It’s now been little over a month since Sephiroth descended into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to strike fear among gaming’s finest and he already looks every bit as menacing as he is in Final Fantasy 7. Yet, unlike most of Ultimate’s best characters -which are very agile and are able to throw out a lot of moves for crazy combos-, the One-Winged Angel’s slower attacks require extra thought in order to crush his opponents.
Sephiroth isn’t just another anime swordsman thrown into Smash by Masahiro Sakurai, his range is pretty much unrivaled by Cloud and the rest of the cast, with other Smash Bros. distance demons such as Byleth, Ike, Shulk and the Belmonts falling short of matching the Masamune’s reach.
However, a with a great sword comes great responsibility, so as trade-off most of Sephiroth’s moves are generally slower and have overall worse frame data the rest of roster, so when playing as him the goal is to use the Masamune to box out opponents mainly by using a mixture of his forward air and his forward tilt.
Considering his main aerial and ground attacks all have over 13 frames of startup, Sephiroth is definitely “less is more” kind of fighter, but there is one exception though, his neutral air. At 9 frames, neutral air is not incredibly fast, yet when combined with his Final Fantasy Masamune both this and grabs can catch enemies off-guard and are especially useful against smaller characters that are harder to hit with his other aerial attacks (E.g. Pikachu, Olimar, Diddy Kong, Squirtle)
When Sephiroth can successfully keep opponents away, they’ll be forced to use their shields a lot which is a great incentive to use his down smash attack, the fastest of the kind and one that can easily break shields leading to an early kill.
His up air and up smash are incredibly useful when opponents are above Sephiroth as his absurd range can threaten the moment they are thrown in the air. However, up air takes 16 frames to come out and up smash 23 frames, and both have a lot of endlag so instead of chasing enemies in the air, they’re more suited to scaring them into making rash decisions and catching them while landing on the ground or platforms.
So what does Sephiroth do when enemies get too close to him? Given his massive range he lacks the ability to use fast panic options, so his main get off me tools will be his frame 5 jab and frame 9 down tilt, with up tilt being a rare anti-aerial tool at 10 frames. If Sephiroth is ever stuck shielding, his best options are a mixture of jump away and roll, with neutral air also working decently to draw distance.
Sephiroth side b attack is his Shadow Flare, with range and power depending on how long it’s charged, putting 1-3 purple orbs on rivals that greatly condition what they’ll be able to do next. Sephiroth gets a lot from just one orb as they add shield damage (remember down smash?) and always send enemies away from the stage, making it very annoying to deal with when thrown in between his normal attacks.
His Neutral B (Flare/Megaflare/Gigaflare) is quite powerful, yet incredibly slow. The fully charged Gigaflare takes a full 3 seconds to complete and should only be used when enemies are getting back on stage. Megaflare’s explosion is also pretty strong and has its uses, but Flare’s charge time and endlag mean the simple version should only be used to fake out opponents by using Shield and Air Dodges to cancel it.
Down B is a counter move on steroids, as despite only hitting from the front and slightly below or above Sephiroth, it has immense kill power and can be used in smart reads or off-stage for early kills.
Finally, Up B works a lot like Fox and Falco’s recovery with plenty of angles and a threatening fully charged Octaslash. The best way to use Sephiroth’s recovery is to mix up a lot between going back to the stage from from upwards or below it, usually using the non-charged Up B Blade Dash. One nifty trick to keep in mind is using Octaslash facing away from the stage, as any enemies hit on the way up will be sent off flying away from the screen to take an early stock.
Of course, in case this game plan fails, Sephiroth’s One-Winged Angel comes into play when he’s in danger. Normally he’ll get the wing around 80% damage with that number going down or up depending on whether Sephiroth is ahead or behind in stocks.
Sephiroth’s comeback mechanic grants him a 30% boost in speed, mobility and power, as well as an extra jump and super armor on his smash attacks, turning the already fearsome swordsman into a force to be reckoned with. These buffs should turn his playstyle into a more aggressive Sephiroth, since going for down smash shield breaks, killing opponents off-stage and moving in and out of enemies’ range becomes easier.
Nevertheless, with Sephiroth being a light character (as heavy as Pikachu), players should not be careless to waste their time with the wing’s extra power, as doing so can mean passing on the opportunity to snowball onto a lead. Survivability is also key to get the best out of the faster Sephiroth.
Sephiroth’s specials and enormous range should encourage players to fish for early percents stocks when his enemies are off-stage and grabbing onto the ledge. In case he can’t secure a win this way, his attacks allow him to control the pace of the fight for much of the game and even mount an epic rally to come from behind when the wing comes out.
Overall, Sephiroth is an amazing, unique and very fun character to use, though his main goal is to keep his rivals at a distance, every move is his kit serves a clear purpose and as long as he’s the one dictating when it’s turn to fight up close he shouldn’t struggle against the rest of the cast.
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- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
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