Zelda (ゼルダ, Zelda) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was confirmed as a playable character along with Sheik and the rest of veterans on June 12, 2018. Unlike the game's predecessors, she is unlockable instead of being available from the start. Zelda is classified as Fighter #17.
In a similar vein to her fellow Zelda fighters Link and Ganondorf, Zelda is now voiced by Ayumi Fujimura, who reprises her role from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, replacing Jun Mizusawa from Melee, Brawl, and Smash 4. Similar to Star Fox characters in Melee, the former provides a single line of spoken Japanese dialogue in World of Light's opening; this line is dubbed in English by Brandy Kopp, who also voices Palutena.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
Zelda is a tall and floaty lightweight character with overall slow mobility. While she has slightly above average air speed, the 20th highest traction, and a decent initial dash, her jumping force and air acceleration are below average, and she has the 22nd slowest walking speed, the 16th slowest falling speed, the 10th lowest gravity, and is tied with Byleth for the 9th slowest dashing speed in the game. Zelda's attacks are based on magic, making most of them disjointed or otherwise large range attacks. They generally have quick startup; all of her attacks execute before frame 10 except for forward tilt, up aerial, down aerial, and forward smash. Even though Zelda is classified as floaty and lightweight, most of her attacks have KO potential and impressive damage output; this in turn makes her power comparable to heavyweights. Due to these factors, a general term to portray her fighting style is a zoning glass cannon.
Her neutral attack is a small burst of magical energy in front of her. It has decent range and good damage output before transitioning into a rapid jab of many magical bursts with a finishing hit. Forward tilt is a strong arm swipe with good range and little ending vulnerability. Forward tilt can also be angled up and down. Up tilt is a vertical, circular arm sweep with long duration and can be a useful anti-air and combo tool across most percentages of damage. Down tilt is a quick crouching kick that lasts surprisingly long and is good for many combo setups and 2-framing opponents. Her dash attack is a dual hand thrust with a burst of magic most powerful closest to her hands. It’s best used throughout combos to gain distance.
Forward and up smash are multi-hitting bursts of magic energy with great power; the former being a thrust of the hand forward and the latter being a wave of the hand back and forth above her. Down smash is a very fast 360° leg sweep that launches opponents at a semi spike angle with decent knockback.
Zelda's more prominent strengths are in the air, as she has some of the strongest aerials in the game. Zelda can auto-cancel her neutral and down aerial in a short hop, and forward and back aerial auto-cancel from a fast fall. Though her neutral air lacks notable KO ability, it pairs a long active duration with generously-sized hitboxes. This, combined with its aforementioned early autocancel window, makes her neutral air her most versatile aerial, excelling at starting and/or extending combos, setting up edgeguards, and pressuring shields (if spaced well). Forward and back air are known as the Lightning Kicks. Both of these aerials possess a sweetspot located at the tip of her foot which is incredibly powerful, dealing an electrifying 24% with similarly shockingly high knockback. Surprisingly, unlike most moves with such high power, it also sports minimal startup, coming out at a blistering frame 6. Up air is a large, disjointed explosion of fire with excellent damage and knockback. It now also has a deceptively long active duration, thanks to a game update which added a new, weaker late hit to the move. Down air—sometimes nicknamed the "Lightning Stomp"—is a meteor smash which touts a powerful sweetspot on her foot, similar to her Lightning Kicks. Among the most powerful meteor smashes in the game, the sweetspot is naturally a strong edgeguarding tool, but, due to its early autocancel window and low ending lag, it also has utility in starting and extending combos. It's also among Zelda's most consistent aerials in that the very long-lasting sourspot always meteor smashes, so even if the sweetspot whiffs it can still take stocks. It's important to note that while Zelda's aerial attacks are particularly potent, all of them lack safety on character's shields, meaning she can fall victim to strong out of shield punishes if she's not careful with her use of them.
