Ganondorf is Fine the Way He is


Warning: The following is my opinion. You are allowed to disagree. Feel free to sound off in the comments below. 

So it seems like now is a good time to discuss Ganondorf, and his representation in Smash. Recently, Relax Alax published his video on how he would change Ganondorf, and SmashGaf was debating this same topic. If you haven’t watched Relax Alax’s video, please do so now as I’ll be using that video as my main source of inspiration for this write up. Also, read Frostwraith’s article on Ganondorf. He explains why Ganondorf is the way he is far better than I will.


As you may have guessed from the title of the article, I think Ganondorf is a pretty swell character. While not all of his moves are one to one representation of moves he’s used in the past (though many are), his playstyle represents Ganondorf on a fundamental level. A lot of the suggestions that have come from fans could actually ruin this, and in my opinion, make the representation of Ganondorf even worse.

If I only included things true to the original source material, then there would also be times when things wouldn’t mesh well. I always reflect on things that went well and things I want to improve with every Smash, but I think it’s most important to prioritize a game’s enjoyability!  —Sakurai

Creating characters for Smash is extremely difficult. Sakurai might over do it, but he does take the task of accurate character portrayal very seriously. From drafting, modeling, animating and testing the process takes several months to complete. For more information about how Sakurai creates character, his GDC 2008 talk is perhaps the best place to start.

However, when creating characters Sakurai might not be able to portray them 100% accurate — a balance must be attained. If Pikmin and Olimar were much smaller, they wouldn’t be fun to fight against (Think Oddjob in Goldeneye). He’s gone on the record stating that in order to make Ridley playable in Smash, he would have to sacrifice too much of what makes Ridley…well, Ridley to make him a balanced character.

Anyway, let’s talk ‘Dorf. It’s no secret that he was a very last minute addition to Melee — one that was very lucky to get in. From a lot of coincidences (model already made, skeleton was similar to Captain Falcon, moveset could be derived from the racer), he was included with the other 25 characters. His position in the debug menu, and Sakurai’s comments might indicate he was the last (but that’s not 100% confirmed).

The reason that Sakurai decided to add the powerful dark lord to Smash was because of his high popularity in the If There Was a Smash 2 Poll. This is the first ever Smash ballot…and it seems that Sakurai manually counted the results before prepping Melee’s project proposal. Ganondorf was THE most requested Zelda character. He beat out Zelda, Sheik and Young Link by a wide margin. He probably chose Zelda and Sheik because of their unique gimmick — a similar reasoning can be found with the Ice Climbers versus the other characters that were considered for a ‘retro representative.’ To begin with, it might be safe to conclude that Sakurai didn’t have a particularly inspiring source of inspiration with Ganondorf…as he was originally ignored for less popular (but arguably more interesting) characters. Being a clone might’ve been the only way for the King of Evil to have gotten into Smash.

Let me in Smash…please?

From that history, it’s very difficult to change movesets in a big way. Sakurai probably doesn’t want to upset fans of the previous moveset, and it’d be jarring for casual fans of the series to seriously change up a character from one entry to the next. However, Ganondorf’s moveset is pretty representative of Ganondorf as a character overall. Frostwraith has written an amazing epic on the matter, which should be mandatory reading for Smash 101. In Brawl, the references were increased in a lot of ways most Smash fans have straight up ignored.

There are some common requests that I see for Ganondorf that would break him as a character — making him too overpowered, or making him a very annoying character to fight against. Dead Man Volley as a side special?? Do you want to make Smash into a 2.5D Fighter Pong game? That would be insanely hectic and potentially game breaking in 8 Player Smash (Remember the Melee Blackhole Glitches?). It wouldn’t be fun if someone just runs away and spams it. Other shots, such as Robin’s Lightning, have a recharge, and a very predictable path for their opponents. If Dead Man Volley is in the game… who does it go after? The closest character? Is it even fair if Ganondorf were to shoot it from right next to an opponent? What about traveling stages? The only way that Dead Man Volley could work is if they acted similar to Dedede’s Gordo, and traveled in a predictable path and had some recharge/ lag…which wouldn’t be accurate. Maybe it could work, after some major tweaking.

Ganondorf needing a sword is a request that straight up annoys me. First, when he was introduced in OoT, he didn’t wield a sword. His appearance in the Space World demo was the first instance of Ganondorf using a sword. This was the only canon appearances of Ganondorf before Melee was released. Second, there is some overlap between the people that complain that there are too many swordsmen in Smash and Ganondorf’s representation (some, but not all). Lastly, Ganondorf with a sword based moveset would probably need need to be like Ike, for balancing purposes. He’d need to swing the sword slowly, but it’d do a considerable amount of damage.

Another request: Ganondorf needs to hover. Honestly…he doesn’t. He’s hovered in Ocarina of Time, but he didn’t really hover in Twilight Princess nor Wind Waker. His slow, menacing walk is FAR more in character. Furthermore, if you increase his movement options, his power would need to be turned down. Ganondorf is the holder of the Triforce of Power….if he didn’t focus on power, he wouldn’t be accurate to the character. I know you some of you guys want better movement options so he has a chance of rising in the tier list, but Ganondorf and the rest of Smash just were not designed exclusively around 1v1 play on a select number of stages. As I’ve summarized before, Sakurai has to consider a wide range of variables when designing characters and balancing the game. Don’t even get me started on moving his moveset to Black Shadow. That’s not fair to Black Shadow, nor would it represent Black Shadow well.

Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter. Let me know what you think in the comments below and why you think differently. Remember, don’t flame other people in the comments. 

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  1. I agree with the idea that he doesn’t need a sword, but arming him with a trident (the OG Ganon Weapon), would be a neat thing to do in order to enhance his range, not for every attack clearly, but it can become a handy tool for balance him against other characters, by stopping them quickly and from a distance.

    But yeah, the whole idea of Black Shadow getting his moveset in order to make a new one for Gandulfo is just plain wrong.

    1. For a Trident moveset you don’t need to change Ganondorf. Just add Ganon himself! We have two Links and two Zeldas in Smash 4. So why no second Triforce of Power’ed one? 😉

      Great article! Completly my opinion. Ganondorf is perfect in Smash imo.

