Ryu (リュウ, Ryū) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially confirmed on June 12th, 2018. Ryu is classified as fighter #60.
Ryu is once again voiced by Kyle Hebert in English and Hiroki Takahashi in Japanese, with their portayals of Ryu from Super Smash Bros. 4 being repurposed for the English and Japanese releases of Ultimate, respectively.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Ryu must then be defeated on Battlefield.
Ryu is one of the most varied and unique fighters in Ultimate, being a medium-heavyweight fighter of average size and mobility. Ryu has decent frame data; an average damage output; and an overall dependable ground game and mobility, due to his slightly above average traction and average dashing speed. This owes to the fact that Ryu is an "all-rounder" in his home series. However, the rest of his attributes are polarized due to them attempting to mirror the physics of Street Fighter: in contrast to his dash, Ryu's walking speed is extremely slow, while his above average air speed is counteracted by his moderately fast falling speed and very short jumps (being the fourth lowest, tied with Little Mac). His jumps also follow a fixed "arc" due to him having the lowest air acceleration, and a unique trait where his air friction stays locked at 0 while jumping, despite having a standard amount while attempting to decelerate. Finally, Ryu's fast falling speed increases his normal falling speed by 40%, instead of 60%. Overall, Ryu has effective burst movement through dashing and jumping, but has to fully commit when approaching through the air, and can have trouble moving short distances or landing.
What makes Ryu truly unique is his ability to use many variations of his standard and special attacks (barring his Echo Fighter, Ken). The speed and power of his attacks are based on whether the player taps the attack button (faster but weaker) or holds it (stronger but slower). Additionally, Ryu's special moves (aside from Focus Attack) have different effects; altered hitbox sizes/durations; and/or increased power if the button is held and/or the move is used with its input in Street Fighter. This essentially gives Ryu two movesets, both with different uses: in general, one opens up reliable combo chains and racks up damage quickly, and another KOs outright. Not only does this make Ryu one of the very few characters in the game that has access to true combos from nearly any move that can be chained directly into KO options, it also gives him a wide array of punishing mix-ups. This grants him a huge reward when it comes to landing combo starters, and it gives him an incredibly varied and versatile punishment game.
Apart from his control scheme, Ryu possesses another unique trait: nearly all of his attacks (even his tapped tilts) have a freeze frame multiplier of at least 1.8×, making his attacks surprisingly safe on shield for a melee fighter (Ken shares this trait). This makes it easy for Ryu to pressure foes who shield abusively, while making some of his combo-initiating attacks hard to escape despite his average damage output. His previously mentioned air speed complements his ability to take advantage of hitstun and keep opponents in long combos until high percents, both while grounded and in the air. Notably, his Collarbone Breaker (held forward tilt) deals massive shield damage, which allows him to not only pressure shields effectively, but deplete them quickly and easily as well.
Ryu's moveset also boasts significant utility. As mentioned above, his tapped attacks have the advantage of being fast, weak and extremely spammable, alongside other useful traits. Both his tapped neutral attack and down tilt hit on frames 2-3, with the former being useful as a simple pressure reliever, and the latter being an excellent combo extender due to it lightly launching prone opponents and setting up for a followup, including a grab. Tapped up tilt is notoriously effective for combos due to its speed, active frames (3-6) and low knockback, with notable combos including itself (on fast-fallers/heavyweights while buffering a step forward), Shoryuken, and even a true combo into a down aerial meteor smash at certain percents, though this combo is only viable near the ledge at very high percentages. Held down tilt can be immediately canceled on hit into a special attack to pressure shields or follow up with a quick damage racking combo, even at high percents. Up and down smashes have unique perks, with up smash making his hitbox small while charging, and down smash being highly damaging for its speed.
Ryu's aerial moveset shares his grounded moveset's utility. His neutral aerial is a sex kick with high effectiveness, due to it having very low knockback and the lowest landing lag of any aerial in the game. Because of its very weak late hit, it has excellent utility as a combo starter and KO set-up even at high percents. Forward aerial is quick, has good range and deals high damage, can be chained into itself with jumps, and its sourspot's high shield damage can pressure shields. Up aerial starts fast and has a decently high reach, granting it juggling capabilities. Up and down aerials are also able to autocancel from a full hop.
Alongside these tools, Ryu has a wide array of very powerful finishers: some of his held tilts, smash attacks and aerials are capable of ending stocks swiftly due to their overall speed. Held up tilt grants upper body intangibility from frames 4-10 while hitting on frame 7, making it deceptively safe for KOs alongside its speed and combo potential from tapped up tilt. Up smash's wide vertical hitbox can punish aerial approaches and substitute for the previously mentioned combo. Forward smash, while somewhat sluggish, has long range compared to most of Ryu's attacks and is his strongest standard ground attack, making it good for hard punishes. Back aerial's hitbox is small, but it is his strongest aerial while being fast with good range. Meanwhile, forward and up aerial's overall utility are further enhanced by their KO potential at high percents. Finally, down aerial is a powerful diagonal meteor smash with a long duration and fast start-up, making it deadly at the edge. With this abundance of finishers tying in with his excellent combo ability, Ryu has a plethora of set-ups and combos that can begin with almost any of his attacks connecting.
