Smash Ultimate features a huge roster of characters, and it can be challenging figuring just who to play. Thankfully, Ultimate’s roster is remarkably balanced and practically every character has something in their toolkit to make them useful and fun.
I’ve been playing a large variety of characters to figure out who I like. There are still many characters I haven’t played extensively yet, but I’d say I’ve given about half of the characters a fair shake. Below are my 10 favorites so far (not in any order). Comment with who your favorite(s) has been in Ultimate!
Just as a reminder, I would say I’m an “intermediate” player at best, though I try to understand and follow competitive trends (i.e., I’m subscribed to /r/smashbros 😉 ). Keep that in mind when reading my “analysis”.
Play Style: Balanced
Inkling definitely seemed like a cool character when originally announced, but not one I expected to like all that much. I’ve never played Splatoon much but understand it’s a solid shooter. I do think she is really faithful to her series.
That being said, Inkling is downright good. She’s fast with great special moves, and a unique mechanic with Ink, where spraying Ink on enemies causes them to take more damage. She’s got strong, fast aerials. He grabs can string into aerials pretty easy – I like juggling with up air / neutral air.
Side special, Ink Roller, is a great mix up that can turn into an easy KO. It buries enemies for a significant amount of time and can lead into a side or up smash at mid to high percents. Down Special, an ink bomb, is a strong projectile that has several different angles. It’s great as a mix-up, for edge guarding, and for getting back on the stage.
Her recovery is amazing too. Finally her “movement” is fantastic. Dashing causes Inkling to turn into Squid form, shrinking her hitbox and making it harder to guess what she’s going to do. Her dashdancing is really smooth. All in all, Inkling feels like a really well-rounded character with speed, strong moves, good projectiles and amazing recovery. No wonder most people consider her one of the best in the game.
Play Style: Rushdown
Fire Emblem: Awakening is my favorite Fire Emblem game and one of my favorite strategy games ever. Chrom is probably my favorite Fire Emblem character as well, and although I appreciated Robin’s inclusion in Smash 4, I missed not having Chrom. I’m glad they were able to get him into this iteration, even as an echo fighter.
For those unaware, the difference between Roy and Chrom involves their sword hitboxes. Roy’s has a sweetspot at the hilt and a sourspot on the rest of the blade. Chrom has no sweet or sour spot – same damage/knockback from hilt to tip of the blade (AFAIK).
Chrom is another character who is universally acknowledged as being… really good. Prior to release, a lot of people were discounting Chrom because of his perceived poor recovery. However, his recovery is actually not too bad because he can move so quickly in the air, and his Up Special has super armor and good vertical recovery. It’s still a below average recovery and can be gimped however – one of his few weaknesses.
Chrom is wicked fast and strong. His dash is quick and as mentioned he can fly through the air quickly to pressure opponents. He operates as a rushdown character, aggressive and relentless. He doesn’t have any projectiles so this is necessary to avoid getting camped. He plays similarly to the other swordies (Marth, Lucina, Roy, Ike) in terms of his long arcing sword attacks that have good range.
Side Special, dancing blade, has been improved and is now quick enough to act as sort of an alternative jab with some timing mix ups. Forward smash doesn’t have a lot of range but is very strong and surprisingly quick for its power. It kills around 50% on a lot of characters.
Chrom is a really fun rushdown character who is strong and fast. The only reason I don’t play him more than I do already is because he is so popular.
3. King K. Rool
Play Style: Bulky Punisher with Range
K Rool was such a shocking addition, he’s got to be my favorite newcomer to Ultimate. His moveset (especially that Final Smash!) draws so well from his games, and he is an absolute blast to play.
I’ve found that K Rool has a relatively low skill floor, i.e. it’s easy to pick him up and play well with him, at an intermediate level at least. He has several tools that help him recover from mistakes and apply pressure without a lot of risk.
K Rool has a variety of strong attacks, as you’d expect from a heavyweight. Forward tilt is a versatile move that has a lot of range and KO potential. Down tilt buries enemies for an extended period of time. Up tilt is fast and great out of a dash. His aerials also cover a lot of options. Forward and back air are strong KO and KO/spike moves, respectively. Up air kills off the top, and neutral is fast and very useful, as it has “belly” super armor.
The super armor on his belly exists on several of his moves – neutral air, dash attack, forward tilt, and several more. This is super useful as even mistimed moves will still hit due to the super armor, and provides several safe options. Another move I love is his down throw, which buries enemies and combos into a lot of different moves.
Off stage, K Rool is incredible due to his excellent recovery, the helicopter. He can recover from very far away. This also allows him to go very far out to edge guard, and with back air and forward air being excellent edge guarding moves, it’s downright fun to edge guard with K Rool.
Additionally, his projectiles, the crown and the blunderbuss, provide excellent pressure from a distance and are great mix ups. K Rool’s only shortcoming is his speed – his fastest moves should be utilized when playing against speed characters, depending on the situation. All in all, incredibly fun character, and can be oppressive to play against.
