One of Joker's biggest strengths is his frame data. Many of Joker's attacks possess fast startup and, with the exception of his smash attacks, low ending lag. This synergizes well with his excellent mobility and thin hurtbox since a lot of his attacks can cross up on shield or just cross up on opponents in general thanks to this. Due to his quick overall mobility, low-knockback attacks, and frame data, Joker possesses a strong and varied combo game. He has several moves in his toolkit to start combos at low percents, such as his up and down throws, a late down tilt, up tilt, his Grappling Hook, the first hit of his forward aerial and the looping hits of up aerial. Some of these combo starters last well into later percentages. Joker also possesses among the best grab frame data (comparable to that of Mario), which makes him especially adept at punishing shields (particularly from empty jumps).
Thanks to his fast frame data, most aspects of Joker's moveset are tailored towards comboing, giving him an overall solid regular kit. His grounded game possesses the overall faster frame data around his moveset, with his neutral attack, all tilt attacks, and dash attack all coming out before frame 10. Neutral attack is his fastest punishing option, serving as well as a "get off me" move. Forward tilt has the highest power of his tilt attacks and, while still weak, has the lowest ending lag of them, making it hard to punish. His up and down tilt serve similar purposes: placing the opponent in the air to start a combo. Down tilt also serves well as a long-ranged punish option (similarly to Cloud's own down-tilt), whereas up tilt is also one of Joker's many anti-air moves. None of Joker's smash attacks come out before frame 10, though they nevertheless remain decently fast. Forward smash has the highest power of them (although its hitboxes can be quite misleading as it will only hit in front of Joker), and up smash is his fastest smash attack as well as his strongest anti-air move. Down smash is somewhat less versatile than his other smash attacks, although it hits on both sides and can serve as a faster alternative to forward smash.
Joker's aerial game is comparably effective as his grounded game, with a variety of different options at his disposal. Back aerial serves as Joker's most versatile aerial, functioning as his best defensive aerial due to its effectiveness out of shield, as a spacing tool due to its good range, and as his best aerial pressuring and KOing move thanks to its very low lag. Both forward and up aerials are among his best combo moves, the former's first hit leading into other moves due to its high base knockback, most notably granting him a kill confirm, whereas the latter's looping hits can set up for another grab at medium percentages or an up or down smash at high ones. Both moves' finishing hits also serve as good combo finishers outside of these ranges, with forward aerial also leading into RAR back aerial, and up aerial putting the opponent in the perfect position to be hit by Grappling Hook they do not react in time. Up aerial can also serve as a useful anti-air move and is Joker's fastest out of shield option, making him surprisingly harder to cross-up. Neutral and down aerials have the slowest startup of his aerial moves, although they have decently low landing lag and can lead to other moves when used appropriately. Neutral aerial, in particular, has the best range and combo ability of the two, both covering a wide area around Joker and sending at a high enough angle for followups. It's also Joker's best crossup tool, allowing him to pressure shields and be safe against most opponents if he manages to land behind them.
