The Ultimate Joker Guide... For Smash Ultimate!
Mon 6th May 2019 - 7:49pm
The first character in Smash Ultimate’s DLC Fighter Pass, Joker from Persona 5, has joined the battle! In terms of playstyle, Joker is a quick, combo-heavy character with the potential to deal massive damage when his Persona, Arsene, is activated. He also boasts a plethora of attacks from his home game that make his moveset incredibly unique and tricky. This article will go over how to best use Joker’s moves in order to excel with Smash Ultimate’s newest fighter.
Joker’s jab is among his weakest attacks and lacks significant utility, although it can be useful for jab locking opponents that have been knocked down. Forward tilt is similarly weak and difficult to combo out of, but it is quick and has a bit more range than Joker’s other standard attacks, so it may be used to wall out opponents approaching on the ground. Joker’s dash attack similarly does not set up for combos well, although it can be used to approach and push opponents offstage, which can be helpful for setting up edgeguards or for ending combos in general.
Joker’s down tilt and up tilt are both very strong combo starters, particularly setting up for up-air follow-ups. Note that Joker’s up tilt will not hit behind Joker, only hitting in front and then above. Out of a grab, up throw and down throw are Joker’s best options. Up throw can set up for up-air strings, whereas down throw can set up for a forward-air or dash forward up-air follow-up. Forward throw and back throw, while less significant overall, can be used to force an opponent offstage or to improve Joker’s stage positioning.
As mentioned, up-air and forward-air are both very solid combo options out of a throw or tilt attack. Using drag-down up-airs can allow Joker to chain many grab into up throw strings together, giving him the potential to keep his opponent in a disadvantaged state for a long time. Joker can also land quickly after executing a forward-air in order to connect only its first hit, which in turn acts as a decent combo starter itself. Joker’s back-air is very quick, making it incredibly useful out of shield or while edgeguarding. Though it is rather slow, neutral-air can still be used to edgeguard, as can forward-air. Down-air is similarly useful as an edgeguarding tool, as it send opponents sideways, away from Joker.
All of Joker’s smash attacks can be used as kill options. Forward smash is the strongest of these moves by far and is excellent as a whiff punish move. Down smash can cover both sides of Joker, making it a bit more reliable for trying to catch an opponent’s landing. Up smash is also useful as an anti-air, though like his up tilt, it cannot hit behind Joker.
Joker’s Neutral-B, Gun, is a rather unique move with many different applications. At its most basic use, Gun is a projectile that can deal slight damage and knockback to nearby opponents (with less damage and no knockback being dealt to far-off opponents). While this basic application of the move is a bit laggy and not widely useful in the neutral, Gun has many other uses in different scenarios. Gun can be used to jab lock, giving Joker to opportunity to punish an opponent’s knockdown from a slight distance.
If the player taps to the control stick while Joker is holding his Gun attack, Joker will do a dodge to that side, which can help him to avoid being punished for using his projectile. This dodge also works in the air, and does not count as one of Joker’s air dodges. As a result, Joker can do the Gun dodge multiple times in order to aid in his recovery.
A grounded Joker can press the jump button while holding Gun, which will cause him to leap into the air and launch bullets downward. This can be used to confirm into attacks on grounded opponents, or to edgeguard offstage. An aerial Joker can do the same thing by holding down after starting the Gun attack. Pressing up while holding Gun in the air will cause Joker to spin around while firing bullets, although this version of the attack is less useful.
Perhaps the most interesting application of Joker’s Neutral-B is the movement options it grants to him. Just as air dodging next to the ground can allow characters to wavedash, using an aerial Gun dodge near the ground will cause Joker to perform a wavedash-esque slide along the ground. Gundashing does not have any endlag, making it much more similar to Melee wavedashing than traditional Ultimate wavedashing. As a result, Joker can use this move to quickly move across the stage or even to cross up his opponents.
In addition, if he dashes backwards immediately out of a Gundash, Joker will perform a Melee sticky walk-esque movement before he is able to start moving backwards. This application of the Gundash could potentially be used to mix up his approach timings or to perfectly position himself to punish an enemy.
Joker’s other specials are not quite so complex, but are still very useful. His Side-B, Eiha, is a projectile that can deal a little bit of damage to opponents over time, along with its initial damage. Eiha is great for spacing in the neutral and for blocking approaching opponents.
Joker’s Up-B, Grappling Hook, covers a surprisingly large vertical distance, making it quite helpful for recovering. Grappling Hook acts as a command grab, allowing Joker to grab enemies out of the air and pull them towards himself. This attribute of the move makes it useful for continuing combos. The move also has a regular hitbox at the tip of the hook, which can be used to deal some damage and even kill opponents off the top. However, because this hitbox deals very little knockback, the opponent must be right next to the blast zone for this to work, making it generally impractical to set up.
The final, and perhaps most important, characteristic of Joker’s moveset is the Rebellion Gauge. When the Rebellion Gauge is filled, Arsene will appear along with Joker. With Arsene, all of Joker’s attacks are stronger, including his specials, and he gains access to an largely invincible Up-B and a Palutena-esque Down-B. Luckily for Joker, there are many ways to fill up the Rebellion Gauge, and none are too difficult to do.
The Rebellion Gauge fills up slowly over time, so Joker does not technically have to do anything in order to gain access to Arsene. However, the gauge fills up more quickly if Joker is taking damage or if he is down in percent or stocks, allowing Arsene to function as a sort of comeback mechanic.
The quickest way to get Arsene is to use Joker’s Down-B, Rebel’s Guard. Rebel’s Guard is a counter that fills up the gauge a great amount whenever it is used to absorb an enemy’s attack. If Joker uses his Down-B to absorb a strong smash attack or a multi-hit move, his Rebellion Gauge can fill up almost immediately. So even though Joker is much weaker without Arsene, it only takes a few well-timed Down-Bs to reach his strongest state.
Unlike some other similar mechanics, such as Cloud’s Limit Break, Arsene will not immediately disappear when Joker uses any sort of move. The only way to get rid of Arsene is to kill Joker, or to wait for the Rebellion Gauge to fully deplete. This means that Arsene remains active for a fairly long time considering how much stronger he makes Joker, adding to the power the mechanic gives to Joker.
If Joker is killed, his Rebellion Gauge will automatically reset to about 20% fullness, no matter how close it was to being full or even if Arsene was already active (this appears to also be the case even if his meter was below that point before he lost his stock). For this reason, an opponent’s best chance of countering Joker is to get early kills against him to keep him from filling up his Rebellion Gauge.
Though it is too early to say exactly how Joker fares against the rest of the cast of Smash Ultimate, he is undoubtedly an incredibly strong character with lots of potential. His array of edgeguarding tools, combo starters, and unique movement options are enough on their own to make Joker a serious threat. These attributes, coupled with arguably the strongest power-up mechanic in the game, make Joker a scary threat for any person to face.
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