Ness (ネス, Ness) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was revealed along with all other previous veterans on June 12, 2018 and is classified as Fighter #10. As with the original Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, he is once again an unlockable character.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Ness must then be defeated on Onett.
Ness represents a unique blend of character archetypes. Although he uses several projectiles, Ness does not excel at camping and functions best at shorter ranges, where he can pressure opponents with a mixture of projectiles and disjointed aerials. Ness' overall mobility is mixed. While his walking speed, initial dash, and dash speed are all below average, his aerial movement is quite strong thanks to his solid air speed, above-average jump height, and excellent air acceleration. Moreover, his low gravity and low falling speed allow him to perform multiple aerials in one jump. Despite his small stature, Ness' weight is average.
Ness enjoys a useful set of special moves: PK Flash, PK Fire, PK Thunder, and PSI Magnet. PK Flash is a unique projectile that travels slowly in an arc above Ness and can be charged. Because it has low ending lag and no longer sends Ness into helplessness, PK Flash can be used to knock opponents away from the ledge while Ness is being edgeguarded or to combo into moves like up air. It also freezes opponents in place briefly when it connects, allowing for an immediate grab or other fast option if Ness is right next to the opponent. PK Fire is infamously spammable and can set up combos, trap opponents for a grab or aerial, or simply rack up damage. When used in the air, PK Fire has a diagonal trajectory and decreased landing lag. PK Thunder is arguably Ness' most useful special, as it can be used to gimp opponents offstage, juggle them repeatedly, or even KO them into the upper blast zone. Ness can also send the tail into himself, launching him forward for an extremely powerful PK Thunder 2 attack that can be used to recover or take a very early stock from an unsuspecting opponent. Ness' down special, PSI Magnet, creates a psychic field around Ness that absorbs energy-based moves and heals Ness based on the strength of the attack. This is particularly effective against characters such as Pikachu, Pichu, and Snake, who rely on energy-based projectiles in neutral. PSI Magnet also has great offensive utility in Ultimate, as it now features an active hitbox with set knockback. The aerial hitbox confirms into most of Ness' normal aerials, while the grounded hitbox places opponents in perfect range for a sweetspotted Ness forward smash, making it practical in jab lock situations. PSI Magnet also alters the momentum of Ness' double jump, a form of double-jump cancelling that makes for a unique aerial burst option and a stylish way to start or extend combos.
Ness' strength is his amazing air game. All of his aerials are relatively fast, have disjointed hitboxes, combo into each other, can KO at high percents, and autocancel from a short hop. His neutral aerial comes out on frame 5 and is very useful as a combo-breaker and out-of-shield option. It also sets up jab lock and tech chase situations at middle percents and has decent knockback at high percents, making it a viable edgeguarding and KO option. His forward aerial has a large disjoint and is quite active, making it excellent for combos, edgeguarding, and approaching. Ness' new multi-hit up aerial is strong and great for juggling, and its drag-down properties allow Ness to set up combos and KOs. Ness' back aerial is very strong when sweetspotted, and his down aerial is a slow-but-powerful meteor smash that can edgeguard or start vertical combos.
Ness' grab and throw game is also outstanding and among the best in the cast. His grab is relatively fast, and all of his throws have useful applications. Ness' down throw is a useful combo starter and will often lead into multiple forward airs, and his forward throw has very high base knockback, allowing Ness to set up edgeguarding situations or even KO opponents at very early percents on some stages. Ness' up throw, while not as practical, is a solid mix-up that can set up juggling with PK Thunder or PK Flash. Most notorious, however, is Ness' back throw, which remains the most consistent kill throw in the game.
Ness' ground game, while limited, also has strengths. His forward tilt and dash attack are fast and strong enough to KO at high percents, and the latter has improved range. His up tilt is a good combo starter at low percents and can even KO at higher percents. His down tilt, which is very fast and highly spammable, can be used to two-frame, jab lock, confirm into a grab, or deal immense damage if the opponent is trapped at the ledge. His forward smash (baseball bat) deals high damage and is among the strongest forward smashes in the game if sweetspotted with the tip of the bat. Ness' up and down smashes (yo-yo) have significantly improved knockback, deal damage while charging, and can hang below the stage, making them some of the best and easiest-to-use edgeguarding tools in the game.
Ness' strengths are balanced by notable weaknesses. Grounded PK Fire does good damage, but is punishable on shield and easily escapable with good DI, making it generally less useful than its aerial counterpart. While Ness' hitboxes are large and powerful, he can still be outspaced or stuffed out by characters with even larger disjoints, especially swordfighters such as Shulk, Marth, and Lucina. Moreover, Ness' below-average run and air speed, as well as his lack of a quick, long-ranged projectile, render him slightly vulnerable to camping. This is especially true if Ness' opponent utilizes projectiles that are not energy-based, such as Link's arrows and boomerang. Ness is also vulnerable to juggling given his floatiness and lack of reliable landing options, as well as the removal of multiple air dodges. Powerful, disjointed aerials such as Palutena's and Ike's up aerials are particularly effective against Ness. However, Ness' most glaring weakness remains his recovery. Despite traveling a good distance, his PK Thunder 2 is extraordinarily exploitable: if the attack makes contact with an opponent or projectile mid-flight, its distance will be halved, often resulting in a gimp. Furthermore, opponents with good timing can hit Ness with a powerful attack or fall into PK Thunder 1 before he can launch himself. Because of its enormous knockback, PK Thunder 2 is also susceptible to many counters, and opponents who time their counter correctly will almost always kill Ness. Conversely, opponents who mistime an edgeguard against Ness will often die for it.
