Feature

Full Breakdown of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Character Roster

Hey guys, Max Ketchum here again. Toronto Joe and I put together a huge article detailing all the new and old mechanics in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate last week--this is the follow-up to that in which we give you the juicy details on all the characters that were playable in the demo.

 

We're not perfect, so some of this information might be a bit off--if you notice any inaccuracies, please do not hesitate to contact us on Twitter @MaxKetchum_ and @TorontoJoe so we can get it fixed up for you immediately. This is very much a living document that will be updated and adjusted as feedback comes in.

Characters

Major shoutouts to SmashWiki for helping me cross-check a lot of information, as well as learn a lot of stuff that I had previously missed. Unless otherwise specified, my frame data on the characters comes from there. If I learned a fact other than frame data on this writeup through SmashWiki, I’ll mark it with the tag [[SW]] to properly credit them!

It’s important to note that without hard science tools available to us at E3, we could only discern so much objective information. Lots of people are putting in the frame-by-frame analysis work now that there are lots of videos available, so I’ll be filling in a lot of stuff as it’s confirmed.

Many changes that have been observed are hard to verify, so I’ll be primarily reporting on verified info and specifying what might not actually be real. Also, this data represents a game currently in development, so anything is subject to change between now and the final release.

Newcomers

*All damage values were tested on a setup that most likely did not have the 1v1 damage bonus setting enabled*

Inkling

(major shoutouts to this thread which already has frame data and ink consumption calculations and move names):

 

Overall

  • Super quick character with nutty, diverse movement

  • Short-ranged brawler type of character up close like Mario, Fox, Diddy Kong, but slower moves

  • Very setup-heavy; goal is to cover opponents in ink with rapid jab, special moves, and smashes to deal more damage and knockback

  • Ink moves (rapid jab, smashes, and specials) deplete ink meter, which can be recharged by holding shield and pressing and holding special

  • If you run out of ink in the middle of an ink-consuming move, it’ll just give empty sputters

  • Setups with down B bomb and ink management will be extremely important

  • Not very powerful when hitting un-inked opponents

Moves

Some animation descriptions and frame data are not complete. Huge thanks to the aforementioned Smashboards thread for all of the frame data and some move names--some values may be inaccurate.

Jab - punch, kick, rapid ink shots - 12.7% for full combo - jab 1 starts on frame 3 - rapid jab inks opponent, costs ink

Forward tilt - elbow - 7.4% - starts on frame 8

Up tilt - 6.3%

Down tilt - leg sweep - 9.4%

Dash attack - running tackle - 8.3% - starts on frame 8

Forward smash - inkbrush - 12.5% - starts on frame 16 - inks opponent, costs little ink

Up smash - blaster - 19.9% - inks opponent, costs lots of ink

Down smash - slosher - 13.2% front, 10% back - front hit starts on frame 13, back hit starts on frame 23 - inks opponent, costs an average amount of ink

Neutral air - 6.3%

Forward air - drop kick - 10.5% early, 6.4% late - starts on frame 10, 12 frames of landing lag

Back air - pistol whip - 8.9% - starts on frame 7 - 9 frames of landing lag

Up air - double kick - 11.5% - first hit starts on frame 12 - 6 frames of landing lag

Down air - gun swing - 12.6% sweetspot, 10.5% sourspot - starts on frame 16 - 10 frames of landing lag. Thanks to Krabs for the landing lag

Forward throw - 9.0%

Back throw - 9.4%

Up throw - 6.2%

Down throw - 7.3% 

Neutral B - Splattershot - 1.3% for lightest hit - inks opponent, costs ink

Side B - Splat Roller - 11.5% - inks opponent, costs ink

Up B - Super Jump - 8.3% - inks opponent, DOES NOT cost ink

Down B - Splat Bomb - 8.1% - inks opponent, costs lots of ink

Lots of people have Inklings pegged for the upper end of the tier list--at least, they seemed to be among the better characters playable in the E3 build. You can easily zip around the stage and run circles around your opponents, especially when you ink up the stage with the roller. Since running is so versatile and strong in this game, the slowdown might throw people’s spacing off in subtle ways.

Their greatest weakness is probably the range on their normals. For such tiny moves, they’re not that quick either (fair is like a slower, shorter, and weaker Diddy fair), but any hit is a problem when you’re inked. The staggered pressure that the late bomb explosion provides makes it great for pressure at the edge or in the corner. The mixture of slowing opponents down with Roller, pushing them back with neutral B, and the bomb will make this character a problem with stage control, especially with its high speed and small size.

Inklings have a really high ceiling, and I think anyone who really learns how to move in this game + always keep ink charged up/on the opponent will be a problem with them. Charging a full tank takes around two seconds.

