If there is any character I know well, it's the Ice Climbers, and with their increasing popularity I figure it would be best to help out aspiring players. I'll update this guide as my experience increases, and hopefully one day it will see completion. Let's get started.
Section 1: Move Rundown
Jabs: These are just something you want to use to cover your ass and can't think of anything else. Good in that they're quick and will help restore power to your other moves.
Ftilt: Very nice. Quick, fair damage, fair knockback. Like most Ftilts, it can be angled up or down with a slight tilt of the control stick.
Dtilt: Generally less useful than Ftilt, but it has similar range. The knockback angle is quite favorable, though.
Utilt: Situational, but offers great damage if you can land it. Use it to punish any approaches from above, as almost no character can compete with it. It's also quite funny when someone just rolls into it. I'll also mention that it sets up nicely for grabs on the faster falling characters.
Dash Attack: Alright damage, vertical knockback can set up for a juggle. Watch when you use it, as it's one of those bad dash attacks that can get shielded and punished all day if they see it coming.
Fsmash: This is a fairly fast and powerful smash that you'll be using as a KO option. Then range on this thing is mean.
Usmash: Slower than the Fsmash, this is also a KO move. It's hard to land it without using a grab to set up for it, so take caution in using it. It makes floaty characters cry.
Dsmash: Fantastic move. If you've shielded something from your opponent, but they're too far to grab, Dsmash! It's fast and is a great racker. There is a sweetspot near the center of the move that will send foes rocketing upward, but this won't kill until much later, if at all.
Nair: The main use of this move is to get Pikmin off. Aside from that, it's pretty much filler. At least it's fast.
Dair: DO NOT WHIFF THIS MOVE. It's highly laggy if you land, so you'll be punished unless you actually got the hit. Great for getting to the ground in a hurry, and you can also use it to catch up to Nana in the air when need be.
Uair: Great move. Much like Utilt, almost no characters can compete with it. Juggle thing, can kill if reserved.
Bair: Also a great move. You can link this into a blizzard in one short hop, so it's one of their better options for approaching (though watch your spacing). This will kill off the side at later percentages.
Fair: This thing is fairly slow, but the damage output is good enough. Generally, you'll only be using this as an edgeguard or out of a throw. Note that only Nana can spike.
B: Fantastic. It'll pepper damage and restore move power much like your jabs. Desynced Ice Shots will semi-lock anyone who missed a tech. They also have a tendency to beat out the recoveries of some characters.
Side B: Hoo boy, this move is gold. Invincibility frames near the beginning, excellent damage output, wrecks shields, sets up for grabs occasionally, good for escaping potential strings, recovery option (spam B). Take care not to miss, though. Spamming it isn't a good idea, as it will get predictable.
Down B: lolwut, another B move that doesn't suck. While synced, do a short hop to get them to fire in the same direction. Depending on where it hits, this thing can do in the ups of 40%. Desynced Blizzards are good for pressure (as well as defense) and can set up for grabs.
Up B: Make sure both ICs are synced up before you use this (air dodge if you're unsure). If nobody is on the ledge, Nana will get shot straight to it and Popo will be tethered immediately. If someone is on the ledge, Nana will fire Popo upward (and usually die unless you use Up B again to save her, but that leaves you open). In addition to being a recovery option, it's actually a viable kill move if you can predict your opponent's aerial response. The hitbox is around Nana's head as she flies up.
Grab: Poor range, but my god their potential for damage is insane. In theory, a single grab means the opponent just lost their whole stock, but I'll get to that later.
Throws: These get their own section. Read on.
Section 2: Grab combos
The only way to sum up this aspect of the Ice Climbers is wtfhax. The perfect player WILL take off a whole stock from a single grab every time. Unfortunately, humans aren't so precise. This doesn't mean you can't try though. I'll list options in no particular order.
1. Down throw to Forward Air
Just as it sounds, grab someone, throw down, then have Nana forward air spike them and regrab. This works from 0 to 25ish percent on every character, heavier ones a little higher and lighter ones a little lower. If you want, you can Forward Smash after the forward air, particularly if you're near the edge of the stage and know they'll DI towards you to avoid getting Spiked. Use this at the edge for kills. You can also Forward throw into forward air if you want. If you fair them into the ground above 25% and they don't tech, throw out Ice Shots for a semi-infinite lock.
2. Nana Forward throw to Hyphen smash
If Nana is holding the opponent, run forward and C stick up. They should be thrown into your Up Smash.
Similarly, you can use the C-stick and Z simultaneously to have Nana grab attack while you charge an up smash. Proceed to have her throw backwards into it. Great way to kill floatier characters.
3. Double smash
If you're holding them with Popo, use the C stick to simultaneously grab attack and smash with Nana. The second smash will break your hold and send them flying if they haven't struggled free already. Use two different smashes to confuse them and make them DI the wrong way.
