- This article is about priority in relation to attacks. For controller slot priority, see Port priority.
Priority is a property of hitboxes in the Super Smash Bros. series that describes their behavior when interacting with other hitboxes. While the priority of the hitboxes produced by normal ground attacks follows a set of rules that is dependent upon the amount of damage they deal (the law of high and low priority), different rules apply to those of normal aerial attacks, and certain special attacks when performed in the air. Furthermore, some hitboxes and attacks, such as Fox's lasers, possess a special kind of priority called transcendent priority, which ignores the rules of normal priority.
Priority applies to individual hitboxes within attacks, as opposed to whole attacks. For example, the rules of regular priority apply to all the hitboxes of Lucario's f-smash, except that of its sweet spot, which has transcendent priority. However, in the event that a single attack hitbox is "out-prioritized", it is possible for the whole attack to be cancelled.
Normal priority describes the set of rules that apply to normal attack hitboxes, that is, any attack hitbox that is not classified as transcendent. As such, the majority of standard attacks, aerials, special attacks and projectiles contain hitboxes with normal priority.
Ground attacks and projectilesEdit
The hitboxes of normal ground attacks follow the law of high and low priority. This means that they interact with each other in terms of the damage they deal, which in turn classifies each as having "high" or "low" priority. When two ground attack hitboxes overlap, they will collide, and will either cancel each other out, or one will override (out-prioritize) the other. This collision is signified by a white "bubble", and in Melee, a distinct "ting" sound, as if swords are clanking, is also heard. The law of high and low priority functions in terms of a damage (priority) range of 8%. On these terms, one ground attack must deal over 8% damage more than another attack if it is to out-prioritize it, hence, the "priority range" in Smash Bros games is 8%.
If one attack hitbox is above the priority range of another, that is, deals over 8% more than the other, the stronger hitbox out-prioritize the weaker one, and the weaker attack is cancelled by the stronger one. However, if two colliding ground attack hitboxes are within the priority range, that is, deal within 8% of each other, they will "clash", and both will cancel out, delivering no damage to either character. Thus, normal attacks with "high" priority are those whose hitboxes deal a large amount of damage, and are therefore more inclined to out-prioritize other attacks, while those with "low" priority deal little damage.
- In Brawl, if Marth's un-tipped f-smash collides with Ike's f-smash (14% vs. 22%), they will clash and cancel each other out.
- However, if Marth's un-tipped f-smash collides with Ganondorf's f-smash (14% vs. 24%), Ganondorf's f-smash will cancel out (out-prioritise) Marth's f-smash and hit Marth.
- If Captain Falcon's f-smash collides with Ness' u-tilt (19% vs. 7%), Captain Falcon's f-smash will out-prioritize Ness' u-tilt and hit Ness.
- If Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch collides with Yoshi's Egg Roll (27% vs. 12%), the Falcon Punch will out-prioritize the Egg Roll and hit Yoshi.
The same rules apply when ground attack hitboxes overlap normal projectile hitboxes.
- Marth's un-tipped f-smash is out-prioritised by Samus' fully charged Charge Shot (14% vs. 25%).
- However, if the second hitbox of Bowser's f-smash collides with Samus' fully charged Charge Shot, they will cancel each other out (23% vs. 25%).
While most normal projectiles follow the rules of ground priority, Snake's Remote Missile, Diddy Kong's Peanut Popgun, and King Dedede's Gordo behave differently. While the 8% range does apply to Dedede's Gordo, its hitbox behaves like an airborne attack as it cannot be cancelled out. For example, if Captain Falcon's f-smash collides with a Gordo (19% vs. 23%), the clash bubble will appear, and the f-smash will be canceled out while the Gordo is not. However, since both hitboxes are within the priority range, the Gordo will go right through Captain Falcon without harming him, and continue along its natural path. It will, however, still possess its damaging hitboxes, and can still harm any other character it happens to touch along its route.
Snake's Remote Missile has a damageable hitbox and behaves like a thrown item, such as a capsule. Hence, when opposing hitboxes collide with the Remote Missile, they will damage it instead of colliding with it. If the Remote Missile takes enough damage, it will be destroyed. The peanuts from Diddy Kong's Peanut Popgun behave the same way, but any colliding hitbox, even if it only deals 1%, will destroy the peanuts.
Different rules apply to the hitboxes of normal aerial attacks. When a normal aerial attack hitbox overlaps that of a normal ground attack or another normal aerial, the attacks cannot collide or clash and the law of high and low priority does not apply. If an overlap between the hitboxes of two such attacks occurs, both will persist, irrespective of each other, and will damage their foes if they contact them.
