Hello everyone, and welcome to the fourth issue of The Purist! Today, I'll be talking about Super Smash Bros! Specifically, the most recent iterations, on the 3DS and Wii U, that for some reason didn't get cool names, Sakurai... Ahem. For a quick history lesson regarding myself and the series, I've been playing Smash ever since it got its start on the Nintendo 64, back when I was 10 years old. 14 years later, and I'm still just as engrossed and in love with the series as I was back then, maybe more-so, since I can now beat the crap out of everyone who used to constantly beat me.
Anyway... Over the years, the series has evolved, whether it's through new game modes, new stages to fight on, re-balanced characters with new abilities and strengths... and then, what I consider to be most important, and what I'll be talking about in this article... new characters! Back in the old days, the twelve character roster was perfectly fine for the start of the series, but from Melee to Brawl to 3DS/Wii U, it was always the most exciting thing to me to figure out who was entering the fight. There were always the expected characters, such as Bowser and Zelda, and then the unexpected ones like Marth and Lucas. So today, I'll be talking about my Top 10 Newcomers to Super Smash Bros for 3DS/Wii U!
A couple things to note before I begin, though:
1.) This is more going off of my own experiences with the characters, and not regarding any tier lists or what other people might think. And if you disagree with the order of my characters,
well screw you too that's perfectly okay! Everyone has their own feelings regarding each character.
2.) This list does contain spoilers and assumes you've unlocked all the characters or are okay with knowing who they are, so read at your own risk!
But now, let me get my Xander Mobus voice ready. Starting with..!
#10 – ROSALINA & LUMA
Wait, no, please come back!
Okay, I know that Rosalina is a very popular character, so this might be coming off as very harsh, but don't worry, it's not like she's getting beat out by Dark Pit or anything. (aka Sir Not-Appearing-On-This-List) I actually really do like Rosalina as a character, as I think she's definitely the most interesting and best designed princess from the Super Mario series. I especially enjoyed her company in Super Mario Galaxy, she's great in Mario Kart 8, and I'm super stoked to play as her in 3D World, whenever I finally get my mitts on it.
Unfortunately, this is regarding Smash, and not any of those. And... I just can't seem to get a feel for her. I'm not particular to the Luma gimmick, because while having it around, she can hit real hard, but it's particularly easy for the opponent to dispatch it and leave her at half strength, along with two of her special moves just outright not working. (and I don't even like her side special!) She has gorgeous design and some unique and powerful moves, but unfortunately, I just can't seem to click with her.
Don't worry, you're still great at crossing the finish line first..!
Coming up next is...
#9 – VILLAGER
As the very first newcomer to Smash 4, Villager was interesting to see, since I had just bought Animal Crossing: New Leaf as the first trailer aired. Before then, I had never played a single Animal Crossing game before, so I was experiencing the series for the very first time as I was watching its star character added to Smash for the first time. And while they didn't get quiiiiite the response that a character like Mega Man did, Villager still offers a very unique playstyle. With the ability to pocket an item or projectile away for later use, grow and chop a tree down on someone, or burying opponents with a shovel and immediately comboing that with fireworks, they can be a very strong opponent despite their cute appearance! And they can be very adorable.
Dance, you adorable puppets, daaaaaaaance!
However, despite their strengths, I do find Villager a bit slow for my tastes, and I don't have the kind of nostalgia for them that I do with a lot of other characters. But hey, here's someone I have some nostalgia for..!
#8 – DUCK HUNT
Whether you love playing as him, or getting revenge on him for all the times he laughed at you for missing those ducks, Duck Hunt is a very welcome addition to the roster, and definitely a duo (trio?) that none of us saw coming a mile away. It seems like there's a trend now, though, as we got Mr. Game & Watch in Melee, and ROB in Brawl, and now we've got the next unexpected retro character(s). Who'll be next in Smash 5? Erdrick? Mike Jones? Urban Champion? Taking all bets!