4. Alternating grabs
This part is pure evil. After using a Forward, Down, or Back throw, you can regrab the opponent with Nana. Time will vary depending on each method and each character, but this is what allows you to take off a whole stock regardless of the opponent's current percent. You can then have Nana do whatever, including hand off back to Popo.
5. Forward throw to forward B
If correctly executed, the opponent will get caught in Nana's forward B and be prone to a regrab or smash, whichever you deem more appropriate.
6. Forward throw to Nana footstool jump
This can be done with down throw and back throw as well, but this is simpler. Throw forward and spam the jump button. If you did it right, Nana will footstool jump them causing them to flop on the ground (this cannot be teched). Follow up with whatever you see fit. Ice Shot lock, forward B, jab to grab, the options are endless.
Section 3: Desyncs
Usually the ICs swing their hammers in unison (actually, Nana lags behind Popo about 6 frames, 1 tenth of a second). However, if you desync, you can have both Ice Climbers act independently of each other. Naturally, this has its disadvantages, but it has a plethora of options that can lead into other things (eg grabs). The following are the simpler methods of desyncing your ICs.
1. Dashdance. Dash backwards, then hit forward and forward on the C stick. Popo will forward smash and Nana will dash attack. When Nana recovers, but before Popo does, input any move and Nana will do it alone. Similarly, you can hit backwards and back on he c stick at slightly different timings to have one IC dash attack and the other forward smash.
2. Z Roll. Hit Back and Z at the same time. Popo will Roll backwards, Nana will pivot grab.
3. Blond Roll. Hit Back and L/R at the same time. Popo rolls backwards, Nana rolls the wrong way.
4. Whiffed move. After missing any move, near the end of the cooldown lag, hit back or forward. Nana will do the opening of her dash while Popo turns around or does nothing..
5. Connected move. After hitting any move (except like Ice Shot), including hitting their shield, enter a command during the end of the cooldown time on that move. Nana will do it alone.
6. Grab. The Ice Climbers are desynced when you grab.
7. Ledge desync. If Nana is on the stage while Popo is on the ledge, you are free to do any move with Nana alone. If Nana is on the ledge with Popo nearby, she will react according to input as well. If she's directly below you, she'll hover for a second while doing whatever move you input. Do a walking forward smash with Popo to cause Nana to do a floating forward air from the ledge. It's a great edgeguard.
8. Standing Nana Desync. This works in a fashion similar to the dashdance/pivot desync. Hit back on the control stick so as to simply turn around (do NOT dash), then slam the other direction and hit A to do a smash in one smooth motion. If you did it correctly, Nana should be charging her Fsmash alone. She'll turn around if you do, and you can cancel the charge at any time with a Squall or Belay.
Once desynced, you can do whatever you desire with either IC alone. Make sure you move quickly, however, or they'll sync up again. If you want to sync up immediately, Side B generally will do so. If you are in the air, beware that Up B will not work if you're desynced. Air Dodge to sync up if you aren't certain you are.
Section 4: Match-Ups
Alright, I decided to start adding some info on specific character matchups to this guide, as it felt rather hollow without it. More will be added as I encounter players who are good at the characters so I have first-hand experience and not just hearsay.
Lacking experience here. His fire balls have nothing on your two Ice Shots, but you have to be careful of his spammable smashes.
Fthrow and Dual Dthrow chains work here just fine. You may have a bit of trouble at first because positioning with him is a bit weird (you don't want to walk very far, or you'll miss the regrab).
Zoh my god, this guy has some of the best ground game in Brawl. On top of that, he's quick and has a wide range of options with obscene KO power to boot. His Jump Canceled Up-B approach can be a pain, but if you get the hang of how it works, you can grab it just fine. His range advantage is pretty mean, and the super armor he has is something to watch out for.
Don't be too afraid, though. This is a match up that is in your favor. The ape leaves many openings for grabs and is very easy to Fthrow chain into a Fthrow Fair spike. Take note that like most heavyweights, Dthrow Fair will NOT work on him.
Not much I can say here yet. Most of the match-up proceeds the same way, so see Toon Link's match-up.
He's easier to chaingrab though. Fthrow chain on him is very simple because he's heavy without being too heavy, and he moves quite a bit. This means the timing window and positioning windows are pretty big. Dual dthrow chain works too.
She will give you a hard time with proper spacing, as those missiles are going to be messing you up pretty bad whether you think so or not. Her Zair allows her to attack you while not being open herself. That aside, though, she has pretty bad range disadvantages except on a few moves, like Down tilt. Her air game is nice and flowing, but it still can't beat Utilt, Uair, and Bair. You will, however, have a hard time approached from the bottom, as always.
The easiest chainthrow on Samus is the dual down throw chain. She's a bit tricky otherwise due to her frame and weight, but the Fthrow chain is also possible.
Have not played this match extensively, but Kirby will have a lot of trouble with your range. Keep clear of his Fsmash.
Chain throwing this thing is weird because he's small and light, so the windows of opportunity are tiny. Dual dthrow is probably the easiest, and the bthrow hand-off is pretty simple too.
