Zelda (ゼルダ, Zelda) is a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The titular character of The Legend of Zelda universe, Zelda's model from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is reused in Brawl. Zelda was confirmed as a returning fighter on June 25th, 2007 on the Smash Bros. DOJO!!.
Jun Mizusawa reprises her role as Zelda's voice actor from Ocarina of Time, Melee and Twilight Princess, with some voice clips recycled from Melee, along with ones newly recorded.
Having previously appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Zelda reappears in Brawl as a character utilizing strong magical attacks, but despite her overall KO power being strongly buffed, her tier position is a drop from Melee at 37 out of 38 compared to 24 out of 26 in the earlier game. While Zelda possesses fast, powerful attacks, some of the most powerful aerials in Brawl, and a great defensive game thanks to strong out of shield options, Zelda suffers from a combination of severe character build flaws. These flaws include a very inconvenient combination of attributes similar to Mewtwo (slow, light, tall, and floaty), her almost non-existent approach options, possessing a moveset that consists nearly entirely of unreliable finishers with poorly-placed hitboxes (which makes it difficult for her to KO consistently despite her abundance of powerful attacks, and leaves her with an almost non-existent combo game), a terrible projectile that cannot force approaches, one of the worst grab games, with a very slow grab and terrible throws, and her predictable and unreliable recovery (her primary recovery move suffers from major angular issues, and she does not have access to an alternate recovery move nor the air speed and jumping abilities to make it back without using a recovery move). This has left her with terrible tournament results and having terrible matchups against many higher tiered characters, ultimately clocking her in F Tier right above the worst spot (with Ganondorf being the only fighter ranked lower than her) - although the combination of her and her transformation, Sheik is higher at 24/38, placed in the D tier (though this is based on theory rather than actual practice). While Zelda is ranked as one of the worst characters in the game in the American and European tier list, in Japan she is ranked significantly higher, 16th in the high tier along with Sheik, as they are considered as a single character.
Zelda is a floaty, lightweight character with poor momentum canceling (making her very easy to KO but difficult to chain throw) with strong, graceful attacks, usually augmented with magic. She has abysmal grounded mobility overall, with her having the 4th slowest walking and dashing speeds. However, she has above-average air speed.
Arguably Zelda's most defining trait is the high KO power on a large portion of her moveset. Her aerials (except for neutral aerial) are among the absolute strongest in the game, with her forward, back and up aerials being the strongest in Brawl and her down aerial being the third most powerful meteor smash in the game. Her Lightning Kicks and down aerial are single, powerful blows that cause a lot of damage and knockback if landed properly, but they are extremely weak and have low stun when sourspotted, while her up aerial is likewise the most powerful in the game. On the ground, both her forward and up tilt are among the strongest, with the latter easily KOing most floaty characters under 100%, her forward and up smashes have fast start-up and hit multiple times with large damage output and powerful knockback on the final hit, with the latter being nearly impossible to SDI out of and being able to juggle at lower percentages, while her down smash has almost no start-up lag and is a decently powerful semi-spike, which can be extremely deadly against characters with poor recoveries.
Zelda is also gifted with a solid defensive game. Her rolls and spot dodge are perfectly solid defensive options, although she does possess one of the slower air dodges. She has some powerful out of shield options. Up smash is a frame 6 option which has solid KO power and it hits on both sides. Her back aerial is a frame 11 Out of Shield option and while it is difficult to land, it has incredible KO power when sweetspotted. This also applies to forward aerial although it is slower, being frame 14 OoS. She also has down smash as a frame 11 option which while much weaker than back aerial, it does hit in front and it is still a viable KO move. Down tilt is a frame 12 option which can lead into followups, especially if the opponent trips, or fails to SDI the move. Zelda also has other useful defensive tools. Her Nayru's Love is a reflector with high damage output, decent knockback and reasonable startup lag, while also having a projectile in Din's Fire to defend herself to some degree (even though it is extremely situational). Her strong defense is counterbalanced by her very low traction and her very poor mobility on the ground (very slow dash speed and slow falling speed). Her grab is disjointed, but it is very slow (at frame 12), while also having less range then numerous grabs which come out twice as fast, making it hard to land without set ups, and it is very difficult to land Out of Shield.