Ridley

(major shoutouts to this thread made by Plino which already has frame data and ink consumption calculations and move names)

 

Jab - claws, rapid tail - 10.9% - also has a third hit finisher option that I didn’t learn about until afterward

Forward tilt - tail swipe - 9.2%

Up tilt - overhead claw - 6.4%

Down tilt - tail sweep - 5.3%

Dash attack - bite - 12.6%

Forward smash - close fireball - 21.0%

Up smash - overhead kick - 17.8% - starts on frame 12

Down smash - ground stomp - 16.9%

Neutral air - tail spin - 12.6% - starts on frame 8

Forward air - triple tail stab - 17.8%

Back air - backward kick - 13.3%

Up air - wing stab - 12.5%

Down air - dive kick - 14.6%

Forward throw - 9.4%

Back throw - 11.6%

Up throw - 12.5%

Down throw - 7.4%

Neutral B - fireball charge - 4.8-29.7%

Side B - 5.1% grab + (2.5% x every 4 frames duration dragging?) + 8.8% release - starts on frame 24

Up B - 18.8%

Down B - 52.5% strong hitbox, 4.5% (?) weak hitbox - hits on frame 30

I can’t tell what to make of Ridley. After playing him for a bit and watching other people’s matches with him, I was sure he was one of the weakest characters in the build--it was just too easy to toss him around, juggle him, and edgeguard him. Now, after studying him hard to make this document and seeing his damage output, it’s hard to call. He can effectively get you to kill percent in 2-4 hits or openings, his charged neutral B is a ridiculous keepaway tool, he has a fairly quick command grab (that also deals a ton of damage), and a lot of his normals have great range.

If the up B exploit I hypothesized works, that redeems his offstage game enough to make him pretty terrifying. Getting to the ground will be a chore as it is with any big body, but you can make sure they regret dropping every juggle when you retaliate with 20+ damage moves. He’s also really fast, which ups the stakes when dealing with a power character. I’m super excited to see what his playerbase does with him.

Returning

The returning characters are pretty similar to how they were in Smash 4, so for their attacks, I’ll focus on highlighting the key differences like new moves. Primarily, I’ll be offering thoughts on how the new mechanics will influence these characters’ performance--namely dash cancels, air dodge changes, and lower landing lag.

 

Cloud

  • Up air’s hitbox size seems to have been shrunken at the bottom, making it much more difficult to hit on landing. Landing lag buffed 19 -> 14

  • Neutral air’s hitbox seems to have been shrunken. Landing lag buffed 17 -> 10

  • Back air landing lag buffed 19 -> 9
  • Down air landing lag buffed 26 -> 16 (needs more testing. Thanks to Krabs for the landing lag data)
  • If you don’t use your fully charged Limit after 15 seconds, it will disappear

  • Cross Slash does more damage (23.9%, up from 19% in Smash 4) and has a thinner visual effect

  • You MIGHT be able to grab the ledge during a wider window of Climhazzard’s downward hit without dying, but this isn’t confirmed

Cloud is pretty much his old self. A lot of people are panicking over the up air and limit nerfs, but I don’t see any cause for alarm. The range and speed that made him so dangerous are still intact, and he now has an even easier time juggling you forever because air dodges are much worse.

A character with a good jab, a fast backward-facing up tilt, and a sliding, low-profile down tilt like Cloud will benefit immensely from the new dash mechanics. Although he already had the amazing initial dash that was seemingly given to every character in Ultimate, being able to end a dash whenever into whatever really helps him. (He could do this in Smash 4 by charging limit and stopping immediately, but it took more time and wasn’t as flexible) Having that huge, annoying down air (and other beefy aerials) makes up for the absence of air dodge as a way for him to get back to the ground himself.

However, the mechanics can work against him too. Recovering is gonna be a lot harder without air dodging to save you (although air dodge up to the edge will help a lot in a pinch), and his recovery is just as short.

I’d say Cloud was one of the least different characters from his Smash 4 incarnation--some of his nonsense has been scaled back a bit, but he’s still a very complete and threatening character.

 

Snake

  • CHANGED MOVE: Down smash - no longer a mine, but now a forward and backward kick like Captain Falcon. Relatively strong and quick

  • Functions essentially identically to Brawl

  • Heavy, can survive at very high %s

  • Amazing boxing game with forward tilt and jab

  • Jab combo doesn’t drop before the third hit like in Brawl

  • Nikita missile much faster and is not just a situational move anymore

  • Up tilt seemingly unchanged in terms of speed, power, and range

  • Forward tilt still very fast and strong, but a bit shorter

  • Down air now starts on frame 3(!!!) and autocancels out of a short hop

  • Forward air appears to start faster

  • All four kicks of neutral air come out within a short hop

  • Grenades seem to explode about half a second faster than Brawl (2.5 vs. 3 seconds--watch around 1:35 in 0.25x speed) and are vital to his zoning and mixup game once again. Getting hit with a thrown grenade before it explodes still does damage, you can pick the same angles to release the grenades at, and the explosions are still huge

  • C4 self-explosion recovery still works, can still sticky C4 to shielding opponents, C4 still transfers when bodies collide

  • Up B is about the same as it was in brawl, however if you are grabbed out of it you can immediately up B again once released

  • Hitting the cypher can clank it out and cause Snake to fall to his death

  • Down throw can't be followed up with another grab due to the grab cooldown but it’s still amazing, does about 12% and puts opponent in a tech trap (can now tech chase with tilts out of dash)

Snake is a monster. Pretty much all of his best attributes from Brawl return, with the unfortunate exceptions of DACUS and his land mine. KuroganeHammer has confirmed that most of his moves have the same frame data or better, including the classic up and forward tilts that made him so scary.

The new mechanics are very kind to this character--although he can’t slide around the stage with mortars anymore, he can tech chase out of his down throw with running tilts, chase your landings down with running up tilts, stuff out aerial approaches with RGR up tilts, and more. Getting to the ground has also historically been a problem for him, though, so expect to get juggled a bit harder with a less reliable air dodge. Up throw can combo into up tilt and up air at low percents.

