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Zelda (SSBM)

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This article is about Zelda's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the character in other contexts, see Princess Zelda.
in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Zelda SSBM.jpg
Universe The Legend of Zelda
Alternate form Sheik
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Brawl
in SSB4
in Ultimate
Availability Starter
Tier F (22) (North America)
G (20) (Europe)

Zelda (ゼルダ, Zelda) is one of the more unique characters in the lineup for Super Smash Bros. Melee. Zelda's most notable traits are her array of powerful magical attacks and her unique ability to transform herself into her alter ego, Sheik. This alternate form is very different from Zelda, and each was intended to help balance the other's weaknesses, so that ideally one would change between the two based on the flow of battle.

Jun Mizusawa reprises her role as Zelda from Ocarina of Time in the game.

Currently, Zelda is 22nd on the tier list, in the F tier, her best placement so far. Zelda's positive attributes include an effective KO move with her Lightning Kick, as well as several powerful attacks that possess transcendent priority. Zelda's primary weakness, however, is her poor mobility; she possesses (along with Jigglypuff) the slowest dash speed in the game, and is a slow-faller. These attributes combine with her very high traction, resulting in the shortest wavedash in the game (along with Peach). Additionally, despite Zelda's long range on her recovery, it is fairly predictable and easily edgeguarded and/or edgehogged due to its awkward ending lag. This contributes to Zelda having poor matchups against most of the cast, though she does have a few even matchups against some characters in higher tiers than her, such as Dr. Mario. Even so, in the current metagame, her even and winning matchups can also be seen as losing due to their metas being increased and Zelda’s weaknesses only being further exploited.


Zelda does not fall under any specific archetype of characters, due to her unusual properties as a fighter; she has a slew of powerful finishers, such as her Lightning Kick, but she is of average weight. Additionally, Zelda has a slow falling speed and a high traction, leading to a very short, albeit fast, wavedash.

One of Zelda's strengths is her surprising amount of power. Within the air, her forward and back aerials of the Lightning Kick can KO at as low as 50%, and her up air has a large hitbox that can also KO opponents. On the ground, Zelda's up tilt is surprisingly powerful (on par with Marth's up tilt), and its long duration and large radius allows it to be relatively useful under most circumstances. Zelda's up and forward smash attacks are also surprisingly powerful and they have high damage output due to their multiple hits.

In addition, Zelda has some fast attacks, such as her down smash (which is the fastest in the game) and her forward and back aerials, both of which, as mentioned earlier, are among the most powerful in the game. Neutral B has invincibility at frame 4, wich makes it a good move to counterattack fast approaches. Up smash is surprisingly fast (frame 6) and can be used as a great out of shield option, as it can lead to a grab if the opponent SDIs out of it. As an added bonus, many of Zelda's attacks have transcendent priority; combined with an average reach in most of her attacks, Zelda has potential to stop others' attacks with her own.

Also, despite her large number of high knockback moves, she has a quite decent combo game. Her dash attack is her primary combo starter on the ground, all of her tilts are great comboing moves, her forward tilt send her opponents backwards, this can set up a back Lightning Kick and even combo into itself, her up tilt can juggle at low percentages and follow-up with a up aerial when it stops comboing and her down tilt can combo into itself until around 95% and can also combo into her down smash. Up smash can also be used a few times in a row at low percentages if the opponent gets caught right above her. In addition to this, Zelda has a good grab game, having the 9th longest non-tether grab range in the game. Her up throw can be a kill confirm around 80% as it leads to a garanteed bair/fair. It also has the potential to chain throw at low percentages, and her down throw has several potential follow-ups, such as a dash attack, Lightning Kick, or even a forward tilt and can set up stage spikes and early edge-guards. Her forward and back throws are quite powerful and can set up edge-guards or even K.O. at high percentages.

One more thing that is unique to Zelda, is her abnormally fast initial dash speed and initial airdodge speed. It allows her to move fairly quickly around platforms when optimized at its best, as show in this video. And not only is she able to move around quickly with platforms, but she has access to Fair Ai. Wich, when timed perfectly, removes any lag on landing. It is by far the fastest way to travel trough platforms in the whole game.

On the ground, Zelda has a slow dashing speed, a short wavedash, and a slow dash dance; combined with decidedly average range in her attacks, Zelda cannot effectively attack or counterattack on the ground. Zelda doesn't fare better in the air; despite an above average air speed, Zelda suffers from poor jumping height, a low falling speed, and a high short hop, leading to a very poor SHFFL. Zelda's lack of an effective projectile also prevents her from attacking from afar; Din's Fire is far too laggy, weak, and predictable to be an effective projectile.

