Sephiroth (セフィロス, Sephiroth) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the third fighter from Square Enix after Cloud and Hero. He was confirmed as a playable character on December 10th, 2020 at The Game Awards 2020, and was released as part of Challenger Pack 8 on December 22nd, 2020 as the third downloadable character from Fighters Pass Vol. 2. However, he could also become playable as early as December 17th, 2020 by defeating him in the limited-time Sephiroth Challenge that was made available from December 17th-22nd. Sephiroth is classified as Fighter #78.
Toshiyuki Morikawa, who has voiced Sephiroth since Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, reprises his role as the character in all regions.
Sephiroth's attributes are fairly polarized. He is a rather tall character, but is classified as a lightweight, being tied with Kirby, Mewtwo, Pikachu and Olimar as the seventh-lightest character in the game. He has the fourteenth slowest walking speed, yet his dashing speed and traction are both above-average, with the former being marginally faster than Hero's. Despite his height, Sephiroth's crouch is deceptively low. In the air, Sephiroth's overall jumping force and air acceleration are both average, he has slow air speed and below-average air friction, and yet he has the eleventh fastest falling speed and above-average gravity. Notably, Sephiroth's short hop is tied with Steve's for the lowest in the game, which aids him very well in the neutral game.
One of Sephiroth's two most defining traits is his range. He notably sports among the longest overall range in Ultimate, thanks to his signature weapon, the Masamune, and surpassed only by Min Min in this regard. Unlike other swordfighters, Sephiroth's sweetspot hitboxes differ between his stabbing and slashing attacks: his stabs (up tilt, down smash, forward aerial, and down aerial) have sweetspots positioned along the tip of Masamune (much like Marth and Simon's own tippers) with a mediumspot at the center of the blade, whereas his slashes (forward tilt, forward smash, up smash, back aerial, and up aerial) have sweetspots positioned along the upper center of its blade (similar to Roy's inverse tipper, but with better range overall) with mediumspots at the tip. This gives Sephiroth plenty of ranged options if opponents are reasonably within range of him. On the other hand, the handle of the Masamune also has sourspots, which means Sephiroth needs to be careful when spacing his attacks.
Sephiroth's other most defining trait is his unique fighter ability: Winged Form. It is a unique comeback mechanic that activates when Sephiroth has received enough damage (around 90% at even stocks, lower when behind on stocks and higher when ahead), similarly to Aura and Super Special Moves. However, activating this form depends on how many stocks and how much percentage he has compared to his opponent(s). When active, his wing unfurls and grants him a third jump, a 1.3× damage multiplier, and much higher mobility overall; in particular, Sephiroth gains the seventh fastest dashing speed (tied with Zero Suit Samus'), the highest traction (surpassing Sonic's), as well as higher air speed, acceleration and friction.
Sephiroth's smash attacks also gain damage-based armor that can withstand up to 20%, making them incredibly risky to challenge, save for a few exceptions. However, the Winged Form dissipates when he gains a decisive lead against an opponent or is KO'd outright. This means that, compared to other comeback mechanics, more careful attack planning is usually necessary to score KOs easily. Regardless, the Winged Form's damage multiplier allows even mediumspotted attacks to become quite deadly under the right percentages.
Sephiroth's ground game offers him fairly crucial tools, and his sword attacks in particular are prime examples of long ranged attacks. Neutral attack, despite having the shortest range of his grounded moves, is Sephiroth's fastest move while having decent melee range for a neutral attack, making it one of his few reliable tools to quickly ward off an opponent. Forward tilt has incredibly long range (comparable to Simon's) and can be angled, making it a superb spacing option and a viable KO option at high percentages when fresh, especially in Winged Form.
Up tilt boasts incredible vertical range, a decently long duration, and renders his upper body intangible for a brief period. Although it can be difficult to land, it also sports a hitbox in front of him that launches opponents into the rest of the blade, much like Marth's up smash. Down tilt is Sephiroth's fastest tilt attack and, although it is slightly slower than Cloud's down tilt, it functions almost identically to his: it boasts great range by propelling Sephiroth forward and significantly lowers his hurtbox, giving him a way to punish more ranged attacks. Dash attack, despite being fairly punishable due to being his slowest melee attack, covers a lot of ground and has respectable power; as a result, it is useful as both a burst option and, when clean, a KO option.
