You know, I thought after writing ten articles the week of E3, I would be pretty over talking about the various games showed off there. But in a strange way, covering all the press conferences and scanning the game trailers for secrets actually increased my writing energy rather than sapping it away. Just in the weekend after E3 I’ve already written three articles on games I’m excited for, and this will be the fourth. Since I’ve returned to my normal posting schedule, you’re reading this over a week after I put the article together. That is how excited I am to talk about this game some more!
The Nintendo Direct for Super Smash Bros Ultimate revealed a new politically-correct term for the character type we used to refer to as “clones:” echo fighters. These characters are not unique enough compared to an existing fighter to earn a solid spot on the roster, but instead they are alternates of sorts. There are slight differences, for example, between Marth and Lucina, but in reality Lucina’s abilities are based so heavily on Marth’s that to call her a unique character would be something of a stretch. The Direct also revealed a new echo fighter, Princess Daisy, whose abilities are largely based on Princess Peach.
So here’s the thing: why would Sakurai (the creator of Super Smash Bros) put a unique designation on these character types and point them out in the trailer if there are only going to be three of them in the game? He’s stated quite clearly that there won’t be as many newcomers in this Smash Bros, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the concept of an echo fighter was utilized as a quick and easy way to add some additional characters to the Smash Bros roster. So today, I thought it would be fun to discuss which five characters I’d like to see make appearances as echo fighters in the game!
Protoman is one of my favorite characters in the Mega Man series. He’s got a neat shield, a snappy red outfit, and the little tune that plays every time he appears on screen is quite catchy. When I used to play Mega Man: The Power Battle as a young kid, I always played as Protoman because I thought his blaster was more powerful since it looked like fire.
The obvious character for Protoman to echo would be Mega Man. Their abilities in the source material are effectively the same, with one being the prototype that led to the other. As such, it makes a lot of sense for Protoman to utilize Mega Man’s moves. His aesthetic alterations could be to change his special moves to ones that work similarly to Mega Man’s but are actually a different weapon. For example, the Leaf Shield has multiple moves that work pretty similarly in the Mega Man series – the Junk Shield, the Skull Barrier, etc. – which could be utilized by Protoman instead.
The reason Protoman is at the bottom of my list today is twofold. One, Protoman is a third party character, which I imagine means there would be more hoops to jump through when it comes to making him playable in the game. To further complicate that, he’s already been added as one of the characters firing a laser as part of Mega Man’s Final Smash, along with Bass. This is almost like asking for an assist trophy to make it into the game as a playable character, so while I would love to have a playable Protoman, I also think it is possibly the least likely of my suggestions. Except, maybe, for this next one…
#4: BANJO AND KAZOOIE
Few characters are so highly demanded in Smash Bros as these two, but there’s good reason behind it. Banjo and Kazooie were iconic parts of many a Nintendo kid’s childhood, so much so that the original creators used their indie company to create a spiritual successor. I enjoyed these games and played them a lot with my sister and cousins, whether trying to work our way through the story together or competing in the multiplayer mode of Banjo Tooie.
So who would these two echo, exactly? Stay with me, here: Duck Hunt Dog. When I originally saw this character in action, I honestly felt a bit of frustration because my first thought was “these punks just stole a potential Banjo Kazooie moveset!” The way the dog and the duck interact together seems to me like the perfect fighting style to copy in order to add these childhood heroes into Super Smash Bros Ultimate. It would take perhaps more work than is preferred for an echo fighter, as Banjo Kazooie would be larger than Duck Hunt Dog and any moves specifically related to hunting would need to be changed. Still, this list doesn’t have to be completely practical, and I’d love these two to be in the game.
Of course, the impracticality of this whole thing is why Banjo and his bird buddy aren’t any higher on the list. They’d likely require too many changes to just be an echo character of Duck Hunt Dog, and like Protoman we’re looking at characters owned by a third party who would be tricky to negotiate into the game just to have a role as a clo- er, echo fighter. So as much as I would love to see these two in Smash, chances are they’re gonna stay on X-Box and rot away into oblivion.
#3: PAPER MARIO AND LUIGI
If there’s anybody in the Super Smash Bros franchise who probably doesn’t need a clone, Mario would be pretty high on the list. It took some time for Luigi to really differentiate himself from his brother, and Dr. Mario just added another wrinkle to the whole thing. But the Paper Mario games are my personal favorite version of the Mario franchise, and I would love to see my favorite versions of these characters make a legitimate appearance in Smash Ultimate. Besides, there’s someone else in the roster who I think would be a better fit for these characters to echo: the Ice Climbers.
