This guide is a general overview of Cloud for Smash Bros Wii U/3DS. It covers his moveset and general playstyle. Note that I used Mario for testing.
Cloud is a DLC character for Smash 4. He's the main character from Final Fantasy VII, a popular FF game (some would say THE most popular) from a popular franchise. He wields the mighty Buster Sword, but it does not hinder his mobility in the slightest. In fact, his combination of speed and power make him a threat, and some players even think that he's top tier, despite not being out for very long.
Cloud's moveset is lifted directly from his game, namely his limit breaks. He has a special meter that he can charge at will, and he also gains meter by dealing and receiving damage. The Limit mechanic is similar to Little Mac's KO meter, but with one critical difference: Cloud can sit on a full meter indefinitely. This, combined with the ability to charge the meter manually, makes Cloud one scary individual. All Limit Break versions of his moves are powerful, so the opponent must approach with caution at all times.
Frame Data (Thanks LordWilliam1234)
Good power and speed. He's comparable to Little Mac, though he isn't quite
as strong or as fast.
Limit Break can be charged anytime, and Cloud also gains meter by giving and receiving damage. The best part is that he keeps the charge once he has it, and there's nothing the opponent can do about it. Limit Break also gives Cloud a small boost in movement speed.
Lots of disjointed hitboxes due to the weapon.
Possibly the best recovery in the game with Limit Break charged.
Weak recovery, unless he has Limit Break. Not only does Climhazzard lack any forward movement, he doesn't snap to the ledge on the way up. Instead, you must wait for the move to finish before Cloud grabs the ledge; this means if you don't find the "sweetspot," it's possible for the opponent punish your recovery attempt. Oh, and if you happen to press B again during Climhazzard's upward motion, you'll activate the second part of the attack...which doesn't grab the ledge immediately. Whoops!
Fair amount of end lag on his moves.
No kill throws, and poor throw range. Cloud's throws can't be used to start any decent combos.
Neutral A (8%):
Clould performs two kicks and then slashes with his sword. He has one of the slower jabs in the game, and it also has a lot of end lag for a jab. Not something to rely on.
Forward Tilt (11%)
: Cloud performs a slash in front of him. Decent poke. Launches a fair distance at higher %.
Down Tilt (6% close, 7% far)
: A slide attack. Useful approach tool for getting past small projectiles and to punish projectile usage. Just be careful using this against a shielding opponent, or you're gonna have a bad time. Proper spacing will reduce your chances of getting punished.
: Upward slash. At low %, you follow up with another attack such as another u-tilt, or u-air (the better choice). U-tilt's wide hitbox will also catch people standing behind Cloud, similar to Mario's u-smash.
Forward Smash (3+2+13%):
A 3-hit slash. It has some startup, but it's possible to catch mistimed spotdodges. F-smash will break shields at ~50% capacity.
Up Smash(13% front, 8% back):
Upward swing. Don't rely on this too much to KO. Due to its wide hitbox, use it to keep multiple opponents at bay in teams/FFA. The front of the attack launches the opponent up, while the back hit sends the opponent away.
Down Smash (4+12%):
Cloud strikes at both sides of him, first with the sword pommel, and then with the blade. What makes this move particularly good is the launch angle. It doesn't have much start or end lag either.
Dash Attack (11%, 8% late hit):
Cloud does a sort of tackle with his sword in front of him. Due to how Cloud holds the sword, it protects him completely from the front, but it's highly punishable if he misses or if it's blocked.
Neutral Air (8%):
Cloud swings his sword in a circular motion, making it a great tool for harassment/keeping opponents away and protecting Cloud from projectiles. You can short hop this move and not suffer any landing lag.
Up Air (13%, 9% late hit):
A key move in Cloud's arsenal. It's possible to land this move just before Cloud hits the ground, allowing for various combos. Use U-air to annoy/frustrate your opponent as they try to get back on the ground. Cloud holds his sword above him and its hitbox lasts a while, so there isn't much the opponent can do to stop the move once it's out. You can short hop U-air and not suffer any landing lag, which is why it works so well.
Down Air (15% sweetspot, 13% medium hit, 8% late hit):
Downward thrust. There are 3 parts to this move. The most damaging part--and the part that spikes--is right at the start of the move, where Cloud thrusts the sword downward. The medium hit occurs immediately after the sword is out. And finally, the late hit occurs while the sword is lingering. You aren't likely to get the spike consistently, but the medium hit is pretty strong too, so d-air is worth using. It's active for a long time, so you can use it to recover back to the stage whenever the opponent tries to keep you airborne. Full-hop d-air doesn't suffer any landing lag.
Forward Air (14% sweetspot, 13% medium hit, 11% late hit):
Known as Braver in FF7. Like d-air, f-air also has 3 parts. To land the spike (14%), you must hit right at the end of the attack while the swing arc is still visible. If you hit early, you'll do the medium hit. The late hit occurs when the sword arc is no longer visible, but the sword is still glowing. It may be easier to land the spike if you think of f-air as a Marth tipper. Don't get too caught up over landing the spike, though; the medium hit has sufficient KO power.
Back Air (13%):
Decent. Its arc is fairly wide, so hitting most short characters shouldn't be a problem. Some sword users have stronger b-airs, such as Ike.
Forward Throw (7%):
Nothing special about f-throw. Weak.
Cloud's b-throw is not a kill throw, unfortunately.
Up Throw (8%)
: Cloud's strongest throw. At low %, use it to follow up with u-air.
