Too many people ask the silly question of, “why do we fight?” I am much more interested in who we choose to fight as. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate presents players with a plethora of options in that manner, various fighting styles, looks, and some people just like to be able to whoop up on others as a cute little Pokemon or a Piranha Plant.
With the new installment right around the corner, I asked for a little help to go over some of our preferred warriors, giving insight into that question the character select screen presents. Whether it is a classic go-to from previous games or a new wildcard, here is who makes the cut.
The day Mega Man was revealed for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was a very good day. I’d always thought he would fit well in the series and had wanted him on the roster since Melee. But it was Brawl that introduced the possibility of third party character inclusion with Snake and Sonic, which gave me further hope for the Blue Bomber to enter the fray. Finally, he joined the roster for Smash Bros 3DS and Wii U with perhaps one of the most hype character reveals created, which I may have watched on repeat for a large portion of the day. Mega Man’s moveset is composed almost entirely of powers from classic Mega Man titles. He’s a very effective zoner, with buster pellets used as a wall to keep enemies at bay, and more situational projectiles such as Metal Blade and Crash Bomber for mix-ups and setups,, giving him a versatile toolkit.
Mega Man’s movement and weight feel nearly identical to the original games, which is particularly impressive. He’s a unique character who plays unlike any of the rest; using Mega Man feels like playing him straight off of the NES. He fares pretty well in the meta game for Smash Wii U as well, hovering in the high mid-tier range, though some matchups give him a lot of trouble. Players can only zone out opponents for so long, and when they get close, Capcom’s mascot is easy to combo, so using Mega Man effectively means being patient and observant of your opponent’s habits. That being said, I find him the most fun character to use in the most recent game, and I did my best to represent him competitively as a result. I’m looking forward to seeing how he has changed in Ultimate!
Metroid has always been my favorite Nintendo franchise, partly due to its science fiction nature and because of the engaging exploration and platforming that revved the engines on the now-popular Metroidvania genre. As soon as I saw that Samus Aran was in the original Super Smash Bros., I immediately knew who my character was going to be. Samus was my main back on the N64 and Melee. Although I didn’t use her as much in the following entries, she’s always the first character I try when a new Smash Bros. releases.
Sakurai has always done a great job representing Nintendo’s diverse cast through their moves and aesthetics, and although Samus isn’t as agile in Smash Bros. as she is in the Metroid series, a lot of her iconic abilities are retained well, such as her Charge Shot and Morph Ball Bombs. Seeing these in action in a fighting game has always been cool to me, but the smaller touches really bring the character to life. For instance, her forward smash shows her arm cannon’s missile bay opening as she does a strong forward punch, even in the original title. The thrusters on the back of her suit activate when she jumps or boosts forward with a dash attack. It’s neat to see such small details. Unfortunately, Samus is rarely considered a top or even high tier character, with Melee being her best showing. That being said, she has great projectile mix-ups, solid mind games (simply by keeping a charged shot loaded so the opponent is afraid and guessing), and a lot of hard-hitting attacks to finish opponents with, making her consistently fun to use.
Picking Fox McCloud as your main in Smash Bros tends to get a lot of varied reactions depending on the version being played. In the original Nintendo 64 release in 1999, as well as 2001’s Gamecube follow-up, players will typically deal with a lot of snide comments about Fox being cheap or overused. Whereas the Brawl and Smash Bros. Wii U entries typically bolster players to become overly cocky when it comes to defeating the cosmic-based vulpes, and with good reason. But to me, playing with Fox McCloud became like second nature. Fox was always one of the faster characters in the series, which immediately drew me to him. While I had always known him as the lead character in the space opera rail shooter, Star Fox, seeing him outside of his cockpit was a treat. He has a bit of a snide, smart-alecky vibe that I grew to appreciate. From the way he would say “MEE-SHAWN COMB-PLEET” after winning a match, his powerful uppercut kick forcing him to shout jibberish like “TOVYA!” or his little pitter-patter sounds while running, Fox always felt suave, slick and daring to play as in this brawler.
