken all hitboxes in the attack just as landing the strongest hitbox would.
- Moves do not stale if they hit shields, invincible opponents, Counters/Absorbers or if they clash with projectiles or other moves.
- However, moves do stale when hitting opponents under effects of Super or Heavy Armor.
- Hitting multiple opponents with a single move will only stale it once.
- Multi-hit attacks will only stale the move once, regardless of how many hits connect.
- Any variation of the same Special Attack counts as the same move; for example, a Giant Punch shares the same staleness regardless of its charge level, or whether it's used on the ground or in the air.
- Projectiles do not stale if they are reflected, absorbed or negated.
Manipulating the Staleness
Despite being generally considered a bad thing, staling moves can actually be used in the player's favor, mostly in Nintendo 3DS/Wii U version.
For example, some combo throws stop working after the opponent reaches a certain percentages, however, by staling the throws, therefore reducing their knockback, the player can combo at percentages that usually would not be possible. This is mostly useful for characters that have combo setups with potential K.O power (such as Palutena's Down Throw to Up Air Attack).
Players can also clear the queue by hitting opponents with less favored moves in order to refresh more useful and powerful attacks.
Tips to Prevent/Reduce Staling
- Mix it up and use the character's full moveset: not only this will prevent moves from suffer heavy penalties from staling, but will also make the gameplay less obtuse and predictable.
- Save Smash Attacks and other high knockback moves to be used only when the opponent is at kill percentage, that way the chances of scoring a K.O will be potentially higher.
- With that in mind, avoid using Smash Attacks as punishing to rack quick damage; instead try to use combos that can deal or even surpass this damage.
In the original Smash Bros., stale-move negation is more robust. Whenever a move is used more than once, it will deal 0.75x damage; however, using the move more than twice in a row will not incur stale it further. Hitting with different moves will progressively increase the power of the staled move over a sequence of three intermediate stages between "stale" and "fresh" before regaining full power again.
Starting from Super Smash Bros. Melee onwards, whenever a move connects, it goes into a hidden queue, or list, composed of nine slots. If the a move that is in the queue hits again, and it will become weaker in terms of damage and knockback based on two factors: how recently it was used and how often it is in the queue, meaning that moves that are for longer in the queue will be weaker than moves recently added. When a tenth move connects, it replaces the first one in queue and the process repeats itself every time a move hits. If a move is used ten times in a row, meaning the queue is filled with that single move, the damage will be 55% of its original power.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl and 3DS/Wii U, if a move is not in the list of ten most recently used moves, it earns a freshness bonus of 1.05x damage - therefore very few attacks ever deal exactly the base damage value.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, using a mid-match transformation, namely Transform, Pokémon Change, Zero Laser and Power Suit Samus will reset the queue. Also, in Melee, stale-move negation ignores knockback, only affecting the damage dealt, where in Brawl and 3DS/Wii U it affects both. Also in Brawl, items are also affected by stale-move negation, even if the item being held is dropped and another one of the same is picked up.
Testing to determine the stale-move negation effect in Brawl initially confused players, as the effect is not applied in Brawl's Training mode, the confusion stemming from the fact that is was applied in the training modes of the previous games. In fact, it isn't applied in almost all the 1P modes in Brawl, the only exception being the Home-Run Contest.
Moves that are counter-attacks or absorbers do not take the stale-move negation of the incoming attack into consideration.
Stale-Move Negation on Objects
Attacking some objects will add the character's moves to queue, while hitting others don't.
Objects that affect Stale-Move Negation
- The ducks from Duck Hunt stage.
- The balloons from Smashville and Town and City.
- The statues from Castle Siege.
- The fleshy blob from Brinstar.
- Peach's Vegetables.
- Luma (even if Rosalina is not hit by the move).
- Bowser Jr.'s Mechakoopa.
- Wario Bike.
- Link and Toon Link's Bombs.
- Sheik's Burst Grenade.
- The wooden log/doll from Greninja's Substitute.
- Wii Fit Trainer's Header.
- R.O.B.'s Gyro.
- Pac-Man's Bonus Fruit and Power Pellet.
Objects that does not affect Stale-Move Negation
- Link and Toon Link's Hylian Shield.
- Zelda's Phantom from Phantom Slash.
- Villager's fully grown tree from Timber, balloons from Balloon Trip and Lloid Rocket.
- King Dedede's Gordos.
- Olimar's Pikmin.
- Pit and Dark Pit's Guardian Orbitars.
- Duck Hunt's explosive can from Trick Shot, frisbee from Clay Shooting and the Wild Gunman.
- Pac-Man's Fire Hydrant.
Moves that Stale-Move Negation does not affect
The following moves are not affected by stale-move negation:
- All self-damaging moves (only when dealing damage to the self).
- Recoil damage.
- Grab Aerials prior to the versions for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U: Link's Clawshot, Toon Link's Hookshot, Samus' Grapple Beam, Lucas' Rope Snake.
- These will not stale but still take a spot in the queue:
- Reflecting Attacks (I.e reflecting projectiles and landing a hit with said projectile will not stale the reflected projectile, or the reflection strength of said reflecting move, however they do stale when directly damaging opponents via hitboxes, such as Fox's Reflector hitbox or Lucas's PSI Magnet hitbox).
- Donkey Kong's Cargo Throw always does 10% to his victim (only in Melee).
- Donkey Kong's Cargo Throw (always 6% - only in Brawl).
- Donkey Kong's Forward Throw (always 8% - only in Brawl).
- Zero Suit Samus's Neutral Air Attack (always 10% - only in Brawl).
- Luigi's Down Taunt (always 1% in Super Smash Bros., and Melee, and always 2% in Brawl and onwards).
- Greninja's Up Taunt.
- Snake's Taunts.
Staleness is completely absent in "practice" modes like Training, the Online Practice Stage, and the testing area of Customization. It also does not affect matches initiated with Melee's debug menu or the subspace emissary with the exception of the fighter unlock battles in the post game, due to them acting identically to the unlock battles initiated via regular play, where stale-move negation occurs as normal.