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Smash Bros. Ultimate guide: Best characters for beginners

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Bad at Smash? We’ve got you covered

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

The enormous list of playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is intimidating, especially for newcomers to the series. If you’re just starting out, you may be wondering which characters you should gravitate toward to have somewhat of a shot at winning. That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll run down a handful of easy-to-learn characters that can put in the hurt, even if you’re still trying to figure out what a Final Smash is.

Kirby

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

Kirby is a great beginner character, and not just because he’s the only character you start with in World of Light (Ultimate’s single-player campaign).

Kirby has a number of strong aspects, not least of which is is puff-ball tenacity, which makes it pretty easy to return to the stage after you’ve gotten knocked away. If you find yourself coming in below the stage on a recovery, you may get a quick save by hitting up and B, since his sword attack will rocket him up, perhaps high enough to grab a ledge.

Kirby’s other special moves are also super handy, from his down + B transformation into a block of stone to his side + B hammer, which can be charged for some extra panache. And his staple neutral + B will suck enemies in, allowing him to steal a power from them, which is a fun way to learn about some of the other characters.

Despite their visual similarities, you should know that Jigglypuff is a far trickier character to use than Kirby, so maybe hold off on the songstress until you’re a bit more comfortable.

Bowser

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

The great thing about big characters is that they generally don’t require that you memorize super complicated combos. Bowser’s is a one-hit machine, and he does that very well. Bowser’s side-B attack is a brutal dropkick that can launch players, even if they have minimal damage.

He also has some great specials. The Flying Slam (side + B) requires that you’re close enough to someone to grab them. Once you do, you’ll fly up into the air before slamming down, dealing serious damage. If you happen to find yourself one life ahead in a match, you can use this to kill both you and the other player by aiming off a ledge. It’s devious but effective. (Just don’t do this on your last life, as it’ll kill you before it kills the other player.)

King K. Rool

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

One of the newly added characters to Smash Ultimate, King K. Rool, feels like a mashup of several large characters in one. He butt-slams like Bowser, but he can also throw punches like Donkey Kong and has a little range with his side + B crown throw.

Rool is also a great character to experiment with counter attacks. His down + B move has him puff up his chest. If he’s hit in this stance, he’ll instantly return fire with an attack of his own. It’s not as easy to pull off as some of the other counters in the game (it requires that you’re facing the attacker), but it is one of the most powerful of these moves.

Isabelle

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

Moving away from the giant characters for a second, we have the newly added Isabelle from the Animal Crossing series. Unlike the other Animal Crossing character, Villager, Isabelle doesn’t require a ton of strategy to succeed. She does, however, come packing an excellent kit.

Her bread and butter is her fishing rod. She can quickly cast a line with side + B and wait for other players to walk into it before reeling them in and dealing some decent damage. Especially in matches with three or more players, it’s easy to constantly cast into a crowd of fighters to deal increasingly annoying amounts of damage.

Isabelle is also excellent at recovery (perhaps even better than Kirby!), thanks to her balloon swing-set on up + B. These balloons offer a ton of instant elevation and maneuverability. You can also use the fishing rod for some extra reach to grab a ledge. Just be wary, as a savvy player can pop these balloons, ending your trip instantly.

Toon Link / Young Link

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

The difference between these two Links is negligible, so mostly it’ll come down to visual preference for beginners. (Experts will note that Young Link has a two-hit side-smash attack and arrows that pop enemies up.) That said, they are both easier than standard Link (who now packs somewhat complex remote bombs from Breath of the Wild).

The key with the Links? Stay at range. You’ll have a ton of ranged attacks at your disposal, from bombs to boomerangs to arrows. Use them to whittle enemies down. You’ll eventually need to swoop in and attack with your sword to finish them off, but that shouldn’t happen until they’re around 60 or 70% percent. Just use your speed and small stature to make a tricky target, then rely on smash moves (like the down stab) to seal the deal.

Richter

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

Simon and Richter from Castlevania are formidable foes in Smash Ultimate, but Richter is the easier of the pair for beginners. Simon requires that you hit enemies with the tip of your whip for full damage, whereas Richter is less demanding.

Beyond that, the key with Richter is, like the Links, to stay at range. Use your throwing cross or axes to pick away at enemies from afar before moving in with your whip. Richter’s holy water (down + B) is also great for racking up damage and offering you some defense against enemies who try to get up close.

Fair warning though: Richter’s recovery move is a mere uppercut and is pretty woeful. If you get sent off the stage, don’t forget you can also use your whip to grab on to the ledge. This includes aiming the whip straight up to grab a ledge above you.

Bayonetta

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

Bayonetta first arrived as DLC in the Wii U Smash Bros. game and was quickly considered one of the strongest characters. Little has changed in Smash Ultimate, where she remains a force to be reckoned with, both for beginner and expert players.

Her strengths lie in her overwhelmingly powerful smash attacks (all involving various hair fists and feet to appear from the ether). Lean on these as much as you can.

As you get more comfortable with her, try working in her down + B move. It may not be instantly obvious, but this is a counterattack. If an enemy attacks you while you’re flipping like this, that enemy will be stuck in a time warp (Witch Time, if you will), giving you plenty of time to score some easy hits on them.

Her combos are also very easy to pull off, even for button mashers. Because of these powers, Bayonetta’s a great pick if you’re playing one-vs-one stock matches.

Roy

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo

There are a ton of Fire Emblem characters in Smash Ultimate, many of which are very similar to one another. Roy, Lucina and Marth share basically the same DNA, but Roy packs much more of a punch and is easier to use since he gets more powerful the closer you are to your enemy. Spamming quick sword attacks (side-B) with an occasional slam (side-A) to finish someone off is an easy path to victory.

Roy’s counter attack (again on down + B) is exceptionally useful, returning any attack back at his foe with even greater force. Plopping Roy into the chaos of a group fight before unleashing a counter is a good way to get some easy, thoughtless kills.

Like all of the Fire Emblem characters, Roy has a pretty woeful recovery move to get back onto the stage. His up-slash attack with up + B won’t always save him, but pressing toward a safe landing will change the angle of the uppercut slightly, giving it a bit more range.

Sticking with these characters are a good starting point. Once you feel more comfortable, feel free to branch out and mess around. Smash Bros. is all about experimentation!