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.
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 Ness has low gravity, below-average falling speed, and average weight, he has above-average jump height, and his air acceleration is among the best in the game, which facilitates his powerful aerial combo game. Conversely, his walk speed is quite slow, and his initial dash and dash speed are a bit below average, limiting his neutral and grounded options.
However, Ness enjoys a useful set of PSI moves: PK Flash, PK Fire, PK Thunder, and PSI Magnet. PK Flash is a relatively slow projectile that 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. PK Fire is infamous for being spammable due to its relatively low landing lag, and the move itself helps set up combos, trap opponents for a grab, or simply rack up damage. PK Thunder is Ness' most useful special, as it can be used to gimp opponents offstage, juggle them repeatedly, or KO them from the upper blast zone. Ness can also send the tail into himself, launching him forward for an extremely powerful "PK Thunder 2" attack, which can be used to recover or take a very early stock from an unsuspecting opponent. Finally, PSI Magnet allows Ness to absorb energy projectiles and heal himself. It also has an active hitbox that deals set knockback, allowing Ness to extend combos or set up a Smash attack after a jab lock situation. PSI Magnet is especially effective against characters that rely on energy-based projectiles, such as Pikachu, Pichu, and Snake.
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 off 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 has decent knockback, making it a good edgeguarding and KO option at higher percents. 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 among the strongest in the game if sweetspotted, and his down aerial is a slow-but-powerful meteor smash that can start 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 his best 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 inferior to his aerials and throws, has some perks. His forward tilt and dash attack are strong enough to KO at high percents, and the latter has significant range, making it viable for approaching. 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 (his baseball bat) deals high damage and is among the strongest forward smashes in the game if sweetspotted with the very tip of the bat. Ness' up and down smashes (his yo-yo) have significantly improved knockback, deal damage while charging, and can hang below the stage, making them some of the best edgeguarding tools in the game. Furthermore, Ness' yo-yo can break shields if an opponent fails to react quickly with a defensive option.
However, Ness is not without his flaws. 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 big and powerful, they can still be outspaced or stuffed out altogether by characters with large 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 Mega Man or Simon, although even these characters utilize some energy projectiles. Another noticeable issue is Ness' tendency to get juggled. Due to the removal of multiple air dodges and his low falling speed, Ness is very susceptible to juggling by quick, powerful aerials such as Palutena's up aerial or by wide, disjointed aerials such as Ike's up aerial. 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 spike 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; missing the timing, however, will typically lead to death for Ness' opponent.
Overall, Ness is a viable character who excels in pressuring, edgeguarding, ledgetrapping, juggling, and comboing. However, he still suffers from problems present in previous Smash iterations, such as poor range and 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, and Joker, and poor matchups against others, particularly Lucina and Shulk.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Ness has been significantly buffed in his transition to Ultimate. Several of his moves are stronger, with his forward tilt and dash attack becoming reliable KO options at high percents, and others have become more useful for combos, with his up tilt having decreased ending lag, and his down tilt racking up damage much more effectively. One of his most significant buffs is his yo-yo smash attacks (up smash and down smash), which not only have they regained their charging hitboxes, but can now also hang below edges, which is augmented by the ability to hold smash attacks for a longer time in Ultimate. This noticeably improves his edge-guarding ability, especially due to his up smash having drastically increased KO ability at high percents. Ness's approach and zoning tools are more effective as well, with his down aerial having more range and regaining its ability to autocancel in a short hop, PK Flash charging much more quickly and no longer causing helplessness, PK Fire having reduced lag (especially landing lag, allowing it to be used in the air much more efficiently), PK Thunder dealing more damage and knockback, and PSI Magnet gaining an offensive hitbox while maintaining his horizontal momentum.
On top of his direct buffs, Ness benefits significantly from the universal changes in Ultimate. All of his aerial attacks have drastically less landing lag, especially compared to other characters, with his neutral and down aerials having less than half their previous amount of landing lag. Combined with all of his aerials except neutral and back aerial dealing more damage, and down aerial regaining its ability to autocancel in a short hop, this allows him to approach, pressure, and combo opponents far more effectively, especially with his new up aerial's ability to drag opponents down and his down aerial's stronger meteor smash, improving his already great air game. Additionally, he is one of the characters that benefits the most from the changes to air dodge mechanics. The ability to only air dodge once allows him to proficiently pressure and edgeguard opponents offstage with PK Thunder, and his directional air dodge grants him more distance than all other characters, an attribute he shares with Lucas; it not only renders him less vulnerable to juggling, but it noticeably improves his recovery by granting him a reliable mixup in place of PK Thunder 2, alleviating one of his biggest weaknesses in previous Smash games.
However, Ness did recieve some nerfs, although minimal compared to his buffs. His new up aerial has less horizontal range, decreased KO power, and requires landing all hits (which start from behind and above Ness) to deal considerable damage, hindering Ness's ability to punish and juggle opponents when transitioning from air to ground. His grab game has also been moderately nerfed, with a slower, more standardized pummel that cannot rack up damage as effectively, and a down throw with more ending lag that worsens its combo potential past low percents. Lastly, his yo-yo smash attacks now only receive half as much of a power increase when charged, and PK Flash, in exchange for its much faster charge, is significantly weaker when fully charged.
Because his neutral game, punishes, edge-guarding, and recovery have become much stronger in the face of the few minute nerfs they received, Ness has become a far more dangerous fighter than he was in previous games in the series. His tournament representation in Ultimate's early metagame has been generally stronger than in Smash 4, with several players such as FOW, BestNess, Gackt, and Awestin achieving strong results with the 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 demonstrated his improvement since 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 slightly mixed. Although players such as VoiD and Dabuz 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 the most difficult matchup 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, Awestin, and Gackt.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Spring 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from February 1st, 2019 to July 7th, 2019.
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's 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