Today is the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the party fighting game that gradually grew from a fun novelty to a hype-filled extravaganza of Nintendo (and video game) history. There’s a real article about the history of Smash Bros. coming out today, so I’m not going to cover any of that. Instead, I’m going to present my personal list of Top 10 Smash Characters after the cut!
10. Kirby. The original. Everyone loves Kirby, and how can you not? He’s adorable, eternally optimistic, and also an eldritch abomination who can inhale and consume almost anything. He’s easy to play as, and he has a special move that lets him eat the other combatants and gain a cute hat based on who he inhaled. Plus, he has one of my favorite taunts in the game. He’s just so lovable!
9. Ike. I’m filling in this list backwards and realizing I put too many Sword Boys on it, and I didn’t even include any Links (who probably would have been #11 or so). I may have a preference for sword-wielding bishies, who can say? Anyway, Ike. First off, he looks awesome. The gold sword is cool and his color scheme is quite appealing. More importantly, I don’t normally like slow, heavy characters in Smash, but I make an exception for Ike. He’s not so slow he feels hobbled, and his sword moves are so satisfying to land that I don’t mind taking an occasional beating. Plus, when he’s doing well, the crowd cheers “We Like Ike!”
8. Cloud. Unlike many fans of Square games, I’m not the biggest Cloud fan. He’s fine in his original game, where he has a somewhat interesting character arc, but future media made him into too much of a bland brooding badass. Thankfully, he’s a really awesome character in Smash. He has a limit break mechanic ripped from his original game that’s super fun, he’s fast, and he’s powerful to boot. He’s a really easy character to button mash and win, which is good for me because I’ve never been all that great at Smash! If only Square would allow more than two damn Final Fantasy songs to make an appearance…
7. Shulk. I’m really feeling it! His design is super fun, especially if you’re like me and love overwrought JRPG nonsense. He’s got a giant, awesome sword. He’s got a really cool gimmick — you can choose to buff him in various ways, such as increasing his speed in exchange for lower damage. Finally, you can spam Backslash forever and annoy the heck out of everyone. Shulk is just a fun, wholesome hero boy.
6. Mr. Game & Watch. G&W is not exactly a good combatant, but he’s an embodiment of what makes Smash fun. He’s an amalgam of many of Nintendo’s early Game & Watch series of games, and he has a clever 3D model that makes him appear flat wherever he is. More to the point, he’s hilarious — his moves involve tossing sausages out of a pan, ringing a bell, and setting people on fire. He also has a move called Judgement that does a random amount of damage depending on what flag pops up.
5. Pit. I had never played Kid Icarus, but as soon as Pit showed up in the Brawl trailer I knew I wanted to play as him. He’s just a great design, and his Smash moveset is tons of fun, too — flight, projectiles, reflector, obnoxious taunts. His echo Dark Pit is also fun, and arguably slightly better in combat. Not only that, but he has the semi-hidden Palutena’s Guidance feature, where Palutena and other Kid Icarus characters show up to comment on the characters in the fight.
4. Sheik. Zelda’s alter-ego from Ocarina of Time. They* were one of the best characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I immediately loved them for their speed and power. Besides that, they’re an awesome-looking ninja. Who could ask for more?
*Nintendo keeps going back and forth on what their pronouns are, so I’m going with “they”.
3. Marth (and Lucina!). At the time of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s release, no Fire Emblem games had been released outside of Japan. As a result, they considered cutting Marth and fellow FE character Roy from the roster for the US release, since very few in the US would recognize them. Thank goodness they didn’t, because Marth became one of the most popular Smash Bros. characters ever — and Marth’s popularity in Smash was a major contributor to FE games eventually being successful in the US.
Like most people, when I first saw this anime swordsman I overlooked him in favor of characters I recognize — but then when I tried him out, I realized he was awesome. He has powerful moves and a graceful style that make him incredibly satisfying to use, and he quickly became a favorite. Later, they added Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening, giving us the option to play as (effectively) female Marth.
2. Rosalina & Luma. Super Mario Galaxy is, in my opinion, the greatest Mario game, and one of the greatest games ever made. I adore the cartoony space atmosphere of the game, and when I first saw Rosalina I knew she would be a favorite of mine. She’s my go-to in all subsequent Mario Party and Mario Kart games, and she’s also one of my go-tos in Smash! It’s nice when a character you love ends up having a moveset you love as well. In the case of Rosalina, it’s a lot of fun to control the separate Luma and surprise your opponents.
1. Ice Climbers. One of the best things about Smash is gaining an appreciation for characters you would never have thought twice about, and these little guys are possibly the best example of that. They were picked to represent Nintendo’s early days, and their game is honestly terrible – awkward, stiff jumping controls basically ruin the decent idea of a mountain-climbing game. Yet these characters, from an obscure game I dislike, became my favorites ever. Why? For starters, they’re super cute, just look at them. It’s very important to look cute when destroying people. More importantly, the dual-character gimmick makes them very unique and a lot of fun. You can do things like have one Icie grab your opponent while the other whales on them with a hammer, or have them both gather up different items from the stage to use. Having a pair of tiny snowsuited children running around chucking mini icebergs at everyone really sums up the chaos that is the Smash Bros. experience, and that’s why they’re my favorite ever.
Honorable Mentions: All three Links, Peach, Roy, Robin, Sonic
Latecomer edition! I never saw it coming!
Joker from Persona 5! I can’t believe he just got announced for Smash! Persona remixes in Smash, yes please! Unless he plays like total ass, guaranteed to be one of my favorites.