In addition to a poor approach on the ground, most of Zelda's moveset consists of unreliable finishers. Her forward and up smashes suffer from SDI problems, as opponents can easily SDI out of them before the last, most powerful hit can harm them. Zelda's up aerial, while powerful, is impossible to land on a grounded opponent, as it has some start-up lag and the hitbox is just above her. Her Lightning Kicks need to be sweetspotted to KO effectively and finally, her forward and back throws can only KO at very high percentages when used near the edge. As such, Zelda's up tilt and down smash are possibly her only reliable KO moves and even those have their flaws; the former is rather slow and the latter is rather weak for a smash attack.

Zelda also suffers from having generally situational specials (save Transform). Nayru's Love can only harm attackers in short ranges, and it has high ending lag and it doesn't protect her from attacks above her. Din's Fire, as mentioned earlier, doesn't aid her approach at all and it too suffers from high ending lag. Farore's Wind, while covering long distances, lacks a powerful offensive hitbox on its start, and lacks one altogether when reentering, while the move also has awkwardly long ending lag, making Zelda very easy to edgeguard and/or edgehog.


For a gallery of Zelda's hitboxes, see here.

Zelda's aerial attacks
  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   2% (hits 1-3) Zaps magic quickly from her palm, in a similar fashion to Ganondorf's neutral attack. Has transcendent priority.
Forward tilt   13% (hand), 12% (arm), 11% (shoulder) Swipes her hand forward with sparks. Has transcendent priority. Can be angled up or down. Second strongest forward tilt in Melee, only beaten by Bowser's sweetspotted forward tilt. The hitbox on Zelda' s hand sends the opponent behind her.
Up tilt   11% Waves her hand, filled with sparks, in an arc above her head. Surprisingly powerful and the hitbox lasts for a long time, so it is an excellent anti-air. Has transcendent priority.
Down tilt   8% (leg), 7% (foot) Thrusts her foot out quickly from under her dress. Can meteor smash opponents who hit her leg and grounded opponents who hit the tip of her foot. Airborne opponents who hit her foot will be launched upwards.
Dash attack   13% (clean body), 9% (clean hands), 8% (late body), 7% (late hands) Shoves her hands in front, with magic sparks coming out them. Has transcendent priority.
Forward smash   1% (hits 1-4), 14% (hit 5) Sends out a fierce jab of magic in front of her in a similar fashion to Mario's. Hits multiple times, with the final hit having launching opponents away. This attack is powerful, but can be SDI'd out of, which is somewhat difficult to land all 5 hits. Has transcendent priority.
Up smash   1% (hits 1-11), 5% (hits 12) Waves her hand in an arch similar to her up tilt three times. A powerful move if all hits manage to connect. A good out-of-shield option, but it can be SDI'd out of, similarly to her forward smash.
Down smash   11% Quickly kicks both sides of herself. Short range with a sightly disjointed hitbox and poor power, but is the fastest down-smash in the game, coming out at frame 4. Has transcendent priority. Zelda's leg is intangible when she delivers both kicks.
Neutral aerial   2-3% (hits 1-5), 5% (hit 6) Spins in place while emitting magic sparks from her hands. Many hitboxes, good for spacing. Has transcendent priority. It may be DI'd out of.
Forward aerial Lightning Kick 20% (sweet), 10% (sour) Kicks forward. If the opponent is hit at the tip of Zelda's foot, it zaps them very powerfully, in a way similar to Captain Falcon's Knee Smash. Has transcendent priority.
Back aerial Lightning Kick 20% (sweet), 10% (sour) Virtually identical to her forward aerial but in a different direction and with slightly less startup lag. Has transcendent priority. A bit faster than her forward Lightning Kick, so it can be used twice in a short hop.
Up aerial   13% Releases a giant fireball that causes an explosion above Zelda. Can be used to shark opponents on the stage when Zelda is recovering. Has very high power, being the fifth strongest up aerial in Melee. Has transcendent priority.
Down aerial   7% (foot), 8% (leg) Thrusts her foot downwards. A very weak meteor smash.
Pummel   3% Zaps her foe.
Forward throw   12% Launches her foe forward, above average power.
Back throw   11% Similar to her forward throw, only directly behind her.
Up throw   11% Thrusts foe to the sky. Has the ability to chain throw fast-falling opponents at low percents.
Down throw   2% (hits 1-4), 2% (throw) Drops foe and zaps them, sending the foe behind her with weak knockback.
Floor attack (front)   6% (front hit), 8%/6% (back hit legs/body) Swirls her dress around with foot extended and gets up.
Floor attack (back)   6% Swirls her dress around with foot extended and gets up.
Edge attack (fast)   6% Climbs up and swings her legs in a circular motion, while pulling herself up.
Edge attack (slow)   10% (arm), 8% (body) Slowly gets up and slaps forward.
Neutral special Nayru's Love 1-2% (hits 1-5), 4-5% (hit 6) Twirls around with magical hitboxes on both sides. A decent "get off me" move. The attack also reflect projectiles.
Side special Din's Fire 7-13% Launches a controllable fireball that charges as it travels until it explodes. The fireball can be directed up or down with the control stick. Knockback angle depends on which side of the enemy is hit, so it can be used to knock opponents toward or away from Zelda. This move puts Zelda in a helpless state when used in the air.
Up special Farore's Wind 4% A yellow ribbon of magic spins around Zelda, causing her to disappear. After that, she will reappear in the direction held on the control stick (or directly above her original location if the control stick is not moved). It does not have a hitbox upon reappearing and Zelda is locked out of moving for some time if she reappears in the air, leading to the move being somewhat punishable.
Down special Transform 0% Transforms into Sheik


