Ness (ネス, Ness) is a default character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Announced at E3 2001, he was originally going to be replaced by Lucas from Mother 3; the ultimate cancellation of the game for the Nintendo 64, however, caused Masahiro Sakurai to retain Ness. As with the original Super Smash Bros., Ness is voiced by Makiko Ōmoto in Melee with new voice clips.
Ness is currently ranked 23rd out of 26 on the tier list, placing within the F tier. This is a slight fall from his already very low placement in Smash 64, where he was 10th out of 12 characters in the NTSC Version, and his worst placement to date. While still possessing great throws and a great aerial game thanks to his double jump cancel, Ness has a poor approach on the ground due to significant range issues in most of his attacks; his recovery is also easy to intercept and edgeguard against, and he also has significant trouble KOing opponents, due to his surprisingly weak KO power and due to his aforementioned poor range. As a result of these significant weaknesses, Ness has very poor matchups, with six nearly unwinnable, and his favorable matchups being either too slow or having even worse range to combat his tools. As such, he is considered non-viable in competitive play, with matchups remaining overall poor and having near non-existent representation in the modern metagame.
Ness is an unusual blend of character archetypes; many of his attributes are unique in comparison to other characters, such as his projectiles, his recovery and his midair jump. Ness has above average traction and a moderately low falling speed, giving him an above-average wavedash that is relatively quick. Ness is a projectile-heavy character, as he has 3 projectiles: PK Flash, PK Fire and PK Thunder, while also having a healing move in his PSI Magnet.
Arguably Ness's greatest strength is his combo game. Despite a poor SHFFL due to his high short hop and low falling speed, Ness has many ways to pressure and combo in the air thanks to his double jump cancel (often abbreviated DJC). By cancelling out of his midair jump with an aerial, Ness can quickly and efficiently use his multiple aerial attacks; this is especially important considering the utility of his aerial attacks. His neutral aerial and forward aerial attacks acting as potential combo starters (especially the latter) and his back, up and down air attacks serve as good KO moves. Due to this, his air approach is considered to be much better than his ground approach.
Although Ness has a poor ground approach, he still boasts two effective options: his grab game and the Yo-yo glitch. Ness' throws all have excellent utility; his forward throw has extremely high base knockback, making it ideal for starting edgeguards. His down throw is a decent combo starter, having potential to lead into his DJC'd aerials. His up throw is a decent chain grab and can be used in conjunction with PK Thunder to rack up damage or play mindgames. Finally, his back throw is the strongest throw in the game, making it a deadly KOing option. As for the Yo-yo glitch, Ness is the only character to have access to this technique. It is initiated through his up smash, and can be used to attack or grab with near limitless range or attach certain single-hitbox attacks to Ness's body. This can significantly increase Ness' range and options when performed properly.
Ness' greatest flaw, however, is his significant range problems. All of his attacks (especially his tilts) have little range or small hitboxes, making hitting an opponent very difficult. Although wavedashing can help out this problem somewhat, Ness' ground based options have too little utility overall to benefit noticeably. When combined with his somewhat slow movement, Ness has significant trouble approaching opponents. Thus, his dash attack is considered to be his only reliable ground approach option, due to its decent range unlike most of his other attacks. Also, Ness's grab has the second shortest range in all of the game (only to Pikachu), thus making it difficult for him to take advantage of his versatile throws, while his dash grab is extremely laggy and barely improves its range. Finally, against opponents with particularly good spacing games, most notoriously Marth, Ness can be easily overwhelmed in his attempts to approach opponents in the air despite the power of his DJC.
Assuming he can approach his opponents, Ness suffers from noticeable KOing problems, largely due to his poor power and range. He possesses arguably the worst set of smash attacks in the game: his up and down smashes are the weakest of their kind and his forward smash needs to be sweetspotted at the tip of the bat to KO effectively. His back, up and down aerials are powerful, but their poor reach make them difficult to land, while his down aerial is rather slow. Finally, Ness' back throw is his most powerful finisher, but it is held back by his aforementioned poor grab range.
Ness' special moveset also has some problems: it is rather situational overall. PK Flash boasts extreme power when fully charged and is great for punishing poorly positioned opponents offstage, but it is limited to edgeguarding due to it being very slow and difficult to land. PK Fire can trap opponents and leave them open for follow-ups, and can even gimp fast-fallers. However, it has short reach for a projectile and is very easy to SDI out of, making it easy to punish. PK Thunder is Ness' most useful special move; it is unique for controlling a thunder ball which can be moved in any direction, allowing for mindgames, offstage gimps, and even a powerful KOing option in PK Thunder 2. However it has one critical flaw: the player loses control of Ness during the move, leaving him open to extremely powerful attacks if he can't hit the opponent quick enough. Finally, PSI Magnet can heal Ness and put him in a better position defensively, but it is rather slow and completely dependent on the opposing character, as it only absorbs energy-based projectiles.
