These Smash Ultimate broken characters are already starting to feel like Bayonetta and Cloud did in Smash 4, and that needs to change ASAP.
Sure, the game hasn’t even been out for a week, but that doesn’t stop the world from finding exploits in two Smash Ultimate broken characters. You may think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but oh ho hoooo do I know a thing or two about broken characters in Smash history.
‘Nerfed’ (adv.): to lessen the power of; to make weaker
Smash 64 is not immune to broken characters, but it never garnered the competitive scene that Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube has. Marth and Fox are quick and hard to counter, with Marth having chain grabs, Fox having light-speed Shine combos, and even Ice Climbers having the wobble (they take turns grabbing and pummeling you for an easy kill).
Brawl was all but made irrelevant in the competitive scene if not for its floatiness but mostly for Meta Knight. He could 0-to-kill any character with great ease using up-air strings followed up with an up-B kill move. He remains the only character to be banned in all of Smash competitive history, which brings us to Smash 4.
When Smash 4 hit in 2014, Sheik had power and combos for days, but she was nerfed into a kill move-less wet noodle soon after. See, with Smash 4, updates to the game were easily made, as opposed to previous iterations, where Nintendo could only release new copies of the disc in the hopes that players would only be playing the most recent one.
From here on out, it’s a tale as old as time that I’ll tell once more: Cloud and Bayonetta, especially, deserved to get banned in the meta. Both were introduced as special DLC characters, a first for the series. Both were broken from the day that they were released, and have not been nerfed nearly enough to make it an even playing ground against them.
Finally, FINALLY Bayonetta was nerfed into being a wet noodle in Smash Ultimate. Cloud maintains a lot of his mobility, but he is easily countered by the numerous speed and damaged buffed members of the cast. While two giants were knocked down, two more rose up to take their places in Smash Ultimate.
King K. Rool
King K. Rool is a fighter from the Donkey Kong series that many have been requesting to be added into Smash ever since the Smash 4 fan-voted DLC polls opened. When you finally get what you were asking for, and then some, some nerfs may need to be made.
Playing in Elite matches, you’ll notice one thing very quickly: almost all of the players in there are fighting as King K. Rool. It may seem like a coincidence at first, but once you see the trend that you’re getting outmatched by the giant crocodile, and usually by players of seemingly worse skill than yourself, something’s gotta give.
King K. Rool has superarmor on most of his moves, which should be enough to make him broken on its own. And yet…
His netural-b all but traps you at ledge. He shoots out a cannonball, and if the b-button is held, he does an inhaling animation from the bazooka gun. This inhaling animation goes on for what feels like forever, and has such a small amount of cooldown. You can’t jump over it, you can’t normal getup, you can’t roll (his big body will stop you from getting to the other side of him), leaving you with the only hope that you have a character with an up-air that can shark him from below the stage.
Past superarmor, his edgequarding superpowers, and generally great projectiles, he has a grab that has killed me at around 40%. It’s almost as if King K. Rool saw Donkey Kong’s ding-dong (down throw into up-air) kill combo in Smash 4 and said to his Kremlings, “hold my beer.” Rool’s down-throw grounds you (as does his down-tilt), and requires you to JAM on as many buttons as is possible to escape before his powerful side-smash attack has time to unleash. Unless you’re AI, mashing out of this grab is something that is nearly impossible to do at around 40%.
You may be thinking to yourself, “sure, those all sound like reasonable ways to call a character out for being broken, but he’s a super heavy! His recovery must suck!” Ha. Hahahahahahahaha. Try this on for size: King K. Rool cannot be spiked while using his extremely high recovery, because if you try to hit him with an attack off-stage, you’ll be punished by a couple of slices from his disjointed helicopter’s whirling blades. There’s talk that he has a 0-to-kill combo using up-throw and then up-b. Let’s hope it stays just that and isn’t tournament viable.
If you can find a way to get in on King K. Rool, you must not be playing against a player with the know-how on all of his broken attributes. Your one and only hope is that his superarmor belly (which also doubles as a counter/reflect the likes of which would make Palutena jealous) shield-breaks.
Some of the attributes that make King K. Rool broken also apply to Inkling. Much like the Kremling King, Inkling can ground her opponents, this time with her side-b ink roller move. This move also doubles as a third jump off-stage, coupling with a great recovery move akin to Rosalina and Luma’s.
Her combos feel like a mix of Brawl‘s Meta Knight and Melee‘s Sheik, all with greater speed, power, and viability. There is nary a move on Inkling’s list that is a dealbreaker. If she tosses anything out, from her down-air to her up-air, chances are, you won’t be able to punish her.
Speaking of her up-air, it’s probably the most broken move in the character’s moveset. You’ll always have difficulty air-dodging out of this multi-hit Sonic-like up-air, and of course, her up-thrown is the perfect setup for the up-air (ding dong?).
