Special Zoom is an aesthetic effect introduced in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, designed to add drama during a match. The term was coined by Masahiro Sakurai and his development team (refered to as Decisive Impact in the initial design document).
Special Zoom activates when a fighter is hit by certain attacks: for a short moment, the background flashes blue with dramatic "spark" effects pointing towards the impact, time will substantially slow down, and the camera zooms in on the impact. In games with more than two players, the slowdown and camera zoom effects will be nearly non-existent, although there are some exceptions (a few moves will always zoom even outside of 1v1 matches). A Special Zoom is usually accompanied by the sound effect previously exclusive to Little Mac's KO Uppercut in Super Smash Bros. 4. During some Special Zoom events, camera control is disabled, though this is not consistently enforced.
In general, the attacks that trigger Special Zoom are slow and hard to hit with (such as Warlock Punch or Falcon Punch). Most other attacks that trigger Special Zoom have conditions that need to be met, such as Ridley's Skewer needing to be sweetspotted, or Little Mac's smash attacks requiring his armor to be triggered during the start-up. Certain items and stage hazards may also trigger Special Zoom, also requiring special conditions in some cases.
Special Zoom occurs even if the attack's knockback is negated by armor. However, Special Zoom will not trigger if the opponent is hit while invincible, during the last five seconds in a time match, when Nightmare is active, when hitting the AI-controlled character of the Ice Climbers, or when a Final Smash is active.
Similar to Special Zoom is Finish Zoom or Final Zoom, terms also coined by Sakurai and his team. Finish Zoom is used when the game calculates an attack will likely result in a game-winning KO. Like the Deadly Blow mechanic introduced in Super Smash Bros. 4, this effect only factors in knockback and launch angle, and does not account for obstructions or DI being used to make an otherwise-deadly blow survivable. Like Special Zoom, Finish Zoom zooms in on the point of impact and briefly slows down time. However, Finish Zoom uses a red background instead of a blue one, and the sound is always the same. The sound used is also different again, being akin to a ping hit combined with the sound of slashing swords. Screen KOs rarely occur when a Finish Zoom sends an opponent into the upper blast line, while Star KOs are very rare.
List of moves that trigger Special Zoom
|Captain Falcon||Falcon Punch|
|Chrom||Flare Blade||Charged for at least 2.5 seconds.|
|Cloud||Cross Slash||Limit Break.|
|Donkey Kong||Giant Punch||Fully charged.|
|Ganondorf||Volcano Kick||Clean hit.|
|Hero||All smash attacks||Random critical hit.|
|Metal Slash||Connecting with a metal opponent, including another Hero using Kaclang.|
|Whack||When it Instant KOs.|
|Incineroar||All smash attacks||When Revenge is active.|
|Alolan Whip||When Revenge is active and the move is sweetspotted.|
|Cross Chop||Explosion hitbox while Revenge is active.|
|Kazuya||Rage Drive||Occurs on final hit of the grab.|
|Glorious Demon God Fist||When hitting at the tip of Kazuya's fist.|
|King Dedede||Jet Hammer||Fully charged.|
|King K. Rool||Belly Super Armor||If broken by an attack.|
|Kirby||Hammer Flip||Fully charged.|
|Any neutral special from other characters that triggers Special Zoom||If Kirby copies an opponent whose neutral special can trigger Special Zoom, Kirby will also experience it under the same conditions. The only exceptions are Little Mac's KO Uppercut, as Kirby can only copy Straight Lunge and does not have access to the KO Meter, and the Mii Brawler's Exploding Side Kick, since Kirby can only copy Shot Put.||*|
|Little Mac||All smash attacks||When attacked during startup armor.|
|Lucario||Force Palm||On grab attack when at high aura.|
|Lucas||PK Thunder||On last hit of PK Thunder 2.|
|Lucina||Shield Breaker||When breaking a shield.|
|Luigi||Super Jump Punch||Grounded sweetspot only.|
|Marth||Shield Breaker||When breaking a shield.|
|Mii Brawler||Exploding Side Kick|
|Mr. Game & Watch||Judge||Judge 9.|
|Oil Panic||On release.|
|Ness||PK Thunder||On contact during PK Thunder 2.|
|Roy||Flare Blade||If charged for at least 2.5 seconds.|
|Steve||TNT||Explosion hitbox on anyone not triggering the pressure plate.|
|Wario||Wario Waft||Fully charged.|
* None of the attacks that Kirby can copy have the 'Always zoom' effect.
|Assist Trophy||Upon defeat. Only possible for defeatable summons.|
|Daybreak||When a fighter has collected all three parts.|
|Death's Scythe||Sweetspotted tilt or smash attack at ≥80% damage.|
|Home-Run Bat||Smash attack.|
|Motion-Sensor Bomb||When detonated by touch.|
|Staff||Any hit at maximum range.|
By assist trophy
|Black Knight||Triggers for all attacks except a backhanded slash. Will not cause camera zoom.|
By stage hazard
|Invisible walls||King of Fighters Stadium||When hit with enough knockback to KO, shatters with the special zoom effect.|
|Walls and ceiling||Mishima Dojo||When hit with enough knockback to break, shatters with the special zoom effect. No camera zoom occurs.|
|Klaptrap||Jungle Japes||On contact, causing a one-hit KO. Camera zooms in slightly.|
|Mimic||Yggdrasil's Altar||When it bites a fighter upon being attacked for the first time.|
|Red Bulborb||Distant Planet||Chomps down on any fighter that enters its mouth, which causes an instant KO.|
|Train||Mementos||When hit in front. Camera zooms in slightly.|
- Should a character be hit by an attack that triggers a Finish Zoom, they will react with a shocked expression that overrides the expression normally displayed.
- If a non-cinematic Final Smash causes Finish Zoom, the background will change to the stage's normal background, rather than the background for the Final Smash.
- In-game parameters reveal that Captain Falcon's Knee Smash was planned to have the Special Zoom effect, although it is not active in the final game.
- Hero has the most moves which can trigger Special Zoom out of all characters, with 7.
- Collecting all three parts of the Dragoon and getting hit by Odin's slashing attack will cause the camera to zoom in, but do not cause the Special Zoom background to appear.
- In Home-Run Contest, Special Zoom does not occur on moves that trigger the effect; presumably to prevent such moves from costing the player time due to the timer not slowing down while Special Zoom is in effect.
- However, using a Special Zoom move in place of the Home-Run Bat swing will not result in an angled view of Sandbag flying, and will instead feature a normal Special Zoom.
- Certain moves are given a hidden multiplier that increases the amount of knockback needed to trigger Finish Zoom, usually for moves that are clearly telegraphed and/or heavily affected by DI, which the opponent would feasibly always react to and DI against accordingly. Star KOs will be more common if the match is finished this way than with the actual Finish Zoom effect.
- These multipliers are set manually, independent from the move's actual knockback calculations, and may not always accurately reflect the practical KO potential of the move. For example, Mario's back throw can KO at around 140% at the ledge with no DI and 160% with optimal DI for a roughly 1.15x increase in survivability, but it is set with an arbitrarily high multiplier of 1.5x, causing the Finish Zoom to begin occuring well beyond its minimum KO percent.
- A glitch involving Min Min and Finish Zoom was introduced in the Version 8.0.0; if the opponent didn't get KO'd (e.g. due to directional influence) after Min Min's attack triggered Finish Zoom, her last used ARM will be visually stuck in being stretched.
- If Finish Zoom occurs to a character getting hit from behind, the reverse knockback animation does not play, although they will briefly assume the pose.
- If Hero uses Thwack on Squirtle performing Withdraw, Squirtle will be instant KO'ed, but it will not trigger the Special Zoom.