Her special moves take inspiration from various Zelda titles. Her neutral special move, Nayru's Love, is a reflector, yet it also functions as a melee attack. Zelda is intangible from frames 4-13 of the move. This means the move is good against projectile users as well as evading/halting opponent’s combos. Din's Fire, her side special move, sends out an explosive ball of fire that explodes on the release of the button. It possesses a powerful sweetspot in the inner part of the explosion, and otherwise has a large exploding hitbox. Din’s fire gets stronger as it moves farther. The ball of fire does not count as a projectile, but the explosion can be absorbed. And for the first time ever, Zelda can use it to cover her recovery, as it doesn't leave her helpless in the air. Her up special move Farore's Wind is a great KO option, possessing very fast startup and elevator combos from the first hit on the ground to its very powerful second hit in the air. This, combined with it being a omnidirectional teleport recovery that travels a very respectable distance, renders it a very potent recovery move and perhaps among the most versatile in the game. As a teleport recovery, it's difficult to edgeguard against by default due to its intangibility between exit and reentry. On top of this, it can have anti-ledgetrap and mindgame potential if one opts to use the aforementioned powerful second hitbox instead of snapping to ledge. And, similar to Palutena's up special Teleport, she can completely avoid the move's ending lag by using a technique called edge-cancelling which opens the door to otherwise-impossible approach and stage control options. Lastly, her down special, Phantom Slash, is perhaps her most versatile tool. It's a unique projectile that she builds piece-by-piece until it is fully formed. Interestingly, she can use it at any stage of its creation by pressing the Special button (or the attack button while it is actively being built) even when it's incomplete, which affects several of its properties. The earliest stages have rather low damage, knockback and range, but it becomes increasingly more potent as it becomes more complete, with the final stage having high damage output, impressive knockback and stellar range. It takes a little over a second to reach the final stage, after which Zelda will be able to move and attack freely (an untethered sort of state). The Phantom will attack on its own after about another second if it is not triggered. Because of this untethered state, Zelda has a lot of flexibility in what she can do with her Phantom, such as retreating behind it for protection, attacking in tandem with it, launching the opponent towards it, performing shield breaking combos, making grab setups, and even covering her recovery (similar to Din's Fire).
Zelda has an outstanding grab, as she makes up for her noticeable vulnerability with long range. Her grab attack however is mostly average in speed and damage. Her throws are very useful for her fighting and overall advantage state maneuvers. Forward throw is good to setup edge guarding, while back and up throw are very strong KO throws. Down throw is most useful as a combo starter.
Despite her toolkit's versatility and potency, Zelda's flaws are apparent. Chief among them is arguably her poor mobility—especially on the ground—which hampers her ability to approach effectively against those who outspeed her (a majority of the cast). As a result of this, she flounders against quick, fast-falling opponents like Wolf and Zero Suit Samus. Since she is light, tall, and floaty, she is also vulnerable to juggling and can be KO'd earlier than a good part of the roster. Her very poor disadvantage state makes her vulnerable to momentum changes as well. While rage improves her excellent KO potential even further, her mediocre endurance doesn't allow her to take advantage of it as much as heavy characters. Her poor-mobility problem is exacerbated by various frame data issues. While her attacks generally come out quickly, they usually also come with punishable amounts of endlag, especially when they are whiffed or misspaced. This, combined with her poor disadvantage, makes her even more prone to losing stocks early if she doesn't space appropriately. This riskiness is especially apparent in her KO options; though they're incredibly potent, they struggle with unreliable or weak sourspots (in dash attack and Lighting Kicks), punishable ending lag (in up smash, up aerial and forward smash to an extent) or a combination of the two (in Din's Fire and Farore's Wind). Along with this, some parts of her moveset struggle with landing reliably. Her neutral aerial's multihits, though improved through patches, still sometimes struggle to connect to each other, and her neutral attack and forward tilt's hitboxes are placed high and narrow, respectively, so they sometimes have trouble hitting short or crouching fighters. Finally, her special moves have a couple of minor downsides; Nayru's Love has noticeable ending lag, making it punishable if overused, and if Zelda gets hit before sending the Phantom with Phantom Slash, it will fall apart and she will have to reuse the move.