  2. Great article PushDustin, and all excellent points I see people brush off or deny all too often. That being said, I’d personally still like for Ganondorf to receive a couple more changes or even give him a sword like many want him to have. I could see him having a hybrid moveset where he still uses hand-to-hand combat and just adds in some sword swings. He could keep most of his current moves really, just add a few new ones to make use of the sword. His side smash for example could be changed to a 2 hit attack from his TP boss fight. The backhand punch, followed by a roundhouse swing from his blade. Maybe make his dash attack his running sword clash (also from TP). If it only changed a few moves I get that some would say that there’s no point if the sword is underutilized/not the basis of his whole moveset, but I think that fits the fighting style Ganondorf has been portrayed with.

    I think he actually could have a projectile in the from of the electric ball he uses in OOT and as Puppet Zelda in TP. It could be given a somewhat slow speed and be a stunning projectile similar to Dragon Fang Shot (which would stay true to the games as it briefly stuns Link). Though that may be what you’re referring to as Dead Man’s Volley; I always forget whether the name is attributed to that or the other magic based attack where he scatters multiple homing blasts. The latter I can perfectly understand as something to leave out as that’d be incredibly broken unless used as a Final Smash, and I don’t see that being changed from Beast Ganon unless Ganon (Classic trident pig ganon not the OOT/TP boar based ones) became a playable character as well. (Which I would really like but doubt will ever happen.)

    The only big issue I have with changing Ganondorf further at this point is that I’ve grown so used to his Falcondorf moveset. It’d feel strange if they replace the Warlock Punch, Wizard’s Foot, Flame Choke, “Volcano Kick” Up-Tilt, etc.
    But at the same time, as a Ganondorf main, and as someone who likes Ganondorf a lot outside of Smash (he’s among my favorite Nintendo characters) I still feel like they could do just a little more with him. If not though, I do agree with all the points you made, and I really wouldn’t be too bummed to see the same moves return, it’s what I’ve gotten used to after all.

    1. The homing electric orb is indeed Dead Man’s Volley. The name refers to the opponents hitting the orb back and forth until one misses. Push opposed it in the article because a homing projectile that paralyzes on impact and must be hit back and forth runs opposite to Ganon’s bait-and-punish style and would be disruptive to the pace of a game. It would be cool for Ganon to have the move in Smash, but it would definitely have to be tweaked in order to fit onto Smash Ganon.

  3. I would like to see another article of yours or another member on why you consider Black Shadow receiving Dorf’s current moveset being a disservice to the character as well.

  4. I agree that as-is, Ganon’s moveset portrays him as the manipulative powerhouse that he is in the Zelda games. Reads are crucial, and it’s important for Ganon to manipulate his opponent and find a “weak point” in the foe’s habits. However, at least in a one-on-one setting, Ganon has some flaws which hold him back from showcasing the true potential of this playstyle. What I’d like to propose is a change to Ganon which keeps him familiar to veteran players, reinforces his current playstyle while making it more effective, and adds some moves from Zelda too.

    Of course, before a moveset can be fixed, the problems must be identified. In Smash, Ganon is meant to be the ultimate bait-and-punish character. He waits for or baits out an opportunity, and then punishes it with attacks that can kill in five hits. His Flame Choke is a good example of this, as reading a foe’s tech option can net an extremely long string of Flame Chokes or even a KO with a strong attack. However, with Ganon’s power comes sluggishness in both attack speed and mobility. As such, he ends up being less effective at punishing mistakes than say, somebody like Sheik, who has long combos and the mobility to get them started. In a fighting game, power comes in many different forms, whether it be raw attack strength, combo potential, or the ability to overwhelm the opponent with lightning-fast moves and mobility. Those with raw attack strength often lack the speed needed to compete with faster characters, lessening their effectiveness overall. So for Ganon, I think that it’s worth exploring other kinds of “power,” and how they could play into Ganon’s core character traits and make him a force to be reckoned with.

    Giving Ganon Sheik’s mobility and weak-hit combos is, of course, a bad idea, as it would stray far away from his main concept. With that said, however, he could still use a bit of a speed buff; maybe his run could be about as fast as Link’s, and his aerial mobility could also be increased a bit. To compensate, his attacks could be made a bit weaker (which also helps balance out later additions to Ganon’s arsenal). However, Warlock Punch’s midair variant, Flame Choke’s startup, and Wizard’s Foot would be given launch resistance – this will be come relevant in a moment. Even with a slightly increased run speed, Ganon is not fit to punish attacks with a hit-and-run style, so how are we going to make him more capable of punishing mistakes?

    One of the major attributes of Ganon in the Zelda series is his ability to manipulate his opponent. [spoiler warning] In Ocarina of Time, he keeps tricking Link into thinking that he has won, and in Wind Waker, he even manages to trick Link into pulling the Master Sword and unleashing Ganon’s true power. In Smash, then, Ganon should be able to manipulate his opponent in a similar way. He will put the opponent into a tight situation, and then, right when they think they’ve figured out how to avoid it, Ganon will be right there waiting for them, predicting the opponent’s every kove.

    The key to implementing this idea into Ganon’s moveset, oddly enough, lies in Ganon’s hover – his new up special move. It’s similar to the old Dark Dive, except Ganon gains less height in exchange for a one-second-long hover, acting like a slower version of Palutena’s Jump Glide. While Ganon’s slow walk is menacing and iconic, his hover also shows his confidence. Ganon is above you, literally and figuratively, and he knows it. Besides recovery, Ganon can cancel this into any aerial attack, but not an air-dodge; thus, Ganon leaves himself open to attack if he just hovers around, but still has options out of the float. He will not enter helpless after canceling the hover, or after it ends. The main draw of the hover, however, is Ganon’s second set of special moves that he gets by pressing B + a direction while hovering. This may be more complex than some other Smash sets, effectively having four more special moves, but it is not unheard of. Rosalina and Luma have a different set of standard attacks, and the same goes for Zelda / Sheik and the Pokémon Trainer from Brawl. This is the ideal way, I think, to make Ganon familiar to those who played as him in the past but also give him new tools to use.

