Sora is a master of aerial combat in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is right in line with his name being the Japanese word for “sky”.
Kingdom Hearts fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as series protagonist Sora and his moveset were revealed today as the final DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Franchise director Masahiro Sakurai personally announced Sora on Tuesday morning, via the Smash-focused Nintendo Direct.
We’ll have to wait until October 18th to get our hands on the DLC, but thankfully we can talk about his moveset right now. As expected, a lot of his moves are pulled directly from his abilities in the various Kingdom Hearts games, tuned to suit the needs of a platform fighter like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Without further ado, let’s get into the details of Sora’s arsenal of techniques, spells, and attacks!
Overview of Sora
As Sora wields the Keyblade, he falls under the “sword fighter” archetype, with the disjointed hitboxes and far-reaching attacks that come with the territory. He is a very lightweight character — lighter than even Isabelle and Young Link. His midair jump (or double jump) reaches higher than that of most other characters, making him suitable for players that like to fight in the air. Of course, this is to be expected, given that his name is the Japanese word for “sky” (空).
Combined, these characteristics make him quite floaty, allowing him to stay airborne for extended periods of time. His lightness does make him easier to KO at lower percentages, as veterans of the series know. Launching him will be incredibly easy, as well.
Holding down or repeatedly pressing the normal attack button allows him to go into a three-hit combo, just like how it is in Kingdom Hearts. Sora can chain his neutral ground, his side tilt, neutral air, and forward air attacks into three-combos.
The exact properties of the combos in question change depending on which of these four routes you choose. For example, the neutral ground combo is fast compared to his other normals, but doesn’t deal a lot of damage or knockback. The side tilt combo, on the other hand, comes out slower, but packs a bigger punch.
Interestingly, Sora can instantly start the aerial versions of his three-hit combo from a short hop. Pressing the jump and attack buttons at the same time accomplishes this, which is good for quickly applying pressure on opponents. If the third hit of the combo does not connect, however, Sora is left vulnerable with a lot of landing lag upon hitting the ground. Sakurai recommends stopping just short of the third hit if players are unsure that they’ll get all three to land.
There’s plenty of room for creativity here, though. For example, you can cut the aerial combo short at two hits, then fast fall in order to start another three-hit combo on the ground.
The property of the first hit in the combo is also dictated by whether or not you stop midway through. For example, landing the first two hits of the neutral ground combo does not cause any knockback — but using only the first hit does. The damage also changes as a result.
Note that attacks within Sora’s three-hit combo overlap with some of his other moves. For example, where he would normally have a unique forward air, his forward air is the same as the first move of the forward air combo.
Sora spins the Kingdom Key above his head for about half a second. Sakurai says that this move will “continuously hit”, which presumably means it is a multi-hitting attack with a lot of active frames.
Likely good as an anti-air. Hitting opponents with it on the ground launches them into the air, however. If the opponent’s percentage is low enough, Sora can follow up with additional aerial attacks.
A simple swipe with the Kingdom Key across the ground in front of Sora. Has a shorter recovery compared to his other normals, making it rather safe to throw out in the open.
The move itself has a “vacuum” effect, which brings affected characters closer to and above Sora on hit. Useful for transitioning into another move or combo starter, such as Up Tilt.
Sora strikes the opponent in front of him with a powerful swing of the Keyblade. Quite powerful as a go-to finisher.
Sora points the Kingdom Key upwards above his head, causing it to flash and hit anyone in its range. Has very long recovery, so it is not recommended to use it as an anti-air.
It does, however, have a deceptively wide hitbox. Sakurai demonstrated this by hitting a Marth dummy from below a platform, without being perfectly aligned with the dummy itself. Centering the move, however, will increase its launching capabilities.
Sora jumps a short distance into the air and stabs the ground with the Kingdom Key, causing the ground to explode in an area.
Automatically evades certain ground attacks as a result of the jump. Also seems to be useful for edge guarding.
Sora does a flip in the air, slashing the space above him in a wide arc at the same time. Useful as an anti-air.
