Roy (ロイ, Roi) is a secret character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Roy is a clone of Marth, with all of their moves having the same animations and most having similar functioning, although they do also have their differences in their fighting styles (primarily in the location of their sweet and sourspots). Like Marth, he is a hidden character, making Roy the only clone of an unlockable character.
Roy is currently ranked 20th on the tier list, in the B tier. Roy's upsides include a good approach due to one of the best SHFFLs in the game, as well as a good grab game, among the best reaches in the game, and some excellent KO moves. However, Roy's flaws are significant, including poor flexibility in his comboing game, attacks that are difficult to properly land, and among the worst recoveries in all of the game; as a result, Roy has numerous KOing problems while being easy to KO himself, leading to numerous matchups hard countering him, especially against those who are higher-tiered than him.
How to Unlock
To unlock Roy, the player must complete either Classic or Adventure Mode as Marth without using a continue, or play 900 VS. matches.
Roy is fought on the Temple stage, with the track "Fire Emblem" playing.
Overall, Roy doesn't fall into any specific archetype of characters; while having a slew of powerful attacks, Roy himself is rather nimble, with a relatively fast dash, a good dash dance and a very high falling speed. Roy, however, has a relatively poor air speed. A combination of a fast falling speed and a low traction gives Roy a decently lengthed wavedash.
Among Roy's primary strengths is his overall power in most of his ground based attacks. Roy's forward smash is a fast attack and is his primary KO move. Additionally, Roy has a rather powerful, if laggy down smash, and a up smash with multi-hit properties, decent knockback, and, when tipped, spike properties, though the lattermost property is rather situational. Roy's specials are also powerful; his Flare Blade is a deadly edgeguard tactic, almost guaranteeing a OHKO if fully or almost fully charged, his Double-Edge Dance naturally combos into itself and can act as a reliable finisher, and his Counter varies in power against other attacks. Against smash attacks, Roy's Counter can quickly become his most powerful move; its pseudo-semi-spike properties also makes it useful when the opponent's back is to the ledge.
Roy also has a decent ground-based approach. Despite his only average wavedash, Roy still has access to a disjointed hitbox with his Sword of Seals, as well as a rather fast dash in general. Additionally, a combination of low-lag, fast aerials and a very high falling speed gives Roy a fantastic SHFFL; Roy's SHFFL is among the best in the game due to its extreme speed, and it is potentially faster and stronger than even Marth's. Roy's down tilt also sends opponents directly upward, with decent hitstun, giving Roy a very good method to start combos. Additionally, while Roy's wavedash is not as long as Marth's, it can still aid his approach, aided by his disjointed hitbox and long grab range. As a result of his rather good approach, Roy has among the highest reaches in all the game, with only Marth having a superior reach.
Roy's grab game is also surprisingly good. Roy has the second highest grab range among characters who do not have extended grabs (such as Link), behind only Marth in this regard. His throws can easily chain into each other; their low knockback and high grab range allow Roy to decently tech chase and chain grab. His up throw, unusually, is also the second strongest in the game and can chain grab other fast fallers. Roy's grab game comprises a good deal of his edgeguard game. A common tactic is to force opponents off the stage with a down throw or forward throw and immediately intercept their recovery with a forward smash or Flare Blade.
Roy, however, has his primary flaw in his disjointed hitbox. Unlike Marth, who can safely attack opponents from a distance, Roy must go into incredibly close ranges to deliver strong damage and knockback, as the sweetspot on his sword is closer to the hilt than tip; while attacks can become incredibly powerful at this close of a range, this causes Roy to become very vulnerable, especially against characters with powerful close range attacks or grabs, such as Fox, Falco or Mewtwo. While Counter can potentially mitigate against physical attacks, it requires particularly good reads from the player to avoid punishment, and the attack is completely ineffective against grabs. Roy's sourspot is also unacceptably weak compared to Marth's; while Marth still has some KOing potential in his sourspotted attacks, Roy's sourspotted attacks have very poor knockback and damage in comparison.
As a result of this close sweetspot, Roy himself lacks a particularly reliable KO move; with the exception of his forward smash and potentially his down smash, Roy has few options to quickly KO others, and even with these two attacks, Roy needs to connect with them in close ranges in order for them to have any reasonable KOing power. Further compounding Roy's problems with KOing are his aerials; even when sweetspotted, none of these aerials can reliably KO under 200%, they require good setups in order to properly connect, and none of them can easily inflict damage in the first place. Roy also lacks any "quick" KO options; while Roy has two meteor smashes (the third hit of his "up" Double Edge Dance and his down air) and one spike (his tipped up smash), all three are highly situational, requiring particularly lucky or skilled setups in order to properly connect. Coupled with poor off-the-stage options as a result of high-lag aerials that are all of high risk off the edge and a poor recovery, Roy is almost completely dependent on attempting to rack up damage with short combos, culminating in a reliance on wavesmashing and edgeguarding to garner KOs.
Roy also has poor comboing ability, in stark contrast with Marth; Roy has slightly below average air speed like Marth, but Roy's sweetspot once again hurts him. Roy cannot move fast enough in the air to hit with the centre of his blade, causing primarily tippered attacks, resulting in low hitstun and hitlag attacks, hurting Roy's comboing game. Roy himself, however, is easy to combo; like other fast falling characters, his high falling speed harms him by making him extremely vulnerable to chain-throws and potentially even the space animal slayer. Even with the fast falling speed, Roy's vertical survivability from the upper blast line is decidedly average, due to his lighter weight than characters such as Captain Falcon.
