Young Link (SSBM)
Young Link (こどもリンク, Young Link) is a character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He is a direct clone of Link, with some minor differences. Young Link was replaced with Toon Link in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Young Link is voiced by Fujiko Takimoto, who previously voiced him in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and its sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, with her voice clips of the character sampled directly from those two games.
He ranks 17th on the tier list in the C- tier, one place higher than Link. Young Link has a very good approach due to some low lag aerials, a great SHFFL and a good wavedash, as well as three projectiles and good mobility overall. Young Link also is a potent comboer due to his projectiles, and can also edgeguard and space well. However, Young Link's primary flaw is that he has trouble KOing, due to the lack of an efficient quick KO move and having difficulty in hitting cleanly with his smash attacks (except his down smash). Additionally, like Link, Young Link has a slow and predictable recovery, though his ability to wall jump, bomb jump and use his hookshot give him some options. Young Link's recovery, however, is rather poor for his weight class.
How to unlock
For players to unlock Young Link, the Classic or Adventure Mode has to be completed with ten characters.
Alternatively, the player can take part in 500 VS. matches.
When fought, Young Link appears on Great Bay, with Saria's Song playing in the background.
As a fighter, Young Link appears as a lighter, weaker, and faster form of Link, and generally falls under the same archetype as a character, similar to characters such as Ness. Other properties of Young Link, however, are almost identical to those of Link. His airspeed and falling speed are identical to Link's, and he has only slightly lower traction, giving Young Link a slightly longer wavedash than Link. Unlike his 16-year-old self, who is a heavyweight, Young Link is a lightweight and gets sent farther and higher (due to having the same fall speed) than Adult Link. Young Link's primary asset is his range. His Kokiri Sword gives him a disjointed hitbox that can allow him to strike from farther ranges, and his neutral, down, and side specials all give him access to a variety of projectiles that can cause damage and start combos from significant distances. Young Link's projectiles are surprisingly damaging, especially in comparison to Link's; his bombs catch opponents in the blast with multiple hits, allowing for combo potential, and both his boomerangs and Fire Arrows inflict more damage and hitstun than Link's, allowing for some dangerous combo starters against his opponents. Coupled with a long-ranged grapple, Young Link's range is among the highest in the game.
Additionally, Young Link has access to a surprisingly good approach game. In addition to his aforementioned range boons, Young Link's aerial approach is very good. Fast, low-lag aerials and a small short hop coupled with a high falling speed gives Young Link an excellent SHFFL, and his high air speed can allow him to easily pursue enemies in the air. These traits also give Young Link a great air game and a surprisingly good edgeguarding game; Young Link's recovery options are great as well, with a relatively high third jump and a wall-grapple to assist him, and the ability to wall-jump.
Young Link's KO options are varied and often different than those found on most other characters. Young Link's neutral aerial and down tilt are quite powerful, with the former having almost nonexistent ending lag when L-canceled. Additionally, Young Link's forward smash has the unusual property of being two hits: one with fixed knockback, and one with powerful vertical knockback, acting as a trap of sorts. One of Young Link's most reliable finishers is his dash attack, which can KO at as low as 95% on some characters, and is unusually fast.
Young Link's primary flaw, however, is his inability to easily and efficiently hit with his finishers. His neutral air requires him to be in the air first, and the remainder of his attacks can prove too awkward to hit with. His dash attack requires the first few frames to connect, and its ending lag can prove to be problematic; that and the inability to send the opponent upwards unless hit at a precise point of the sword and being a semi-spike, which characters (like Fox and Link) can tech out of. With proper use of DI, it's possible to avoid the second hit of Young Link's forward smash. Furthermore, Young Link's down aerial, which can act as one of the most powerful meteor smashes in the game, has a very small and situational sweetspot, significantly hindering its usefulness off the edge. His forward aerial is also among the weakest forward aerials to both combo and finish with and his up smash is weak and not reliable tue to DI, forcing him to over-rely on dash attack or down smash for KOing.
Young Link's light weight makes him considerably easier to KO than other characters; this itself acts as a problem for Young Link due to his poor recovery in comparison to other characters of his weight class (such as Mewtwo or Jigglypuff).
Young Link's Kokiri Sword makes "smacking" sound effects when it connects for every attack except for Young Link's up throw and up special. Young Link's Deku Shield is also slightly less durable than Link's (higher-damage projectiles will phase through the shield).
However, under the hands of a player with skilled precision, Young Link's projectiles, approach options and mobility can prove to be quite deadly.
Once of the most noticeable distinctions between the two is that Young Link is faster than Link. This however comes at the cost of having weaker KO power. Being younger than his adult self, Young Link is shorter than Link. This makes him harder to hit, but it also reduces his range. Young Link is also significantly lighter than Link, making him less susceptible to combos, but means he can get KO'ed generally earlier than Link. Young Link has the ability to wall jump, aiding in his recovery options.
