Roy (ロイ, Roy) is a unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He is a clone of Marth, differentiated primarily by his sweetspots being located near the center of his blade rather than the tip. He is voiced by Jun Fukuyama.
Roy currently ranks 20th on the Melee tier list, in the F tier. Roy's advantages include an above average approach due to having one of the best SHFFLs in the game, as well as a good grab game, and among the best reaches in the game thanks to his sword. However, Roy's flaws are significant, which include having poor flexibility in his combo game, attacks that are difficult to properly land, generally possessing significantly laggy attacks, having few moves that can KO reliably and only one of which (forward smash) that is an adequate finisher, and one of the worst recoveries in the game while being a light character that is heavily susceptible to combos; as a result, Roy has significant KOing problems while being easy to KO himself. These flaws overpower Roy's strengths, leading to numerous matchups hard countering him, especially against those who are higher ranked than him on the tier list.
How to unlock
To unlock Roy, the player must complete either Classic or Adventure Mode as Marth without using a continue, or play 900 VS. matches.
Roy is fought on the Temple stage, with the track "Fire Emblem" playing.
Overall, Roy does not fall into any specific fighter archetype; while having a slew of powerful attacks, Roy himself is rather nimble, with a relatively fast dash, a good dash-dance and a very high falling speed. However, Roy has a relatively below average air speed, similarly to Marth. A combination of a fast falling speed and a low traction gives Roy a somewhat long wavedash (sixth longest in the game).
Among Roy's primary strengths is the overall power in most of his ground-based attacks. Roy's forward smash is a fast attack and is his primary KO move. Additionally, Roy has a powerful but laggy down smash and an up smash with multi-hit properties, decent knockback, and, when struck at the tip, spike properties, though the lattermost property is rather situational. Roy's specials are also powerful; his Flare Blade is a deadly edgeguard tactic, almost guaranteeing a one-hit KO if fully or almost fully charged. His Double-Edge Dance naturally combos into itself and can act as a reliable finisher, and his Counter scales in power against other attacks. Against smash attacks, Roy's Counter can quickly become his most powerful move; its pseudo-semi-spike properties also makes it useful when the opponent's back is to the ledge.
Roy also has a decent ground-based approach. Roy has a disjointed hitbox with his Binding Blade, as well as a fast dashing speed. Additionally, a combination of low-lag, fast aerials and a very high falling speed gives Roy a useful SHFFL. Roy's SHFFL is among the best in the game due to its extreme speed, and it is faster and stronger than Marth's. Roy's down tilt also sends opponents directly upward, with decent hitstun, giving Roy a very good method to start combos. Additionally, while Roy's wavedash is not as long as Marth's, it is still one of Roy's most reliable approach options, aided by his disjointed hitbox (giving him good wavesmashing abilities) and long grab range. As a result of his approach, Roy's reach is one of the best in Melee, with only Marth having a superior reach.
Roy's grab game is also effective. Roy has the second highest grab range among characters who do not have disjointed grabs (such as Link), behind only Marth in this regard. His throws can easily chain into each other, as their low knockback and Roy's high grab range allow him to decently tech-chase and chain grab. His up throw is also the second strongest in the game and can chain grab other fastfallers. Roy's grab game comprises a good deal of his edgeguard game. A common tactic is to force opponents off the stage with a down or forward throw and immediately intercept their recovery with a forward smash or Flare Blade.