    Anyway, Ganon’s signature Dead Man’s Volley appears as his hovering Neutral Special, and it has indeed seen “some major tweaking.” After a lot of start-up time, he throws a giant orb of dark energy forward, at a slight downward angle. It does not home in on the nearest foe, though an aiming function could be implemented by holding up / down during the start of the move. The projectile deals a lot of damage, KOing at high percents, and is rather large too. Shielding the projectile is effective, as it deals surprisingly little shield damage given its raw power, and it can be knocked back at Ganon with a strong enough attack. Given these properties, running away and spamming the move is not an effective strategy, and shooting it at point-blank does not work due to its startup lag. The main use of this move is not as a way to score kills directly, but rather as a threat. By throwing his orb, Ganon forces the foe to react in some way, whether it be jumping, shielding, dodging, or hitting the orb back. With a read, Ganon can easily get a punish on the opponent. The super armor on Ganon’s other specials helps if the foe decides to hit it back, since he can simply power through the orb with a super-armored short-hopped Warlock Punch! Of course, if the foe decides to dodge, jump, etc, Ganon can be punished, so this is a very risky decision. A safer option might be to hold shield and punish with a tilt, or to use Flame Choke and power through it with a grab hitbox and less lag. Of course, the other options that the foe has can be punished in different ways, e.g. punishing a jump with a midair attack or anti-air. Given Ganon’s newfound ability to force a reaction, it makes sense that his raw strength would be lowered to compensate for this different type of power.

    Down Special while hovering has Ganon plummet down and slam the ground with his fist, creating a shockwave like in Ocarina of Time. The shockwave can stun the opponent like Zero Suit’s Paralyzer, but jumping is an easy way to avoid it. Ending lag makes it punishable if whiffed, but the stun means that Ganon can still land a follow-up attack. Ganon can force the opponent to jump with the threat of his shockwave, or if they commit to a grounded option, punish it hard with this move. Up Special could be a teleport, with short range to compensate for the hover. Another idea with the teleport is that Ganon could perhaps drag an opponent into a dark portal with him, and upon reappearing, perform an attack similar to this: As for Side Special, while this move is not strictly from Zelda, I think it could be neat to have Ganon raise his arm up forcefully, causing dark energy to erupt out of the ground in front of him. This would knock the opponent upward a short distance, allowing the hovering Ganon to perform an aerial follow-up. Another option could be to have him fire a multitude of smaller projectiles similarly to the Phantom Ganon battles from Wind Waker, but that may be too overwhelming, and also similar to the proper Dead Man’s Volley.

    Ganon’s other moves, save for some frame data buffs / damage nerfs, could stay the same. However, I’m not opposed to the idea of Ganon having a sword. It could appear / disappear when needed, such as summoning the sword for a second hit of Forward Smash ripped straight out of Twilight Princess, or he could pull it out via Down Special to enhance his Smashes, Specials, and possibly a couple of his Aerials, and use the move again to throw it away with a spin similarly to Pig Ganon’s trident throw. With that said, I don’t think that it’s entirely necessary given the changes described above, but it could still be a nice addition. I also agree that Ganon would likely have sword moves similar to Ike’s, especially if he were to use his Ocarina of Time or Hyrule Warriors appearance (as the swords in those games are even more massive than Ike’s Ragnell or Cloud’s Buster Sword).

    Overall, this is probably my ideal version of Ganon in Smash, all things considered. It stays true to Smash’s portrayal of the character while also drawing inspiration from Ganon’s canon appearances, and expands upon what Smash started. It makes him more viable for competitive play, and I also don’t think that it would be too overwhelming in free-for-alls (though admittedly, Dead Man’s Volley and the shockwave may be rather powerful in this setting; but then, the same can be said for other moves such as Bowser Bomb or Charge Shot).

    This comment turned out to be very long, but I hope that I’ve conveyed my ideas in a way that makes sense, haha.

  5. I honestly think that refusing to declone clones is a mistake.

    In any case, Ganondorf should have a slow walk, just make it look less….awkward.

  6. I made a moveset a while back that I think can satisfy both camps regarding Ganny.
    Feel free to check it out and comment on it.

    I agree that by changing certain moves, it could result in a completely different play style for Ganny. I remember Project Ganondorf and the magic form it gave him. And while did find the form fun to play, I couldn’t help but notice that I stopped using baits and punishes, I wasn’t playing carefully like I should be. He had good mobility and spacing for most of his attacks. I was playing a completely different character.

    1. I had a look at your gallery. I could read all the other movesets but the Ganondorf image is too small, even when you click the zoom button in the gallery.

  7. As a Ganondorf main, I have to agree with a lot of points in this article. Ganondorf’s brutal playstyle has always felt right to me. Considering he has the Triforce of Power, I expect him to come to Smash with an array of heavy-hitting moves to dish out heavy punishes on opponents who make mistakes. I also don’t really see a spot for him with a moveset that relies on his sword since Ike does fill that, though as I have said in the past, I would be okay with him bringing it out for a few more moves.

    When I see people talk about re-balancing Ganondorf, I get a little skeptical. I mean, I truly believe that Ganondorf is competitively viable, so maybe I’m not the right person to judge, but after I’ve spent so much time with the character, I have to wonder how these buffs people have mentioned would really affect him. Bannedorf says he could have a stunning projectile, but considering Ganondorf’s huge arsenal of KO moves, being able to immobilize an opponent for even a brief moment like that would make him extremely powerful. Munomario777 suggests that he has some launch resistance on his specials, but that would make him nigh unstoppable on the ground. even with less damage, and especially at lower levels of play. We already know the stories of how new players felt that Little Mac was overpowered because of his super armor on his smash attacks.

    This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be against a few buffs for him, though. I wish Dark Dive had a little more utility outside of building up damage, and it just feels odd being one of Ganondorf’s few moves that can rarely take stocks (I’ve taken more stocks with the uppercut you get when the move misses than with the move itself). If Flame Choke maybe had a little less cooldown when you landed it, especially the aerial version, it would be easier to cover rolls away from Ganondorf with a more appropriate move, but sometimes it’s hard to punish with anything other than another Flame Choke. That would help it be a more consistent kill setup, but would still rely on predicting your opponent’s movement.