Sephiroth's smash attacks also boast varying degrees of utility. Forward smash is a very long-ranged slash that is potent at punishing and spacing, yet also boasts excellent KO potential at the middle of the blade and, to a lesser degree, at the tip. Up smash is an overhead arcing slash, much like Ganondorf and Ike's up smashes. Although it is weaker than theirs and slower than Ganondorf's, it is Sephiroth's best anti-air option due to sporting more range overall, to the point that it allows him to cover an area wider than an entire platform of Town and City. Down smash only hits in front of Sephiroth, but it is faster than his forward smash and has the unique property of becoming even stronger if the Masamune's blade hits the ground. On an extended note, the combination of the Masamune's tipper and the debris that erupts when its blade hits the ground collectively enables down smash to deal immense shield damage. Thus, while it is somewhat outclassed by forward smash as a KO option, it has better shield breaking capabilities.
Sephiroth's air game also offers a similar repertoire of long-ranged options. Neutral aerial, in a similar manner to neutral attack, has the shortest range, but is his fastest option in the air, covers his entire body, and its overall low lag allows it to be used very flexibly, such as for warding off close-ranged opponents, including from out of shield, or for starting or continuing combos. Forward and back aerials serve similar purposes as spacing options in the air. Forward aerial comes out faster and is most useful when the opponent is farthest from Sephiroth, and it has a unique property where it can be used to pierce solid walls and perform a pseudo-wall jump up to three times in a row before landing, similarly to how Sword of the Creator functions. Back aerial, on the other hand, is Sephiroth's strongest aerial, making it incredibly deadly in Winged Form, even if used from a short hop. Up aerial, like up smash, covers a wide arc above Sephiroth, though its overall poor frame data means it should be used sparingly. Lastly, Sephiroth's down aerial, Hell's Gate, is a powerful stall-then-fall that is a meteor smash at the start; when combined with its massive range, it can reliably 2 frame punish an opponent.
While swordfighters generally have poor grab games, Sephiroth's grab game can be surprisingly effective. He holds the distinction of having three combo throws, all of which have their uses. Down throw is Sephiroth's most consistent combo throw until mid-percentages, as it can lead into neutral, forward, back and up aerials, or be used for mix-ups. It also becomes even more effective in Winged Form in spite of rage, as Sephiroth's enhanced mobility can allow him to catch up to the opponent faster. Up throw, at low percentages, can set the opponent up for a neutral aerial or up tilt, the former of which can lead to longer combos and the latter of which can lead to juggling.
While both throws can lose their combo potential quickly after mid-percentages, especially with rage factoring in, back throw sends at a favorable angle while having low ending lag. This makes it notable for leading into follow-ups until high percentages, including an infamous KO confirm into back aerial, which becomes especially dangerous when he is in Winged Form. In stark contrast to his other throws, forward throw lacks combo potential, but is nevertheless useful. Thanks to being a semi-spike, it can be used to set up an edge-guard or a tech chase, which could potentially allow him to score an early KO.
Finally, Sephiroth has a strong set of special moves. His side special, Shadow Flare, is arguably his best special move: it is unique among chargeable projectiles in that, while the initial projectile deals little damage and cause flinching, it generates larger, darkness projectiles that do not immediately attack the opponent, but instead orbit around them and deal damage by homing in. Depending on how long it is charged, one to three projectiles can be generated by a single Shadow Flare, and up to five projectiles can be orbiting a single opponent at a time. Its range is also comparable to his sword attacks on top of having low lag all around, making it easily spammable and useful for spacing.
Sephiroth's neutral special, Flare, is a more traditional projectile that can be charged between three different projectiles of different properties: Flare is the quickest and travels slow but has the longest range; Megaflare is stronger overall and has a larger blast radius, at the cost of some range; and Gigaflare has the shortest range and the longest charge time, but has the largest blast radius and deals the most damage (enough to instantly break a shield while in Winged Form) and the strongest knockback, making it an effective way of pressuring at the edge for an edge-guard, or as a way to extend the damage the opponent takes as punishment from a shield break.