- If Sonic's b-air overlaps Mario's u-tilt, neither attack is cancelled, and both characters are hit by each other's attacks.
However, the hitboxes of aerial attacks can collide with normal projectiles, in which case the law of high and low priority functions. However, aerial attack animations cannot be canceled out, and will continue even if out-prioritised.
- If Marth's f-air collides with Samus' fully charged Charge Shot (10% vs. 25%), his f-air will not be canceled out, but it will fail to cancel out the Charge Shot. As a result, the collision action will occur, but Samus' Charge Shot will out-prioritise the f-air and hit Marth.
- However, if Ganondorf's f-air collides with Samus' fully charged Charge Shot (17% vs. 25%), his f-air will cancel out the Charge Shot and Ganondorf will not be harmed.
These attacks are as follows:
- Meta Knight - Mach Tornado and Drill Rush (both grounded and airborne), glide attack
- Olimar - all Pikmin based attacks
- Zero Suit Samus - neutral air, up smash* (second hitbox only)
- Ness - up smash, down smash
- Fox - Fox Illusion
- Falco - Falco Phantasm
*The second hitbox of Zero Suit Samus' up smash behaves like an aerial. It may be out-prioritised by another character's aerial, but the u-smash's animation and subsequent hitboxes cannot be cancelled.
The hitboxes of the above aerial attacks can collide with the hitboxes of normal ground attacks, while the above ground attacks can collide with the hitboxes of normal aerial attacks. When such a collision occurs, the clash bubble will appear and the outcome will follow the law of high and low priority. However, airborne attacks cannot be cancelled out, including airborne special moves. Thus, while the results of a collision will follow the law of high and low priority, the appearance of such a collision will differ to that of two colliding ground attacks.
If one of the above ground attacks collides with an aerial, or one of the above aerials collides with a ground attack, and the ground attack is below the priority range of the aerial, the ground attack will be cancelled and the airborne attack can damage the wielder of the ground attack. If the two hitboxes are within the priority range, the ground attack will be cancelled out, and, since it is an aerial attack, the animation of the airborne attack will persist. However, the airborne hitbox becomes harmless, and the wielder of the ground attack will not at all be knocked or damaged by the airborne hitbox, regardless of whether it connects or not.
- If King's Dedede u-tilt collides with Meta Knight's glide attack (12% vs. 13%), Dedede's u-tilt will be canceled out, but he will not be harmed, even if the hitbox of Meta Knight's glide attack contacts King Dedede's body.
If the hitbox of a ground attack is above the priority range of a colliding airborne hitbox, both attack animations will persist, but the airborne hitbox will become harmless, while the ground attack is still able to damage. Thus, if the hitbox of the ground attack connects with the body of the character who used the airborne special, this character will take the damage and knockback of the ground attack. A notable example of a special move that can collide with the hitboxes of other attacks while airborne is Meta Knight's Mach Tornado. If performed on the ground (grounded), it can be canceled out, but if airborne, it cannot be canceled. Mach Tornado is a multi-hit move that deals 1% per hit during the main portion of the attack.
- If Captain Falcon's f-tilt collides with a hitbox of Meta Knight's grounded Mach Tornado (10% vs. 1%), the f-tilt will collide with, and cancel out the Mach Tornado.
- If the Mach Tornado is airborne, Captain Falcon's f-tilt can cancel one of its hitboxes, but cannot cancel the hitboxes that follow. Mach Tornado cannot cancel his f-tilt either, because it is too weak (10% vs. 1%). However, unless the hitbox of Captain Falcon's f-tilt connects with Meta Knight's body, the Mach Tornado will continue and can afterwards damage Captain Falcon, despite the fact that his f-tilt out-prioritised it.
Transcendent priority (also known as transcending priority) describes the set of rules that apply to transcendent attack hitboxes, as distinct from normal attack hitboxes. In Smash Brothers games, particular attacks and hitboxes are assigned transcendent priority by the game designers; the property is not inherent of any attack type or character. However, it should be noted that all of Meta Knight's standard attacks, except dash attack, are transcendent. Transcendent hitboxes ignore the rules of normal priority: they cannot collide with, clash with, cancel out, or be cancelled out by other hitboxes.
- Meta Knight's f-smash is transcendent. If a pair of Meta Knights use their f-smash at the same time, and the f-smash hitboxes overlap each other, they will not collide, and their animations and damaging properties will continue until the attack ends naturally. If the two Meta Knights are close enough together, each will be hit by the other's f-smash.
