Robin (ルフレ, Reflet) is a playable newcomer in Super Smash Bros. 4. He was confirmed during a live stream, alongside Captain Falcon and Lucina, on the official Super Smash Bros. website on July 14th, 2014. Like in his home game Fire Emblem Awakening, players can select either male and female versions of Robin, similarly to Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, and Corrin.
In the English version, David Vincent, who is male Robin's first voice option in Awakening, reprises his role, while Lauren Landa voices female Robin in place of Michelle Ruff from Awakening. In the Japanese version, both Yoshimasa Hosoya and Miyuki Sawashiro reprise their roles as the voice actors for the male Robin and the female Robin, respectively.
Robin is ranked 37th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in D tier and tied with Samus. Robin's greatest strength is his zoning game; his tomes give him an array of useful spells and projectiles. Thunder is a versatile projectile due to having varying effects at each level of charge, Arcfire is a strong tool for traps and combo initiation, Elwind provides a highly damaging neutral infinite and is capable of edgeguarding due to being a strong meteor smash at point blank range, and Nosferatu is a self-healing grab that is very hard to escape when the opponent has a high percentage.
Robin's Levin Sword is an excellent weapon, courtesy of its great KO potential, which also extends to his aerial attacks, which, when used with the Levin Sword, have fearsome KO potential. The Bronze Sword is not to be disregarded either; while it is immensely weak and has unimpressive range, it is always available to Robin and can easily combo. Robin's unique durability mechanic can also be used to his advantage; his depleted tomes and broken Levin Swords are surprisingly strong, which makes them unorthodox KO options.
However, Robin has numerous weaknesses. His overall mobility is arguably the worst in the game, due to his dashing speed being the slowest in the game, and his air speed being average. Robin also has a very poor defensive game, as several moves are slow in regard to startup lag and even more so in ending lag. Robin's range is also startlingly lacking, as while the Levin and Bronze Swords provide disjointed range, they have very short reach. This not only forces Robin to trade blows frequently, but it also makes him glaringly susceptible to combos. Due to this, Robin has a severe lack of oppressive options in his moveset.
Robin's durability mechanic can massively turn against him, as the loss of any tomes puts Robin in a lot of trouble; losing Thunder leaves him unable to zone, losing Arcfire prevents him from starting combos, losing Elwind makes it very hard to recover, and losing Nosferatu prevents Robin from healing and forces the use of his poor grab.
As a result, Robin requires players to play with extreme precision, as to avoid wasting any uses of his weapons, as well as know how to play around the opponent when any weapons are broken. While Robin has previously seen use in numerous tournaments, primarily due to Nairo and Salem formerly maining him after the game's release, Robin's high learning curve and technical playstyle has given him limited tournament presence in the years following Smash 4's release. There are, however, a few notable smashers who main him, such as Dath and Mr.II, who defeated top-level players such as Larry Lurr and Nairo, respectively.
Robin is a tall, middleweight character who has very appalling mobility. Robin’s dashing speed is the slowest in the game, and his walking speed is the twelfth slowest in the game. Outside of these attributes, Robin's other traits are typical of a middleweight; his air speed, traction, falling speed, and gravity are all average. However, Robin's air acceleration is above average. As a result of these attributes, Robin has difficulty chasing foes and fleeing from them at the same time, though his oddly decent aerial mobility compensates this to a degree.