A few quality of life changes like faster aerials, less time for grenades to explode, and his jab actually working are really nice to have around. I think he’ll end up being a problem.

 

Pokemon Trainer

  • STAMINA MECHANIC REMOVED! Your Pokemon will no longer get tired/weaker over time.

  • Pokemon Change works in the air and has very little lag (but cannot be used out of tumble)

 

Squirtle (shoutouts to Reflex for a few observations)

  • CHANGED MOVE: Back air is now a multi-hit tail spin

  • CHANGED MOVE: Down tilt is now a single hit

  • Runs a lot faster than in Brawl [SW]

  • Holding A to repeat jab 1 is significantly faster than in Brawl
  • Up air is strong and comes out super quickly, can be chained together and chase down opponents trying to land. Have to respect Squirtle’s ability to challenge you in the air

  • Down air has a better autocancel window and reduced knockback
  • Up smash water pillars are much taller

  • Fsmash is now a short-range water spit attack rather than the shell

  • Water Gun pushes a lot further [SW]

  • Withdraw is significantly faster and more useful, automatically stops when you hit someone

  • Back throw has a reworked animation where he picks up opponent and tosses them behind him, makes Squirtles ground game even scarier and seems to be a mid-strength kill throw

  • Skid animation no longer produces the “shell shift” effect where you slide dramatically

Can’t wait for this little guy to start giving people nightmares. He’s so quick and tiny that catching him is a feat in itself, and then when you find yourself nearby, his normals will outspeed yours. If you don’t have the range to keep him at bay, get ready to be frustrated.

As a character with small ground moves primarily focused on air combat, I don’t think he benefits all that much from the new dash mechanics, but they’ll help him get around. His frame traps in the air are even more devastating if you have to think twice about air dodging, but because they lack range, you might be better off challenging him with attacks of your own. Since the Pokemon swap out so quickly in this game, I’d love to see players rack up damage with Squirtle’s easy combos and then switch to Ivysaur or Charizard for a strong finish.

 

Ivysaur (shoutouts to Virum and Reflex for some observations)

  • Air and dash speed increased
  • Down tilt is now a single hit
  • Neutral air has a new animation similar to Bowser’s neutral air

  • Bullet Seed has a finisher like most/all rapid attacks

  • Dash attack has a slightly new animation [SW]

  • Up smash appears to start faster
  • Down smash appears to start faster
  • Down air sweetspot appears to be larger
  • Can’t double jump before hitting the ground after short hop back air

  • Vine Whip no longer causes freefall

From the little game time I got with Ivysaur, I couldn’t really see too many outward differences--it’s also been years since I’ve used her in Brawl. That said, this character was so horribly crippled by the edgehog mechanic that basically invalidated tether recoveries, which has been removed since Smash 4. Now that Ivysaur can actually get back to the stage (or switch to Charizard for an even better recovery), we’ll see some hope for her. Her ground normals aren’t great, but running dtilt will probably help her footsies game.

 

Charizard (shoutouts to Virum for some observations and landing lag frames, and Reflex for some observations)

  • Minor change: now hangs from the edge with one hand so his head is less exposed
  • Fly travels further up [SW]

  • Back air seemingly starts faster and no longer has issues dropping the sweetspot in the Z axis. Landing lag 24 -> 20

  • Neutral air appears to be larger and circle faster around him. Landing lag 20 -> 13

  • Forward air can no longer autocancel out of a short hop. Landing lag 22 -> 19
  • Up air landing lag 20 -> 15
  • Down air landing lag 33 -> 22
  • Flare Blitz is noticeably stronger

I also got limited time with Charizard, but he seems to be just about the same character as Smash 4 with a better recovery and slight buffs to his aerials. However, he lost Rock Smash because down B is now Pokemon Change again, and that could be really bad for him in juggle situations because of the nerfs to air dodges.

On the bright side, as a fast character with an amazing jab and a good down tilt, dash cancels will be huge for this character’s pressure and ability to combat pressure while moving. His huge grab range can now be supplemented by an attack mixup when he’s running at you, which is way scarier. Switching to Squirtle to get down from the air might be important to avoid damage.

 

Ike

  • CHANGED MOVE: Up air is now an overhead swing like Marth and Corrin’s up airs, and is a ridiculously good move. Startup buffed 14 -> 13, landing lag buffed 15 -> 9

  • Eruption shoots 3 pillars of fire in front of Ike when fully charged

  • Neutral air seems to cover more area behind him and is great for popping up opponents for easy follow ups. Startup buffed 12 -> 10, landing lag buffed 14 -> 8

  • Forward air no longer autocancels from short hop. Startup buffed 12 -> 11, landing lag buffed 18 -> 14

  • Back air landing lag buffed 19 -> 11

  • Down air landing lag buffed 23 -> 14

Ike easily wins (or ties with Ganondorf) for the most-improved award at E3 2018. Even with a myriad of buffs from Brawl to Smash 4, this character struggled hard to put up results, but the mechanics changes to Ultimate have blessed him. Less lag on his huge aerials makes him a lot safer and scarier. Dash canceling into his jab, his fast/safe combo-starter down tilt or his giant anti-air up tilt will be insanity. Landing nairs into aerial followups are really rewarding.

