Last week, the final character for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” was released: Sora from the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise. I have no idea how much money was shelled out by Nintendo for this to happen, but it was probably a lot. This release also marks the end of director Masahiro Sakurai’s decades-long leadership of Smash; a presentation aired earlier this month to showcase the character and thank Sakurai for all he has done for the franchise.
For a total of 11 extra characters, Nintendo released a new DLC fighter around every three months since it launched back in December 2018. There has been a lot of hype around each release, and — although there has been a backlash against a couple of characters — Nintendo’s finished product should be seen as the celebration of gaming that it is.
Although Nintendo has done some reprehensible things in the name of “Super Smash Bros.,” including DMCA’ing one of the biggest Smash tournaments of all time (named after the Big House), the amount of effort and creativity put into each DLC release should be the gold standard for extra content in video games. First and foremost, each character is unique in their own right, with interesting mechanics and move-sets that are true to their game.
The best example of this is Steve from “Minecraft.”
If you don’t know what “Minecraft” is, the basis of the game is collecting materials and building in order to survive. In Smash, the designers expertly created a resource collection and usage mechanic, as well as effectively implemented a building mechanic, something the series had never done before. They were also able to include items from “Minecraft,” including the fishing rod, flint and steel. The amount of effort that had to be put into this is insane, as Steve’s move-set is arguably pretty balanced and fair compared to those of the original members of the cast. This is saying nothing of the legal shenanigans Nintendo had to go through with Microsoft to get such a huge character in the game.
Not only were they able to properly insert third-party characters, but they were also able to accurately portray the stylistic choices from the original games. The second character released was Joker, from “Persona 5.” His move set and mechanics accurately portray his original character in his game, with his dagger, gun and grappling hook. What makes his character so impressive is his win screen, Final Smash and music selection. Joker’s win screen portrays a huge amount of the cast from “Persona 5”; in a game that emphasized the value of friendship, it was a nice detail the designers included. Similarly, Joker’s final smash is an all-out attack, where each member of his team is used to assault anyone unlucky enough to get hit. On top of all that charm, “Persona 5” also has some of the best music to ever come from a video game, and many of the best tracks from the original game are not only implemented but reorchestrated in Smash.
I know a lot of people were dissatisfied by the announcement of Sora as the final DLC character. This was mostly due to a large number of characters in the cast being of the sword archetype already. Still, no matter how disappointed you may have been, Sora seemed inevitable. He was the most requested character from a poll back in 2015 from an extremely popular third-party series. A large company actually listening to its fan base? That’s almost unheard of these days. I have yet to actually play him that much, but from my limited experience, his move-set matches “Kingdom Hearts” to a tee, and his in-game personality does as well.
No company will ever be able to please its entire fan base, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. In terms of Smash, Nintendo has done a fantastic job with each release, and although some characters were much better received than others, the amount of passion put into each character shines through. If every company put this much thought and effort into their extra content, maybe people wouldn’t complain as much.
Eh, probably not; people will complain no matter what.
Daily Arts Writer Maxwell Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.