Since Nintendo announced that they’ll be holding the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the results. New characters are always welcome but a character based on votes from the rest of the Smash Bros. fandom? That’s special.
Just a few days ago, Nintendo did a special Nintendo Direct that was dedicated to Super Smash Bros. – the “final Smash Bros. presentation”, they called it, which discussed the new fighters that would be joining the game’s roster as paid DLC. Was the wait worth it? Well, let’s see.
Let me get this out of the way first – there were several Mii Fighter gear that were also revealed, but I’m really not into Mii Fighter creation so I’m not going to talk about them. Sure, these give Smash Bros. fans more tools to work with in terms of character creation and allows them to simulate characters that they’d like to add to the game, but its not the same as having actual character so these don’t mean much to me personally.
Alright, let’s get on with the new fighters!
The Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct started off by introducing Corrin, the protagonist of the Fire Emblem Fates games, and his/her addition to Super Smash Bros. makes sense for me. From a marketing standpoint, this is a good way to promote the said Fire Emblem games (which has yet to be released to Western audiences) and maybe get a few more people to consider buying a copy when it comes out.
In fact, Corrin’s introduction previews a big selling point of Fire Emblem Fates: that you can choose between three different storyline paths and interact with different groups of supporting characters. The intro also gives us a preview of the voice acting of the game, as well as the different personalities of the characters.
From a gameplay perspective, Corrin also brings a lot of value to the table. He/she adds another character whom players can choose to play a male or a female version of (this is big for those who like using female fighters) and despite being another sword wielder, the presentation was able to show Corrin’s unique transformation abilities and how these abilities translate into actual gameplay mechanics. Corrin is the sixth Fire Emblem character in the roster, all of which are swordsmen, but he/she plays differently enough to warrant his/her own slot.
Next up is Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. I’ve talked in detail about the significance of his inclusion in Super Smash Bros. so I’ll talk about his gameplay value this time around. Another sword fighter, Cloud brings with him several concepts from Final Fantasy VII, the most notable of which is the Limit Break battle mechanic.
In Super Smash Bros., Cloud has a Limit Break meter that fills up as he takes damage which is similar to Little Mac’s KO meter, but players can opt to “charge” this meter as well like in some Dragon Ball Z fighting games. Once fully charged, Cloud can then perform more powerful Limit Break versions of his special attacks. This gives players the choice of standing still to charge the Limit Break meter.
Cloud also comes with the Midgard stage wherein different Materia can be obtained and used to summon some of Final Fantasy’s famous… um… summons, such as Ifrit, Ramuh, Odin, and Bahamut Zero, each of which do different devastating attacks. The Midgard stage truly is one of the more interesting Smash Bros. stages to date because of this feature.
Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know already, Final Fantasy VII is getting the remake treatment. Cloud being in Super Smash Bros. is a great cross-promotional marketing strategy: Maybe Smash Bros. fans will consider getting the FFVII remake, or Final Fantasy fans will consider getting a copy of Super Smash Bros. so they can play as Cloud.
Rounding out this final set of DLC fighters is Bayonetta, the umbra witch from Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2. Her inclusion is a no-brainer; Bayonetta 2 is the most notable 3rd party exclusive of the Wii U, receiving universal critical acclaim. Bayonetta, as per the presentation, was the overall winner of the fan ballot from a worldwide perspective and ranked first in Europe-only votes.
From a gameplay perspective, Bayonetta is a perfect fit: her games are known for over the top action, which is also a characteristic of Super Smash Bros. Her Bullet Arts and demon-limb summoning powers translate nicely, making her fighter play similarly to how she plays in her own games. She even uses her Witch Time powers to slow down time for her opponents, similar to how the mechanic works in her games. And the Bayonetta DLC comes with her own stage too: the Umbra Clock Tower. This stage is a recreation of the original Bayonetta game’s opening scene and features appearances by Inspired and Fortitudo from the games.
These three characters are all interesting to me and I’m very likely to purchase them all (I already bought the Cloud DLC). I think all three characters are great additions to the game but to be honest, I’m a little disappointed to see that we’re only getting three more characters. I know creating new Smash Bros. fighters takes a lot of time and effort, especially if we consider that each fighter will need to have a corresponding amiibo, but having just three more fighters is disappointing from different angles.
First of all, from the fan ballot perspective, we’re essentially seeing only one “winner” which is Bayonetta. I’m sure the decision to include Corrin isn’t because of the ballot results – like I said, he’s from a game that’s only been released in Japan, so I don’t see him placing high on the list. Similarly, Cloud is from a game that was never released on a Nintendo platform, and I’ve never seen his name place high in different third party sources that held voting ballots on their own. From this perspective, we went through a voting process that lasted for months, and all we’re getting out of it is one single character.
From a numbers perspective, all this feels quite lacking too. We already knew about Cloud during last month’s Nintendo Direct, so essentially this announcement only covered two new characters, and a total of three fighters for this DLC batch. The addition of these three brings the game’s roster to a total of 58 characters – already quite massive, but I can’t help but ask why they didn’t add two more to give us a round 60 character total.
The inclusion of video game icons Ryu and Cloud set the bar high for me personally and made me hope for other iconic characters like Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat), Simon Belmont or Alucard (Castlevania), and Heihachi (Tekken). We could’ve had recent characters like Shovel Knight (who’s already set to have his own amiibo figure) or Wonder-Red (The Wonderful 101). Or even characters that were already in previous Smash Bros. games like Wolf (Star Fox), Squirtle and Ivysaur (Pokemon) or Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid).
Think about it: we could have had a game where characters like Ryu, Bayonetta, Cloud Strife and Solid Snake brawling with Nintendo greats like Mario, Link, and Pikachu. What a missed opportunity!
With all that said, I think we should be glad that we even got Super Smash Bros. DLC at all. In my opinion, the release of each new fighter breathed some new life into a game that was released late in 2014 and we can expect the same in February 2016, when Corrin and Bayonetta are set to be released. I can’t wait to add them to my copy of the game.
What do you think about the new additions to Super Smash Bros.? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or two below!