The real money maker on this character is his new up air, though. Nowhere is safe when he’s juggling you, as it reaches very high while covering a wide angle above him. The move has little landing lag, so you can still cover their escape options if they manage to avoid it. His recovery is still garbage--you still can’t grab the edge backwards out of his up B, and we saw Quick Draw put him into freefall even after hitting an opponent (but didn’t test if this was always the case). Up throw and down throw still combo at low percents.

Ike is gonna be somewhat of a sword-wielding Little Mac, where his onstage presence is so dangerous that you almost have to gimp him every chance you get to not get steamrolled.

 

Ness

  • CHANGED MOVE: Up air is now a multihit move in which Ness waves PSI energy above himself like Peach’s up air. It can be chained together and kills pretty early, and the early hits can be used with a fastfall drag down to get follow ups into grab or short hop aerials. A lot of people were sweating the loss of his big ol’ head, but this is quite a fine replacement.

  • CHANGED MOVE: PSI Magnet is bigger, has a hitbox like Lucas’s, and doesn’t halt Ness’s horizontal drift completely

  • Neutral air has PSI energy coming from his hands, which makes it reach further

  • PK Flash no longer puts you into freefall and travels faster

  • Down air seems to come out quicker and has much less landing lag

  • Down throw still leads into forward air

  • Back throw feels about the same, still a solid KO throw

  • PK Thunder pops opponents less high up, PKT2 sends Ness about the same distance as in Smash 4 but has less knockback (?)

  • PK Fire seems to start slower, but end faster and have a bigger hitbox

Ness lost a big landing option with the change to his up air, but his buffed neutral air might help offset it. The new up air is really good--as mentioned before, it’s very strong, disjointed, and can be used for drag-down setups that he couldn’t do before.

Once you get past the up air change, Ness is relatively similar. He was a character who loved mashing on air dodge in Smash 4, but now he has to be a bit more deliberate.  PSI Magnet having a hitbox and retaining drift is a good quality of life change that will probably help him land. His ground moves aren’t great, so dash canceling doesn’t do much for him, but RGR down smash could be dangerous to opponents trying to recover or escape the corner.

 

Ganondorf (shoutouts to adom for some observations)

  • Major change: Ganondorf is back to his Ocarina of Time model, meaning he’s longer and less stiff like Brawl and Smash 4. This makes a lot of his moves naturally seem like they reach further.

  • CHANGED MOVE: Forward smash is now a fat overhead sword swing in an arc similar to Marth’s forward smash. Slower than Ganon’s old forward smash, but longer range

  • CHANGED MOVE: Up smash is now an overhead sword swing around his whole body similar to Ike’s up smash. Covers both sides and has more range than his old up smash, but loses the surprisingly quick recovery time.

  • CHANGED MOVE: Down smash is now a sword sweep forward and then back, reminiscent of Cloud’s down smash.

  • Up tilt starts significantly faster

  • Neutral air has no weak hitbox, landing lag buffed 17 -> 10

  • Forward air landing lag buffed 22 -> 14

  • Down air landing lag buffed 26 -> 21

  • Up air startup nerfed 6 -> 8, can still psuedo spike opponents with Tipman hitbox

  • Wizard’s Foot has multiple hits at the end of the move

  • Dark Dive (up B) appears stronger and will not suffer additional landing lag if you successfully grab the opponent
  • Flame Choke has 3 less frames of endlag on the ground and can lead to more follow ups (ends on 62 -> 59)

Ganon is finally the terror he deserves to be. His aerials alone are enough to make a huge difference, but having a Cloud-esque dsmash and access to his long ground moves out of dash push him even further. With a command grab and a whole bunch of big moves that look safe on block, he has plenty of ways to open you up. Side B appears to combo into more stuff, but we didn’t test exactly what--down smash appears to be fast enough to work, though.

One thing that hasn’t changed is his terrible recovery, so just like Ike, you’re gonna have to capitalize on this to avoid him setting the pace for the rest of the fight. Other characters losing defensive options is going to make all of the heavy hitters a lot better, but this can also hurt them when they get popped up. Losing his old up smash for frame traps might actually affect Ganon a good bit, but there are so many positive changes to him that it won’t be missed too hard.

 

Mario

  • Dash attack now has a jumpier animation rather than the hip slide, which seems to propel Mario further and end faster

  • Forward air appears to start and end faster 

Mario is basically just what you would expect if you played Smash 4. His air combos are still really good, but dthrow to utilt strings are less potent. Utilt seems to end a bit later than in Smash 4 as well.

ZeRo was able to win the invitational with Mario by just playing a very simple, fundamentally sound playstyle; essentially his trademark in the previous game, and Mario’s signature description in all iterations of Smash. I didn’t think there was anything particularly new or broken about Mario, but ZeRo is so good at picking opponents apart that an all-around character is just fine for him.

Up tilting and down tilting out of dash will allow Mario to start combos while approaching and retreating, which is awesome.

 

Bowser

  • CHANGED MOVE: Down smash is now a forward and backward claw swipe

  • Down tilt can cause opponents to trip

Bowser didn’t receive nearly as many overhauls as he did between Brawl and Smash 4, but as mentioned before, the heavy characters are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the system changes. We weren’t able to test what his grab follow up game looks like, but if he keeps the ability to kill out of up throw at high percents, the mixup potential of running at you with a jab/tilt or grab is huge. Also, since everyone has 3 frames of jumpsquat now, Bowser (who had the slowest jumpsquat in every previous iteration of Smash) has received a fairly significant buff in getting to the air.