Ahem. Duck Hunt comes equipped with an arsenal based on those old Light Gun games that don't work on our fancy new TVs anymore. A lot of his attacks aren't really him doing the attack himself, but rather, directing a mysterious sharpshooter, who shoots at Clay Pigeons or Exploding Cans, and well, let's just say that this zapper-wielding entity doesn't care who's standing in the way of it! And because of the nature of his attacking, mastering Duck Hunt's style means that you'll be able to do multiple attacks at once in varied locations, which can make you a very unpredictable foe. Plus, he's a dog! (And a duck.)
And here at The Purist, adorableness always counts for something.
I've personally had a lot of fun learning to use Duck Hunt, and there's definitely a lot of nostalgia driving my love of the character. But where his moves have variety, they lack in power. A lot of his moves just lack that 'oomph', that feeling of a solid hit. It can be easy to dish out damage with Trick Shot and Clay Shooting, but there's no attacks that just deal a solid 20-30% damage with a single hit. His Smash Attacks are divided into 3 shots from the sharpshooter—with the third shot dealing a bit more damage than the first two—but requiring all 3 to connect to really take down an opponent, which can sometimes be easier said than done.
Speaking of trios, by the way..!
#7 – Mii FIGHTERS
I debated on placing each type of Mii Fighter individually, but eventually I just decided that they could all just share a spot—I mean, especially since they do on the roster. Anyway, the Mii Fighters were an absolutely wonderful addition to Smash, particularly because you can add yourself to the roster and fight! And, with all the different costumes and headgear you can adorn each Mii with, there's a lot of different ways to craft yourself and other people and characters you've made Miis of. Wish Jeff from EarthBound had been playable instead of an assist trophy? There's a Mii for that! Would you like to see some Final Fantasy characters like the Black Belt from FF1 or Locke from FF6 fighting alongside Mario and Link? There are Miis for that! While the possibilities aren't quite limitless, there is definitely a lot you can do with them, and Nintendo has been adding more costumes (admittedly through DLC, so you will have to cough up some spare change), such as Proto Man, Dunban, and Megaman.exe, which means that some fan favorites that might not have gotten their shot in Smash can have a Mii Fighter dress up as them! Or you can just beat up all your friends.
Pictured: Tetra, Sabin, Jeff, and Gunman Clive. I don't think Tetra is too good with planes compared to ships, though.
There's not much I really have to gripe about when it comes to them. Their power and speed is based on the size of the Mii and what type of Fighter it is, so you have a degree of control over that—my personal Mii Brawler is fairly agile and has a decent strength behind her, due to my average size, likely. They also start with all their custom moves unlocked, so you're not locked into using the defaults, either, which is nice... Although, most of their moves are based on other characters', such as the Gunner having very similar moves to Samus and Fox in particular. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make you remember that they're not entirely unique, pretty much. It doesn't make them quite as special as, say, some of the upcoming characters.
But now, someone with a little more punch..!
#6 – LITTLE MAC
At 5'7”, this lightweight 17 year old scrapper from The Bronx enters the fray! Being a boxer might seem just a bit out of place in Smash Bros, where your opponent could be a space bounty hunter with an arm cannon, a demon king, or a yellow mouse that shoots electricity; but Little Mac surprisingly holds his own. He's very fast on his feet, and can land constant strong punches like nobody's business. Heck, he even gets his own unique feature—The KO Meter. Once he's dealt enough damage and/or taken enough hits, the meter is filled and he can land a star uppercut that any opponent would be lucky to survive. And also, his music is pretty great
—it makes me feel like I'm ready to take on the world!
Well, we already know who won that fight.