However, Roy's primary flaw is the sweetspot placement of his disjointed hitboxes. Unlike Marth, who can safely attack opponents from a distance, Roy must go into close proximity with the opponent to deliver strong damage and knockback, as the sweetspot on his sword is closer to the hilt than the tip. While attacks can become incredibly powerful at this close of a range, this causes Roy to become very vulnerable, especially against characters with powerful close range attacks or grabs, such as Fox, Falco or Mewtwo. While Counter can potentially mitigate against physical attacks, it requires particularly good reads from the player to avoid punishment, and the attack is completely ineffective against grabs. Roy's sourspot is also weaker compared to Marth's; while Marth still has some KOing potential in his sourspotted attacks, Roy's sourspotted attacks have very poor knockback and damage in comparison. As a result of this very close sweetspot, Roy himself lacks a particularly reliable KO move. With the exception of his forward smash and potentially his down smash, Roy has few options to quickly KO, and even these two attacks need to connect in close ranges in order for them to have any reasonable KOing power. Further compounding Roy's problems with KOing are his aerials; even when sweetspotted, none of these aerials can reliably KO under 200%, they require good setups in order to properly connect, and none of them can easily inflict damage in the first place. Roy also lacks any quick KO options. While he may have two meteor smashes (the third hit of his upward Double-Edge Dance and his down air) and one spike (tippered up smash), all three are highly situational, requiring particularly lucky or skilled setups in order to properly connect. Coupled with poor offstage options as a result of high-lag aerials that are all of high risk off the edge and a poor recovery, Roy is almost completely dependent on attempting to rack up damage with brief combo strings, culminating in a reliance on wave-smashing and edgeguarding to garner KOs.
Roy also has poor combo ability, in stark contrast with Marth. Roy has slightly below average air speed like Marth, but Roy's sweetspot once again hurts him. Roy cannot move fast enough in the air to hit with the hilt of his blade, causing primarily sourspotted attacks, resulting in low hitstun and hitlag attacks, impairing Roy's combo game. Roy himself, however, is easy to combo; like other fastfalling characters, his high falling speed harms him by making him extremely vulnerable to chain grabs and potentially the space animal slayer combo. Even with fast falling speed, Roy's vertical survivability from the upper blast line is average due to a combination of his lighter weight than characters such as Captain Falcon and much slower falling speed than characters like Falco, despite him being slightly lighter than Roy.
Like Marth, Roy also has a non-stellar recovery, though his faster falling speed and higher gravity only exacerbate it to make it far worse than Marth's and among the worst in the game; adding to this, his high falling speed makes him extremely vulnerable to edgeguarding, as well as being easy to gimp. While Roy's Blazer is slightly more effective than Marth's Dolphin Slash, due to its greater horizontal distance, multi-hit properties that can aggravate edgeguarders, and its ability to be controlled to an extent, it still has high ending lag, leaving him open to punishes as he lands. Additionally, while Roy can still use Double-Edge Dance to recover horizontally, it is not as effective as Marth's Dancing Blade due to his higher falling speed.
Differences from Marth
Roy is overall a considerably less effective character than Marth. All of his sweetspots are placed at the hilt or center of his blade, making it hard for him to space, and his down aerial's spike is a meteor smash hitbox that is difficult to hit with. Almost all of Roy's moves have hitboxes that come out slower, remain active for fewer frames, or stay out for the same period as Marth's, but with slower animation speed (leading to unfortunate hitbox timing on moves like his dash attack, the upper part of his neutral attack, three of his aerials and Blazer). Roy's sourspot does far less knockback and damage than Marth's, and his sweetspots do somewhere in between the knockback and damage of Marth's sour- and sweetspots, making his KO potential much worse than Marth's. Additionally, his wavedash and moonwalk are both shorter than Marth's, resulting in him being less mobile.
However, Roy does have some advantages. As he is slightly shorter than Marth, he is slightly harder to hit (although this makes his range shorter as a result); his up smash hits multiple times and can spike, making it more reliable than Marth's, and Flare Blade is much stronger than Shield Breaker, being a one-hit KO when fully charged. Additionally, unlike Dolphin Slash, Blazer has multi-hit properties and can OHKO most lightweight fighters, like Mewtwo and Jigglypuff.
However, these advantages are not enough to alleviate his significant weaknesses, and it results in him having far less successful tournament results and a much smaller playerbase in comparison to Marth.
Grabs and throws
For a gallery of Roy's hitboxes, see here.
All of Roy's attacks are at their strongest when they hit with the center of the Binding Blade; if an attack hits with both the sourspot and sweetspot hitboxes, then the sweetspot usually takes priority but sometimes sourspots do occur.
