Isabelle (しずえ, Shizue) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was announced as a newcomer at the end of the September 13, 2018 Nintendo Direct in tandem with the then-untitled Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While she shares many moves with Villager, Isabelle is not an Echo Fighter, and is instead a semi-clone. As such, Isabelle is classified as fighter #68.
Although Isabelle speaks Animalese within her home series and reveal trailer, she is completely mute in Ultimate.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Isabelle must then be defeated on Town and City.
Isabelle is a moderately short and floaty lightweight with slow overall mobility. As an Animal Crossing character, Isabelle is similar in many aspects to Villager; however, she has faster grounded and aerial mobility, is lighter and floatier, and cannot wall jump. Moreover, Isabelle also has multiple attacks that are unique to her (such as all three of her smash attacks), while even the moves she shares with Villager have different animations and altered functionality.
Isabelle's grounded moves, while not the best, have some utility. Neutral attack is Isabelle's fastest grounded move, and while it is a weak single-hit move, it can be used to combo into her smash attacks at high percentages, and can also be used to jab lock opponents reliably; forward tilt is useful for spacing thanks to its decent knockback and range, while also serving as a situational KOing move at higher percents near the ledge; up tilt can be used for combos and juggles thanks to its relatively fast speed and low knockback; down tilt possesses decent range, while the sweetspot close to her is a respectably powerful KOing option at high percents; and dash attack is a projectile that can be used off of platforms against opponents on the ground or on lower platforms, and it can also be used near the ledge for edgeguarding or potentially as a 2 frame punish. Her smash attacks also have some utility as well: forward smash is her strongest grounded KOing option if sweetspotted; up smash hits twice and is her best vertical kill move; and down smash is a semi-spike that can be used for KOing near the ledge, edgeguarding, and 2 frame punishes.
Isabelle's aerials are also useful as well, and all of them can autocancel in a short hop as well. Neutral aerial is Isabelle's fastest aerial, and it is a sex kick that can be used to combo into Isabelle's other moves or break out of combos. Forward and back aerials have her fire slingshot projectiles that are useful for approaching, spacing and edgeguarding; back aerial has slower startup but less ending lag than forward aerial, and is stronger as well. Finally, up and down aerials have her always swing two turnips as opposed to also one or three like Villager, making them more consistent overall; up aerial is a good follow-up from up tilt, is useful for juggling, and the clean hit can even act as a situational KOing move near the upper blast line, while down aerial's clean hit is capable of meteor smashing if sweetspotted, while otherwise launching opponents on the Sakurai angle, enabling it to be used for edgeguarding. The inability to tech grounded meteor smashes also gives sweetspotted clean down aerial limited combo potential at higher percents as well.
Her grab game also has some utility. Isabelle uses a net as part of her tether grab, which has a longer range than a normal grab, but more startup and ending lag as a result; however, Isabelle does not have a grab aerial in spite of her long-ranged grab. Isabelle can also use her grab to pocket items as well. Pummel is useful for racking up damage against grabbed opponents, down throw can be used to initiate aerial combos, forward throw can setup edgeguards by throwing opponents off the stage, and back throw can be used to KO near the ledge. Up throw, however, is Isabelle's least useful throw.
Isabelle sports versatile special moves. Her neutral special, Pocket, allows her to steal an opponent's projectile and send it back at them, helping to discourage projectile camping against her. Her down special, Lloid Trap, has her planting Lloid into the ground. Lloid Trap will active whenever an opponent walks over Lloid or can be activated manually, making it useful for surprising opponents. Her side special, Fishing Rod, is a command grab that allows her to grab and throw opponents from distances farther than her grab can, and it also functions as a tether recovery as well. Her up special, Balloon Trip, provides incredibly long vertical and horizontal distance, though it travels a slightly shorter distance than Villager's version. This, in addition to her Fishing Rod's great horizontal distance, gives Isabelle an outstanding recovery.
However, Isabelle is held back by her many flaws. Many of Isabelle's moves, despite being disjointed, lack range outside of her forward aerial, back aerial, and side special. Although she has faster mobility than Villager, she is still slow, and her lighter weight and slower falling speed renders her easier to KO and juggle in comparison while also giving her a harder time landing against opponents. Isabelle's KOing power is notoriously very poor, as her forward smash—her only reliable KOing move suffers from a punishable amount of ending lag, has infamously short-range in spite of being disjointed, and has a very weak late hit that only deals 8%, and similarly to forward smash's aforementioned late hit, other moves such as up and down smashes are too weak for KOing at reasonable percents. Her damage-racking potential is also poor, as she has very few effective combos (such as up tilt > up tilt > up air) and her damage output and frame data are below-average. Isabelle's grab game is also a bit mediocre and worse than the Villager's throws because they keep the same stats that the Villager's throws had in SSB4. Isabelle's grab, while possessing a decent range and the interesting trait of being able to pocket items, is slow. Her throws also have limited utility, as they have nonexistent combo potential outside of down throw, while her back throw is her only throw that is able to KO at a realistic percent, though it is still weaker than numerous other back throws. Isabelle's mediocre mobility and generally poor range gives her a lackluster approach and a weak neutral game, amplifying her poor KOing ability even further. As a result, Isabelle struggles to reliably KO her opponent, while she is easy to KO due to her floatiness and somewhat lightweight.
