Characters are the selling point of any good fighting game, but there comes a time when the roster is simply too full. While fans may believe that there’s no such thing as “too many fighters,” from a quality standpoint there really can come a time when the cast becomes too large to effectively balance and support. In the Smash Bros universe, where there is such a massive roster of heroes to pull from (one that is ever-expanding) this leads to a conundrum for many of the series’ side characters. While the main heroes make it onto the stage, their best friends, villainous rivals, and love interests often remain in the background.
This is where the other features of the game such as stages, items, and trophies can add to the experience. While it would be ridiculous to expect Smash Bros to incorporate all 800-whatever Pokemon as characters on the roster, it is able to include a pretty wide selection thanks to the Poke Ball item. Some of the stages in Smash Bros are based on games that don’t feature a character in the roster (for some reason Electroplankton is the first one that comes to mind). And assist trophies allow lots of new and interesting characters to join the battle temporarily, characters who due to lack of popularity or lack of an obvious moveset wouldn’t make the cut as cast members.
As a result of your votes after last week’s Smash Five, today we’re going to dive into my top 5 ideas for assist trophies in the new Smash Bros for the Nintendo Switch. I don’t really have any ground rules for this except I’ll probably stick to one assist trophy per franchise. With all that out of the way, let’s…uh…get assisted? Golly, I gotta work on these intros.
#5: OCTOPATH TRAVELER
The Smash Bros series has clearly demonstrated in the past that they’ll happily include a character from an as-yet unreleased game (or a barely-released game), and we also know that Square Enix is going all-in on the Nintendo Switch. Octopath Traveler is a big upcoming title for the Switch that a lot of people are excited about, so this would be a good opportunity to incorporate the cast into Smash Bros.
I imagine a couple different options for this. They could, for example, have all of the Octopath travelers as options and you get a random one each time. Whichever character you get does an action related to their special ability. Olberic, for example, would simply deliver some mighty attacks with his sword, while Primrose might dance around a bit and inflict a stunned status on anyone who sees her graceful moves. This gets trickier as you incorporate more and more characters – what would Alfyn the Apothecary do, for example, when his special ability is just about getting information from people? Would he just talk and fill parts of the screen with annoying speech bubbles a la Mr. Rosetti?
I think it would be far more likely to see a specific character chosen as an assist trophy, in which case I would suspect either Olberic or Primrose. These were the two demo protagonists and thus the implication is that they are the “main characters” insomuch as a game with an ensemble cast can have main characters. I think Olberic would be the more boring of the two options, since he just hits stuff with weapons and therefore his skillset is covered by a dozen other assist trophy characters. Primrose at least brings a little something different to the table, even if the most obvious choice for her effect does step on the toes of Peach’s final smash. Speaking of Peach…
#4: RABBID PEACH
While I would love to see a Rabbid representative in the game’s main cast, I honestly don’t expect it to happen. That’d require working out some details with Ubisoft and honestly, which Rabbid would they put into the game? None of them necessarily have great material for movesets, particularly as they rely so much on teamwork (and an Ice Climbers style team-up seems even more unlikely). But hey, if full cast member status doesn’t work out, assist trophy status would be a great compromise and possibly a better fit for a Rabbid character.
While I personally prefer Rabbid Luigi – his shirt is too big for his body, how cute is that! – Rabbid Peach is the more popular character and I think she brings some interesting options to the assist trophy territory. As a defensive character, her abilities are focused around creating a shield for herself and sending out a healing pulse for her allies. This opens the opportunity for her to play a more protective role than the typical assist trophy, placing a shield around the player to soak damage or maybe even healing some of their damage percent.
If they really want to play up her abilities from Mario + Rabbids, perhaps the player could also use her to give them some extra maneuverability. Jumping onto her could cause her to throw you upward a la Team Jump, giving you an extra boost that helps you escape opponents or get into an ideal position for a strong attack (such as Link’s downward spike). Alternatively, they could place more emphasis on the wackiness of the Rabbids style and instead have her appear at the front of the screen and take selfies with the characters in the background. or perhaps she takes selfies on the stage and the cell phone camera flash inflicts a stun-like status on anyone caught in the picture. That’s one photobomb you don’t want to try!
While the creator of ARMS has stated in an interview that this new Smash Bros is a bit too close to the release of ARMS for a character to make an appearance on the roster, I doubt it’s too short a time span to include someone as an assist trophy (of course, I also fully expect an ARMS character to make it onto the roster despite the creator’s statements – Greninja and Corrin say hello). While most of the game’s main fighters could potentially vie for a spot on the Smash Bros roster, Hedlok is definitely more appropriate for the assist trophy position.
If you haven’t played ARMS, Hedlok is a character who appears in a couple of different game modes. Sometimes it appears as a boss for you to fight, occupying the body of a typical ARMS fighter and giving you a total of six fists to contend with. Other times, Hedlok is an item that you compete for in a free-for-all match, and whoever controls him has four extra fists to bring to bear against their opponents. This is the interpretation that I think makes the most sense: you bust Hedlok out of the assist trophy, he jumps on your head and gives you four stretchy arms to punch your opponents with.
I suppose this concept might make more sense as an item, but I think it could still work as an assist trophy. Maybe if someone manages to do enough damage to the person in control of Hedlok, they can change the assist trophy’s allegiance and gain the extra punching power for themselves. Like the Smash Ball, competing for Hedlok in order to gain the upper hand would draw everyone towards the item and encourage some serious brawling. Er, assist trophy, I mean. Dang it, I really put this on the wrong list.
Smash Bros has a serious Fire Emblem problem. The series has a weirdly large representation in the cast (and this is coming from someone who places Fire Emblem in their personal top three), and to make it worst many of those characters have a few too many similarities. However, this is due a lot to the fact that the roster of Smash Bros tends to consist of “main characters,” which for Fire Emblem means “blue haired skinny dudes with swords.” This is saddening because every game has a huge wealth of supporting cast members to choose from, many of whom have more unique fighting styles and more compelling personalities than the main cast. Kaze is one such character, the quintessential example of the newest class added to the series thanks to Fire Emblem Fates.
Kaze is a ninja, a character who specializes in hidden weapons that lower the stats of his target. This makes opponents weaker and more vulnerable. The Ninja class also has a Poison Strike skill that chips down the opponent’s health by a certain percentage after the end of the fight. Getting attacked by a ninja leaves a unit drained of health and power, making them a much easier target for whoever comes next. Kaze could function this way as an assist trophy, teleporting about to throw daggers that inflict damage over time or weaken the attack power of the opponent.
This would ultimately make Kaze less lethal than some other assist trophies, but the accumulated damage and weakening effects would make it easier for the player to swoop in and get the points for the kill. The daggers could even have different kinds of weakening effects: maybe sometimes the opponent could end up frozen, or be shrunk, or gain a “floaty” status that makes them easier to knock around. There are lots of cool options with Kaze’s abilities, and having a Fire Emblem representative who isn’t Marth 3000 would be a nice change of pace for the series.
#1: NINTENDO LABO
When it comes to weird stuff that Nintendo has come up with lately, it doesn’t get much weirder than selling cardboard for $60. But while it is tempting to scoff initially at the Labo concept, the fact is that this was a cool idea that appeals to a lot of folks, even some who are not normally gamers or Nintendo fans. As the idea has really taken off, it makes a lot of sense for the next Smash Bros to include some kind of nod to the Labo, but a full character seems like the wrong move to make (despite some suggestions online that Labo-Man could make a good cast member). However, a Labo assist trophy would offer a large number of creative options.
I think the great thing about Labo as an assist trophy – just like the concept in real life – is its versatility. You could trap your opponents in a carboard house and beat up on them a bit. You could get a fishing rod that drags opponents from across the stage towards you – or maybe you control the rod so you can pull them off the edge if you’re lucky. Remote control Toy-Con cars could drive around and deal damage to nearby opponents. The different Toy-Cons offer a number of options for interesting assist trophy concepts.
Of course, I think the most obvious choice here is the Labo Robot. Unleashing the assist trophy could give your character the cardboard backpack while the giant robot appears behind the stage. You can then proceed fighting as normal, but as you punch and jab the giant robot does the same, potentially striking opponents at other parts of the stage or hitting your intended target for a lot more damage. Maybe just before it dissipates it launches a big cardboard missile that explodes and knocks opponents off of the stage. Or it transforms into the vehicle form and allows you to drive around for a few minutes. The Labo is one of the more unique gaming features of the Nintendo Switch, so it makes a lot of sense to show it off in Smash Bros – I think this assist trophy concept is the best way to do that!
Well adventurers, that’s gonna be it for today’s post. I’d love to hear your assist trophy ideas – I know I’ve left out some big Switch games since I haven’t played them at this point (Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade 2 chief among them), so if you’ve got ideas for assists from those games then leave them in the comments below. You’re also welcome to comment if you agree or disagree with the ideas I’ve introduced here, and regardless of whether or not you comment, don’t forget to vote on next week’s Smash Five in the poll below. Thanks for reading, adventurers!