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 revealed after Lucas and released alongside him and Ryu on June 14th, 2015, making him the third downloadable character released and the final downloadable veteran. 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 44th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier and making him the lowest ranking DLC character. This is a noticeable improvement from his placement in Melee, where he was ranked 20th out of 26. Two of Roy's greatest perks are his overall mobility and attack speed: his ground and air speeds are among the fastest in the game, and a few of his key attacks also boast quick start-up overall, which collectively allow him to react quickly to an opponent's openings. These traits also complement the Sword of Seals' inverse tipper, which consists of large sweetspots near its hilt that deal impressive damage and knockback at close range, and thus grant him a number of highly potent KOing options. Roy also benefits from gameplay changes brought about by SSB4: the rage mechanic supplements his strong sweetspotted attacks, while the updated edge mechanics improve his recovery.
At low to mid percents, Roy's also boasts an incredibly varied combo game: his neutral attack, neutral aerial's first hit, forward throw, down throw and falling up aerial are reliable combo starters, his down tilt and forward throw can initiate tech-chases, and Double-Edge Dance is useful for damage racking. When coupled with the power of his sweetspotted attacks, most of which are capable of KOing at reasonable percents, Roy's combo game is generally very rewarding when successfully performed.
However, Roy has noticeable weaknesses. Despite his overall fast mobility, Roy has an ineffective approach: his grounded approach has worsened due to the removal of wavedashing and L-canceling, while his aerial approach is burdened by his very slow air acceleration and his aerials' high commitment and inability to autocancel with a short hop. In addition, Roy is oddly ineffective at spacing for a swordsman: although the Sword of Seals' inverse tipper grants it powerful sweetspots, it is only rewarding at close range, as its sourspots are much weaker in comparison. Thus, Roy is often forced to rely on getting dangerously close to opponents to maximize his combo efficiency, and has to space his attacks much closer than most other swordsmen due to his hilt having higher shieldstun.
Although Roy's combo game is effective, it does have its limits. His throw-initiated combos are inconsistent due to his throws' low hitstun, while his overall combo game starts to become inconsistent at medium percentages, largely due to the knockback of his sweetspotted moves being too high to allow follow-ups. This makes him heavily reliant on reads and thus gives him few KO set-ups aside from his neutral attack and neutral aerial at high percents. Lastly, Roy suffers from a poor recovery: Blazer's predictability and low vertical distance makes him vulnerable to semi-spikes, which is further compounded by his very quick falling speed also making him very susceptible to combos.
Overall, Roy is a "high-risk, high-reward" character who relies on using his speed to find openings before converging into highly damaging, close-ranged combos, all while walling opponents out with his fast attacks. However, he has to be more committal in comparison to other sword characters, forcing the player to limit his approaches without being overly aggressive. While Roy has improved overall since Melee, buffs to several other veterans have also allowed them to fare better in the metagame in comparison. Due to these factors, Roy has below average tournament representation, although he has achieved some degree of competitive success, thanks to the efforts of players like Hyper Kirby and CloudY.
Unlike in Melee, Roy is a semi-clone of Marth, and he now possesses an individualized playstyle thanks to certain mechanical differences. The most notable of these differences is his inverse tipper: the Sword of Seals deals more damage and knockback near its hilt, and much less at its blade's tip. However, the Sword of Seals also boasts two other distinct traits: its inverse tipper is much larger than Falchion's tipper, and most of its attacks are less polarizing than Falchion's due to their possession of an additional hitbox that is between both its sweetspot and sourspot. Like Marth, Roy is a middleweight and has above average walking speed, but his other attributes noticeably differ: he has the eleventh fastest dashing speed, the fourth fastest air speed, and the fifth fastest falling speed, which collectively make his mobility faster than Marth's. Like Marth, Roy has an effective extended dash-dance, which allows him to read and punish opponents accordingly. However, Roy is tied for the longest initial dash animation (17 frames), giving him a poor shield buffer out of his dash. His air acceleration is also among the slowest in the game: this not only forces him to commit to any aerial approaches, but also makes his aerial mobility significantly less fluid compared to Marth's, whose air acceleration allows him to easily use retreating aerials.