Play Style: Aggressive, with Range
Back from Brawl, Wolf is another space animal with a laser and a reflector, but the comparisons to Fox and Falco stop there. I feel like his return was a bit under-hyped, but he is a bunch of fun to play in Ultimate and brings a lot to the table.
His laser is strong and shoots quickly, and it has a hitbox on the gun itself. This allows him to apply a lot of pressure from a distance. His bread and butter however is getting in the opponent’s face. His aerials serve this purpose well. I love his neutral air, where he quickly kicks, keeping his leg out as a long-lasting hit box (a “sex kick”). It’s great to escape pressure or for a quick punish.
His forward tilt is like K Rool’s but faster, and has much better range than his forward smash. I like pivot cancelling with forward tilt (sliding forward tilt) instead of dash attacking. His up and back air are also good for juggling.
One of his only downsides is his recovery. His Up special does not go very far, and his side special can be easily mistimed. However, learning the timing to his recovery can allow you to mix it up and potentially steal a spike with his Side Special.
Leffen has called Wolf the “furry Marth” and he kind of feels like this with good range, speed, and strength.
Play Style: Rushdown
Pichu was a joke character in Melee, but in his return here in Ultimate, he’s an absolute BEAST. He is a classic glass cannon – fast and powerful attacks, but weak and easy to kill. Agility and evasion are our friend as Pichu.
He excels with a really aggressive playstyle. Most of his tilts and aerials are easy to string together, racking up damage quickly. Combined with his small stature, bouncing around the enemy, finding opportunities to rack up strings of attacks is Pichu’s forte.
Play Style: Grappler
I love Incineroar’s style. He’s flashy and has a unique kit, where grabs and throws are at a premium. He’s another character who lacks projectiles and needs to stay close to the enemy. And when you can keep your opponent close, his mix of strong grabs, a Side Special command grab, and powerful tilts and smashes can do work.
His recovery is a bit finicky but workable. As long as you can find ways to approach, he’s a really solid newcomer.
Play Style: Juggler
Yoshi is in wonderful form in Ultimate, and it feels great. Yoshi has great command of the air, with a high air speed and strong aerials. His up air is a great juggling move and also a strong KO move. Forward air has a big hitbox and can spike. Back air has good range and strong knock back, as well as being multi hit. Neutral air is a really fast, strong sex kick. Finally, down air is a high priority multi-hit move that lasts a long time.
Although Yoshi is great at juggling, he’s also really strong at short hopping and spacing aerials near the ground. This can set up him to use his tilts, which are can create juggling situations though they don’t have much range. Yoshi’s recovery finally feels usable, as his Up Special brings him vertically significantly farther than previous iterations. Nevertheless, Yoshi’s recovery can be gimped if you lack a double jump or have used Up Special.
In terms of cons, his grab is a bit slow, and he is quite light. However, he is still a really fun character.
Play Style: Projectiles
I’ve always been a huge Zelda fan, and so I’ve consistently given Link a try in each successive Smash game. I’ve never really enjoyed his kit (very projectile heavy with slow sword attacks) but Ultimate is finally the game where Link is starting to connect with me. Not to mention, I love his Breath of the Wild design.
The addition of remotely detonated bombs to Link’s arsenal is great – they are a really useful tool. They can pressure from a distance and are great as part of edgeguarding. Combined with his bow and boomerang, Link can create a lot of projectile pressure and be very annoying. It’s also nice that Link now has a non-tether grab – much faster.
Link’s neutral air (a sex kick) is fast, and the rest of his aerials, tilts, and smashes are strong sword attacks. This is great for KOs but makes it a bit more challenging to hit than the Fire Emblem sword users, for example, due to higher lag on Link’s sword strikes. Overall, Link is a fun projectile user, and I love his design.
Play Style: Aggressive Brawler
Ganondorf is as good as he’s been since Melee, maybe even better. He got the Ultimate speed buff, which finally gives his aerials a chance to hit now – back air, neutral air, and up air all have a lot of utility. Down air is super stylish and a scary spike. Side special combos into down tilt and is really annoying.
He feels just like he should in my opinion – slow, but enough burst to land hits and a fearsome amount of power.
Play Style: Aggressive Flier
Ridley was one of my most hyped characters going into Ultimate, and I was a bit disappointed at first as I couldn’t figure him out. He’s a heavyweight who is light and fast? But he still has a huge hurtbox? And a lot of his moves are slow? And his Up Special can’t go in every direction like Fox? And his mid-air jumps barely move him vertically?
Despite this confusion I’ve played him a bit more and he has a lot of potential. A few hits with Ridley and the opponent is probably dead. His forward smash has little range but his stupidly fast for an incredibly powerful move. His Side Special, the sliding command grab, has a lot of utility and is strong. But best of all his aerial game is pretty sweet. I love jumping into the air with this hulking dragon and edge guarding people.
Who are you favorite characters? Thanks for reading!