Robin's tomes provide a myriad of spacing, pressuring, and additional damaging capabilities. Both the Thunder and Fire tomes can disrupt opponents, rack up damage, and open up windows to chain attacks together. Thunder and the slightly stronger Elthunder peppers at mid-range or shorter, while Arcthunder travels for longer and has trapping capabilities for pressure, combos and set-ups, and Thoron pierces through opponents and deals considerable knockback. Arcfire produces a trapping, multiple hitting pillar of flame that is instrumental for approaching or disrupting approaches, pressuring, and chaining together attacks. In addition to the Fire tome, Robin's neutral attack involves the Wind tome: the former tome generates a singular explosion of fire magic that deals strong diagonal knockback, while the latter tome generates a neutral infinite consisting of wind magic that deals high damage and concludes with a blast of wind magic that deals strong vertical knockback. Elwind provides respectable vertical recovery and its first hit can be used to punish aerial and post-recovery opponents by spiking them at point-blank with the first hit. Lastly, Nosferatu is a self-healing move which heals Robin, especially if cast from behind and while having a higher damage percentage than his opponent, while it also cannot be shielded due to functioning like a grab. However, it is tricky to use, as the opponent must be at almost point-blank range to land it, although Arcthunder's trapping ability can help Robin land it easier.
Aside from using tomes, Robin's Levin Sword is a potent weapon in its own right. It is a powerful, fairly long-ranged, and electrically-charged sword that functions as a terrific offensive tool due to its excellent pressure capabilities, its impressive combo potential and its high KO power. Robin whips this out for his smash and directional aerial attacks when a smash input is inputted. It can be swung eight times before it breaks. Despite being vastly inferior to the Levin Sword in regards to KO potential, the Bronze Sword has combo potential due to its weaker knockback. His neutral aerial covers both front and back sides successively, which can be useful for spacing in the air. His down tilt can keep away grounded opponents in front of him.
Once Robin's tomes are depleted and the Levin Sword is broken, they can act as throwable items that deal immense damage, shieldstun and knockback. Properly managing Robin's discarded weapons is crucial for optimal play, as the opportunities they can potentially grant are significant. Outside of his magic and sword attacks, Robin has two useful throws: back throw is a viable KOing option near the edge, while down throw is a reliable combo starter.
However, as previously stated, Robin suffers from numerous weaknesses, such as being the slowest runner in the game. Furthermore, Robin lacks defensive options and has trouble brushing off opponents, especially those who are directly beneath, making Robin susceptible to rush-downs and juggles. Robin’s tilts generally have short range, making it difficult for him to fight at mid-range outside of the use of tomes. Many moves, specifically smash attacks and special attacks, have significant ending lag, which leaves him wide open for punishment proceeding their execution. Elwind leaves him vulnerable and interceptable after use, and when not properly managed or kept track of, can run out at critical times. Lastly, Robin's durability mechanic limits offensive options when either the Levin Sword or tomes are exhausted.
Robin benefits little from custom moves, with the only notable options being the Thunder variants. Thunder+ has highly increased power across all charges, the projectiles have more range, and both Elthunder and Arcthunder use up a very slightly smaller amount of durability. However, it charges slower, and has only half the durability of the original, with Thoron immediately exhausting the tome regardless of how much durability is left. Speed Thunder is, unsurprisingly, faster across all charges, regarding both the projectiles' speed and charging, but the projectiles have less range and noticeably less power. Robin's remaining custom moves have very situational advantages, to the point that they usually fail to compensate for their disadvantages.
Overall, Robin is a tactically-based character with varied spacing, damage-accumulating and KO options that must be used wisely and opportunely. At the same time, the lack of mobile and defensive options leave him vulnerable to pressure and combos. With this, Robin players must keep track of their weapons' durability, intelligently respond to their opponents, and take precise offensive action for success in battle.
Robin has been noticeably buffed via updates, especially in update 1.1.0 with increased damage outputs, decreased ending lag, and larger hitboxes for certain attacks. The knockback and ending lag on his down throw were also reduced, which consequently improved its combo potential. Update 1.1.3 increased down aerial's damage output, decreased the lag for down smash and all of his aerials, and increased the sizes of the hitboxes for a few moves, most notably forward tilt. Robin also benefits from the changes on the shield mechanics in brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1, with the high hitlag on his Levin Sword-based attacks becoming more useful and safer on shield. However, update 1.1.5 slightly nerfed Robin's neutral attack, an extremely important part of his neutral game, by having its base knockback increased. This results in his neutral infinite becoming nearly useless when the opponent properly uses directional influence at low-mid percentages, while neutral attack's first two hits' ending lag results in it failing to chain into from another neutral attack or a grab. To slightly compensate, Nosferatu comes out 1 frame faster, grabbing at frames 15-16, and has 2 less frames of ending lag when broken out of.