Zelda's crippling combination of her slow mobility, atrocious endurance, and her tall frame, however, is arguably what makes her one of the worst characters in Brawl. Zelda's tall frame and floatiness makes her very easy to juggle, despite her above-average air speed, while the latter and her lightweight both give her one of the worst endurances in the game, especially from the upper blast line. Despite her potent defensive game, it is very easy to force her to play offensively because of her very poor approach options, her very slow mobility and her slow grab. Characters with great camping abilities (most notably Falco) can simply outcamp her with a flurry of projectiles or by simply evading her wiith their superior mobility, while she cannot rely on her Din's Fire to camp, as it is easily avoidable and Zelda will not win any projectile wars with it. This means that she gets very few chances to use her strong out of shield options to her advantage and is instead forced to play with her horrible offensive game due to her abysmal approach.
Zelda also struggles with close range pressure. Her fastest ground option is down smash at frame 4 and while it is quite fast, it is also quite punishable. She does have a safer alternative with down tilt although it is frame 5, which can still lose against characters with superior frame data. Zelda can also have some trouble punishing Out of Shield, despite her strong options. Her only fast option is up smash, which does not have particularly impressive range, matching the shortest ranged grabs. Outside of her up smash, she has no options which are faster than frame 11, which can give her a lot of trouble punishing moves which up smash cannot reach, as long as they are not too punishable. Zelda especially has trouble punishing shorter characters as her already unreliable Lightning Kicks are even harder to land against them. When combined with her low traction, this gives Zelda a limited Out of Shield game overall. Zelda does have much better options after a powershield, as down smash and down tilt become frame 5 options, allowing her to reliably punish relatively safe moves. However, these moves are still not fast enough to punish ordinarily safe moves and Zelda does not gain any faster options to punish opponents from behind.
Another one of Zelda's major flaws is her inconsistency in KOing opponents. As mentioned before, most of Zelda's moveset has high KO potential, but landing them is extremely difficult due to the poorly-placed hitboxes on most of her strongest finishers. Her Lightning Kicks and down aerial are extremely powerful when sweetspotted, but the sweetspot hitboxes are notoriously small and the sourspots have incredibly low knockback, damage output and low hitstun, making the moves dangerously unsafe and difficult to land. Down aerial's sweetspot additionally only works against aerial oppoennts, which only makes it a viable KO option off stage. Her up aerial is impossible to land on a opponent at the same ground level as her and is rather laggy. Her forward smash can be SDI'd out of, her up smash does not have the best horizontal range, and her down smash is rather weak for a smash attack despite its semi-spike properties, while her up tilt is rather slow for a tilt attack and is less effective againt heavier characters. Conversely, Zelda's poor frame data and high knockback attacks give her one of the worst comboing abilities in the game. Zelda is virtually unable to followup her aerials into each other, despite her above-average air speed, due to the terrible hitbox placements and properties of most of her aerials, while her only few combo starters, such as her down tilt, jab or neutral neutral aerial or dash attack, eventually become predictable for repetitive use. Neutral attack has slow startup, unfavorable hitbox places and is susceptible to SDI, neutral aerial's loop hits give it inconsistent followup potential against grounded opponents and while down tilt can rack up a lot of damage by chaining into itself, it is susceptible to SDI, preventing Zelda from getting more than three down tilts at the most against a skilled player. most of Zelda's combos only last for merely two or three hits at low percentages, which do not rack up a lot of damage under most circumstances. This is aggravated by her poor grab game; her grabs are very slow and while her back throw can KO at higher percents, her others throws have are quite limited, with forward throw only really be using for setting up edgeguards, down throw can be used to rack up damage and set up unreliable followups and up throw does not reliably lead to followups or KOes.
