Sonic (ソニック, Sonic) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced during the Nintendo Direct on October 1st, 2013 to commemorate Sonic Lost World being released that month. 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 recycles Jun'ichi Kanemaru's voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, who still voices Sonic in Japanese to this day.
Sonic is currently ranked 5th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him at the top of the A tier and making him the third highest ranked third-party character. This is a significant improvement over his mid-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 22nd out of 38. True to his name, 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. He also has capable KOing options in his forward smash, up smash, back aerial and up aerial. However, Sonic's KOing options are hindered by their high lag, which makes them risky. Despite his mobility, he nevertheless has trouble contending with projectile camping, while Spring Jump is a predictable recovery move due to its linearity.
Overall, Sonic's both newfound and retained strengths outweigh his flaws, which has been reflected by him attaining a large and skilled playerbase that have have consistently achieved strong results in tournaments at all levels of play.
Sonic is a middleweight that, like in his home series, possesses outstanding mobility. He has nigh-omnipresence due to possessing the fastest dashing speed in the game, the seventh fastest walking speed, and is tied with Mario and Donkey Kong for having the ninth fastest air speed. When coupled with his below average falling speed and above average gravity, Sonic is able to travel at a blinding speed across any stage, which allows him 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. Homing Attack deals a varying amount of damage, but homes in on the nearest opponent, making it useful for punishing laggy attacks and edgeguard breaking. Its knockback growth has also increased, which makes it a situational KOing option at very high percentages. Spring Jump is a useful recovery move that grants intangibility during start-up and 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 out of it, while the spring that is dropped can be useful both on-stage and off-stage by allowing him to pressure and gimp opponents, respectively. 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.
Sonic also has a capable air game, which is complemented by his air speed having become faster since Brawl. Neutral aerial is a great combo starter on grounded opponents due to its long-lasting hitbox, fairly low landing lag and launching angle. Forward aerial is useful for edgeguarding and, in certain instances, can combo into itself on-stage at low percentages due to its autocanceling window and Sonic's fast air speed. Up aerial is one of his few KOing options and is great for combos, while its autocanceling window makes it deceptively safe. Back aerial is powerful and does not have much ending lag, making it one of his few reliable KOing options like his up aerial. Lastly, down aerial is Sonic's least useful aerial attack, but it is a meteor smash when sweetspotted.
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 performing a throw. Down throw is a semi-spike and has high base knockback, which makes it excellent for setting up edgeguards and tech-chases. Back throw, like his down throw, has high base knockback but KOs earlier than his other throws so long as Sonic is near the edge. It also moves Sonic backward, which makes it useful for setting up an immediate edgeguard attempt. His 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. Lastly, his forward throw is his least useful throw, as its only utility is for forcing the opponent into the air and, like up throw, functioning as a situational KOing option at very high percentages.
However, Sonic has some weaknesses. His most noticeable one is his KO potential: despite having been noticeably improved since Brawl, it is still held back due to Sonic's small number of reliable KOing options (forward smash, up smash, back aerial and up aerial), all of which require good positioning and only one of which (up aerial) does not have noticeable start-up lag. His forward and up smashes have low base knockback and high knockback growth, which forces them to be used for KOing a little later rather than sooner. Additionally, they are both very laggy overall like his down smash. Sonic also has trouble landing without the use of Homing Attack or Spring Jump, since 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 projectile that covers the ground 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 deal heavy damage. 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 edgeguarding. Hammer Spin Dash can bury opponents during start-up, allowing for follow-ups that Spin Dash would not permit. 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 draws opponents in front of Sonic towards him, making it easier for him to hit them. It also pushes opponents behind him further away, making 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. Even after the nerfs brought about by game updates, Sonic remains a strong choice for competitive play, with professionals such as KEN, 6WX and Komorikiri achieving great results with him.
Changes from Brawl
Sonic has been heavily buffed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. The most noticeable improvement has been to his KO power, which was his greatest weakness in Brawl. Several of his attacks have had their knockback increased: his forward and up smashes are now reliable KOing options like his up and back aerials, his forward aerial has become more reliable for KOing via edgeguarding, and his back throw has become a somewhat viable KOing option. Like back throw, up throw has increased knockback and, when this is coupled with the changes to hitstun canceling, it has become 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 has a consistent damage output, is much faster and is a semi-spike, and his neutral aerial is a capable combo starter.
However, Sonic also received minor nerfs. Spring Jump grants less vertical distance and Homing Attack can no longer be used multiple times without landing on the ground again, both of which weaken recovery. Sonic is also slightly hurt 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 best KOing option. The ending lag for his KOing options have also been considerably increased, which makes them riskier than before. Additionally, Sonic has also been nerfed by several game updates, particularly to his KOing options. Despite these nerfs, none of them have significantly affected his viability.
Sonic has been slightly nerfed by game updates, most noticeably to his KO potential. Update 1.0.6 severely decreased the knockback 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, update 1.1.0 decreased the knockback growth of his forward smash, and update 1.0.8 decreased the knockback growth of his up smash.
However, Sonic has also received some useful buffs as well. In update 1.0.8, his down aerial's ending lag was decreased, which made it easier to avoid self-destructing with. He also benefits heavily from the changes to shield mechanics, due to the multiple hitting nature of most of his moves, particularly Spin Dash. While the nerfs to Sonic's KOing options, damage racking ability and combo game have slightly toned down his offensive prowess, 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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