Overall, Zelda has an excellent advantage state and can easily KO opponents thanks to a variety of strong attacks and KO setups, but she has to be careful with how she spaces her attacks, how she approaches, and what she does to get out of a disadvantage.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Zelda had historically and consistently been regarded as one of the worst characters (and, at one point in Super Smash Bros. 4, the overall worst) in previous games, due to her combination of underwhelming frame data as a whole, a lackluster special moveset, bad hitbox placements, and an undesirable mix of attributes: being slow, light, tall, and floaty. While SSB4 had brought updates to her offensive game, her weaknesses remained, causing her to nevertheless remain unviable. Likely as a result of being a poorly regarded character in previous games, Zelda has been significantly buffed overall in the transition to Ultimate, especially comparing to the game's initial release.
One of Zelda's biggest buffs is her greatly improved moveset: many of her moves have either reduced lag, better KO potential, or other improvements. Her neutral attack, previously the slowest in the game, comes out significantly faster, and has been reworked to possess an infinite portion with better damage racking ability and knockback. Her forward tilt has more range, less ending lag, and increased damage that improve the sweetspot's KO potential, though it does have 2 more frames of startup and smaller hitboxes with the sweetspots outprioritized by sourspots and the latter have less KO potential. Forward smash now uses an improved autolink angle, allowing it to connect reliably at both close range and when spaced. Neutral aerial has decreased landing lag, allowing it to start combos into multiple ground options, including down tilt into forward aerial. Up aerial's hitbox is larger, has been moved upwards and its duration has been extended; while the placement makes it difficult to hit grounded opponents, this increases its already solid large vertical range and makes it more difficult to spot dodge, while also giving it a new late hit that deals 12% with less knockback. Her already good grab game was improved to the point it is now among the most useful in the game: her back and up throws are much stronger, while down throw deals more damage and, although its knockback and angle were altered, its combo ability remains mostly intact. Additionally she has the longest range for a non-tether grab of any character in the game. Her Lightning Kicks have been improved as well, having a larger sweetspot and the forward kick is now active as fast as the back kick, increasing their potency for followups when landing with them, and making them more devastating out of shield. This allows Zelda to secure KOs more easily, and down throw in particular possessing more reliable KO setups, as it can now combo into back aerial at mid percentages.
Zelda's special moveset, considered among the most situational in previous games, has seen various improvements. Nayru's Love has faster startup and intangibility, and preserves Zelda's momentum, strengthening its already strong defensive ability and improving its edgeguarding applications. Din's Fire no longer causes helplessness, giving it utility as an anti-edgeguarding option, has increased duration of effect and the sweetspot is larger and easier to land, making it more difficult to spot dodge and more effective in neutral or advantage state. Farore's Wind has faster startup, making it a more effective out of shield option, and more precise angles for reappearance, allowing her to land its second hit easier even if the enemy DIs the first hit, making "elevator" combos much more consistent. Most importantly, however, Phantom Slash has been heavily reworked to possess several more stages that can be unleashed faster, and the last stage allows Zelda to move around before it is unleashed, allowing for intricate trap setups and combos when edgeguarding and approaching, while the Phantom no longer has any cooldown if destroyed. Since the Phantom is formed behind Zelda, it is now better used in her advantage state, though with sufficient spacing it is also a strong tool in the neutral game. It's damage and KO potential have also been improved post-release. With precise input, Zelda can also short hop behind the Phantom while charging it, allowing it to block incoming projectiles while charging.