Lastly, Zelda possesses an extremely situational set of special moves. Din's Fire is long ranged, has a large hitbox when and deals good damage when fully charged, KOs at high percents, cannot properly be reflected, can be controlled, and be used for edgeguarding. However, it is predictable and avoidable against skilled players (easy to spot dodge, air dodge or even trade with), being difficult to camp with against most characters (with few exceptions, like the Ice Climbers and slow characters). Additionally, it is not very effective as an edgeguarding move, as the move sends at a vertical angle, does not KO reliably until around 150% unless near the top blast line, and opponents can easily air dodge or trade with it off-stage. Nayru's Love is a decent duration reflector attack, a solid defensive spacing tool, and it has utility in other areas with techniques such as Love Jumping, but suffers from a considerable amount of ending lag. Farore's Wind is a long distance recovery/attack, but it is very slow, cannot sweetspot ledges until Zelda has reappeared, has weak knockback and Zelda cannot move horizontally after reappearing for a lengthy amount of time. Opponents can either easily hit Zelda out of it or they can edge hog it, making it a rather poor recovery move overall despite its long distance. Transform enables Zelda to alleviate some of her weaknesses (such as poor mobility) by transforming into Sheik, who is a considerably superior character, but the amount of time it takes to transform into Sheik is extremely long, giving the opponent more than enough time to set up a devastating punish on her.
In the end, Zelda relies on her strong defensive game and potential power to overcome her weaknesses, which is usually hard to do. Zelda is a character that has hard time to approach her opponents, but once she does, she can be a devastating character. Zelda can be described as a glass cannon: she can pump out a lot of damage if the opponent approaches her, but she will not survive long once she starts getting hit. Transform can also shore up some of Zelda's weaknesses (most notably her terrible mobility and approach) by turning into Sheik, and vice-versa.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Melee
Zelda has been given major power buffs from Melee to Brawl and she is now an even more powerful character than in Melee due to her gaining several, new powerful finishers like her down smash, down aerial and Din's Fire. Her moveset deals more damage overall and she benefits from various additions including much lower SDI multipliers and the fact that stale move negation no longer affects individual hits of multi-hit moves. The universally decreased falling speeds also further improve her KO power as none of her vertical finishers received a nerf to their power. Additionally, some of her out of shield options have been improved, the aforementioned lower SDI multipliers on her forward and up smash, as well as her neutral aerial, have greatly improved their defensive utility.
However, changes to the mechanics have mitigated these buffs, and she received significant nerfs that made her an even lighter and floatier character, worsened her already horrible endurance and her already inconsistent KOing ability, and considerably weakened her combo game to be among the absolute worst. Those nerfs have drastically harmed Zelda overall, making her arguably even worse relative to the cast than in Melee: her flaws from the previous game remain and were exacerbated by the physics changes due to her average weight being lowered further (although this benefits her matchup against King Dedede) and her slower falling speed and lower gravity making her even floatier. Her barely improved mobility also remains very slow despite the increases to her walking, dashing and air speeds. Despite her moves doing more damage, her damage racking game has been weakened: her powerful moves are harder to hit with due to their smaller hitboxes, increased lag, shorter duration and the introduction of several large sourspots, her combo game has been severely nerfed leaving her with barely any combo potential on most of her moves, while her grab game was greatly weakened despite the improvements her grabs received due to the slower falling speeds and the introduction of hitstun canceling no longer allowing her to chaingrab with her up throws or completely removing her previous follow-ups with her down throw. Lastly, her marginally better Din's Fire remains very difficult to camp with, while still being fairly ineffective as a edgeguarding and KOing move due to only merely KOing above 150%. Transform takes a lot longer to perform and Sheik has been significantly nerfed in her own right making transforming into Sheik a much less effective strategy than in Melee.
