Ike (アイク, Ike) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced in a Director's Room Miiverse post on May 23rd, 2014, which coincided with the ninth anniversary of the North American release of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Jason Adkins and Michihiko Hagi reprise their roles as Ike's voice actors in the English and Japanese versions, respectively, albeit via voice clips recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Ike is currently ranked 35th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him at the top of the D tier. This is very similar to his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 23rd out of 38. In addition to retaining the majority of his renowned power and range, Ike's overall mobility has noticeably improved, thanks to his higher double jump and faster dashing and air speeds. His frame data has also become fairly better, with the most apparent improvements being to his tilt and aerial attacks. Ike also benefits from the changes to gameplay mechanics: the rage mechanic supplements his power, the changes to hitstun canceling have made his up and down throws into very useful combo starters, and the updated edge mechanics supplement his recovery.
However, Ike retains his flaws from Brawl: his heavy weight renders his overall mobility as below average at best despite its improvements, his very small number of fast grounded attacks often leaves him vulnerable against rushdowns, combos, and camping, and his recovery is still easily predictable because of its linearity. He has also gained new weaknesses: his already large hurtbox is slightly larger, several of his attacks have decreased damage outputs, knockback and ranges, and his very useful jab cancel is now extremely situational at best due to being significantly more difficult to perform into itself.
Ike has attained some success at various levels of play, owing to a rather large number of players who represent him at tournaments, such as Rango, Ryo, San and Waldo; the success of these players, however, started to stagnate after 1.1.6. As a result, Ike's current tier ranking has been disputed, with a number of players arguing that he is either too high or too low on the list.
Ike is a heavyweight, being tied with Wario as the eighth heaviest character in SSB4. Unsurprisingly, he has below average walking speed and air acceleration, slightly below average dashing speed, above average falling speed, air speed and gravity, and a low jump and double jump.
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 thanks to their damage outputs and ability to auto-cancel with a short hop, making them safe on shield. His forward aerial stands out the most, however, thanks to its good damage output, high knockback growth and large range in front of Ike. Aside from being his most reliable approach option because of 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 is particularly notable, 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. Although not as consistent as his aforementioned moves, Ike's up tilt, forward aerial and back throw also have combo potential: up tilt can set up juggles, forward aerial can combo into itself up to three times at medium percentages when auto-canceled, and back throw can tech-chase into his dash attack at medium percentages.
All of Ike's smash attacks are among the strongest of their respective kinds, with his forward smash being notable 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 high power.
However, Ike has a number of flaws. His size, weight, and falling speed leave him vulnerable to combos and rushdown-oriented characters, which is further compounded by his lack of options to quickly and 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: his very low traction hinders his otherwise great grab game, while he lacks options to immediately retaliate due to several of his grounded attacks having moderate 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, like Cape, stalls Ike's descent when used in the air and can gimp recoveries. In comparison, Furious Eruption is noticeably stronger than Eruption, has more vertical range and launches opponents vertically, which makes it a very potent KOing option 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 unlike Aether and Quick Draw, but covers less vertical distance. Paralyzing Counter allows Ike to stun the opponent, but at the cost of dealing minuscule damage. Lastly, Smash Counter functions oppositely, as its much higher damage multiplier enables it to one-hit KO many strong moves, although its lag is significant enough that many moves with low ending lag will allow the opponent to block the counterattack.
Overall, Ike's optimal playstyle is largely the same as it was in Brawl: he is still effective at spacing and punishing, but due to his significantly weaker jab cancel, he must now utilize his newfound combo starters to deal damage and set up KOs. Although Ike's weaknesses are exploitable, 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. Ike's mobility has noticeably improved: he has faster dashing and air speeds, as well as a higher double jump, the latter of which also improved his neutral game and recovery. His overall frame data is also fairly better, with his forward aerial in particular now being a very useful approach option thanks to its range, decreased start-up lag and ability to auto-cancel with a short hop. By extension, all but one of his aerials also have significantly reduced landing lag. He also benefits from the general gameplay changes. The changes to hitstun canceling improve his combo game by making his up and down throws into reliable combo starters into his aerials at a variety of percentages. Additionally, the removal of edge-hogging improves Aether and Quick Draw's recovery potentials. Lastly, rage boosts Ike's already high power, while his heavier weight makes him a very effective user of it.
However, Ike has also received some significant nerfs. To compensate for the general improvements to his frame data, his renowned power has been somewhat toned down via decreases to the damage outputs and knockback of the majority of his moveset. Ike's overall range has also been decreased, making it slightly more difficult for him to space out his opponents. Ike's jab cancel, which he made extensive use of in Brawl, is now extremely situational after becoming significantly difficult to perform into itself. Aside from Counter, his special moves have been nerfed; Eruption has been the most noticeably affected, as it now deals less damage, knockback and only grants super armor when fully charged. His aerials have also lost their transcendent priority, which results in his forward aerial being his only aerial that is consistently effective for approaching. Lastly, Ike's slightly larger hurtbox and heavier weight collectively make him more susceptible to combos than in Brawl.
Overall, Ike's buffs have resulted in him generally being viewed as a better character than in Brawl. This has been reflected with his representation in competitive play: despite initially being minimal, it has expanded over time thanks to the numerous buffs he received from game updates, while his still relatively small playerbase has managed to achieve average results at regional and even national tournaments.
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 were a mixed bag: while it makes Ike's sluggish, yet powerful attacks safer on shield, it results in his out of shield options becoming slightly more situational because of his poor traction.
Technical changelist 1.0.8
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, players noted both Ike's buffed mobility and nerfed power. Eventually, the general consensus was that Ike was a non-viable character, due to his improved mobility not properly compensating for his weakened power and unaddressed flaws from Brawl. However, game updates would buff Ike to the point that he began achieving respectable results. This was particularly noticeable around the time of update 1.0.8, thanks to the efforts of players like Rango, Ryo, Ryuga, San and Waldo. As such, he was ranked 26th on the first tier list, a fairly noticeable improvement from his tier placement in Brawl.
Although game updates considerably improved Ike's perception and were pivotal for his success, they would also improve other characters to similar degrees. The most notable examples were Bowser, Marth, Lucina, and Mewtwo, who in turn would eventually start to surpass Ike in terms of results. This was further compounded by the presence of DLC characters other than Mewtwo: Corrin and Bayonetta would both present impressive offensive potentials that quickly saw them gain respectable and successful playerbases, while Ryuga and Rango dropped Ike in favor of Corrin and Cloud, respectively. Despite his talented playerbase, Ike has since achieved lower and more average placings at tournaments, which in turn saw him drop to 35th on the second tier list, a ranking he has retained on the third and current tier list. Incidentally, Ike's tier placement is somewhat debatable: some argue that he should be placed higher because of his strengths, whereas others argue that he should be placed lower because of his results stagnating.
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