Additionally, Zelda noticeably benefits from some of the universal changes. Despite still having below-average mobility relative to the rest of the cast, the universal 3-frame jumpsquats and reduced landing lag improve her the most, as they greatly supplement her neutral game, previously one of her main weaknesses. This allows her to approach more reliably with her powerful Lightning Kicks, and improves her combo potential, giving her more consistent and durable followups from moves such as up tilt, neutral aerial, up throw, and down throw, which can dish out large amounts of damage. The changes to air dodging also generally benefit her, as they improve her edgeguarding game with moves like Din's Fire, and also give her an emergency recovery option.
However, Zelda has received some mixed changes and a few nerfs as well. Despite the improved speed and combo potential of her neutral attack, it is no longer a nearly unpunishable option against shields, and none of her other attacks has had their ending lag reduced enough to fully compensate. Down tilt has less ending lag, but has less range and its new angle worsens its combo potential in general, removing its ability to combo into up aerial, although it can now combo better into neutral aerial and dash attack and has a new KO setup into forward aerial. The changes to down aerial's hitboxes increase the clean hit's range and remove the blindspot located in Zelda's lower leg, but causes the late hit to have smaller hitboxes. Zelda's dash and pivot grabs, already below-average in speed, have received even more startup, although her pivot grab has very large range for a non-tether grab and both of them have less ending lag. Both forward throw and Farore's Wind are weaker, most significantly the former, now only being usable for setting up edgeguards in a similar vein to Ness' own forward throw, though Farore's Wind is more consistent for self-combos due to faster startup and more precise DI options for reappearance that can hit opponents who DI the initial hit.
Lastly, while Zelda does benefit from some the changes to the game's engine, other changes have impaired her as well; the universal increase in mobility doesn't benefit her as much due to her slow grounded movement, since it still doesn't allow her to catch up with most of the cast. The increased shieldstun both helps and hinders Zelda, as it allows her moves to be more safely spaced, but combined with the universal reductions to landing lag (despite aerials having less shieldstun), it also slightly worsens her respectable out of shield game. Finally, of note is that Zelda keeps some of her weaknesses from previous games, mainly her slow movement speed, light weight, a few poor hitbox placements (such as extremely weak sourspots on her Lightning Kicks, which are otherwise her strongest KO moves). However, the nerfs she has received are not as meaningful as her buffs.
Overall, Zelda's moveset has been considerably enhanced from previous installments, making her strengths much more defined, and allowing her to play defensive much more reliably. Her perception in the competitive metagame has been more positive than in previous games, albeit rather inconsistent: Initially, Zelda was seen as a mid-tier character thanks to decent results from smashers such as ven despite retaining some of her weaknesses from previous games. However, Zelda's overall tournament representation had at the time been below average, and her polarizing traits had led to her weaknesses to be exploited more easily as the metagame hads advanced, leading most players to believe that while Zelda fared much better in Ultimate, she had not improved significantly compared to other previously lower-ranked characters in SSB4, such as Palutena, Pac-Man, Falco and Wii Fit Trainer, with most players re-evaluating her as a lower mid-tier or low tier character once more (though not to the extent of SSB4). Fortunately, 7.0.0 has brought her meaningful improvements that have made her moveset more cohesive and consistent. 11.0.0 also improved the consistency of her forward smash, making it a much more reliable kill option, while 13.0.0 brought additional consistency to her neutral game and ability to KO using smash attacks and her spike. She has had consistent tournament performance and a notable growth in her competitive player base over the past two years. Generally, she is now viewed as an upper-mid-tier character, with notable strengths including her out of shield options, KO power, and ledge trapping. As such, this incarnation of Zelda is universally agreed to be the strongest one yet, and she is generally considered to be a viable character for the first time in the series.
