Ness (ネス, Ness) returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Ness was officially confirmed on October 3rd, 2014, alongside Falco and Wario, coinciding with the Western release of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. As in every previous Smash Bros. installation, Ness is voiced by Makiko Ōmoto, who has now recorded new voice clips for both versions of the game.
Ness currently ranks 28th out of 55 characters on the tier list (tied with Lucas), placing both him and Lucas as the lowest C tier characters and the lowest high tier characters. This is a vast improvement from his 26th out of 38 in Brawl, and his best placement compared to previous Smash Bros. games. Ness no longer suffers from having 10 extra grab release frames, which was a huge detriment to his survival. Besides that, Ness possesses arguably the best grab game among the entire cast (competing with Mewtwo's), with his forward and up throws leaving opponents in very unfavorable positions, his down throw being a great combo starter and his back throw being the most powerful throw in the game, on top of being difficult to DI properly. Other notable strengths include an effective projectile game with PK Fire and PK Thunder, a formidable air game courtesy of his powerful aerials, and a versatile combo game thanks to his throws and aerials. Despite being a middleweight, he also has high raw KO power and high damage output, a prime example being his aerials, forward smash, PK Flash and PK Thunder 2. Finally, due to the strengths above, Ness possesses very useful options to cover getups from a ledge or on the ground.
However, Ness has rather sub-par mobility and range, which often forces him to be methodical with his approaches, or play defensively in order to gain the lead, which can leave him at a disadvantage against characters with greater range on their attacks such as Cloud. His KO power, while consistent, is relegated to only his back throw and his up-air, as most of his powerful attacks are hard to land in the neutral game. Lastly and the most problematic is his recovery. Despite being greatly improved, PK Thunder remains quite gimpable as the lightning bolt can clang with other attacks, while opponents can forcibly push Ness out of the way or even take a hit from the lightning bolt, making his recovery fail.
Currently, Ness's tier placement is debatable. While Ness has poor matchups against several characters that were ranked higher than him, particularly Cloud, Rosalina & Luma, Marth, and Corrin, Ness has achieved good representation and noticeable top players such as FOW, S1, The Great Gonzales, Gackt, and NAKAT. Ness also achieved above average results and wins thanks to these said top players most notably FOW placing 13th at 2GGC: Nairo Saga, The Great Gonzales placing 5th at Royal Flush, S1 placing 5th at B.E.A.S.T 7 and 7th at Syndicate 2017, NAKAT placing 13th at EVO 2017 while mostly going Ness, and most recently, Gackt placing 17th at The Big House 7. From this, while some smashers generally argued that he should be ranked slightly lower due to his poor matchups from the higher ranked characters, other smashers argued that he should be ranked higher due to his favorable representation, results, and wins.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
After completing one of the two methods, Ness must then be defeated on Magicant.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Ness is playable from the start.
Ness is an unusual blend of character archetypes, being a short, projectile-heavy character with a lot of versatility with his moves. Ness's weight is average and his falling speed is rather slow, giving him no disadvantage with weight alone. His walking speed is slow while his dashing speed and air speed are both sub-par, but his air acceleration is very high.
Ness possesses three projectiles: PK Flash, PK Fire, and PK Thunder. PK Flash can be used as an extremely powerful punishing or edge-guarding option, dealing huge knockback which can KO even Bowser, the heaviest character, under 70%. PK Fire possesses a good amount of range and holds opponents in it when it hits them (due to being impossible to SDI out of), granting Ness guaranteed follow-ups (such as grab, an additional PK Fire, or a forward smash to finish the opponent) as long as he acts quickly enough. Also, it can be used off-stage against characters with more linear recoveries to combo into down air. PK Thunder is one of the more unique projectiles in the game. When used, the player will lose control of Ness and instead take control of a large thunder ball for a few seconds. PK Thunder can essentially be used to knock opponents towards Ness for follow ups, to mindgame opponents into a PK Thunder 2 trap to finish them, to edgeguard, and to juggle opponents. The knockback it provides can also hit an opponent over the upper blast line (especially light and floaty characters), allowing it to be used as a situational KO move as well. His down special move, PSI Magnet, provides a psychic shield that can heal him when hit with an energy based attack, making it extremely effective against characters with slower projectiles such as Samus or the Mii Gunner. PSI Magnet has fast start-up and end-lag, this allows Ness to cancel his double jump momentum and allows him to reverse himself mid-air more reliably, making it effective for avoiding vertical attacks such as Mario's up smash when Ness is on the air.