Overall, her nerfs heavily outweigh her buffs, making Zelda an even worse character in this game and she still heavily struggles against much of the rest of the cast.
For a more detailed information regarding Zelda's moveset and attack hitboxes, see this page.
In competitive play
Zelda has one of the weakest matchup spreads in the game. She counters Ganondorf, has four even matchups, soft countered by eight characters, countered by fourteen characters, hard countered by seven characters and has two nearly unwinnable matchups against Meta Knight and Olimar. She tends to fare poorly against characters that can zone her out, such as Falco, Olimar, and Meta Knight, or exploit her poor neutral game, like Ice Climbers and Snake. She only does reasonably well against lower-tiered characters that also have awkward neutral games as her, like R.O.B. and Bowser, since their limited mobility and poor disadvantage states allow her to seek more opportunities to break through. Outside of these, however, most characters in the game can easily defeat her by taking advantage of her terrible approach options, clunky neutral game, and inconsistency in KOing foes.
Tier placement and history
Zelda was initially seen as a solid mid-tier character, being ranked 20th on the first tier list; her significant power buffs in Brawl made her a very powerful character that was able to compete decently with the then inexperienced playerbase, who did not utilise much camping and couldn't play the neutral game well. As the metagame progressed however, it became realized Zelda's buffs did little to address the very significant problems of her character design; Din's Fire was still a terrible projectile that could not force approaches while Zelda herself was still very slow and incapable of initiating approaches, and her moveset still consisted near-entirely of unreliable finishers that made it very difficult for her to rack up damage, as well as gave her difficulty in reliably finishing stocks when the opponent was in KO range, while players started to notice that the changes to Brawl mechanics were unfavorable for her, alongside other direct nerfs. Namely, she lost the chain throws and other combos she had out of her throws, while her Lightning Kicks that she relied so heavily on were made significantly harder to sweetspot and laggier, in addition to their sourspots being drastically weaken and Brawl's severe stale-move negation crippling the KO potential of such heavily used moves with such severe sourspots. As Brawl became more defensive based, the playerbase's neutral improved, and camping became more prevalent, Zelda's problems were significantly exacerbated, and it gradually became clear that Zelda was a poorly-designed character that could not remotely viably compete.
Zelda's decline started slowly, with her only falling two places on the second tier list. But it picked up on the third tier list with her falling four places, and then she took a nose dive on the fourth tier list to 35th in bottom tier as the fourth worst character. She fell even farther to being ranked the second worst character on the fifth tier list, and remained stuck there for the rest of Brawl's competitive life, which is also the largest tier drop any character experienced in Brawl. By the end of Brawl's active life, there were even some players who considered Zelda as the worst character in Brawl and not Ganondorf, though the BBR would not sway in placing Ganon as the worst on their final Brawl tier list. While Zelda did have a few players dedicated to using her, her overall playerbase was very small and made very little impact, so her competitive prospects never improved in Brawl.
While Zelda performs poorly in Brawl singles, she performs slightly better in doubles, where a teammate can alleviate some of her significant flaws and allow Zelda to utilize her strengths better. Riot, for example, routinely placed well in doubles events in his region, compared to his worse and more scarce results in singles.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
At the start, she and Peach are watching a friendly match between Mario and Kirby. After the Halberd appears, she and Peach rush from offstage after the stadium is attacked by the Primid. The player can choose out of the four to fight off the Primids. When the Ancient Minister appears and drops a Subspace bomb, Mario is blasted away by a cannonball when he tries to stop it. Zelda and Peach are captured by Petey Piranha. The player, as Kirby, must save either Peach or Zelda by destroying one of their cages.
If Zelda is saved, she joins Kirby as they both escape from the stadium on a Warp Star. They are pursued by the Halberd, and land on top of it. Soon they fall off and reach the ground, fighting along through hordes of Subspace foes. Later on, Kirby leaves Zelda behind, and Bowser appears from the sky and turns her into a trophy.