In competitive play
Roy has a very bad matchup spread. According to the matchup chart, he has the 21st weighted total (tied with Yoshi). He counters only Pichu, soft counters two characters, and has two even matchups. On the disadvantageous side, he is soft countered by four characters (including a losing matchup to Kirby, despite Kirby being at the very bottom), countered by twelve characters, and is hard countered by four.
His inconsistent comboing ability, underwhelming recovery, and high vulnerability to combos have resulted in him struggling against most of the cast, with his matchups against these who can exploit the latter two problems (like Sheik and Jigglypuff) being especially detrimental. Floaty characters such as Jigglypuff and Peach are inarguably his worst matchups, since he has nearly no consistent punishes against them. While he can potentially OHKO Jigglypuff with a reversed Blazer, he cannot combo into it and whiffing such a move will likely result in massive punishment from the opponent. Since his sourspotted moves are extremely weak and have very little combo potential (unlike Marth's), he needs to get up close and hit with his blade's sweetspot, which causes him to struggle against characters with more favorable hitbox placements (like Marth and Falco).
Roy has had no breakthroughs in his neutral game, nor his punish game against floaty characters, which both still remain among the worst in the game. Thus, his competitive standing remains the same, even after several years of development since the matchup chart was created. Some players have shown that his punish game against fastfallers is almost as strong as Marth's, implying that Roy's matchups against characters such as Fox or Captain Falcon are not as bad as the spread indicates. However, such punishes are very stage-dependent, as they only work consistently on wide, platform-less stretches only present within Final Destination and occasionally Pokémon Stadium. Additionally, these punishes can only come about after Roy has found an opening, something that he still cannot consistently achieve due to his inferior approaches and lack of safety in his moves.
There are currently no active Roy players in high-level Melee.
Tier placement and history
On the current tier list, Roy ranks 20th, in the F tier. Roy has consistently ranked very low on most revisions of the tier list, with his highest being only 15th on two separate occasions. His severe weaknesses, such as his poor effective threat range, fast-falling physics coupled with a very poor recovery, and nearly nonexistent combo game on floaty characters, have resulted in terrible matchups against many top- and high-tiered characters (particularly the non-fastfallers) that completely stop his mains from progressing far into tournaments. This holds him back far too much in competitive play to place consistently in high-level tournaments without the use of a secondary character.
Roy's moveset also did not boast the potential creativity of other characters, especially Marth, owing to his over-reliance on his very few good combo extenders and KO moves. This has resulted in much less nuance and optimization possible in Roy's metagame, making the Roy matchup very easy to learn and catch up with. Additionally, because he is very similar to Marth, a top-tiered character that any competitive player knows how to fight against, Roy players cannot rely on matchup inexperience to win sets, unlike mains of other uncommon characters. While NEO, arguably the greatest Roy player of all time, managed to place top 8 consistently in the early Melee metagame, even he had to use Marth and Sheik secondaries to succeed at higher-stakes tournaments such as MLG. NEO, alongside many of Roy's best representatives, have either become inactive in the tournament scene or have dropped him for other characters (or other Smash games altogether), further hurting Roy's results in tournaments.
Roy's only notable results in the current Melee metagame have been through Marth players, such as Zain and Mew2King, sandbagging with him in lower-stakes tournaments or matches. Even so, his results only reinforce what has been known about Roy for years already: Roy can only fight back against fastfallers at the top level. Zain’s most significant caveat saw him play in a bracket where he only had to play against Fox and Falco in the top 8 at a local tournament, and outside of one narrow win against 2saint's Jigglypuff (who defeated him 3-0 in a later encounter). As such, he has usually lost when matched up against a high-level players. Thus, Roy’s representation in modern Melee is still largely barren outside of sandbagging or online tournaments, and also further highlights his limitations rather than showing legitimate character development. His metagame remains as stagnant as it was before, with players' opinions on Roy only marginally improving.