The Ink shooting properties of her neutral-b and jab make her zoning abilities amazing. Knowing that she will get in some free damage, along with an Ink-damage multiplier if she hits you while inked, how is it possible to approach her safely? Reflect tools can’t even handle the way that the Ink flies toward you, for if it hits the ground, running in it will slow down your movement.
She can run dry on paint fairly quickly, but that’s nary a problem when she melts down into the ground in her squid form to recharge. Also, when dashing, she goes into a similar animation of swimming forward as a very flat squid. This may have worked in a shooter like Splatoon, but in a fighting game like Smash, it’s a broken mechanic.
Lastly, her down-b has a great area of effect, and can easily gimp opponents off-stage at very low percents. In general, she is very good at racking up combos with high percents, and has some AEO smash attacks that are difficult to dodge.
Luigi has an almost 100% 0-to-kill confirm, which is enough in and of itself to make him a broken Smash Ultimate character. Alas, Mario’s ghost fighting brother has more tools at his disposal that break what the character is capable of, rendering opponents completely helpless in many one on one scenarios.
Luigi may not yet be a top-tier character, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the potential to be one. With the meta favoring swordies over the Mario-like characters, it may just be that the Smash community as a whole has yet to recognize just how broken Luigi is.
When facing off against a Luigi, one the first things you’ll notice is that he’ll be trying to use his tether grab. That’s because his downthrow translates into a nasty string of forward airs to downairs that are completely inescapable, even with optimum DI. Expect to get anywhere from 60% to a Super Jump up-b death as a result of a downthrow at 0%.
Luigi has some excellent edgeguarding tools at his disposal. As his downair is capable of sending a powerful spike hitbox without much endlag to punish, expect Luigis to be tossing this move out left and right until something hits. His tether grab can extend over the ledge as a projectile, which is also very hard to punish as it has a lot less endlag than Samus, Link, or Zero Suit’s tether grabs.
In terms of getting out of your combos, Luigi has one of the best tools at his disposal in the form of an invincible down-b. It comes out in very early frames, and is also near impossible to punish. If you do try to punish his cyclone move, expect to be either grabbed, dash attacked, or Super Jump Punched.
Last but not least, Luigi has side-b attribute that has been present ever since the move’s introduction in Melee. As the Green Missle special move has a 1/10 chance in misfiring, you never quite know when the move will hit at lightning speed, both dealing high damage and incredible knockback. You’d be surprised by how often the RNG Gods smile down upon this Smash Ultimate broken character.
Joker may not have seemed all that intimidating upon his release, but now that players have had some time to figure out what he can do, he has proven himself to be quite the threat.
As MKLeo has proved in his recent winnings at major tournaments EVO and Smash Con 2019, there are a lot of means to cheese out some easy kills as Joker that aren’t available to other players, and not just exclusive to his Arsene form.
One of the most broken mechanics of how vanilla Joker works is that of his dragdown upair into upsmash and uptilt (with platforms) or downsmash. It’s nearly a 100% kill confirm at mid-high percents, and makes up for his otherwise unimpressive knockback on most of his aerials. With the added capabilities of the dragdown effect of his up-b tether, his comboing abilities are unprecedented.
He has great offstage game, and can gimp players using the aerial version of his neutral-b move. It’s incredibly difficult to react to, and at times, it has a guaranteed kill confirm against many characters, even at lower percents.
His Aresen Rebel’s Guard meter fills a lot faster than Little Mac’s K.O. punch or Cloud’s limit do, and Arsene packs way too hard of a punch. Arsene’s reflect adds insult to injury, as it acts as both a reflect and a counter. Chances are, if Arsene is out, you’re not going to have a good time in pushing through the high offensive state of Joker/Arsene’s onslaught.
He lacks a killthrow up until around 200%, but even then, he’s nimble, meaning he can grab you without much of a punish, and can approach at lightning speeds so as to downthrow and combo you. His vanilla and Arsene recoveries allow him to go far off stage to get a meaty backair, confirming that Joker is indeed one of the Smash Ultimate broken characters that needs to be nerfed, lest we want another Cloud/Bayonetta situation in SSBU.
The patches are coming, the patches are coming!
Fear not, for these broken characters will not remain so forever. Series creator Masahiro Sakurai stated that the development team will be paying close attention to the results of Elite Matches to see which characters need balancing out. There have been some patches to characters in recent updates, but it seems as though most are receiving buffs as opposed to nerfs. As it is a delicate balance to buff or nerf any given character in a fighting game, Sakurai is likely treading lightly so as not to disrupt the overall balance of the game.
For Smash Ultimate‘s tournament viability, we can only hope that those patches come sooner rather than later, and that this time around, they level the playing field before the community all becomes the Ultimate equivalent of Bayonetta mains.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate released on December 7, 2018 for the Nintendo Switch.