King K. Rool (SSBU)/Forward aerial
A powerful drop-kick, that also serves as a sex kick. Forward aerial is long and far one of K. Rool's best moves, due to the reasonable speed, damage output, shield safety, range and reward on hit. Forward aerial has 7 active frames, with sweetspots and sourspots, as well as transitions between early, mid and late hits. Each of these have extremely good uses and benefit K. Rool in different ways. The range on forward aerial cannot be understated, with it covering an entire Battlefield platform in length. In addition, there is a hurtbox shift prior to the move coming out, further adding to its potential to connect with an opponent. Even when retreating, the move remains a significant threat. With the high reward on hit on top of this, regardless of context, the move is considered to be one of the best in K. Rool's moveset.
Forward aerial is one of K. Rool's best neutral tools, due to its wide range and slight disjoint reminiscent of Diddy Kong's forward aerial from Smash 4. It is -5 on shield with the tipper early hitbox, and -6 otherwise, making it reasonably safe to throw out. It is also one of the only reliable safe on whiff tools K. Rool has in midrange, further helping him in this situation. Due to the angle, forward aerial is almost always advantage or even a ledgetrap situation on hit. It's also one of his best moves to use after dropping through a platform, due to its coverage making K. Rool control the platform's area below completely. The safety on shield also aids this. Due to all these factors, this is one of K. Rool's main options in neutral and absolutely must be acknowledged by any player of the character.
Forward aerial deals a very high amount of damage, while also being K. Rool's best combo starter. Not sending into tumble at 0% while being +15 on hit with the tipper makes it extremely threatening, confirming grabs. Due to non-tumble hitstun, this cannot be DI'd, removing all interaction on the opponent's end. This can lead into up throw or forward throw into instant dash attack on characters with particularly wide ranges. The move can also confirm dash attack or neutral attack on its own, should grabbing not be favorable for the player. Even if retreating with full momentum, it will confirm forward tilt at 0%, making it exceptionally useful. If the player lands frame perfectly at 0% or builds up a small amount of damage, then down tilt is very possible.
Furthermore, due to the slight disjoint and massive damage, it can outright beat many projectiles, significantly aiding K. Rool's approach, as the added active frames allowing him to easily land a hit. This also helps with managing Belly Super Armor, as short hop fast fall neutral aerial and dash attack don't have to be used to force K. Rool in if forward aerial beats the projectile. The amount of moves forward aerial beats also increase with stale-move negation if the opponent uses them often, although the reverse can apply to forward aerial as well. This is a cornerstone of defensive play with K. Rool in many matchups, such as Dr. Mario and Yoshi, whose projectiles are very important for holding neutral game.
Once it starts sending into tumble (around 25%), tech chases can be done for even more damage, such as locking with down aerial. It also serves as one of the best Blunderbuss and Crownerang setups possible as well, due to the almost always horizontal launch angle. This often leads to vortex-esque situations, which can be difficult for the opponent to get out of. The late hit on forward aerial doesn't send into tumble for extremely long periods of time (around 65%), while giving sizable hit advantage prior. As a result, this can serve as a secondary form of 0% forward aerial. This can allow for kill confirms if it connects, due to grabs and dash attack once again being perfectly viable followups. While 6.0.0 unintentionally dampened the viability of this, it is still perfectly usable and is important when ledgetrapping.
Forward aerial is also one of the best moves for sending characters into K. Rool's projectiles; returning Crownerang allows for up tilt or dash attack followups, and Blunderbuss Kannonballs mean generally big damage as well as reinforcing the opponent's acknowledgement of the space and situations they make. With Crownerang specifically, it's common to see tech situations on platforms come up with the interaction at Mid%s, often leading to an up aerial and further advantage.
Forward aerial is key in ledgetrapping as K. Rool, due to its high active frames and ability to cover many ledge options at once with formidable range. Depending on positioning, it can cover jump, roll, virtually anything the opponent has as long as the player positions it correctly. Due to the combo potential of the move, at Mid%s there can be further plays after it connects. Or, if the late hit connects, it could well be a stock. Sending opponents into Kannonballs after conditioning an opponent to stay on ledge is a fairly common occurrence in ledgetrapping as well, with opponents assuming they're safe once it's behind them. These two aspects of the move come together to allow for fairly complex ledgetrap setups, creating massive damage output. It isn't uncommon for a K. Rool ledgetrap to deal well over 50%, often more.
Forward aerial's active frames as well as low hitbox does make it a niche landing option, and coming down from platforms and fast falling makes it virtually always at max hit advantage. Thus, forward aerial can be used to relieve platform pressure as well as challenge opponents who lack disjoints when juggling him. The hurtbox shift also aids K. Rool here, with opponents attempting to chase K. Rool from the side often getting hit by the attack.
However, forward aerial does have weaknesses. For starters, the FAF is extremely high at 58, making use offstage difficult to even being a stock. The move also doesn't autocancel out of a short hop, making rising forward aerial's utility strictly for sending into tumble. It is also much less safe when used in this way, being a free punish if it whiffs. Furthermore, it can cause an SD if fast falled offstage with. On top of this, despite the disjoint, forward aerial is extremely weak to disjointed attacks itself. This is because the disjoint is generally quite small. Against swordfighter aerials, K. Rool has to strictly attempt to outrange them, and while this is possible, it can be difficult with constant pressure. The move's startup also makes it typically lose head-on if the hurtbox shift isn't enough, due to many forward aerials in Ultimate being frame 7 to 9 on startup.