The "Tier Wars" and comparison to Marth
Marth and Roy's differences became the center of controversy and discussion on GameFAQs' tier list debates, specifically in 2003 and 2004, when the competitive scene was picking up. Marth players who generally supported the tier list claimed Marth had overall better attributes, in terms of speed, weight, and recovery capabilities. They also cited tournament results as proof for his superiority, with a multitude of professional Marth users such as Ken placing extremely high in major tournaments, while Roy lacked any such representation to back up the anti-tiers' arguments. Roy players who generally opposed the tier list, however, claimed that Roy's different attributes, such as his larger sweetspot in the center of his blade and general "superiority" in power, were enough to allow him to be as efficient of a character as Marth was; they also argued that professionals needed to learn how to use Roy as a different character from Marth in an attempt to disprove the tournament results.
Owing to the fact that these debates took place before extensive testing of Melee's engine, the debates were plagued by numerous inaccuracies that have since been disproven with time. The point about Marth's extra weight, for instance, is now considered moot; his extra weight is decidedly negligible, and can even be interpreted as a disadvantage, considering his extra weight makes him susceptible to Fox's shine combos, while Roy's lighter weight makes him immune to such combos. More importantly, pro-tiers made a common assumption that Marth is faster than Roy. While Marth indeed has a faster dashing speed, this claim is questionable, considering that Roy's SHFFL is faster than Marth's due to his falling speed and lower short hop. Similarly, some points brought up about Roy's viability are also now considered inaccurate. For instance, Roy's "superiority" in power has been disproven, as many of Marth's attacks, tippered and non-tippered, deal more knockback and damage than Roy's respective centered and non-sweetspotted strikes. The sweetspot in the hilt of the blade is now considered a disadvantage and one of the main reasons for Roy's poor tier placement; while Marth can attack from afar and still deal respectable damage, Roy cannot do so, lest his attacks hit with extremely low knockback; Roy's sourspot on the entire length of the Binding Blade, besides the hilt, is also much weaker than Marth's sourspot on the hilt of the Falchion.
Overall, the primary reason for Roy's named inferiority is precisely the one that anti-tiers attempted to refute: Roy has too much trouble trying to KO his opponents. Marth has far more creative and flexible ways to string together moves, deal damage, KO, and edgeguard (especially due to his down aerial spike). Roy, however, lacks the same flexibility in his comboing and KOing games, and is instead heavily reliant on predictable and repetitive chain grab and down tilt setups, with almost all of his viable combos ending in a forward smash. Roy's edgeguarding game is also considerably worse than Marth's; while Roy's down tilt is more useful for combos, it is not at all useful for intercepting the majority of recoveries (unlike Marth's). Additionally, Roy has a notoriously poor off-stage game due to his falling speed and ineffective aerials, which hinders his ability to perform gimps without self-destructing. The current metagame for Melee reflects these differences and conclusions: Marth ranks in the S tier at 3rd place and features numerous dedicated mains, while Roy ranks in the F tier at 20th, and has very few dedicated mains of his own.
Perhaps in spite of his inferiority to Marth, Roy still has a notably large fanbase in the Melee community, partially stemming from his notable roles in some machinima. In an unofficial poll held by NinBuzz, Roy was voted the fifth favorite Melee fighter among viewers, gaining 9% of the total vote.
In single-player modes
In Classic Mode
Unusually, Roy does not appear in Classic Mode when unlocked, neither as an ally, nor as an opponent, making him the only fighter who never appears at all; the reason for this is unknown. Despite this, Roy does have an introduction image for the "Now Loading..." screen between matches programmed into the disc.
In Adventure Mode
The Adventure Mode makes no concessions to Roy when he is unlocked. Like Marth, however, music associated with him can play in the Underground Maze stage.
In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Roy and his allies are fought on Final Destination, as Roy was not designated an official home stage. Final Destination has the unusual property of playing the Fire Emblem music track when accessed this way.
In Event Matches
Roy appears in two Event Matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Roy as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Roy on any difficulty: