Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo Switch is an opportunity for a breath of fresh air. While some aspects of the series have certainly been refined from generation to generation, for a lot of characters these changes have been subtle. Particularly for those who have been in the series since Smash 64 or Melee, we’ve become accustomed to seeing the same things from them despite the fact that many new games have come out in their own franchises. So wouldn’t it be great if we could see something new from them in the latest installment of this combat crossover?
You certainly seemed to think so! At the end of last week’s Smash Five, I posted a poll asking the adventurer community what topic you’d want to see covered next. And while votes came in slowly this time around, they ultimately indicated that reworking returning cast members was the way to go. I appreciate everyone who voted and hope that more of you will consider voting for the topic of your choice at the end of today’s post! At any rate, the people have spoken, so let’s forge ahead and talk about a few characters who need some serious revisiting.
Yoshi has changed very little over the course of Smash Bros, but outside of the world of Smash things have been a little different. Particularly in recent history, Yarn Yoshi is moving in the direction of becoming the definitive form of Yoshi. Wooly World was a big success and now the still-untitled Switch game will be featuring Yarn Yoshi as well. It makes a lot of sense – the hand-crafted aesthetic and the clever effects that can be accomplished with yarn fit the world of Yoshi in a way that makes you wonder why nobody thought of it sooner. I personally think it would be great to see the Smash Bros form of Yoshi be changed to this adorable new version.
One of my personal dislikes about Yoshi’s current playstyle is the lack of a viable recovery move. I get it, the hover jump is supposedly good enough that a good recovery paired alongside it would be broken, but Kirby can puff up multiple times AND still gets a great vertical recovery move. As Yarn Yoshi, he could have his wings from the game’s Mellow Mode and use them to give himself a boost to safety. Perhaps to balance the improved ability to make it back on stage, Yarn Yoshi could be a bit lighter than Yoshi traditionally has been.
This would cause Yoshi to lose his ability to throw eggs, but I think that move could work pretty well remapped as the side special in place of the egg roll. While I certainly appreciate a good pun, rolling around in a destructive egg is not an ability that’s really reflected in Yoshi’s canon – the egg toss is a lot more iconic. And by mapping it to the side special, he could even have a targeting crosshair like in the game and be able to pull off throws with more precision. Because this is Yarn Yoshi, I also imagine that getting hit would wrap the target up in addition to dealing damage.
I don’t have Kirby on this list out of a belief that there’s anything wrong with his current playstyle. It has more to do with the fact that Kirby has been the same since Melee when the little guy has arguably as many – if not more – unique abilities to pull from as “bigger” characters like Mario. Kirby has a huge array of copy abilities to show off and we’ve been seeing the same three for years. And the addition of Meta Knight and King Dedede in Brawl made it so that some of his abilities are less unique than they once were. A sword and a hammer are some of the most generic powers in Kirby’s arsenal.
So what powers should be utilized instead? I know one that I think would be a great power to feature is the Beam ability. This one has been around for ages – it’s a Kirby classic! In my mind it would make a great side special, lashing out at enemies with a swirling beam of energy that hangs around for a couple of seconds. Bringing in some of the newer abilities from games like Robobot or Star Allies would also be cool. Having Kirby create a web around himself with his down special to trap enemies or rocket upward on a column of lingering poison with his up special would be interesting changes of pace for the character. Kirby is already so light and easy to knock around – instead of focusing on direct tactics, the ability to trap or deal chip damage would perhaps fit his size category better.
A feature that came back in Star Allies that has been a popular one in different titles throughout the series is the ability to mix copy abilities. I think it’d be really cool for there to be a way for Kirby to create mixed abilities from the different Smash Bros characters he can copy. While some options would be somewhat obvious – Mario’s fireball and Link’s bow could simply create a fire arrow attack – some powers would be very tricky to mix and there are A LOT of possible combinations. Another idea I think would be cool but consider to be effectively impossible would be removing the ability to copy other characters altogether in exchange for a power that allows Kirby to switch between copy abilities and having a different moveset for each one. So maybe he has the Plasma, Ninja, Beam, and Poison abilities and has different side, up, and down specials for each one, showing off Kirby’s versatility by giving him lots of different moves to use. However, I think that losing Kirby’s ability to copy other Nintendo icons would be a big loss thematically for the character (and perhaps competitively, although I personally don’t play well as Kirby to really know the difference).
#3: MARIO BROS
“Whoa, hey, these are two separate characters! Isn’t that cheating?”
I agree, these are two separate characters, and that’s kind of my point. While each Smash Bros has worked a little harder to separate these two so they are more than simple palette-swaps, I think we’re to the point now where these two are distinct enough in the source material that we can start changing them pretty significantly. Super Mario Odyssey gave us a fantastic tool for variation in the form of Cappy, whose presence could make some interesting changes to Mario’s moveset. Imagine throwing Cappy instead of a fireball, holding him in place to deal repeated damage against a target at just the right range, and even using him as a platform to spring into the air like in Odyssey. These changes would help the Smash version of Mario to feel more like the Odyssey one, a strong choice given the popularity of the most recent game.