: d-throw is weird in that Cloud sends the opponent in the opposite direction he's facing. Don't forget this if you intend to combo with this throw. You have few options; at 0%, your best option is Cross Slash. At ~30-45%, you can land a b-air.
Neutral B - Blade Beam (6% ground, 4% air, 19% ground LB, 15% air LB):
Blade Beam is a solid projectile. It has a wide hitbox, and can be used for edgeguarding. Cloud is wide open after using this move so make sure you use Blade Beam at a safe distance. If the opponent jumps over the projectile towards you, you can try for a f-smash if you think they'll land in front of you. The air version of BB does less damage and doesn't travel as far.
LB Blade Beam is a monster. Getting the opponent off the stage is a prime opportunity to throw this out. It does great damage and knockback at high %, and it can't be stopped by other projectiles. It also does 5 hits, so the opponent must take care not to drop their shield early.
Up B - Climhazzard(15% max, 13% LB):
As a recovery move, Climhazzard is one of the weakest. It doesn't have much height, and it has zero horizontal distance. Even worse, Climhazzard doesn't snap to the ledge; a poorly timed up B can result in Cloud "peeking" over the ledge before he actually grabs it. During this state, the opponent can hit him with pretty much anything. The key to using Climhazzard safely is to find its "sweetspot"; input the command at a point where Cloud grabs the ledge at the apex of the move. Take some time to learn its max height. Alternatively, if you check this video
, it's possible to snap to the ledge before the move even comes out.
Climhazzard's downward strike must be performed manually with B, and it can only be used during the upward strike. This move does not grab the ledge immediately, so take great care in using this move. The downward strike is a spike; one cool trick you can do with it at the stage edge is to use the move to grab the ledge while the opponent tries to recover to the stage. If you do it right, you'll spike the opponent, and you'll grab the ledge. Watch this video
for a demonstration.
When you have Limit Break, Climhazzard is arguably the best recovery move in the game. It has extreme height and horizontal distance, and it snaps to the ledge. Its only downside--besides the fact that you must have a full LB meter--is that it isn't possible to combo into the downward strike, and the follow-up doesn't have any special properties. It's a moot point however, as you shouldn't be using LB Climhazzard to attack the opponent.
Side B - Cross Slash (19% max, 26% LB):
Cloud performs a slash in front of him. If he hits the opponent (shielding or otherwise), you can follow up with 2 additional attacks by pressing B twice. Cross Slash doesn't KO until very high %, meaning it should only be used for racking up damage at low %. When performed in the air, Cloud moves forward a bit, but subsequent Cross Slashes will not move Cloud further. As the opponent's damage builds up, Cross Slash becomes less reliable as it's possible for the opponent to DI out of the move.
LB Cross Slash, on the other hand, is very good. All 5 hits are performed at once, and the opponent can't escape once they're hit. One tactic to try is to run off-stage as the opponent tries to recover, and use LB Cross Slash on the ledge. If successful, you will cause the opponent to be stage spiked into oblivion.
Down B - Limit Break Charge:
Cloud manually charges his Limit Break meter. Charging is very slow, but you can cancel it immediately by shielding, rolling (which Cloud will do by simply pressing left or right during the charge), or by pressing B. You should be looking for opportunities to charge LB, as once it's fully charged, you keep it forever until you use a B move. While Cloud has the charge, he gets increased movement speed, so it's always beneficial to charge whenever possible. If you input the command while LB is charged, Cloud will perform Finishing Touch.
Down B (When Limit Break is charged) - Finishing Touch(1%):
Don't let the 1% fool you: this move is a killer. In FF7, this move resulted in instant death. In Smash, it won't kill at 0%, but it can KO very early. Finishing Touch will hit the opponent at either side of Cloud. It's even better in the air since the opponent will be closer to the blast zone. If you happen to miss, nearby opponents will get blown away by the move's windbox. Finishing Touch has some weaknesses; Cloud is very vulnerable after this move, so you have to make sure you read the opponent's moves correctly before unleashing it. Also, the move has some startup, so the opponent has a chance to jab you out of the move.
Players will have different ways of using Cloud, but the one constant is this: always charge Limit Break. There's no downside to having a fully charged meter as it does not expire, and it gives Cloud a movement boost. Sit on the Limit Break for as long as you can, and only use it when you think you can score a KO. Expect the opponent to try to get you off-stage in order to get you to use your LB Climhazzard, because without it, Cloud's recovery off-stage is poor. Keep in mind that Cloud will gain meter if he takes or deals damage, so you never have to charge for very long before you're maxed out.
N-air is a solid tool for keeping the opponent away and off the stage. Short hop n-air doesn't suffer any end lag, so use it as much as you want. Since n-air is disjointed, you can use it to eliminate small projectiles. Another option for dealing with projectiles (besides Blade Beam) is d-tilt. Cloud's slide is low enough to go under most projectiles; just don't try to side under things like fully charged projectiles or Cloud's own Blade Beam.
U-air is useful because not many characters can challenge it due to the disjointed hitbox above Cloud's head. Once you have the opponent in the air, do your best to keep them up there as long as possible. It will even kill once the opponent's % is high enough. U-air can be performed low to the ground; at low %, u-air can be used to initiate combos.
Cloud's recovery is unambiguous. Once you're off the stage, expect to have a hard time getting back, which is why it's essential to have Limit Break charged often. Cloud may be a powerhouse, but it's equally important to be able to survive. Learn the maximum height for Climhazzard so you can snap to the ledge as early as possible. You don't want to be in a situation where Cloud "peeks" over the ledge, thus opening yourself up for pain. Check out Mew2King's video posted above to learn an alternate method of recovery.