    Ganondorf is a very high-committal character with exploitable weaknesses, but I do believe that if you can properly read your opponent, then there is hardly a better character to choose. He does have options to make this easier on the player too. If you can land a Flame Choke, your opponent only has four options they can choose, and Ganondorf can cover all of them with the right timing. When the opponent is off-stage, any of Ganondorf’s aerials can be fatal, and that can condition an opponent into rushing for the ledge, which Ganondorf can cover with a properly timed up-tilt (which is admittedly punishable if timed poorly). Opponents who shield too much have the risk of having their shields broken by several of Ganondorf’s moves, at which point even the slightest bit of percentage can mean their stock is already gone. Plus, despite what people may feel, Ganondorf does have a few simple combos that can rack up percentage reliably at low percents. Once the opponent is in mid percents, they are already at risk of losing a stock.

    Last thing I will mention: Frostwraith mentioned in the Discord chat an idea to overhaul Ganondorf, but keep his playstyle the same, giving him new animations and utilizing his more recent design in Hyrule Warriors, but keeping the his moves functioning similarly. That was an idea I could get behind, since it would ‘de-clone’ him while keeping his playstyle intact.

    1. I agree completely that Ganon should be focused primarily on power. However, raw strength may not be the best way to interpret this – as I pointed out in my comment, with raw strength comes slowness, and with slowness comes underpoweredness. Instead, I think that it might be a good idea to rethink *how* Ganon is powerful, and give him above-average power but place more of a focus on his ability to manipulate his opponent. This was the main focus of my comment, with the added launch resistance mainly meant to play into that (with his specials being a good punish to the opponent hitting back the Volley). If it proved to be too overwhelming, the moves could instead be given a special effect where they have very light launch resistance to normal attacks, but are also protected from a rebounded Volley in terms of knockback, and not damage. Essentially, the armor would become stronger if used against the Volley specifically.

      Ganon is all about proper reads, yes, but he is not the best character to pick in terms of punishing his opponent, I would argue – his punishes are strong, but other characters have strong punishes too because of combos, and also have the mobility to more easily begin them. Ganon’s sluggishness and poor recovery make him very risky compared to other fighters, whose high mobility stats allow for low-risk pokes, and his attacks also don’t combo barring throw follow-ups at low percents. His lack of movement and his slow attacks give Ganon a very hard time getting in, and his lack of speed also makes it harder for him to effectively put pressure on the opponent or punish mistakes from a distance.

      With the changes that I suggested in my post, Ganon is a lot more effective at pressuring his opponent using unique tactics. His new special moves can be used as effective threats, causing the opponent to panic and forcing a reaction. Since Ganon lacks mobility, his method of pressuring the opponent and forcing a reaction will be his long-ranged magic attacks. The Volley is deadly if it hits, but easy to react to. Thus, the opponent will always have to choose an option to avoid it, and Ganon has a way to punish each of these reactions. Similarly, the threat of the shockwave covering the entire ground can cause an opponent to take to the air – right where Ganon is hovering – and the hovering Side Special serves a similar purpose. Ganon still focuses on manipulating his opponent and punishing mistakes, but is now much more effective at doing so as he has actual tools with which to pressure his opponent.

      1. Ganondorf actually can combo off of down-air, and I’ve seen long strings of down-airs combined with footstools done before. He can also reset opponents who miss techs with the weak hit of his up-air, which can lead to practically any follow up. I’ve seen Gleed combo a reverse up-air into a down-air, but I haven’t practiced this myself to know if it’s actually true or not. Footstool into Wizard’s Foot also works. Obviously, even these in addition to the throw combos at low percents, there’s not a lot of variation, but Ganondorf isn’t the type of character who needs long combos or strings to get the job done.

        I understand that being slow is definitely not helping him, but it’s not a death sentence. Competitive play tends to favor faster characters, and it’d be ignorant of me to argue with that assessment given tournament results. However, I don’t think his playstyle needs to be adjusted to suit his competitive needs. Ganondorf relies on few combos or complicated setups, and most of his moves kill at reasonable or low percents. He’s perfect for someone like me who flubs combos very frequently and would rather read his opponent and get as much from each hit as possible. Adding more moves would very likely help, but it would still complicate his character. The comparison to Rosalina and Luma isn’t quite the same, as Luma’s moves function similarly enough to Rosalina’s that you’re not lost when you’re trying to control one or the other. And as for transforming characters, that was more a case of having multiple characters at once rather than giving any particular character more moves. As my last point, you have to consider the concept between a Sheik combo as being different from one of Ganondorf. Sheik has low damage and kill power across most of her moves, meaning she *needs* to land combos in order to get anyone to death percentage, unless the player prioritizes edge-guarding. Ganondorf, on the other hand, is a threat to the entire cast once they’re between 60% and 100%.

        1. I actually think it’s kind of funny that Ganondorf is probably strongest (relative to the rest of the cast) in Melee than he is in Brawl/S4. A lot of that has to do with how his base movement is slow, but just the addition of halved landing lag on aerials and the ability to waveland (both techniques being unlikely to be accessed by the casual player) make him at least not-bottom-tier competitively. Because traction being a function of wavedash speed obviously wasn’t part of his character balance, it actually ended up benefiting him and making him a better character 😛

        2. Ganon isn’t the kind of character who focuses on combos, I agree, but it’s his lack of speed that holds him back. The primary reason for this is not because Ganon lacks combos; the most detrimental effect of being slow is Ganon’s inability to move around in neutral. If an opponent messes up, Ganon will have a harder time punishing that mistake than somebody like Sheik, whose high mobility lets her get in quick and deal damage to punish. Ganon hits hard, but he lacks the mobility to be able to consistently land those hits. He has to work much harder for punishes than other characters do, and their lengthy strings of attacks often means that in effect, they can deal just as much damage or KO just as early. While yes, these characters rely on combos, that doesn’t mean that they’re not effective. Ganon’s lack of speed also makes him less threatening, as staying at a distance and camping him out can prove very effective. Sure, Ganon’s raw power can be scary when he’s actually in your face, but a good player will be able to avoid that situation due to Ganon’s sluggishness.

          With something like the Dead Man’s Volley, however, even though Ganon is still very slow, he now has a real, solid way to threaten his opponent. Ganon hits hard, and the orb forces a reaction, meaning that Ganon can punish whichever option the opponent chooses with the proper read. While it is possible as-is for Ganon to force a reaction, it is a lot harder for him to do so than it is for other characters, as somebody like Falcon can run in quickly and get in the opponent’s face. With the orb, Ganon now has something that can do that for him. He now has something that truly compensates for his lack of speed.

