Ike (アイク, Ike) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was confirmed in a Director's Room Miiverse post on May 23rd, 2014, the same day that Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was released in North America in 2005. Jason Adkins (via voice clips recycled from Brawl) and Michihiko Hagi reprise their roles as Ike's voice actors in the English and Japanese versions, respectively.
Ike is currently ranked 35th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. This is very similar to his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 23rd out of 38. Ike largely retains his high power and impressive range, but now boasts improved speed in regard to overall mobility and frame data. He has also gained an effective combo game, which aids his ability to space out his opponents.
However, Ike retains his flaws from Brawl: his heavy weight renders his overall mobility as below average at best despite its improvements, his very minimal amount of fast grounded attacks often leaves him vulnerable against rushdowns, combos, and projectile camping, while his recovery is still linear and easily predictable despite being long-distanced and benefiting from the new edge mechanic. He has also gained new weaknesses: his already large hurtbox is slightly larger, several of his attacks have decreased ranges and knockback, and his very useful jab cancel is extremely situational at best due to being significantly more difficult to perform into itself.
Ike is a heavyweight, being tied with Wario as the eighth heaviest character in SSB4. As such, he possesses slow yet powerful attacks, slow walking speed and air acceleration, above average falling speed, air speed and gravity, and low jumps. His dashing speed is below average.
Ike's good approach is a noticeable divergence from the heavyweight archetype, though it is a trait shared with his fellow heavyweight swordsmen Shulk and Cloud. His sword, Ragnell, grants him a very long and disjointed range that is surpassed only by Shulk's Monado and Cloud's Buster Sword. Ike's neutral, forward, and back aerials are good approach options, as the former has low landing lag, while the latter two deal high shieldstun due to their damage outputs and ability to auto-cancel from a short hop, making them safe on shield. His forward aerial stands out the most, however, due to its good damage output, high knockback growth and large range in front of Ike. Aside from being his most reliable approach option thanks to these traits, it also makes him a surprisingly difficult character to punish when it is spaced properly. In addition, his aerials' speed and ranges make him capable at pressuring opponents.
Ike's combo game consists of numerous moves that are able to flow consistently with each other up to medium percentages. His neutral aerial, down tilt, up throw and down throw all launch opponents at favorable angles, allowing him to follow up with his aerials and thus perform short, yet impressively damaging combos. Up throw in particular is noteworthy, as its low knockback growth enables it to potentially lead into his forward or up aerials even at high percentages, which provides Ike with a few invaluable KO set-ups. In addition to its aforementioned benefits, forward aerial is also a good combo tool; if auto-canceled properly, it can chain into itself up to three times at medium percentages, racking up roughly 35%. Although not as consistent as the aforementioned moves, his up tilt and back throw also have combo potential: the former can lead to juggle situations, while the latter can combo into his dash attack at medium percentages if the opponent misses their tech.
All of Ike's smash attacks are among the strongest of their respective kinds, with his forward smash being noteworthy as the seventh strongest forward smash in the game. His forward and up smashes both have long ranges, which also grants them utility against both grounded and aerial opponents. Up smash in particular covers a wide, overhead arc around Ike and has a large number of active frames, making it a deadly option at the edge and a good option for punishing rolls. While these moves suffer from extreme amounts of start-up and ending lag, Ike is not reliant on them to KO. In addition to their aforementioned approach potentials, his forward and back aerials boast respectable strength, making them safe KOing options near the edge, while he also has his aforementioned KO set-ups from his up throw. Ike has an effective edge-guarding game, courtesy of a number of powerful options: his forward and back aerials, his down aerial's meteor smashing hitbox, and his neutral special, Eruption, which is chargeable and possesses a large hitbox. Furthermore, his excellent endurance enables him to use the rage mechanic effectively, boosting his already strong power.
However, Ike has a number of flaws. Ike is susceptible to rushdown-oriented characters, most notably Sheik. His size, weight, and falling speed also leave him vulnerable to combos, which is further compounded by his lack of options to reliably break out of them. As he is a melee-oriented character, Ike lacks a projectile, putting him at a disadvantage against camping tactics. Ike's weak out of shield potential further compounds his susceptibility to pressure, as his very low traction hinders his grab game, and he lacks options to immediately retaliate due to several of his grounded attacks having high start-up lag. By extension, his grounded attacks' lag issues render his grounded approach as comparatively poor and overall predictable. While his aerial approach is decent, it nonetheless requires proper spacing and timing of his aerials in order to be effective, as they can be punished if misused due to their noticeable ending lag.