 

Fox

  • Down tilt appears to end slower but send at a more combo-friendly angle, but needs harder testing
  • Up smash appears to hit higher (check around 1:27 in this video), but needs harder testing

  • Illusion can never go through shields, appears to start and finish faster
  • Fire Fox appears to have less lag when used along the ground, but needs testing
  • Reflector can only be used to stall once. Startup buffed from frame 6 -> 3

 

Fox is still probably going to be really good, despite everyone's early concerns. As a fast and powerful character, it's hard to take away enough things from him that would make him truly bad. All of his landing lag has been reducded (like the rest of the cast), and he was already devastating on block.

Perfect pivot up tilt is gone, but it's been replaced by RGR up tilt--it's a good bit slower, so the same combo extensions might not be possible, but it's a lot easier to approach with this move now. Dashing jabs are also going to be really obnoxious because of how fast they are, and these things in conjunction make your grab game better too. If you thought Fox was hard to land against when air dodge was about a 30-frame move, get ready to spend a lot of time in the air.

 

 

Pikachu

  • CHANGED MOVE: Neutral air is now a multihit shockwave like Mewtwo’s neutral air. It has low landing lag and can lead into a lot of followups.

  • Back air can autocancel from a short hop

  • Down air spikes on the early hitbox

  • The body/blue hitbox of Thunder is stronger, and the thunder cloud starts less high above Pikachu

  • Quick Attack shows you the angle at which Pikachu will travel with a small indicator

  • Forward tilt now has electric effect [SW]

Pikachu is only slightly tweaked, but the new neutral air will have serious implications in his playstyle. ESAM got a lot of game time with Pikachu at the media area and seemed very confident in his beloved character--according to him, landing nair into usmash is super easy and reliable. Bair autocanceling is also super good for his pressure game, and so will dashing dtilts and RGR utilts. This character was already a menace offstage, but now that he can spike you, he’s even better.

 

Mewtwo

  • Up smash’s hitbox is much wider horizontally

  • Confusion now actually gives Mewtwo frame advantage [SW]

  • Shadow Ball seems to travel more slowly, making it easier to follow, and might also allow Mewtwo to act sooner after firing it (not sure), can jump directly out of charging it on the ground and in the air

Mewtwo has barely changed, but that’s fine--he was already great in Smash 4, and dash cancel dtilts will help him immensely when approaching. Like Ness, this character also loved to capitalize on his great air dodge, but he won’t be able to do that in Smash Ultimate. Regardless, everyone generally felt like he was one of the better characters available in the demo.

 

Pac-Man (shoutouts to Sinji for a lot of observations)

  • CHANGED MOVE: Up tilt is now an uppercut, which is quick and combos like Mario’s

  • Improved movement speed

  • Dash attack has four hitboxes instead of three

  • Grab is way faster and more reliable

  • Down tilt animation returns Pac-Man to his initial starting point, making it safer

  • Back air starts faster

  • Neutral B charges way faster and can still be shield canceled into other specials. Didn’t test this, but most likely can cancel the charge with jump on the ground and in the air like Mewtwo and Samus (mechanic added to avoid forcing you to use the laggy new air dodge)

  • Side B seems to travel further and quicker, and end quicker

  • Up B trampoline has a hurtbox and can take out projectiles--hitting the trampoline will turn it green and cost 1 bounce. Hitting the trampoline when it has 0 bounces left will destroy it (not 100% sure on that last part)

  • Water produced by the hydrant can be clanked out

I barely got to play Pac-Man, but he seemed like a more polished version of his Smash 4 incarnation. Grab actually working properly is such a huge change, and a real boon to a projectile-based character who wants to force you into shield. He’ll also likely make decent use of the new dash cancels with his down tilt, good new up tilt, and pretty solid jab. The faster fruit helps him land KOs as well as huge damage setups with the Galaxian and bell. Since he runs faster, he can catch some of his own projectiles like the melon a lot more easily.

With air dodges nerfed, his hydrant is a much more valuable defensive option. While almost everyone else probably will get easier to juggle, Pac-Man can still fend you off from afar.

 

Ryu (shoutouts to Dre Charles for a lot of observations)

  • Major change: all aerials can be canceled on hit into specials

  • Major change: in 1v1 matches, Ryu will automatically turn to face his opponent and will continue to face the opponent even if he moves backwards. This is called “autocorrect” in Street Fighter. (you can still turn around out of a dash to perform RAR moves, but it does not seem to be possible for RGR, which may imply that you have to jump before a certain frame to avoid the autocorrect)

  • Minor change: If you input heavy jab too close to your opponent, it’ll automatically turn into a heavy up tilt instead, similar to how Street Fighter will override move inputs to make it easier to hit an opponent.

  • Hadoken seems to start and travel faster

Ryu’s moves were barely touched, but the mechanics changes he got are really significant. Being able to walk or run backward while facing forward is amazing for his anti-approach game, and you’ll probably see him breaking a few shields with fair or bair into Shoryuken due to the new cancels.

Autocorrect gives Ryu automatic crossup protection, which is especially dangerous when he has rapid fire moves like his up and down tilts. Heavy jab autocorrecting to heavy up tilt on a close opponent makes his anti-air potential even better. Dashing in with his up and down tilts will help fix his previously lackluster approach game and net him easy kills. Mr. R points out that you can trap rolls behind you or from the edge very easily just by mashing on up tilt and waiting for your opponent to go behind you.

