The Kaeru Shinobi: Greninja Guide

The Kaeru Shinobi: Greninja Guide

Applicable Games
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U

My name is Pokémonye West and I will be attempting to create an up-to-date guide on Greninja. This guide will probably be a bit redundant to longtime mains of Greninja, so I guess I'm just doing this for the newbies. Greninja has changed a lot since the game first came out, what with his (and I’m being suuuuuuper biased here :-P) mostly unnecessary nerfs. Nearly all of the video guides and written guides are outdated those can leave some people new to Greninja in the dark (WHY CAN'T I RUNNING SHADOW SNEAK HALP). I'd like to give special thanks to everyone on the Greninja boards for compiling a lot of the information I've used in this guide. For beginners, but likely anyone could benefit from this info.

0.0 Very Important Threads
1.0 Glossary
1.1 Patch Changes
1.2 Frame Data
1.3 Normals, Tilts, Smashes, Aerials and Throws
1.4 Specials
1.5 Movement
1.6 Play Style
1.7 Preferential Stages (3DS and Wii U)

Greninja Kill Percents (WIP)
General Information and ADVANCED TECHNIQUES
Greninja Frame Data
Matchup Discussion


I'll be using a lot of standard Smash Bros jargon in this guide. If you don't know what a specific word or phrase means check this Smash Bros. Glossary over on Reddit and educate yourself!


First of all, let’s take a look at all of the changes Greninja has seen since the game released. I will be updating this guide as new patches come out and if there are any Greninja changes I will add them below.

Ver. 1.0.4

(5%) HITBOX SIZE : 6.5 > 5 [nerf]
(14%) HITBOX SIZE : 7 > 6 [nerf]
(HIT 2) DAMAGE : 13% > 11% [nerf]
LATE DAMAGE : 11% > 10% [nerf]
ENDING LAG : Moderately increased [nerf]

DAMAGE : 11% > 13% [buff]
LATE DAMAGE : 9% > 11% [buff]
KNOCKBACK GROWTH : 93 > 90 [nerf]

KNOCKBACK GROWTH : 92 > 84 [nerf]

(HIT 6) KNOCKBACK GROWTH : 190 > 168 [nerf]
GENERAL : Structural changes including a new hitbox with a 85 angle following the normal autolink (365) one

ENDING LAG : Increased [nerf]

Aerial Shadow Sneak has less ending lag [buff]

Greninja can no longer cancel aerial landing lag with Shadow Sneak [nerf/bugfix]

BASE KNOCKBACK : 8565 [nerf]
KNOCKBACK GROWTH : 130100 [nerf]
Ver. 1.0.5
Greninja running shadow sneak removed [nerf]
Ver. 1.0.6
"Infinite Shadow Sneak" removed. [bugfix]
Ver 1.0.7.
Ver. 1.0.8
FORWARD TILT: 6.5%7.3% [buff]

Ver. 1.10
Start up decreased
2520 frames (total: 50 → 45 frames) [buff]
Bugfix: Aerial stall ability [bugfix]

Damage decreased 6% 5% [nerf]
Ending reduced from
49 42 frames [buff]

Ver 1.1.1
No Changes

Ver. 1.1.3

F-Smash: KBG 99 -> 101 buff
U-Smash: Hit 2 Sweetspot KBG 103 -> 104 buff
D-Smash: KBG 90 -> 92 buff
Shadow Sneak, Shadow Strike: Front Attack KBG 102 -> 104, Rear attack KBG 101 -> 103 buff
Shadow Dash: Front/Rear Attack KBG 90 -> 92 buff

Quite a lot, eh? No matter. Let’s continue.


Frame Data for all of Greninja's moves (except customs) View it here.


Greninja has one of the longest grab ranges in the game for a non-tether grab (behind only Villager) but the throw has considerable startup until it is active at a whopping 14 frames. Not only that, but the throw has pretty awful recovery frames as well. This hurts Greninja's Out-Of-Shield options because you'll find that moves you can shield-grab with a character like Captain Falcon, you can not with Greninja. Greninja has one of the slower throw pummels in the game, and usually one is only able to go for two pummels when the opponent is around 90 to 100 percent.

Greninja's dash grab and pivot grab have obscene range and will likely catch an opponent that rolled or dashed away. The dash grab mixup is a bread-and-butter to Greninja's play style. Learn the range!​

Down throw is a weak throw [6% Damage] that at lower percents will leave your opponent in range for an Forward Smash or Forward Tilt if they don't DI away. If you read your opponent to air dodge after the throw, the above options will still work. I don't use this throw much except at lower percents to try for the above mixup.

