Link (SSB)/Forward smash
Link performs an overhead slash with his sword similar to his Jump Slash but without a jump or any forwards momentum. The move's clean hit deals 20% and high horizontal knockback although it possesses a weaker late hit which only deals 12%. It has average startup lag for a forward smash although it does have high ending lag. The move's initial swing is very powerful being able to KO Mario at around 92% at the center of Dream Land although the late hit does not KO him until around 160%. It is the third strongest forward smash in the game (in NTSC versions) behind Kirby's and Donkey Kong's.
One of the main positives of the move is its range. The move has great vertical range for a forward smash and it can easily hit opponents above or behind Link. This makes it a useful move for edgeguarding as well as anti-airing and covering space around Link. When combined with its decent speed and good power, this makes the move an effective finisher. This also makes the move useful when used with pivoting. Link also has multiple ways to combo into forward smash such as with his Boomerang or his up tilt which can lead into a KO depending on the character and stage position.
The main downside to the move is its high ending lag. The move is quite punishable on whiff and it is unsafe on shield. The clean hit is -5 on shield, which allows some characters to grab punish Link as long as they have sufficient grab range and high enough traction. The move however can be safe if Link spaces it properly. The late hit leaves Link at an even larger disadvantage on shield at -14 although the opponent is usually pushed too far away to punish. This means that Link cannot be over reliant on using forward smash as if he uses it predictably, he can easily get hit off stage stage and potentially be KOed.
Overall, it is one of the better forward smashes in the game along with Pikachu and Kirby, being usable as a raw KO move, a strong anti-air or as a edgeguarding tool due to its solid range, speed and power.
The move is slightly better in the Japanese version due to Link's larger sword and its higher shieldstun due to the different shieldstun formula but it is particularly more effective in the European version because of its significantly increased strength. The clean hit deals 24% in the European version enabling it to KO much earlier (KOes Mario at around 71% at the center of Dream Land) making it the strongest forward smash in the European version by a wide margin. Because of this, Link's confirms into forward Smash start leading into KOes at lower percents allowing his confirms to work earlier, for longer and to work on a larger portion of the cast at a wider variety of stage positions. The move's higher damage also makes the move safer on shield with the move having more pushback on shield as well as giving Link a bigger frame advantage (with the clean hit being +1 on shield) meaning that the move is now completely safe on shield. Link can now jab to stuff out any grab attempts out of shield. The late hit is also stronger dealing 14%. As a result of these changes, forward smash is considerably scarier in European version retaining all of its strengths while now being much stronger and safer.