Think about it. Paper Mario always works in tandem with a partner. His signature weapon is a hammer. They’d even probably come out to around the same height! Having Paper Mario and Paper Luigi as echoes of Nana and Popo would give us another tandem character with a distinct visual style while not requiring too many complicated additions to the game, either. I also think it would be pretty simple to replace the ice assets for the Ice Climbers with fire assets more suited to the brothers. The only odd thing might be the recovery – Nana and Popo can’t really launch upward without each others’ help, while Mario and Luigi should be able to jump on their own (canonically speaking). Maybe one of their mild differences from their source character could be that they recover a little better without their partner.
I think the main barrier with this idea is that Paper Mario (and particularly Paper Luigi) aren’t all that relevant to be included in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Color Splash had a decent reception but still nothing to the levels of the original two games in the series. And unless Intelligent Systems is working on something I don’t know about, right now there’s no evidence that a Switch Paper Mario is on Nintendo’s radar at all. So while I think this echo fighter concept makes sense and I personally would love to see it, I doubt there are many others who would.
Yeesh, and I talked about how Mario clones are too numerous. Fire Emblem is the series which possibly has the most ridiculous amount of representation compared to its actual popularity. Marth already has an echo fighter in the form of Lucina, and realistically Roy plays quite a bit like him. Roy also has some mild similarities to Ike. Really, the only Fire Emblem characters with any degree of uniqueness are Robin and Corrin, the player characters from Awakening and Fates. I think Celica would make the most sense as an echo of the former.
Like Robin, Celica’s fighting style blends magic and swordplay together. Her preferred sword isn’t the levin sword like Robin, though, so that might be one of the subtle changes between her and the character she echoes (ha!). Her spells are also different from Robin’s, particularly since she focuses more on light magic, but a mild aesthetic change for some of the special moves shouldn’t be all that complicated. I could also see a version of Celica that was a Zelda echo instead, but I think Robin makes more sense for her.
I think it’d be cool to have more female representation in Smash Ultimate, but while Celica is certainly popular in Echoes, I don’t know that she has that much popularity in the wider Fire Emblem fandom. When you add that to the fact that we really and truly do have too many characters from this one series, I think it would be better to have newcomers (even echo fighters) come from a franchise that is criminally underrepresented. And that brings us to my number one pick!
The Legend of Zelda is arguably Nintendo’s most successful series, surpassed only by Mario (and I would argue that Zelda’s popularity in a fandom sense is actually a lot stronger). Yet when it comes to characters, we actually only have three: three versions of Link, Zelda and her alternate Sheik, and then Ganondorf, the villain. While I will allow that it’s difficult to choose Zelda characters with staying power because the games in the series aren’t meaningfully connected, the Triforce Trio aren’t the only ones who make an appearance in nearly every Zelda game. Impa is a huge character throughout the series and she would make an excellent addition to Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Perhaps the path of an echo fighter is the best way to get her in.
The great thing about Impa is that she’s got a pretty storied history than lends itself to a few different possibilities. The one I’ve seen online from other people tweeting about this sort of thing is to have her as an echo of Sheik, focusing on the more ninja-like Impa from games like Skyward Sword. That’s certainly well and good, but having another woman in the game whose jam is being frail but fast (or frail but magical) is a bit of a boring option. I think it would be more compelling to incorporate a version of Impa who is powerful and imposing, and the way to do that would be to have her Hyrule Warriors incarnation as an echo of Cloud.
It may seem like a weird combination at first, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Impa’s main weapon in Hyrule Warriors is a Biggoron Sword that easily matches the size of Cloud’s Buster Sword. Her water-based special attacks translate pretty easily to alternate versions of Cloud’s moves, and honestly she has moves already in her combos that resemble Cloud’s specials (a jumping slash similar to Climhazzard, an attack with multiple water swords similar to Cross Slash, etc). The limit gauge could be a magic meter like the one in Hyrule Warriors (they even have similar effects when filled), and her version of Finishing Touch could be a whirlpool of water instead of a swirling wind. I think Impa is a great character to incorporate into Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and doing so as a Cloud echo would make her a unique character in comparison to the other women present in the game.
Well adventurers, there you have it, my five choices for echo fighters in Super Smash Bros Ultimate! I’d love to hear your own thoughts as to which characters you think would make great echo fighters, so be sure to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, and if you’re interested in any other Smash Ultimate speculation be sure to check out the other Smash Five posts by clicking on the category to your right!