Greninja's Front throw [5% Damage] is weak. Back throw [8% Damage] is Greninja's most damaging throw. They do not kill. They are good for getting the opponent off the stage and possibly some Hydro Pump shenanigans but that's about it.​

Greninja's Up throw [5% Damage] is the one you'll be using the most. It kills at higher percents (Smashboards user KERO has compiled a list of Greninja's KO percents) View it here. One can follow up this throw with a multitude of options for additional damage, though you'll likely mostly go for Up Air.​

For Normals, Greninja's are about average. Greninja's jab comes out in three frames and has two different stages. Simply holding the :GCA: button will unleash a three hit jab with fine knockback that does 7% damage. Rapidly pressing the :GCA:button will unleash a multi-hitting jab that does at least 10% damage if you connect eight hits (the first two jab hits and six additional multi-jab hits). Opponents likely won't be able to Smash DI out of it if spaced properly. Both jabs are unsafe against shields.

Greninja's dash attack is a low-profile sweeping kick. This move does 7% Damage and also shrinks Greninja's hurtbox a tad allowing it to avoid some moves outright. You can combo after this around medium to high percents. It's unsafe on shield but if it whiffs, you might be able to escape before getting punished. Don't use this move willy-nilly. You want to be walking more than dashing with Greninja.

Up Tilt [4.5% Damage] is a fantastic anti-air move. Greninja's hurtbox shifts down during the active frames of this attack making it duck even lower to the ground than usual. The arc that Greninja's tongue swings is about the same height as Bowser to give you a feeling of how much above Greninja the move hits. As previously mentioned, the move swings in an arc. That arc encompasses about 150 degrees from back to front. The move hits opponents directly behind Greninja. It's a good combo starter and at nearly any percent it can be followed up with another attack (Netural Air [sweet-spot] > Up Tilt > Up Smash being a true combo that works at 0 percent as does 34% damage).

Up Tilt also hits grounded opponents who have been spiked into the ground and missed their tech. All in all a superb move. Safe on shield.​

Down Tilt [7% Damage] is the other of Greninja's amazing tilts. The move is a crouching sweep kick that shrinks Greninja's hurtbox ever so slightly, which can help it avoid certain attacks. The move is also a great combo starter that can lead into Forward Air at medium to high percents, as well as Greninja's other aerials. Spaced well, this move is safe on shield.

Forward Tilt [7.3% Damage] is not a good move. It is slow to start and has a lot of recovery frames. Forward Tilt was buffed in a recent patch that gives the move a lot more utility. It recovers faster (Where previously, one could only do a Back Air jab lock into a single Forward Tilt, now TWO Forward Tilts can be done after the jab lock. Forward Tilt has the longest lateral range of all of Greninja's tilts as well as having the option to angle it and pivot it, which makes it an OK anti-air in some situations and a good hip check.

Neutral Air [11% Damage (sweet-spot), 6% Damage (sour-spot)] is the epitome of a double-edged sword. The move is superb in its combo potential, there's no landing lag if the animation completes, and it can KO at higher percents. At lower to medium percents, Neutral Air can lead into many different things and is the main way to initiate Greninja's advanced Footstool combos. The drawback of this move is its outrageous amounts of recovery when used in the air (many a stock has been SD's because I fool-heartedly Neutral Air'd off-stage). Be very careful using this move off stage.

Back Air [3% Damage (1st kick), 2.5% Damage (2nd kick), 4% Damage (3rd kick)] is very good. It hits three times, the third hit has launching power and this move owes itself well to combos as well as edgeguarding. On stages that have lips, like Battlefield, a well-placed back air can seal a stock early if an opponent were to miss their stage tech. The first two hits are also able to jab lock a grounded opponent, which can lead to some satisfactory followups.

Forward Air [14% Damage] is one of Greninja's greatest KO moves. It's somewhat slow to start and has noticeable landing lag. However, it can KO well enough on stage (around 120% and up without factoring in rage). Used offstage, it's a death sentence for most characters. The slow startup takes some getting used to. This move is safe on shield when you retreat in the air while landing with it.

Down Air [8% Damage] is another double edged sword. It is the slowest of all of Greninja's aerial attacks but for the first few frames of the attack, it spikes. When used after being launched in the air by an opponent, the move travels down at a much slower pace down and this is highly unsafe unless you're positive it's going to hit the opponent. I never ever use this move off stage, the only way you can Down Air offstage and not SD is if you do it from the apex of your second jump, in which case you can Up+B right above the blast zone to save your slimy hide. This move has excellent uses in combos however. After a footstool on stage, you can down air to spike the opponent. At certain percents they'll be unable to tech and must take whatever followup you've got cooking. Don't be the type of player who constantly uses their Down Air to travel quickly back to the ground after being launched. This move has significant ending lag and is very easy to bait. Only go for this when it's guaranteed. Safe on shields, as Greninja bounces right off.

