Ryu (リュウ, Ryū) is a playable character and newcomer in Super Smash Bros. 4. As the fourth downloadable character announced, Ryu was revealed and released alongside veterans Lucas and Roy on June 14th, 2015. Ryu is the fourth of six playable third-party characters for the game, alongside Sega's Sonic and Bayonetta, Bandai Namco's Pac-Man, fellow Capcom representative Mega Man, and Square Enix's Cloud. Ryu is voiced by Kyle Hebert in English and Hiroki Takahashi in Japanese, both of whom have voiced him since Street Fighter IV.
Ryu is currently ranked 12th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the A tier and making him the lowest ranking top-tier character. The control input carryover from the Street Fighter series benefits Ryu immensely, with his tapped attacks being useful combo starters and his held attacks being great combo finishers or potent KO options. This is made better by his multiple combo-breaking options such as Shoryuken, neutral air, and Focus Attack, all which have quick startup and make him surprisingly difficult to juggle, while the latter two also allow him to start damaging combos due to the good damage and speed of his moveset. His recovery is also resilient, as his entire special moveset grants him unpredictable ways to return to the stage. Finally, Ryu is exceedingly difficult to punish out of shield due to most of his moves having a hitlag multiplier of at least 1.8x. 
However, Ryu's approach is problematic due to his overall below average mobility. Most notably, he carries over the "fixed arc" jumps from his series, giving him the slowest air acceleration in the game and making his aerial approaches very committal. Additionally, his only projectile, Hadoken, is slow and very easily intercepted, while his ground attacks have short ranges. His grab game is also lackluster, since none of his throws can combo (barring down throw until 30%) or KO reliably. His recovery is also very easy to gimp if Shoryuken is his only available option, due to its fixed movement and inability to edge sweetspot until the later half of its animation. Finally, Ryu often suffers with "forcing" KOs, as he lacks reliable finishing moves outside of set-ups from Focus Attack or his tapped tilts, making it difficult for him to KO without starting a combo.
Due to possessing one of the highest learning curves in the game, Ryu's representation is merely average, unlike other highly ranked characters. Regardless, he has overall been very successful in competitive play, thanks to his extremely rewarding performance once mastered. However, despite his success and outstanding potential, Ryu's current ranking on the tier list is debatable. Though he has good tournament results from dedicated mains like Trela, Darkshad and Locus, the more consistent and frequent tournament success of characters formerly ranked below him, particularly Mewtwo, Bayonetta, and Marth, has caused his tier ranking to drop.
Ryu has one of the most unique archetypes in SSB4, being a heavyweight of average size and mobility, but also having skill in both starting combos and finishing them with ease. Most of his attributes liken to that of Mario's, including a decent dashing speed and overall damage output. This owes to the fact that Ryu, like Mario, is an "all-rounder" in his home series.
Ryu's controls set him apart from any character in Super Smash Bros. history, in that they emulate how he functioned in his home series. The speed and power of his attacks are based on whether the player taps the attack button (fast but weak) or hold it (strong but slow). Additionally, his specials (aside from Focus Attack) have different effects, altered hitbox sizes/durations, and/or increased power if the button his held and/or the move is used with its input in Street Fighter. This essentially gives him two movesets, both with different uses that link easily into each other to reliably chain together, rack up damage and end stocks. Not only does this make Ryu the only character in the game to be able to access true combos from nearly any move by switching from damage racking to finishers instantly, it also gives him a wide array of punishing mixups.
Ryu's moveset in and of itself also boasts significant utility. His above average air speed complements his ability to take advantage of hitstun and keep opponents in long combos until higher percents. Nearly all of his attacks -- even his tapped tilts -- have abnormally high amounts of hitlag, making them very safe on shield and making it easy for Ryu to pressure foes who shield abusively, further helped by his highly shield-damaging held forward tilt Collarbone Breaker. He also has a wide array of very powerful finishers, such as his held tilts, smash attacks, aerials (except neutral aerial), input Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and most dangerously, his signature move in an input Shoryuken. Additionally, his recovery is somewhat versatile, with Focus Attack slowing down his falling speed and making him less vulnerable, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku giving him protection against close-range gimps and providing large horizontal distance, and Shoryuken being able to easily punish reckless edgeguarders.
Along with his proficient comboing abilities, Ryu is also rather difficult to combo himself. Despite being heavy and having an above average falling speed, Focus Attack can quickly and immediately get Ryu out of a disadvantageous situation, alongside him having a bevy of powerful and quick combo breakers, such as his neutral aerial and input Shoryuken.
However, Ryu has some weaknesses. Despite his aforementioned recovery being very long-distanced overall, it is very short if many extendable elements, such as Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, are not utilized due to Shoryuken's recovery being almost strictly vertical while also having high aerial lag and thus completely stops his momentum until he is helpless which is exacerbated by his air acceleration. As such, while Ryu has a manageable horizontal recovery, his vertical recovery is easy to predict and gimp or meteor smash.
