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 representatives 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:
With the exception of the third method, Zelda must then be defeated on Temple.
Zelda is a tall and floaty lightweight fighter with generally poor mobility. Although she has above-average traction, air speed, and a decent initial dash, she has the 16th slowest walking speed, is tied with Byleth for the 8th slowest dashing speed, has slow falling speed, has low gravity, and has low air acceleration. 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 canon.
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. Neutral air is her only air attack without KO potential, but it’s versatility shines through instead with large hitboxes in front of her and behind her. This move excels at creating combos and edge guarding setups. Forward and back air are known as the Lightning Kicks, possessing a “sweetspot” on her foot that deals a massive 24% damage (excluding factors such as rage and stale move negation) and launches the opponent very far. These moves have great range for their power and extremely fast startup at frame 6. Up air is a large, disjointed explosion of fire with excellent damage and knockback. Down air is a meteor smash with long active duration and low ending vulnerability. Down air’s sweetspot, other than being very strong at KOing, is useful to start and extend combos.
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. As for recovering, it is one of the most versatile recovery moves, as it can be angled in all directions and teleports Zelda a distance away. If you land on the edge of a platform with this move, you will avoid landing vulnerability entirely (as you technically land, then immediately fall again). Lastly, down special, Phantom Slash, is her most versatile tool. A Phantom gets created piece by piece and is sent forward as a projectile with varying amounts of damage output. Depending on the Phantom's stage of creation, a second press of the special move button (or other attack button) will send the phantom forward differently, thus varying said damage output. The phantom has KO potential against high percentages of damage at it’s fully built form, but only a weak hit with poor range at minimum building. After a little more than a second of starting the move, the phantom finishes being built and Zelda will be able to move again without attack inputs sending the phantom early (an untethered sort of state). The phantom will attack on its own after about another second. Because of this state of acting without Zelda’s inputs influencing it, Zelda can make a lot of plays 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.
Zelda has noticeable flaws among all her strengths. Her mobility, especially on the ground, is slow, and since she is light, tall, and floaty, she is vulnerable to juggling and can be KOd earlier than a good part of the roster. Not only does this limit her approaching maneuvers, she usually struggles against quick, fast-falling opponents like Fox. 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 make her able to take advantage of it as much as heavy characters. Her attacks overall might have great startup, but can leave her very vulnerable if she misses, so she must be careful to avoid being punished. Even though her KO options are strong, some of them have: sourspots that are unreliable (dash attack and Lighting Kicks), a punishable amount of ending vulnerability (up smash, up aerial and at some extents forward smash) or a combination of both (Din's Fire and Farore's Wind). Her neutral attack and forward tilt have hitboxes that are placed high or narrow, so they can have trouble hitting short or crouching fighters. Nayru's Love has noticeable ending vulnerability, making it punishable if overused. 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 the sourspots of her attacks, how she approaches, and what she does to get out of a disadvantage.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Zelda has 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 Smash 4 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 competitive play, Zelda has been significantly buffed overall in the transition from Smash 4 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, smaller hitboxes with the sweetspots outprioritized by sourspots and the latter have less KO potential, while neutral aerial now doesn't use the autolink angle and set knockback anymore, causing it to connect less reliably without the right momentum, but also has decreased landing lag, allowing it to start combos into multiple ground options, including down tilt into forward air. 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. 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 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 the changes to the game's engine, some of the changes impair her; 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 impairs her out of shield game. Finally, Zelda keeps some of her weaknesses from previous games, mainly her slow movement speed, light weight, a few poor hitbox placements, and 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. This makes her Ultimate iteration the strongest, although she still faces competition from several returning characters that have been likewise buffed to varying degrees. 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 has been below average, and her polorizing traits has led to her weaknesses to be exploited more easily, leading most players to believe that while Zelda fared much better in Ultimate, she has not improved significantly comparing to some of the low tiers in SSB4, such as Pac-Man, Falco and Wii Fit Trainer, with most players re-evaluated her as a lower mid tier or a low tier. Fortunately, 7.0.0 has brought her meaningful improvements towards her consistencies, making her less polarizing, while also improving some of her strengths. Thanks to her buffs, her representation, while still relatively average, has noticeably improved, which led to most smashers to believe that Zelda is a mid-tier character again, with some players such as Mew2King, Salem and Goblin even convinced that Zelda is a high-tier character. As such, this incarnation of Zelda is universally agreed to be the best one yet, and she is generally considered to be viable, though her true viability remains debatable.
Throws and other attacks
For a gallery of Zelda's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
As one of the characters playable in the E3 demo build, players were fairly divided early on regarding Zelda as a competitive character. Much of the optimism surrounding the character could be attributed to noticeably improved frame data, 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, just as players took notice of the character's improvements over SSB4, they 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 used to her to a fair degree of success 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 success was not as high in comparison to the early metagame. This led to a more negative perspective early on, with the general consensus of professionals considering her as a low-tier character.
In more recent times however, opinions on Zelda began to improve, as players such as ven, Naskino, Marf, and ZeroTwoNone 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 7.0.0, which is one of her major weaknesses. As such, many players now have a more positive opinion on Zelda, and she is widely considered as at least a mid-tier character, with some such as Mew2King, Salem, and Goblin considering her a high-tier character due to her out of shield options, KO power, and ledge trapping. ESAM, who once viewed her as a low-tier now believes that she has the potential to be an upper mid or even high-tier character, although some players claim that Zelda is still too polarizing as a character and believe she’s still a mid-tier at best. For now, her viability remains debatable, although it is widely agreed that Zelda is much better than all of her previous incarnations.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
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 500 coins. 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. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their 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
Character Showcase Video