  • Holds her hands together, as if in a prayer.

Idle poses[edit]

  • Flips her hair back.
  • Makes a thinking gesture.
  • Turns her body away.
Zelda Idle Pose Melee 1.gif Zelda Idle Pose Melee 2.gif Zelda Idle Pose Melee 3.gif

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Description Zel-da Zel-da Hu! Zel-da! Zel-da!
Pitch Group chant Male

Victory poses[edit]

An orchestrated portion of the main theme from The Legend of Zelda series.
  • Praying, she then turns her head upward.
  • Looks to her left, holding her left arm proudly.
  • Focuses, then conjures a flame between her hands.
Zelda-Victory1-SSBM.gif Zelda-Victory2-SSBM.gif Zelda-Victory3-SSBM.gif

In Competitive play[edit]


Super Smash Bros. Melee Character Matchups
  FoxHeadSSBM.png FalcoHeadSSBM.png MarthHeadSSBM.png SheikHeadSSBM.png JigglypuffHeadSSBM.png PeachHeadSSBM.png IceClimbersHeadSSBM.png CaptainFalconHeadSSBM.png PikachuHeadSSBM.png SamusHeadSSBM.png DrMarioHeadSSBM.png YoshiHeadSSBM.png LuigiHeadSSBM.png GanondorfHeadSSBM.png MarioHeadSSBM.png YoungLinkHeadSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadSSBM.png LinkHeadSSBM.png MrGame&WatchHeadSSBM.png RoyHeadSSBM.png MewtwoHeadSSBM.png ZeldaHeadSSBM.png NessHeadSSBM.png PichuHeadSSBM.png BowserHeadSSBM.png KirbyHeadSSBM.png Avg.
ZeldaHeadSSBM.png -3 -2 -2 -3 -2 -1 -1 -2 -2 ±0 ±0 +1 -1 -1 ±0 -2 -2 -2 +1 +1 -1 Mirror match +1 +1 +1 +1 -1

Zelda has a poor matchup spread overall. She is hard countered by 2 characters (including her alter ego Sheik), countered by 8 characters, and soft countered by 5 characters. On the plus side, she has 3 even matchups, while soft countering 7.

Zelda does terribly against characters who have much higher range and movement speed than her, most notably Fox, Marth, and Sheik. Ironically, Sheik is considered to be arguably her most troublesome matchup; Zelda has no recourse against Sheik's down throw, superior aerials/tilts, and needles, all of which contribute to her losing both the neutral and punish game. She similarly struggles with characters who can KO her off of the top blast lines, exploit her abysmal approach, or edgeguard her with ease, such as Jigglypuff, Falco, Captain Falcon, or Pikachu.

Current metagame[edit]

Almost all of Zelda's supposed winning matchups (which are debatable in the current metagame) are considered to be non-viable in the current meta, and many of them actually have a few (albeit situational) tools to combat the best characters in the game, making them overall better than her despite her advantages in the head-to-head. Her only winning matchup against a mid-high tier character, Yoshi, is considered inaccurate in the modern metagame. While Zelda can break Yoshi's double jump armor with her lightning kicks, Yoshi has developed vastly superior punishes and the ability to approach aggressively from many angles, which means he can put Zelda in bad situations much more frequently than she can even make use of her edgeguarding. Additionally, Zelda's lack of other useful moves means that Yoshi players can easily parry the predictable lightning kicks that she will throw out in almost every situation. Zelda's even matchups can also be seen as losing, as all of those characters outrun her and can easily space around her few useful moves.

