Sheik (シーク, Sheik) is a character from The Legend of Zelda universe. Sheik debuted in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, in which she proclaims herself as the last surviving Sheikah and aids Link in by teaching him warp songs. In actuality, however, she is the magically-induced alter ego of Princess Zelda.
Sheik is a Sheikah who debuted in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Unlike Impa, the only other Sheikah seen in the game, Sheik's voice is muffled and her face is concealed, which make her virtually unrecognizable. Sheik first appears before Link soon after his spirit is unsealed after being contained within the Chamber of Sages for seven years. Upon meeting Link, Sheik reveals that now that he is old enough to properly be the Hero of Time and has acquired the Light Medallion from Rauru, the Sage of Light, he must also awaken five other Sages and acquire their respective Medallions in order to become powerful enough to stop Ganondorf and save Hyrule.
Following this, Sheik appears before Link at various instances, and uses her harp to teach him warp songs to help him on his quest. In addition to teaching Link the songs, she imparts words of wisdom to him before mysteriously disappearing each time, typically via the explosive flash of a Deku Nut. When all six Sages are awakened, Link arrives at the Temple of Time near the end of the game and is greeted by Sheik, who uses the Triforce of Wisdom to reveal herself as Princess Zelda.
A popular topic in both The Legend of Zelda and Super Smash Bros. fan communities is Sheik's gender. Many say that Sheik is a female, as she is merely a disguise of Zelda; others suggest that her masculine qualities are because of an actual gender change Zelda undergoes upon transforming into Sheik, explaining the gender alteration as an effect of magic.
The issue originates from Ocarina of Time; in the game, Link encounters Princess Ruto in the Water Temple. She asks Link to thank Sheik for saving her, referring to Sheik as "a young man named Sheik..." In addition, the manga adaptation for Ocarina of Time suggests that Zelda uses the Triforce of Wisdom to actually become male while disguised as Sheik; this adaptation, however, is officially considered to be non-canon. Zelda herself apologizes for "meeting Link in disguise", though what she means is very open to interpretation. In addition, it has been argued that the Sheik "character" is male, much like how some real-life cross dressers adopt opposite-gendered stage personas.
While Sheik's gender in Ocarina of Time is still occasionally argued, Sheik is officially considered a female in the Super Smash Bros. series. Sheik's Melee, Brawl, and SSB4 trophies describe her as female, Masahiro Sakurai referred to her as female in her update on the Smash Bros. DOJO!! website, and she is referred to as female within Brawl's manual. However, Zelda's trophy in Super Smash Bros. 4 refers to Sheik as "a young man", much like Ruto's aforementioned quote in Ocarina of Time. Before the Japanese release of Hyrule Warriors, Bill Trinen, Nintendo's senior product marketing manager and head translator for Ocarina of Time, stated in an interview on August 5th, 2014 that since Sheik is Zelda in disguise and Zelda is female, Sheik is therefore also female. On October 1st, 2018, the Smash Blog for Ultimate referred to Sheik as a male; however, the official Nintendo Versus Twitter account referred to Sheik as a female, further carrying the dispute. Likewise, the game itself uses both female and male pronouns: Sheik is referred to with female pronouns in her Ultimate moveset and tips, while Palutena and Viridi refer to Sheik as male in the corresponding Palutena's Guidance conversation in Ultimate (much to the confusion of Pit, who knows Sheik's true identity as Zelda).
As a playable character
Main article: Sheik (SSBM)
Sheik is one of the new characters introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Rather than being a full-fledged character, she is a transformation of Zelda, which makes them the only characters in Melee to possess such an ability. In addition to her ability to Transform into Zelda, Sheik's Vanish is based on her usage of Deku Nuts in Ocarina of Time.
Unlike Zelda, Sheik boasts very fast attack speed and excellent mobility. When coupled with her deceptively powerful smash attacks, Sheik was initially deemed broken by some players, until the evolution of Melee's metagame revealed that she has a poor recovery and a mediocre neutral game. Overall, Sheik's strengths largely outweigh her weaknesses, and she is currently ranked 4th out of 26 on the tier list.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
In addition to the Zelda trophies, there are three Sheik trophies available in Melee. Her main trophy reads as follows:
As a playable character
Main article: Sheik (SSBB)
Unlike Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl does not feature the Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time. Instead, she has been succeeded by her descendant, the Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Due to this, many debates initially came about as to whether or not Sheik would return.
