Toon Link (SSB4)
Toon Link (トゥーンリンク, Toon Link) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced in a Director's Room Miiverse post on September 26th, 2013, which also commemorated The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD being released in Japan on the same day. Sachi Matsumoto reprises her role as Toon Link's voice actor, albeit via voice clips recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Toon Link is currently ranked 20th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the B tier. This is roughly comparable to his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 13th out of 38, although he is now assessed as a high-tier character instead of a mid-tier character. Toon Link has multiple projectiles, which grant him a powerful zoning game and enable him to follow up into different moves; his Bomb in particular is his most notable set-up for combos and KOs. Toon Link's Hookshot has also been improved: his grabs now have much less ending lag and longer durations, his back throw is now among the strongest throws in the game thanks to its significantly higher knockback, and his tether recovery has much more range.
Although Toon Link's ground game is potent, the overwhelming majority of his overall damage output has decreased. This is most obvious with his smash attacks, as their KO potentials have worsened in spite of their compensated knockback. Toon Link's air game is also rather unimpressive in spite of his floatiness, as his aerial attacks' high ending lag prevents them from partaking in long combos. Lastly, as Toon Link's combo game largely relies on his projectiles, reflection-based moves can both significantly hinder his combo game and turn his projectiles against him.
Toon Link has achieved impressive tournament results, thanks to the efforts of professionals like Zan and Hyuga, the latter of whom placed 9th at GENESIS 3 and 5th at CEO 2016. However, after Hyuga was banned from competing in tournaments following EVO 2016, Toon Link's results plummeted significantly, to the point that he has achieved respectable results only at the regional level. Although Hyuga returned to the competitive scene in January 2017 by winning Hail Smash VIII: The Return of the Hero of the Wind, and then winning Smash Pendiente 68 a few days later, Toon Link's tier placement has nevertheless become debatable.
The majority of Toon Link's attributes noticeably differ from those of his alternate timeline counterpart. Toon Link is among the lighter middleweights, yet boasts above-average dashing speed and air acceleration, as well as the ability to wall jump. However, his falling and fast falling speeds are both slow, while his gravity is low. Although they differ on the majority of their attributes, Toon Link and Link both have above-average walking speeds and slow air speeds. Like Link, he also wields his respective version of the Master Sword and possesses two shields, instead of just one. The Master Sword grants Toon Link disjointed range and an above-average damage output, while the Hero's Shield blocks opposing projectiles if he is standing still or walking. Overall, Toon Link's attributes render him as a fairly quick, yet fairly floaty character.
As a zoning-oriented character, Toon Link possesses a number of projectiles. His Hero's Bow, Boomerang and Bomb enable him to not only force approaches, but also to camp effectively. In addition to these strengths, Boomerang and Bomb boast combo potential, with the latter being his most varied and useful combo starter. Thanks to its explosion no longer damaging Toon Link upon contact with an opponent, Bomb now grants him a number of follow-ups at varying percentages. With precise usage, it can be followed by his up smash or forward aerial even at high percentages, both of which are among his most viable KOing options. Bomb's combo potential is further supplemented by jump-canceling and its status as an item, with the latter trait ensuring that its combo potential is never susceptible to rage or stale-move negation. Although it is not as versatile in comparison, Boomerang is nevertheless useful for Toon Link's combo game, as it can combo into his up tilt, grab and various other moves depending on its positioning.
Although Toon Link's combo game largely revolves around Bomb, he also possesses non-projectile combo starters. Up tilt is arguably the most effective of these: it can combo into itself, an up smash and Spin Attack at low percentages, a short hopped neutral aerial, short hopped back aerial and short hopped Spin Attack at low to medium percentages, and up aerial at medium to high percentages. Aside from up tilt, grab aerial can be used as a long-ranged set-up similarly to Bomb, regardless of the opponent's damage.
Unlike in Brawl, Toon Link's Hookshot now possesses a respectable level of utility. Thanks to its longer range, the Hookshot has become an even more effective tether recovery and has lost its dubious distinction as the shortest ranged tether grab. By extension, Toon Link's grab game has also benefited in a few ways. Each of his grabs have longer durations, significantly lower ending lag, and are now capable of grabbing airborne opponents. Toon Link's throws can supplement his projectiles, as he can use them to launch an opponent into the trajectory of a previously thrown Boomerang or Bomb, such as up throw into a descending Bomb. Aside from this, his up throw can also combo into a short hopped up aerial at low percentages. Toon Link's back throw, however, is unarguably the most notable improvement to his Hookshot-oriented moves. The removal of its initial hitbox in favor of a single, slightly more damaging throw hitbox has resulted in it now having a consistent, albeit unchanged damage output. When this is coupled with the increase to its knockback values, Toon Link's back throw has not only become one of his most viable KOing options, but also one the strongest throws of any kind in the game.
However, Toon Link has some weaknesses. Although his overall damage output is still above average, it has nevertheless decreased since Brawl. His smash attacks have been the most adversely affected, and while they had their knockback values increased, such improvements were not sufficient enough to fully compensate for their worsened KO potentials. Despite its potency, Toon Link's combo game is heavily reliant on Bomb, up tilt and grab aerial, as the rest of his close-ranged attacks cannot reliably combo most of the time. His throws' aforementioned combo potentials with Boomerang and Bomb are also very situational, since Toon Link needs to have precise timing and positioning in order for said combos to be performed properly. To compound this, his grabs still have considerable start-up and ending lag, although such a flaw is typical of tether grabs.