Not much experience here (again). It seems to me like he can split the pair if he lands a Drill -> Dsmash or Drillshine properly, and after that... well, you know, death to the drone if you don't save it. This guy is quick and pretty lagless, so he'll be a slippery opponent. You do, however, have a great range and priority advantage against Fox. Use it well. Oh yeah, you rape his recovery too. HARD. Once he's off the stage, he should not come back.
Tricky mofo to alt grab. Dthrow Fair also seems to be a bit sensitive in terms of timing and position. I've gotten several chains to work, but rarely in excess of 4. Experiment, see what works for you. I don't think the chains are terribly important in this match, anyway, unless you're REALLY behind.
Oh god, this match is hell if you're not used to it. Jolts fly at you really quick, nearly quick enough that your two Ice Shots don't even matter, particularly if he's shooting them from the air. Dsmash and Thunder make it VERY hard to grab him - even trying may get you killed. Both of these moves have potential to split the pair, and Nana will get killed by thunder almost without fail. Usmash kills you early, Fsmash has evil, evil range. He's also next to impossible to edgeguard.
I advise playing this match more defensively, because aggro will just get you raped. Poke away at him with tilts, jabs, and your B moves. You can't really afford to smash, though, unless you're DAMN sure it's going to land.
On the plus side, easy fthrow alt chain fodder once you land the grab. =3
This one is a bit more tame. Marth has no choice but to be the aggressor because you can force him to approach. Be wary that he is relatively lagless and will make good use of that reach. He's also a tough customer to grab with proper spacing. Don't expect him to let up, either. You might have a bit of trouble getting hits in, but that's what quick things like Ftilt are for. His recovery isn't the best - capitalize on this.
Marth is also Fthrow chain fodder. Dthrow and back throw are a slight bit tougher. Give him the works if you can get your hands on him.
Mr. Game & Watch
Hoo, now this guy sure got a lot better since Melee. He's another one of those characters that will irritate you to no end the first few games. For the most part, he has huge, fast, and deadly disjointed hitboxes that stay out for a longtime. Tough to approach, but you don't have much of a choice... Not too sure what to say on this one yet.
Chain throws on this guy move quickly - very quickly. Fthrow and Dual Dthrow seem to be the best options, though if you've mastered Bthrow back and forth, go for that.
Dur, what's a Luigi? Not a whole lot of experience here, but I can say that he's a bit tricky considering he'll probably be in the air a lot, and his air game is much better than yours.
The alt grab to use here is Fthrow.
Oh god this guy is hell. He has many fast, multi-hitting attacks and can split the pair with ease. The bananas are going to screw with you until you learn how to pitch them back at him. But they aren't even really necessary...
Advantage: Diddy. Chain throw him if you get the chance, he's tough. Fthrow alt works well.
I'll have to get back to you on this one.
Fthrow alt ftw. Bthrow/dthrow is my second choice.
Jebus the man-lady is quick. She's one of few that can eat your recovery pretty consistently. Use your range advantage well, and be prepared to DI out of ftilts and jabs often, or you'll be split and raped. Sheik dies relatively early, thankfully.
Funnily enough, you can Dthrow chain her with SoPo until about 35%. Since she's relatively light, a Dthrow Fair must be done using a short hop the first time if you grabbed her at 0. Fthrow alt is beast again, Bthrow/Dthrow a close second.
Ew, Arrows all over the place and some of the quickest rolls and smashes out there. Pit is also fully capable of edgeguarding you well. Thankfully your range is about even. If he hangs around in the air, punish him with Utilt, Uair, or Bair, and if he's on the ground, feel free to Squall, Ftilt, or Blizzard. Your desync game pretty much goes out the window in this match up.
Fthrow alt is great again, and the others work just fine as well.
MORE TO COME!
Section 5: Closing Remarks
Be aware that choosing to play the Ice Climbers will be a long and difficult road. You will need to lose many, many times to really figure out how to play them properly. The chain throws are very demanding and make them the most technical character in the game. Even still, they aren't the best character out there, having their fair share of bad match-ups. The large learning curve is no joke.
I don't mean to deter you, though. To any and all aspiring IC players, I hope this has been helpful. I'll continue to update the guide with pertinent information as I learn it so it can be passed on to you. After all, they're well worth the effort to learn and will keep you entertained for a long, long time. There's *bleep*ing two of 'em!
Thread Recap (last 10 posts from newest to oldest)
Jan 23, 13 at 12:31am
Hello, I've enjoyed this guide and started playing the IC lately. But, I seem to have a problem with the desyncing, the positioning of nana gets a bit off everytime I back throw, and sometimes when I tilt the analog, nana just moves forward and popo doesn't even throw the enemy. Is this a bug? Or is there a way?
I know it is 2013 and I might not get an anwser, but I really hope I do, incase if I don't, thanks for the guide eliot
Aug 01, 12 at 6:44pm
cool started using ic yesterday and already killing my cousin every match