Ryu (リュウ, Ryū) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially confirmed alongside Ganondorf and the rest of the returning roster on June 12th, 2018 during E3 2018. Ryu is classified as fighter #60.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Ryu must then be defeated on Battlefield.
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 slightly above-average, this is counteracted by his moderately high falling speed and extremely short jumps. Additionally, he has the 2nd-slowest 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 makes 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 a 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 sour spot 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 a 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 distinct variations, each with a different travel speed, based on input method; the standard version is capable of locking, while the input and Shakunetsu Hadoken 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 the 7.0.0 update allows the move to have Ryu travel through certain projectiles and low hits. Ryu's signature Shoryuken serves as his main vertical recovery move, it is most well-known for its offensive utility, due to its sweet spot'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 edge guarders. 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 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. 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 aerial lag. 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. Although his throws have decent damage output, none of them have effective follow-up or KO potential due to them having too much knockback to combo, and too little to secure stocks. 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 and free-for-alls (down throw instantly breaking shields, and up throw being capable of KOing bystanders).
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. Despite the advantages granted by Focus Attack, Ryu's aerial approach is comparatively poor due to his fixed arc jumps and poor air acceleration, which forces him to commit with air attacks. Furthermore, the advantages offered by Focus Attack are match-up dependent; it is relatively ineffective against characters with several multiple hitting moves, with some characters being able to exploit it for a free hit. As Focus Attack is also one of Ryu's main methods 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. 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 somewhat outweighing his weaknesses. However, unlike his Echo Fighter, Ken, Ryu is also capable of playing a more zoning-based playstyle, thanks in part to his more damaging Hadoken projectile and his command-input Shakunetsu Hadoken, which is in line with his playstyle in his home series. 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.
Due to his weaknesses and high learning curve, Ryu's results and representation have overall been very low so far, being one of the least used characters in competitive play. Much of his player base has either dropped him or instead use either his Echo Fighter, Ken, or DLC newcomer Terry, who are somewhat similar to him overall. However, Ryu's copious buffs over the course of the game's lifespan have patched up many of his prior weaknesses at launch, though his current placing is still to be determined.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
During the advent of the game, Ryu was significantly nerfed overall in the transition from Smash 4 to Ultimate, but also received significant buffs from game updates. Thus, Ryu received a mix of buffs and nerfs but he was considerably nerfed overall.
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 committal 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 the only character whose walking, dashing and air speeds were all completely unchanged. While this technically is not a nerf, this does put him at a greater disadvantage relative to the cast, as almost every other character had their walking dashing and air speeds increased. This exacerbates his already poor approach (similar to Ike, who has had the lowest dashing speed increase). 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 his back aerial is his strongest and most far-reaching aerial, this does him more harm than good. His most notorious KO move from Smash 4, Shoryuken, suffers from decreased damage output, KO potential, and invincibility, making it less reliable as a KO option (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, Ryu is considered to be noticeably worse than his previous iteration. While he has had very little results in Ultimate's early metagame, the buffs he received in 3.1.0 and 7.0.0 has caught the attention of many players, with some even saying they have been moved to a much higher tier. While his results have improved as a result, Ryu’s tournament representation still remains as one of the worst in the game. Furthermore, his Echo Fighter Ken has received much better representation and higher placings. Ryu is currently considered to be a mid-tier or high-tier, though his true viability remains up for debate.
Throws and other attacks
Ryu has been significantly buffed overall through game updates, albeit not to the exact same extent as Ken. 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.
Patch 4.0.0 gave Ryu the ability to turn to opponents after parrying an attack, allowing for stronger punishes. Patch 7.0.0 further enhanced Ryu's combo game by allowing his down smash to cancel into special moves (though at the expense of lowered shield damage), and significantly improved held down tilt's combo strings into Hadoken and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku by altering its launch angle (allowing the former to lock even at very high percents, and the latter to KO at a higher percent range). Hadoken's variants were all improved: Hadoken's spacing ability was buffed by increasing its shieldstun multiplier, while Shakunetsu Hadoken's looping hits now uses the autolink angle, allowing its hits to connect more reliably. Tatsumaki Senpukyaku also deals more damage, and gained more safety due to both of Ryu's legs now being intangible during use.
Another buff to his down smash (that went undocumented) is that Ryu can now Kara Cancel during the move's charging animation. Ryu could already Kara Cancel his down smash, but it was only during the first four frames of the move. Because of this, many players wonder if this was an unintentional side effect but other players think this is a glitch that will be fixed in a later patch.
Overall, Ryu's renowned combo strings and patient playstyle have been improved through game updates, making him fare far better than at release. He is now considered by most players to be more in line with his Echo Fighter, Ken.
For a gallery of Ryu's hitboxes, see here.
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 (in Smash 4 and Ultimate), held up tilt, proximity forward-tilt, proximity held neutral attack and down smash (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 Senpukyaku for a combo, or Hadoken or Shakunetsu 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
Ryu's tournament representation has been almost entirely nonexistent since the beginning of Ultimate. Many people unarguably believed that Ryu's nerfs made him more of a "high risk, low reward" which marginally decreased his prominence from Smash 4. His buffs from 3.1.0 and 7.0.0 have put Ryu on a higher level than he was at release, with his specials being made stronger and Kara Cancelling being made possible. His representation has only gotten slightly better since release, though players such as Sandstorm and Munekin show that Ryu can still be a potent fighter, the former shown with his win at DreamHack Rotterdam 2019, and the latter placing high at Sumabatos and Umeburas with mainly Ryu. Other players like Maeda and Venom pair him with Ken and have gathered notable results as of recently. Although his amount of nerfs and less consistent attributes are still enough for people to prefer his Echo Fighter, Ken, who has better speed and more damaging KO options, many players believe that Ryu can still show potential in the Ultimate's competitive metagame with dedicated players.
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. Items are disabled throughout the route. 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 (except for 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