Throws and other attacks
Zelda has been buffed overall via game updates, receiving significant changes in update 7.0.0 and 13.0.0. Notable buffs in version 7.0.0 include her neutral aerial connecting better and having less landing lag, her up aerial having more range, knockback and a longer duration, her forward tilt becoming stronger, and Phantom Slash dealing more damage at all charge levels. In 13.0.0, the first hit of her neutral attack was made slightly faster, somewhat improving its consistency as a combo starter, her up and down smash inflict more knockback, and her down aerial's sweetspot is significantly larger, making it an all around more reliable tool. Aside from these buffs, as of 10.1.0, her forward smash connects better and has more range. However, Zelda has also received minor nerfs to Phantom Slash; in update 3.0.0, its shield damage was reduced, hindering its potency in shield break setups, while in update 9.0.2, a bugfix removed a technique that allowed Zelda to spawn the Phantom in front of her, granting more protection during the charge.
For a gallery of Zelda's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Players were initially divided early on regarding Zelda's competitive viability. Much of the optimism surrounding the character could be attributed to noticeably improved frame data over her Smash 4 iteration, particularly on her jab and out-of-shield options, which were key points of grievance with the character's past iterations, as well as Phantom Slash's changes. However, players found that some of her key issues, such as her mobility and poor endurance, were retained from previous games as well. In spite of this, players such as ven had a fair degree of success with her in the early metagame. This left consensus on Zelda as a mid-tiered character. However, as time went on and the metagame progressed, her flaws were only further exploited, and her early success was not as high in comparison to the release metagame. This led to a more negative perspective early on, with the general consensus of professionals considering her as a low-tier character.
As the metagame developed, opinions on Zelda began to improve, as several players continued to place well with her. ven, in particular, has won sets against ESAM and Megafox and has had close sets with MkLeo and Glutonny. Furthermore, she has received noticeable improvements towards her consistencies in patch 7.0.0, which is one of her major weaknesses, including an important improvement to Forward Smash in patch 11.0.0 making it a more reliable KO move. 13.0.0 brought additional consistency to her neutral game and ability to KO using smash attacks and her spike. Moreover she has seen consistently good placements in tournaments and a notable growth in her player base over the past year. As such, many players now have a more positive opinion on Zelda, and she is widely considered as at least an upper-mid character, with some such as Mew2King, Salem, Goblin and ESAM, the latter initially believing Zelda to be low-tier, currently consider her to be high-tier. Despite these opinions, some players claim that Zelda is still too polarizing as a character and believe she’s still a mid-tier. Overall though, it is widely agreed that Zelda is much better than all of her previous incarnations, and is truly viable for the first time in the series.
Most historically significant players
See also: Category:Zelda professionals (SSBU)
Classic Mode: Wisdom Prevails
All of Zelda's battles are on The Legend of Zelda-themed stages, and all her opponents are antagonists. The final battle is against Ganondorf, who transforms into Ganon upon defeat.
Role in World of Light
Zelda was among the fighters that were summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, Zelda tried to rally the other fighters to fight the army of Master Hands by saying, "Stow your fear; it's now or never!" ("ここまで来たらやるしかないでしょう!"), and was present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. She and Mewtwo attempted to reflect the beams using Nayru's Love and Confusion, respectively, but this attempt failed, and both of them were vaporized and placed under Galeem's imprisonment along with the rest of the fighters (excluding Kirby).
Zelda was one of the many fighters that fell under Dharkon's control upon Galeem's first defeat. She is unlocked in The Dark Realm at Sacred Land, on the bottom left corner of the land which makes up the Triforce of Wisdom. The player must defeat the spirit of Impa (which is revealed by solving a clock-based puzzle) to clear a boulder that's blocking the path to her unlock battle and then the Zael and Uxie, Mesprit, & Azelf spirits. Unlocking her reveals the Triforce of Wisdom in the center of the map. If Young Link is unlocked, the boulders leading to Cloud's unlock battle and the Master Sword clear out.
Zelda is later seen among several other fighters, making their last stand against Galeem and Dharkon. She is also seen in the bad ending where Galeem emerges victorious against Dharkon, witnessing Galeem engulf the world in light.
Zelda's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Zelda has been unlocked. Unlocking Zelda in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Her fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with her artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, different incarnations of Zelda appear as primary and support spirits.
In Spirit Battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
As an ally
Fighter Showcase Video