Roy, just like Marth, also has a non-stellar recovery, though his faster falling speed makes Roy's recovery among the worst in all the game; adding to this, his high falling speed makes him extremely vulnerable to edgeguarding, as well as being easy to gimp. While Roy's Blazer is slightly more effective than Marth's Dolphin Slash, due to its greater horizontal distance, multi-hit properties that can aggravate edgeguarders, and its ability to be controlled to an extent, Roy still has the high ending lag in his Blazer; additionally, while Roy can still use Double Edge Dance to recover horizontally, it is not as effective as Marth's Dancing Blade again due to his higher falling speed.
For a gallery of Roy's hitboxes, see here.
Note that Roy's attacks are at their strongest when they hit with the centre of the Sword of Seals.
In Competitive play
Tier placement and history
Roy as a competitive character has been ranked very low on most revisions of the tier list. This is due to him being almost completely outclassed by Marth, who has more favorable hitbox and sweetspot placements in his attacks (especially his down aerial spike), combo ability, and aerial and off-stage games; Roy's power in all of these options are considerably weaker than Marth's. Instead, Roy has a slightly more powerful set of smash attacks, creating an over-reliance on them to KO. Because of these flaws, many players opted to choose Marth over Roy to do well in tournaments; to this day, the former still performs well at top-level play while Roy has failed to make any significant impact, even in low tier tournaments. In the post-Brawl metagame, arguably Roy's only notable representation in tournaments has been via Mew2King, who occasionally uses the character in games instead of his normal mains of Sheik and Marth. Roy currently ranks 20th on the tier list; Marth ranks 4th.
The "Tier Wars" and comparison to Marth
Marth's and Roy's differences became the center of controversies on GameFAQs' tier list debates, specifically in 2003 and 2004, when the competitive scene was picking up. Pro-tiers claimed Marth had overall better attributes, in terms of speed, weight, and recovery capabilities. They also cited tournament results as proof for his superiority, with a multitude of professional Marth users such as Ken placing extremely high in major tournaments, while Roy lacked any such representation to back up the anti-tiers' arguments. Anti-tiers, however, claimed that Roy's different attributes, such as his larger sweetspot in the center of his blade and general "superiority" in power, were enough to allow him to be as efficient of a character as Marth was; they also argued that professionals needed to learn how to use Roy as a different character from Marth in an attempt to disprove the tournament results.
Owing to the fact that these debates took place before extensive testing of Melee's engine, the debates were plagued by numerous inaccuracies that have since been disproved. The point about Marth's extra weight, for instance, is now considered moot; his extra weight is decidedly negligible, and can even be interpreted as a disadvantage, considering his extra weight makes him susceptible to Fox's shine combos, while Roy's lighter weight makes him immune to such combos. More importantly, pro-tiers made a common assumption that Marth is faster than Roy. While Marth indeed has a faster dashing speed, this claim is questionable, considering that Roy's SHFFL is faster than Marth's due to his falling speed and lower short hop. Similarly, some points brought up about Roy's viability are also now considered inaccurate. For instance, Roy's "superiority" in power has been disproved, as many of Marth's attacks, tipped and non-tipped, are stronger and deal more knockback than Roy's respective centered and non-centered strikes. The sweetspot in the hilt of the blade is now considered a disadvantage, as Marth can attack from afar and still deal respectable damage while Roy cannot do so lest his attacks hit with extremely low strength; Roy's sourspot on the entire length of his blade, besides the hilt, is also much weaker than Marth's sourspots on the hilt of the Falchion.
Overall, the prime reason for Roy's named inferiority is precisely the one that anti-tiers tried to refute: Roy has too much trouble trying to KO his opponents. While Marth has far more creative and flexible ways to string together moves, deal damage, edgeguard, and KO, Roy lacks the same flexibility, and instead relies far too much on predictable and repetitive chaingrab and down tilt setups, with almost all of his viable combos ending in a forward smash.
Perhaps in spite of his inferiority to Marth, Roy still has a notably large fanbase in the Melee community, partially stemming from his notable roles in some machinima. In an unofficial poll held by NinBuzz, Roy was actually voted the fifth favourite Melee character amongst viewers, gaining 9% of the vote.
In single-player modes
In Classic Mode
Unusually, Roy does not appear at all in the Classic Mode when unlocked, neither as an ally, nor as an opponent; the reason for this is unknown. Despite this, Roy does have an introduction image for the "Now Loading..." screen between matches.
In Adventure Mode
The Adventure Mode makes no concessions to Roy when he is unlocked. Like Marth, however, music associated with him can play in the Underground Maze stage.
In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Roy and his allies are fought on Final Destination, as Roy was not designated an official home stage. Final Destination has the unusual property of playing the Fire Emblem music track when accessed this way.
In Event Matches
Roy appears in two Event Matches:
Roy speaks less than fellow Fire Emblem character Marth, only speaking in Results screen.
Roy's three victory lines are:
In addition to the normal trophy about Roy as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Roy on any difficulty: