Diddy Kong (SSB4)
Diddy Kong (ディディーコング, Diddy Kong) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. He was confirmed on February 21st, 2014, coinciding with the international release date of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Diddy Kong retains his realistic chimpanzee screeches from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, though they are slightly less animalistic.
Diddy Kong ranks 3rd out of 55 characters in the tier list, placing in S tier, making him the highest-ranked non-DLC character, starter and veteran. This is a slight rise from his equally top-tiered placement of 4th out of 38 in Brawl. Diddy Kong's strengths lie in his powerful comboing ability, with attacks flowing very well together as a result of their surprisingly long reach for a character of his size, quick frame data, and low knockback. He also has a fair share of strong, effective finishers, such as his smash attacks, which he can combo into. He is also highly mobile and has a strong neutral game, thanks to his Banana Peel, Monkey Flip and Peanut Popgun, all which provide him great mobility and stage control. Diddy Kong also features many safe and reliable ways to KO thanks to his down tilt, forward air, back air, and throws. On top of this, Diddy Kong also has a strong and safe edgeguarding game thanks to back air and Peanut Popgun. Diddy's flaws are his susceptibility to being gimped, owing to how linear and short-ranged Monkey Flip is, as well as the unsafe properties of Rocketbarrel Boost, a poor damage output which is exacerbated by his poor aerial mobility when not using special moves, which hinders his aerial combo game and the lack of a reliable combo breaker. Despite a number of nerfs to his combo ability in updates, Diddy Kong continued to obtain outstanding tournament results, particularly thanks to ZeRo.
Diddy Kong, true to his appearance in the Donkey Kong games, is an overall agile character. He is a middleweight with fast walking speed, fast dashing speed, fast falling speed, strong jumps, as well as the ability to wall cling and crawl. However, he has low air speed, below average air acceleration and high gravity, hindering his aerial mobility.
Matching his great mobility overall, Diddy Kong's greatest strength is his quick attack speed. Along with having a variety of moves with quick frame data and low knockback, Diddy Kong's limbs have the unique ability of stretching, giving his attacks surprising range. This grants Diddy Kong one of the best combo abilities in the game, which is further supplemented by the utility of his moves. His grounded game has some interesting options: his up tilt covers a very reliable arc above himself, has follow-up potential at low percentages and great KO potential at high ones despite its speed. Down tilt has low knockback, giving it the ability to combo into itself, as well as KO set-ups into up smash and forward aerial. His smash attacks also have high speed and good power, making them great for finishing off opponents. Forward smash is fairly quick and has the highest knockback of Diddy Kong's attacks, along with having the least ending lag out of his smash attacks. Up smash has incredibly fast startup with good range, and is his most commonly used smash attack to finish an opponent's stock due to the plethora of set-up options into it. Down smash is a semi-spike, making it great for edgeguarding and covering rolls, though it should be used carefully due to it having the highest ending lag out of his smash attacks. Meanwhile, his neutral attack has quick speed and is safe on hit, though it lacks reliable KO potential and cannot jab cancel into Diddy's moves, making it overshadowed by his other options. Forward tilt has very good range, can be angled and deals good knockback, making it great for spacing opponents out, but it is commonly forgone in favor of his smash attacks due to it lacking reliable KO potential, like his neutral attack.
In contrast, Diddy Kong's air game is also strong in any case, due to his aforementioned range, speed, and balance of power. Neutral aerial has a long duration and decent vertical knockback, making it a useful combo extender. Forward aerial is fast, strong and has a long duration and can autocancel from a short hop fast fall, making it the all-purpose attack and one of the staples on Diddy's moveset. Back aerial is his second fastest one, and has decent power for its speed, making it useful for comboing and edgeguarding. Up aerial, while significantly nerfed over time, remains Diddy's fastest aerial and, due to its high base knockback, it is excellent at juggling the opponent. His down aerial, however, despite having very high power for a meteor smash, has a sourspot, high landing lag and lasts for only one frame. Thus, while it is a dependable edgeguarding tool, it is arguably Diddy's least useful aerial.
Diddy Kong's already great neutral game is further supplemented by his versatile special moves. Peanut Popgun allows Diddy Kong to shoot a peanut, a weak projectile that can be used for edgeguarding or disrupting approaches. While slow and difficult to land, the explosion from the overcharged popgun can also be used as an attack. It is also tremendously powerful, dealing 23% damage and heavy knockback, KOing earlier than even King Dedede's forward smash. Monkey Flip is a command grab that lets Diddy Kong latch onto and pummel an opponent. From there, it can be followed up by either a double punch or a jump attack, with the latter being a meteor smash and granting Diddy Kong a second use. Alternatively, it can be cancelled immediately into a strong flying kick. The jump also grants a lot of momentum, making it a great move for recovery. Rocketbarrel Boost is Diddy Kong's primary means of recovery, covering large amounts of distance, especially if fully charged. Diddy Kong can also ram and launch opponents, and if attacked during it, the rocketbarrels become unblockable projectiles. Finally, Banana Peel is a defining part of Diddy Kong's ground game. It can be used as a regular Banana Peel or out of shield, both of which can be used for predicting the opponent's floor recovery or leaving them open to a smash attack. All of these moves grant Diddy Kong excellent stage control options, and give him a fantastic neutral game when combined with his combo potential and strong mobility.
However, Diddy Kong has some weaknesses. One of his flaws is his damage output being below average overall, making it crucial for him to extend his combos in any way possible to rack up the most amount of damage. In addition, despite his small frame and only average weight, Diddy Kong is vulnerable to combos, due to his fast falling speed and high gravity, and he doesn't have a particularly reliable combo breaker. While his neutral aerial is something of an exception due to its long duration, it is only situational for combo breaking as it has surprisingly slow startup at frame 8. This makes it easy for characters with reliable combo abilities to easily rack up damage on him, while his weight isn't heavy enough to sustain heavy hits at high percents. Another flaw is his recovery. While his high jumps, wall cling and special attacks grant very long distance overall and allow for many mix-ups, this is counterbalanced by the numerous risks in using his recovery moves. Monkey Flip's kick input prevents Diddy Kong from using any other special move and, by extension, his Rocketbarrel Boost, which can limit his ability to use the move for recovery, and as mentioned before, Rocketbarrel Boost has to be charged to cover long distances, and the rocketbarrels will detach from Diddy Kong if he's hit or crashes into the stage. This means that any hit during the move can be detrimental to Diddy Kong, with meteor smashes often KOing him outright (it still takes good timing to gimp his recovery because of the sheer speed of his Rocketbarrel Boost). As a result, Diddy Kong's recovery is only average.
Finally, even though his air game is arguably one of the best in Smash 4, it is still flawed. Diddy Kong's aforementioned slow air speed is slow enough to the point that he can only perform Wall of Pain combos at low percentages. His neutral, up and down aerials are good combo combo starters (the lattermost also being a powerful meteor smash), his forward aerial is good for catching dodges due to its long duration and his back aerial is a good edgeguarding option due to its fast startup (frame 5), but none of his aerials have are powerful enough to KO until very high percentages unless under the rage effect. In addition, his forward and down aerials have a surprising degree of landing lag (26 and 28 frames, respectively), his neutral and down aerials have unfavorable autocancel windows, and his up aerial is his only reliable aerial KO option, though it can only KO reliably if used after a down throw (both of which were nerfed in the 1.0.6 and 1.0.8 updates, as the former had its knockback reduced and the latter had its knockback increased and its angle altered). Finally, all of Diddy Kong's aerial attacks are surprisingly easy to punish on shield as none of them are effective at wearing down shields.
Diddy Kong only has a few useful custom moves, having only two that are overall better than their defaults: Rocketbarrel Attack and Shocking Banana Peel. Rocketbarrel Attack has much less maneuverability and is slower, but is extremely powerful even when uncharged, granting Diddy Kong a lethal surprise KO option. Shocking Banana Peel has a different throw trajectory and is less effective when thrown directly at the opponent, but is able to paralyze the opponent, leaving them wide open to any attack. The rest of his custom moves have disadvantages that noticeably outweigh their advantages, with Exploding Popgun being particularly notorious. However, this doesn't matter much because his default specials are extremely useful.
Overall, despite his constant nerfs, Diddy Kong remains a very potent character. The combination of high combo versatility, easy to land KO options, strong stage control and the lack of a glaring weakness have granted him great results in tournaments, as demonstrated by smashers such as ZeRo and Zinoto. Thanks to these traits, Diddy Kong is ranked third on the official tier list, being even higher than in Brawl.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Initially, Diddy Kong was considered to be buffed in his transition from Brawl to SSB4 despite already being a top tier character due to his new incredible up aerial which when combined with the changes to hitstun canceling/DI, he could combo into it with itself or his throws for either a deadly 50/50 with up throw or a long lasting kill confirm with down throw, but as of patch 1.0.8, he has been considerably nerfed from his initial incarnation and has seen a mix of buffs and nerfs from the transition from Brawl to Smash 4 but has been nerfed overall.
His most significant nerf was to his Banana Peel move which was previously the key to his past success. Not only can he now only have one Banana Peel out at a time but the peels also vanish if they hit an opponent greatly hindering Diddy's stage control and removing his zero-death potential with his bananas. The removal of glide tossing also hurts his banana game. Peanut Popgun is now laggier and it is weaker when charged which further hurts Diddy's stage control. In addition to this, Diddy's damage output is considerably lower, weakening his damage racking abilities and hindering some of his move's KO potential. Forward aerial and the front hit of down smash are two moves which fall victim to this. Some moves have also seen nerfs to their speed most notably dash attack and back throw with the former in particular suffering from its greatly increased ending lag. Diddy Kong also falls noticeably faster which while improving his vertical endurance and making him less susceptible to juggles, it also makes him considerably more vulnerable to combos. Lastly, Diddy's hitboxes are worse for a majority of his moves with his attacks either having smaller hitboxes and/or having specific hitboxes removed.
