Lucas (リュカ, Lucas) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Initially absent as a playable character, Lucas's return to the series was announced during a Nintendo Direct on April 1st, 2015. He was then made available as downloadable content on June 14th, 2015, alongside Roy and Ryu. Lani Minella reprises her role as Lucas' voice actor; however, she does so via recycled voice clips from Brawl, some of which have been slightly sped up.
Lucas is ranked 28th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him at the bottom of the C tier. In addition to tying him with his fellow EarthBound fighter Ness, this renders both of them as the lowest ranking high-tier characters. This is a significant improvement over Lucas' low tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 30th out of 38. Like Ness, Lucas is no longer plagued by 10 extra grab release frames and early hitstun canceling, which were major detriments to his endurance and combo game, respectively. Aside from those gameplay changes, Lucas retains his fast attack speed; disjointed hitboxes; useful projectiles; and impressive combo game.
However, Lucas' overall damage output, knockback, and range were all reduced. When coupled with the loss of several of his more advanced techniques from Brawl, it is it questionable whether his buffs or nerfs are more prevalent. Lucas also retains his slow ground mobility and average frame data, giving him a lackluster neutral game; poor approach options; and a recovery that is occasionally susceptible to gimps and edgeguarding. While his throw game is powerful, his grab is one of the slowest in the game. Finally, Lucas' lack of landing options allows characters with disjointed ranges (such as Marth and Cloud) to give him a hard time landing.
Initially, Lucas was poorly regarded when he was first released, but the buffs he received from game updates have allowed him to achieve decent results. This has been most evident with the efforts of Taiheita, who has many notable placings, such as 17th in singles and 1st in doubles with Lucas at Super Smash Con 2016, along with several high placings at Sumabato and Umebura tournaments. Recently, however, Lucas's declining results in regionals and Japan, Taiheita's recent retirement, and Japanese Ness players earning results in Japan that have surpassed Lucas's achievements recently such as 17th at EVO Japan 2018 and 17th at The Big House 7 being credited to Gackt and taranito led some Smashers to question about Lucas's placement of whether Lucas should retain his position or not.
Lucas' attributes remain largely unchanged since Brawl. He is a middleweight that has a very slow walking speed, slightly below average dashing speed, average gravity, above average air speed, and below average falling speed. However, his air and fast falling speeds have become faster since Brawl, both of which somewhat improve his aerial mobility. While Lucas' mobility speed is rather unimpressive, his attack speed compensates for it; notable examples include his neutral attack, which comes out on frame 2, and his down tilt, which comes out on frame 3 and is tied with Ness, Little Mac, R.O.B., and Meta Knight's down tilts for being the fastest down tilt in the game. As a result, Lucas' attacks are useful for damage racking and initiating combos, while several of his ground attacks are safe in many situations due to their minimal ending lag.
Despite his short stature and lack of a weapon outside of his forward smash, Lucas possesses good range courtesy of disjointed hitboxes. All of his smash attacks, nearly all of his aerial attacks and some of his ground attacks are disjointed, which can be further supplemented by his projectiles. In addition to their disjointed hitboxes, Lucas' smash attacks are among the strongest in the game. Like in Brawl, his up smash is among the strongest up smashes in the game while also possessing both a large disjointed hitbox and the ability to KO as low as 54% when fully charged (or 70% for heavyweights). The first hit of his down smash is also one of the strongest in the game and is an intimidating edgeguarding option, while his forward smash has decent speed, good KO potential and can even reflect projectiles.
However, Lucas greatest strength is his grab game. Despite having the shortest-ranged tether grab in the game, his Rope Snake has the lowest amount of ending lag among all tether grabs and respectable range, while he also possesses arguably the strongest set of throws in the game. Lucas' up and back throws are among the most powerful of their kind in the game, making them two of his best KOing options. His forward throw is tied with Bowser's for the strongest of its kind, although it is significantly weaker as a KOing option in comparison to his up and back throws. His down throw benefits significantly from both its considerably reduced knockback and the changes to hitstun canceling, both of which have re-purposed it into a reliable combo starter that can be followed up with his neutral and forward aerials from 0% up until high percents (even up to the early 90% range for neutral aerial), while its combo into up aerial is a confirmed KO set-up until 100%. While these changes have removed his down throw's KO potential, this is completely mitigated due to his up and back throws' aforementioned power. Lastly, his pummel is tied with Ness, Kirby and Fox's as the third fastest in the game, which makes it ideal for quick damage racking before a throw.
