Pressing the special move button makes Ridley rear back and charge plasma in his mouth. He releases a stream of fireballs at 8 frame intervals that bounce on the ground after either holding the button long enough or releasing it. The number of fireballs that Ridley releases, which range from a single orb up to five, depends on the duration the button is held. These will be released in a random range, with random bounces, from a specific area positioned on Ridley's mouth.
If the move is completely charged, the fireballs will make a distinctive sound, different from the one heard when Ridley spits four orbs or fewer. However, releasing the charge just before will give Ridley the max amount of fireballs with less lag, aiding in combo utility. The move has a long startup, but it charges fully sooner than other charged projectiles (frame 42, with fireballs being released 14 frames later), and deals a large amount of damage if all fireballs connect, up to 30% with a 1.25× damage multiplier on each fireball.
While charging, Ridley has a special hurtbox on his mouth. Should he be hit by an attack with hitstun, the plasma will explode in his mouth, dealing extra damage to himself and leaving him momentarily stunned for 56 frames. Ridley will take no knockback, which makes it a niche survival option, though a lot of the time it leaves Ridley wide open to a heavy punish. Projectiles can also trigger the recoil animation. The damage taken begins at 8%, and will scale up to 20%, depending on how long Ridley has charged for. This maxes out at frame 41. The hurtbox lasts for 9 frames after releasing the charge button, with it going away 5 frames before the fireball's release.
Ridley has had the ability to spew fire in nearly every one of his appearances, though the move in Ultimate specifically hearkens back to its functionality from the first Metroid game, where he spits several fireballs in succession and they bounce along the floor, forcing Samus to carefully dodge them or freeze them to avoid damage. Due to hardware limitations, Ridley could only have 5 fireballs on-screen at any time in the original Metroid, the same amount that he fires at maximum charge in Smash.
In the Metroid Prime series, Meta Ridley gains a weak point in his mouth. Whenever he opens it, either to roar or to charge and fire a plasma attack, and the player shoots at it enough, he either becomes dazed and open for attack (in Metroid Prime and as Omega Ridley in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption) or takes damage (as Meta Ridley in Metroid Prime 3). Both of these effects are reflected in Smash.
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