Overall, Ness is an offense-oriented character who excels in pressuring, edgeguarding, ledgetrapping, juggling, comboing, and KOing, but suffers from limited range, difficulty landing, and a predictable recovery. As a result, he has a somewhat polarizing matchup spread, with even or favorable matchups against some top-tier characters, most notably Pikachu, Snake, Fox, and Joker, and poor matchups against others, particularly Lucina and Shulk.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Ness has been greatly buffed in his transition to Ultimate. His forward tilt is now a viable KO option, and his dash attack has increased knockback and range. His up tilt has decreased ending lag and is useful for starting combos, while his down tilt racks up damage much more effectively, especially near the ledge. One of Ness' most significant buffs were to his yo-yo smash attacks (up smash and down smash), which not only regained their charging hitboxes, but now can hang below the ledge to set up easy edgeguards against most characters. His up smash in particular also has dramatically improved knockback, making it a viable KO option. Many of Ness' other tools are more effective as well: his down aerial has more range, can once again be autocanceled from a short hop, and has a much stronger meteor smash effect; his new up aerial has drag-down properties, enabling him to set up combos. Ness has also recieved buffs to his special moves: his PK Flash charges much more quickly and no longer causes helplessness; his PK Fire has reduced lag (especially landing lag, making it far more useful when used in the air); his PK Thunder deals more damage; and his PSI Magnet now has a hitbox that helps Ness extend combos or set up kills.
Ness has also received indirect buffs from the universal changes in Ultimate, especially the new air dodge mechanics and general buffs to aerial attacks. The return of directional air dodges benefits Ness tremendously, as Ness' directional air dodge travels further than that of any character aside from Lucas), providing a reliable recovery option aside from the notoriously exploitable PK Thunder 2. The removal of multiple air dodges also enables Ness to pressure opponents in the air with PK Thunder more consistently. Furthermore, Ness' already great aerial game is even better, as his forward, down, and up aerials deal more damage, and all of his aerials have drastically less landing lag, even compared to other characters. Most notable in this regard are his neutral and down aerials, which have less than half their previous amount of landing lag.
However, Ness did receive some nerfs. His new up aerial has less horizontal range, decreased KO power, and requires landing all hits (which start from behind and move in an arc above Ness) to deal considerable damage, hindering Ness' ability to juggle opponents. His grab game has been toned down, as his slower, more standard pummel cannot rack up damage as effectively, and his down throw has more ending lag, hindering its combo potential past low percents. Lastly, the power of his yo-yo smash attacks now only increases by half as much when charged, and PK Flash, in exchange for its much faster charge, is significantly weaker when fully charged.
Overall, the buffs to Ness' neutral game, punish game, edgeguarding, and recovery outweigh the few nerfs he received. Although his weaknesses from previous games, such as lack of range and an exploitable recovery, are still present (albiet to a lesser extent), Ness' incarnation in Ultimate is generally considered his strongest in the Smash series. His tournament representation in Ultimate's early metagame has been stronger than in Smash 4, with several players such as FOW, BestNess, Gackt, and Awestin achieving strong results with the character. As such, Ness is commonly considered an upper-mid or high-tier character.
Throws and other attacks
Ness has recieved a mix of buffs and nerfs. Update 2.0.0, increased autocancel frames for up aerial matching the ending lag of the move and his down aerial deals more damage while keeping the knockback the same. Update 3.0.0, nerfed yo-yo charging smash attacks which was infamous for breaking shields easily. He also received buffs such as PK Flash having a larger hitbox, and physics changes to the yo-yo that improved its potential as an edge guarding tool. Update 3.1.0 reverted the yo-yo physics back to its pre-patch state, and his neutral attack connects more reliably.
For a gallery of Ness' hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Ness teleports onto the stage with PSI Teleport, ending in an explosion leaving him covered in soot which he then shakes off his body.
In competitive play
Upon the release of Ultimate, Ness was considered a low-high or upper-mid tier character at best, roughly on par with his Smash 4 counterpart. Despite his improved recovery and various buffs, Ness was still somewhat hindered by the popularity of swordfighters, who have posed difficult matchups for Ness throughout the Smash series. Furthermore, the loss of the ability to airdodge multiple times before landing and the smaller hitbox of Ness' up air led players to believe that landing would be more challenging for Ness than in Smash 4.
However, Ness' results in the early metagame of Ultimate have been stronger than in Smash 4. The overall mechanics of Ultimate and the changes to Ness' aerials and specials have greatly bolstered Ness' neutral, advantage, recovery, and movement options. In addition, many of Ness' hardest matchups from Smash 4 (most notably Rosalina & Luma, Cloud, and Corrin) were nerfed and are considered far less troublesome.
Top players' viewpoints of Ness remain mixed. Although players such as VoiD and Dabuz still regard Ness merely as an upper-mid tier character, he appears to enjoy even or slightly favorable matchups against some of Ultimate's best characters: ESAM considers Ness one of the only losing matchups in the game for Pikachu, and MkLeo has expressed reluctance to play against Ness as Joker. Overall, Ness is a dangerous but somewhat inconsistent character at high level, with his overwhelming offensive kit and edgeguarding prowess offset by his limited recovery and landing options. Ness has achieved results on par with a modest high-tier character, largely thanks to players such as BestNess, Gackt, and Awestin.
Classic Mode: Home to Onett!
Note: Every stage plays a track from the EarthBound universe, no matter what universe the stage originates from.
Role in World of Light
Although Ness does not appear in the World of Light opening cutscene, he was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (sans Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Ness can be found in a pink cloud area reminiscent of Magicant.
Ness' Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Ness in World of Light allows the player to preview the spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase Video