Lucas also boasts a strong zoning game that is essential to his success. PK Fire and grab aerial are both powerful spacing tools with their own specific uses, the latter being able to lead into a grab or forward tilt. Lucas' combo game is also very strong. His down tilt is a good combo starter, as it can combo into itself, neutral attack, and most importantly, his grab. His neutral and forward aerials can combo into themselves at low percents, while the former can also do so into other aerials (except for his back aerial) at low percents.
Like Ness, Lucas' special moveset boasts versatility in the form of PSI-based attacks, three of which are projectiles. PK Freeze can freeze his opponents, has very minimal ending lag and is viable, yet situational, as an edgeguarding option. While his PK Fire does not repeatedly hit opponents and potentially trap them like Ness' PK Fire, Lucas' deals decent knockback and can be used to give Lucas some space as it also provides a minimal amount of recoil, both on the ground and in the air. PK Thunder does not disappear like Ness' PK Thunder when it hits opponents, but instead hits them multiple times alongside boasting tighter control, while PK Thunder 2, grants Lucas farther distance. Lastly, PSI Magnet allows Lucas to deal with camping opponents that carry powerful, absorbable projectiles. However, its defensive utility also extends to Lucas' recovery, thanks to its ability to stall his descent. Unlike Ness', it also has offensive utility, thanks to it dealing damage and being a semi-spike.
However, Lucas does have his flaws. With his aforementioned sub-par mobility, fast characters such as Zero Suit Samus and Sonic can give Lucas a difficult time. Another problem is a predictable approach, reliance on his zoning tools (which can be overcome), and occasionally a lack of range in spite of his tether grab. Some of his moves require precision at times; his up aerial, whose hitbox is significantly smaller than it was in Brawl, can miss large opponents like Bowser. Another prominent example is his down smash, whose three hits are all mutually exclusive and thus gives opponents a perfect opportunity to punish Lucas if they manage to shield it. Lucas can also have problems scoring KOs despite his smash attacks' impressive strengths, as they mainly require effective reading and should be used wisely as a result. Although Lucas has a reliable tether recovery, his other method of recovery is also gimpable because of it having much slower priority than Ness, and it can be still be reflected or absorbed, most infamously by Rosalina & Luma. Like his fellow DLC characters, Lucas does not have any custom moves, which limits him in tournaments that allow character customization.
Altogether, Lucas' pros slightly outweigh his cons. He has an excellent damage racking game along with some good approach options, though his approach in general is predictable and can be faulty at times. He can also have a hard time KOing opponents outside of edgeguarding, and he is not as effective when his zoning tools can be nullified. While Lucas' initial tournament representation was poor like most of his fellow DLC characters, it has improved over time after he received buffs in game updates, to the point that he currently has both average representation and results, both of which are fair improvements from how he fared in Brawl.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Lucas received a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, but he was buffed overall. One of the most notable improvements he received was the removal of the 10 extra frames that were a part of his grounded grab release animation, which was one of his most significant flaws. This is further supplemented by the removal of chaingrabbing which was a large part as to why his grab release was extremely exploitable. Lucas' recovery, outside of advanced techniques, has been improved, as both PK Thunder 2 and Rope Snake now cover more distance. Rope Snake has also received more utility as a zoning option due to it receiving a hitbox when used as a grab aerial. Lucas has also been indirectly buffed from the changes to Smash 4's mechanics not only due to the removal of chaingrabbing but also because of the changes to hitstun canceling combined with the weakening of DI, which has giving him a very strong combo game which is most evident with the modifications to his down throw having resulted in it becoming one of his best combo starters. A few of his moves also have improved KO potential (most notably up aerial which also has greater juggling potential) and the introduction of rage only further improves his KO potential.
