King Dedede (SSB4)
King Dedede (デデデ, Dedede) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced in a Director's Room Miiverse post on January 10th, 2014, which also commemorated Kirby: Triple Deluxe being released in Japan on the same day. Masahiro Sakurai reprises his role as King Dedede's voice actor, albeit via a filter being applied to his Brawl voice clips.
King Dedede is ranked 52nd out of 55 on the tier list, placing him at the top of the G tier. This is a significant drop from his high-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 12th out of 38. Dedede's primary strength is his large, disjointed range, courtesy of his hammer. In addition to his range, he also possesses some very powerful punishing moves, such as his forward smash, down smash, back aerial and down aerial, with the latter two also functioning as good edgeguarding moves.
Dedede also boasts arguably the greatest overall endurance in the game, being the most difficult character to KO vertically, due to having the third highest weight and the second fastest falling speed, and also very difficult to KO horizontally despite being a fast-falling character with slow air speed, which is also due to his high weight and the fact that he boasts an impressive recovery, due to his multiple midair jumps and Super Dedede Jump.
However, King Dedede suffers due to the weakening or total removal of moves and/or mechanics that were important to his neutral game. The most notable examples are the removal of chain grabbing and his former back aerial, as well as his significantly worsened grab game, which has gone from one of the best to below average. Additionally, he retains his poor mobility and sluggish frame data from Brawl: he has among the slowest walking and dashing speeds, while his air speed, which was already the slowest in Brawl, has become even slower.
King Dedede's moveset also has among the slowest moves in the game, with only his down tilt, neutral aerial and standing grab being active before frame 9. These traits not only hinder Dedede offensively, but defensively as well; alongside his large size, considerable weight and fast falling speed, Dedede's mobility and frame data issues result in him being among the characters that are most vulnerable to rushdowns, combos, and camping, with only his moderate gravity enabling him to not be as vulnerable as other heavyweights or fast-fallers would be to them. Dedede is also no longer capable of camping himself due to his new side special, Gordo Throw, being reflected by any attack that deals at least 2%. Finally, Dedede suffers from disproportionately weak strength for a super heavyweight: his fastest moves fail to KO until very high percentages, whereas his slowest moves are among the most punishable in the game.
As a result of his glaring flaws, King Dedede's perception and results are both poor, although they are somewhat better in the European scene. While King Dedede maintains a decently sized playerbase that has brought about great advancements to his metagame, he is widely considered to be nonviable throughout the SSB4 metagame, with most players considering him one of the worst characters in SSB4.
King Dedede is the third heaviest character and, like Ganondorf, is the epitome of the archetypal heavyweight: he has a large frame, slow walking and dashing speeds (despite them being increased), below average traction, the slowest air speed, one of the slowest air acceleration values, the second fastest falling speed and average gravity.
Unsurprisingly, King Dedede's greatest strength is his impressive endurance, which is often considered to be the overall best in the game. His very fast falling speed gives him the best vertical endurance, while his weight and great recovery makes his horizontal endurance one of the best. In addition, he is notoriously difficult to edgeguard and gimp. Despite his very high falling speed and extremely slow air speed, he possesses four midair jumps. These help him stall his fall and cover long distances, as well as allowing him to edgeguard safely. His recovery does not end with his midair jumps. His up special, Super Dedede Jump, grants a very large amount of vertical distance and a good amount of horizontal distance. It also has super armor and can meteor smash, making it extremely dangerous to intercept, especially if the opponent uses an aerial attack.
His potent punishment game also supplements his great endurance. Almost all of his attacks deal high amounts of damage and can put opponents at a disadvantage. His most useful moves at that include, but are not limited to, down tilt, down smash and his grab game. The former is also very quick for a super heavyweight, and can help him fend off opponents and set up edgeguards. His pummel is highly damaging, making it good for adding up damage before throwing the opponent. His forward throw can reliably launch opponents off-stage, while his back throw deals very high damage. Lastly, his down throw can combo into up tilt, up smash and any aerial attack bar his down aerial, making it very reliable for damage racking and giving him combos that most fellow heavyweights do not have. He also has a plethora of very powerful moves, including his forward and down smashes, his up, back and down aerials, and Jet Hammer, all of which are capable of KOing easily if they connect. Because of these advantages, he is also one of the characters to benefit the most from rage, as it allows his powerful moves to put the opponent in a disadvantageous situation most of the time, and can allow him to initiate a comeback, which is further complimented by his endurance.