Ness's biggest strength is found in his superb aerial game. Most of Ness's aerial moves can be used to either space, combo, or KO. All aerials, excluding down aerial, are capable of auto-canceling out of a short hop. His neutral aerial possesses very little startup and ending lag, and hits on both sides of Ness, making it a useful out of shield option. His forward aerial has quick startup, a disjointed hitbox, and traps opponents, essentially allowing it to chain into either itself or another move. It is a powerful spacing tool and is helpful in approaching opponents. His up aerial, one of the strongest in the game, can be used to combo at lower percents and KO reliably at higher percents. It possesses a large hitbox and little lag, making it low risk, high reward. His back aerial is another reliable KO move that possesses low lag. His down aerial can occasionally be useful in edgeguarding, although it has significant startup in comparison to his other aerials. Down aerial has a large autocancel window, giving Ness the ability to decrease the length of his shorthop, as Ness extends his hurtbox by using the move. Ness can use this property to Tomahawk much more effectively, buffer landing options, mix up his platform movement, and occasionally avoid techchase situations. Thanks to his floatiness, Ness can perform a neutral aerial or up aerial after a short hop air dodge, allowing him to jump through moves with invincibility and whiff punish.
While Ness's aerials make him a formidable fighter at close quarters, he can struggle to pressure from afar. His dash attack has an exceptionally long range and is a decent approach, but leaves him vulnerable to landing aerials and is only safe if properly spaced. PK Fire covers a lot of ground and can be used to perform a PK Jump, a technique that allows Ness to approach or retreat by inputting the move 1 frame after double jumping. If Ness buffers an airdodge after double jumping, he can increase the height of his double. If Ness uses PSI Magnet then PK Thunder by the ledge, he will snap immediately, rather than stalling as he would normally. By combining these two traits togther, Ness can often recover without having to use PK Thunder to travel, alleviating one of his biggest weaknesses.
Ness's grab game is also very potent. His standing grab has slightly below average range and is fast. His pivot grab is surprisingly disjointed and his dash grab gives him a substantial speed boost. As mentioned earlier, Ness can trap opponents with PK Fire or PK Jump in order to set up for a grab. Ness possesses one of the fastest pummels in the game, allowing him to deal a decent amount of damage before throwing. His down throw neatly sets up for aerial attacks, leading into a forward air chain at lower percents or an up air at higher percents. Ness's forward throw has very high base knockback and can set up edgeguards. Up throw can be used to play situational mindgames with PK Thunder. Ness's infamous back throw is the strongest throw in the game; while it has very low base knockback, it has extremely high knockback scaling and is often regarded as his most effective and commonly used KO option.
Ness is far from perfect, however. He possesses below average speed in both the ground and the air, making it hard for him to chase most opponents. His ground game is also generally weak as he possesses short-ranged tilt attacks. His up and down smashes are also somewhat situational. While his up smash can be used as an out of shield option and his down smash as a useful edgeguarding option to two-frame opponents, both KO considerably later than his other KO options in a neutral situation, and his forward smash, while extremely powerful, possesses both high startup and ending lag, making it easily punishable if it misses. Ness's biggest flaw, however, is his recovery. While there have been various buffs to his recovery that make it much more reliable and viable than in previous Smash games, it is still easy to gimp if Ness is not careful enough with his double jump offstage. Characters with multiple jumps, such as Jigglypuff, Kirby and Meta Knight, with counters, such as most of the Fire Emblem characters, or with moves that reflect or absorb, such as Rosalina, Villager, and Pit can force Ness into disadvantage when offstage.