Unfortunately, Little Mac definitely suffers from a terrible air game, where all his attack power and range is severely diminished, and he doesn't get very much distance either. This isn't too bad on stages like Final Destination, Battlefield, Mario Galaxy, or his home turf—but plenty of stages do place heavy emphasis on being able to jump around a lot. Getting back on the stage after being knocked off can be a fight in itself, and you're often on the losing end of that. On top of that, while the Punch-Out games are incredibly fun, a lot of the uniqueness and humor of it comes from the opponents that you face, such as King Hippo and Great Tiger. Overall though, he's still a great character and in a straight ground battle, he's the king of the ring.
And now, moving onto..!
#5 – GRENINJA
So when the trailer for Greninja first aired, I would like to point out that I had a moment of disappointment. No, I wasn't expecting the figure in the shadows to be Mewtwo! I was actually disappointed by Charizard's return—I was a huge fan of Pokémon Trainer back in the Brawl days, so when I saw he was returning without Ivysaur and Squirtle, I couldn't help but feel kind of bad. But of course, then Greninja came out of the shadows and freaking wowed me. While I hadn't played any of the Gen 6 games at this time, there are three things in particular I like. Frogs, ninjas, and Pokémon. What happens when you combine all 3? Well, as it turns out, you get a hell of a badass fighter in Smash.
Watch out for yellow snow, buddy.
Greninja is fast, and I mean fast. He jumps fast, he runs fast, and he attacks fast. Honestly, if I had written this list at an earlier time, he would have the #1 spot, no questions asked. He has a good projectile move, a teleportation attack, a unique counter, and a great recovery. I'm really hard pressed to find anything wrong with him. Shoot, why isn't he in the #1 spot? Well, from this point, I'm not gonna have as much to gripe about, I guess. Let's just consider that Greninja and the next 4 are so close together that the order doesn't matter much at this point. We're pretty much into the territory of my mains.
Anyway, let's move onto..!
#4 – BOWSER JR. / KOOPALINGS
We have a lot of Mario characters in Smash. I mean, a lot. People kind of regularly complain about that! In my case, though, it's less about what franchise a character is from and more about how well they're executed as a character. We could have 20 Fire Emblem characters and if they were all creative and unique enough, I'd be all for it! (Okay seriously I hope we never get to that point though. With my luck they'd all be sword users.)
So Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings weren't officially revealed until after the 3DS version had already come out, and had been leaked about a month beforehand anyway. They aren't exactly conventional fighters... I mean, in Super Mario Bros 3 and future games, there wasn't much they could do without those Magic Wands from the Seven Kingdoms. So here, they're outfitted with Bowser's signature Clown Copter. So rather than just being the Toon Link version of dear ol' King Dad, they mostly just operate their vehicle with the kooky things it can do. The mouth can do anything from spitting out cannonballs to procuring a tongue and licking their opponents to death. They can swing wrecking balls, drive the copter like a dune buggy, drill into their opponent, and drop an endless supply of mechakoopas. Frankly, I'm a little flabbergasted trying to figure out how it all fits in there! But just suspending my disbelief there, there's so much you can do as them. And, honestly, the best part is that none of the alternates are just a color swap. You've got Bowser Jr, Larry, Iggy, Roy (not that one), Ludwig, etc. They've all got their key troublemaker personality, and the clown copter itself displays its own emotions—cute and bubbly when you're not really doing anything, angry when attacking, and crying when attacked! It's more of a subtle feature, but it really does add to the character more than you'd think.
They all only take up one slot, so that's okay, right?
Anyway, hey, remember how I mentioned Fire Emblem earlier? Yeah, that was sorta foreshadowing for..!
#3 – ROBIN
Smash has many powerful swordsmen, PureZCers. Fortunately, Robin is one of the more unique ones. While there's nothing particularly wrong with Marth, Roy, and Ike, it had gotten a little frustrating that Fire Emblem was getting represented by nothing than Swordsmen, especially since the games have a wide variety of other weapons and magic as well. And so, Robin brings the thunder! (And some other elements as well.)
