Super Smash Brother Ultimate is the latest iteration of a game that I first discussed here. To sum up, it's a video game which takes characters from a wide range of other video games and brings them together to fight each other on stages deigned to evoke scenes from their and other video games.
The original game had a small roster that was essentially a list of Nintendo all-stars, but over the years the roster has grown to over eighty fighters, including "guest" characters from other companies. Ultimate has brought back every character that was ever in the game, plus several new characters, some of which are only available if you purchase them as DLC.*
I thought it might be fun to go through the roster and take a look at the various playable chracters.
*Stands for "Downloadable content"
First up is Mario, Nintendo's most famous character, and the company's mascot. He first appeared in Donkey Kong (1980). He was originally going to be called "Mr. Video", but his name was changed to "Jumpman" in his first appearance before being finally renamed after Mario Segale, Nintendo of America's landlord in Seattle.
In Smash, Mario's a baseline character, with well-balanced strength and speed. His attacks include punches, kicks and throws, and he can throw fireballs. Also, he can whip out a cape to deflect projectiles and a F.L.U.D.D.* which fires a stream of water. Mario is a prodigious jumper and quite agile. While he's not a favorite of mine, he's a good "starter" character for someone new to the game.
*Stands for "Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device"
Next up is Donkey Kong, another character that even non-gamers have probably heard of. He first appeared in Donkey Kong (1980), before becoming the protagonist of his own series of games. I've seen different stories regarding the origin of his name. One is that it was originally meant to be "Monkey Kong", but that a misspelling on a label somehow stuck to the character. The other is that he was always meant to be called "Donkey" to emphasize that he possessed a donkey's proverbial stubbornness.
In Smash, DK's attacks emphasize his great physical strength, and include punches, slaps, throws and ground-pounding. DK was my first main* back in the N64 days.
*A "main" is the character that a given player prefers to play as.
Next is Link, protagonist of the Legend of Zelda games, first appearing The Legend of Zelda (1986). Link is the young hero who must defend the land of Hyrule and its Princess Zelda, usually against the depredations of the evil Ganondorf. My understanding is that the character's name symbolizes the link between the player and the world of the game.
In Smash Ultimate, Link fights with his sword, shield, bow, boomerang (!), and thrown bombs (something like the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs). He's a little slower than you might think he'd be because of carrying all that stuff around. Link's a fun character to play as, though.
Samus Aran first appeared in Metroid (1986). When she was a child, her parents were killed by space pirates, and Samus was adopted by an alien race called the Chozo, who infused her with some of their DNA and gave her a Power Suit, a suit of armor with various special weapons built in. As an adult, Samus served in the military and later became a bounty hunter. who battled space pirates and the alien parasites known as Metroids.
In Smash, in addition to punches, throws, and spinning jumps, Samus' Power Suit allows her to fire energy blasts of varying intensity as well as guided missiles. It also allows her to morph in to a small sphere that lays small explosive charges. (How she survives this is anybody's guess.) I never quite got the hang of playing Samus well.
Dark Samus is an evil doppelganger of Samus Aran created after Samus' battle with Metroid Prime in Metroid Prime (2002) from a mixture of Samus' DNA and the toxic alien substance known as Phazon. Animated by Prime's intelligence, it went on to have many battles with Samus.
On Ultimate, Dark Samus is classified as an "Echo Fighter", which is a fighter with basically the same powers as its original (albeit slightly tweaked), and differing mostly in appearance. It strikes me as a particularly egregious bit of roster padding. It could just as easily have been an alternate skin* for Samus.
*A "skin" in this case is an alternate costume for a character., which helps players tell each other's character apart if two players want to use the same fighter. I'll be discussing the few exceptions when I come to them.
Yoshi is a dinosaur-like creature that first appeared in Super Mario World (1990). He befriended Mario and Luigi in one of their endless battles against Bowser, and went on to star in several games of his own.
In Smash, his attacks include kicks, tail swipes, bites, jumps, headbutts, egg-throwing, trapping an opponent in an egg shell and encasing itself in an egg and rolling over opponents. Another character that I've never really gotten good at playing.
Next is Kirby, who debuted in Kirby's Dream Land (1992). Kirby lived in the country of Dream Land on the planet Popstar, and was first seen defending it from the greedy King Dedede. Kirby is named for John Kirby, Nintendo's American lawyer, and was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who also created Smash.
In Smash, his attacks include punches, kicks and a leaping sword attack. He can also summon a large hammer to smash opponents with, and temporarily turn himself into various heavy objects and drop on other fighters. Perhaps his oddest attack is when he inhales and then spits out his opponent, enabling himself to copy one of their special moves. All in all, he's a fun character to play as.
Fox McCloud debuted in Star Fox (1993). The game was set in the Lylat System, a star system inhabited by intelligent animals. Lylat had two major planets - Corneria, the good guy planet, and Venom, the bad guy planet. When the evil scientist Andross menaced the system, General Pepper of the Cornerian defense forces hired Fox and his team of mercenaries to foil Andross' plans.
In Smash, Fox uses kicks and punches, a blaster, and a reflector that sends projectiles back from whence they came. He also has an attack where he shoots himself skyward, wreathed in flames. Fix is quick and agile, and a fun character to play.
Pikachu first appeared in Pokémon Red and Blue (1996). It's an Electric type Pokémon that has become the face of the franchise. My understanding is that "pika" is the Japanese word for a flash of light, and that "chu" is the Japanese word for the sound a mouse makes.
In Smash, Pikachu uses electric attacks of varying intensity, headbutts and a sort of flying body press. It's a quick, agile character, ad fun to play.
Next is Luigi, who first appeared in Mario Bros. (Game & Watch) (1983). He is Mario's younger fraternal twin brother, who joins him in many of his adventures. Luigi grew out of the "Player 2" character, and was the eternal second banana, although in recent years, he's branched out on his own, especially in the Luigi's Mansion series. The character is supposed to have been named after a pizzeria near Nintendo of America's headquarters, although it may also be related to the fact that "ruiji" means "similar" in Japanese.
In Smash, Luigi's attacks include punches, jabs, hip checks, kicks, jumps, fireballs and tornado spins. He also has an attack called the "Green Missile", in which he launches himself head-first at an opponent. For grabs, he uses the Poltergust G-00, a ghostbusting vacuum cleaner from Luigi's Mansion 3. An OK character, but not a personal favorite of mine.
Next is Ness, who debuted in EarthBound (1994), He is a thirteen year-old boy living in the town of Onett in the country of Eagleland. Together, he and his friends defeated the alien invader Giygas.
In Smash, his attacks include punches, kicks leaps, and blasts of light, fire and electricity. He can also project a psychic forcefield. His weapons include a baseball bat and a yo-yo. This is yet another character that I never really got good at playing.
Next is Captain Falcon, who debuted in F-Zero (1990). In the year 2560, Captain Douglas Jay Falcon is a bounty hunter and an F-Zero* racer, who has various adventures. His racing vehicle is known as the Blue falcon(!).
In Smash, his attacks include various punches, kicks and throws. Of particular note is his Falcon Punch, an especially powerful attack. I find him a fun character to play.
*A sort of advanced Formula One racing with hovercars
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