Ryu's neutral game is also held back by several issues. He has a very slow walking speed (the third slowest on the game), which hinders the otherwise great utility of his tilt attacks. While his tapped tilts and neutral aerial are very quick and useful for pressuring shields, they have short range, especially for his tall stature. His only projectile, Hadoken, is slow, short-distanced, and laggy, making it telegraphed and punishable, and giving him a difficult time against opposing camping, and he has no real way of forcing approaches. Aside from the speed and combo ability of his neutral aerial and Focus Attack's mix-up potential, Ryu's aerial approach is comparatively poor. Despite having above average air speed, his air acceleration prevents him from maneuvering effectively in midair. Furthermore, the advantages offered by Focus Attack are match-up dependent; it is relatively ineffective against characters with several multiple hitting moves, most notably Meta Knight and Fox. As Focus Attack is also Ryu's main method of escaping combos against such characters, Ryu's high weight and rather fast falling speed leave him susceptible to some combos and juggles, and his fast falling speed uniquely increases his normal falling speed by 40%, rather than 60%, giving him occasional difficulty landing.
Ryu's grab game is poor, aside from its high damage output and quick pummel. Due to its high knockback scaling, down throw has poor combo potential past lower percents. His other throws have high base knockback, giving them little to no follow-up potential, while their weak knockback scaling makes them unreliable for KOing. Another weakness Ryu has is the inability to "force" KOs. While Ryu does possess some powerful moves such as his sweetspotted forward smash and his input Shoryuken, those moves mostly require setups, and most of his other moves have low knockback scaling, such as his forward aerial, which KOs well beyond 100% despite dealing as much as 15%. Without reads or proper setup and with opponent's great SDI, Ryu can have a difficult time taking stocks from opponents, however Ryu's great comboing ability means that it's less of a necessity for him to have to KO early. His unique button inputs can be a double-edged sword, as his normal specials have lower power without traditionally inputting them and it is possible for a simple slip of the hand to cause Ryu to use the wrong move at an essential time. Ryu's combos can also be hard to start outside of reads, precise punishing, or Focus Attack. Finally, like other DLC characters, Ryu lacks custom moves, though due to the strengths his default special moveset posseses, this weakness is pretty small overall when compared to the other DLC characters.
Hence, Ryu's moveset rewards players who know how to reliably use his special inputs and chain them together, and he excels at grounded combos that overwhelm opponents with quick, low knockback attacks that can be mixed up with his multiple special moves. Overall, Ryu's strengths overpower his weaknesses, as his unique mechanics deliberately give him the true combos necessary for many characters' competitive success. Despite this, his learning curve is very high; much practice is generally required for his command specials in order to use them reliably and consistently rather than accidentally inputting the wrong move, such as self-destructing with Tatsumaki Senpukyaku when Shakunetsu Hadoken was intended. Additionally, using the C-stick or other separate analog stick for tilts is arguably more essential to Ryu's optimal playstyle than to any other character, due to the dexterity required to pull off his command inputs during combos, making him more difficult to play using controllers that lack a second analog stick or on a first generation Nintendo 3DS system for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. As a result, Ryu's results run slightly cold compared to other characters regarded as highly. However, Ryu himself has had notable representation, and it considered by many to be an extremely viable character in tournament play.
Ryu has hardly changed at all since his debut in update 1.0.8, but has indirectly benefited from the games' general changes overall. Update 1.1.0 only increased the length of his turn around animation, allowing the player to more easily use his directional inputs without accidentally turning him around. However, the same update's changes to shield mechanics and update 1.1.1's universal increase in shieldstun have greatly helped Ryu by enhancing his combo game as well as Collarbone Breaker and Focus Attack's shield breaking capabilities.
Oddly, Ryu's up and side taunts have their voice clips swapped from Street Fighter IV. In said game, Ryu also does not turn around while adjusting his headband.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Ever since his release, Ryu has been considered a very viable character. The control input carryover from the Street Fighter series benefitted Ryu immensely, giving him excellent combo potential on his attacks out of grounded, repeated weak moves, while also giving him improved versions of three of his special attcks, namely his Shoryuken becoming a fearsome KO option at relatively low percentages. This gave him excellent tournament representation and results for his DLC status, namely from smashers like 9B, DJ Jack, Venom and, most notably, Trela. The nerfs to other top tier characters such as Diddy Kong and Sheik further contributed to his better status. Ryu's tier placement, however, was a great topic of debate due to his weaknesses, namely his trouble at approaching reliably, the buffs other characters had gained, and the release of Cloud, a DLC character that was seen as just as viable as him. Despite this, he was ranked 4th on the first 4BR tier list, becoming a top-tier character.
Ryu's results would continue to decline due to the release of Corrin and Bayonetta, the buffs to Mewtwo in game updates and the spike in popularity Cloud had gained. This caused some smashers to drop him and reduced his tournament results significantly, which in turn made him rank at 9th on the second tier list, and eventually 12th on the third and current tier list. Ryu's strengths, while larger than some other top-tiered characters, are held back more than said characters by his weaknesses and very high learning curve and the dexterity to input his moves, and as such has deterred his tournament results from being as great as they initially were.
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