Palutena (パルテナ, Palutena) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was officially revealed on June 12th, 2018 alongside fellow Kid Icarus fighters Pit and Dark Pit, and the rest of the returning roster. Palutena is classified as Fighter #54.
Brandy Kopp and Aya Hisakawa reprise their roles as the voice of Palutena in the English and Japanese versions of the game; in addition to their portrayals being re-purposed from Super Smash Bros. 4, they also provide new Palutena's Guidance conversations for every veteran not present in Smash 4, DLC character in Smash 4, Ultimate base roster newcomer, and Piranha Plant.
How to unlock
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Palutena is a tall middleweight. Her walking speed, dash speed, air acceleration and gravity are above average (with her air acceleration being the fifth best in the game), her traction and falling speed are both average, and her air speed is below average. In addition, she has relatively high jumps, giving her overall excellent mobility, albeit being a bit slower in the air.
Palutena has a dynamic, well-rounded moveset. She has both excellent combo potential and good zoning tools, meaning she can be played effectively either defensively or offensively. Her staff counts as a disjointed hitbox and she has two projectiles in her moveset as part of her special moves, meaning she can apply safe pressure from a distance and force approaching opponents off her. Her projectiles are unique by the fact that they are completely unconventional. Her aerial-based moveset, speed and versatility means she can easily overwhelm opponents and quickly rack up damage.
Her ground attacks are generally the weakest part of her moveset, but they can be useful. Her jab has good range, can be held to deal more damage and can also be jab cancelled into other moves. Her dash attack is very fast and grants Palutena partial invincibility; it is also a KO option around 160%. Her tilt attacks are somewhat situational: forward tilt has a long-lasting hitbox and can be used to intercept approaching opponents and floor recoveries. Her down tilt has utility for edgeguarding opponents, while her up tilt - her tilt attack with the fastest startup - can be used for forcing opponents into the air and is even a viable KO option at higher percents.
Outside of her grounded attack moves, Palutena’s ground game is strong thanks to her grabs and throws having good utility, with her grabs being quick and having good range. Her down throw is her strongest combo throw, comboing into all of her aerials and having KO confirms at higher percents. Her back throw is her strongest throw, being capable of killing from the ledge around 130%, while her forward throw also has a kill confirm at higher percents with Explosive Flame. Her up throw is the weakest of her throws, though it still has utility for forcing opponents into the air where Palutena’s can safely apply aerial pressure.
Palutena's smash attacks are very viable KO options due to each having excellent range and dealing decent damage. Up smash has a very long-lasting hitbox and covers a lot of vertical range directly in front of Palutena; it can be used to KO opponents in the air and even intercept air dodges due to how long the hitbox lasts. Her forward and down smashes are similar, both in their damage output and the fact that they have a wind effect to move opponents away from Palutena if they are just outside of the move’s hitbox.
The strongest part of Palutena's moveset, however, is her aerials, each having strong combo or KO potential. Despite all of her aerials having rather high ending lag, this is compensated by their very low landing lag and generous autocancel windows making them very safe on shield. Her neutral aerial is a very fast and safe move, being Palutena’s best combo tool by far as it combos into her other aerial attacks (including itself) until reasonably high percents, while also having KO potential at very high percents. Her up aerial is an extremely good juggling tool capable of killing off the top blast zone around 100% (even on heavyweights), with its fairly large, long-lasting hitbox making it difficult to avoid. Her back aerial, like her dash attack, grants invincibility on Palutena's shield. It has the strongest knockback of any of her aerials and is one of Palutena’s best KO options, especially from down throw. Her forward aerial, while not quite as strong, is a good combo finisher with KO potential towards the side blast zones at very high percents. While her down aerial is generally considered the weakest of her aerials, if used offstage it can have a meteor smash effect, meaning it can kill opponents at the bottom blast zone.
Additionally, Palutena’s special moves each have utility, most prominently for zoning. Her Explosive Flame can be used on opponents some distance from Palutena, and is good for forcing them into the air or for securing KOs from the top blast zone at higher percents. Her neutral special attack, Autoreticle, while not quite as useful as Explosive Flame, is another projectile which can apply safe pressure and rack up damage from a distance. Her up special, Warp, is a teleport which grants invincibility on frames 16-32. In addition to being useful for getting into a more favourable stage position, its invincibility makes it an extremely useful recovery tool which, combined with Palutena’s high jumps, gives her a very good recovery. Finally, her down special is a counter which acts similarly to Lucina and Marth’s counter when used on nearby opponents, but can also reflect projectiles from a distance. Lastly, several of her moves, such as her tilts and aerial moves, have additional shield damage, making her good at pressuring, especially since her forward and back aerials can autocancel in a short hop fast fall.
Although Palutena has very good strengths, she does have a number of noticeable weaknesses. Her most glaring problem is her mediocre ground game, with all of her grounded attacks bar her dash attack coming out on frame 8 or later and almost all of her moves either have high startup (smash attacks and down tilt), punishable ending lag (forward, back and down aerials and smash attacks) long duration (all of her tilts) or all three (forward tilt and special moves), making her very vulnerable if her attacks miss or are dodged or shielded. While some of her grounded attacks have the potential to KO, such as forward tilt, up tilt and dash attack, it is not until much higher percents than her other attacks. This is another weakness of Palutena - while a number of her moves have the potential to KO at reasonable percents, she can still struggle to secure kills due to her options being either somewhat risky or situational. Though her back aerial is a reliable kill option at reasonable percents, it has high ending lag and her smash attacks each have a noticeable amount of startup and very high ending lag, making them punishable, while Explosive Flame is also easily punishable if whiffed due to its endlag and her up aerial relies on Palutena being underneath her opponent. Furthermore, while Palutena’s recovery is decent in its distance, Warp leaves her helpless and lacks a hitbox to protect her, which - combined with the fact that Palutena is a tall character - means that her recovery can be easily exploited by opponents who know how to intercept teleport recoveries.
Despite this, Palutena is generally considered at worst a high tier character due to her versatility, well-roundedness and relatively easy combo game. Her lack of overwhelming weaknesses means that there are few opponents she struggles against, and thus her representation at tournaments has generally been excellent thanks to players like Nairo maining her and achieving noteworthy results.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Palutena had been considered a low-mid tier character in Smash 4 (ranking dead last of mid tier), and suffered from poor tournament representation even after receiving buffs via updates. In the transition to Ultimate, she has been drastically buffed, to the point where she is considered to be one of the most improved returning characters, similarly to the changes Pichu received.
In addition to the universal mobility buffs, nearly the entirety of Palutena's moveset has been improved in various ways, many of which are substantial. Starting with her ground game, forward tilt, having previously been considered the worst of its kind, has less startup and ending lag, connects both hits reliably, and has increased power; likewise, up tilt has increased power and connects more reliably, while down tilt has a longer duration and more favorable angles of knockback. Dash attack deals more damage and has much less ending lag, allowing Palutena to better take advantage of the invincibility at the front of the move. Furthermore, all her smash attacks have less ending lag, forward smash and down smash have stronger windboxes, and up smash has a much longer duration, allowing it to catch airborne opponents more effectively.
Palutena's aerial game has been further strengthened, now being one of the most efficient aspects of her moveset. The most notable example is neutral aerial, which has larger hitboxes, connects more reliably, consistently launches opponents in the direction Palutena is facing, and heavily benefits from the universally decreased landing lag on aerial attacks. As such, it has become one of Palutena's most reliable approach options, and more infamously, it can combo into itself multiple times to rack up large amounts of damage, as well as other aerials. Forward aerial and down aerial both deal more damage without compensation on their knockback, with the latter also having a longer duration (previously lasting only one frame), while back aerial has increased knockback and no longer possesses a sourspot. Additionally, up aerial deals slightly more damage and auto-cancels much earlier, no longer failing to auto-cancel in a full hop. These changes amount to noticeably improving Palutena's KO ability overall, allowing her to close stocks better at high percents with her safer options, which is complemented by their lower landing lag. As for her grab game, her throws have received few changes, but more notably, back throw KOs more effectively near edges due to launching opponents at a lower angle.
Moreover, Palutena's special moveset, previously considered among the most situational in Smash 4, has undergone an overhaul with considerable improvements. Instead of having Reflect Barrier as her side special and Counter as her down special, both moves have been merged into her down special, which triggers Counter or Reflect Barrier depending on whether the attack it blocks is reflectable or not, while her new side special is Explosive Flame, previously one of her custom neutral specials in Smash 4. This effectively gives Palutena an additional move, and makes her the only character alongside the Mii Fighters to retain a former custom move. In addition to this, all of her returning special moves have been buffed. Autoreticle's shots are faster and deal both more damage and knockback, while Explosive Flame is likewise considerably stronger (KOing opponents reliably at high percents), has much less ending lag, and can be summoned at two different distances depending on control stick input. This greatly improves Palutena's zoning capabilities, allowing her to threaten opponents from diverse positions, and gives her a more defined strength of long ranged attacks that have excellent utility. Lastly, Warp grants slightly more intangibility, and from her down special, Counter has less startup (no longer being the slowest in the game), a longer window, and less ending lag especially upon a successful counterattack, in addition to dealing more knockback, while Reflect Barrier has a much higher damage multiplier on reflected projectiles.