Sephiroth's up special, Blade Dash, is a dashing blade attack that functions differently depending on if the button was tapped or held. When tapped, Blade Dash is a single-hitting move that sweetspots edges easily. However, when held, it instead becomes Octaslash, which travels slightly farther, has huge range and hits multiple times, dealing higher damage and knockback at the cost of sweetspotting edges. Octaslash's large range particularly makes it a high-risk, high-reward combat option that can break the opponent's zone. Lastly, his down special, Scintilla, is unique among counterattacks in that it will always produce a hitbox regardless of whether or not any attacks were countered, while its multi-hitting nature allows it to pressure shields, and is one of the strongest counters in the game with a 1.5× damage multiplier. Although Scintilla only covers in front of Sephiroth and has a cap of 25%, breaking the cap will not damage Sephiroth and instead simply cause him to stagger. If his shield is heavily damaged, these traits can grant him a brief reprieve from exhausting his shield any further.
Thanks to his several ranged attacks, Sephiroth can play at a long range very effectively. By using said range to his advantage, he can gradually deter an opponent an opponent from approaching, and his attacks' various range and sweetspots also mean the opponent has to take care of how they approach Sephiroth. Sephiroth's extremely low short hop also helps him in the neutral game, as it allows him to mix up whichever attack he will use, allowing his other attacks to be kept fresh until he is in a prime position to use them. Said tools, combined with his grounded mobility, can sometimes even help him counteract opponents with good zoning games, such as Toon Link, Villager, or Simon.
Should the opponent be put on the defensive, Sephiroth's range can also allow him to gradually poke at the opponent's defense from afar until they are eventually put at a disadvantageous position from which he can easily go on the offensive to deal considerable amounts of damage, thanks to his highly damaging moves and his simple, yet effective combo game. Thanks to Shadow Flare, the opponent can also eventually be put into said disadvantage more easily at best, or simply force them to avoid the damage and thus reset the neutral game at worst. His Winged Form helps significantly on both regards, as his increased mobility allows Sephiroth to reposition himself more easily while also increasing the damage he can deal and, unlike other fighter abilities like Limit Gauge or Rebellion Gauge, it will not disappear until Sephiroth is KO'd or has inflicted a lot of damage, which can potentially lead to him turning the tables on the opponent should they try to play around him carelessly.
However, for as many strengths as he has, Sephiroth also possesses a notable amount of weaknesses. Perhaps the most notable of them is his frailty: Sephiroth's tall frame results in him being prone to get hit by most attacks, which is further compounded by him being a fast falling lightweight. Much like Mewtwo, these traits collectively result in Sephiroth being easy to combo and KO compared to many other characters of his size and/or weight. Adding to this is Sephiroth's recovery: his polarized air physics result in him covering a mediocre distance midair, meaning that careless use of his resources can lead Sephiroth to be easily edge-guarded or gimped, in spite of both of his recovery options having their perks.
Blade Dash is his quickest recovery option, but it does not cover as much distance and does not fully protect Sephiroth other than from the front, which can leave him vulnerable to sufficiently disjointed moves. On the other hand, Octaslash offers excellent protection that can deter opponents from edge-guarding Sephiroth because of its range and power making it useful for edge-guard breaking, but has the slowest start-up, leaving Sephiroth vulnerable to being put at a worse position in the air. Semi-spikes can also be especially deadly for Sephiroth, as his air physics do not give him too much air time.
Furthermore, Sephiroth's overall frame data is unimpressive, since his moveset possesses very few moves that start before frame 10. Even his fastest aerial attack, neutral aerial, has mediocre start-up for an attack of its kind. Despite the Masamune having among the longest and most effective range of any weapon in Ultimate, attacks involving it are also equally sluggish in both start-up and ending lag, especially in regard to his smash attacks, up tilt, back aerial, and up aerial. This means that opponents can easily punish Sephiroth if certain moves are spammed or used carelessly. On top of this, Sephiroth's sword moves at the base of the Masamune all deal poor damage, knockback, and pushback, meaning that if improperly spaced, Sephiroth's moves can be easily punished at close range.