Young Link also has properties for some of his moves that extend behind damage distribution. Young Link shoots fire arrows for his neutral special, dealing flame damage and dealing more damage uncharged, but less damage fully charged. Young Link's Spin Attack hits multiple times rather than once, making it better for trapping opponents, but worse for netting KOs. Young Link's Bombs hit four times upon explosion opposed to two, allowing his bombs to deal more damage than Link's. Young Link's down aerial his a sweet-spot near the hilt of his sword, which meteor smashes opponents while also setting them ablaze.
In spite of these differences, it is heavily debated on which of the two are better, with them usually being near each other on tier lists. Young Link does better against floaty characters such as Jigglypuff and Peach, but Link performs better against non-floaty characters.
Grabs and Throws
For a gallery of Young Link's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Most historically significant players
Tier placement and history
Opinions on Young Link in the early metagame were largely pessimistic; he was frequently placed in the mid-low to low tiers, ranking as low as 20th on the seventh tier list. For a long time, he was considered inferior to Link due to his adult counterpart having greater range, better KOing power, and just as good of a recovery. Young Link also suffered from a dearth of good representation at that time, with Jash and Kokiri Soldier (then known as Laijin) as his sole high-level representatives, while adult Link had several notable and influential players such as Aniki, The GERM, and later J666 and Lord HDL pushing his metagame.
Link's perceived superiority continued well into and after the MLG era; however, it was around this time that players began to notice Young Link's potential against floaty characters. His playerbase recognized that he was one of the best Peach answers in the game, due to his ability to defeat defensive Peaches with his speed and projectiles. Even so, high-level players greatly underestimated how significant this advantage was, particularly because they also thought that adult Link was not too far behind in the Peach matchup. This is reflected in the 2010 matchup chart, where both Young Link and Link share a -1 matchup against Peach. They surmised that this seemingly small advantage that Young Link had over Link was not enough to justify placing him higher than Link on the tier list. This still allowed him to rise to just one spot short of Link on the tenth tier list, among other considerations such as Young Link faring slightly better against Sheik.
It would not be until the next year where all preconceived notions of Young Link would be called into serious question, as Armada shocked the world by unveiling his Young Link at several supermajors such as Pound V, GENESIS 2, and most infamously Apex 2012. At these events, he defeated Hungrybox's Jigglypuff decisively in three out of their four encounters, with his only loss being a narrow 2-3. He demonstrated that Young Link was one of the best answers to not only Peach, but other floaties such as Jigglypuff as well, due to his superior movement that allowed for a devastating hit-and-run strategy that adult Link would not be able to replicate. The two would meet again at Apex 2013, where Hungrybox attempted to avoid the matchup entirely by playing Ness for two games, before being forced to switch back after losing those games. The fact that Young Link had the potential to be so oppressive to floaties, that world-class players like Hungrybox would go to such lengths to avoid playing the matchup, finally convinced Melee Back Room panelists that Young Link was a superior meta-call to Link. Reflecting this, he moved above Link for the first time in the eleventh tier list.
Over time, Hungrybox adapted back to Armada's Young Link play, with the latter not enjoying the character enough to push the matchup any further. Nonetheless, Armada and many other top players still acknowledge that Young Link has real, top-level potential against Jigglypuff and other floaties, a sentiment that has since been widely accepted. Modern opinions of Link have plateaued as well, with many players arguing that his sluggish ground movement has finally caught up to him in a more optimized metagame, and that many of his advantages in the past came from abusing player error with his more immediate power. The majority of players consider Young Link's movement and incredible prowess against floaties to overwhelm Link's harder hitting disjoints in those matchups.
However, in more recent times, players such as Mew2King and Armada now consider Link to be slightly better overall due to Young Link's greater struggle against non-floaty characters. Players such as Sixx and Aklo have also showcased tournament results as solo Link in more recent years that remain to be matched by his younger counterpart. He is thus viewed as a fringe yet viable secondary, with Axe being considered the best among them. While Young Link is expected to remain in the mid-low tiers due to his arguable lack of solo viability, he holds a very respected niche in top-level Melee that is still recognized in modern competitive play.
In single-player modes
In Classic Mode
Young Link can appear in ordinary one-on-one matches, in a team as an ally or opponent (paired up with either Link or Zelda), in a giant battle, or as an opponent in the metal fight. In these cases, Young Link either appears on Great Bay or Temple, with the exception of the metal battle. In all such instances, bar the metal fight, Saria's Song will play.
In Adventure Mode
The Adventure Mode makes no concessions to Young Link when he is unlocked.
In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Young Link and his allies are fought on the stage Jungle Japes, with Saria's Song playing, as the remainder of the Zelda stages are instead taken by Link and Zelda.
In Event Matches
Young Link is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Young Link as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter that are unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes on any difficulty with Young Link.