Ike's recovery is also problematic. He is vulnerable to semi-spikes, as Aether and Quick Draw are highly predictable due to functioning as strictly vertical and strictly horizontal recovery options, respectively. However, both moves are further compounded by specific faults. Quick Draw must be charged in order to cover more distance and unless it hits an opponent, it renders Ike helpless and thus unable to be used in tandem with Aether. In comparison, Aether covers almost no horizontal distance, which can lead to an invariable self-destruct if it is used too far from the edge.
Ike gains some benefits from his custom moves. Both Tempest and Furious Eruption improve his already good edge-guarding potential, yet possess noticeable traits. Tempest charges faster and generates a windbox that pushes opponents far and/or gimp recoveries, and stalls Ike's descent when used in the air similarly to Cape. In comparison, Furious Eruption is noticeably stronger than Eruption, has more vertical range and launches opponents upward, making it very good on stages with low ceilings. Close Combat grants transcendent priority during its dash, which allows it to ignore projectiles and shields, making it even better for recovering. Aether Drive functions as a diagonal recovery option that Ike lacks with Aether and Quick Draw, but at the cost of losing his only means of vertical recovery. Paralyzing Counter allows Ike to stun the opponent, but at the cost of his counterattack being significantly weaker. Lastly, Smash Counter functions oppositely, as it boasts knockback strong enough to one-hit KO many strong moves, although its lag is significant enough that many moves with low lag will end fast enough for the opponent to block the counterattack.
Overall, Ike's weaknesses are exploitable, yet his strengths are also prevalent, if not more so than his flaws. While his predictable recovery and susceptibility to combos, juggles and camping are noticeable flaws, they can be worked around with careful play, as shown by players such as Ryo.
Changes from Brawl
Ike had received a mix of buffs and nerfs from Brawl to SSB4. His attack speed is noticeably faster; in particular, his forward aerial has decreased start-up lag and auto-cancels from a short hop, and, combined with its range, gives Ike a very reliable approach option. Most of his aerials have significantly reduced landing lag as well. His mobility has been improved, with a quicker dash speed and considerably faster air speed. As such, Ike has a better neutral game than in Brawl. He also benefits from the universal gameplay changes. The changes to hitstun canceling improve his combo game by making his down tilt, up throw, and down throw into reliable combo starters into his aerials at a variety of percentages. The new edge mechanics aid his recovery greatly, as Aether was very susceptible to edge-hogging in Brawl. Ike is also heavier then he was in Brawl, improving his endurance. Lastly, the introduction of rage boosts Ike's already high power, while his heavy weight allows him to make great use of this mechanic.
However, Ike has also received some significant nerfs. His range has been reduced, making it slightly more difficult for Ike to space out his opponents. To compensate for his increased attack speed, many of his moves deal less damage and knockback. Ike's jab cancel, which he made extensive use of in Brawl, is now extremely situational due to becoming significantly difficult to perform into itself and having down tilt as its only reliable follow-up. Aside from Counter, his specials have been nerfed, with Eruption being the most noticeably affected, as it deals less damage, knockback, and only grants super armor when fully charged. His aerials have also lost their transcendent priority, although this is a double-edged sword rather than an outright nerf; while Ike's aerials can now cancel out other moves upon clashing, his forward aerial is now his only aerial that is a consistently effective approach option. Ike's hurtbox is now slightly larger, which combined with his increased weight make him more vulnerable to combos then he was in Brawl.
Overall, it is currently debatable whether Ike is either a better or worse character than he was in Brawl. While initially having poor representation in competitive play, it has improved over time due to the numerous buffs he received from game updates. Additionally, even though his playerbase is still relatively small, the efforts of players like Ryo have resulted in Ike's competitive representation and results being average.
Ike has been heavily buffed via game updates. The most notable buffs were brought about by update 1.0.8, which decreased the lag of his grounded and aerial attacks , and in some cases, increased their power. The increased shieldstun in update 1.1.1 also helps Ike's sluggish yet very powerful attacks by making them safer on shield, though this results in his out of shield options becoming slightly more situational due to his poor traction.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, Ike was seen as a non-viable character due to many of his flaws from Brawl either being improperly addressed or even worsened, while his renowned power had been weakened. However, game updates would buff Ike to the point that he would begin achieving results, particularly around the time of update 1.0.8. As such, he was originally ranked 26th out of 56 on the first tier list, placing him in the E tier and being a fairly noticeable improvement from his tier placement in Brawl.
Ike has since dropped to 35th out of 58 on the current tier list. He continues to achieve average results in competitive play, such as consistently placing well at Florida regionals. Overall, Ike's tier placement is considered to be accurate, whereas some players argue in favor of him being placed higher with others believing he should be placed lower.