Outside of neutral aerial, Sephiroth's melee-based moves also tend to have high ending lag, which results in him not having much in the way of mixing up his pressure at close range. Adding to this is Sephiroth's grab game, which is polarized in spite of its respectable utility; his grabs are short-ranged, his pummel is merely average, and his throws lack KO potential due to their meager damage outputs, average knockback, and/or unsuitable launching angles. All of these issues result in a poor close-quarters game that, when combined with his frailty, collectively culminates in Sephiroth being vulnerable to rushdown-based pressure if the opponent is able to keep up with his defense, such as Captain Falcon or Pikachu.
Another prominent issue on Sephiroth's moveset is his inconsistent KO potential. Due to his moves' sourspots, Sephiroth must always be at a distance from the opponent in order for them to KO reliably. His differing sweetspot mechanics can also work against him, due to how varied their locations are. His stab attacks possess narrow ranges and require the opponent to be at their longest range in order to be effective, which can result in them missing. On the other hand, his slash attacks do not require perfect spacing at long range to be effective, but their sweetspots are harder to land as a result of being located between the weaker sourspots and mediumspots. In regard to sword attacks, Octaslash should also be noted in that it only becomes consistently reliable for KOing while the Winged Form is active.
Outside of his sweetspotted sword attacks, Sephiroth does not have many reliable ways to KO an opponent. Although dash attack's clean hit KOs at reasonable percentages, its slow start-up can make it easily predictable. Flare's decent damage output is mostly counterbalanced by its middling knockback, which results in it failing to KO at reasonable percentages like Megaflare and Gigaflare. As a result, Sephiroth must be careful when it comes to being able to secure KOs in spite of his impressive damage racking potential.
Although Sephiroth's moveset remains solid overall, some of his moves are either highly risky or have notable flaws. Up tilt's incredible vertical range is counterbalanced by its extremely narrow horizontal range, even in spite its point-blank grounded hitbox, while its sourspots have minimal KO potential. Up aerial, on top of being Sephiroth's slowest aerial by a wide margin, sends at an unreliable angle for KOing due to being vulnerable to LSI, is notoriously difficult to properly sweetspot, and cannot auto-cancel other than from a double jump, making it a lackluster juggling tool if the opponent knows how to deal with it. Down aerial, due to being a stall-then-fall, is risky to use offstage, so careful positioning must be had to edge-guard opponents with it onstage to avoid inadvertently self-destructing.
As for his special moves, Flare and Megaflare's generally slow start-up and speed makes them easy to shield, absorb, or reflect. Although Shadow Flare has low overall lag, it still must be used wisely, especially if used by a character with a reflector, as it can result in Sephiroth being struck for high damage himself and allow the opponent to capitalize on it. While Octaslash covers a great distance on its own and is risky to edge-guard, characters with counterattacks can easily use this to their advantage, which can leave Sephiroth at an even worse spot for recovering. Finally, despite its animation suggesting otherwise, Scintilla cannot reflect projectiles whatsoever (although it can stop them without effort). It also does not directly protect Sephiroth (especially from behind) and its damaging hitbox is treated as a projectile, making it a double-edged sword if reflected.
Last but not least, Sephiroth's Winged Form suffers from its own limitations. Despite the wide array of benefits it grants, it only activates whenever Sephiroth receives damage, and is further dependent on his standing against an opponent. While the Winged Form can activate as low as 30% if Sephiroth is 2 stocks behind the opponent, it conversely activates as late as 110% if Sephiroth is 2 stocks ahead. Thus, the Winged Form suffers from consistency issues similarly to Aura in that Sephiroth will have to play very carefully if he is to keep his advantage, which is easier said than done due to his noticeable frailty.
Although the Winged Form's damage-based armor on Sephiroth's smash attacks can definitely help him power through incoming offense, reckless usage of his smash attacks can render him predictable. Additionally, Sephiroth cannot regain the Winged Form until he gets KO'd. As a result, if Sephiroth is not able to capitalize on its benefits properly, it can become harder for him later on to level the playing field when he is at a stock deficit, as it forces him to contest with his moveset's flaws. This also means that Sephiroth should actively avoid gaining the Winged Form when at a 2 stock deficit, as he will otherwise have no reliable way of turning the tide to his complete favor.