Overall, Zelda suffers from a metagame that has not seen a great deal of development in recent years. Many of her notable players, such as Narcissa and Magus, have since retired or stopped playing the character entirely. Those who continue to solo main her, such as The Lake, are still rather inactive and suffer from worsening tournament placements as the top-tiered characters she struggles with continue to be pushed more. This creates a situation in which Zelda is often a contender for the worst character in the game, and usually grouped with characters such as Bowser and Kirby in the bottom tiers.

Notable players[edit]

See also: Category:Zelda professionals (SSBM)


  • USA The Lake - Ranked 8th on Pittsburgh Power Rankings in 2017, peaked at 4th; 4-stocked Nintendude in a tournament match.
  • USA Drephen (#49) - Despite being a Sheik main, he is known to switch to Zelda for recoveries far more frequently than other Sheik players, often to his own detriment. He also sometimes uses Zelda as a counterpick against the Ice Climbers.
  • Japan Kalne - Co-mains Zelda and Sheik. Ranked 37th on the Japan SSBM Rank 2019.
  • USA Rienne - Created The Profane Tome [1], which she considers a "bible" for Zelda players.


  • USA Narcissa - Peaked at 2nd on the Chicago Power Rankings, won SGDQ 2013, later switched to Roy and became inactive.
  • Germany Ice - When he mained Sheik and the opponent was at high percent, he sometimes switched to Zelda for a finishing back-air.
  • USA Magus - Former member of the Project M Development team, mainly used Zelda in his later years of play.
  • USA UmbreonMow - Considered the best Zelda in the early meta.
  • USA Upke - A hidden boss on 2015 SSBMRank; 25th at Bad Moon Rising.

Tier placement and history[edit]

Zelda was ranked extremely high on the first tier list, tying for 6th place with Samus and Luigi; however, discussion in the relevant SmashBoards topic suggests this is an artifact of some tier list contributors grouping her with her top-tier counterpart Sheik, and her placement was not fully based on her prowess as an independent character. The second tier list rectified this and had Zelda tie with Link and Ness for fourteenth to sixteenth place. Following this, Zelda fell again to 20th on the third tier list, and has since frequently appeared on the 19th and 20th spots on the tier list. Zelda's position can be attributed to her undesirable combination of traits, being floaty and light yet tall, and having very slow movement speed, a poor wavedash, and poor hitbox placement on most of her moves. In combination with Sheik being a constant in the top tier, this has deterred many smashers from using her in serious play.

Zelda is currently ranked 22nd on the twelfth tier list, in what is her lowest standing on the list thus far. Prior to the ranking, she was ranked 19th, with some smashers disputing whether this was an accurate assessment; American smasher Mew2King notably believed that Zelda was one of the two worst characters in the game, citing her poor frame data in his assessment.

Zelda has made little impact in tournaments from the start of the metagame, with relatively few dedicated mains. Her only modern players are semi-active at best, and usually do not place high enough to earn money in large tournaments without also using a better character. Additionally, many of the historically best Zeldas, most notably Narcissa, have stopped playing the game entirely. Usually, the only time when Zelda shows up in top level play is when Sheik players transform into her off-stage to take advantage of her longer recovery where they would otherwise not be able to recover; if the opponent is aggressive enough, they may be forced to fight as her until an opportunity to transform back is available.

In single-player modes[edit]

In Classic Mode[edit]

In the Classic Mode, Zelda can appear in the ordinary 1 on 1 battles, on a team with either Link, Marth, Young Link, Peach or Bowser, or in the game's metal battle. In her appearances, Zelda appears on Temple, though she appears on Great Bay when with Young Link, and on Battlefield when with Bowser and in the metal battle. Unusually, however, Zelda will never appear as an ally in team and giant fights.

In Adventure Mode[edit]

Zelda's sole appearance in the Adventure Mode is in the second portion of Stage 3, the Underground Maze. The player has to fight against her on the Temple stage to progress in the mode.

In All-Star Mode[edit]

In All-Star Mode, Zelda and her allies are fought on the Temple stage.