          Regarding the decision to add a second set of special moves, the purpose of this was to expand Ganon’s arsenal while still keeping his familiar set of specials. While it is true that characters such as Zelda or the Trainer are designed around having multiple characters, it also sets a precedent for characters in Smash having this level of complexity. The level of complexity is actually much higher in the case of those characters, as Ganon only gains four new attacks, whereas Zelda / the Trainer gain a lot more than that.

    2. “Last thing I will mention: Frostwraith mentioned in the Discord chat an idea to overhaul Ganondorf, but keep his playstyle the same, giving him new animations and utilizing his more recent design in Hyrule Warriors, but keeping the his moves functioning similarly. That was an idea I could get behind, since it would ‘de-clone’ him while keeping his playstyle intact.”

      Agreed. I want Ganondorf to play the same. Granted, I still wouldn’t mind dual swords & trident like in Hyrule Warriors – but as long as he still has the same playstyle Ganondorf currently does only with new animations and a slight change to compensate for his new weapons, I wouldn’t mind it either…

  8. I believe that it’s totally possible to declone Ganon in a way that makes him more true to the Zelda games without sacrificing his Smash playstyle. Bannedorf and Munomario have the right idea: keep most of Ganon’s current moves, but slightly change some to use his sword, and maybe change a special or two since Flame Choke is the only one that’s even remotely useful. I’d also like if improvements were made to his shield and grab games, as he currently has a small shield with bad out-of-shield options and a short-ranged grab with unrewarding throws. I don’t like that such an iconic villain is stuck with a largely ineffective moveset that’s cloned from Captain Falcon, and would love to see some sort of change that makes Ganon a better character and/or closer to his original games.

  9. I think that this article is fundamentally flawed in that while, yes, his playstyle may fit him, the moves don’t (excluding a few outliers) which is the major issue. It should not be as hard as you make it out since you already stated that it doesn’t have to be %100. Dead Man’s Volley for example could be a simple projectile, stunning optional, maybe even make him fire it down when in midair. No homing, no special reflection (though Dedede’s Gordos already do that so it has a precedent) just a plain old projectile that would go a long way into making him more in character.

  10. I think the broader issue here is that the amount of development time to completely overhaul Ganondorf, who has already changed so much since his appearance in Melee, is more than the Smash development team can handle. Each iteration of Smash gives the team a chance to tweak aspects of the returning veterans, but a complete moveset overhaul in addition to creating new characters is just too large of a task to please a small fraction of the total Smash fanbase who desire this change.

    1. He has not changed as much as say, Luigi though. One of Nintendo’s biggest villains deserves the dev time. Especially since Zelda is pretty used as far as characters go.

      1. Luigi has been in Smash since 64 so its no surprise hes received the most changes of ‘clone’ characters; but changing Ganandorf to a swords/ projectile character would mean the development team would essentially be starting from scratch.

        1. That’s just one more game. Besides, maybe they should start from scratch. If Zelda isn’t going to get a new character, I think it’s fair.

          1. From a game devs perspective, that would be a massive waste of resources that would be better spent making a new character than scrapping an old one.

        2. As I described in my comment that I posted above, I think it’s definitely possible to incorporate a lot of Ganon’s signature abilities and such while keeping a lot of his original moveset (i.e. not having to re-make every move from scratch).

  11. Its an issue of whether or not you believe characters should be majorly overhauled after their inception into the series. Personally, while I can certainly see casual players being confused by drastic changes to a character’s moveset between games, I don’t think its as big an issue as its made out to be. What are the actual negative repercussions of briefly confusing a few players? Casual players may have also been confused by the inclusion of more obscure characters they’ve never heard of, or the inclusion of clones, or the spiting up of characters who used to transform into each other, or the removal of certain characters who were in previous games. The only real negative impact I see in drastically changing a single character’s moveset is upsetting those who liked the old moveset. However cutting characters has the same issue yet its happened numerous times. Obviously you wouldn’t want to completely rework a large number of characters, just as you wouldn’t want to cut a majority of the cast. But I think Ganondorf is really the only character who truly needs this change, and I don’t believe the negative repercussions as being any greater than those of cutting a character, a clone no less.

    I understand why Ganondorf is the way he is, but that doesn’t automatically mean he’s well represented. Ganondorf isn’t a fist-fighter, he just isn’t. Ganondorf uses magic and swords primarily in every battle in the series, even in his appearances as Ganon his fighting style heavily relies on wielding a trident, using magic, and teleportation. Having a moveset that reflects a character’s character is all well and good, when there’s nothing else to go off. The Star Fox characters are expertly portrayed in this way with Fox being a ridged, by the books martial artist, Falco having a lot of the same fundamentals but being more prone to improvising and just doing what feels natural, and Wolf being much more aggressive, wild, and erratic in the way he fights. The Star Fox characters spend the majority of their games piloting ships and thus don’t have much in the way of moveset potential, thus having movesets that represent their character and how they differ from one anouther is one of the better options available. However Ganondorf doesn’t need some hamstrung made up moveset to cover for a lack of actual moveset potential, because potential is something he is absolutely bursting with.

    “Being a clone might’ve been the only way for the King of Evil to have gotten into Smash.”

    This is probably the biggest problem I have with your argument as it simply isn’t true. Being a clone was the only way for Ganondorf to get into Melee, NOT Smash a whole. Had Ganondorf been passed over for Melee and introduced as a newcomer in Brawl I’m incredibly doubtful his moveset would look anything like it does now. And therein lies the problem, Ganondorf isn’t keeping his moveset because it’s suitable, he’s keeping it because its established. Established under less than ideal circumstances with being able to get it done fast being prioritized over doing it right. The conception of Ganondorf’s moveset is fundamentally flawed, insofar as being true to the character is concerned. Regardless of the little tweaks made game to game his moveset is still a square peg that’s been forcefully crammed into a circular hole.

    He doesn’t need to have his moves be one to one with the games, very few moves in Smash are, but he should at the very least retain the same relative fighting style as he does in his games. Look at Ganondorf in Hyrule Warriors, the specific moves he uses are almost all completely made up, yet you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who claims he doesn’t feel like Ganondorf in spite of this. That’s because he still has a focus on weapons, magic, and references to Ganon. This is how Ganondorf fights, these are things I could see Ganondorf doing in a Zelda game. There’s more to power than the ability to punch really hard and there’s more to Ganondorf than Ganondorf = power. Smash Ganondorf is Ganondorf in name alone, and no amount of bandaids is going to fix that issue. While its perfectly fair and valid to prefer characters aren’t change drastically for the sake of consistency, I would personally prefer the ability to play as Ganondorf in Smash.