The Shadow Bugs (which came along with Bowser) make a clone of Zelda while he takes the real Zelda. The clone proceeds to ambush Link and Yoshi with a Dark Cannon. However, Pit destroys the Dark Cannon and he and Mario fight and defeat her. When the clone is defeated, Link witnesses her trophy disintegrating into Shadow Bugs and, believing it was the real Zelda, proceeds to attack both Mario and Pit with Yoshi’s help. Mario and Pit defeat them and turn them into trophies and then Link and Yoshi fall into a state of unconsciousness as trophies. Kirby then revives them as King Dedede snatches them with his cargo (already hauling Luigi, Ness, and Peach). The five heroes chase after Dedede to his castle which is in ruins after Bowser stormed it and took Peach's trophy. The group then catches up to Bowser at a cliff but he escapes with Peach's trophy and flies to the Halberd where Zelda is already being held.
If Peach was saved, Wario appears whilst Zelda is trapped under her wrecked cage. He blasts her with a Dark Cannon and turns her into a trophy, before fleeing the stadium with her. She is later captured by King Dedede when he ambushes Wario and steals his Cargo along with Ness. As he passes Link and company, Link spots her on the back of the Cargo, and Pit shoots the Cargo, slowing it down so that they can pursue Dedede.
Dedede puts his own Dedede brooch on her, but when Bowser attacks his castle, he finds her trophy and takes it. However, he is pursued by Mario and Pit, and when Pit fires an arrow at Bowser, the Dedede brooch falls off and is found by Kirby. Bowser escapes in the Koopa Clown Car and takes her trophy up to the waiting Halberd.
At a later part of the story, Zelda and Peach are discovered by Lucario, Meta Knight, and Snake in cages aboard the Battleship Halberd, stuck in their trophy form. Shadow Bugs of the princesses then fight the trio. After being freed, Snake tells both Zelda and Peach to stay in the room that they were being held captive in. Zelda transforms into Sheik, and both she and Peach make their way to the deck of the Halberd, against Snake's orders.
When Fox attacks the Halberd against and nearly hits Peach by accident, Sheik uses Vanish to appear on top of Fox's Arwing. She then breaks the cockpit and Fox ejects, and they both fall to the Halberd. Just as they begin to fight, Peach holds up a hand and yells, "Hi!" Both Fox and Sheik look over, and find Peach has just offered them both tea. Fox, looking confused, looks to Sheik, to find she has already begun to drink. Fox accepts the tea and they do not fight again.
Zelda/Sheik helps Peach, Fox, Lucario, Snake and Falco defeat Duon. She is on the Halberd when Meta Knight lands it and meets up with the two other groups. Sometime between the Halberd's retaking and before the Subspace Bomb detonation at the Isle of Ancients, she returns to Zelda's appearance.
During the fight against Tabuu, Zelda (along with all the other characters) gets turned into a trophy. If she is revived, she, along with Link, revives Ganondorf and points out what happened. She then aids the heroes in defeating Tabuu at the end of the story.
Zelda, like Luigi, doesn't have the trophy form pose of her collectible trophy. She instead has her arm in front of her rather than behind, as in her down taunt.
The following stickers can either only be used by Zelda or by a small set of characters which includes her:
Almost all of Zelda's moves are magic attacks. A magic sticker covers all of her moves except for down tilt, down smash, Din's Fire, sourspotted forward, back and down aerial and all ledge and floor attacks. A leg sticker covers all of those moves, except for Din's Fire and her slow ledge attack, the latter being an arm attack. Din's Fire is boosted by explosive stickers, and along with up aerial and the second hit of Farore's Wind, flame stickers. Her forward tilt, Nayru's Love and Farore's Wind's first hit are boosted by slash stickers. Lastly, Zelda also benefits from electric stickers, as these will cover her neutral attack, up tilt, dash attack, up smash, forward smash, neutral aerial, Lightning Kicks, down aerial and down throw.
In Event Matches