Zelda (ゼルダ, Zelda) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was confirmed as a playable character on June 12, 2018. Zelda is classified as fighter #17.
This is the first time in the series to not have Zelda voiced by Jun Mizusawa since Melee; instead, Zelda is now voiced by Ayumi Fujimura, who reprises her role from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Similar to Star Fox characters in Melee, the latter 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 character, with generally poor mobility. While 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, slow falling speed, low gravity, and low air acceleration.
Zelda's attacks are based on magic, making most of them disjointed attacks, and generally have decent range and quick startup lag: only four moves (forward tilt, up aerial, down aerial, and forward smash) come out after frame 10, yet most of them have KO potential and she has an impressive damage output, thus making her power comparable to heavyweights despite her below-average weight. Neutral attack has decent range, a good damage output, consists of two hits before transitioning into a rapid jab with a finisher that has KO at the ledge and at reasonable percents, while forward tilt is strong, has good range and low ending lag. Up tilt and down tilt have minimal ending lag and can be used to start combos, with the former having long active duration and being a useful anti-air and combo tool from low to high percents, while the latter lasts surprisingly long and is good for 2-framing opponents, and dash attack has a powerful sweetspot at the hands. Forward and up smash are multihits with great power, with the former also being difficult to punish on shield, while down smash is fast and launches at a semi spike angle with decent knockback. Zelda has an outstanding grab game, as her grabs, while having noticeable lag, are disjointed with long-range, and she has an average pummel and very useful throws: forward throw is good to setup edgeguards, while back and up throws are very strong KO throws, with the latter possessing combo potential as well, and down throw is one of her main combo starters.
One of Zelda's strengths is her strong air game, with some of the strongest aerials in the game. Zelda can autocancel her neutral and down aerials in a short hop, and forward and back aerials autocancel in a full hop fast fall, the former doing so one frame after she reaches the peak of a short hop. Neutral aerial is her only aerial without KO potential, but is versatile, having large hitboxes in front of her and behind her, has good combo and edgeguarding potential, and is one of her safest moves on the neutral game. Forward and back aerials are known as the Lightning Kicks, possessing a sweetspot on her foot on the very first frame that makes them the strongest aerials of their type, have long-range and for their power, have extremely fast startup at frame 6. Up aerial is a disjointed fiery explosion with excellent damage and knockback, as well as very good vertical range, and lastly, down aerial is a decently quick meteor smash with long active duration, low ending lag, and the sweetspot, other than being very strong, is useful to start and extend combos, and the sourspot is also a meteor smash. Thanks to a combination of low startup lag in her attacks and very high power, Zelda has an amazing punish game, and she is very good at edgeguarding. She is also very strong at pressuring shields: forward tilt, forward smash, sweetspotted Lightning Kicks and down aerial are safe on shield, with good spacing, and she also has an outstanding out of shield game, especially with Farore's Wind.
Her special moves also have some unique strengths: Nayru's Love is a reflector, yet it deals decent damage and makes Zelda invincible from frames 4-13, making it not only good against projectile users, but also an effective defensive option that can help her in getting out of combos, while Din's Fire is a good edgeguarding tool, possessing a powerful sweetspot in the inner part of the explosion, has a large hitbox, it's a projectile that can be absorbed, but not reflected, and Zelda can use it to cover her recovery, as it doesn't leave her helpless. 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, and is also a strong recovery move, as it can be angled in 8 different directions and teleports Zelda at a long distance, giving her a great recovery when combined with her floaty nature. It can also be canceled on the edge and on platforms, which allows her to quickly move through the stage if performed successfully. Lastly, Phantom Slash is one of her most versatile tools: a Phantom gets created piece by piece and can be sent towards opponents. It counts as a projectile that charges quickly, with several stages depending on the Phantom's stage, having KO potential at high percents, after a little more than a second, Zelda will interrupt the charge and will be able to move again, with the Phantom lunging on its own after a couple of seconds. Because of this, the Phantom is extremely versatile: Zelda can retreat behind it for protection, attack in tandem with it, launch the opponent towards it, perform shield break combos and cover her recovery along with Din's Fire, and while it can be reflected, she can respond with Nayru's Love, when that happens. This makes Phantom Slash a very useful and versatile move for her neutral game and advantage state.
Zelda has noticeable flaws, however. 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 cast, while also giving her a poor approach and because of this, she usually struggles against quick opponents like Fox, and her very poor disadvantage state makes her vulnerable to momentum changes. 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. While her moves have a generally fast startup, they also have noticeable lag, so they must be used carefully to avoid being punished, and while her KO options are strong, some of them have: sourspots that are either unreliable or lack KO potential (dash attack and Lighting Kicks), a punishable amount of ending lag (up smash, up aerial and at some extents, forward smash) or a combination of both (Din's Fire, Farore's Wind), while her jab and forward tilt have hitboxes that are placed high or narrow, so they have trouble in hitting short and crouching characters, and up aerial has a blindspot that makes it almost impossible to hit opponents on the ground. Nayru's Love has noticeable ending lag, making it punishable if overused, if Zelda gets hit before sending the Phantom with Phantom Slash, it will fall apart and she has to reuse it again, and if Farore's Wind is not used properly, it can cause her to teleport in the wrong direction, causing an SD, and while it can be used to hit an opponent due to its large hitbox, she can be hit or KOd if she does so in the wrong time, as sometimes it's better to just grab the ledge.
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 to the sourspots of her attacks, and she is very vulnerable when she is in disadvantage, making her a glass cannon. She usually does well with bait and punishes playstyle or at pressuring opponents.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Zelda has historically and consistently been regarded as one of the worst characters (and at some point in Smash 4 the 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 considerably buffed overall in the transition from Smash 4 to Ultimate.
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 that were not addressed, 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, and certain smashers such as ZeRo, Samsora, and VoiD consider her a mid-tier character, while Mew2King even sees her as a high tier character. However, while Zelda has gathered some decent results, her overall tournament representation remains low, and combined with her polarizing traits and lack of major improvements in updates, some other smashers still consider her to be a low-tier. That said, the buffs she received in 7.0.0 has noticeably improved her consistency, which makes her less polarizing overall, though the effect towards her viability remains to be seen.
Overall, while Zelda is unarguably much better than she was in previous games, her true viability remains debatable, although she’s no longer considered to be unviable by most professionals.
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 have used to her to a fair degree of success. This left consensus on Zelda as a mid-tiered 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.
However, as time went on and the game and its ensuing patches were released, her flaws were only further exploited, her success has not been as high in comparison to the early metagame. This led to a more negative perspective, 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 has continue to place well with her. 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 a mid-tier character. 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!", and was present 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