In the end, Sephiroth is arguably the most unique swordfighter in Ultimate, as his playstyle is a hybrid of the glass cannon and turtle archetypes, resulting in a high learning curve. His high overall damage output, immense range, varied sweetspots and effective projectiles grant him a respectably solid ranged melee playstyle, as it can become difficult for the opponent to approach Sephiroth should he consistently make the right choices, and it is equally difficult to surmount him should he break through the opponent's zone or defense.
However, Sephiroth's inconsistent KO potential, polarized grab game, and poor close-quarters game can leave a much-to-be-desired offensive playstyle, and he is just as susceptible to pressure as much as he can dish it out himself. The benefits offered from his Winged Form can seriously help him on this regard, as it can help him greatly recover from a deficit should he be able to survive long enough, but his frailty means he also must play carefully in order to retain this advantage.
Though opinions on Sephiroth's viability have been somewhat unclear due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on competitive Smash, his competitive reception has been mostly positive, as most people claim his pros outweigh his cons, and he is commonly considered to rest on a favorable spot. Additionally, smashers such as Mew2King, Tweek, Nairo and MKLeo have shown the desire to main him, and Zackray and Rizeasu have used him at offline Japanese tournaments to great success. His reception further improved when Ned notably placed 2nd using mostly Sephiroth at InfinityCON Tally 2021, the first offline national in North America in over a year.
Sephiroth has been buffed slightly via update 11.0.0, in which the hitboxes of Scintilla's last hit were enlarged in order to make the move connect more reliably overall. Aside from this, Blade Dash's angle was adjusted and a glitch involving Shadow Flare was fixed.
For a gallery of Sephiroth's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
All of Sephiroth's victory screens take place in a fiery area instead of the standard area where most of the victory screens take place, a direct reference to the Nibelheim Incident from Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core. Instead of having a colored background behind him when his name appears, the screen will be tinted red. If Sephiroth is the leader of a winning team, he will use his special victory screens without any of his teammates being seen, similarly to Joker.
If Cloud is present during the match, Sephiroth has a chance of saying 思い出にはならないさ ("I will never be a memory.") in any of his three victory poses, a reference to his final line of dialogue from Advent Children and, by proxy, his reveal trailer for Ultimate.
In competitive play
Initial reactions to Sephiroth have been positive overall: players such as MkLeo, Dabuz and Tweek believed the character to be top tier, with Dabuz and Tweek claiming that the character could potentially be a top 5 character, citing his incredible range giving him excellent spacing along with his unique, powerful projectiles and counterattack which bolster his advantage state and his Winged form being a very strong comeback tool when mastered. However, other players such as Marss believed his frailty, poor disadvantage, inconsistency and generally slow frame data could prevent him from reaching such status. Although he was released during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sephiroth saw success in online play thanks to players such as Ned.
Following the return of offline competitive play, opinions on Sephiroth have mellowed down a bit, with people noting his low weight and tall stature being notable downsides to the character, as well as the fact that he is far more difficult to consistently play at top level than most characters, leading to a level of inconsistency. In addition, although Ned has continued to use the character offline, Sephiroth's representation and results haven’t been as high as other top tier characters. As such, most players currently believe the character is a high tier.
Most historically significant players
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
See also: Category:Sephiroth professionals (SSBU)
Classic Mode: The Chosen Ones
Uniquely, Sephiroth's route has him face off against all of the bosses in the game (excluding Galeem and Dharkon) in a Boss Rush, referencing his status as a final boss in Final Fantasy VII. The title of his route references his leitmotif from the original game, "Those Chosen by the Planet".
Role in World of Light
Due to his status as downloadable content, Sephiroth does not have a legitimate role in World of Light. Instead, he is unlocked for use in the mode after freeing 10 fighters from Galeem's control. If loading an existing save file that meets this condition before downloading Sephiroth, he is immediately unlocked.
Interestingly, Sephiroth's trailer takes place during World of Light, where he makes his presence known by slicing Galeem in half and fighting the heroes himself. Additionally, other DLC characters that have no role in World of Light are present fighting Galeem before Sephiroth makes his entrance, including Erdrick, Banjo and Kazooie.
Sephiroth's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Sephiroth has been downloaded. Unlocking Sephiroth 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. His fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with his artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit Battles
Sephiroth is not featured in any Spirit Battles.