Roy (ロイ, Roy) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Initially leaked via data mining of update 1.0.6, Roy was formally announced alongside Ryu during a Nintendo Direct on June 14th, 2015, and was made available that same day as downloadable content alongside Lucas and Ryu. Jun Fukuyama reprises his role as Roy's voice actor, and provides new voice clips that mimic the ones he recorded in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Roy is currently ranked 42nd out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. In addition to rendering him as the lowest ranking DLC character, this is roughly similar to Roy's low-tier placement in Melee, where he was ranked 20th out of 26. Due to SSB4's tier structure as of the current tier list, however, Roy is actually rendered as a mid-tier character.
Roy boasts good overall mobility and attack speed, owing to very fast dashing and air speeds, alongside fast-starting attacks that allow him to quickly react to openings. When coupled with the Binding Blade' highly damaging sweetspots, which are close to its hilt, Roy boasts impressive power and a number of strong KOing options at close range.
Roy also benefits from gameplay changes brought about by SSB4: the rage mechanic supplements his strong sweetspotted attacks, the changes to hitstun and shieldstun make his sweetspots significantly safer on hit, while the updated edge mechanics improve his recovery. Roy also has a varied combo game that is difficult to predict and grants him above average damage racking potential, with reliable combo starters from low to medium percents including forward and down throw, neutral attack, neutral and up aerial, and Double-Edge Dance.
Roy, however, is strongly held back by a poor approach, owing to his slow air acceleration and unsafe aerials that cannot autocancel in a short hop. On a related note, Roy is ineffective at spacing: despite having disjointed range, the Sword of Seals' inconvenient sourspots force him to space his sweetspotted attacks dangerously close to opponents.
Roy's combo game is also flawed: his sweetspotted moves are ineffective at performing lengthy combos past medium percents, while his forward, back and down throws are heavily reliant on reads because of their very low hitstun. Finally, Roy suffers from a poor recovery: Blazer is predictable and covers very minimal vertical distance, while his very fast falling speed not only hinders his recovery, but also makes him susceptible to combos.
Unlike in Melee, Roy is a semi-clone of Marth, although he retains the attributes that differentiate the two. Compared to Marth, Roy sports the eleventh fastest dashing speed, the fourth fastest air speed, and the fifth fastest falling speed (7, 23, and 30 spots higher, respectively), alongside being 5 units heavier than Marth. Conversely, Roy walks significantly slower, being only above-average compared to Marth, while his air acceleration is among the bottom five. Finally, Roy's long extended dash-dance allows him to read and punish opponents accordingly. However, his laggy initial dash (17 frames) and turnaround animations give him a poor shield buffer out of his dash and turn. Overall, this places Roy's archetype as a speedy fast-faller with polarized, linear movement. Roy's mobility is considerably faster than Marth's in regard to movement speed and air-to-ground transitioning, but his aerial fluidity is significantly limited, preventing him from easily using retreating aerials like Marth, and makes his aerial approaches committal.
Apart from differences in attributes, many of Roy's attacks differ from Marth's by having separate animations, which in turn give his attacks completely altered hitbox sizes, frame values and mechanical differences. This grants him a individualized playstyle compared to Marth, made most notable by his inverse tipper: the Binding Blade deals more damage and knockback near its hilt, and much less at its blade's tip, which has very little KO potential compared to Marth's untippered Falchion. However, its inverse tipper is much larger than Falchion's tipper, and most of its attacks are less polarizing due to their possession of a "mediumspot" that is between both its sweetspot and sourspot. Roy's sword, along with his attributes, encourage a highly rewarding close-and-personal game with heavy emphasis on landing hits with his sword's larger sweetspot, and has little focus on distant spacing due to its ineffective sourspots.