 

Mega Man

  • Leaf Shield appears to be faster on startup, how quickly the leaves rotate, and how soon you can throw it. The leaves also do not disappear on hit.

Mega Man was left relatively untouched, but that’s fine. He still very much appreciates being able to do dashing up and down tilts--backing up and up tilting is a great anti-air, and now you can kill someone super early if you read a roll back or trap their landing from decently far away with the Mega Upper. Landing forward air seems to be a good combo starter because of its low landing lag and low knockback.

 

Sonic

  • CHANGED MOVE: Dash attack is now a single-hit sliding kick, somewhat similar to Fox's
  • Spin Dash cannot be shield canceled

  • Homing Attack releases faster

Sonic’s changes were few, but the Spin Dash nerf is pretty huge. A large part of his neutral game was based on baits out of Spin Dash charge, but now Sonic players will have to do without it. Despite this change for the worse, MKLeo still made it all the way to grand finals of the invitational with this character, even taking a set over ZeRo with him. His back air is great with reduced landing lag, and being so fast is really good with dash cancels even if his newly added options out of it aren’t particularly threatening moves. His new dash attack is a lot more reliable now that it isn't a multi-hit.

 

Pit

  • Dash attack seems faster and travels further [SW]

  • Arrows seem to travel faster

Pit is virtually unchanged from Smash 4 based on what we could tell, but we’ll have to see what happens in the final build. Dashing forward smash will be pretty annoying, but otherwise he doesn’t seem to particularly gain much more than any other characters.

 

Little Mac

  • Neutral B charge can be canceled with shield and turned around before release

  • KO Punch has more vertical range and can help you recover, DOES NOT go away after any set time

  • Side B doesn’t cause free fall in the air, but goes less far on the ground. However, you only get one side B per time you go into the air, even if you get hit.

  • Counter goes a lesser distance

This character is thanking Sakurai super hard for the system changes that will hopefully allow him to be the grounded terror he’s supposed to. Dashing in and out with Little Mac’s tilts and smashes will quickly make your opponents go insane. The mixture of directional air dodging and not going into freefall after side B should help him get back to the stage a lot more frequently. Other characters not being able to air dodge as easily will also make him a lot scarier.

Being able to shield cancel his neutral B makes it usable after it was complete trash in Smash 4, so that’s another new thing to watch out for. Overall, Mac’s gameplan hasn’t changed much, but he can execute it from his extremely fast run now.

 

Marth

  • Jab seems to have less range, jab 1 seems very weak and like it doesn’t pop up for combos

  • Shield Breaker can be angled slightly up or down

  • Time between hits of Dancing Blade has been dramatically reduced

This is basically the same Marth you know and love but with a lot less landing lag and access to all of his nasty pokes (like down tilt) out of a dash. The loss of jab as a combo starter (?) will hurt, but overall he gains so much more.

Opponents will really suffer to land against a Marth with the riskier air dodges and even less landing lag on his aerials. Back air felt particularly fast on landing compared to Smash 4. I think Marth will be strong in Ultimate much like he has been in every other version of the series.

 

Corrin

  • Side B kick goes a lesser distance and seems to have more ending lag in the air

  • Up B starts faster but loses the little hover at the end

Corrin is still extremely similar, but the pin isn’t gonna get you out of trouble as easily now. It also can’t be used while rising from a full hop as effectively because it has too much ending lag to land with an aerial or jump away afterward (might need to test this further). Even still, Corrin has some great options out of dash now with her extremely safe down tilt, and lower landing lag is great for her huge aerials. This character still seems really good, just less focused on one amazing move. Her recovery is a little bit faster but also a little bit shorter (I think?) because the hover is gone, but it’s still mostly the same move.

 

Link

  • Major change: Link’s sword is now a little bit longer than it was in Smash 4, increasing his range on most attacks.

  • Major change: Link’s grappling hook grab has been replaced with a regular up-close grab, which has also caused him to lose the ability to zair and tether the edge.

  • Link’s up tilt looks very different, and I think it starts from behind now, but I could be wrong

  • When he’s at 0%, Link’s forward smash will fire a beam that scales in power based on how long you charge.

  • Forward air’s first hit has low knockback so it sets up into the second hit rather than hitting you away

  • Arrows will stick in the ground when fired with neutral B. They can be picked up and used as items afterward, or if you fire neutral B again, he’ll fire two arrows at once and do slightly more damage

  • A regular boomerang has replaced the Gale Boomerang, removing the wind effect but also readding a returning hitbox. Its range is slightly improved as well.

  • Link doesn’t lose his double jump for being hit out of his up B anymore

  • The bombs spawned by down B must be detonated with a second down B press, similar to Snake’s C4. Only one can be on screen at a time, and the explosion radius is much bigger than his previous bombs

Wow, what a change. Link’s bombs and grab have both been totally redesigned--possibly for the better, possibly for the worse. Since the bombs don’t detonate on contact anymore, you’re going to have to be on the ball about blowing them up like Snake’s C4. They have a huge blast radius now, so even though you can only have one on the screen, it can still be really annoying. He’s able to bomb jump by Z dropping a bomb and blowing it up, which is (from what I can tell) considerably better for most situations than having to wait for it to blow up in your hands like in Smash 4.