The majority of Roy's attacks have quick start-up, and his overall fast mobility allows him to easily get close to an opponent. By extension, his ability to easily close the gap between himself and his opponent allows him to use his inverse tipper effectively. Once Roy finds an opening, he has several ways to rack up damage. His neutral aerial is perhaps his most versatile move, thanks to its quick start-up, low landing lag, long-lasting hitbox, and utility as a combo starter. His neutral attack is also quick and can easily lead into other moves, such as his throws and tilt attacks. His down and forward throws launch opponents at favorable angles and thus open up combo opportunities for his neutral attack, dash attack, forward tilt, neutral aerial, and Double-Edge Dance. His down tilt is also a good spacing option, and is useful for shield stabbing.
Roy also boasts an array of KOing options, with many of his sweetspotted attacks capable of KOing below 130%. 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. 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 are easily capable of KOing, yet they also possess particular strengths: the former two are quick and have wide arcs, while the latter is capable of meteor smashing. Although he is a middleweight, Roy's very quick falling speed grants him impressive on-stage endurance, which and he can make great use of rage, which further enhances the knockback of his already powerful moves.
Each of Roy's special moves possess respectable utility. Flare Blade is a deadly edgeguarding option, especially while on-stage, thanks to its charging ability, overall high power, large hitbox, and deceptively low ending lag. Double-Edge Dance is effective for damage racking, while its final upward and forward hits can KO outright. In addition to its KO potential, Blazer is an excellent out of shield option that grants super armor on start-up, can stage spike careless opponents who attempt to edgeguard him, and can be a true combo from his neutral attack at specific percents. Lastly, his Counter is one of the strongest counterattacks in the game, as its 1.35x damage multiplier makes it devastating when used against a powerful attack.
However, Roy is hindered by a slew of flaws. While his inverse tipper is one of his greatest strengths, it also forces him to fight at close range in order to be utilized to its fullest. This is further compounded by his range being decidedly short for a swordsman, as resulting in a whiffed move on Roy's part leaving him open to punishment, while also not being as effective as spacing opponents as other sword-wielding characters. He also can have trouble approaching despite his good mobility, since his neutral aerial is his only quick option to use in order close in and pressure the opponent. Roy's very fast air speed is also offset by his very slow air acceleration, which makes his aerial approach highly committal in general, much like Ryu's.
Although Roy's combo game is very potent at low percents, it will become inconsistent beginning at medium percents. Unlike Marth, Roy's sourspots are not as reliable at creating combos: while they are still possible to perform, his sourspots require a lot of emphasis on precision and can quickly lose their effectiveness. The high ending lag of Roy's moves and the low hitstun of his forward and down throws collectively hinder Roy by opening holes in his combo game due to them occasionally making it so that he has to attempt to read what his opponent will do. His forward throw is also burdened by the fact that most opponents can reliably tech out of its follow-ups.
Roy's recovery is also ineffective despite his impressive mobility. Although Blazer offers excellent protection, can be angled, and covers a decent amount of horizontal distance, it covers little vertical distance and is predictable. When coupled with 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 off-stage to recover.
Roy's very quick falling speed also makes him very susceptible to combos. His unsafe moves offer opponents many opportunities to punish him, and none of his moves are generally reliable enough to consistently break combos. Because of this, many characters with reliable combo moves can rack up large amounts of damage and easily force him off-stage, where he could potentially be KO'd if dealt with accordingly. Lastly, Roy does not have any custom moves 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, his 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, playing around an opponent's shields and reactions using his excellent mobility, and capitalizing on openings with his strong combo game and potent KOing options. 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 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 survivability makes his playstyle risky. Despite Roy having been buffed overall, other veterans were also buffed to varying degrees, which downplays his strengths in SSB4's metagame.
Roy received some minor buffs from 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 and most prominently, update 1.1.4 decreased the landing lag on all of his aerials and improved 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 is 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 how his playstyle requires him to use close-ranged combat despite his ineffective approach and unimpressive range. In spite of these flaws and his sparse representation and results, Roy was ranked 32nd on the first 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.
Despite this, three Roy players (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 and current tier list, placing him in the upper portion of the low-tier.
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.
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