Kingdom Hearts fans rejoiced when Sora finally joined Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as its final DLC character. He didn’t even seem like one of the realistic choices for the final fighter, but he made the cut. One more anime sword fighter to close out the roster.
Sword fighters, anime or otherwise, comprise about 25% of Smash characters. That can mean too much, too little, or just enough depending on who you ask. Sora meets the general criteria since he’s a JRPG protagonist who fights with a sword (that just happens to look like a giant key). Thankfully, his move set takes inspiration from his original Kingdom Hearts design to separate him from your average Fire Emblem hero.
Here’s how Sora shapes up next to the other Smash anime sword fighters.
Sora’s “floatiness” — that lightweight, feathery fall speed — stands out as one of his signature qualities and strengths. I hesitate to compare him to Jigglypuff or Kirby because he can’t really fly, but that’s what he feels like. None of the other sword fighters are even comparatively floaty next to him. This floating feeling, plus his recoveries and spongey defenses, makes him difficult to KO.
His recovery options expand beyond what other sword fighters can typically offer. In fact, they better resemble other characters’ move sets. His Mewtwo-like double jump can easily save him from a light fall off a ledge. His side special works like Pikachu’s Quick Attack, allowing up to three dashes in any direction and damaging the foe in the process.
Sora’s Up B — an upward, spinning sword move — works similarly to other swordfighters.’ like Link. It has decent kill potential like Marth and Corrin’s Up B, but he can only use it in the air. Sora can actually use his side special after his Up B, which sets him apart from other characters in general. He’s a difficult character to edgeguard, more so than other swordfighters who can only Up B or n-air and hope.
However, Sora’s not much of a runner despite his aerial prowess. He might even be slower than Pyra, and she can at least switch to Mythra to move faster. He won’t be able to catch up with speedier characters like Roy, so it’s even more important to mind spacing and projectiles. Sora has reasonable enough range to hit opponents who are close and can threaten from afar with spells.
Sora’s neutral specials — Firaga, Thundaga, and Blizzaga — cycle one after the other. These elemental spells differ from each other in terms of damage, effects, and range. So players need to keep in mind which attacks they have on hand for their next attack. Most characters in general have access to their specials at all times. Sora’s spells encourage some foresight or improvisation on the player’s part to make the most out of them. Thankfully, they don’t have a meter to keep track of like with Robin or Shulk’s special abilities.
Sora’s neutral attacks are pretty vanilla — on the ground, at least. His aerials get a little more attention because of his significant airtime and reach. In fact, Smash fans have already found an infinite n-air loop that he can execute thanks to his automatic three-hit combo.
Some of his aerials can smack enemies on either side and below him in a single swing. So Sora should have an easier time catching enemies that get too close as opposed to many Fire Emblem sword fighters who have a more limited slash range. Link, Pit, and their “clones” suffer from the same problem.
His smash attacks don’t differ much from the norm, but they don’t need to. He’s not superfast like Mythra, so players should mind freely using his smash attacks around opponents that can quickly punish. You can expect a well-timed smash attack to launch an opponent and KO them with a high-enough damage percentage. Sora seems to fall in the average range — he doesn’t hit as heavy as someone like Pyra but still swings with enough heft to get the job done.
What else? His general reach isn’t going to outdo Sephiroth, who has an outrageously long sword that can stab through platforms, but it’s serviceable. His Down B works as a counter, just like most sword fighters have with their own counters and shields. However, it can deflect projectiles like Fox’s Reflector. Also, the boy’s got quite the arm on him. He might be the only sword fighter with a kill throw.
So what makes Sora different from the other sword fighters? Basically, everything about him besides his ground neutrals and smash attacks. His survivability and recovery potential lands him higher on my tier list than I would’ve expected for a character that moves as slowly as him. His weakness may be close-range characters with far-reaching attacks, so it’s important to mind spacing. He doesn’t have a projectile on hand all the time because of his rotating magic spells. Still, it’s fast enough to switch between them that I’d say he still has more zoning options than a character like Corrin, who barely has any.
Only time will tell if he makes it as a top-tier character in the meta, but the odds seem to be in his favor.
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