Losing the tether really hurts his recovery, but being able to grab the edge out of directional air dash so quickly will help supplement that. Even though tether grabs are slow and generally frowned upon, Link’s entire gameplan was based off of making you shield at mid range because of his projectiles, so having a long grab range was kind of good for him. Regardless, there will definitely be a ton of times where Link players are overjoyed to have a real grab now. The changes to his bow and boomerang aren’t too impactful, and your jump not mysteriously disappearing during up B is a nice quality of life change.

With a bigger sword and a better grab, Link running at you in this game will be super intimidating. His tilts sound horrifying as approach options, especially if he places bombs smartly to force you into his space.

 

Zelda (shoutouts to this thread for info on the down B)

  • Jab now seems like it can be extended by holding A and has a finisher to send opponents away at the end

  • Nayru’s Love doesn’t completely stop aerial drift [SW]

  • Din’s Fire doesn’t cause freefall in the air

  • Farore’s Wind starts faster and Zelda can aerially drift immediately after reappearing

  • Phantom Armor now produces a different animation/attack based on charge, with six different levels, and hesitates before attacking at full charge, illustrated in this thread

Zelda’s new jab is pretty cool, and so is the ability to run up and approach with down tilt. With this new capability and lower landing lag on her lightning kicks, she might be noticeably better. Her neutral air also seems to connect more reliably.

The changes to her special moves were much needed--Din’s Fire has been one of the worst moves in the entire series, Farore’s Wind has been a super touchy recovery, and Phantom Armor was pretty bad. Now, the phantom will do a different move depending on how long you charged it. The final one will wait a second before swinging, allowing Zelda to reposition herself and set up a point-assist type of situation. This is particularly good when your opponent has to kill a lot of time to get back to you, like if they’re knocked far offstage or into the sky.

 

Sheik

  • Air needles have very low landing lag. May be able to jump directly out of needle charge in the air and on the ground like other charge projectiles, but not tested

  • Burst Grenade no longer causes freefall in the air

Just two changes, but that’s fine. Any Melee players reading this are probably rejoicing about the fact that needles have lost most of their landing lag, but anyone who played the Smash 4 3DS demo at E3 2014 is probably wary because the same thing was true in that version of the game--it wasn’t in the final build.

Sheik seems really strong, and we saw ZeRo prove that in the invitational. Her Vanish, back air, and Bouncing Fish all seemed to be super strong like her pre-patch 3DS incarnation. I wonder if they’ll tone her down preemptively (particularly the needles) or just let this version rock until the game comes out and patch her later if she’s an issue.

Running tilts are going to make this character’s approaches, neutral, and follow-ups all ridiculous. The high level perfect pivot combos that VoiD showed us in Smash 4 are now possible with much less precision and technical demand, as well as out of more situations.

 

Ice Climbers

  • CHANGED MOVE: Up air is now a swing from in front of the climbers to above their heads (but not behind), and it hits pretty hard

  • Major change: Only Popo (player-controlled climber) can grab. Nana (AI climber) will dance/taunt behind him while he grabs, preventing chaingrabs/kill setups.

  • Major change: When Popo is grabbed, Nana will sit there with a look of panic on her face rather than be controllable and able to break him free.

  • Down smash only hits on one side per climber

  • Ice Block can hurt the Ice Climbers when it’s sent back at them by an attack [SW]

  • Squall Hammer can still be used to recover solo [SW]

  • Saving Nana with up B is easier

  • Blizzard only hits in front on the ground

The Ice Climbers might finally be cool. Now that they seemingly have absolutely no way to chaingrab, they’re going to have to fight you the hard way. They hit really hard when they’re together--especially with up air and back air, which both do a lot of damage. Down throw to up air seems to be a potential kill confirm around the 100+% range. Desyncing is also possible according to NAKAT, but it’s a bit different.

Their reveal trailer stressed that you’re really in trouble if you lose Nana. This was already the case, but it could be even worse now. At the very least, solo Squall Hammer is a better recovery option than before, so you’re not totally screwed. Since these guys weren’t in Smash 4, I’m very curious as to how they’ll deal with a lot of the new changes--especially now that they’re not a one-dimensional character with a game defining kill combo. The mixture of their up air and nerfed air dodges makes it seem like landing will be really hard against them. The freeze time from Blizzard seems really long. Hopefully they’re able to still be cool and good without an infinite!

 

Kirby

  • CHANGED MOVE: Dash attack is now the fireball dash from Melee again.

  • Kirby can inhale any projectile

Kirby is relatively unchanged. In my opinion, that means he’s in trouble...he wasn’t very good in Smash 4, and felt very underwhelming in the Ultimate demo. He will be extremely annoying with dashing dtilts since he can crouch underneath a lot of stuff while moving and attacking, as well as RGR up tilts to get you with the back hit, but otherwise he doesn’t seem to be anything special.

Of course, I only had limited time with the game, and very little of it was spent with Kirby, so I could be very wrong. Here’s hoping he’s better than I thought!

 

Donkey Kong (shoutouts to iDK for some observations)

  • Jab doesn't seem to combo into anything other than jab 2
  • Up tilt is a lot weaker and can chain into itself at low percents multiple times
  • Up smash can now hit grounded opponents [SW]

  • Forward air starts faster

  • Giant Punch no longer causes freefall when used midair. Can cancel the charging with jump from both the ground and the air like other charge specials

  • Headbutt has super armor on startup
  • Down B finishes much faster on the ground and autocancels on landing

Just a few changes for DK, but he seems like a beast. I’ve heard his “ding dong” (cargo up throw to up air) still works, but haven’t tested myself. Running jabs, down tilts, and up tilts will make him really scary in conjunction with his huge grab. Lower lag on his aerials will force people to shield, which can set up for valuable grabs into kills(?). He might also be able to get more use out of his side B as a shield break if an opponent is conditioned to hold shield after blocking a quick landing aerial.