Up Air [1.3% for each kick, 3% for the last kick, 9% if all hits land] is perhaps Greninja's best aerial move. It is Greninja's fastest aerial attack, It can KO reasonably early off the top of the stage, it can spike (Credits: Sneak Frog) which can lead to some spectacular combos (Credits: me!me!me!). Though it is worth noting the hitbox for this move is only Greninja's legs, so meeting someone in the air with this movie is unlikely. You'll mostly land this from when you're underneath the opponent. Up throw lends itself well to Up Air, as does Up Tilt. Get the feel for this move, it is vital to Greninja's core game play.

Forward Smash [14% Damage uncharged, 19% Damage charged] is an effective Smash attack. It's Greninja's second fastest Smash attack after Up Smash. It has good range, about as much as Forward Tilt. This move is good for standard punishing and counter-poking. Unsafe on shield.

Down Smash [13% Damage uncharged, 18% Damage charged] is the slowest of Greninja's smash attacks and this slowness really hampers its overall usefulness. It's great in that it does hit on both sides, and it hits people clinging to the ledge. But it's so slow that this will usually only be landed when reading an opponent's roll. To make matters worse, the move has downright disgusting recovery. Highly unsafe on shields.

Up Smash [19% Damage uncharged (sweet-spot) 26% Damage charged (sweet-spot); 11% Damage uncharged (sour-spot on the edge of the blade) 15% Damage charged (sour-spot on the edge of the blade); 10% Damage uncharged (late hit) 15% Damage charged (late hit)] this is Greninja's best smash attack and it could be argued that it's Greninja's best move. It comes out faster than all of it's other smash attacks and can kill extremely early (Credits: KERO). The swords have decent priority and can stop some falling aerials right in their tracks if your timing is good. This will be the move that likely nets you most kills.

SPECIALS (and customs)

For this section I will be using numbers to denote what Special move I am talking about.

:GCB: - #1 Water Shuriken - Fire a shuriken of water straight ahead. Charge it up to make the shuriken grow.
3% Damage (Uncharged) 5% Damage (Half-Charged) 12% Damage (Charged) This is my personal favorite of Greninja's Neutral B special moves. It covers a good distance on the screen, is an effective edge guarding tool, and the fully charged shuriken can hit people clinging to the ledge. You'll want to be careful using this move anywhere closer than midscreen as it has pretty wicked recovery frames.
:GCB: - #2 Stagnant Shuriken - Fires a water shuriken that hovers in place wherever it is created.
6% Damage (Uncharged) 12% Damage (Charged) This custom leads itself well to combos (Credits: NinjaLink) but personally I don't like it. It starts up very slowly and I'd prefer a projectile that travels some distance rather than right in front of me. It can catch opponents landing and makes for a good edge trap. I feel this is a more defensive shuriken than it is an offensive one.
:GCB: - #3 Shifting Shuriken - Fires two different types of shuriken depending on whether you tap the button or hold it.
3% Damage (Charged and Uncharged) This move is really, really good. The shuriken's travel about half the length they normally do (charged and uncharged) but when hit with an uncharged shuriken, opponents are sent reeling into the sky, slightly in Greninj's direction. The charged shuriken sends opponents hurtling right toward Greninja. Both of these allow for a multitude of followups and are very good at disrupting a character with poor recovery.
:GCL::GCR::GCB: - #1 Shadow Sneak - Send a shadow along the ground. Release the button to warp to that point and strike!
10% Damage (Front Kick) 12% Damage (Back Kick) Oh how great this move used to be. This move is still decent and has it's uses but it ought to be used sparingly. On stages that have black flooring, this move becomes about 69 times better because the shadow is hidden. Stages like Omega Flat Zone 2, Omega Brinstar, Omega Pac-Maze, Omega Ballon Fight, etc. Greninja can Shadow Sneak while being hit and this can be used as an escape method from some moves or throws. This move can help Greninja recover and makes for one of the most stylish edgeguarding moves if you can land it. There's two different versions of the attack and they both have different properties. The standard version is a Front Kick and ends with Greninja doing a backflip, before posing and landing. This Front Kick does lesser damage and knockback of the two options. The Back Kick can be initiated by one of two ways: If your opponent's back is facing you, or if you tilt your stick in opposite the direction you input the move after you disappear. The timing can be a little tricky but anything's possible with practice. It is possible to charge this move and the custom variants while clinging to a wall. It is possible to cancel the hitstun of moves that DO NOT send Greninja into a tumbling animation with Shadow Sneak. For example, if Ganondorf successfully lands a Flame Choke (his Side B Command Grab) on your Greninja, you can Shadow Sneak the instant you hit the floor to punish him for it. Test this technique out with different moves to see what you can punish ON HIT and what you can escape from!
:GCL::GCR::GCB: - #2 Shadow Strike - A slower, more powerful form of Shadow Sneak that delivers a truly decisive blow.
15% Damage (Front Kick) 17% Damage (Back Kick) This move stinks. Don't bother using it.
:GCL::GCR::GCB: - #3 Shadow Dash - Instantly warp a set distance. Less flexible than the standard Shadow Sneak, but more speedy.
6% Damage (Front Kick) 7% Damage (Back Kick) This move is a good alternative to the default Shadow Sneak. It travels about a third of the distance of Final Destination. The biggest drawback to this move is it's poor damage.
:GCU::GCB: - #1 Hydro Pump - Fire a powerful water jet, propelling you in whichever direction you have pressed.
2% Damage for each water jet Extremely good recovery move. Even after the nerfs, it retains its versatility. This recovery is hard to gimp, has a windbox (or rather, waterbox), and can be shot in at least 8 different directions (with slight tilting of the stick you can probably go in as many as 24 different directions). This move's waterbox can really screw up a lot of character's recoveries. Even the almighty Village cowers at the power of this Base 120 damage special move*.
*Pokémon humor hehe
:GCU::GCB: - #2 High-Capacity Pump - Fires two jets for a bigger boost. Slower than Hydro Pump, but easier to control.
0% Damage Hm. This move isn't really bad. But since it's slower than the default Hydro Pump this makes it easier to gimp. The waterbox effect is a lot larger and this pushes opponents away in hilarious fashion. Hearkens back to Vanilla Greninja's default Hydro Pump.
:GCU::GCB: - #3 Single-Shot Pump - Rocket skyward with a single short blast. Travels high, but you can't change direction.
5% Damage Not good at all. Being unable to change directions? No waterbox? Pass.

:GCD::GCB: - #1 Substitute - Evade an incoming enemy attack by summoning a substitute, then counterattack.
11% Damage (Horizontally) 14% Damage (Vertically) 13% Damage (Diagonally) It's been long said that this is the worst counter in the game. I beg to differ. This counter won't be able to counter a jab like Marth can because of it's long startup and recovery frames, making it a lot more situational, but what it's main use for is punishing very unsafe moves. King Dedede went for an Up+B onto the stage? Substitute that penguin! Substitute is Greninja's second strongest killing option behind Up Smash. This move has a few different variations as well depending on the direction you press after the counter activates. Doing an upward counter sends you unbelievably high into the sky and you can follow up afterward with any aerial attack. Doing a downward counter on an airborne opponent is a vicious spike.
:GCD::GCB: - #2 Exploding Attack - Vanish momentarily, and then reappear with a powerful explosion. Not a counterattack.
10% Damage This move is wacky. It isn't a counterattack but instead, Greninja will disappear and reappear in an explosive cloud. This move does KO reasonably early near the edge of the stage (around 100%). It's best described as a reversal. If you read an opponent's roll back on stage or if they stick out a laggy attack, this will be sure to hit them. Solid alternative to Substitute.
:GCD::GCB: - #3 Substitute Ambush - Evade an enemy attack with a substitute, and then launch a slow but extra-powerful counter.
15% Damage It seems like Greninja is doomed to just have one custom I don't like, and this is it. It's too slow to reliably counter much, and since the default Substitute is already kind of slow... Meh.

For EVO 2015, Smashboards user Amazing Ampharos rounded up opinions of many players on what the "standard" custom set loadout should be. It's been decided that the following be the standard set for our friend Greninja (As of my day of writing this, June 1st 2015. Should the community decide on another loadout I will update accordingly while keeping the original here as well).
1112 (Water Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Exploding Attack)

3112 (Shifting Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Exploding Attack)

3111 (Shifting Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Substitute)

1312 (Water Shuriken, Shadow Dash, Hydro Pump, Exploding Attack)

1311 (Water Shuriken, Shadow Dash, Hydro Pump, Substitute)

3312 (Shifting Shuriken, Shadow Dash, Hydro Pump, Exploding Attack)

3311 (Shifting Shuriken, Shadow Dash, Hydro Pump, Substitute)

3113 (Shifting Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Substitute Ambush)

2112 (Stagnant Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Exploding Attack)

2111 (Stagnant Shuriken, Shadow Sneak, Hydro Pump, Substitute)


Greninja is a fast character. Greninja has among the highest single jump in the game. Greninja’s walking speed is also exceptional, walking faster than all but three members of the cast. Greninja’s dashing speed is no slouch either, boasting the sixth fastest running speed in the game. Greninja is a medium-light weight character (weight rating: 92) with a fast fall speed. This fast fall speed allows for shenanigans at early percents against overzealous opponents, for example around 0-10% you can DI down and shield right after a Mario down+throw and punish a possible Up+tilt follow up. It also means you can DI down for a lot of characters’ rapid jabs and bring your shield up, allowing for a punish.

Using the fox-trot method of dashing (Input a dash and then let go of the stick immediately after the dash animation starts) Greninja can blaze across Final Destination in only four trots. A faster character, Captain Falcon, requires five trots. This information can come in handy when attempting to space out dash grabs (of which I've already mentioned, Greninja’s is superb) or really for anything you would want to apply a dash to, like retreating.

Greninja can crawl (input a direction on the stick while crouching) and in doing so this can allow it to crawl underneath various attacks (Credits: KERO).

Greninja also has a wall cling. Wall clinging allows for an extra jump to be used. Greninja has a wall jump too, but it is very bad. Using the jump from a wall cling has about the same height as Greninja's other jumps but it won't burn your double jump.

Doing an aerial B Reverse (Press B and within a few frames input the direction opposite you are facing) will shift Greninja’s momentum in the air only slightly. It is worth learning how to B Reverse nonetheless. It can open the door for mixups. Doing a grounded B Reverse out of a retreating dash, along with doing a short hop B Reverse will allow shurikens to come out faster

Greninja's high speed but relative lightweightedness make it a good character for a hit and run type of play style. Greninja has the tools to rush down and the tools to zone and play lame. Greninja excels most against characters without a decent projectile. Pestering with water shurikens in neutral forces approaches and this is where one can chose to face an opponent head on or make use of your exemplary speed and jump height to run away. Greninja can chase deep off stage thanks to its jump height. Back Air can pop both of a Villager's balloons with careful aim, is great for punishing air dodges, and yet again is an amazing move that leads to stage spikes. Down Air is Greninja's "true" spike but it's far too risky to use off stage unless you have spaced it perfectly or are reacting to an air dodge. I wouldn't recommend using Down Air off stage.

Greninja benefits from stages that have lower ceilings, mainly. Going by what other Greninja mains and myself have said, the best stages for Greninja are as follows:

Town & City (Wii U) [+Low Ceiling, +Dynamic platforms, +Stage spiking in parts]
Prism Tower (3DS) [+Dynamic, +Low Ceiling in parts, +Stage Spiking]
Battleship Halberd (Wii U) [+Stage Spiking, +Low Ceiling -Uneven Flooring]
Omega Flat Zone 2 (3DS) [+Stage Spiking, +Black Floor]
Omega Brinstar (3DS) [+Stage Spiking, +Black Foor]
Omega Balloon Fight (3DS) [-No Stage Spiking, +Black Floor]
Delfino Plaza [+Dynamic, +Low Ceiling during some parts, +Smaller blast zones]
Omega Pictochat [-No Stage Spiking, +Black Floor]
Omega Pac Maze (3DS) [-No Stage Spiking, +Black Floor]
Omega Norfair [+Black Floor, +Stage Spiking]
Omega Luigi's Mansion [+Black Floor, +Stage Spiking]
Lylat Cruise [+Low Platforms allow for protected Up Smashes and Up Tilts, -Uneven Flooring, +Augmented edgeguarding do to Lylat's wonky edges, -It can be hard to recover due to aforementioned wonky edges]

In summation, I think Greninja is a great character and among one of the best in the game. There's a lot of misinformation out there about our frog friend, and now that Greninja has become a meme (BETTER NERF GRENINJA) I just want to see this underutilized character get the respect it so deserves. Thanks!
First release
Last update
5.00 star(s) 12 ratings

Latest reviews

Very good for starter greninjas (tadpoles, as i call them) although you could include some combos or maybe even make an intermediate guide. over all 9.5/10
Just starting to get the hang of greninja, really good place to start. Thank you :)
Very informative for someone literally just starting to play Greninja. I like his style and can't wait to get better with him. Thank you for the guide, it is very well done!
This guide achieves exactly what it sets out to, and the links provided are a plethora of information in and of themselves. 10outta10, would croak again.
Excellent, this is the first place prospective Greninja players should look!
Though I am new to the boards, this is the most in-depth guide I have seen so far.
Great Guide. This will help a lot of people.
This is a great guide, if you want to try the ninja out, I recommend this guide!
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