Robin has a unique character mechanic: true to the Fire Emblem series, where items break after being used too many times, Robin's tomes and Levin Sword do the same if they are used too often, with each weapon having a unique durability value. If Robin attempts to use an attack that uses durability-affected weaponry and is interrupted by an attack while attempting to use it, then that will count as one use of the weapon, even if no damaging hitbox is produced. Robin always carries the last weapon that was used, provided they are not depleted. As an additional visual indicator for durability, weapons that have been depleted by two-thirds will flicker. Once a depleted weapon is restored, Robin will perform a unique animation of the weapon appearing in both hands with a flash of light, provided that he is standing completely still; tomes appear in Robin’s left hand as it is held up in the air, while the Levin Sword reappears in Robin’s right hand as he flicks it in a manner similar to one of his idle poses.
If Robin fully depletes a weapon, it will be thrown away behind him. In the case where Robin is sent flying by knockback immediately after depleting a weapon, he will drop the used weapon on the spot before getting knocked back himself. They disappear almost immediately after hitting the ground once, but they can also be picked up and thrown; the Levin Sword deals 15% when smash thrown, while his tomes deal 18% when smash thrown, making both attacks potent surprise KOing options due to their high base knockback. If Robin does not have the proper tome for corresponding special the move and tries to perform it, Robin will perform the animation but will not produce any hitboxes. For the Levin Sword, all such attacks will instead use the Bronze Sword, which cannot break, but has shorter range, deals considerably less damage and knockback, and also lacks the Levin Sword's lingering electrical hitboxes. Weapons restore gradually after they have been depleted, with their restoration times varying on their type. When Robin scores a KO, it reduces the respawn timer for all currently-regenerating weapons by a small amount. Respawn times are unaffected by custom movesets.
Durability points for weapons do not replenish while Robin is using a tome, and the only way to replenish a weapon is to get a new copy of it. Respawning after being KO'd also replenishes all weapons, as does Pair Up, though only if it is used successfully.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Opinions on Robin's viability have fluctuated during SSB4's metagame. At first, he was considered a high-tier character due to strong projectiles and keep away games, as well as high KO power thanks to the Levin Sword and back throw's immense power. Even so, a small number of players argued against him that his mobility was too slow for him to accomplish a lot, combined with poor grab game, weak projectiles that took too long to charge and could be cancelled out by pretty much any other projectile, mediocre recovery, and having a limit to how many times he could use many moves before becoming virtually helpless, Robin was considered a low-tier character, and many smashers would slowly start to drop him in favor of another character (such as Xzax with Mario and Nairo with Zero Suit Samus). Eventually, the latter opinion would slowly start to become more prominent, until game updates notably buffed Robin over the course (particularly 1.1.0 and 1.1.1, which granted Robin better shield pressure and a combo throw). This, combined with slow improvements to his metagame, and decent results from a small number of dedicated smashers such as Dath, Jerm and Mr.II, opinions on Robin would improve slowly, and they would eventually break with the consensus of being a low-tier character after a player managed to take a game from ZeRo's Sheik (the best SSB4 player in the world using who was considered to be the best character in the game) in a tournament using Robin, being ranked at 31st on the first 4BR tier list, assessing him as a mid-tier character.
Despite Robin’s results remaining below average, as well as the introduction of Corrin and Bayonetta, Dath would place 3rd at Shine 2016, which was notable enough for Robin to maintain his ranking of 31st on the second tier list. Even so, Robin has lately seen worse results, and was thus ranked 34th on the third tier list, and his lack of a relatively large playerbase in comparison to other mid-tier characters, such as Bowser, has significantly deterred him from rising any further on the tier list, rather dropping to 37th on the fourth and current tier list, sharing the spot with Samus.