King K Rool was a huge favorite to get into Super Smash Bros for years and now he’s finally playable in Ultimate. Hailing from the Donkey Kong Country series, K Rool is a Nintendo OG and definitely deserved a spot on the roster. Early on K Rool looked like a very strong character with devastating kill power. And while he does have some good tools that make him hard to deal with, he isn’t as great as many may think he is. Today we will investigate just how good King K Rool is in Smash Ultimate.
One Hefty Boy
King K Rool is the second heaviest character in the game and that alone gives him a pretty good advantage over most opponents. Ultimate’s engine gives heavy characters access to much better mobility than previous games. They are the best they’ve ever been in Ultimate and King K Rool uses this mobility to his advantage. His weight allows him to live to insanely high percents. While this is a huge benefit, being so heavy does have it’s weaknesses. Just like other heavy characters, K Rool gets combo’ed very hard and can often struggle to land. He can very easily get juggled and can struggle to get out of disadvantage.
A Moveset Fit For A King
King K Rool has a very volatile kit that can put opponents into some tough situations. All of his normals have big time kill potential. His jab comes out pretty quick and serves as a good “get off me” tool. All of his tilts are very strong and can be applied in many ways. Forward tilt is a pretty decent out of shield option and deals good knockback. At mid percents it can force opponents into disadvantage and give K Rool the upper hand. At higher percents it will kill especially if done near the ledge. Up tilt is a decent move that can be used as an anti-air to keep opponents from trying to land on top of you with an aerial.
Down tilt is where things get interesting. It’s a stomp that instantly buries the opponent leaving them open for an attack. Of course the bury can be mashed out of, but the higher the percent is, the longer the opponent stays buried. At low percents it usually leads to a guaranteed jab, or forward tilt. At higher percents it’s almost certain death, as it can lead to a smash attack. His smash attacks are all quite devastating.
Forward smash is a strong punch that deals big damage and knockback. This move is very dangerous when used together with good dash-dancing. Down Smash is very strong and absolutely devours shields. A shield with just about any damage will break taking the move. Up Smash is a decent anti air that also does big damage. it’s best used when your opponent is above you, since the landing hitbox is fairly easy to react too. K Rools throws are pretty standard with the exception of down throw which is another burial move. Forward throw throws the opponent forward, and back throw throws them backward. Up throw is a jumping back breaker that kills at higher percents. Back throw near the ledge will also kill at higher percents.
K Rool’s aerial game is dangerous when applied correctly. His forward air is a strong drop kick that can be used as an offstage pressure tool. It’s not the fastest, but it can intercept recoveries, and give opponents trouble offstage. Down air is used to spike opponents trying to reach the ledge from underneath K Rool. It can 2-frame the ledge and can also intercept most vertical recoveries if traded with. Neutral air is a decent combo starter, and is one of K Rool’s best landing tools.
It does decent damage and is a good trading tool in the neutral. Lastly back air is for hard punishing opponents trying to recover. It’s a devastating spike similar to Mario’s forward air. It should not be used in the neutral and should be saved for hard reads offstage, or intercepting weak recoveries. All of these moves are pretty good on their own, but they get even more interesting when considering K Rools Armor mechanic. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Keep Em Out
K Rool is a very unique heavy because he can very effectively zone with projectiles. Neutral special is a cannonball shot from his Blunderbuss. The ball moves slowly but can be used as an approaching tool. The gun also sucks nearby opponents in and shoots them back out, which can be very useful. Side Special tosses k Rool’s crown at the opponent. The move acts like a boomerang, as it has a returning hitbox after it’s tossed. This move is one of K Rool’s biggest tools in the Neutral. It can help you approach, force approaches, and aide in ledge trapping.
The crown can be picked up by opponents however, and K Rool wont have access to it until either he picks it back up, or until it disappears. If the opponent can successfully take the crown it, they now rob K Rool of one of his biggest tools in the neutral. Down special is a counter that also reflects projectiles. It does decent damage and is very useful against other projectile characters. Up special is his helicopter helmet that steadily propels K Rool upward. It has a big hitbox at the top of his head that is very hard to mess with while he recovers. However the recovery is linear and this is his only recovery move.
Many of K Rool’s moves benefit from his polarizing belly armor mechanic. Certain moves have armor if the opponent hits K Rool in his belly. This allows for K Rool to safely use certain kill moves without fear of getting punished. Forward tilt being a great example since it’s such a quick and strong move. K Rool can afford to trade with opponents because he can use his armor to tank a hit. However it isn’t fool proof.
K Rool’s belly cracks when it takes a hit, and can only survive two cracks before breaking. The game treats this like a shield break, which means you’ll be left wide open for a free punish. Even worse is that the damage done to the belly is based on how strong the move you get hit by is. The armor can survive about three or four weak hits like jabs, tilts and most aerials. But stronger moves like charged smash attacks, and super strong moves like Ganon’s warlock punch, will break the armor in one hit. It’s all damage based which means trading with stronger characters is almost certain death. Luckily the armor does heal after a short period.
Most of K Rool’s moves have this Armor property, even one of his taunts have it. The armor can be very useful and can even get him out of disadvantage. Neutral air is a great example of this. It’s already a good landing tool, but it’s more enhanced with the armor. So armor is a pretty interesting concept, but is it really that good?
The King’s Downfall
The armor mechanic is interesting but is honestly too much trouble for it’s own good. While it is useful if applied correctly, it does put you at risk of basically getting an instant shield break if you’re not careful, especially against other heavy characters. When your armor gets too damaged to take another hit, you now lose access to almost half of your move-set, from the fear of taking a trade you can’t afford. Being able to die at 40% as a heavyweight, because your neutral air traded with Ganons forward smash, heavily outweighs the benefit of the armor. It’s so easy to forget that you can’t tank certain hits and end up dying just for playing neutral. Of course this can be worked around but it just adds one more downside to the character.
King K Rool is very Gimmicky. His projectiles give him some of the most exciting gameplay we’ve ever seen in a heavy. His armor can bail you out of a tough situation, his down throw and down tilt bury opponents and are certain death at high percents. K Rool’s aerials are great and have the potential to destroy opponents off stage. However K Rool struggles to land, gets combo’ed easily and has a mechanic that can get him killed insanely early. He certainly isn’t a bad character, but he definitely isn’t top tier. As it stands, I see him as an upper mid-tier character. Maybe, (huge maybe) bottom of high tier. Either way K Rool is a very fun character, and a wonderful addition to the Super Smash Bros roster.
Featured image courtesy of youtube.
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