Sonic (ソニック, Sonic) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced on October 1st, 2013 during a Nintendo Direct. Sonic is one of the six third-party characters in the game, alongside fellow Sega representative Bayonetta, Capcom's Mega Man and Ryu, Bandai Namco's Pac-Man, and Square Enix's Cloud. He was the second third-party character to be revealed in the game, and is the first and only third-party veteran in the series.
In the English version, Sonic is voiced by Roger Craig Smith, albeit via recycled voice clips from games such as Sonic Generations, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. This reflects Smith's succession of Jason Griffith as Sonic's voice actor, who voiced Sonic from 2005 until 2010. Sonic also has alternate voices for the French, Spanish, German, and Italian versions, as Sonic the Hedgehog games from Sonic Generations onward were dubbed into those languages. However, the Japanese version simply recycled Jun'ichi Kanemaru's voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, who has been his Japanese voice actor since Sonic Adventure.
Sonic is currently ranked 5th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him at the top of the A tier. This is a vast improvement over his mid-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 22nd out of 38. Sonic has the fastest dashing speed in the game, which is complemented by his special moves allowing him to attack while moving with little fear of reprisal, giving him a powerful approach and neutral game. Unlike in Brawl, Sonic now has respectable KO potential thanks to his smash attacks, clean back aerial, and up aerial, while his moveset has improved utility.
However, Sonic's KOing options are hindered by their high lag, which makes them risky and impairs his ability to KO outside of the neutral game. Despite his mobility, the linearity of Sonic's recovery makes him susceptible to gimping. By extension, he has trouble contending with projectile camping, owing to both his lack of a reliable projectile and an effective way to stop them.
Owing to his newfound and retained strengths that outweigh his flaws, Sonic has attained a large playerbase, and consistently achieves strong results in tournaments.
Sonic is a middleweight that, like in his home series, possesses outstanding mobility. He fittingly boasts the fastest dashing speed in the game, yet also possesses the seventh fastest walking speed, while his air speed is tied with Mario and Donkey Kong's for the ninth fastest in the game. When coupled with his below average falling speed and above average gravity, Sonic has nigh-omnipresence, as he is able to travel at a blinding speed across any stage. This, in turn, makes him able to easily and effectively utilize a hit-and-run playstyle. To round out his outstanding mobility, Sonic is capable of wall jumping.
Sonic possesses very useful special moves. Spin Dash and Spin Charge are perhaps Sonic's best neutral game options, as they allow him to roll across the stage at varying speeds while also dealing damage upon contact. Spin Dash allows Sonic to jump even while charging, and can be canceled with a grab or by shielding, which grants it mindgame potential. Spin Charge, however, hits multiple times and moves even faster, making it a reliable alternative to dashing. Both, however, can give Sonic additional protection when recovering and even chain into other attacks. As such, opponents have to tread carefully when dealing with these moves, since a single misstep can result in a very fast chain of attacks that can deal impressive damage. These moves are also good for mindgames, considering that they look identical. Homing Attack deals a varying amount of damage, but homes in on the nearest opponent, making it useful for punishing laggy attacks and edge-guard breaking. Spring Jump is a useful recovery move that grants intangibility during start-up and covers an impressive amount of vertical distance. It is also one of the few recovery moves that does not cause helplessness, as Sonic is able to attack and dodge during his descent, while the spring that is dropped can be useful both on-stage and off-stage by allowing him to pressure and gimp opponents, respectively.
Sonic also has a capable air game. Neutral aerial is a great combo starter when SHFF'd, thanks to its long-lasting hitbox, fairly low landing lag, and launching angle. Forward aerial is useful for edge-guarding and, in certain instances, can combo into itself on-stage at low percentages, thanks to its auto-canceling window and Sonic's fast air speed. Up aerial possesses KO potential near the upper blast line and is great for combos, while its auto-canceling window makes it deceptively safe. Back aerial's clean hitbox is powerful, making it one of his few reliable KOing options like his up aerial. Lastly, down aerial is stall-then-fall; while it is Sonic's least useful aerial attack, it has noticeably less ending lag than other stall-then-falls, and its clean hitbox is a meteor smash.
Sonic's neutral attack, tilt attacks, and throws have decent damage outputs and minimal lag, which make them hard to punish. Incidentally, his grab game is decent overall. While none of his grabs excel in speed and each of them have average ranges, they are still fairly easy to land thanks to his mobility. Sonic's pummel is quick and has an average damage output, which allows him to rack up a fair amount of damage before throwing an opponent. Down throw is a semi-spike and has high base knockback, which make it excellent for setting up edge-guards and tech-chases. Back throw, like his down throw, has high base knockback, but KOs much earlier than his other throws, especially if it is used while near the edge. It also moves Sonic backward, which makes it useful for setting up an immediate edge-guard attempt. Up throw is a fairly reliable combo starter: while its combo potential is not as consistent as Spin Dash and Spin Charge's, it still possesses decently damaging combos beginning at 0%, as well as Spring Jump-assisted aerial combos beginning at medium percentages. It also has KO potential, although it only KOs reliably when used on high platforms at very high percentages. Lastly, forward throw is his least useful throw, as its primary utility is for forcing the opponent into the air. Like up throw, it can also function as a KOing option when used on high platforms at very high percentages.
