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 portrayals of Ryu from Super Smash Bros. 4 being repurposed for the English and Japanese releases of Ultimate, respectively.
How to unlock
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As the "all-rounder" of his home series, Ryu's overall attributes are mostly average. As a medium-heavyweight of average size and mobility, Ryu has decent frame data and damage output, as well as a dependable ground game due to his decent traction and average dashing speed. However, other attributes are polarized in an attempt to replicate the physics of Street Fighter; Ryu's walking speed is extremely slow, and while his air speed is average, this is counteracted by his moderately high falling speed and short jumps. Additionally, he has very low air acceleration, and his air friction is uniquely locked at 0 while jumping, causing his jumps to follow a fixed "arc" unless the player steers them manually. Finally, Ryu's fast fall increases his falling speed by 40% instead of the usual 60%. Overall, this grants Ryu effective burst movement through dashing and jumping, but forces him to commit when approaching through the air and makes it difficult to land or move short distances.
Despite his average attributes, Ryu is one of the most unique fighters in Ultimate, as he has access to many variations of both his standard and special attacks (a trait only shared with his Echo Fighter, Ken). His jab and tilts can either be held or tapped; tapped attacks are faster and usually combo well into themselves, while held attacks have greater KO potential and can serve as combo finishers. This also applies to his special moves (other than Focus Attack), which gain different effects like increased power or altered hitboxes when the button is held; they also see an increase in power when used with the original Street Fighter inputs. This effectively gives Ryu two movesets, one for starting combos and racking up damage, and the other for scoring KO's. This versatility gives him access to potent true combos and mix-ups, leading to a strong punish game overall.
Ryu's standard attacks are also unique in that most of them (even his tapped tilts) have a freeze frame multiplier of at least 1.8x, making them surprisingly safe on shield given their poor range and average damage output. This grants Ryu an effective means of applying shield pressure and make some of his combo starters difficult to escape. His Collarbone Breaker (held forward tilt) deals immense shield damage, further complementing his ability to pressure and deplete shields.
Ryu's grounded moveset boasts considerable utility. His tapped jab and down tilt both hit on frame 3, making the former useful for relieving pressure, and the latter excellent for extending combos due to its launch trajectory being useful for followups, such as grabs. Tapped up tilt's low knockback, high speed and active frames make it effective for combos, either into itself, Shoryuken, or even down aerial at high percents near the ledge. Held down tilt can be canceled on hit into a special move, making it effective for shield pressure and damage-racking even at high percents. Down smash is quite powerful for its speed, and up smash lowers Ryu's hurtbox while charging. Both tapped forward tilt and held jab are altered at close range, both becoming very potent at starting combos into his special moves. Additionally, Ryu will automatically face his opponent in 1-on-1 matches while standing on the ground, making it considerably easier to land his effective ground attacks.
Ryu's aerial moveset is effective as well. Neutral aerial is a sex kick with low knockback and has only five frames of landing lag, making it useful for combos and kill confirms even at high percents. Forward aerial is quick, highly damaging and has good range; it can be chained into itself through repeated jumps, and its sourspot deals high shield damage. Up aerial has fast startup and decently high reach, making it useful for juggling, and both it and down aerial can auto-cancel from a full hop.
Complementing Ryu's moveset and combo potential is his wide array of powerful finishers; some of his held tilts, smash attacks and aerials are very capable KO moves due to their high speed. Held up tilt grants upper body intangibility on frames 4-10 while hitting on frame 7, making it deceptively safe for KOs when combined with its speed and tapped up tilt setups. Up smash makes an effective substitute for held up tilt as a finisher, and its wide hitbox can catch aerial approaches. While slow, Ryu's forward smash has long range and is his strongest standard ground attack, making it useful for hard punishes. Back aerial is Ryu's strongest aerial, and is fast and has good range despite its small hitbox. Forward and up aerial also serve as decent KO moves, enhancing their already impressive utility. Finally, down aerial is a powerful meteor smash with fast start-up and long duration, making it a deadly edgeguarding tool. Combined with his excellent combo ability, Ryu's punish game is incredibly effective and versatile, being able to rack up damage or KO very easily after connecting with almost any attack.
Ryu's signature special moves are also effective in their own ways. Hadoken is a large ki projectile, with three travel speed and three distinct variations based on input method; the standard version is capable of locking, while the input and Shakunetsu versions deal more damage (with the latter being a multi-hit flame projectile). Tatsumaki Senpukyaku propels Ryu forward and deals more damage after an initial travel distance. While Ryu's signature Shoryuken serves as his main vertical recovery move, it is most well-known for its offensive utility, due to its sweetspot's high knockback and brief intangibility (frame 5). The input version of Shoryuken has increased KO power, even longer intangibility (frames 4-6, with arm intangibility frames 1-14), and lower landing lag, and can easily be chained into from Ryu's other moves. Finally, Focus Attack grants Ryu heavy armor against a single hit, and incapacitates opponents when at least half charged, allowing for followups. It can also be canceled on hit, after tanking a blow, or even while charging, allowing Ryu to fake out with a shuffle that also provides horizontal recovery distance. His close held neutral attack, first two hits of tapped neutral attack, close tapped forward tilt, held down tilt, and all aerials can be canceled into special moves, allowing Ryu to combo into Shoryuken or Tatsumaki for KOs, Hadoken for safety and damage racking, and Focus Attack for mixups and safety.