He did however see some buffs. His already strong combo potential has been increased further due to the changes to hitstun canceling. Diddy Kong's grab game is much stronger as Diddy releases opponents later from up and down throw (giving them less ending lag), down throw's angle has been altered and the removal of hitstun canceling has given both throws very strong combo potential. Diddy's limbs are also longer which gives a decent amount of his attacks more range even if they have worse hitboxes. Up smash is now considerably stronger (along with having more vertical range) now being a viable KO move which Diddy can even combo into with down tilt. His recovery has also significantly improved. Monkey Flip covers more distance and Rocketbarrel Blast is much more versatile.
Overall, he is still one of the most successful characters in competitive play, albeit not nearly as much as in early versions of the game where he was indisputably the best character in the game. While Diddy Kong technically became inferior to his Brawl counterpart, every other character in Brawl's higher tiers was either nerfed significantly more than him, or outright removed from the game so as a result, his competition has been toned down meaning that he is now even stronger relative to the cast.
Likely as a result of his dominance in early competitive play, taking top spots in several tournaments, Diddy Kong was infamously nerfed by patches. Previously, Diddy Kong possessed powerful aerials that could easily be comboed into, most notably down throw to one or more up aerials, which was both a powerful KOing and damage racking tool which was simple to execute. However, patches 1.0.6 and 1.0.8 greatly weakened the hitstun, damage, and knockback of several of Diddy's most frequently used moves, particularly the aforementioned down throw to up aerial combo, bringing Diddy's competitive usage more in line with other frequently used SSB4 characters. The changes on shield mechanics slightly hinder him, too, as banana throw out of shield, one of his fastest punish options, comes out slower.
Nevertheless, while Diddy Kong initially seemed to be much less effective after the nerfs, his neutral game has not been nerfed significantly in these updates, and he has obtained slight buffs in other areas, so he is still seen as a popular and successful character in competitive play.
In patch 1.1.1, Diddy Kong had a glitch that had rendered him invulnerable to grabs of any kind until he performed any kind of dodging maneuver. This was later fixed in patch 1.1.2, nine days after 1.1.1's worldwide release.
Tier placement and history
Since the game's release, professionals noticed that Diddy Kong gained heavy buffs despite already being one of the best characters in Brawl, and soon, his players became extremely dominant in early competitive play. Diddy's throws perfectly set up his strong aerial game, with his infamous up/down throw to up aerial combo (known as the "Hoo-Hah") being an unavoidable KO confirm at a wide range of percentages, and his Banana Peel offered strong stage control in spite of its nerfs. Aside from this, his up aerial had the speed and range necessary to KO easily without the need of the "Hoo-Hah", as well as many of his moves being both speedy and hard-hitting and with good range (like forward smash). These traits resulted in him being deemed the best character in the game.
As a result of how disproportionately good Diddy Kong was for how easy he was to play, many professionals such as Mew2King and ZeRo picked him up, resulting in an abnormal number of Diddy dittos at the highest level of play. Even players who did not actively practice the game, such as Leffen and Armada, were able to gain strong results using him. Likely as a result of this, Diddy was heavily nerfed by updates 1.0.6 and 1.0.8, and his representation dropped significantly, becoming largely abandoned while Sheik was considered the best character instead. Despite this, the top players who continued playing Diddy, such as Angel Cortes, Jtails, MVD, Nietono, and most notably, ZeRo and Zinoto, continued to push his metagame, adopting a newer, more creative playstyle that emphasizes Diddy's strong neutral game (which was not nerfed).
As a result of these factors, Diddy was ranked 9th on the first 4BR tier list, near the bottom of the A tier, but thanks to continued strong results from multiple top players, along with the nerfs to Sheik, Zero Suit Samus and Bayonetta, some matchups that previously caused him trouble in updates 1.1.5 and 1.1.6, he then took the 1st spot, at the top of the S tier, on the second tier list, despite not being as dominant as he was originally. He has since then seen only a very slight drop to 2nd place in favor of Bayonetta in the third tier list, and then to 3rd place in favor of Cloud in the fourth and current tier list; although he remains at the S tier and is still considered to be one of the most viable characters in the game, the larger dominance of the former two characters in other regions has caused views on Diddy to slightly dwindle.
Since ZeRo's retirement, however, Diddy Kong has not won any major tournaments at all and his strong results are still considered to be inconsistent in comparison to other characters like Bayonetta, Sheik, Cloud, Mewtwo, Fox, Zero Suit Samus, and Rosalina, who have managed to obtain overall higher and more consistent results with the character. On top of this, Diddy Kong still has some very troublesome match ups as Fox, Mario, Rosalina, Sheik and even some high and mid tiers such as Olimar and Mega Man do very well against him. Due to this, Diddy's tier placement is debated on as some say that the character has dropped slightly in the meta with some smashers like ANTi, Dabuz, ESAM and even ZeRo himself saying that the character shouldn't be ranked as high as he is.