Sora’s jumping capabilities allow him to greatly extend this move’s range.
Down Air: Hurricane Blast
Sora spins vertically in the air, dropping down on opponents below him.
As the Keyblade is also spinning during this move, this is also presumably a multi-hitting attack. Called the Hurricane Blast in Kingdom Hearts games.
Sora turns around and swings the Kingdom Key horizontally. Looks similar to Ike’s back air.
According to Sakurai, it has “about the same power as an [average] lightweight fighter’s smash attack”.
A standard forward throw. Sora grabs his opponent and slashes forward, knocking them back a bit in the process. Can hit multiple targets.
Sora grabs his opponent, spins around a few times, and throws them backwards. Good at launching opponents. Can hit multiple targets as well.
Sora grabs his opponent, jumps a short distance upwards, and tosses his opponent into the air. Can be used a combo starter under certain conditions.
Sora grabs his opponent and slams them to the ground. Not very strong by Sakurai’s admission, but leaves the opponent close enough to Sora for follow-ups.
Neutral Special: Magic
Pressing the neutral special button grants Sora access to magic, namely Firaga, Thundaga, and Blizzaga from the Final Fantasy universe.
Sora will automatically cycle through these three distinct types with each use of the move. By default, he starts with Firaga, which is a simple horizontal projectile.
Next is Thundaga, which conjures three lightning bolts from the air in succession, just a few steps in front of Sora. Thundaga has a longer range on the ground versus when used in the air.
Finally, Blizzaga freezes opponents on contact, much like Ness’ fully charged PK Freeze. Blizzaga has the shortest range of all three of Sora’s spells, making it a close-quarters move. Characters frozen this way can mash neutral special in order to break free more quickly, but this becomes less effective the higher the affected character’s percentage is. Attacking frozen opponents will reduce damage by half, however.
It is possible for players to prevent the automatic cycling by repeatedly pressing the neutral special button. Firaga, for example, will keep going until the player stops, at which point it cycles to Thundaga. This is especially useful with Blizzaga, as rapid-firing it at close range causes more damage.
Side Special: Sonic Blade
Sora dashes in the direction that the left stick is tilted in, attacking opponents with the tip of the Kingdom Key along the way. The attack is octo-directional, which means Sora can dash in cardinal or intercardinal directions. Called Sonic Blade in the Kingdom Hearts series.
Sonic Blade can be used three times in succession, both on the ground and in the air. Sora is forced to use it horizontally for the first instance, however. Each instance after the first will be slower and cover less ground.
From what we’ve seen so far, Sonic Blade is shaping up to be one of the best recoveries in the entire game, thanks to its sheer flexibility and the total distance that it covers. It also seems to be a great combo extender, thanks to it tracking the nearest opponent with repeated button presses. This mechanic is taken directly from the lock-on system from Kingdom Hearts.
Up Special: Aerial Sweep
Sora jumps straight up and spins while attacking opponents with the Kingdom Key, similar to Link’s Up Special. Unlike Link’s version, though, Sora will always put himself in an airborne state with this move, even when used on the ground. Conversely, Link does a standing spin attack on the ground.
During the spin itself, Sora can move slightly left or right with the left analog stick. Can immediately transition into Sonic Blade while in the air. This makes it great at both extending combos and as part of Sora’s recovery kit.
Down Special: Counterattack
As expected, Sora’s design as a sword fighter means that he has a counter for a Down Special. What sets it apart from others, however, is that Sora’s counter staggers an opponent when their attack lands. Not very effective from behind, but can counter anything in front of Sora.
It can also deflect projectiles away from Sora, but they cannot be deflected back in the direction they came from. Instead, projectiles pass through Sora harmlessly and travel behind him. This does however come with the benefit of much faster recovery compared to other counters, allowing Sora to quickly punish those that use their projectiles up close.
Sora arrives in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on October 18th. You can unlock him for $5.99, or for $30 as part of Fighters Pass Vol. 2.