As mentioned a few other times already, the big boys are probably going to be major benefactors of the system changes. DK has always had the best ground normals out of all of them, so I have particularly high hopes for him.

 

Bayonetta

  • Up tilt hitbox seems bigger, but is apparently less reliable for starting combos

  • Repeated neutral air has additional landing lag

  • Neutral B cannot be shield canceled until the bullets are charged, and the charge forcefully releases if held for a few seconds

  • Heel Slide can’t pass through shields and won’t perform the second hit if it connects with a shield

  • Heel Slide seems to drop between the first and second hits on fast fallers, and possibly more (see the very beginning and 0:22 of this video)

  • Downward Afterburner Kick (dive kick) will never autocancel, always lands with lag

  • Witch Twist startup nerfed from frame 4 -> frame 6 [SW]

  • Witch Time doesn’t grant intangibility [SW]

  • Witch Time is shorter upon activation and takes longer to recover from on whiff

Bayonetta is a little bit toned down from Smash 4, but still has all the tools she needs to be a ridiculous character. We all saw MKLeo vs. Plup at the invitational (even Sakurai), where she looked like her previous self (plus what looked like a third double jump in the middle of her combo sequence, which she couldn’t even do before). She still retains the extra landing lag from using her up B and side B in the air, so there’s some risk to going wild in the skies. Her Heel Slide has been heavily nerfed, so one of her most rewarding combo starters is a lot worse. Witch Twist and Witch Time are a little bit more honest. It’s been reported that directional air dodging out of her combos at low percents helps you a lot, but as the metagame develops, she’ll probably be able to account for this possibility and trap your escapes.

The new mechanics seem to help her a lot. Dashing tilts can give her combo starters and pokes that she previously had no access to. Her back air seems somehow even safer than before. Even with all the nerfs, and if the MKLeo vs. Plup ladder never happened, I would still say that Bayonetta was one of the strongest characters in the demo. It’s just hard not to be great when you have so many options and a few reliable pressure tools. Hopefully the final build will give us a better idea of what they were looking to do with her, since the roof combos are probably not here to stay.

 

Villager

  • Minor change: Your pocketed item will appear as a little sprite by your percent on the HUD

  • Jab has a finisher

  • Down air has longer startup

  • Items can be pocketed with grab

The Mayor of Smashville himself/herself is back. The jab change is kinda cool, but overall a nerf since keeping opponents close to you with jabs and then following up with up air or an axe for the kill was a great setup in Smash 4. Down air has a good bit of startup now, which really hurts when trying to land or edgeguard (or even attack), and if you put your net over an item in the floor with your grab, it’ll add it to your pockets.

Villager was a bit on the weaker end in my book--no significant upgrades from the past game, and two nerfs that actually hurt him. Of course, with limited time to experiment, it’s hard to definitively speak on how much he might be helped by the new mechanics as well. I can envision dashing dtilt and jabs being really good, but since all the other characters will see the same benefits, it might not be enough to keep up.

 

Samus

  • Minor change: Rolls are a good bit faster

  • Dash attack seems to have a little extra startup (not confirmed)

  • Down air starts faster [SW]

  • Back throw is much stronger

  • Charge Shot can be charged in mid-air (finally!) and can be canceled directly with jump on the ground and in the air (or with shield/air dodge still)

  • Missiles travel faster and pause before moving forward, setting up a pseudo-assist

  • Screw Attack appears significantly stronger

  • Bombs explode on contact [SW]

After 20 years, this poor girl can finally charge her neutral B in the air. I’m sure everyone is stoked about that. Samus felt pretty great in the demo--everything was solid and chunky, and her projectiles have been noticeably improved. Her forward air is an even better combo tool with low landing lag, and now she has a faster spike and what looks like a kill throw to back her up.

The mixture of assist-style missiles and being able to do whatever you want out of dash is gonna be dangerous. The pressure with down tilt, the ability to stop jumps cold with up tilt...all delicious boosts. We saw Screw Attack kill inhumanly early in a few demo matches, but who knows if it’ll be like that in the final build. I’m really looking forward to Samus, as she’s always had a hard time separating herself from the pack, but she finally looks pretty promising.

Jesus, that was a lot of data...well, glad we’re finally done putting this together so you can all read it! (And so we can resume our normal lives)

Again, I repeat--this information all represents a game currently in development. Any and all of it could change by the full release, or even by the time we get to play the next demo at CEO next week. Either way, a lot of the big concept-level stuff is probably here to stay, and the things that will get changed are most likely going to be tiny balance-related issues.

Nintendo is absolutely listening to feedback from the community. If you want to try the game for yourself and possibly make your voice heard to a floor representative, you better head out to CEO or whatever tournament will have the demo next!

We’re also listening to feedback, so if there’s any information in here that you picked up and we didn’t, please let us know. Observations about how things will affect the metagame would be appreciated as well, since we only got real juicy hands-on time with a few characters that we really liked.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to CSL Smash. Not only will we have more awesome coverage of the new game like this, but we’re also going to be doing plenty of events for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate once it releases!

Enjoy!

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