In addition to these new flaws, Toon Link has retained some from Brawl. His floatiness makes him particularly susceptible to strong vertical attacks, and renders his recovery quite predictable in spite of its improvements. However, unlike other floaty characters, he cannot use his floatiness to perform long aerial combos because of his aerials' considerable ending lag. This is most evident with back aerial, which is much less effective at combos than it was in Brawl because of its much higher ending lag. By extension, Toon Link's frame data in regard to start-up and landing lag is below average. Lastly, Toon Link's range is flawed like Meta Knight's: despite being disjointed, it is nevertheless short in comparison to other sword-wielding characters, which makes it necessary for Toon Link to rely on his zoning potential to set up and capitalize on openings.
In regard to custom moves, Toon Link has a number of useful ones at his disposal. Fire Arrow is incredibly useful for spacing, as it allows him to greatly hinder an opponent's approach. It is also capable of functioning as a jab lock at any percentage, or act as a set-up into a number of attacks, particularly his aerials. Floating Boomerang deals a considerable amount of hitstun, which makes it a useful combo option to catch opponents off guard when used correctly. Flying Spin Attack boasts impressive KO potential near the upper blast line, and has an even more reliable edge sweetspot. Lastly, Short-Fused Bomb is useful for ranged punishment, starting combos and even KOing.
Ultimately, Toon Link's lowered overall damage output necessitates using his useful projectiles and combo game to continually rack up damage before he can attempt to score KOs with his smash attacks, forward aerial, clean up aerial and back throw. Although his potency has been lowered somewhat since Brawl, Toon Link is still a viable character when his strengths are properly utilized. This is evident by Xorn, Ri-ma and 3xA achieving respectable placings at regional tournaments, while Hyuga has won a number of regional tournaments and, like Zan, achieved above-average placings at national tournaments.
Changes from Brawl
Toon Link received both buffs and nerfs in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, but was overall slightly nerfed. He gained some important buffs to his mobility, Boomerang and Bomb's utility and, most noticeably, his Hookshot. His grabs have longer ranges and durations, as well as significantly less ending lag, his back throw is now one of his most viable KOing options, and Hookshot covers significantly more distance as a tether recovery. Bomb also no longer damages Toon Link on contact with an opponent, making it very useful in melee combat when combined with his Boomerang, particularly when followed up with KOing options like his forward aerial.
However, Toon Link has also received some noticeable nerfs. Although his overall damage output remains above average, it has nevertheless lowered, which has particularly hindered his smash attacks' KO potentials. Back aerial's excellent combo potential has been significantly toned down, whereas down aerial is much harder to use for spacing and damage racking because of it now piercing opponents. Lastly, Spin Attack's overall recovery distance has slightly decreased, which necessitates using Toon Link's wall jump and tether recovery more often than not.
Toon Link has been buffed slightly via game updates. Update 1.0.6 saw his Hero's Shield become capable of blocking Fox and Falco's Blasters, resulting in Toon Link now being capable of properly blocking any characters' projectiles so long as he stands still or walks. Update 1.1.0 saw his grab game improved even further, as his pivot and dash grabs' start-up lag were reverted to their values from Brawl.
Unlike his alternate timeline counterpart, Toon Link is neither helped or hindered by the changes to the shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1. Lastly, update 1.1.4 improved his forward smash by enabling its first hit to connect better with its second hit.
Technical changelist 1.1.4
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, players had high expectations of Toon Link because of his success in Brawl. While players realized that his power had been toned down since Brawl, the adoption of a new playstyle that is more reliant on his Bomb allowed him to attain roughly the same potency that he possessed in Brawl. Despite not achieving many tournament results, professionals like Hyuga, Zan, Anaky and Sigma have achieved very favorable tournament results in their respective regions, with Hyuga in particular placing 3rd at the national tournament Smash Factor 4. Opinions of Toon Link became even more positive when Hyuga announced his participation in GENESIS 3, where he placed 9th. As a result of his early success, Toon Link was ranked 22nd on the first tier list.
Expectations of Toon Link remained high thanks to Hyuga placing 9th at Pound 2016, 4th at 2GGT: Mexico Saga and 5th at CEO 2016, while Zan and some Japanese smashers also achieved respectable placings at 2GGaming and local Japanese tournaments, respectively. As such, Toon Link ranked at 17th on the second tier list. However, after Hyuga became inactive after EVO 2016, Toon Link's representation and success at the national level noticeably decreased. While 3xA, Ri-ma and Xorn managed to achieve respectable placings at the regional level throughout 2016, with Ri-ma also managing to place 13th at the national tournament The Big House 6, Toon Link's tier placement was still considered to be a bit too high. Additionally, even though Hyuga made his return to the competitive scene in January 2017 by winning the regional tournament Hail Smash VIII: The Return of the Hero of the Wind, and continued that success by winning Smash Pendiente 68 a few days later, Toon Link dropped three spots to his current ranking of 20th on the third and current tier list with some saying he should be even lower due to his lack of results.
In Event Matches
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