Inkling (インクリング, Inkling) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Although the default costume is female, both male and female versions of this character are playable. They were the first characters that were suggested to appear in the then-unnamed Ultimate in its first teaser trailer at the end of the March 8th, 2018 Nintendo Direct, and officially announced as a newcomer in Ultimate's E3 2018 trailer, alongside Daisy and Ridley. Inkling is classified as Fighter #64, the first fighter number of the newcomers.
Yuki Tsuji reprises his role as the voice actor for both genders of Inkling in all regions, albeit via recycled voice clips from Splatoon and Splatoon 2.
How to unlock
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Inkling is a character that excels greatly in many areas but is typically defined by quick, slippery movement and fast attack speed. As a result, most attributes are overall consistent with combo-heavy middleweights, with a focus on a fast-approach "footsies" playstyle: she has fast overall mobility due to her high initial dash (16th highest) and dashing speeds (22nd highest), alongside high air speed (12-16th fastest, tied with Sonic, Mario, Little Mac and Donkey Kong). However, the rest of Inkling's traits are mostly average, with middling air acceleration, fall speed, walking speed, average weight, and low traction. As a result, she can easily traverse large distances very quickly, but can have issues changing directions in midair; additionally, the combination of middling weight and fast fall speed do not give much of an advantage when escaping combos.
Inkling's greatest strength is, fittingly, fast general movement and attack speed. Inkling's dash is notable for shifting her entire hurtbox during movement, which in some cases allows her to low-profile through certain attacks, and its obscure animation - which shares a visual similarity with her spot dodge animation - as well as her strong initial dash gives the character one of the strongest and most deceptive dash-dances in the entire game. While the range on many of her attacks is rather lacking, this is made up for by decently fast frame data (although many of her moves have noticeable lag), which allows Inkling to put her fast mobility to good use and rush opponents down in a flurry of moves. Additionally, Inkling boasts a strong ground and aerial offense, with many moves being capable of stringing together, particularly when coupled with an up throw, which is an effective combo initiator until high percents and can even KO through its setups. As a result, opponents can have a tough time finding openings in her offense, since her high speed and low landing lag allow her to weave around any foe very easily, and an extremely potent combo ability easily turns any mistake on their end into a potential combo starter.
The character's damage racking potential is further enhanced by the unique ink mechanic, lifted from her game of origin, Splatoon. Select moves - such as Splattershot - will cover opponents in ink, which increases damage dealt to them up to a maximum of 1.5×, though this will wear off over time. When an opponent is fully inked, many combos are capable of effectively dishing out surprising amounts of damage over a short period on careless opponents. Because of these traits, alongside aforementioned ones, Inkling sports what is commonly believed by many to be the best neutral attack in the game. It has respectable startup due to it coming out on frame 3, it sports good range, and its infinite and finisher can apply enough ink to reach the ink's full damage multiplier, which sets up the opponent for massive damage strings. As a downside, ink also affects the power of certain moves, such as the aforementioned neutral attack infinite, forward throw, special moves and smash attacks, which lose significant KO power or damage when the ink tank is empty (with some moves being rendered completely unusable). Due to this, Inkling has to recharge the ink tank by going into a "charging" stance once the ink tank is completely depleted. As this leaves Inkling wide open to attacks with no escape options till the charge animation ends, managing the ink supply with care is crucial, and it is important to keep a safe distance from the opponent when recharging.
Inkling also has powerful offstage capability due to her attributes. Despite having a relatively linear recovery, Inkling is able to vary it by double jumping out of Splat Roller in combination with the very long-reaching Super Jump, allowing the recovery to be less predictable and allowing her to stay airborne for extended periods. Inkling's Super Jump also has a very generous edge sweetspot range, making it hard for certain characters to 2 frame punish them, and due to its deceptive startup hitbox, it can be used to gimp off-stage opponents or even stage spike them in some cases. Coupled with the sheer speed of the moves, this makes it difficult to challenge Inkling with an offstage edgeguard. Inkling also has one of the best air speeds to supplement this and likewise can edgeguard very proficiently through strong usage of aerials. Among the most notable is her back aerial, which is one of her safest moves not only offstage but also in the neutral game, as it sports a notable disjoint - making it one of Inkling's safest moves on shield if properly spaced - and is able to combo into itself at mid-percents, which can lead to a wall of pain in certain situations. Her forward aerial exchanges the disjoint and overall versatility for strength, having stronger knockback when sweetspotted which can lead to guaranteed off-stage KOs at mid-to-high percents, and its sourspot can make for a decent gimping tool on select characters. Inkling's Splat Bombs are a crucial tool both in neutral and when covering the edge; while the bomb can be thrown off-stage to intercept the opponent, the angle and awkward timer of the bomb also makes for a powerful frame trapping tool, particularly on opponents that are recovering on the ledge.