However, Sonic has some weaknesses, most noticeable his KO potential. Despite having been noticeably improved since Brawl, his KO potential is held back by his most reliable KOing options (smash attacks, clean back aerial, and up aerial) requiring good positioning and, aside from up aerial, having noticeable start-up and ending lag. His forward and up smashes are also burdened with low base knockback, which forces them to be used for KO attempts later instead of earlier. Despite his outstanding mobility, Sonic also has trouble landing without the use of Homing Attack or Spring Jump, owing to his forward, back, up and down aerials have at least 21 frames of landing lag. This is further exacerbated by his slow air acceleration leaving him susceptible to juggling. Sonic can also have difficulty dealing with camping, since any ground-level projectile can severely limit his movement options. Lastly, Sonic can be susceptible to early KOs. Unlike other middleweights, such as Mario and Luigi, some of his attacks are very punishable should they miss, and thus allow openings for opponents to punish him. His recovery is also predictable if Spring Jump is his only recovery option, as its linearity makes him susceptible to gimps even at relatively low percentages.
Sonic has many beneficial custom moves at his disposal. Stomp can meteor smash opponents, making it more useful for edge-guarding. Hammer Spin Dash can bury opponents during start-up, allowing for follow-ups that Spin Dash would not permit. In comparison, Burning Spin Dash deals much more damage and its lower jumps leave Sonic less vulnerable after landing a hit. Auto-Spin Charge removes the need for button mashing in order to charge and has a deceptive charging animation that does not reveal when the move starts losing power, the latter of which makes it suitable for mindgames. Lastly, Gravitational Charge has a wind effect that pulls opponents in front of Sonic toward him, making it easier for him to hit them. However, it also pushes away opponents behind him, which can make it more difficult for them to punish him directly.
Overall, Sonic is a character with incredible offensive prowess that must force opponents to make a mistake in order to safely rack up damage and use his excellent mobility to avoid heavy punishment. Despite receiving nerfs from game updates, Sonic remains a strong choice for competitive play, with professionals such as KEN, 6WX, and komorikiri consistently achieving great results with him.
Changes from Brawl
Sonic has been buffed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. The most noticeable improvement has been to his KO potential, which was a crippling weakness in Brawl. Several of his attacks have had their knockback increased: his smash attacks are now reliable KOing options like his up and back aerials, while his back throw now possesses KO potential. Like back throw, up throw has increased knockback and, when coupled with the changes to hitstun canceling, results in it becoming a better combo starter. Lastly, a number of Sonic's moves have been improved from being ineffective and situational to possessing utility: forward tilt is better at spacing and starting tech-chases, his new dash attack is better at punishing and ending his tech-chases, his new down smash is a semi-spike that has a consistent damage output and much less start-up lag, and his neutral aerial is now a capable combo starter when SHFF'd.
However, Sonic also received minor nerfs. Spring Jump covers less vertical distance, and Homing Attack can no longer be used repeatedly without landing on the ground again, both of which weaken recovery. Sonic is also slightly hindered by the removal of DACUS, which would have supplemented his newly buffed up smash to the point of making it a viable approach option, and possibly his most viable KOing option. The ending lag for his KOing options have also been considerably increased, which makes them riskier than before. Lastly, Sonic has also been nerfed by several game updates, particularly to his KOing options. However, none of these nerfs are significant enough to hinder his considerably higher viability.
Sonic has been nerfed by game updates. Update 1.0.6 severely decreased the knockback growth of his back throw, which was one of his most potent KOing options, as well as slightly toning down his damage racking ability by lowering the damage outputs of Spin Dash's rolling and jumping hitboxes. Update 1.0.4 increased the ending lag of his forward smash, while updates 1.0.8 and 1.1.0 decreased the knockback growth of his up smash and forward smash, respectively.
However, Sonic also received somewhat noticeable buffs. Update 1.0.4 removed the grab release glitch, which enables Sonic to re-use Spring Jump if he is grabbed in midair. Update 1.0.8 decreased his down aerial's ending lag, which made it easier to avoid self-destructing with, and thus more reliable for edge-guarding when it is sweetspotted. Lastly, Sonic's multiple hit attacks benefit from the changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1. While the nerfs to Sonic's KOing options, damage racking ability, and combo game have slightly toned down his offensive presence, many professional players have shown that he is still a very viable character regardless.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Sonic was initially perceived as a high-tier character, with the buffs he gained from his transition from Brawl largely mitigating most of the weaknesses he had in that game. While his newfound KOing options would be nerfed in game updates, Sonic's playerbase has nevertheless managed to display many different and effective playstyles. In addition to enriching his metagame, his playerbase's efforts have also resulted in him achieving very strong tournament results, thanks to the likes of 6WX, KEN, Komorikiri, Seagull Joe, SuperGirlKels and many more. The highly favorable perception of Sonic resulted in him being ranked 6th on the first and second iterations of the tier list, while his playerbase's continued success would result in him being ranked 5th on the third and current tier list.
In Event Matches
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