For Luigi, I feel like something needs to be done about the super-generic spinning attack he performs for his down special. Incorporating the Poltergust 3000 into his normal moveset (as opposed to just being a part of his final smash) seems like a strong choice here. The vacuum could pull in objects or opponents and then spit them back out after being aimed, allowing Luigi to try to throw enemies off of the stage or even launch them into each other. Alternatively, perhaps it could replace his fireball move, instead spraying a stream of either fire, water, or ice in sequence and having different effects based on the element used at the time. With Luigi’s Mansion being ported to the 3DS, it feels like a good time to capitalize on hype for the franchise in his character design.
Finally, the super jump punch. There are some differences between how this move works for Mario versus how it works for Luigi; the former hits multiple times while the latter hits only once but can deliver a particularly strong version that greatly increases the chances of a knockout. These are acceptable distinctions but I think it would be great to see some emphasis on Luigi’s improved jumping abilities. In early Mario titles, Luigi was always the better jumper, a feature that has carried on thematically in games like Super Paper Mario and Mario + Rabbids. Perhaps give Luigi his super jump from Super Paper Mario, giving him lots more height and hitting power while sacrificing horizontal recovery (which he gets from Green Missile, his side special). Meanwhile, Mario’s Super Jump Punch doesn’t launch him as high, but he can combo with Cappy to try and recover a much great distance.
One of the only things truly revealed in the Smash Bros teaser we got during the Nintendo Direct is that Link will be sporting his new design from Breath of the Wild. This is an excellent choice not just because it’s a cool design and from a popular game, but also because it justifies changing him up. Link has changed very little despite having multiple games that feature interesting new dungeon items, but his Breath of the Wild incarnation legitimately has different abilities than other versions of him. What tools from his foray into the open world should be used to give him a fresh coat of paint in Smash?
Some changes can be more subtle than others. His bombs, for example, can stick around, but this time should probably feature remote detonation. The ability to throw a bomb and decide when it explodes would allow Link to set traps or to punish opponents who thought they’d show off by catching the bomb thrown at them. His bow, I think can largely stay the same, except I’d like to see him be able to aim. Curving shots over opponents, shooting straight up into foes on a platform above you, and firing an arrow from midair onto an unsuspecting foe would go a long way into making archery a bigger part of Link’s fighting style – which it is in Breath of the Wild. That being said, I think Guardian Arrows should be his projectile of choice in this Smash Bros.
I’m a little torn on how I feel about the sword spin. It’s an iconic move from the franchise, but it isn’t given much significance in Breath of the Wild (which is the visual inspiration for Smash Link) and definitely pales in comparison as a recovery when stood beside Revali’s Gale and the paraglider. There’s also the question of how to replace the boomerang move. Would it be better to incorporate another Sheikah Slate skill such as Stasis or Magnesis? Or perhaps the side special becomes the new button mapping for a ground-based spin attack? This version of Link has a lot of creative options that make him stand out from past entries. Speaking of which, let’s say hello to number one on our list:
When I first picked up Melee and Ganondorf, one of the most iconic villains of my childhood, turned out to be a buffer clone of Captain Falcon, I balked. Why in the world was this powerful sorcerer relegated to the role of a guy who punches stuff real hard? It didn’t make any sense, and ever since I have wanted nothing more than to have him portrayed in a unique way truer to the Zelda canon. I understand from a competitive perspective that there are folks out there who like Ganondorf as-is in Smash Bros, and it’s not as if I’ll riot if they don’t change him – but this is a list of my personal opinions on characters who need freshened up, and in my view something should be done for this iconic villain to celebrate his rich history.
While my personal favorite version of Ganondorf is actually Toon Ganondorf from Wind Waker, I don’t imagine that version of the wielder of the Triforce of Power will ever make it into the game. But I’ve seen others suggest that his Hyrule Warriors incarnation be selected and honestly I think that’s a pretty good choice. It allows him to still be a heavy, powerful character, but also to dual-wield blades and have a unique fighting style totally separate from Captain Falcon.
Having not yet played Hyrule Warriors for myself, I don’t know exactly what this would entail for the King of Evil. However, I do know some of his other power he has demonstrated in games that could be pretty interesting here. His standard special could launch a lightning sphere a la Ocarina of Time, and I think it would be great to be able to knock it back and forth with the opponent. Each time the ball takes a hit, it becomes faster and stronger, so one wrong move could spell the end for your opponent – or for Ganondorf if he fails to be the last one to hit the ball. Another option could be the dark wave, which in Ocarina of Time stops Navi from being able to lock on to him. Perhaps this could translate into Smash as the ability to temporarily turn-off a character’s standard special, making them less capable of defending themselves.
That’s gonna be it for this installment of Smash Five, adventurers! These are my top 5 changes, but I’m sure you have your own vision of which characters you hope get a redo. I’d love to hear your ideas, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below – I imagine you’ve thought of some cool character changes that didn’t even cross my mind. You’ll also find the poll for next week’s Smash Five topic, so be sure to vote for your favorite and come back next Friday for more Smash Bros shenanigans!