Another advantage King Dedede possesses is his range. Unlike his fellow super heavyweights, he possesses a weapon in the form of his signature hammer, which grants the majority of his moves disjointed ranges and enables him to out-space opponents with poor ranges, such as Jigglypuff and Ness. Prominent examples of this are his forward tilt, all of his smash attacks, and all of his aerials except neutral aerial, but said move's poor reach is compensated for, courtesy of its decent KO potential when clean. It should be also noted that moves that do not utilize his hammer also have long duration, such as his up and down tilts, and the aforementioned neutral aerial, which can also make him difficult to punish if the opponent stands too close to him and mistimes its punish.
However, King Dedede has numerous weaknesses, which are significant enough to outweigh his strengths. His most prominent one is his underwhelming frame data, which is notably among the worst in the game, a problem shared with Shulk, Ganondorf and Palutena. Despite their power, the majority of his moves are among the slowest, making Dedede prone to punishment, and due to his vulnerability to combos and juggles, he will have to read his opponents more often than not to land a move and avoid being punished. However, it should be noted that his moveset is among, if not the overall, weakest of the super heavyweights; very few of his moves are capable of reliably KOing before 80%, with such moves being nearly limited to back aerial, Jet Hammer, and forward smash, all of which are easily telegraphed and highly punishable, despite back aerial being able to autocancel from a short hop. His fastest moves are incapable of KOing until very high percentages, and his slowest moves are among the most predictable and most punishable in the game, with notable examples being forward smash and up tilt. These factors make said moves being easy to punish before or after they connect. While the fastest of his moves, his down tilt and neutral aerial, come out on frame 6, repeated use of them can render him a predictable opponent.
Another one of King Dedede's most prominent weaknesses is his polarized mobility. All of his attributes work against him, as they give him very slow horizontal movement, hindering his ability to approach and combat spacing and camping. The latter problem is more serious, as he has no useful counters against projectiles, with Dedede's projectile being ineffective and overall unreliable to combat camping altogether. His slow horizontal mobility leaves him vulnerable to getting juggled horizontally, while his very quick vertical mobility also leaves him vulnerable to combos, and he has a hard time escaping from them once he enters enough knockback, with a move that grants super armor, Super Dedede Jump, coming out way too slowly to render him invulnerable to heavy damage once an opponent gets a combo in. In turn, this makes it very simple for other characters with reliable combo games, such as Luigi and Bayonetta, to easily rack up damage on him.
Another flaw King Dedede faces is his approach. All of his attributes significantly hinder his ability to get close to characters safely, considering the aforementioned factors of the overwhelming start-up and ending lag on his attacks, fairly poor mobility regardless if grounded or in the air, and his noticeable nerfs from game updates, which have all decreased his already poor offensive game. Most notably, his grabs' drastically reduced ranges and the removal of chain grabbing are collectively considered to be his fatal flaw: they not only hinder his chances to rack up damage efficiently, but also almost completely remove his chances of reliably KOing his opponents or keeping his opponents at bay with his grabs.
His special moveset also faces some issues, as it is arguably half-functional. Gordo Throw is often considered his best special move, as it can be used for a KO option at high percents, can grant strong stage control if spaced and timed correctly, and can be used as a set-up into many other options if the opponent is sent toward Dedede. It can also aid his edgeguard attempts if the Gordo gets stuck on a wall or edge, allowing him to score a KO. Finally, it can be used to edge trap the opponent, giving them few options to retaliate and get back to safety. However, it has one major flaw, arguably enough to counterbalance all of the Gordo's benefits: it can be reflected by any attack that deals at least 2%, which can limit its otherwise great utility and stage control potential and renders it a risky move, even when used from a safe distance. As a result of this, King Dedede's neutral game is risky due to being so committal.
Super Dedede Jump is an amazing recovery move due to its distance and super armor, but its use is almost limited exclusively to recovering. However, the move's landing induces high shield damage, average shieldstun, and emits stars upon meeting the ground, which can make the move surprisingly difficult to punish, despite the move's high end lag. Inhale can be used to pressure the opponent and possibly score a Dededecide, but it is easily telegraphed, laggy, and unsafe due to the removal of grab armor. Lastly, Jet Hammer is best used only when trying to punish an unsafe get-up attempt or when breaking a shield.
King Dedede benefits a fair bit from his custom moves. Topspin Gordo has consistent power and moves much faster, which allows King Dedede to force the opponent to react with little risk of his Gordo being used against him, due to its high speed. However, it does not last as long, and it removes almost all combos with the Gordo itself, as it cannot be used for traps, and moving the control stick barely changes its trajectory. Bouncing Gordo is considerably weaker, but it lasts much longer, and enables King Dedede to apply stage control and gives him more time to use Gordo combos. The Gordo's trajectory changes greatly when the player tilts the control stick. Rising Dedede covers more vertical distance, maintains the default's super armor, and can even function as an (albeit risky) out of shield option due to its hitbox while ascending. However, it cannot meteor smash, as King Dedede becomes helpless at the apex of its jump, which also makes it less safe, especially if King Dedede tries to land on the stage. Dash Jet Hammer does far less damage, but King Dedede dashes forward when he attacks, enabling it to function as a mindgame tool. It can also function as a viable horizontal recovery option, which can ameliorate his glacial air speed.
All of his other custom moves have very situational advantages and are overshadowed by their disadvantages, with Dedede Storm, Taste Test, and Armored Jet Hammer being the most notorious examples. Dedede Storm has much slower start-up and ending lag than Inhale, removes Dededecide, is a multi-hitting move that cannot connect after 100%, and lacks strong hitboxes, preventing it from KOing even well beyond 200%. Taste Test spits opponents out instantly, preventing Dedede from sending the opponent off-stage, which allows them to exploit his vulnerability. Armored Jet Hammer offers super armor on charge, but causes recoil damage faster, is drastically weaker to the point where a fully charged blow is weaker than an uncharged hit by the default, and has severe ending lag to the point where one can jump from the top of Battlefield and use it and then be unable to move until Dedede lands on the main platform. His overall ineffective custom moves, mixed with his poor attributes by default, lends to him frequently being considered one of the worst character in the game when customs are enabled, alongside Zelda and Jigglypuff.
Overall, King Dedede's weaknesses outweigh his strengths. Due to his very sluggish frame data, risky neutral game and poor approach, his optimal playstyle is a defensive combination of zoning as well as baiting and punishing. The prominence of his flaws has also resulted in very low tournament representation and a poor perception despite the decent size of his playerbase, as only Big D has achieved arguably notable results in the Western scene, while El_Bardo has achieved some notable tournament results in the European scene. However, outside of their efforts, Dedede has fairly poor tournament results.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
King Dedede has been nerfed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. Several of his moves have been heavily altered or changed entirely, which has resulted in both positive and negative changes to his playstyle, though despite his buffs, his nerfs are much more prevalent due to his worse frame data and the loss of many of the traits that made him a formidable character in Brawl.
The most notable positives that these changes bring are his new down tilt, new side special Gordo Throw, and his down special, Jet Hammer. Dedede's new down tilt has faster start-up and travels a long distance, making it one of his best defensive moves (out of shield, after a smash attack, etc) at the cost of its spacing potential. Unlike Waddle Dee Toss, Gordo Throw deals a consistent amount of damage, fairly high knockback, and can even be used to "pinball" opponents by using their tumbling momentum to Dedede's advantage by trapping them between a Gordo and Dedede due to the ability to angle a Gordo's trajectory, which improves his neutral game. Lastly, Jet Hammer has been noticeably buffed in terms of range and the recoil damage, and due to the addition of rage combined with his high endurance and weight, it is a much better move both onstage and for edge-guarding. As a result, these moves are more versatile than their previous iterations in Brawl. Some of the gameplay changes brought about by SSB4 have also helped Dedede. He is now less susceptible to projectile camping due to the universal nerf to projectile camping (although he still arguably has the hardest time against camping), and he can utilize the rage mechanic very effectively due to his considerable weight, which supplements his high power.
However, the aforementioned new move alterations and changes to gameplay mechanics have also brought drawbacks that drastically outweigh the aforementioned positives, despite having a less polarized moveset than Brawl. The most significant of these came with his new down throw. Dedede's grabs are slower and have less range making it harder for him to land a grab and when he does, the reward he receives has been greatly decreased. One positive change down throw received is that it now launches opponents vertically which gives it greater followup potential however, down throw no longer has set knockback making its followups percentage dependent and the removal of chain grabbing has heavily harmed down throw as it can no longer be used to (infinitely depending on the character) chaingrab opponents. While it is still a decent throw overall, it is nowhere near what his Brawl down throw was which was so powerful that it alone completely nullified certain characters.
Another one of Dedede's best moves which was changed for the worse was his back aerial. The move went from a fast, powerful, disjointed sex kick to a more powerful but drastically laggier and more difficult to land backward hammer swing. While the move is still decent, it is definitely no longer one of the best back aerials in the game and one of Dedede's best moves. Up tilt was also noticeably nerfed as it is laggier, lingers for less time and has much less KO power. His new moves, despite bringing nice buffs, have also brought some drawbacks as well, such as his down tilt losing its KO power and having worse spacing capabilities, his new forward aerial no longer auto-canceling in a short hop (despite its faster start-up lag and more favorable hitbox placement) and being weaker and Gordo Throw being able to be reflected by any hitbox that deals at least 2%, which also hurts the previous anti-camping abilities the Waddle Dee Toss had in Brawl. Dedede's already terrible air speed was decreased even further which is especially poor as most other returning veterans had their air speed increased. Altogether, all of these changes have nerfed Dedede's approach potential. Lastly, the changes to hitstun canceling also significantly harm Dedede, as they weaken his endurance despite his increased weight and make him an easy victim of combos.
As a result of these changes, King Dedede is significantly worse than he was in Brawl as his overall frame data was nerfed and a lot of his moves were completely changed with his two best moves (back aerial and down throw) being changed for the worse and he is one of the few characters who suffered more from the changes to Smash 4's mechanics than he benefited from them. He was one of the characters to have been the most severely nerfed in his transition from Brawl, alongside Falco, Olimar, Wario, Marth (prior to updates), and fellow series representatives Meta Knight and Kirby (though Meta Knight did also receive useful buffs from updates). Despite never being considered a strong character, Dedede was directly nerfed in patches receiving nerfs to his forward aerial, down throw, Gordos and his air speed. While this was somewhat balanced out with other top tiers receiving nerfs, other lower tiered characters had been buffed and Cloud and (more importantly) Bayonetta were added to the game. Due to this, Dedede went from a polarizing high tier who heavily struggled against some of the top tiers but completely annihilated many mid and low tiers to a non-viable bottom tier character who loses to almost every character ranked above him and only slightly beats some of the characters ranked below him.
Despite his poorly regarded status, King Dedede has been nerfed in game updates, being one of the only two non-top tier fighters to have never received a single buff (the other being Jigglypuff). Update 1.0.4 weakened Dedede's forward aerial, which made the move even more punishable than already was. It also strengthened his down throw, which makes follow-ups harder to perform and did not grant it KO potential in return. The most infamous of his nerfs, however, are to Gordo Throw. The Gordos have now become slightly smaller, and require even less damage to be reflected, which is now 2%. With this change, even rapid jabs and neutral attacks are capable of reflecting Gordos. Dedede Burst was tweaked to the point that it can now be avoided by air dodging.
On the other hand, King Dedede indirectly benefits from the changes to shield mechanics brought by update 1.1.1, as his moves are safer on shield due to their high damage outputs, high hitlag and/or multi-hitting properties. Additionally, with the use of certain Gordo Throw setups or his fully charged forward smash, King Dedede can break shields or wear them down quickly. However, this does not properly compensate for his previously received nerfs.
Lastly, King Dedede was nerfed once again in update 1.1.4, with his air speed having been reduced to the point that it is now slower than Shield-boosted Shulk. As a result, King Dedede is noticeably worse than at the game's release, due to the large majority of the cast receiving major beneficial changes, while King Dedede has not received any similar changes.
Tier placement and history
Upon the game's release, players quickly noticed King Dedede's nerfs in the transition from Brawl, most notably the loss of chain grabbing, though they also argued some of his buffs would help compensate in the long run, with players perceiving his new forward aerial, Gordo Throw and down tilt as more useful than the previous respective moves in Brawl. However, as the metagame progressed, King Dedede's weaknesses became more apparent, and players realized the changes to game mechanics not only significantly hurt Dedede, but that he had indeed lost much more than what he gained from Brawl as well. Despite the good results gained by players like Big D and El_Bardo (with the former getting 17th at Paragon Los Angeles 2015), expectations of him would become worse as time passed. As a result, King Dedede was ranked 46th on the first tier list, confirming his status as a bottom-tier character.
Despite the great advancements brought to his metagame as well as decent results, however, Dedede's air speed was nerfed in update 1.1.4. While minor, this nerf is notable in two ways: it worsened his neutral game and recovery, and it is now the slowest in the game, even slower than that of Shulk while using the Shield Art. As a result of this, Dedede's results became much worse, and as a result he dropped to 52nd on the second tier list. Since the tiers had expanded by then, it this placement drop resulted in him becoming the second highest ranking bottom-tier character, having lost his position as the highest ranking bottom-tier character to Charizard. On the third tier list, Dedede remained ranked as 52nd, although he is now assessed as a low-tier character due to the bottom-tier being abolished, and once again remains ranked at 52nd on the fourth and current tier list, though this placing is notable for confirming his status as the fourth worst character in the game, after the exclusion of Miis from the most recent tier list.
As the meta went on, other characters in King Dedede's tier Ganondorf, Zelda and Jigglypuff have all started to earn much more impressive and consistent results than King Dedede. Due to this, some smashers such as ESAM are starting to debate that King Dedede could potentially be the absolute worst character in the game. This however, is highly debatable as zaki has been attending big tournaments and recently had huge wins over top players MKLeo, Charlie, and Rags leading some people to not only refute the claims of Dedede being the worst, but to some saying that he should be even higher than he currently is due to his results being more impressive than most of the low and even some of the mid-tier characters. Raito being an example as he ranked Dedede 46th on his tier list. ESAM also ranks Dedede higher than Ganondorf, Kirby and Bowser Jr. on his tier list.