Custom moves can give Ness great advantages and brand new options. PK Freeze can freeze opponents, allowing free follow-ups, especially with PK Fire. PK Fire Burst has more range and power and always goes straight, making it a spacing tool rather than a combo tool. Lasting PK Thunder goes right through opponents and moves slower, allowing for better control. Recovery with PK Thunder 2 is also longer, significantly improving Ness' offstage survivability. Rolling PK Thunder travels much slower but is much stronger. While the recovery with PK Thunder 2 is mediocre due to the drastically decreased distance of it, the move is also significantly stronger, which allows it to KO even earlier than normal PK Thunder 2. Forward PSI Magnet is the same, but has a semi-spike hitbox in front of Ness, functioning similar to Fox's Reflector. Finally, if the opponent has no energy projectiles, PSI Vacuum is the optimal choice, as it draws opponents in and is the strongest of Ness's down special moves damage-wise.
Overall, Ness is viewed as a viable character in tournament play, due to his good combo game and extremely potent kill options. Despite this, he is believed to have a somewhat volatile matchup spread; he is especially vulnerable to characters that can abuse his poor mobility and low range to zone him out. Characters such as Rosalina and Luma, Marth, and Corrin are seen as especially troublesome matchups for Ness.
Changes from Brawl
Ness has been heavily buffed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. His 10 extra frame grab-release animation, which was one of his most detrimental flaws, has been removed, and many of the other flaws he had have been addressed. Ness also greatly benefits from the general changes of SSB4, as the new edge-trumping mechanic makes his recovery much harder to gimp, and the changes to hitstun canceling allows him to combo with his moves much more efficiently. Overall, Ness is significantly better than he ever was in previous Super Smash Bros. games and he has also seen solid tournament representation and greatly improved results due to his vast improvement.
Ness has been slightly nerfed overall in game updates. His most notable nerfs are the reduced damage output to his down throw and PK Fire having slightly more endlag. The changes to shield mechanics also hamper him slightly due to the majority of his non PSI-based moves having a rather low damage output. Ness has also got some other useful buffs, however, such as a faster PSI Magnet and his down aerial having a bigger hitbox and lasts one more frame (though it's still his least useful aerial), and while the buffs do not truly compensate for his nerfs, he remains a strong character.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
During the early life of SSB4, players immediately noticed the buffs made to Ness. He was widely considered to be either a high, or even a top-tier character due to his amazing throw game and his fantastic KO power and damage output. However, overtime, many people have learned about Ness's bad matchups against many of the top tier characters in the game, including many ways to exploit his recovery despite the improvements made to it. Regardless, Ness's expectations have been strong, leading to great tournament representation and results, and securing the 13th position on the first official 4BR tier list. While his results slightly fell since the first tier list, as well as the release of Bayonetta, the significant buffs to Mewtwo and the increased representation of Mega Man having a strong impact on the metagame, he would drop slightly on the second tier list, placing at 16th.
Later on, Ness results would be very stagnant since many of his players had been significantly inactive than ever before in such a long time (Specifically after EVO 2016 to 2GGT: ZeRo Saga). Despite again gaining results on Winter 2016 and 2017, most noticeably FOW's 17th placement in 2GGT: ZeRo Saga and S1's 5th placement in B.E.A.S.T 7, it didn't compensate the loss of his stagnant results he had suffered from mid to late 2016. Some of his previously not so troublesome matchups such as Marth and Lucina would also gain a large spike in popularity, and prove to now be worrisome matchups for Ness. This resulted in a much larger tier drop to 24th on the third tier list, this drop being tied with Pac-Man for the largest between the second and third tier lists.
Ness' ranking on the tier list became fair topic of debate, as recently, Ness has had commendable results such as FOW briefly coming out of retirement to place 13th at 2GGC: Nairo Saga and 25th at 2GGC: Civil War respectively, while NAKAT placed 3rd at Smash Factor 6, 13th at EVO 2017, 17th at GameTyrant Expo 2017, 17th at 2GGC: FE Saga, and 33rd at GENESIS 4 while mostly using Ness, The Great Gonzales placed 5th at Royal Flush and 17th at Smash 'N' Splash 3 respectively and, most recently, a Japanese Ness player, Gackt, placed 17th at The Big House 7, claiming wins against ANTi, Locus, and Mistake (although lost to Raito by 2-3). Regardless of these improved results, Ness dropped once again on the fourth and current tier list, at 28th, now sharing the spot with his Earthbound represenative Lucas, though due to the expansion of the tiers, he is now considered a high tier character rather than a mid tier character. To this day, Ness' tier placement remains a large topic of debate, nonetheless.
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