While later entries in the series tend to cast him aside, he peaked in Melee, where the running joke for serious tournament-goers would involve two Fox McCloud’s fighting each other in Final Destination, a flat surfaced level which lent itself to the hardcore who hated the gimmicks that Smash Bros. catered to, like items and stage interactions. Honestly, part of this was the reason I stepped away from Smash Bros. on a serious level; that and losing a memory card save that had over four thousand hours of playtime as Fox alone. But despite being nerfed in later entries, he will always be my go to no matter what.
Picking mains isn’t always easy when it comes to fighting games. Sometimes, they choose you instead. At least, that’s how I became intimately familiar with the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. Back in 2001, I was a freshman in college, and we certainly played Melee quite a bit. In fact, I’d say it was all we did outside of going to classes or hang out at a friend’s apartment during parties. Little did I know that the Ice Climbers were actually a pair of characters frozen in time and thawed out just for Nintendo’s all star slamboree. But it wasn’t until several months after sinking my teeth into this game with friends that I became enamored with the climbers. The stars of their own video game back in 1985 on the NES, Popo and Nana, better known to me as Brother and Sister Bear (don’t ask..) were a rag tag duo of parka-wearing kids with mallets that worked together to reach new heights in their own game. In Smash Bros., these two would fight at the same time, with Nana often mirroring Popo’s behaviors and attacks, depending on the buttons pressed. Their attacks involved sending ice blocks towards the enemy, turning players into popsicles with their freeze mist, or swinging themselves around in circles furiously swinging their way toward opponents. What they were really doing though was spinning their way into my heart.
I found the Ice Climbers to be adorably brutal. They loved to scrap, and it was always hilarious to talk smack after beating someone with them. Despite the fact that they were a bit slippery to control sometimes (unintentional pun?), and their attacks often were fairly weak, The Ice Climbers are consistently fun to play as, and that’s why they continue to be my main to this day. From jokingly wailing for “Brother Bear’s” return after he’s been KOed, to talking trash with a solo Nana (Sister Bear), the Ice Climbers will melt hearts one hammer swing at a time.
Donovan “OneEye” Z
Whenever I think about the Smash Bros. franchise, one thing jumps to mind, and that thing is speed. The games favor fast moving attacks, quick recoveries, and high technical accuracy, with such timing and precision that, at a competitive level, battles are often decided by single frames of attack animation or a cancel. So why on Earth would I write about playing Ike, a traditionally slow and clunky super heavy fighter? Because Ike exemplifies everything I love about the heavy playstyle.
Ike is a large, sword-wielding hero who primarily uses a combination of mind games, enemy reads, and zoning to punish mistakes and pile on the damage. Since Ike can easily initiate fights through the use of air neutrals and strong grabs, he forces his opponent to act reactivity to his aggression. Do they try to run from his attacks and put themselves out of position, block and leave themselves open to easy grab combos, or try to attack back, only to be out of range? Figuring out what the opposition most likely reaction will be means that players are able to capitalize on their mistakes and create openings for powerful damage moves.
What makes Ike so potent is that once you understand those fundamentals, they can be used in conjunction with long range to abuse friends and also enjoy some breathing room. If you properly zone with Ike, taking particular care to always land the hits at maximum range, opponents will find themselves too far away to retaliate, but too close to run. Simple and strong would be the easiest way to describe his playstyle. Don’t underestimate it.
The future looks even brighter for Ike. In Smash Bros. Ultimate they have given him a healthy buff by removing frames from his attack and recovery animations, as well as made him faster and more fluid in mobility. While this is somewhat dangerous, since players could find themselves in close quarters more often, I think things can only go up from here for my favorite swordsman.
King K. Rool
The Donkey Kong Country series holds an incredibly fond place in my heart. I remember playing DKC2 at my friend’s house as a kid, then when I finally bought my own SNES as an adult. One of the included games was the original DKC, but the thing I’ve always enjoyed the most about the series is the large and bombastic King K. Rool. So after watching hours of gameplay and analysis I feel confident in saying he is going to be my go-to in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Now that the online community has been able to dissect numerous matches, we can understand his place within the game. This tyrant has two main strengths and one common weakness. Firstly, he has a large variance in hitboxes available for his moves. Having attacks that can hit above, below, or even behind the player grants flexibility in how damage is applied. However, this comes with the drawback that he has sluggish attack and landing annimations, with some being as fast as six frames, and most being as slow as twelve or more. So the king may be the heaviest of the heavies in terms of damage, with moves that easily break the 10% base health threshold and others pushing a terrifying 20%.