Joker possesses a fighter ability unique to him in the form of Rebellion Gauge. This gauge fills up each time Joker takes damage, one of his teammates takes damage, or one of his teammates is KO'd (the latter two happenings during team battles). Joker will also respawn with some of the Rebellion Gauge filled up if he gets KO'd. His down special, Rebel's Guard, helps Joker during this, by negating the knockback he would receive from an attack and halving the damage he takes while filling up the Rebellion Gauge; this move also doubles as a counterattack, albeit a very weak one (similarly to Incineroar's Revenge) by knocking nearby opponents away. Once the Rebellion Gauge is filled up, Joker summons his Persona, Arsène, to aid him in battle, similarly to Rosalina's Luma. With Arsène present, Joker's regular attacks gain a significant boost in damage (and thus safety on shield) and knockback, as well as slightly more range, and his down aerial gains the ability to meteor smash, giving him an additional edgeguarding tool. Arsène is completely invincible during any move boosted by him, which means opponents can't make him disappear without hitting Joker, which is the only way to deplete the Rebellion Gauge faster. Similarly to Cloud's Limit Break, Joker's special moves also become more powerful under Arsène's influence. Gun becomes Gun Special, which can shoot multiple times quickly and deals more than twice as much damage. Eiha becomes Eigaon, a much faster projectile that travels further and has a larger area of impact, explodes on contact with an opponent or solid ground, and deals considerably more curse damage. Its speed and range make it effective for punishing opponents at a distance or pressuring opponents who attempt to edgeguard Joker. It also deals considerable damage as well, making it a highly potent punish tool. Grappling Hook is replaced with Wings of Rebellion, which functions similarly to Pit's Power of Flight, granting Joker high vertical distance and possessing long-lasting invincibility during startup (that starts on frame 1 on the ground), though it loses Grappling Hook's attack presence. Finally, his down special becomes Tetrakarn/Makarakarn, a very effective counterattack and reflector similar to Palutena's Counter/Reflect Barrier. Both counters are better than comparative moves as well; both have very low startup lag (with Tetrakarn having the fastest startup of any counterattack) and the lowest ending lag of any counterattack. Tetrakarn has a huge hitbox that completely covers Joker's body and a huge area around him, and has the strongest damage multiplier of any counterattack at 1.6x (while also hitting for a minimum of 12% damage regardless of the attack). Meanwhile, Makarakarn has the third-highest damage multiplier of any reflector at 1.6x, and also greatly increases the speed of reflected projectiles at 1.9x.
Despite all of these strengths, Joker is not without any weaknesses, most of which are noticeable when he does not have Arsène active. The most notable of these is the lack of strength on individual hits; as similarly to Sheik, most of Joker's default moveset is tailored towards extending his advantage through combos, most of them tend to be highly lackluster or underwhelming in terms of KO power and individual damage. Particularly, Joker's lack of KO power can often make him reliant on gimping the opponent at early percentages, and his smash attacks, while having enough power to secure a stock against light and middleweight characters, have high ending lag, and are heavily unsafe if shielded; as a result, Joker can be very susceptible to comebacks if he is not able to summon Arsène in time. His knife, while giving his attacks disjointed range, also renders said disjointed range short due to its length, especially when compared to the weapons of other fighters such as Marth and Ike. His range issues can also cause him to struggle against certain small and fast characters, such as Inkling and Pikachu, as it's difficult for him to consistently apply pressure against them. He is also vulnerable to projectile-based pressure due to his lack of ways to deal with projectiles, with Eiha failing to properly compensate. Rebel's Guard can aid with this issue, but this can also render him predictable if the move is overused.
Overall, Joker is a character whose playstyle is incredibly dynamic, but as with characters with many playstyles applicable, players should be expected to be able to smartly switch playstyles on the go. Without Arsène, Joker specializes in a hit-and-run, combo-oriented playstyle. Joker is particularly adept at conditioning the opponent to shield and has excellent grab frame data to take advantage of that, so players should be looking for opportunities to go for punishing grab combos whenever possible. He has notably short-range and low power overall on his standard attacks without Arsène available, and can struggle if he's a stock behind the opponent and unable to effectively make use of Arsène. His primary goal in each match is to rack up as much damage as possible through combos and gain an early stock in order to massively widen the gap between him and his opponent. Arsène greatly helps Joker in dealing damage or securing a stock whenever he is out, as he gains several powerful traits that allow him to play more rushdown-oriented when he gains the advantage, without forgoing his excellent mobility. Arsène is also notable for giving Joker an absurdly effective comeback factor, as Joker can quickly close to gap by dealing out extreme damage with Arsène out and can KO early when given the opportunity, such as with an Arsène boosted back air. By actively filling up the Rebellion Gauge by using Rebel's Guard to capitalize on reading an opponent's attack, this can be devastating for the opponent, as it gives Arsène more opportunity to be seen in-game. At the same time, Joker's vulnerability to combos means he will have to make use of his excellent mobility more often than not to avoid being put at a disadvantage. Ultimately, Joker is a character who encourages proactive play, and particularly shines when players are able to make the most of edgeguarding opportunities, maximize their damage through combos and effectively make use of Arsène. Joker's viability in the competitive scene has been excellent since his release, with many people citing him as a top tier character thanks to strong representation and results from smashers such as Eim, MkLeo, Tsu, Tweek, Wishes and Zackray. 2b1af7f3a8