Much like his overall mobility, almost all of Roy's attacks have quick start-up, and his aforementioned speed allows him to easily close the gap between himself and his opponent to make effective use of his inverse tipper. Coupled with his sweetspot's high damage, Roy has an above-average damage racking game once he finds an opening. His most versatile combo initiators are his neutral aerial (which has quick start-up, low landing lag, and a long-lasting hitbox) and his neutral attack (which starts at frame 5 and launches at a favorable angle), both of which can start combos into his throws and tilts. His up aerial starts on frame 5 and has a deceptively long-lasting hitbox that lasts until the sword trail ends, allowing a reverse sweetspotted up aerial to start medium percent combos into neutral aerial, back aerial, or Blazer, or a sourspot into Double-Edge Dance depending on the enemy's reaction. Finally, forward aerial has very early interruptibility, allowing it to be used as a retreating aerial while jumping backwards, can chain into itself up to two times if Roy moves at full speed and uses his second jump, and can be used for frame-trapping against air dodges if followed up with an up aerial. His down tilt is also a good spacing option, and is useful for shield stabbing and edgeguarding due to its semi-spike trajectory.
Tying in with his damage racking game are his throws, which launch at favorable angles for low-percent combos. Down and forward throws can chain into his neutral attack, dash attack, forward tilt, neutral aerial, Blazer and Double-Edge Dance. As Roy's combo-initiating moves can often lead straight into a grab, it is common for Roy to deal high amounts of damage through precise reads at low percents, either from an attack into a grab, or through chaining a throw into an attack, then re-grabbing. While the low hitstun of his throws prevent true follow-ups at higher percents, they also force opponents into tech-chase and air dodge scenarios, allowing Roy to condition opponents into reacting. Up throw is also able to KO outright at very high percents.
The power of Roy's sweetspotted moves also grant him an array of KOing options that are capable of KOing impressively early. While on-stage, his best KOing options are his forward and up tilts, forward and up smashes, and Blazer, due to their quick start-up and high power. His smash attacks, in particular, are immensely powerful; forward smash is one of the strongest of its kind and can be used for hard punishes at as low as 40%, up smash is capable of KOing as low as 100%, and the sweetspotted first hit of down smash can KO at around 120%. Although Roy's offense thrives while he is on-stage, his fast air speed and disjointed range grant him an effective off-stage presence. His forward, back and down aerials each have distinct perks apart from their power: the former two are quick and have wide arcs, while the latter is a powerful meteor smash when sweetspotted. Although he is a middleweight, Roy is also one of the better users of rage, as his very quick falling speed grants him impressive on-stage endurance and allows him to further enhance the knockback of his already powerful moves.
Finally, each of Roy's special moves possess respectable utility. Flare Blade is a deadly edgeguarding option, especially while on-stage, thanks to its fearsome power even when uncharged, large hitbox, and deceptively low ending lag. The latter allows it to be used as a mindgame to punish edge getups, while its speed can amplify Roy's sub-par aerial mobility by granting him an aerial B-reverse. Double-Edge Dance is effective for damage racking, catching dodges, and pressuring shields; its final upward and forward hits can also KO outright. Blazer is an excellent out of shield option, grants both brief super armor on start-up and high power when grounded, can stage spike careless opponents who attempt to edgeguard Roy, and can be a true combo from his down throw at 0%, or a neutral attack at specific percents as a KO combo. Lastly, his Counter is one of the strongest counterattacks in the game, as its 1.35× damage multiplier makes it devastating when used against a powerful attack.
However, Roy is hindered by a slew of flaws. Although he is granted a powerful offense, making use of it is difficult in the first place despite his remarkable mobility, mainly due to several reasons. His very fast air speed is offset by his very slow air acceleration, making his aerial approach highly committal in general, much like Ryu's. In addition, while his inverse tipper is one of his greatest strengths, it also forces him to fight at close range to be utilized at its fullest: only his sweetspots cause enough shield stun to prevent punishment, and when coupled with his attacks having overall high ending lag (or in the case of his aerials, the inability to autocancel with a short hop), this results in him having to space attacks dangerously close against shields and negating the benefits of his disjointed sword. Finally, his range is below average for a swordsman, and when coupled with the Sword of Seal's low-utility sourspots, Roy's approach and spacing game is poor despite his good mobility, since his only quick, low-risk options that can be used to close in and pressure the opponent are his neutral aerial and falling up aerial.
