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.
Toon Link is ranked 23rd out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the C tier. This is a slight drop from his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 13th out of 38th. Toon Link has multiple projectiles, which grant him a powerful zoning game and enable him to follow up into different moves; 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; 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 also has unimpressive combo potential in spite of his floatiness, since his aerial attacks' high ending lag prevents them from partaking in long combos. Lastly, reflection-based moves are very detrimental for Toon Link; in addition to turning his projectiles against him, they also significantly hinder his Bomb-based combo game.
Overall, Toon Link's strengths outweigh his weaknesses, and have in turn rendered him as a viable character in competitive play. While he has achieved decent representation and respectable results internationally at the regional and even national level, Toon Link has achieved consistently impressive results primarily in Japan, thanks to the efforts of professionals such as Sigma and Ri-ma.
The majority of Toon Link's attributes noticeably differ from those of his alternate timeline counterpart. Toon Link is a middleweight, 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, 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 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 the most effective of these: it can combo into itself, 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 forward aerial 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, while neutral attack can be jab canceled reliably.
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; although 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 he needs to have precise timing and positioning in order for said combos to be performed properly. To compound this, Toon Link's 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. Unlike other floaty characters, however, Toon Link 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 disjointed range is somewhat offset by his short size, similarly to Meta Knight. As such, it is necessary for Toon Link to rely on his zoning potential in order 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 Super Smash Bros. 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 more range and significantly less ending lag; 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; when coupled with the changes to hitstun canceling, this makes it very useful for setting up combos. Up tilt and, to a lesser extent, Boomerang's near hitbox also possess improved combo potentials due to the changes to hitstun canceling.
However, Toon Link has also received some noticeable nerfs. Although his overall damage output remains above average, it has nevertheless lowered, which hinders his ability to rack up damage and it hinders a few of his moves' KO potential. Toon Link's aerial game has also been nerfed. Neutral aerial is weaker, forward aerial can no longer auto-cancel in a short hop, back aerial's excellent combo potential has been significantly toned down as the move is laggier in every regard, and down aerial is much harder to use for spacing and damage racking due being slower and now piercing opponents, which also makes the move much riskier to use off stage. His grab aerial also has increased landing lag, hindering its followup potential unless Toon Link's opponent is at very high percents, and if he Z drops an item or a bomb in the air, he will automatically use his grab aerial. Spin Attack's overall recovery distance has slightly decreased, which necessitates using Toon Link's wall jump and tether recovery more often than not. Lastly, many of his moves are no longer semi-spikes, which along with down aerial's changes, hinders his edge-guarding potential. Despite the improvements his projectiles have received, they have also received some nerfs both direct and indirect. Quickdrawing has been removed, and the removal of edge momentum shifting has hindered Boomerang's utility. Bombs are also now absorbable, and the aforementioned changes to grab aerial further hinders its utility.
Overall, while Toon Link is still a nimble and difficult to hit character with good zoning, his offensive game is worse due to his worse damage output and aerial game, which force him to play even campier in order to survive. Most of his direct buffs do not significantly improve him, while his direct nerfs are more drastic. The changes to Smash 4's mechanics also do not benefit him as much as some other characters. As a result, he is a weaker character than in Brawl, although his potency relative to the cast has not significantly decreased due to Brawl's other higher tiered characters receiving a similar treatment to varying degrees.
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 buffed his already improved grab game by reverting his pivot and dash grabs' start-up lag to their values from Brawl.
Unlike his alternate timeline counterpart, Toon Link is neither helped nor 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 having sparse tournament results, Toon Link nevertheless found success thanks to professionals like Hyuga, Zan, Anaky and Sigma achieving very favorable results in their respective regions. Opinions of Toon Link further improved 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 players 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 in 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 slightly too high. Additionally, despite Hyuga returning to the competitive scene in January 2017 by winning the regional tournament Hail Smash VIII: The Return of the Hero of the Wind, and continuing that success by winning Smash Pendiente 68 a few days later, Toon Link's tier placement nevertheless dropped in subsequent tier lists. He would be ranked 20th on the third tier list, and then 23rd on the fourth and current tier list.
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