The impossible finally happened: Sora from Kingdom Hearts is finally in Smash. The Keyblade Warrior’s moveset can make him a tough nut to crack thanks to his floaty, combo-heavy playstyle. In this guide, we’ll help break down some of the basics that’ll help you take more stocks on the battlefield.
Sakurai’s outdone himself for the 12th and final DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sora’s Smash moveset is a brilliant adaptation of his abilities from Kingdom Hearts. And just like in that game, the Keyblade is his most valuable asset in combat.
Sora’s aerial prowess and combos set him apart from nearly every other character in the game, and if you want to master him, you’ll need to learn how they work. His neutral attack (or jab), forward tilt, neutral air and forward air all feature short three-hit combos that make up a bulk of his moveset.
These are the easiest to pull off, but often the least rewarding. All you need to do is press the attack button that corresponds to the combo you’d like to do, so for his neutral air combo, just do a neutral air (usually the A button/the right face button if you’re playing with a single Joycon in midair) and, if you land the first hit, press it two more times.
You can do the same for every combo that he has (jab, forward tilt and forward air). Each of his aerial combos will even temporarily keep him from falling, making it easier to land all three hits. Be sure to keep in mind, however, that your opponent might be able to get out of these combos, making it vital to read their DI (directional input) and air dodges if they’re able to do so. In fact most of those combos aren’t true.
Because of this, Sora has a number of really good combos and setups to accomodate.You can also use the first two hits of his neutral aerial combo to string other moves together. For example, if you hit the first two hits of neutral air close to the ground, you can chain those into his down tilt.
His down tilt is one of the strongest combo starters in the game and one that you’ll need to nail if you’re going to play the character. In fact, a number of the best Sora combos and setups involve landing his down tilt. Launching opponents up and in towards Sora, it leads into a number of different moves.
I recommend following it up with forward air, neutral air, up smash, up air or up special. That said, the move’s hitstun doesn’t last super long, so it’s all a matter of figuring out what your opponent’s going to do.
If they air dodge towards the ground, for example, you could easily catch their landing with a forward smash, one of Sora’s strongest kill options on the ground. You could also try to use his up smash, but because its range is fairly limited on the ground, it’s best to use it if they try to dodge away from you in the air.
He also has some powerful vertical combos thanks to his really strong up air. Not only is it a decent kill option, especially near the top blast zone, but it can combo into itself or his up special, which also does a lot of damage and kills fairly early, especially after you land an up air or two.
A lot of these combos are only a piece of the puzzle, however. Thanks to Sora’s weight and floatiness, he’s a total glass cannon.
Sora’s movement options are a double-edged sword. Much like characters like Falco or Yoshi, he has a lot of verticality and a really high aerial jump. But similar to Kazuya, that aerial jump takes a long time to come out to really hammer home his weakness.
His side special also gives him a lot of aerial freedom, but use it wrong and you’ll end up losing a stock or two on accident. It functions a lot like Pikachu’s up special, quick attack, where if you hold the special button (usually the B button or the bottom face button if you’re using a single Joycon) or press it repeatedly, you’ll be able to pull off three separate attacks, just like in Kingdom Hearts.
Because it allows you to travel such a long distance, the side special can get you to the ledge from nearly anywhere on the stage, especially when paired with his incredible jump. His up special is also a solid option, but it’s far more useful for recovering when you’re near the ledge.
His recovery options are really solid, and make him a very good character if you have trouble getting back on stage. The same can’t really be said about his landing options, however.
His floatiness and weight are easily his biggest weaknesses.
Other characters who dominate in the air, like Yoshi, Falco, Samus or Bayonetta, and characters with really strong combo game, like Captain Falcon, Terry, Kazuya, Sheik and Mario, are going to take advantage of his weight and floatiness to the point where you might not even be able to land safely.
Since his jump takes so long to execute, you’re more likely to get stuck in combos. You’ll need to learn how to SDI (Smash Directional Input) and how to time your air dodges correctly.
He’s also one of the lightest characters in the game, so you’ll also need to be extremely careful around some of the roster’s heavy-hitters like Ganondorf, Ike and Captain Falcon. Even some characters who struggle to kill, like Sheik or Fox, might have an easier time dispatching Sora.
Thankfully, he’s not totally unequipped. His counter only hits in front, so it’s not the most useful landing tool, but it can at least help you escape from some combos. His down air is also a really solid landing option. If you’re high up in the air and having trouble landing, it’ll send you barreling down towards the stage, dealing damage to anything in your path.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, especially since a number of characters have attacks that can hit Sora out of the move. It also has a lot of landing lag if you do it close to the stage.
Sora’s still really new to the roster, like really really new. In fact, I’m sure that in two weeks, he’s going to be an entirely different character thanks to some new technique that a pro player discovers. If you’re hoping to stay up-to-date and learn more about the minutiae of his moveset as people learn him, you should pay attention to Dusty Carpet_, Elegant and NAKAT on Twitter.
That said, the best way to learn the character is to just play him! If you’re looking to become the cleanest Sora around, take him into Ultimate’s training mode and give some of these tips a shot. Just bear in mind that the training mode has a few helpful tools to help you determine some more basic combos,but it’s not the most comprehensive unless you install a few mods to help bolster some of the smaller details.
This means that playing against some friends online or even heading to a tournament and trading tips with other local Sora players is going to make a world of difference.
Charlie Wacholz is a freelance writer and college student. When he’s not playing the latest and greatest indie games, competing in Smash tournaments or working on a new cocktail recipe, you can find him on Twitter at @chas_mke.