Super Smash Bros. Characters Then and Now: Link - Prima Games

Super Smash Bros. Characters Then and Now: Link

by Bryan Dawson

Link is one of the few characters to appear in every version of Super Smash Bros. He began his journey in the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, then took on a few new moves in Smash Melee. When it came time for Smash Brawl on the Wii, Link saw a few more changes, and now he heads into Smash Wii U with a slightly higher outlook on life. With that in mind, join us as we take a closer look at Link’s evolution through the Super Smash Brothers series.

Super Smash Bros. 64

Unfortunately, Link’s first venture in the Smash Bros. universe didn’t go over well. His appearance is based on how Link looked in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, but he is one of the worst characters in the game. Despite the fact that he had a long reach with his Master Sword, a Boomerang projectile attack and Bomb projectile attack, Link was a very defensive character. He’s one of the slowest characters in Smash 64. His Spin Attack is powerful, but a terrible recovery tool, and he’s one of the heaviest characters in the game, which makes him easy to combo.

In competitive play, Link relied primarily on up tilt, back air and up air. His projectiles allow him to gimp (interrupt an opponent’s recovery) opponents attempting to get back to the stage, but Link’s recovery was so bad it was a big risk to get close to the edge. Link’s projectiles made him difficult to approach, but that was really the only advantage he had in Smash 64.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Link saw some improvements in Melee, but it didn’t impact his tier list placement very much. While at first glance it may seem as though Link moved up the tier list, the fact is that more characters were added to the game, some of which were worse than Link. If you take into account the huge increase in roster size, it can be argued that Link actually moved down the tier list instead of up.

For the most part, Link didn’t see many significant changes in Melee. His appearance was still based on Ocarina of Time, and his general play style remained the same. He gained the use of his bow as another projectile attack, and his attacks in general became faster, but also slightly weaker.

The biggest improvement for Link was his recovery. He went from having one of the worst recovery options in Smash 64 to having one of the best in Melee. His Spin Attack was improved and his Hookshot can now grapple walls. Couple this with the fact that he has better air speed and can use Bombs to help during recovery, and it was a complete turnaround.

Despite Link’s significantly improved recovery options, he’s still easily susceptible to chain grabs, which is a huge problem to have in Melee. This is one of the main reasons he’s considered a lower tier character in the game. Going a bit more detailed, Link received a new taunt animation and dash attack, while his down air and grabs became weaker (although down air had more knockback).

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

In Smash Brawl, Link’s appearance changed to that of his Twilight Princess incarnation. Aside from a few changes to his moves to make them more like his attacks in Twilight Princess, he didn’t change much from Melee to Brawl. His Boomerang became the Gale Boomerang and was given the ability to pull in items and other characters, and his bow became the Hero’s Bow, with the arrows disappearing at a set distance. His Hookshot was replaced by the Clawshot, and although it honed in on ledges, it was not reliable for this purpose.

While Link saw some improvements from Smash 64 to Melee, his tier list position didn’t change all that much and he was still considered a bad overall character. In Brawl, he remains virtually the same character he was in Melee, but falls considerably on the tier list to one of the worst characters in the game. He doesn’t have the options other characters do (especially out of shield), he’s one of the slowest attackers and his speed in general is poor.

Link retains a decent projectile game, but it’s overall weaker compared to how it was in previous Smash titles. To help compensate, his ground and aerial gameplay was improved, but it wasn’t enough to make him a better all around character. In detail, his infinite neutral combo was removed, his arrows are faster, bombs have more knockback and the horizontal and vertical recovery of the Spin Attack was reduced.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

We don’t have as much information about Link in the Wii U Smash Bros. compared to what we know about Link in the previous games, but here’s what we do know. His Spin Attack is about the same as it was in Brawl in terms of power, but it’s now a much better recovery option as it moves him upward quite a bit more than it used to. His Boomerang is a little slower, but he can now use it to combo, and his running and general movement speed are much faster.

We’ll take a look at other legacy Super Smash Bros. characters in the days ahead.

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