Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: How to Play Piranha Plant

Piranha Plant is the latest fighter to enter the ring in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The character bears some similarities to characters past while introducing its own unique set of moves and variables.

Unfortunately for the venus fly trap-inspired enemy from the Super Mario Bros. series, Piranha Plant is a slow character with bad frame data. So, before you jump into this guide, let’s get this out of the way. If you plan on playing Piranha Plant competitively, don’t. Unless you really like to style on your friends, there are better characters in the 75-large roster that are more worthy of your attention.

But for those that like the idea of destroying their friends with a bizarre character, then read forward on how to maximize Piranha Plant’s potential.

What’s Piranha Plant's deal?

Piranha Plant is the eighth heaviest character in the game with a rating of 112. She’s not the slowest character in the game, and feels decently speedy given her weight. It’s really her recovery that makes her interesting for a heavy. She has a helicopter-like up-b move which gives her good aerial mobility and lets her recover from deep. Her aerial movement isn’t as fluid, but that’s to be expected from a heavy character.

Piranha Plant has a decently strong forward tilt, so it’s a good idea to change your control scheme to have c-stick moves on tilt.

Pro tip: Dash in towards opponent and hit down on the analogue stick to stop the run animation, and quickly use the c-stick to go into the tilt animation. Hit the c-stick twice, because her second chomp move is stronger than her first.

Basic combos

Piranha Plant has some simple bread and butter combos that are handy in early and mid-percents.

Downtilt into forward-air -- This is a simple combo. Initiate a downtilt by pushing down on the c-stick (remember to change your control settings and place tilt moves on c-stick). Your opponent will launch slightly forward, and from here you do a short-hop forward and quickly press A to throw out a forward-air. If the percentage is a little higher, it’s also possible to do downtilt into multiple up-airs.

Grab into down-throw into forward air - Piranha Plant has tiny little leaves for hands making her grab range rather small. But it’s fast. Really fast. It’s actually tied for fastest grab in the game at six frames. So if you can get a grab, go into a down-throw (which should launch your opponent forward), and do a quick forward-air. Her down-throw can lead into other moves, like neutral-air or even down-air. Experiment and mess around with her down-grab, as it will give you decent combo mileage.

Pro tip: Piranha Plant has a great down-air. It comes out fast and does a good amount of damage. Don’t be scared to jump off the stage to down-air and spike your opponent into oblivion.

Side-b into dash attack - Piranha Plant has a really odd side-b move. It charges up to release a noxious gas. This gas has no knockback, but acts as a screen that deals a crazy amount of damage. An opponent caught inside will rack up damage quickly. You can use this move as a defensive option. Throw it out in front of you, and the opponent will stop their approach. Because the gas doesn’t hurt you, you can dash through the poison screen and catch your opponent. You can also use her poison screen on the ledge, pressuring your opponent on their get-up moves. Overall, there’s a lot of great options with this screen and is worth exploring.

Cannonball - pressing B lets Piranha Plant spit out a spiky cannonball from her mouth. Holding B will let the cannonball hover over her mouth. Piranha Plant can also spit the cannonball either left or right, granted, it has very little range. But the damage is high. This is a great potential kill option for Piranha Plant. It’s also great to combo with when the enemy is above you. For example, a grab-up into jump into aerial neutral b will do a ton of damage. You can also add an up-air in-between for extra combo potential. Essentially, anytime an opponent is above you, you can throw out a quick cannonball for extra damage.

Smash attacks

Piranha Plant’s smash attacks, while slow, all deal a good amount of damage. Her down-smash is very similar to Mario’s breakdance-like attack, throwing out a hit-box both in-front and behind. Unfortunately it has little range, and the back hit of the down-smash does more damage, which means positioning will be key. Her forward smash also does good damage, but does slightly more if it hits from further away.

That small percentage variable could be the difference between a kill and not, so practice the distance. Her up-smash is really odd in that the animation shows an upward chomp but the hitbox starts at the bottom. This means the opponent doesn’t need to be above you for it to hit. The opponent can be next to you and the up-smash will do damage.

The Bad

Unfortunately for Piranha Plant fans, a lot of her aerial moves have landing lag. As for her ground-game, her grab, while very fast, has a short range. And when you do manage to land a grab with her, none of her grabs are powerful enough to kill.

While Piranha Plant has decent forward and down tilts, her up tilt is not great. It has an odd animation and is very situational. It also has limited range. If you really want to hit an enemy above you, your best option will be a quick up-air.

Earlier I mentioned that she has a strong recovery. That’s true in terms of range. But because of the helicopter animation made by her arms, it leaves Piranha Plant’s head vulnerable to attacks. This can make it very easy for certain characters to spike her during recovery.

Piranha Plant also has a gimmicky down-b move. It quickly elongates her neck, letting her mouth shoot either upward, leftward, or right. The move can’t kill and at most acts as a slow and weak poke from underneath. It also requires precision accuracy, meaning the player would need to read their opponent very well. It can be used as an off-stage poke, but because the moves angle is predetermined, it’s not really worth the effort.

Verdict: Fun, but not competitive

Overall Piranha Plant is a fun character with a unique combo set. She’ll play well against heavy characters and can pose a challenge to some lighter characters on the roster. Unfortunately, top-tier characters like Peach, Wolf, Pichu, Inkling, and Ike have much better data and will overwhelm Piranha Plant. If you want to have fun and like to style, go with Piranha Plant. But if you’re the type of player that will throw the controller after well-placed thunder jolts by Pichu, then look elsewhere.

Remember, the game is still young and new technology with the character will likely be discovered. Plus, Nintendo could put out a new patch that buffs Piranha Plant greatly and gives her better options against top-tier characters. But as a Sheik main myself -- a character that’s useless against the top characters in Ultimate -- holding out hope can feel like an exercise in futility.

Credit: Nintendo

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.