Roy's combo game, while powerful at low percents, become inconsistent from medium percents and onward. Although possible, Roy's sourspots are very unreliable for creating combos unlike Marth's, as they require extreme precision and only work at specific percents. His sweetspots are similar, due to them sending opponents too far for actual combos and only being effective for outright KOing at high percents. His throws also lack any true followups due to their very low hitstun: his forward throw can be easily teched, while his down throw can be air dodged out of. Overall, this makes Roy potent at damage racking, but his lack of KO setups puts him at a significant disadvantage when trying to end stocks, as it leaves him only with hard punishes.
Lastly, Roy's offstage endurance is notoriously poor. His very quick falling speed makes him extremely susceptible to combos, and as none of his moves are generally reliable enough to consistently break combos, many characters with reliable combo moves can rack up large amounts of damage and easily force him off-stage. To add to this issue, Roy's only recovery move, Blazer, is notoriously ineffective despite his impressive mobility: although it offers excellent protection, can be angled, and covers a decent amount of horizontal distance, it covers little vertical distance and is predictable. When coupled by his very quick falling speed, he is highly susceptible to meteor smashes, and even a sufficiently strong semi-spike can launch him too far away to recover. Additionally, players unaccustomed to his falling speed will quickly find that any misused aerial off-stage will send him too far to recover.
Although tournaments do not currently allow custom moves, it should be noted that Roy does not have any due to being a DLC character. As such, he must not only utilize his own special moves properly, but also adapt as best as possible against characters that possess their own custom moves.
Overall, Roy's strengths are on par with his weaknesses. While his character archetype is commonly viewed as being in the rushdown and/or glass cannon categories, he cannot effectively function in either role due to his poor recovery, unimpressive range for a swordsman, and vulnerability to combos. Instead, his optimal playstyle consists of limited aggression: capitalizing on enemy openings with his excellent mobility, and pressuring them with both his powerful sweetspots and effective combo game, but approaching cautiously and spacing his sweetspots safely enough to circumvent his flaws. As a result of these traits, Roy has sparse tournament representation and results at high-level play, although he has nevertheless achieved some competitive success, thanks to players such as Hyper Kirby and Cloudy.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Melee
Roy is frequently placed within a group of characters (Bowser, Dr. Mario, Charizard, King Dedede and Pit) that are the most noticeably reworked veterans in SSB4. In Roy's case, several of his moves were de-cloned from Marth, to the point that he is now a semi-clone. Although Roy received a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition from Melee to SSB4, he has overall been buffed.
Among Roy's buffs are his greatly improved mobility, now having a faster dashing speed and one of the fastest air speeds in the game, as well as his moveset being notably more rewarding than in Melee: most of his moves are different from Marth, such as his new neutral attack, forward and up tilts, dash attack and down aerial, all of which improve his close-ranged offense and combo game, and many of which are more reliable KO moves. His damage output is higher, and his sweetspotted attacks are considerably more powerful, giving him a bevy of new KOing options, which generally alleviates his main weakness from Melee. His attack speed is faster overall, with his aerials in particular having significantly reduced ending and landing lag, L-canceling notwithstanding. The addition of rage boosts his KO power even further, while his heavier weight allows him to use it quite effectively. Lastly, Roy's recovery is generally better, thanks to Blazer's improved horizontal distance, his faster air speed, and the introduction of edge trumping.
However, Roy has also received several nerfs. Roy now stands at Marth's height, which enlarges his hurtbox, though his attacks have much shorter ranges and hitbox durations in spite of this, forcing him to fight at a much closer range, exacerbating one of his key weaknesses in Melee. For the most part, Roy is also harmed by the post-Melee gameplay changes: the loss of wavedashing and L-canceling, as well as the weakening of dash-dancing, noticeably worsen his approach. The general increase in range for other characters since Melee, such as with Donkey Kong and Bowser, also indirectly hurts him. Double-Edge Dance's first hit has almost completely lost its ability to stall his descent due to his faster falling speed, which hurts his recovery despite its improvements. Lastly, Roy's heavier weight makes him easy to combo despite falling speeds being slower in SSB4 than they were in Melee.
