Ness (ネス, Ness) is one of the main characters from the EarthBound franchise and appears as one of the four secret characters in Super Smash Bros. He is voiced by Makiko Ohmoto, who would go on to voice him in later iterations.
Ness ranks 10th on the tier list, the third lowest ranked character. He is well-known for his unique recovery and second jump: he, along with Yoshi, can double jump cancel, allowing him to use quick aerial and special attacks. Not only does this give him one of the best combo abilities in the entire game, but also one of the easiest to use consistently. He also doesn't face too much trouble against projectiles due to his forward smash being able to reflect them and PSI Magnet absorbing them and healing him. He also has disproportionate KO power for a lightweight character, courtesy of his forward smash, back and down aerials and both of his throws. His PK Thunder also gives him one of the longest distanced recoveries in the game.
However, his weaknesses, while not many, are very glaring. His recovery, although long-distanced, is predictable and at times unreliable, which many characters can use to their advantage. Thus, he is among the easiest characters to gimp in the game. His approach is also easy to predict and read due to the lag on both of his projectiles (PK Fire and PK Thunder), the short range on his attacks, and his slow movement speed (his dashing speed in particular being the slowest alongside Luigi). This leaves him at a disadvantage against small, quick characters like Pikachu. His short range also gives him trouble at KOing despite his great KOing ability. As a result, despite his great strengths, he has poor matchups and low tournament representation and results. Conversely, Ness is ranked 5th on the Japanese tier list because he is much stronger in the Japanese version, rather than the international release, in which he was nerfed.
How to unlock
Ness has a number of attributes that help him overwhelm the opponent. Ness is one of the lighter characters in the game. He has very high power compared to most other light characters, similar to Kirby. His forward smash has only decent range, but high power. Ness's forward and back throw are the strongest of their kind. They are his most reliable finishers, and can be used for edgeguarding someone with a poor recovery, like Link.
Ness has two projectiles in PK Fire and PK Thunder. PK Fire, if it hits, traps the opponent in a pillar of fire, allowing follow ups from almost any move. PK Thunder, while situational, can be used to hit opponents far away. Due to the banning of Hyrule Castle, this is nearly impossible to do in competitive play. Ness can deal with projectiles easier than other characters. His forward smash reflects projectiles, though it's hard to do. PSI Magnet can absorb projectiles and restore his health.
Ness's combo ability is not only among the best in the game, but easy to use as well. His ability to double jump cancel allows him to perform many combos with his forward aerial, up aerial, and down aerial. Ness also boasts potent combo enders in his down aerial and forward smash.
Ness does have many flaws, however, that are responsible for his low tier placement. His range is overall short compared to the rest of the roster, which harms his combo ability and KOing ability. His projectiles are highly flawed as well; PK Fire has long startup as well as endlag and short range for a projectile. PK Thunder, due to its slow speed and the vulnerable state it leaves Ness in, is almost useless as an attack.
Ness's recovery, distance-wise, is one of the greatest in the game due to PK Thunder 2 sending him a very far distance, coupled with his long double jump, second in distance only to Yoshi's, with its maneuverability also making it difficult to attack Ness out of it. However, he is disadvantaged by PK Thunder 2 being easy to gimp, due to taking some time to complete and having to go in a semicircle around Ness; if anyone touches the thunderbolt, Ness will become helpless. Even projectiles such as Pikachu's Thunder Jolt and Fox's Blaster or Reflector can gimp the move easily. A "solution" to this, used by many Ness players, is to use the double jump away from the stage, and then use PK Thunder. At this distance, it is difficult for most of the cast to follow up with an edgeguard, as it will likely be too far for them to recover safely. However, even then, there are a few characters who can recover from that distance, such as Kirby, Pikachu, or another Ness.
On a competitive level, Ness was originally rather dominant, being ranked 3rd in the S tier on the first well-known international Super Smash Bros. tier list. In the second tier list, he dropped to 8th place, and dropped again on the third list. When scaled to accommodate for the difference in roster sizes, this is the largest tier drop of any character in the series. Ness's strong points are his excellent combos and air game, but his poor range gives him big problems facing excessive range such as Captain Falcon's up smash, or Kirby or Pikachu's up tilt. Ness's approach is also easily read, with his two projectiles being slow and predictable. Ness overall has below average international (except Japan) matchups, with an especially terrible matchup against Pikachu, and only two advantageous matchups (against two bottom tier characters). Ness has better matchups (being 5th) in the Japanese version compared to the international versions. This is mainly because Ness is stronger in the Japanese version and was nerfed in the international versions.
Differences between game versions
Ness was noticeably nerfed in his transition to NTSC. His disproportionate KO power was weakened, his moves deal less damage and the higher presence of SDI makes his DJC combos easier to escape. As a result, he is noticeably worse than in the Japanese version.
In Competitive play
Tier placement and history
Ness used to rank very high at 3rd place on the first SSB64 tier list, just only below Pikachu and Kirby. With double jump cancelling, Ness was a dominant force in the SSB64 metagame, as his DJC'ed aerials can rack up a huge amount of damage, and can be used to perform deadly zero-to-death combos. However, Ness became less effective as the metagame progressed. His short range in his attacks made his DJC combos lose recognition and effectiveness, and Ness' recovery, despite covering a great distance, can be exploitable due to it being predictable. This caused Ness to drop from a top tier 3rd place to a low-mid tier 8th place by the second tier list and dropping again to 9th in the third tier list and by the fourth tier list, to 10th. This is also currently the proportionally largest tier list drop of any character in any Smash Bros. game. Ness is currently 5th of the Japanese matchups, he is in a higher position due to the fact he is stronger than the international versions.
Double jump cancel
Main article: Double jump cancel
DJCing is a glitch-technique that can be used by Yoshi and Ness. It involves using an aerial or a special move just after starting a double jump. This cancels the momentum of the double jump and allows quicker movement within the attacks, while also being able to speed up short hops, making short hopped DJC'd aerials especially effective when Z-cancelled. It can also help with aerial comboing. DJCing a special move cannot be Z-canceled.
Double jump landing
Double jump landing (also dubbed the Nesslevator) allows Ness to cancel his air momentum with an aerial attack while horizontally moving in midair. This results in a quick and smooth landing back onto a platform akin to wavelanding in Melee.
Double jump rushing
Albeit extremely difficult to do outside TAS, Ness can move incredibly quickly on the ground by cancelling multiple double jumps while moving horizontally. This is due to his second jump having very high horizontal movement during its initial frames. Demonstrative video here.
Dash turnaround ledgegrab
Ness is the only character in the game along with Fox who can use the turnaround animation of his full sprint to grab a ledge. This is due to his turnaround animation changing the faced direction before the character "brakes".
Main article: Edge sweetspot
Along with Pikachu, Ness can sweetspot the ledge using PK Thunder 2 if he grabs the ledge at the right angle and from the right distance, allowing him to act very quickly after grabbing the edge.
Special ledge cancel
Ness can grab the ledge while using his PK Thunder move or his PSI Magnet. This makes edgeguarding harder to perform for opponents. Also, these moves cancel his double jump, making them useful for ledge stalling or to refresh the invincibility frames granted by the ledge.
Ness was a seemingly-average kid from Onett, but in truth, he was destined for much more. When a strange meteorite landed near his hometown, the little boy with psychic powers set out to save the world. Little has been said of Ness' character, and much remains hidden.
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