Since launch, Palutena has been widely regarded as a top-tier character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She has some of the best tools in the game to control neutral, pressure opponents, juggle and KO. This makes Palutena a top contender in the metagame.
Palutena has moves which either fill a niche well or can serve more than one purpose. Such moves are her neutral air, back air, grabs, dash attack, forward air and up air. According to ultimateframedata.com, they also have good frame data. Most moves in her kit have adequate utility, but these six options have proved to stand out.
Her Best Moves
Palutena’s neutral air comes out on frame five, lingers and combos into itself and some of her other attacks. In patch 7.0.0, the hitbox size was reduced in an attempt to make the move more balanced. The K-O potential was also reduced through lowering the knockback scaling of the last hit. Despite the nerfs, neutral air is still one of her most potent attacks.
Her dash attack comes out on frame six and has invincibility frames on her head, torso, and arm. Her forward air comes out on frame nine, is only minus three on shield and true combo into her dash attack at low percents. The move can also finish some of her combos, such as after a string of neutral airs.
Back air is arguably Palutena’s best spacing tool. The move has an eight frame startup, is only minus five on shield, has a large hitbox, gives five frames of shield stun and is invincible on her arm on frames seven through ten. And challenging the move in hopes for a trade will prove difficult. This makes the move, when spaced, frustrating to punish.
Her up air, which has a 10 frame startup, can juggle opponents. The move has active during frames 10 to 22, and the second hitbox lasts on frames 24 and 25. The lingering hitbox makes her up air difficult to air dodge through.
Palutena has combos from her down throw, such as the ability to start a chain of neutral airs from them. She also has a sizeable grab range where a lot of characters had theirs nerfed from Smash 4.
Her Other Moves
Palutena has two projectiles. Her side special, Explosive Flame, is a multi-hit which can cover two different distances. This move is used to cover space, and it can also K-O at higher percents. Her neutral special, Autoreticle, places a target to where the opponent is and then fires energy blasts. This move can stop reckless approaches, and can be mixed in with her standard pressure game with her air moves.
Her down special serves as both a counter and a reflector. This design choice is unique to Palutena in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Her up special, Warp, is a teleport recovery which covers some distance. Like other teleports, Warp only leaves Palutena vulnerable during the beginning and end of her teleport animation. Unlike Zelda, Palutena does not have the luxury of having a hitbox after teleporting. Palutena is more likely to receive a two-frame punish as a result of that.
Her up smash, which comes out on frame 18, can two-frame with its lingering hitbox. It is active on frames 18-35. The move can also K-O early.
Her forward tilt and up tilt can poke opponents with their large hitboxes. They come out slow, however; as both moves come out on frame 14. Although these moves can be used as mix-ups to keep space, pressuring from the air and with her projectiles is better.
In New York alone, Alan “Gen” Soriano, David “Utopian Ray” Estrada and Faye “Frozen” Somma have all achieved top-level results with Palutena. In Japan, Jagaimo and Compact also both have top-level results. PGR ranked players such as Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, Yuki “Etsuji” Kajihara, Ezra “Samsora” Morris, Spencer “BestNess” Garner and Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura ether co-main Palutena or have her as a strong secondary.
As she possesses a toolkit with few weaknesses, it is hardly a surprise to many that Palutena has been a long staple of the metagame. She is debated as the best character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, along with the likes of Joker or Pikachu.
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