In Event Matches[edit]

Zelda is featured in the following event matches:

  • Event 9: Hide 'n' Sheik: The player is pitted against two Zeldas on Great Bay; to win, however, players have to wait for Zelda to transform into Sheik and then KO them. Upon getting KO'd as Sheik, the CPU will be removed from the game; KOs against Zelda, however, merely cause her to respawn as normal.
  • Event 15: Girl Power: The player, with two stocks, has to fight against Samus, Peach and Zelda, all of whom also have two stocks; the player, however, is tiny, and must KO all three, who are on the same team. Friendly fire is turned on in the match, easing it slightly for the player.
  • Event 20: All-Star Match 2: Zelda is the third opponent the player must fight in this series of staged battles. Their character battles her on the Temple stage, and the player's character has 2 stock while Zelda has 1. With a timer of four minutes, the player must defeat her and the other four characters with the overall time and life they have: Samus, Link, Captain Falcon, and Fox.
  • Event 29: Triforce Gathering: The player plays as Link with Zelda as their partner, both of whom have one stock. They face Ganondorf on the Temple stage, who has two stocks. Clearing the event allows the player to unlock Ganondorf.
  • Event 44: Mewtwo Strikes!: In this event, the player is initially placed on Battlefield, against Zelda. After fifteen seconds, however, Mewtwo appears on stage and will fight the player. The player's goal is to KO Mewtwo; while Zelda can be attacked, KOing her will result in failure.

Ending images[edit]

Zelda and Sheik share ending images for the one-player modes, as well as the same cinematic; clearing the mode with one also gives the player both of their trophies.


In addition to the normal trophy about Zelda as a character, there are two trophies about her as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Zelda on any difficulty:

The princess of Hyrule. Zelda entrusted Link with the future of Hyrule after a revelation came to her in the world of dreams. She knows much about the Triforce; in fact, the only person who likely knows more about Triforce lore is Ganondorf himself, whom Zelda evaded in Ocarina of Time by transforming into her alter ego, Sheik.
Zelda [Smash]
Zelda is a bit slow and, because of her light frame, easy to send flying. On the other hand, her magical skills lend her reliable and explosive attack power. Zelda's easier to use if you focus on waiting and countering rather than pressing attacks. She can use Nayru's Love to reflect projectile attacks or as an offensive weapon.
Zelda [Smash]
Zelda's midair Lightning Kick centers immense magical power in the ball of her foot. If she strikes perfectly, the attack is as strong as can be. If her aim is slightly off, it'll be exceedingly weak. Farore's Wind again utilizes Zelda's magical prowess, this time by transporting her great distances. It's vital to know the lay of the land before using this move.

Alternate costumes[edit]

Zelda Palette (SSBM).png
ZeldaHeadSSBM.png ZeldaHeadRedSSBM.png ZeldaHeadBlueSSBM.png ZeldaHeadGreenSSBM.png ZeldaHeadWhiteSSBM.png



  • Zelda is the only starter character in Melee who was not revealed at E3 2001.
  • Zelda is the only character with the ability to transform into another character in Melee, and the first to do so in the Smash Bros. series, by being able to turn into Sheik. Pokémon Trainer in Brawl would later have the ability to "change" fighters by switching out different Pokémon, and Samus would gain the ability to change into Zero Suit Samus through her Final Smash.
  • Zelda is the only character in Melee, along with Peach, to have 3 idle poses. The majority of the cast only have either one or two.
    • Also, her official artwork and character select portrait is based on one of her idle poses.
  • In a screenshot of the character select screen in Melee, from Smabura-Ken, Zelda's portrait is missing from the character select screen. This seems to have been done to hide the surprise of Zelda being playable, as Sheik was revealed first.
  • Zelda has the largest amount of moves with transcendent priority in Melee, with 13.
  • Despite her design being based on her Ocarina of Time incarnation, if one looks closely, Zelda wears heeled shoes instead of brown boots as seen in the non-Smash trophies (which are retained in her later designs/appearances).
  • Despite her Ocarina of Time incarnation being retired after Melee, subsequent games featured a subtle reference to her design from this game, including having Zelda sport an alternate costume based on her design here: Brawl had a sticker, 3DS had a trophy, and Ultimate had a spirit.
    • Wii U is the only game since her debut that does not feature a direct reference to Zelda's design from this game.
  • Oddly, a CPU Zelda in Training mode set to the "Stand" CPU mode will still occasionally transform into Sheik.
  • Zelda, Fox, and Mewtwo are the only characters whose artwork when selecting them differs when selecting their costumes.
    • In Fox and Zelda's cases, their renders when selecting their alternate costumes match their official artworks, but their render when selecting them is unique.