Overall, Roy's strengths are much more pronounced than in Melee, though he retains most of the same weaknesses as well. While his sweetspotted attacks are considerably more rewarding, he still has to fight up close in order to rack up damage, while his sub-par endurance makes his playstyle risky. Despite Roy having been overall buffed, other veterans were also buffed to varying degrees, which downplays his strengths in SSB4's metagame.
Roy has been slightly buffed via game updates. Update 1.1.0 gave Blazer additional hitboxes, making it easier to land. However, the same update reduced the damage outputs of its first and last hits, which slightly weakened its KO potential. The changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 have made Roy's sweetspotted attacks much safer at the cost of his sourspotted attacks being unsafer, to the point where his semi-clone, Lucina, has safer attacks than both him and Marth. Lastly, update 1.1.4 decreased the landing lag on all of Roy's aerials, which improved his neutral and up aerials' combo potentials when they are SHFF'd, and decreased Double-Edge Dance's start-up and ending lag.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Roy's initial perception among the community was very positive; players almost immediately recognized his powerful offense due to the prominent strengths of his sweetspotted attacks, heavily damaging throw set-ups, and significantly improved mobility. These views were especially noted because his semi-clone, Marth, and by extension Lucina, were considered poor characters at the time. Despite his extremely low representation, which was unseen of a perceived high-tier character, most of the community believed that Roy was a viable character, with ZeRo notably going as far as saying he was the best sword-wielding character in the game. Even so, his viability was also disputed due to his sparse tournament representation and results. Furthermore, characters considered worse than him received a variety of buffs in later updates, with a corresponding increase in tournament results and representation than Roy, while his weaknesses were made much more apparent to the community. As such, opinions on Roy quickly started to change due to his vulnerability to combos, weak recovery, and an ineffective close-ranged playstyle due to his poor approach and unimpressive range. In spite of these flaws and his sparse representation and results, Roy was ranked 32nd on the first 4BR tier list, placing him at the top of the low-tier.
However, update 1.1.4 granted Marth and Lucina major buffs that significantly increased their effectiveness, while Roy only gained minor landing lag decreases to his aerials. This resulted in them, especially Marth, achieving improved results from professionals and saw their opinions reassessed as those of a high-tier and a mid-tier character, respectively. Conversely, Roy remained a low-tier character due to the minimal effectiveness of his buffs from update 1.1.4. His position relative to the cast was still disputed; some professionals like ZeRo reconsidered him to be on the lower portion of the mid-tier, whereas others like Abadango considered him one of the worst characters in the game. In spite of his sparse tournament representation, he received some results from the few professionals who do main him. The biggest upset occurred at Super Smash Con 2016, where Ryo went on a two-game win streak while using Roy against Abadango's Mewtwo. Although Abadango would defeat Ryo in their third match by counterpicking with Rosalina & Luma, he only did so narrowly. These results, however, were not enough to repair Roy's negative perception, and subsequently saw Roy being ranked 50th on the second tier list, placing him at the bottom of the low-tier.
Afterwards, three Roy players in Manny, VoiD and ScAtt, managed to place 4th, 7th and 25th, respectively, at Smash the Record 2016, with the former two having played against each other in a Roy ditto. Ryo also managed to achieve better results with Roy. When coupled with Ryo's previous feat at Super Smash Con, Roy was ranked 44th on the third tier list, placing him in the upper portion of the low-tier. Roy's results would improve even further after Cloudy's high placing of 9th at Smash Factor 6 while upsetting Kameme, 33rd at 2GGC: Fire Emblem Saga as well, Serge reaching 7th with Roy as a secondary, and komorikiri placing 16th at 2GG Championship while defeating CaptainZack. Despite this, Roy remains ranked at 42nd on the fourth and current tier list, though due to the expansion of the tiers, he is now ranked as a mid-tier character.
Overall, Roy's standing relative to the cast remains among the most divisive and debatable of the entire cast. While his tier placement is still slightly contested to this day due to his polarized strengths and weaknesses, many players agree that Roy could be ranked higher in future tier lists, with some such as Mr. R stating that Roy has potential to rise into the high tier.
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