In spite of her myriad of buffs, Palutena did still receive some notable nerfs. Although her full neutral attack connects more reliably, the first hit can no longer be used for jab cancel setups at high percents due to its altered knockback. Up tilt has fewer active frames, making it slightly worse as an anti-air attack, while back aerial's invincibility is slower and shorter, preventing it from blocking opposing attacks as consistently, and up aerial has more startup. Additionally, as Reflect Barrier can no longer be triggered on command, it is less effective for preemptively deterring projectile use. However, these nerfs are largely outweighed by the larger and more significant amount of buffs she has received, while other nerfs, such as the increased ending lag on her grabs and reduced shield damage on her projectiles, have also affected the rest of the cast.
Palutena's buffs have improved her standing in Ultimate's metagame by a large margin, with a huge representation at all levels of play, and she has consistently attained high placements in tournaments thanks to players such as Nairo, Gen, and Zinoto. Additionally, while Palutena has received some noticeable nerfs in updates, her nerfs were not as drastic as other prominent characters in the metagame since the game's release, such as Peach, Pichu, and Olimar. As a result, she is widely considered a top tier character by the Smash community, as well as one of the best characters in the game, if not the best.
Throws and other attacks
Aside from fixing the Super Warp Glitch, Palutena has received a mix of buffs and nerfs via game updates, but has been nerfed slightly overall. Update 2.0.0 made Warp safer to recover with, and reduced neutral aerial's hitlag, making it harder to SDI. In 3.0.0, however, she has been affected by the universal reduction of shield damage for projectiles. As a result, Autoreticle and Explosive Flame are less effective for shield pressure when used in conjunction.
Update 7.0.0 granted Palutena a mix of buffs and nerfs, but nerfed her overall: while down smash and up tilt's last hit are stronger, neutral aerial's last hit has less range and down throw's increased knockback worsened its combo potential. Update 11.0.0 worsened the safety of both dash attack and forward aerial by increasing their ending lag and landing lag, respectively. In addition, her standing grab's range was shortened noticeably, which slightly hinders her grab game.
Overall, Palutena fares slightly worse than she did at Ultimate's launch, but remains one of the most viable characters in the game.
For a gallery of Palutena's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Since the beginning of Ultimate, Palutena has always had a very positive reception among the Smash community, as many top players noticed her significant buffs from Smash 4 early on and was agreed on as a high tier for much of 2019. However, after Nairo won Mainstage and Let's Make Big Moves, her already strong reception and results have further increased, with strengths such as her notorious neutral aerial, KO confirms from her down throw, and her relatively low learning curve becoming even more apparent, while her few weaknesses are relatively minor. This has to led to nearly all top players to believe she is a top tier, with many claiming she is among the best in the game, alongside other characters such as Pikachu, Joker, and Peach.
Although she remained a strong character after her nerfs in updates 7.0.0 and 11.0.0, during the online era her representation briefly stagnated due to her strongest players either dropping the character, performing worse, becoming inactive, or in Nairo's case, retiring; this led some players to question whether Palutena was starting to fall off in a similar vein to Inkling. This opinion, however, did not last long, as following the return of offline competitive play, other Palutena players such as Lui$, Chag, and Raflow picked up steam and saw several notable placements at a national level, completely nullifying the stagnation during the pandemic. As a result, opinions on Palutena have remained largely the same.
Most historically significant players
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
See also: Category:Palutena professionals (SSBU)
Classic Mode: A Little Divine Intervention
Referring to being a goddess herself, Palutena's opponents all come from series where religion and mythology play a key role. The title is the same as a phrase she says in her debut character trailer for Super Smash Bros. 4.
Note: Most stages play a track from the Kid Icarus universe, no matter what universe the stage originates from, with the only exception being Umbra Clock Tower.
Role in World of Light
Palutena was among the fighters that were summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, Palutena was present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. She attempted to block a beam with Reflect Barrier, which the beam completely pierced, disintegrating her. Her defeat causes Pit and Dark Pit to lose their Power of Flight, making the duo fall victim to the beams as well. They were all placed under Galeem's imprisonment alongside the rest of the fighters, excluding Kirby. A puppet fighter cloned from her is later seen alongside ones cloned from Greninja, King Dedede, Pokémon Trainer and other fighters.
Palutena is the last fighter to be found to be imprisoned by Galeem. In The Final Battle, she is called by Galeem as part of reinforcements after Dark Samus is awakened and Crazy Hand is beaten. She is an obligatory unlock for the true ending, as awaking her leads to a battle with Master Hand that frees him from Galeem's control (both of whom's defeats greatly shifts the balance of power in Dharkon's favor).
Palutena's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Palutena has been unlocked. Unlocking Palutena 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. Her fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with her artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Fighter Showcase Video