Ryu's special moveset features his signature moves, and are all effective in their own ways. Hadoken is a large ki projectile that has two travel speeds and three slightly distinct versions based on the input, with the standard projectile being capable of locking, and the input and Shakunetsu versions dealing more damage (the latter being a multiple-hit flame projectile). Tatsumaki Senpukyaku propels Ryu forward, does not render him helpless, and deals more damage after an initial travel distance. Ryu's signature Shoryuken functions as his main vertical recovery move; however, it is most well-known for its outstanding offensive use, due to its sweetspot's high knockback and slight intangibility (frames 3-5). The input version of Shoryuken has fearsome KO power, grants even more intangibility (frames 1-6), much higher knockback, and lower landing lag, alongside being easily capable of chaining from Ryu's other moves. Finally, Focus Attack allows him to tank a single hit during its use, with a half to fully-charged blow incapacitating opponents on the spot and granting an opening. It can also be canceled on hit or after tanking a blow, allowing Ryu to fake out with a shuffle that can provide a horizontal recovery boost.
Lastly, Ryu has a long-distanced recovery and is surprisingly difficult to combo, which is a trait most heavyweights do not have. A combination of a canceled Focus Attack's momentum boost and the large hitboxes of Tatsumaki Senpukyaku grant him surprisingly effective horizontal distance and gimp protection, while Shoryuken reaches above edges, granting him protection while recovering, and is able to stage spike reckless edgeguarders. Meanwhile, Focus Attack is a dependable and powerful combo breaker, allowing him to quickly and immediately escape a disadvantageous situation, while neutral aerial and input Shoryuken grant the speed and intangibility needed to escape, and can potentially open up combo or KO opportunities respectively. This grants him excellent staying power for a heavyweight with above average falling speed, allowing him to potentially use rage to maximum effect, most notoriously with input Shoryuken.
Despite his abundance of strengths, Ryu has his weaknesses, some of which are exploitable. Despite his aforementioned recovery being very long-distanced overall, it is very short if many extendable elements, such as Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, are not utilized. Canceled Focus Attack still requires a brief charge before it can be canceled. Tatsumaki Senpukyaku's long duration makes it susceptible to being interrupted by long-ranged attacks during use, and he can only use it once before landing (unless he is affected by hitstun). Ryu's falling speed, low jumps and very poor air acceleration causes his vertical recovery to suffer if he is constantly forced offstage at lower trajectories, which is exacerbated by Shoryuken's recovery being almost strictly vertical while also having very high endlag. As such, while Ryu has a manageable horizontal recovery, his vertical recovery is easy to predict and interrupt. Additionally, while Ryu excels at shield pressure, his grab game is otherwise poor. Aside from their high damage outputs and quick pummel, none of his throws have effective follow-up or KO potentials as they each have high base knockback, but low knockback scaling (meaning they send opponents too far to combo at low percentages, but also prevents them from KOing at realistic percentages). Down throw is his only combo throw, but only at very low percents, while the unique mechanics of his other throws only work in doubles play (down throw instantly breaking shields, and up throw being capable of KOing bystanders), thus making them situational.
Ryu's strong combo potential is also held back by his neutral game, with several factors making it difficult for him to find openings. His very slow walking speed hinders the otherwise great utility of his tilt attacks, and his overall range is very short despite his good frame data (especially in regard to his tapped tilts and neutral aerial), giving him trouble with characters who possess disjointed hitboxes, especially when including his tall stature. His only projectile, Hadoken, is very easily telegraphed and punishable due to its sluggishness and lag. Overall, these two issues force him to play patiently and take advantage of any openings, due to his difficulty with contending against opposing camping and inability to force approaches. Aside from the advantages granted by his neutral aerial and Focus Attack, Ryu's aerial approach is comparatively poor due to his fixed arc jumps, which forces him to commit with air attacks. Furthermore, the advantages offered by Focus Attack are match-up dependent; it is usually unsafe if the receiving attack is a multi-hit move or a fast move (such as Cloud's Cross Slash and Roy's forward aerial, respectively) As Focus Attack is also Ryu's main method of escaping combos against such characters, Ryu's high weight and rather quick falling speed leave him susceptible to some combos and juggles, and his slow fast-falling speed gives him occasional difficulty landing.
Notably, Ryu suffers from the inability to "force" KOs, as his KO potential relies heavily on stringing his aforementioned combo moves. While Ryu does possess some powerful moves, such as his sweetspotted forward smash and back aerial, those moves mostly require hard reads to land, while most of his other moves have low knockback scaling due to being tailored for combo use (a prime example being his forward aerial, which fails to KO well beyond 100% despite dealing as much as 15%). Ryu's great combo ability compensates for this and often makes it less of a necessity for him to KO early; regardless, without the proper use of reads, setups, a heavy knowledge of Ryu's moveset, or a lack of compensating for an opponent's SDI, Ryu can have a difficult time taking stocks from opponents due to his significant lack of moves that can KO without prior combos. Finally, the emphasis of using Ryu's unique button inputs cause his normal specials to have lower power without traditionally inputting them, and it is possible for a simple slip of the hand to use the wrong move at an essential time, most notoriously with him accidentally self-destructing while recovering.