Lastly, Ryu has a long-distanced recovery and is surprisingly difficult to combo, traits not shared with most heavyweights. Tatsumaki Senpukyaku has large hitboxes and doesn't cause helplessness; this combined with canceled Focus Attack's armor and momentum boost grants surprisingly effective horizontal distance and protection. Shoryuken travels a good vertical distance, reaches above edges, and can stage spike reckless edgeguarders. Focus Attack also serves as an effective combo breaker, and neutral aerial and input Shoryuken both grant high speed and intangibility, and can even lead into combo or KO opportunities respectively. These traits allow Ryu to survive to very high percents when used effectively, which also allows him to take full advantage of rage.
Despite his abundant strengths, Ryu has his weaknesses as well. Like any all-arounder, while he is well-rounded, his attributes are not particularly exceptional; some examples are Mario having a more versatile combo ability, Olimar having a more effective camping game, Villager has a safer recovery, and Roy does better in close combat. Though his recovery travels a long distance, it becomes very short if extendable elements, such a Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, cannot be utilized. Focus Attack requires a brief charge before it can be canceled. Tatsumaki's long duration makes it vulnerable to being interrupted by long-ranged attacks, and he can only use it once without landing or suffering hitstun. Ryu's falling speed, low jumps and poor air acceleration make it difficult to recover from below the stage, as Shoryuken's recovery is almost strictly vertical and has high endlag, making Ryu's vertical recovery easy to predict and interrupt. While Ryu excels at shield pressure, his grab game is sorely lacking; his throws have high damage, but none of them have effective follow-up or KO potential. Down throw is his only combo throw at very low percents, and the extra utility of his throws (down throw instantly breaking shields, and up throw's kick KOing bystanders) does not apply in a 1-on-1 setting, making them situational.
Ryu also suffers from a weak neutral game. Despite his good frame data (especially for his tapped tilts and neutral aerial), his slow walking speed and short range hinders the otherwise great utility of his tilt attacks, which gives him trouble against characters who possess disjointed hitboxes, especially when combined with his tall stature. Ryu's only projectile, Hadoken, is punishable if used carelessly due to its long endlag and low priority. Aside from the advantages granted his neutral aerial and Focus Attack, Ryu's fixed arc jumps make his aerial approach highly committal and thus very predictable. These issues force Ryu to play patiently and take advantage of any opening, as he has trouble against opposing camping. Focus Attack's utility is also match-up dependent, as it becomes much less effective against fast or multi-hitting moves (such as Roy's forward aerial or Cloud's Cross Slash, respectively). Because Focus Attack is also Ryu's main method of escaping combos, this makes him susceptible to certain combos and juggles due to his high weight and quick falling speed, and his slower fast-fall occasionally makes it difficult to land safely.
Finally, Ryu struggles to "force" early KOs, as his KO potential relies heavily on executing combos. While Ryu does possess some powerful moves, like back aerial and sweetspotted forward smash, these usually require hard reads to land, and most of his other moves have low knockback scaling due to being tailored for combos. Ryu's superb combo ability does largely compensate for this, but without accounting for opposing SDI, or without full knowledge of Ryu's moveset, setups and combos, he can have a difficult time taking stocks. Finally, the emphasis on Ryu's unique inputs means that his non-input special moves have lower power, and a mere slip of the hand can be more detrimental than usual, at worst even causing a self-destruct while recovering.
Overall, Ryu is a combo-oriented fighter with a fearsome offensive ability, as his unique mechanics deliberately give him access to powerful true combos essential to the competitive success of most characters; his ability to trap opponents in hitstun or shield pressure, multiple options for escaping or negating combos, and dependable recovery all make Ryu very rewarding and unpredictable. However, his polarized movement, mediocre vertical recovery, and lacking approach make him difficult to play optimally. His high learning curve in particular is perhaps his biggest issue; much practice is generally require for his input specials to use them reliably and consistently, rather than accidentally inputting the wrong move.
Due to his weaknesses and high learning curve, Ryu's results and representation have been below-average overall so far.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
During the advent of the game, Ryu was significantly nerfed overall in transition from Smash 4 to Ultimate, but also received significant buffs from game 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 exacerbates 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. Despite this, however, Ryu’s results have continued to remain subpar. On the other hand, his counterpart has received better representation and higher placings. Ryu’s viability, however, still remains up for debate.
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.
In competitive play
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