    1. “Briefly confusing a few players” isn’t quite telling of the whole story. Remember that Smash primarily sells to a casual audience that’s more likely to pick a character based on personal preference than based on how they play. And there’s a difference between introducing a new character and changing an existing character, since if there’s a new character you’re not fond of or don’t like playing, you can just not play that character. If you liked playing a character from a previous game and that character gets a large change to their moveset, you might not like playing that character anymore. You should also remember that cuts typically don’t happen intentionally, I don’t think Sakurai’s ever been working on a new Smash game and decided “X and Y character aren’t allowed to return”. Through his interviews on the topic, it’s more like there wasn’t enough development time to bring back all the characters they wanted, and they’d probably want to focus more on the characters that are likely to make a large impact and resonate with more people.

      I also find it interesting that you find Falco to be well represented, since Falco started as a direct clone of Fox before having aspects of his moveset changed. The same can be said with Ganondorf, and according to this analysis – – Falco and Ganondorf have roughly the same amount of moves in common with Fox and Captain Falcon respectively. I’m not arguing on whether or not Falco is well represented, I’m just curious what your criteria is.

      1. Given that there are fans of Ganon’s current moveset but also fans who want to see major changes, I think that the best route to take is to keep most of Ganon’s current kit, but replace one of his less interesting moves with one which completely changes how he plays (see my main comment).

        The main difference between Falco and Ganon, I think, is that Falco doesn’t have much at all in Star Fox to incorporate into a moveset, whereas Ganon has a lot that could be pulled from Zelda but isn’t.

      2. You can effectively think of reworking Ganondorf as both cutting an existing character and adding a newcomer. If people don’t like the new Ganondorf they can choose not use him, same as any other newcomer. If a player did like Ganondorf’s old moveset then they are losing out. Its unfortunate, but once again this is the case for every cut. At least with a cut like this you’d only be hurting fans of the moveset and not fans of the character, as the character would still be present in the game.

        Cuts obviously aren’t ideal, but I’m not sure there’s no precedent for assuming they can’t happen on account of issues beyond time constraints. Squirtle and Ivysaur come to mind. Smash For doing away with transformation as a mechanic is what I believe to be the most likely reason these two got the boot. Charizard stuck around as one of the most popular Pokemon in existence, but Ivysaur in particular really lacks the relevance to justify inclusion as a standalone character. Obviously this is nothing but assumptions on my part, but I really can’t see Ivysaur ever coming back so long as the transformation mechanic remains absent. That said, even if Falcondorf was barred from returning the option to give his moveset to anouther character would still be available.

        Regarding Falco vs Ganondorf, I really have no problem with clones as long as they make sense as clones. Mario and Luigi are brothers who play near identically in most games so them having similarities makes sense. Marth and Lucina are the same class and utilize the same weapon, they also share a bloodline so having the same fighting style is reasonable. For Fox and Falco both are Arwing pilots in the same squad who, like Mario and Luigi, play the same way apart from minor statistical differences in some games. Ganondorf doesn’t share anything with Captain Falcon besides his body type, I don’t consider that enough justification for making him a clone.

        My issue with Smash Ganondorf is that he doesn’t feel like Ganondorf, not that he’s a clone of Captain Falcon. It just so happens that a big part of the reason he doesn’t feel like Ganondorf is because he’s a clone of Captain Falcon. Basically I would still have an issue with Ganondorf’s moveset if Captain Falcon didn’t exist and the moveset had been made from scratch.

    2. Forgot to touch on this in my comment. but that second paragraph is spot-on. It’s okay to make up a bunch of stuff if there’s not much to work with for someone like Fox or Captain Falcon, but when you have a character which so many abilities seen in the games such as Ganondorf, it is a very poor decision to just give him a bunch of stuff he never had and claim it suits him because “Power”, especially when Ganondorf is not a fist-fighter.

  12. Consider for a moment the minor changes made to attacks in the various Smash 4 patches and how it affected Smash tournament play; from a fans perspective the changes youve suggested may seem minor, but from the perspective of a developer there may be severe balance issues that a fan would never have to consider.

    1. I am aware that balance is a virtual nightmare. That’s why he should get decent priority. He deserves it as much as any newcomer could. The veterans should be fixed first. He’s already had to go through two games as an unnecessary clone.

  13. I’m gonna be completely honest and blunt here, sometimes I feel that between multiple Falcondorf articles, the article justifying Wario being 90% WarioWare-focused and the articles defending Cloud and Corrin’s inclusions that sometimes this site might like to be… perhaps the best word for it is “contrarian” about things.

    I’ve read that first Ganondorf article and it really reaches to justify his whole moveset just because a couple of moves are ones he used in Twilight Princess. Stuff like Warlock Punch being based on Ganon backhanding Link in Wind Waker or suing Flame Choke in the air being his Ground punch from Ocarina of Time is really grasping at straws. Just because he has the Triforce of Power, doesn’t mean simply giving him powerful moves and calling it a day represents him well. Now, as for points brought up in this article:

    “Being a clone might’ve been the only way for the King of Evil to have gotten into Smash.”
    This is wrong though. While is true it was the only way for him to get into Melee, if he was never added he definitely would have been in Brawl, due to (his Gerudo form) appearing again in Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and that’s not even taking account you couldn’t just ignore the main villain of the Zelda franchise.

    “If Dead Man Volley is in the game… who does it go after? The closest character?”
    Who said it has to be homing in Smash? It could just fly in the direction you tilt the control stick and stay in that direction.

    “Another request: Ganondorf needs to hover. Honestly…he doesn’t. He’s hovered in Ocarina of Time, but he didn’t really hover in Twilight Princess nor Wind Waker.”
    I find this rather poor as there are many characters in Smash who have moves that only showed up in one game. Three of Zelda’s specials are based on spells that only appeared in Ocarina of Time and her new Down Special of having a Phantom aid her is something that only happened in Spirit Tracks. Mario’s Side Special is the Cape from Super Mario World, a power-up that hasn’t been seen again. Ganondorf hovering has even been acknowledged in Smash by his Melee taunt, which returned in later Smash games. I think I should clear up though I think he should only hover for a special, rather than replace his walk animation.

