This week I learned Ridley, a character with a weird set of tools that could make him the bane of top tiers.
Preconceptions on Ridley
For the longest time fans wanted another character from Metroid to be added to Smash. For years we begged for Ridley, Samus’ primary antagonist and one of the most fearsome villains in all of Nintendo history. But creator of Super Smash Bros Masahiro Sakurai said that wouldn’t be possible, because “Ridley is too big.” Ridley had a few minor apperances in the series but with the release of Smash Ultimate he was finally able to inflict terror on the Smash Bros Universe.
However, this hasn’t been the case in the competitive scene. Upon the release of Smash Ultimate Ridley was quickly identified to be nothing more than a mid-tier. Ridley is one of the largest characters in the game but being big is a curse in competitive Smash. Having a large hurtbox makes you easier to combo compared to other characters. But unlike other big characters such as Bowser and King K. Rool, Ridley instead weighs as much as Wario. This makes him combo food while still being susceptible to dying much earlier than other super heavies.
While that is a pretty significant weakness, Ridley makes up for it in several unique ways. Out of the 86 characters that are in Smash Ultimate, only a few can come close to how deadly Ridley is at edge guarding. Having multiple jumps and massive hitboxes means that if Ridley sends you off-stage you’ve entered the space pirates preferred domain. Ridley is also the 11th fastest character on the ground which when combined with one of the best dash attacks in the game means you’re never safe from Ridley in neutral. Ridley is a very polarizing character but when his strengths outshine his weaknesses he can dominate in a way few other characters can. With the rise of new threats such as Pyra/Mythra, Cloud, and Min-Min does Ridley have a place in Ultimate’s metagame? Let’s see what I learned.
Ridley Training Mode
Ridley is one of the least complicated characters I’ve played so far in my Character Crisis but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you need to practice with him. Perhaps the first thing every aspiring Ridley main must understand is his up-special. While this move may look very similar to the likes of Fox and Wolf, the reality is it has very different properties. This move is not omnidirectional like his spacey counterparts and only has 4 angles from which you can choose. Learn where these angles will send you and be mindful of where Ridley is facing while choosing a direction.
While this aspect of the move is very limiting, Ridley has a very dangerous technique he can pull off thanks to the fact that this move can spike opponents. When standing near the ledge you can Up-B angled downwards and spike anyone who isn’t fast enough at grabbing the ledge. Be careful though if you hold the control stick down for too long Ridley will sail past the ledge and you’ll send yourself to an early grave. Down-Throw can also setup for tech chases on platforms around 50%. Simply charge Up-Smash to hit them no matter what they choose or go for the hard read and skewer them for massive damage.
Instead of practicing long combos with Ridley, the work that comes with playing this character comes in creating a gameplan. Ridley is terrifying when the opponent is stuck on the ledge so as the Ridley player you should be trying to put yourself in that position as much as possible. Finding openings to send your opponent off-stage should be the goal of most interactions and then keeping them there as long as possible. Ridley struggles to find the first hit so your goal should be trying to get your opponent to over extend using baits and feints. But once you find yourself in advantage state strike some fear in your opponents heart and never let them get back on stage. I hope you’ll enjoy some of the terror I was able to inflict upon my foes in this combo video I made.
Ridley Combo Video
Ridley Tournament Report
Ridley was a character that I didn’t expect to like as much as I did. For some reason Ridley clicked with me. The character had a very simple win condition which I could reliably execute and I was just having fun with him. Ridley climbed to the top of Elite Smash surpassing my previous best character in Donkey Kong. But going into the tournament prior experience had taught me that Elite Smash kind of doesn’t matter. At the very least I was confident in my Ridley’s capabilities and was excited to compete!
Round 1 Winners – Sano
Sano is an opponent I’ve never faced before who plays Joker. Joker is a character I feel very comfortable fighting against because I have a strong gameplan of how to beat him. If I can get Joker into disadvantage by the time Arsene comes online Ridley has enough tools to keep him there long enough to stall it out. Sano has an insane mash but ultimately I was feeling really good about how I was playing and took the set 2-0.
Round 2 Winners – VaLor
VaLor is the 4th best player in the state and is an opponent I have faced before in this series. Back when I was maining Roy I fought VaLor and almost took a game off of him. I was playing great but once I realized I was that close to taking a game off a PR player my focus slipped and I ended up losing the set. As Ridley I vowed it would be different and instead opted to only focus on what was currently happening and not get distracted by what ifs. In game 1 VaLor takes an early lead but due to matchup unfamiliarity I’m able to steal his first stock. From there it goes back and forth until I get a killspark and nearly win game 1. VaLor ultimately takes the first game and eventually the set but the difference in mentality in this set compared to Roy was so much better. I felt focused and locked in and while I wasn’t able to clutch out a game I’m very proud of how much progress I’ve made in just a few months.
Round 3 Losers – AJW
Up next I had to fight a Diddy Kong player and this was when Ridley’s weaknesses became very obvious to me. Something I recognized while playing Ridley is there is a difference between characters that I’m going to call consistent vs creative comboers. When playing against Mythra she’ll combo you up to 60% everytime she lands a hit but she usually doesn’t get more than that. Because Ridley is heavier than the average character the combos they do to Ridley hurt less than they would on lighter characters. Creative combo characters, however, will vary in how much damage they can dish out based on factors such as the size of the character they are fighting. In Ridley’s case his worst nightmare is creative combo characters and nobody does it quite like Diddy Kong. I get 3-stocked game 1 and while I put up a slightly better fight in game 2 it’s still not close at all.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into Ridley. I knew very little about this character and never see him at a top level. But after getting a chance to play as him I was very surprised by how much I liked about the character. He certainly has his flaws but in matchups where Ridley can edge guard he can push his strengths in such a way to minimize his weaknesses. This is why I feel that Ridley is a great anti-meta pick. A lot of the current top tiers excel in many areas but are weak when it comes to being off-stage. Ridley can exploit that weakness unlike any other character in the game and often outranges them even if they have a sword. And while he may be lighter than he looks it’s not like he’s a featherweight. Wario is still a heavy guy and I found myself living to really high percents consistently.
Ridley may be a mid-tier but I think that has far more to do with how volatile his matchup chart can be than specific flaws with the character. Give a Ridley player the right bracket and I believe they can go very far. The matchups he loses can be very difficult but he wins some matchups against relevant characters in a dominating fashion. Ridley surprised me with how much I liked him and by the end of the series I wouldn’t be surprised if I pulled him as a counterpick against certain top tiers.
But my Character Crisis is still just getting started. And now you can join me as I have started streaming right here on YouTube! You can catch me live from 3-7 PM MST every weekday playing as the character who you voted for. You can find the link to the next poll in the description. My villain arc isn’t over as it’s time for me to play as the original villain of competitive Smash Bros, the infamous Meta Knight. See you on Tuesday!