King K. Rool is not without his own unique defensive options. He has a counter attack in his arsenal that will reflect any attack blocked by it, returning to sender and increasing the damage. More interesting is that, due to his imposing belly plate, a healthy amount of his attacks incorporate a super armor effect, meaning they will continue to land even through opposing force. However, after blocking three blows in a row his belly plate will break, stunning and leaving him vulnerable. Luckily it rapidly regenerates as long as the player doesn’t use attacks that utilize the plate until this happens.
All of this makes him a potential fighter to shake up the roster with, but the thing that excites me most about his place in the game is what this could possibly mean for his future within the Donkey Kong franchise. Those games have been developed by Retro Studios for a few games now and seriously lack my favorite Kremling King, which saddens me. I hope his grand entrance in Ultimate means he’ll have new adventures to sink his teeth in.
I find it odd how few people actually main Mario or his cooler brother Luigi, being as they are such mainstays for Nintendo and gaming in general. This plumber has always treated me well though, as he may be the best all around character on the roster still to this day. This Italian Stallion lets me decide the playstyle and how I need to adjust to different opponents, which makes him invaluable when diving into a new entry of the Smash Bros. franchise. Though he has a fireball projectile and F.L.U.D.D., Mario is a working class type who prefers to fight up close and with his hands, favoring combos and my aggressive style. I’m still trying to perfect cancelling his animations at the right time, but turning him on a dime opens up a lot of possibilities on the fly. My aerial game isn’t superb, but this paisano’s kicks make it easy to eliminate frequent fliers.
I love how Mario’s moveset incorporates power-ups from several of his games, changing over time, growing with the character’s various adventures. These are badass moves, as I keep finding new and interesting ways to use the cape and water blast maneuvers. Turning people around and pushing them out of the air quickly makes them regret underestimating Mario’s abilities. He seems weakest on the ledge, at least for me, and recovery can be made quite difficult against a skilled opponent, but I try not to find myself in those situations if possible.
I’m often seen rocking his fire flower colors (red and white) to stand out and show that I’m bringing the power. Some of my favorite stages in Smash come from the Mario Bros. franchise. Well, maybe not the original Peach’s Castle, but the rest are great. He’s not the boring old mascot many think, but a mustachioed death machine that can be incredibly fun. Mario is mained a bit more in tournaments, and like many fans with their favorite franchises, I always want to represent the Mushroom Kingdom whenever I can.
I’ve never beaten Mike Tyson, but I embraced these fists of fury long ago and still take a run at the champ every now and then. When playing Smash Bros. on Wii U I looked to Mac’s can-do attitude and Coach’s Louis’ wisdom to lead me into victory. I found him difficult to use at first, constantly throwing myself off of stages or getting caught unprepared, but some time in training mode fixed most of this, and nothing educates someone faster than a thorough defeat.
Possibly one of the best ground-based fighters on the roster, he’s also fast with that fancy footwork. This pink hoodied pugilist hits hard, has a great pummel, and many of his big moves generate knockback. Mac always feels like he has the potential to end the fight at any moment. His wall jump is fun and helps to keep him from an early grave when used properly and in conjunction with that up attack. This makes me a little more willing to go off the stage for follow-ups and less angry when it costs me dearly.
Just don’t be too reckless or impatient. Boxing is a metal sport as well as physical, and this is a fighter who should know when not to overexert or chase targets. Little Mac’s counters can be predictable, so most suggest not to use them unless it is safe. I had to learn not to jump with him as much as I do with most characters as well. More importantly, conditioning myself to reset and not trying to stay on someone like a dog with a bone was tough. Just don’t miss. Practice precision.
I’m pretty sure I’m not using this fighter to his full potential, because he seems so versatile and it looks like Mac has been buffed even further for Ultimate, meaning he’ll be putting the pressure on even more. There is some hate for those that main this character, but I think they’re a bit salty when the hits just keep on coming. If all that wasn’t enough reason to try him, the Punch-Out!! theme is so inspirational and makes me want to keep on fighting.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to check out my fellow collaborators.
BugDoctor – [Link: https://www.twitch.tv/BugDr]
Mike Levy – [Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/Dongled]
Donovan “OneEye” Z – [Link: https://twitter.com/NAOneEye]