While yes, Robin does still wield a blade, it's not her (or his) token feature. In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Robin is a tactician who also uses magic. And in Smash, she tips the scales with 4 different kinds! You've got chargeable lightning magic, arcing fire magic that explodes into a flame pillar, wind magic that sends you soaring skyward, and dark magic that saps your opponent's life. They're all really good abilities, but they're also all limited. Each tome has a limited amount of power, and once you've used it a number of times, you'll have to wait until it recharges. The same goes for Robin's main sword, the Levin Sword, which is tossed away after 8 swings and replaced with the much weaker bronze sword for a short period of time. It's definitely something you have to get used to dealing with, but it's an important feature. Out of all the Fire Emblem characters in Smash, Robin represents the series the best. You have limited uses of your attacks, which means you need to think smart about how you plan on winning. It requires you to strategize, think ahead, or sometimes think in the moment. And this is exactly what the Fire Emblem series is all about. Marth and Ike are fun to play as, but they don't really portray what the series is about—you're just reacting fast enough with different sword maneuvers. With Robin, though, you have to play as, well, a tactician. And if you learn how to play her well enough, you'll find that running out of a spell won't hinder you all that much. In fact, I find Robin so versatile and strong that, despite her being one of the slowest characters in the game, she's very much one of the best. After all, a good tactician has nothing to fear.
"I represent our series now!"
Now, someone I've been very much looking forward to writing about...
#2 – MEGA MAN
Remember how I mentioned that Villager didn't get quite the reaction that Mega Man did? Well, of course they didn't! He's the Blue Bomber. Mega Man has pretty much been the top wanted character in Smash since the very beginning. Back before Capcom was busy being Crapcom, the Mega Man series was the biggest sail on their ship. He is what Mario is to Nintendo. What Sonic is to Sega. And what Pac-Man is to Namco. In fact, now they can all finally duke it out over who's the best! (Hint: It's Mega Man.) He has some of the best games on the NES, and even the somewhat recent releases of Mega Man 9 and 10 have proven that his classic style is just as fun as ever. And the fact that they're re-releasing his first six games as a bundle on various consoles soon shows how good they still are. He's such a huge icon to video games that it's honestly really surprising it took this long for him to get into Smash Bros.
Badass. Like, really badass.
One of the key things that makes a Mega Man game a Mega Man game is that after defeating a robot master, Mega Man adds their power to his arsenal. Over the course of almost a dozen games, he's gotten various powers such as shooting exploding drills, firing lasers that bounce off walls, freezing enemies, and more. And so, of course, when he finally made his debut, he came equipped with a boatload of these powers. He has so much variety! Sakurai gave the character a lot of love, way more than Capcom has been over the recent years. In fact, you can tell that they worked incredibly hard making him. His running, jumping, shooting, grabbing, and all other sorts of animations perfectly match how they looked on the NES. He comes equipped with his signature Mega Buster, along with Metal Blades, Crash Bombs, Leaf Shield, Hard Knuckle, Slash Claw, Air Shooter, his faithful companion Rush, and many more. Not only that, but his custom moves are more unique than the average character's, being other abilities from his games rather than being a simple variation. Instead of Metal Blades, you could opt for Hyper Bombs, or instead of utilizing Rush Coil as your recovery, you could use Tornado Hold to damage your opponents while you get back up on the stage. Mega Man isn't just an exceptional character to play as, but he's one that had a lot of love put into his design and play style, and it really, really shows. Nintendo really should just get around to buying the rights to him already.
So, it's the moment you've all been anticipating..! Who could possibly be my #1 favorite newcomer? I bet you'll never guess that it's..!
#1 – DARK PIT
Who could forget Dark Pit!? Such a unique addition to the roster, and to call him a clone of Pit is an insult! It's clear that Sakurai poured more work into him than any other char- okay, okay, I can't keep this up. I personally like you, Pittoo, but you're not touching this list with a 10 ft. pole. But now, really, here's the real #1 newcomer.