    “Ganondorf needing a sword is a request that straight up annoys me. First, when he was introduced in OoT, he didn’t wield a sword.”
    Kirby couldn’t copy abilities in Kirby’s Dream Land and Samus couldn’t use Super Missiles until Super Metroid. While does Ganondorf need to be held to what he could do in his first appearance?

    “Second, there is some overlap between the people that complain that there are too many swordsmen in Smash and Ganondorf’s representation (some, but not all).”
    “Lastly, Ganondorf with a sword based moveset would probably need need to be like Ike, for balancing purposes.”
    Many people (including myself) don’t want him to be a full swordsman, just have some moves involve it. This makes sense too as Ganondorf has been sword to be both a sword user and a dark wizard, so having only some of his moveset use the sword instead of all it is a logical direction to take it. I’d probably only have it show up in Smash Attacks and maybe some tilts/aerials, but that’s just me.

    “Don’t even get me started on moving his moveset to Black Shadow”
    I agree with this notion, but not for the same reasons. I don’t think it wouldn’t be fair to Black Shadow… I think it would be fair to F-Zero and it’s fans. Can you imagine: F-Zero finally gets a second playable character in Smash, only for it to be a clone, and not just that, but a moveset that’s already been in previous games. So even worse than a clone, a replacement clone.

    The fact is that, if Ganondorf was never a clone in Smash, literally nobody would be going “Gee, I wish they made him a slow but stronger Captain Falcon instead”. In fact, I guarantee that back when Melee was first announced, there was no-one thinking “If Ganondorf gets in he should totally be a Captain Falcon clone”. It feels like people defend it only because people complain about it. It’s sorta like with Color Splash how defenders cropped up after the backlash and were never this vocal when it Sticker Star being criticised, which didn’t much complaints until it was released (notice how Zip Lash wasn’t liked after it came out, but since it wasn’t loud nobody showed up to defend it?).

    Ganondorf is not right in Smash, and he never will be until he gets a fresh moveset that properly acknowledges his repertoire of dark magic, sword and/or trident and other abilitiies, not a slow Captain Falcon who uses dark energy instead of fire. I find the whole idea of trying to argue against a proper Ganondorf ridiculous and it makes me wonder how discussions of other characters would go down if they were made ill-fitting clones of other characters (Rosalina as a Zelda clone perhaps?).

    1. Also, forgot to reply to this part:

      “I know you some of you guys want better movement options so he has a chance of rising in the tier list, but Ganondorf and the rest of Smash just were not designed exclusively around 1v1 play on a select number of stages.”

      I don’t think it’s really fair to let a character be constantly awful in each iteration of Smash for the sake of “only being useful in a free-for-all”.

    2. On the topic of Source Gaming’s more “contrarian” articles, it honesty just seems like they’re trying to provide a differing viewpoint and insights, rather than going against the grain for the sake of it. With how much of an echo chamber the Smash fandom can be at times its valuable to at least get as sense of where the thinking behind certain decisions might have come from, even if it doesn’t actually change anyone’s stance on the subject.

      The amount of articles defending Sakurai’s decisions far outnumbering the amount of articles criticizing them can give the unfortunate impression that SG believes Sakurai to be infallible, but I think it’s just a matter of preferring articles that put a positive spin on things to articles that paint things in a more negative light. There also wouldn’t be much point to writing an article that simply reiterates stuff everyone else is already complaining about.

      In any case, they certainly don’t seem to believe Sakurai shouldn’t be questioned:

  14. Going through the new comments, I’d say that MunoMario777, MacargoMan and Mettaur all brought good points for why Ganondorf deserves to be changed as well. While I do think the SG team did bring up some valid points, I still think a character like Ganondorf could very well use the change, even if it means taking priority over a newcomer. At this point I do agree that many of the points in favor of keeping him a clone/semi-clone are a bit reaching and there are plenty if not more points as to why Ganondorf should be changed to better represent the character.

  15. Seriously, this is just pathetic. In this site it didn’t matter what shit is thrown at the screen by Sakurai, you guys will immediately jump in to defend him like you worship him or something alike. To you guys he does nothing wrong, but like so may others pointed out in the other comments your defense is flawed. Ganondrf is badly represented in a way which he does not need to be and at this point the only true reason why Ganondorf hasn’t changed is because Sakurai is to lazy to think of any other series besides FE and his own.

  16. I think the main problem with changing Ganondorf’s moveset is that, at least right now, he is based on his Twilight Princess look. Like noted in this and the other article, this makes his current power-based moveset relatively fitting, at least “feeling”-wise: in his final battle in Twilight Princess Ganondorf spends most of the time standing still, looking at Link menacingly and occasionally throwing out a strong attack (including purely physical ones like elbow strikes and the infamous Sparta Kick). Giving him Dead Man’s Volley or the ability to float would fit his original portrayal in Ocarina, but not later ones (that is, Wind Waker and especially Twilight Princess). Thus, I think a new official portrayal of Ganondorf (note that Hyrule Warriors is not strictly canon) or a new, Smash-specific design would be needed to actually consider giving him new moves without making him feel like a Frankenstein monster which just mixes and matches several Ganondorfs, especially if elements from boar Ganon and even stuff like Agahnim were thrown in.

    As a specific note, I don’t think giving Ganondorf a trident would fit him more, simply because the actual human Ganondorf never actually used one: Ocarina Ganondorf fights with magic (there’s Phantom Ganon, though), Wind Waker Ganondorf uses two (admittedly sai-like) swords, and Twilight Princess Ganondorf uses a single sword. I reiterate, Hyrule Warriors is not considered canon. If anything, I feel the trident should be reserved for boar Ganon, if he ever made a playable appearance; considering he has made continued appearances and is likely planned for Breath of the Wild, this doesn’t seem implausible.

    If anything, the moves I feel don’t really fit Ganondorf are the more agile-looking ones like hit midair jump, up aerial and up tilt; seeing a large man in full plate armor doing backflips is kind of weird.