Even with a fantastic set of strengths, the character is not without several weaknesses. Despite having high damage racking potential, most of Inkling's strongest KO moves are all comparatively unsafe - particularly Splat Roller and several smash attacks - often forcing the character to rely on reads, edgeguarding, and immaculate spacing in order to guarantee a KO at earlier percents. While this issue is partially alleviated by Inkling being one of the few characters in the game to have a KO confirm off of a grab, the percentage windows vary from character to character - with the confirm being borderline impossible on a select few characters - and it is also affected by rage. The ink mechanic also forces Inkling to be resourceful with many of her moves, as without ink, she loses access to several crucial attacks such as Splat Roller, and Splat Bomb. Despite Inkling's strong aerial combo game, it is highly centralized around grabs due to her lacking a reliable grounded combo starter. This is further compounded by Inkling's mediocre regular ground attacks; despite sporting disjointed hitboxes on her forward tilt and down tilt, they possess little utility outside of spacing due to neither leading into any follow-ups or being able to KO. Finally, Inkling occasionally suffers from dubious hitbox placements, notably in her up tilt which lacks horizontal coverage, as well as her neutral aerial, meaning that, despite her good aerial speed, she possesses neither the most reliable landing options at a disadvantage, nor the best out of shield options.
Overall, Inkling is a rounded character with solid mobility stats and damage racking capability overall. Her deceptive traits and a strong set of attacks make her a versatile fighter that excels both at defensive and offensive play. However, her lack of easy KO options relative to the upper-tier cast forces the character to maintain strong consistency in her play, as she can occasionally struggle to score KOs and makeup stock deficits, particularly against opponents who have a much easier time KOing or stymieing her movement options. Inkling has seen strong tournament representation, with players such as Armada, Abadango, and Space using Inkling as their mains to large degrees of success, with Cosmos being formerly considered the best Inkling player in the world prior to dropping the character, having had the most consecutive Top 8 appearances at PGR events during its first season. Inkling's potential in doubles was noted by Masahiro Sakurai himself as being one of the character's strengths, allowing teammates to rack up damage even faster. Due to her traits and consistent representation, many top players have speculated early on that Inkling is a solid top tier candidate.
Inkling received a mix of buffs, nerfs and a single glitch fix via game updates, but was buffed overall. Update 2.0.0 shortened neutral aerial's edge lockout time, which made it slightly safer to use while offstage. However, much more noticeable changes were applied to Inkling's most controversial move, Splat Roller. Due to its knockback being altered heavily, its burial duration was shortened significantly at lower percentages, yet lengthened at higher percentages. Aside from this, Splat Roller's hitboxes were moved backward, which results in it needing to be at point-blank range for it to connect.
Splat Roller was again affected in update 3.0.0, as it now deals less knockback if Inkling accelerates a second time when using it. While Splat Roller's changes come across as nerfs on a surface level, capable players have adjusted their usage of the move to the point that these nerfs are mostly considered negligible. On a related note, 3.0.0's change has actually resulted in the move gaining some combo routes at medium percentages that previously did not exist.
After receiving negligible buffs to the consistency of her neutral attack and pummel in updates 3.1.0 and 8.0.0, Inkling received more noteworthy buffs in update 13.0.1. Forward tilt's damage output was increased slightly; in addition to becoming slightly safer on hit and a better spacing option, it can now function as a situational KO option while near the edge at very high percentages. Up tilt received an additional hitbox during its first active frame, which alleviated its infamously lacking horizontal range. Forward smash's sweetspot became easier to land, thanks to it being extended backward at the minor cost of the sourspot being pulled backward. Splattershot gained 1 more active frame, which increased its firing range. Lastly, Inkling can act earlier after refilling her ink.