Overall, Ryu is a combo-oriented fighter with a fearsome offensive ability, due to his unique mechanics deliberately giving him the true combos necessary for many characters' competitive success; his ability to overwhelm opponents by trapping them in hitstun/shield pressure, multiple options to negate and escape combos, along with his dependable recovery all tie in to him being very rewarding and unpredictable, with his strengths overpowering his weaknesses. However, his polarized movement, mediocre vertical recovery, and lack of approach make him difficult to use optimally without mastering his options. Possibly his biggest issue is his notably high learning curve; much practice is generally required for his command specials in order to use them reliably and consistently rather than accidentally inputting the wrong move.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
During the advent of the game, Ryu has received a mixture of buffs and nerfs in his transition from Smash 4 to Ultimate, but was significantly nerfed overall. However, he overall appears to have been buffed following updates.
Ryu has received some useful buffs; he greatly benefits from the dash-cancel mechanic as he can now dash cancel into his tilts which somewhat helps his overall poor and commital approach. Ryu can also attack cancel his standard attacks and aerial attacks into his specials which further enhances his varied combo game. He also benefits from his unique trait that makes him always face his opponent in a 1v1, as he can now create ledge-traps and lessen the chance of misinputting his special attacks. Hadoken has been strengthened to be notably stronger, having variable speeds and overall higher damage, which helps its utility as both a zoning option and an approaching tool. His new proximity normals allow for much more varied combo options, and with the ability to special cancel his attacks, makes his ground game much more varied and overall easier to confirm into.
However, Ryu has received many nerfs to counter the buffs. He is one of the only characters whose walking, dashing and air speeds were all unchanged, which makes him slower overall compared to the rest of the cast and excaberates his already poor approach. The new 1v1 mechanic also hinders his air game, as he is unable to perform a back aerial freely; he has to perform the move in a reverse aerial rush in order to do so. Because of his back aerial being his strongest aerial and having the longest reach among his aerials, this hurts him more than good. His most notorious KO move from Smash 4, Shoryuken, was nerfed in terms of damage output, KO potential, and invincibility, making it not as reliable of a KO option as it was in the previous game (although it still remains as an effective KO move). Ryu's original setups into Shoryuken have also been nerfed (such as up tilt having a smaller hitbox and more horizontal), making the move much less of a threat. Focus Attack also has less range and doesn't hit behind Ryu, making it less safe of a move to use.
Overall, while Ryu's overall mobility and KO potential have been worsened, his combo game and unique options have improved greatly, rewarding proficient players with incredible damage and mixups. While he has had very little results in Ultimate's early metagame, the buffs he received in 3.1.0 have caught the attention of many players, with some even saying they have been moved to a much higher tier.
Ryu has been significantly buffed overall through game updates. Patch 2.0.0 improved his neutral attack and allowed his forward air to autocancel from a full hop, but at the cost of down tilt no longer allowing Ryu to jump as fast after using it. Patch 3.1.0 gave the most changes, altering many of his core moves: jab 1, jab 2 and light (close) forward tilt have a wider window to followup with a special move, while heavy (close) neutral attack has been completely changed into a low-knockback combo tool, significantly improving its utility as it was previously a heavy up tilt with no followups. Light (far) forward tilt has more range, up aerial and early Tatsumaki Senpukyaku has a larger hitbox, light down tilt has more hitstun, and heavy down tilt has decreased knockback, allowing the latter two to combo more effectively. Finally, all versions of Hadoken travel slower if tapped and faster if held, allowing the player to control the projectile's use.
Overall, Ryu's renowned combo strings have been improved through game updates, making him fare better than at release.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Ryu can perform a special move out of certain normal attacks, a mechanic known in his home series as special-cancelling. By pressing the special button or doing the command input after connecting with a normal attack on hit or on shield, Ryu will cancel the endlag of the normal attack and perform the move. The normal attacks that can be canceled include the first two hits of neutral attack, tapped and held down-tilt, tapped up-tilt, and proximity forward-tilt and held neutral attack (in Ultimate). He is also capable of doing so with his aerials. Special-cancelling allows Ryu to perform blockstrings and hit confirms into Shoryuken for a kill, Tatsumaki for a combo, or Hadoken for safety and pressure. He can also bait the opponent out with a special cancel into a Focus Attack, further increasing mixup potential.
Classic Mode: Seeking a Challenge
Ryu's opponents are all references to characters that appear in Street Fighter II and are stamina battles with all of the stages being in Ω form. The Bonus Stage also comes earlier, similar to the car mini-game from said title. The final boss fight also includes Ken as a teammate.
Note: All of the matches play music from Street Fighter II regardless of the stage.
Role in World of Light
Although Ryu does not appear in the World of Light opening cutscene, he was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (sans Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Ryu only appears after the player clears the World Tour sub-area reminiscent of Street Fighter II by beating every spirit.
Ryu's Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Ryu in World of Light allows the player to preview the spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
Character Showcase Video
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