#1 – PALUTENA
Palutena wasn't a really well known character back in the day. She's the Goddess of Light in the Kid Icarus series, and the problem is that you wouldn't have likely known this from playing the original Kid Icarus because that game is really f***ing hard. I didn't beat it until I was like 22, and it came out before I was born! Fortunately, she made herself known by showing up as Pit's final smash in Brawl, and then playing a much more prominent role in Kid Icarus: Uprising. I know there's some people who don't particularly care for Uprising and its fourth-wall breaking humor, but I thought it was a pretty phenomenal game, and she played a much bigger role in it than she has in the past. It was really, really nice to see her go from damsel in distress to being the reason that Pit can even accomplish anything, from the power of flight, to granting him various powers to help destroy monsters. In fact, she uses those powers to fight in Smash. She has auto-targeting shots, a reflective barrier, teleportation, and a counter move as her specials... but if those don't quite suit you, the good news is that she has 8 other wildly different moves to choose from! Much like the Mii Fighters, each of her custom moves are unique from each other, rather than being loosely based on the original move. And also just like the Mii Fighters, she starts with hers, so no need to painstakingly unlock them randomly! If you think way too many characters have the counter move, you can swap it out for Celestial Fireworks. If you find that the auto-reticle is a little underwhelming, why not try her Explosive Flame instead? If you fight a lot of slow characters, try using Super Speed to catch them before they can see you coming! She can do a lot of different things, and it's all up to you how she's equipped to do it, giving the player a lot of control.
Plus, she's gal pals with Lucina. Who almost got on this list, in fact! See below.
Aside from her grand roster of special moves, her standard and smash attacks are also pretty unique, too. As far as I'm concerned, she's the only character who fights with a magical staff and large angelic wings, making her more unique than the average puncher or sword slasher. Zelda's about the only other character I can think of that primarily uses magic, and very few characters have wings, and none of them use theirs to smash their foes!
I'll admit, I was very tempted to put Mega Man in the #1 spot and bump her down to #2. I mean, he certainly deserves it, and #2 is not at all bad. I think what pushed me the most, though, is that Palutena isn't a character I'm nostalgic for, but I love her to death anyway. She went from being trapped by Medusa for an entire game to being a crucial asset to Pit and having a very powerful presence. There's also a lot of humor in the conversations she has with Pit on her home stage, hearkening back to Snake's conversations on Shadow Moses Island in Brawl. Overall, there just isn't anything I dislike about her, and everything I do love about her, I love very, very much.
So before I wrap things up, let's list out some honorable mentions...
Honorable Mention #1: Lucina
Lucina is a pseudo newcomer—she plays exactly like Marth, but without the sweet spot at the tip of the blade and the sour spot on the middle. Essentially, she's easier for a beginner to get into. Personally, I really like playing as her since I liked using Marth in Melee, and I also like her design more than his. I just didn't want to include her on the list because she's only new in name only, and not in moveset.
Honorable Mention #2: Pac-Man
I initially had Pac-Man on the list. Closer to the bottom, obviously, but he was there. Unfortunately, while he's fun to play as and is definitely unique, I just don't have much attachment to him. I've played Pac-Man a few times in the arcade but it was nothing that ever really stuck to me.
Honorable Mention #3: Ryu
I love playing as Ryu. People have griped about his unique playstyle and how Street Fighter doesn't belong in Smash or whatever... and they are silly. Ryu is awesome. The only reason he isn't on this list is because he's only been available for less than a month. I haven't simply had enough time to really properly gauge how I feel about him. I always have a bunch of hype when a new character is shown, but then I have to play with them for a while to really see how I feel. He could have been on the list, but right now, he just doesn't quite deserve that yet.
As for Wii Fit Trainer and Shulk, while I do like them and have enjoyed playing as them, I'm just nowhere near as attached to them. There's no one I absolutely dislike on the roster, to be honest. But anyway, NOW
it's a wrap. I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on the newcomers in Smash 4, and I'll see you in my next article! Hopefully the next one won't be a f***ing novel.