Overall, Inkling fares somewhat better than she did at the launch of Ultimate.
For a gallery of Inkling's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Inkling has a unique fighter ability: a handful of attacks will cover opponents in ink. Characters affected by ink are shown being coated with varying amounts of brightly colored liquid (which varies depending on Inkling's choice of costume) and can be repeatedly inked until they are fully coated.
Inked opponents take additional damage proportional to the amount of ink covering them. The damage multiplier caps at 1.5× after the opponent is coated by roughly 60% of the maximum value; applying more ink only lengthens the duration of being coated, and has no further effect on damage. Attacks on inked targets inflict normal knockback but increased freeze frames. Ink gradually disappears over time, from around 5 seconds for the smallest application, to around 20 seconds for a completely coated character. Ink can also be applied to some Assist Trophies.
The ink mechanic affects:
Once Inkling runs out of ink, the only ways to refill the ink tank are to be KO'd or manually refill it by holding the shield and special button at once (or via the special button with an empty tank). The refill animation also lowers Inkling's hurtbox enough to dodge grabs and projectiles. However, it can only be done on the ground, prevents her from dodging or moving, and has ending lag, making it punishable.
The male Inkling has an altered standing stance, where he does not shake his hips as much as the female Inkling. However, this does not apply when holding a small item.
All of Inkling's animations are based on the victory poses when using particular weapons in Splatoon and its sequel. The animations vary slightly between female costumes and the male costumes.
In competitive play
Inkling was initially seen as a very promising character in the meta and a potential top tier in Ultimate. This was due to her outstanding frame data, damage output through the ink mechanic, safe aerials on shield, the ability to effectively edgeguard and ledgetrap with her great recovery and down special, and KO confirms off of her grab and Splat Roller. In addition, her dash was highly praised as an incredible mechanic that allowed her to invalidate many attacks and projectiles. Inkling saw strong results in the first half of 2019 from players such as Cosmos, Space, Chag, and Abadango. Cosmos, in particular, saw multiple top 8 placements in many tournaments and was ranked just outside of the top 10 for the first season.
However, following the first season, results from Inkling started to decline, with her top players either doing worse in tournaments or completely dropping the character. Cosmos notably used the character less and less before ultimately dropping her in favor of Pyra and Mythra. Top players attributed these drops due to Inkling's weaknesses becoming more apparent in reducing her viability, such as her lack of strong out-of-shield options and difficulty in KOing past confirm percentages. Her tier placement is debatable to this day: although some Smashers such as Tweek, ESAM and Samsora still consider her to be among the best characters in the game, others point out her weaknesses and diminishing results as evidence that she was not as strong as people had made her out to be.
Most historically significant players
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
See also: Category:Inkling professionals (SSBU)
Classic Mode: An Inkredible Journey
Inkling's opponents use alternate costumes that match the general color scheme of the stage they are fought on, which references the Turf War mode in the Splatoon games. The boss of this route, Marx, also fits in with this theme because of his multicolored wings.
Note: Every stage except for the Bonus Stage plays a track from the Splatoon universe, no matter what universe it originates from. Additionally, the music that plays when fighting Marx is Calamari Inkantation instead of his standard boss theme.
Role in World of Light
The Inklings (both female and male) were among the fighters that were summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, the Inklings were present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. They decided to submerge in a puddle of their ink to hide in the hopes they might not be imprisoned. However, this proved ineffective when the beams of light destroyed the cliff they were on and vaporized them in the process. Both were then placed under Galeem's imprisonment alongside the rest of the fighters, except for Kirby.
In the mode proper, the female Inkling can be fought in a city area, in a space that clearly is Moray Towers.
Inkling Girl's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Inkling has been unlocked. Unlocking Inkling in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Inkling Boy has a fighter spirit of his own, available through the shop. Each fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, the Squid form of the default Inkling appears as a support spirit.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
All of the Inkling's alternate costumes feature wearable gear that can be found in Splatoon and Splatoon 2. Each of the costumes has a different ink color, which matches the color of their hair and squid form.
Fighter Showcase Video