PAC-MAN has been often regarded as a consistent top-tier or high-tier character throughout Smash Ultimate’s lifespan. This is largely because of the positive changes made from his Super Smash Bros. for Wii U iteration, where he was widely considered as a low-tier.
PAC-MAN’s kit functions mostly the same in both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. He “[i]s reliant on his special moves to control the flow of battle and win in the neutral game,” according to ssbwiki.com. Bonus fruits consist of eight different neutral specials which scale higher in power the longer PAC-MAN charges them, however they all serve different functions. This provides him flexibility in his option coverage. For instance, apple, the fourth charge of his neutral special, hits opponents who are trying to attack him while he is on a platform. Bell, his seventh charge, can stun opponents if it hits, which can lead to an early K-O opportunity with one of his smash attacks. Hydrant and trampoline, his down special and up special respectively, all keep opponents away from him and provide PAC-MAN the space to set up.
In both games, PAC-MAN also has weak attacks, particularly his aerials, which are capable of comboing into themselves at lower percentages. In addition, according to both ultimateframedata.com and kuroganehammer.com, his neutral air has a three-frame startup, his jab has a four-frame startup, down-tilt has a seven-frame startup and forward air has a five-frame startup, just to name a few. His quick options allow him the frame advantage to escape pressure against a lot of the roster.
PAC-MAN also has one of the best recoveries distance-wise in both smash games he has been a part of. His up special and side special cover a lot offstage and his down special can momentarily stall momentum in the air.
PAC-MAN’s flaws in Smash 4 and how some of them were fixed
In Smash Wii U, PAC-MAN was forced to rely heavily on his set-up and projectile game. Unlike Smash Ultimate, he didn’t have the damage output or the speed to play aggressively. He was forced to rely on gimmicks and playing defensively to keep up with a lot of characters better than him. For players who knew how to play around the properties of his bonus fruit, trampoline and fire hydrant, the matchup was not that difficult. This knowledge became applied more as the metagame of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U progressed.
Top-tier DLC characters Corrin and Cloud both had favorable matchups against PAC-MAN, according to the Smash 4 PAC-MAN Discord community matchup chart. DLC characters are not included in some earlier versions of the game, therefore these additions shoot him down just as much as his actual character flaws. As an added bonus, PAC-MAN had an unreliable grab due to some missing active frames throughout the duration of it.
On the last official tier list for Smash Wii U, PAC-MAN was ranked 46th out of 55.
However, in Smash Ultimate, PAC-MAN noticeably improved. The universal three-frame jump squat allowed him to pressure his quick aerials two frames earlier after dropping shield. His fruit charges are quicker, his dash speed has slightly increased, he has a higher damage output and his grab lasts throughout the whole move. PAC-MAN also gained the mechanic of fruit recycling, allowing him to charge his fruit after catching it. Overall, the reward for PAC-MAN players is more than his Super Smash Bros. for Wii U iteration.
In Smash Ultimate, PAC-MAN retains some of his flaws. He still relies on gimmicks to an extent, as well as having few early percent kill options outside of setups with his bell, melon or key.
Thoughts and Results of Top-Level Mains
Ricardo “Sinji” Mathison, one of the best PAC-MAN players in the world for Smash Ultimate, has high hopes for the character’s metagame. His recent matchup chart, made in December 2019, is more optimistic than PAC-MAN’s Smash Wii U community matchup spread. Notably, he only thinks four characters have a winning matchup against PAC-MAN, while having a plethora of even matchups.
Takuma “Tea” Hirooka, the best PAC-MAN player in the world in terms of results, was ranked 12th on the Fall 2019 Panda Global Rankings. He won Sumabato SP 2, a major tournament in Japan using PAC-MAN, proving how formidable the character is.
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