15 best Super Smash Bros. characters, ranked

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Nothing like having a friendly brawl in Super Smash Bros...

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In a series featuring over 89 playable fighters, there’s no shortage of options for the player to choose from. While the franchise has always been known for stuffing each subsequent title full of characters, usually each with their respective balancing concerns, there are still a decent number of standout figures that most people in the Smash community can probably agree warrant inclusion on any list of must-picks.

Image via Nintendo

15. Donkey Kong

When it comes to heavy-weight powerhouses, it’s hard to overlook the king of the virtual Nintendo jungle, Donkey Kong. Regardless of which Super Smash Bros title you’re playing, if you’re looking for a brawler that can quickly rack up your opponent’s damage numbers, at the risk of having an enormous hitbox, Donkey Kong will always be a great pick. Few things are as satisfying as using DK’s grapple to forcibly hoist your opponent onto your back, and carry them off the cliff in a move of spiteful, self-destructive pettiness. Just be careful not to find yourself too close to a ledge, as it’s easy to fall, but difficult to rise.

Super Smash Bros
Image via Nintendo

Having three Links in the same game, as is the case with Super Smash Bros Ultimate, probably raises a few eyebrows, but it would be a clear mistake to dismiss each of these characters based on their similarities in name and appearance, as their respective playstyles are anything but identical. Landing successful combos using Toon Link’s bombs and hookshot, in addition to the usual light and heavy attacks, will allow you to steadily punish any opponent foolish enough to not counter with shields or a dodge. However, be careful, as your reduced physical stature also affects your damage numbers, resulting in less damage per hit than the adult Link variant. Consistency is more important than landing individual attacks.

Super Smash Bros Samus
Image via Nintendo

13. Samus

Samus has always been something of a glass cannon when compared to most other Super Smash Bros characters, with high damage output potential, but with the added tradeoff of being incredibly vulnerable when within melee range. While these tendencies are also reflected in other characters included on this list, this is doubly true for Samus. Relying on her Charge Shot ability (which unleashes a charged energy blast dealing enormous damage and knockback) will allow you to clear the field of any distracted combatants. Alternatively, her Bomb attack will allow her to drop a series of small bombs that will be sure to irritate any foe unfortunate enough to find themselves below you at the time.

Super Smash Bros Ganondorf
Image via Nintendo

12. Ganondorf

Ganondorf is the best character to introduce to someone who doesn’t play heavies. Especially in Ultimate, never has this Captain Falcon clone felt so fun to play. You can easily kill your opponents in less than five hits. Bonus points if you yell “dooriyah” every time you perform his forward smash.

Super Smash Bros Snake
Image via Nintendo

11. Snake

In a fighting game, long-range damage isn’t usually the de facto playstyle, but as Snake here proves, it can definitely be a rewarding playstyle. A fast-moving character, Snake specializes in both hand-to-hand combat, with quick jabs and dash attacks that can easily interrupt slower enemy attacks, as well as long-range missiles and grenades that can absolutely ruin someone’s day even at a distance. Like the reptile of the same name, Snake can strike fast and subsequently get out of range again faster than one might expect. Stay on top of him if you want to live to tell the tale.

Super Smash Bros Meta Knight
Image via Nintendo

10. Meta Knight

Knowing when to dive in, and when to run away, are key pieces of information for any Meta Knight player to know, if they ever want to find themselves landing in the top spot. His wide range of powerful attacks, all of which can be initiated in rapid succession, allow for many different combo opportunities. His recovery moves can be difficult for less experienced players to pull off, which is likely why the developers allow for the player multiple attempts, rather than a singular failed recovery resulting oftentimes in immediate death, as is the case with most other characters. Given the cheap cost and high reward of basic moves, along with the knockback that can be produced from more powerful abilities, Meta Knight remains a powerful contestant on the battlefield.

Super Smash Bros Kirby
Image via Nintendo

9. Kirby

If you’re after adaptability, it’s hard not to pick Kirby. His ability to swallow enemies whole, absorb some of their characteristics, and spit them back out, has always made his playstyle unique compared to the other fighters. Super Smash Bros Ultimate saw Kirby get a decent-sized buff, with his Inhale ability now being able to absorb projectiles, in addition to players and most objects. His Hammer Flip ability also proves crucial in destroying an enemy’s shield, leaving them momentarily exposed for a follow-up attack. While far from the strongest in the roster, the variety of options for play and counter-play in Kirby’s kit can make him a strong asset for a moderately-skilled player.