- Lucas' f-smash is transcendent. If Donkey Kong's f-smash overlaps with Lucas' f-smash (20% vs. 15%), Lucas' f-smash will go through Donkey Kong's without colliding. If its hitboxes touch Donkey Kong, he will receive damage and knockback from Lucas' f-smash, while Lucas will be hit by Donkey Kong's f-smash as well since normal hitboxes will go through transcendent hitboxes.
The following is a list of character's attacks in Melee that contain hitboxes with transcendent priority.
- Bowser - Fire Breath, Koopa Klaw (the attack hitbox, not the grab)
- Donkey Kong - Hand Slap
- Dr. Mario - Super Sheet, Dr. Tornado (all hitboxes but the final hit)
- Falco - Blaster, Falco Phantasm
- Fox - Blaster, Fox Illusion
- Ganondorf - Down air
- Ice Climbers - Blizzard
- Kirby - Hammer (grounded only), Final Cutter (projectile only), dash attack
- Link - Spin Attack, zair
- Mario - Cape, Mario Tornado, forward smash (sweetspot only)
- Marth - Shield Breaker, Dancing Blade, Dolphin Slash
- Mewtwo - Disable, forward smash (sweetspot only), down smash
- Ness - PK Flash, PK Thunder (projectile only)
- Pichu - Thunder, forward smash
- Pikachu - Thunder, forward smash, down smash
- Roy - Flare Blade, Blazer
- Samus - Zair
- Young Link - Spin Attack (airborne only), zair
- Zelda - Nayru's Love, Din's Fire, Neutral attack, forward tilt, up tilt, dash attack, forward smash, down smash, neutral air, forward air, back air, up air
The following is a list of character's attacks in Brawl that contain hitboxes with transcendent priority. Note that while there are standard aerials with transcendent priority, this only comes into effect if they collide with a projectile or one of the few attacks containing hitboxes that can collide with airborne attacks such as the Mach Tornado. This is because the hitboxes of aerials cannot collide with the hitboxes of standard ground attacks and other aerials attacks.
- Charizard - Up smash
- Diddy Kong - Dash attack
- Falco - Blaster, Reflector
- Fox - Blaster
- Ganondorf - Down air
- Ice Climbers - Squall Hammer, Blizzard
- Ike - Eruption, Aether (all but the initial hitbox), up smash, down smash, all aerials
- Ivysaur - Bullet Seed, neutral attack
- King Dedede - Jet Hammer, Super Dedede Jump, all smashes, neutral air
- Kirby - Hammer (both grounded and airborne), Final Cutter (both the sword strike and projectile)
- Link - Spin Attack (only initial hitbox)
- Lucario - Force Palm (the projectile portion), forward smash (sweetspot only)
- Lucas - PK Freeze, PSI Magnet, forward smash, down smash, neutral air, back air (sweetspot only)
- Mario - Cape, forward smash (sweetspot only)
- Marth - Shield Breaker, Dancing Blade, Dolphin Slash
- Meta Knight - Dimensional Cape, Shuttle Loop, all standard attacks except dash attack
- Mr. Game & Watch - Chef (frying pan only, not the projectiles)
- Ness - PK Flash, dash attack
- Peach - Up smash (sourspot only)
- Olimar - Down smash (sweetspot only)
- Pikachu - Thunder, neutral attack, down smash, forward smash (sweetspot only)
- R.O.B. - Robo Beam, Arm Rotor
- Sheik - Needle Storm, Chain, Vanish
- Snake - Forward smash
- Squirtle - Up smash
- Sonic - Neutral air
- Toon Link - Spin Attack
- Wario - Wario Waft, down air (final hit only)
- Wolf - Blaster
- Zelda - Nayru's Love, Farore's Wind, neutral attack, forward tilt, up tilt, dash attack, forward smash, up smash (all but the final hitbox), neutral air, up air
- Zero Suit samus - Dash attack, down smash
It is a common misconception that attacks are given priority independent of the damage they deal - for example, many people consider Captain Falcon's Raptor Boost to have "low priority". However, such attacks simply seem to have "high" or "low" priority relative to the favorability of their hitboxes - attacks with small or late hitboxes often appear to get "out-prioritised" by other attacks, when, in reality, the wielders of these hitboxes are often hit by their opponents' before they are able to connect with them.
Characters' whole movesets are also often described as having "good" or "bad" priority. Again, this is technically incorrect, because, with the exception of transcendent priority, priority itself is not an independent value. However, if a character's most frequently used moves deal low damage, and are hence often out prioritised by other characters' common moves, his or her moveset will appear to have "worse priority" than other characters' movesets.