    Lastly, as already noted I would not discount the history of his current moveset: by now, Smash Ganondorf is an official and recognized portrayal of the character, at least as Hyrule Warrior Ganondorf, he has dedicated fans (he’s definitely among my top favourites to play as, by the way), and a complete overhaul, especially if a large number of moves were to be changed, would run the risk of alienating them. If anything were to be changed, I think a Bowser-style revamp (with some new moves but his general feeling unchanged) could be the most appropriate way. (As a thought experiment, a while ago I tried to design a sword-based moveset ( which simply revamps most animations while keeping the moves themselves mostly intact.)

    1. Why are other characters (including other Zelda characters) allowed to be “Frankenstein monsters” with abilities spanning multiple games but Ganondorf isn’t? Why is weird to see a Dark Warlock use magic? Magic can’t be powerful?

      It’s not right to pander to Falcondorf fans while Legend of Zelda fans who rightfully want a proper Ganondorf get left in the dust. If they don’t like change they can pick up Captain Falcon, who is pretty much better than Ganon in almost every way.

      1. I’m sorry but if you’re implying that Falcondorf ‘fans’ aren’t also Legend of Zelda fans then you’re dead wrong.

        1. You know what else is dead wrong?: Thinking Ganondorf being a Captain Falcon clone is even remotely acceptable or a good service to his character.

          1. Apologies to Push for what’s essentially become a flame war in the comments section; I’d advise you learn the difference beyween personal opinion and blatant logical fallcy.

            1. Thinking Ganondorf’s moveset suits him because “it’s powerful and he has the Triforce of Power as as long there’s power involved it totally suits him!” is a blatant logical fallacy.

      2. I admit I did not fully consider how existing characters are sometimes indeed combinations of several versions and can even include moves from other characters. My main concern is that the fact that I feel the various Ganondorfs are more distinct flavour-wise that the various Links and Zeldas: Ocarina Ganondorf is the mage, Wind Waker Ganondorf is the elegant swordsman, Twilight Princess Ganondorf is the huge and menacing swordsman, and I feel giving one moves belonging to the others clashes way more than having Twilight Princess Zelda use moves from Ocarina and Spirit Tracks. This is why I proposed waiting for a new official Ganondorf or going the Hyrule Warriors way and creating a Smash-specific hybrid Ganondorf; after all, Pit (and Palutena) in Brawl shows that Smash-specific redesigns are a possibility.

        I cannot say anything worthwhile about your feeling that current Ganondorf is not Ganondorf: you and several others are not satisfied, PushDustIn and several others are, and I cannot see one of the sides being objectively, absolutely more “right” than the other. Actually, I don’t feel decisions can be considered definitely “right” or “wrong”, “good” and “bad” when dealing with a field like video games and entertainment in general. And I cannot see “just use Falcon” as a valid advice: I use Falcon, I like Falcon, but I just like Falcondorf much more than him.

  17. I had this idea of having Ganondorf two different styles, which he can pull out the sword and simply use it as a weapon by doing the down taunt. Changing this style can simply change is attacks and specials, and even few detailed portions like his other taunts and victory poses. I’ve thought this’ll make him more unique if possible, or simply let someone else use that idea if there’s any character who’ll volunteer. I think they’ve already done that part in Project M though…

    But in other words, I kinda agree with this article that Ganondorf is fine for what he is in Smash now. Although clones are really unacceptable at any point, I kinda sense Ganondorf’s movesets does fit perfectly to Smash as I’m now used to it seeing for what he is. Sure, none of his moves are even from the actual games, but that doesn’t mean anybody don’t have a right to use something new, like the Villager riding on a haniwa statue like a rocket, or even Wii Fit Trainer shooting projectiles. Sakurai needs to think what that character can do, and if there’s nothing from the original game, he needs to think of something new for what that character can do that’ll make sense. Plus since this is Smash, Sakurai wanted to make things well balanced so anybody can play things fairly, not doing something more cheatful. I really disagree on Ganondorf hovering and doing the Dead Man Volley (or whatever they call that thing) too. Because seriously, this is Smash, not Dragon Ball Z Budokai. Hovering will just simply make Ganondorf avoid every attacks easily, while the volley thingy is just a time waster. Sakurai doesn’t even want characters that’s meant to be overly powerful because that’ll make the game more unfair and unbalanced. Instead, it’ll be too boring. Although Sakurai doesn’t want to add in too many clones which he already knows players dislike them terribly, he needed to make Ganondorf into something more different than the original; sure he still has C. Falcon’s model, but at least tried hard to differentiate to the limit. Well, maybe he can add change him a little, but at this moment, I think this is his limit with Ganondorf so far.

    And for Black Shadow’s case…I think its difficult to think they’ll even bring another F-Zero character to Smash. Characters riding on vehicles as their main objective is quite difficult to think of what movesets they can use to make sense. Possibilities might end up everybody become C.Falcon’s clone if there’s no idea to think of. So, although I don’t want to have any expectations, its really hard to think what Black Shadow can do besides having replaced with Ganondorf at this moment.

    1. As far as I know Project M just turned Ganondorf’s sword taunt into a variation of Warlock Punch, since Warlock Punch itself has been removed. Something more similar to what you describe is the Project Ganondorf modification project, which, in addition to giving Ganondorf a stance change mechanic, solved the “Frankenstein” problem I noted above by making Ocarina Ganondorf a distinct character with his own magic-based moveset.

      As another personal note, I don’t really find clones “unacceptable” as a whole: apart from being, like Sakurai noted, pretty much freebies, I think that, given at least some meaningful differentiation, they can serve as an interesting variations of existing character concepts, such as Toon Link being mostly “light Link” and Roy being “close-range Marth”.

  18. “If I only included things true to the original source material, then there would also be times when things wouldn’t mesh well.”

    Reminds me of all the hypothetical King K. Rool movesets I’ve seen and how they’re almost all a 1:1 likeness to his moves in the actual games. Makes me feel like some are making movesets for the sake of making it plausible for the character to be in Smash, but nothing that makes the guy stand out from others or make him unique.

    As for Ganondorf? I say if they’re going to do any changes, at the very least take a bit of a look at Hyrule Warriors. It balanced Ganondorf out a bit there and there’s even some references to Smash Bros. We ARE in need of a dual-wielding swordsman, and I’m sure there are a number of moves that can be replaced – I just don’t see his specials barring down B and forward tilt ever being replaced if they do go through with that.

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