Super Smash Bros Pokemon Trainer
Image via Nintendo

8. Pokemon Trainer

Let’s be real; many of us chose Pokemon Trainer just to use Ivysaur. There’s no reason for him to be that good. Despite all the nerfs, he alone can carry this iconic trio of Pokemon. However, that’s where the fun comes in. When people face Pokemon Trainer, they’re expecting just to fight Ivysaur. If you master Squirtle and Charizard, you can constantly condition your opponent to approach you differently in combat.

Super Smash Bros Peach
Image via Nintendo

7. Peach

If you’re looking to put people in the ground while still appearing prim and proper, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to play a few matches as Peach. Whether you enjoy sending people flying with a well-timed slap, or putting your opponents to sleep with a melodious display of your vocal talents, Peach is a versatile fighter who specializes in recovery, rather than raw damage output. Her umbrella allows her to easily reach vertical heights, or glide down at a leisurely pace. Mistaking this princess for your typical damsel in distress could very well be a fatal mistake.

Super Smash Bros Ness
Image via Nintendo

6. Ness

For those who might consider it potentially unethical to beat up an underage child, you might want to reserve your sympathy for this particular child prodigy. Equipped with telekinesis and a rather intimidating baseball bat, you’re not safe either up close, where Ness can eliminate you with potentially one swing from his bat, or at range, where he can deal steady small amounts of damage with PK Thunder. (A manually-aimed burst of electric energy.) As with other aforementioned characters like Donkey Kong, one of Ness’s primary weaknesses is his limited recovery options, so if you’re fighting a good Ness player, just send them off the stage and spam damage after them, to make it more difficult for them to regain their footing in time.

Super Smash bros ROB
Image via Nintendo

5. R.O.B.

R.O.B. used to be that character who was kind of a gimmick. He was such a niche and dorky character until his Ultimate iteration came out. Now he’s such a menace and can cover all styles of play. He has good zoning, high kill potential, great recovery, and a good neutral. Admittedly, R.O.B. is also a lot of fun to play, mostly because his strengths make him good against anyone.

Image via Nintendo

4. Fox

If speed, almost to the exclusion of all else, is your preference, Fox is a perfect pick. His blaster is great for poking enemies at range, and his Fox Illusion and Fire Fox (not related to any browser you may have heard of) abilities are good for either recovery or closing the distance between you and your opponents. As a lightweight character, similar to Toon Link, building up damage on your opponents will take time, but the aforementioned speed and survivability make Fox a great pick in nearly any situation.

Super Smash Bros Pikachu
Image via Nintendo

3. Pikachu

The near-perfect balance between power, speed, and recovery, Pikachu is a highly-accessible character with only a minimal learning curve, while nevertheless offering a ton of value to those who have taken the time to master the move set. Similar to Ness, Pikachu utilizes a combination of elemental and melee abilities, which can deal moderate to high amounts of damage to the target. Pikachu combines its recovery moves with damage output, ensuring that not only can the player find their way back to the battlefield, but they can also simultaneously punish the nearest opponent with a generous dose of damage. Mastering this clean energy-fueled rodent will get you far, whether you’re playing casually or competitively.

Super Smash Bros Pyra Mythra

2. Pyra/Mythra

Also referred to as Aegis, this duo character is probably the best swordie in Smash Ultimate. Their neutral game, namely Mythra’s, is almost unmatched. They can dominate the stage easily, with strong, fast moves with decent range. Their only downside is when they are offstage for whatever reason. Still, in higher competitive play, they are scary to go against.

Super Smash Bros Steve
Image via Nintendo

1. Steve

So, Steve has become a problem. He is close to Brawl Meta Knight levels of broken, where people want him banned in competitive play. Because of all these crazy block setups and traps, Steve breaks the conventional way to play Super Smash Bros. Still, these setups are quite wild and entertaining to watch. To be on the receiving end, though, not so much.

About The Author
Daniel Lenois
When not writing pieces for Destructoid and other sites, Daniel enjoys playing videogames, discovering narrative plot holes in books, films, and shows, and planning small getaway trips where unexpected adventures will likely ensue.
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