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 fighter 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 third-party veteran in the series.
In the English version, Sonic is now voiced by Roger Craig Smith, albeit via recycled voice clips from games such as Sonic Generations and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This reflects his succession of Jason Griffith as Sonic's voice actor, who voiced Sonic from 2005 until 2010. Jun'ichi Kanemaru reprises his role in the Japanese version, albeit through recycled voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For the first time, Sonic 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; he is voiced by Alexandre Gillet, Jonatán López, Marc Stachel, and Renato Novera respectively.
Sonic is ranked 7th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the A tier and tying him with Fox. This is a significant improvement over his mid-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 22nd out of 38. Sonic unsurprisingly boasts the fastest dashing speed in the game; when coupled with his special moves allowing him to attack while in motion with little fear of reprisal, Sonic's approach and neutral game are both impressive. The majority of Sonic's moveset also has improved utility, most notably in regard to his KO potential.
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.
Thanks to his newfound and retained strengths outweighing his flaws, Sonic has attained a large playerbase that has consistently achieved excellent results in high-level play.
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 and ninth fastest air speed, the latter of which is tied with Mario and Donkey Kong's. When coupled with his above average gravity and jumps, he has high omnipresence and can move around the stage at incredible speeds, despite having below average falling speed and one of the worst air accelerations in the game. These traits, in turn, make Sonic 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. When coupled with their extremely similar animations, 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.
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 strong 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 a stall-then-fall; although it is Sonic's least effective aerial, it has noticeably less ending lag compared to other stall-then-falls, and its clean hitbox meteor smashes aerial opponents.
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 that has high base knockback, which make it excellent for setting up edge-guards and tech-chases. Back throw also possesses 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 at very high percentages when used on high platforms, such as Battlefield's top platform. 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, albeit only when used on high platforms at very high percentages.
However, Sonic has some weaknesses, the most noticeable of which is his KO potential. Despite having improved considerably since Brawl, his KO potential is held back by his most reliable KOing options (forward/up smashes, 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 very 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 windbox 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.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Sonic has been buffed significantly in his transition from Brawl to Smash 4. The most noticeable improvement he received was to his KO potential, which was his most glaring weakness in Brawl. A decent number of Sonic's attacks have had their knockback increased, most notably his forward smash, up smash, and clean back aerial, all of which are much more viable kill options. His back throw also now possesses KO potential.
Sonic's moveset in general has also been improved in various ways. Notably, two of his moves (dash attack and down smash) have been completely overhauled. Sonic's new dash attack hits multiple times, which is further supplemented by the weakening of SDI, and it possesses very high knockback growth; altogether, these traits make it better than his previous dash attack in regard to punishing and tech-chasing. In comparison, Sonic's new down smash is generally more useful than his previous one, thanks to it being a semi-spike that has a consistent damage output and much less overall lag.
Outside of these two instances, some of Sonic's moves also benefit from both direct changes and modifications to gameplay mechanics. Neutral aerial and up throw's angles have been altered, although the latter move also deals less damage and has compensated knockback which hinders its damage racking potential and does not grant it significantly greater combo potential which it otherwise would have if its knockback were unchanged. When coupled with the changes to hitstun canceling, they, alongside Spin Charge, have improved combo potential. Due to its angle being altered, down aerial's clean hitbox is now a meteor smash against aerial opponents; when coupled with the removal of meteor canceling, clean down aerial is a much more potent edge-guarding option. Lastly, up smash and forward aerial are much more difficult to escape from due to the aforementioned weakening of SDI.
However, Sonic has received some nerfs, mainly to his speed, both in terms of mobility and frame data. A number of his moves have become laggier to varying degrees, with a good example being his back aerial, which incurs drastically more landing lag and has a worse auto-cancel window, which significantly harms its utility despite its increased power. Some moves (such as his forward smash, down smash, up aerial, and down aerial) also have shorter durations. Despite his overall higher KO potential, some of his moves have reduced KO potential, such as up aerial and down smash, and his overall damage output is lower, reducing his damage racking capabilities, although this was the case for most returning veterans.
Sonic's mobility has also taken a hit relative to the cast, although this is mainly due to the changes to Smash 4's mechanics combined with the general increase other characters received to their mobility. While Sonic still has the fastest dashing speed by a huge margin, it is nevertheless lower relative to the cast, as he was one of the few characters whose dashing speed was left unchanged. His walking speed was also slightly decreased. The removal of DACUS also hinders up smash's versatility, as it hinders its approach potential, and to make matters worse, his running up smash covers significantly less distance. The removal of glide tossing also hinders Sonic’s approach with items.
Although remaining very respectable, Sonic's recovery has nevertheless worsened in two particular ways: Spring Jump covers less vertical distance, its intangibility has increased startup lag, and Sonic cannot act as soon out of it, not only making it a worse recovery option, but also making it a less effective combo breaker. Homing Attack can also no longer be used repeatedly without landing on the ground again, removing Sonic's ability to infinitely stall with it. Lastly, Spin Dash's damage racking potential was toned down via update 1.0.6, and it can no longer be used with momentum canceling, which significantly hinders Sonic's endurance. 1.0.6 also notably made his back throw weaker.
Ultimately, Sonic's increased KO potential outweighs his reduced speed and damage output, and the changes to the game's mechanics help him more than they hurt him. As a result, he is a significantly more effective character, and he has seen much more usage in high level play.
Sonic has been nerfed by game updates. Update 1.0.6 severely hindered his back throw's KO potential by noticeably decreasing its knockback growth, and toned down Spin Dash's damage racking potential by lowering the damage outputs of its rolling and jumping hitboxes. Update 1.0.4 increased forward smash's ending lag, 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 him to re-use Spring Jump if he is grabbed in midair. Update 1.0.8 reverted down aerial's ending lag to what it was in Brawl; in addition to making it safer when used off-stage, it also made its clean hitbox more reliable for edge-guarding. Lastly, Sonic's multiple hit attacks benefit from the changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1.
Although the nerfs to Sonic's KOing options and damage racking potential have slightly toned down his offensive presence, many professional players have shown that he is still a very viable character regardless.
For a gallery of Sonic's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Sonic was initially perceived as a high-tier character, thanks to his buffs largely mitigating most of the weaknesses he had in Brawl. 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 Sonic's metagame, the likes of 6WX, KEN, komorikiri, Seagull Joe, and SuperGirlKels have also resulted in him achieving very strong tournament results leading the general consensus to believe that Sonic is one of the best characters in the game.
Sonic's highly favorable perception and continued success resulted in him being ranked 6th on the first and second iterations of the tier list and then 5th on the third tier list as he continued to perform well at most tournaments with KEN placing 2nd at 2GGC: MkLeo Saga while defeating top players such as T, Raito, Elegant, Captain L, Larry Lurr, Lima, Dabuz, Nairo, and MkLeo as well as Manny, Wrath, 6WX, komorikiri, Sonido, SuperGirlKels, and Jakal continuing to perform well with him.
Although Sonic dropped to 7th on the fourth and current tier list and is now tied with Fox, his ranking is debatable. Some players, such as MKLeo ESAM, ANTi, ZeRo and Dabuz, believe that he should be ranked slightly higher. Conversely, Salem and others view Sonic as overrated to the point of not being a top-tier character in spite of his tournament success in the tournament, with a primary argument being his unfavorable matchup with Bayonetta. Regardless, Sonic remains a massive threat in competitive play and continues to gain consistent results.
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