However, Lucas has seen a plethora of nerfs as well with his direct changes outside of his shorter grab release animation nerfing him overall. He can no longer use the Zap Jump or the Magnet Pull exploits, which were his two most pivotal techniques in Brawl, although the aforementioned buffs to PK Thunder 2 and Rope Snake can somewhat compensate for this off stage, at least in terms of recovery. In addition, many of his attacks have seen their damage, knockback and range reduced, while some of them have had their startup/ending lag increased. This is most notably seen with his aerials: his neutral, forward and up aerials lost their ability to auto-cancel in a short hop (although the landing lag of both is minimal), his down aerial has increased start-up lag and is no longer able to reliably set up for the infamous down tilt lock, and his up aerial has notably less range while also being slower and having static, all of which significantly hinders his already poor approach and landing options. He additionally has a slightly harder time KOing because of various of his previous KO moves including his forward and up smashes as well as his forward tilt and down throw having reduced knockback (although down throw has KO setups to compensate) alongside the loss of his advanced techniques. He is also slower on the ground relative to the cast as he is one of the only returning veterans whose dash (and walk) speed was not increased. His falling speed and gravity are also the same being lower relative to the cast although this has both positives and negatives.
Overall, Lucas has not significantly improved since Brawl as his moveset has seen many direct nerfs. However, he greatly benefits from Smash 4's mechanics and one of his main issues in Brawl was fixed resulting in him fairing better in Smash 4 overall. He was initially worse when he was first released but as of update 1.1.3, he is considered to be moderately better than how he was when he was initially released in SSB4, due to the buffs he received up to and including that update. He also fares better against Bayonetta than a decent portion of the cast which also helps him. By extension, his current placement on the tier list is a reflection of that perception.
Lucas has been buffed via game updates. Update 1.1.0 saw all of his grabs' ending lag decreased and as well as subtle range improvements to his forward and down tilts, though they still do not match up to his range in Brawl. The changes to shield mechanics in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 have been a mixed bag for Lucas; the changes make his sourspotted moves less safe on shield, but his sweetspotted moves safer on shield. Lastly, update 1.1.3 gave Lucas a number of noticeable buffs: his standing grab, dash grab, and forward aerial all had their lag decreased, his neutral aerial's damage output was increased, and forward tilt's sweetspot had its size and duration increased. As a result of these buffs, Lucas is considered better than he was when he was initially released.
For a gallery of Lucas's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
During his release, Lucas was considered to have improved from Brawl due to the changes to the game physics benefiting him. However, it would very soon become clear Lucas had lost most of his benefits from Brawl, and would go on to be considered among his previous game's placement. Following the buffs to his attacks, as well as decent tournament representation and results (the latter point being largely due to Taiheita), he would be ranked 36th in the first 4BR' tier list, as a low-tier character. However, players would prove that Lucas' buffs had indeed benefited him a lot and that he was now a capable character with reliable combo potential and KO power. Due to receiving notable results from Taiheita in 17th place at Super Smash Con 2016, Lucas rose up in the second tier list to 33rd, officially putting him in the mid-tier.
His positive perspective from Taiheita and his potential would led Lucas to a very slight rise to 32nd on the third, and then to 28th on the fourth tier list and current tier list, now tied with Ness for the bottom of high tier. While not having as much tournament representation as other mid-tiered characters, his results have been good enough to secure his current placement. Despite this, Lucas' current placement is still debatable, Lucas's results and representation began to show a series of decline in Japan ever since Taiheita's retirement. Since Taiheita's last tournament, many Japanese Lucas players couldn't achieve any commendable results that would equally match Taiheita's results. Also, while the Lucas meta in Japan began a decline, his EarthBound counterpart, Ness, began to rise in Japan. Gackt and taranito, recently grew in performance and they've achieved above average placings such as Gackt's 17th placing in The Big House 7 and taranito's 17th placing in EVO Japan 2018 while defeating many top players such as Abadango, komorikiri, ANTi, Mistake, T, Rain, and many others. From this, Lucas's placement, while respectable among the Smash community, became a fair topic of debate because of his results declining, however some claim that Lucas belongs as a high tier character and that he is still a superior character to Ness.
Lucas comes with matching character trophies, which are unlocked as usual. However, his alt. trophy will also be automatically granted upon booting up the version. His existing non-fighter trophy remains in the game, completely unchanged; both it and the Classic trophy are simply labeled as "Lucas" in-game.