Many of her special moves have major flaws. While her Fishing Rod is a versatile command grab with a very good range, it is flawed in many ways. Unlike all other grabs in the game, it is unusually capable of being shielded and suffers from a lot of ending lag, making it very punishable. Lloid Trap is also somewhat flawed, as it disappears after only 10 seconds, can be destroyed with most attacks, and some characters can even run through it without getting affected. While Isabelle's recovery is very long-distanced, she has no way to defend herself while using Balloon Trip, due to the move lacking a hitbox, and popping the balloons will render her helpless, meaning that despite her recovery being fairly good on paper, it is easily edgeguardable in practice. Finally, Isabelle loses certain of Villager's most important tools for zoning in the neutral game, namely Lloid Rocket and Timber, making her noticeably worse at zoning than her counterpart.
Overall, Isabelle is a more well-rounded character than Villager, having inferior zoning and camping ability, but better mobility and a more reliable set of standard attacks in comparison. However, her standard attacks still suffer from a mixture of poor range, poor damage output, or both, and she has inferior survivability due to her lighter weight and slower falling speed. Because of this, she is often seen as an inferior counterpart to Villager. This has resulted in a negative competitive reception, as many top professional players view her not only as an inferior counterpart to Villager (who by himself has rather mixed competitive reception and poor tournament representation), but also potentially as one of the worst characters in the game. Her tournament representation reflects this, as it is very poor in all regions, and her most significant results are either from the very early days of Ultimate's meta, or her being used as a secondary or pocket to other characters. However, due to her low popularity in tournaments, it is debatable whether Isabelle is actually a poor character, or her representation is poor simply because of dedicated mains. As such, her true standing in the meta remains to be seen.
Isabelle has received a mix of buffs and nerfs via game updates, but has been buffed overall. Update 1.1.0 decreased the landing lag of up and down aerials, whereas update 1.2.0 granted Dream Town Hall invulnerability in order to prevent opponents from canceling it at its very last second. Update 2.0.0 fixed several infamous glitches, such as the infinite Assist Trophy glitch and Slingshot Crash, and enabled neutral aerial to auto-cancel earlier. Update 3.0.0 nerfed forward and back aerials' shield damage as part of the general nerf to projectiles. More notably, this same update modified Fishing Reel in two ways: its hook gained the ability to catch an opponent while it is idle, thus granting it a guaranteed set-up a 2 frame punish, but at the cost of having significantly less active frames. However, update 3.1.0 undid these changes to Fishing Rod.
In update 4.0.0, Isabelle received a number of worthwhile buffs. Her rolls travel farther, which compliments her defensive playstyle. Neutral attack, which was near-universally viewed by players as one the worst moves of any kind in the game, received a number of changes that noticeably improve its utility. Both up smash and Fishing Rod's up throw became stronger KOing options, thanks to their increased knockback scaling. Lastly, Fishing Rod and Lloid Trap had their lag decreased; in particular, Lloid Trap's decreased start-up lag enables it to function much better against most opponents that dash over it.
For a gallery of Isabelle's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
When Isabelle was first revealed, there was a glimmer of hope for the character due to her similar neutral and campy patient playstyle with Villager. On release, she was considered to be generally effective, as she shared some abilities from Villager: her slingshot was considered a good option for zoning and/or approaching and edgeguarding, and her Pocket prevented camping from other zoners. Her unique tools were also considered: Lloid Trap functioned as an effective tool for stage control, and could also force reactions from her opponent or set up an aerial combo, while Fishing Rod became rather notorious for dealing with recoveries and being rather difficult to deal with, especially at lower skill levels.
However, Isabelle's representation quickly dropped after the first few months, with players considering her not as good of a character as initially imagined. In addition to sharing the same weaknesses as Villager, Isabelle has additional flaws that hinder her (such as her infamously short smash attacks), while her camping game does not benefit as much to Ultimate’s engine.
As a result of these factors, Isabelle has not made a significant impact in tournaments and has little representation throughout Ultimate's current metagame. This is also exacerbated by the fact that she is outshined by her original counterpart, Villager, who is also struggling in the meta with limited representation, despite being considered a better character than her. Due to Villager’s stronger presence and Isabelle’s weaknesses, numerous professionals view her as one of the worst characters in the game. On the other hand, a few other players believes the character is underrated and has potential due to her strong camping game and effective ledge tools. Furthermore, dedicated players such as Nery, kept, and Lv.1 use her as either a solo main or a secondary and have placed well at both a regional and national level. Finally, update 4.0.0. gave her several buffs to her moveset as well as the "Wobbelle" technique, which traps the opponent at ledge with a jab until kill percent. As of now, her true tournament viability and tier placement in the meta is questionable.
Classic Mode: Best in Show
Credits roll after completing Classic Mode. Completing it as Isabelle has Plaza / Title Theme - Animal Crossing: City Folk / Animal Crossing: Wild World accompany the credits.
Role in World of Light
Although Isabelle does not appear in the World of Light opening cutscene, she was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (sans Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
She can be found near a small town on a secluded road, that requires the spirit of Kapp'n (Wild World) to be driven through a tunnel to reach. Freeing her unlocks a path to the town.
Isabelle's Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Isabelle in World of Light allows the player to preview the spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with the fighter's artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase Video