Many argued that because Sheik did not appear in Twilight Princess, Zelda would not be able to Transform into Sheik. By extension, many cited the fact that the Hero of Time had also been succeeded by his own descendant, the Link from Twilight Princess, who features special moves that were reworked to fit with Twilight Princess' aesthetics. Conversely, others argued that even though the Zelda in Melee was explicitly the Ocarina of Time incarnation, she was not supposed to be based on any specific Zelda, but rather an amalgamation of all Zeldas past and present. As a result, they argued that the Twilight Princess incarnation of Zelda would not be prevented from being able to Transform into Sheik like her ancestor could in Melee.
The debate was settled with the revelation of Sheik's inclusion in Famitsu's review of Brawl. Shortly thereafter, Smash Bros. DOJO!! confirmed Sheik's inclusion via its January 16th update. Sheik's special moves have remain unchanged, but much like Zelda, Link, and Ganondorf, she now features an updated design based on Twilight Princess' aesthetics. Sheik's updated design was initially created for Twilight Princess, but plans to implement her into Twilight Princess fell through. As a result, her updated design was effectively discarded until finding new life via Brawl. Her would-been design for Twilight Princess noticeably includes a braided ponytail, similar to Zelda's design in Twilight Princess.
Sheik's playstyle is largely similar to how it was in Melee, though she now has a Final Smash, Light Arrow, that she shares with Zelda. However, her KO potential has been severely weakened, while her endurance has also worsened. As a result, Sheik is currently ranked 25th out of 38 on the tier list, which renders her as a mid-tier character instead of a top-tier character.
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
As a playable character
Main article: Sheik (SSB4)
Sheik returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Although she has retained her Twilight Princess design, her overall color scheme is now more vibrant because of SSB4's aesthetics. By extension, she now has an alternate costume that features the color scheme of her attire in Ocarina of Time. Unlike in previous installments, Sheik is now a standalone character like Zero Suit Samus and Charizard. She has also gained two new special moves, one of which compensates for her independence from Zelda: Burst Grenade replaces Chain (and also results in her side taunt being modified), and Bouncing Fish replaces Transform.
Sheik has been buffed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, thanks to many of her attacks being partially reverted to how they functioned in Melee, or updated outright. Unlike in Melee, she is now blessed with a noticeably better neutral game and recovery. Her neutral game benefits from Needle Storm's faster travel speed and increased knockback, as well as her faster walking, dashing, and air speeds. In comparison, Sheik's recovery benefits from her much faster air speed, Bouncing Fish's ability to function as a horizontal recovery option, and the removal of edge-hogging. Outside of these changes, Sheik still boasts unarguably the best frame data among the cast, which results in her retaining an excellent combo game, and makes her exceedingly difficult to punish.
However, Sheik retains a low overall damage output, mediocre smash attacks, unimpressive endurance, a lack of reliable KO set-ups at high percentages, and only a handful of KOing options (sweetspotted up smash, up aerial, Vanish's disappearing hitbox, and Bouncing Fish). In addition, game updates heavily nerfed some of Sheik's most viable options, such as weakening her forward aerial, hindering her forward and down throws' combo potentials at high percentages, and decreasing Needle Storm's range.
Overall, Sheik's strengths largely outweigh her weaknesses, and she has achieved great tournament representation and results as a result. To reflect this, Sheik is currently ranked 4th out of 55 on the tier list, and she has maintained her status as a top-tier character throughout SSB4's lifespan like in Melee.
A Sheik Mask is also available as a headgear for all Mii Fighter types.
As a playable character
Main article: Sheik (SSBU)
Sheik returns as a standalone character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, her design has been updated in reference to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Sheik now wears the Stealth Chest Guard and Stealth Tights from the Sheikah Set, while her mask is now similar to its appearance as headgear armor in Breath of the Wild. As opposed to being a starter like in previous Smash games, Sheik is now an unlockable character.
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