Outside of his poor approach, Ness also suffers from an easily gimpable recovery. Ness's recovery has its merits; he has the second highest midair jump in the game (second to only Yoshi) and his midair jump has unusual properties in its trajectory; PK Thunder 2 also grants a rather long distance, with a moderately large sweetspot and a long period of invincibility frames. The move is also very risky to block due to possessing KO power that reliably KOs at 90%. Despite these benefits, however, Ness's recovery still is cited as arguably the worst in the game, in spite of its long length, due to possessing many notable flaws. If Ness uses an aerial to fend off edgeguarders, his double jump is cancelled and can prevent him from recovering if unable to act soon enough. PK Thunder's projectile instantly disappears upon hitting opponents, and this is very easily abusable by edgeguarders, further worsened by PK Thunder 2's slow startup. In the process of having to start PK Thunder 2, characters with good recoveries (such as Jigglypuff or Samus) can merely jump into the projectile and take minor knockback and damage, immediately sending Ness into a state of helplessness, though this is a risky strategy. Projectiles such as Link's Boomerangs and the Ice Climbers' Ice Shot can easily disrupt the projectile as well, and in these cases, damage is not even inflicted to the opponent. PK Thunder 2 also suffers from a number of problems. Notably, it is difficult to angle correctly, and it can easily curve under lips of stages, most notably on Battlefield. Its linear nature can also make it easy to read and edgeguard for many characters, despite the invincibility frames found within it, and attacks like Mario's Cape or Link's Spin Attack can easily intercept the attack as Ness charges to the stage. Finally, PK Thunder 2 has significant ending lag, and if Ness recovers directly onto the stage after using it, opponents can easily capitalise on this ending lag by landing a powerful hit on Ness that he cannot hope to counter.
Changes from Smash 64 to Melee
Ness received a mix of buffs and nerfs in his transition from Smash 64 to Melee. However, because his flaws were not properly addressed in the previous installment, he is considered to be nerfed overall.
Ness received a number of helpful buffs; his range was increased as a whole to help alleviate his main flaw from the previous game. His mobility has been drastically improved, possessing a much faster dashing speed and air speed, making it much easier for him to approach and chase opponents. His weight was also significantly increased, improving his on-stage endurance, while his slower falling speed makes him harder to combo. Ness also retains his powerful combo game in his DJC, despite being slightly weakened. However, he has new combo options as well; his forward aerial can now chain into itself and other aerials while his dash attack has many different follow-up options depending on where it hits, (while also having greatly increased range), and he now has an up and down throw, giving him two good setup and combo throws. The most notable buff that Ness received, however, was the addition of the Yo-yo glitch. When performed correctly, Ness has access to much greater range, as well as new mindgames.
However, Ness also received significant nerfs in other important areas. His down aerial, his most notable combo finisher, has drastically more startup and ending lag, and the addition of meteor cancelling makes it significantly easier to survive against. This removes most of its KO potential and completely removes its use in shield break combos and DJC combos in general, significantly hurting his damage racking ability. Despite being known for his poor recovery, PK Thunder is even more unreliable due to its much shorter distance and new angling issues, while retaining its previous issues from Smash 64; this makes Ness' recovery arguably the worst in the game. Ness also has much lower power, especially in his smash attacks, as his forward smash requires sweetspotting while his up and down smashes have lost all of their KO power. Finally, while the overall range in his attacks has increased, it is arguably even worse relative to the cast due to the larger competition, and thus can still be easily and quickly overwhelmed when approaching opponents.
Because of these nerfs, the buffs Ness received have almost been nullified by the aforementioned nerfs and remains at a disadvantage among the rest of the cast in Melee and as a result, he is one of the characters that have been clearly nerfed alongside Yoshi, Pikachu, and Kirby.
For a gallery of Ness's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
In the most recent revision of the character matchup chart, Ness has a very poor matchup spread. He only soft counters three characters and has only one even matchup, against Yoshi, while he is soft countered by six, countered by nine, and hard countered by six. His poor KOing power, range, approach, and recovery are all exploitable, leading to problematic matchups against characters who can abuse these weaknesses. Sheik can chaingrab him to KO percents and finish him off with edgeguarding, Jigglypuff can gimp Ness's recovery with low-risk aerials and easily carry him off-stage, and Fox and Captain Falcon simply run him over with their superior speed and offensive prowess. He only has favorable matchups against characters who have as poor range as he does or are too slow to take advantage of his lack of range. As a result of these shortcomings, Ness has one of the worst matchup spreads in all of Melee.
His matchups from the matchup chart remain more or less the same. Top and high-tier characters still give him significant problems, while Yoshi has developed vastly superior punish options to overwhelm Ness. As such, his already terrible matchups have arguably only worsened as metagame developments have progressed, while Ness’ metagame remains highly stagnant.
Tier placement and history
Ness was initially viewed as low-mid tier character in the metagame, with a peak of 15th place on the second tier list. Following this, however, Ness's standing on the tier list constantly fell down to the lower tiers, with most players noticing that his nerfs from Super Smash Bros. severely impaired his KO power and his already poor linear, predictable recovery; this was especially noted in the earlier Smash 64 metagame, as Ness was initially viewed as a top-tiered character.
On the current tier list, Ness places at 23rd, in the F tier, and he is considered non-viable for tournament play. Dedicated Ness players are rare in the current metagame, with most Ness players often using him as a situational counterpick; Hungrybox only used Ness once in all of Apex 2013, in an attempt to counter Armada's Young Link, and he mostly used Jigglypuff for the rest of the tournament. Other players of Ness are semi-active and generally do not place very well with him.
In Classic Mode, Ness can appear as an ordinary opponent, as an ally or opponent in the team battles, alongside Yoshi, Peach, or Mewtwo, as a member of a multi-character battle, or as a metal opponent. In Ness's appearance, he appears on either Onett or Fourside (if unlocked) as a regular opponent and on Battlefield as a metal opponent. When on a team with Yoshi, he appears on Yoshi's Island.
Ness's appearance in the Adventure Mode is in Stage 9: Onett. In the stage, the player must fight against three computer players, each one being Ness, on Onett; in the fight, the only item that appear is Mr. Saturn. The player must defeat all three opponents within five minutes to continue.
Ness and his allies are fought on Onett.
Ness is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Ness as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Ness on any difficulty: