Ever since the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Direct a few weeks back, speculation has run rampant concerning the identity of the mystery mode shown on the game’s main menu screen. Could it be a Subspace Emissary -style story mode? Or an adventure mode like in Super Smash Bros Melee? Lots of folks have different ideas, but one interesting theory I’ve seen making the rounds on multiple websites and YouTube channels is the idea of a boss mode (this video on GameXplain breaks down the speculation really well).
If you’re not in a place where you can watch the video, I’ll include a small explanation here. If you watch the footage of the Dracula and Rathalos fights from the Nintendo Direct, you may notice that the arenas for those fights are different from any existing stages. They seem to be unique locations, and they are very similar to the boss arenas for characters such as Rayquaza in Brawl. One possible interpretation of this information is that there could very well be a boss mode in the game. This mode might be tied to platforming levels or a story of some type, or it could be a boss rush instead. Some have even speculated that the “new way of unlocking characters” that Sakurai has referred to in the past could very well be tied to defeating bosses from various video game franchises.
I like this idea of having the various characters from throughout Nintendo history locked behind boss battles. It incorporates more characters into the game by having them as bosses rather than playable fighters, and it gives us the opportunity to face off against some characters who otherwise would probably never make an appearance in Smash. The question, if this is all the correct interpretation of the information we have so far, is this: what bosses are going to be in the game? Today I’m going to share my thoughts on the bosses that I want to see in the game the most!
#5: THE BLACK KNIGHT – FIRE EMBLEM: PATH OF RADIANCE AND RADIANT DAWN
Sure, Smash Bros has too many Fire Emblem characters in the fighter roster, but does it have too many Fire Emblem bosses? Not yet, anyway, so we may as well start off the oversaturation with one of my favorite villains from the series, The Black Knight. This enigmatic figure is Ike’s rival and is responsible for the death of Ike’s father. And by “responsible,” I mean he plunged the full length of his sacred sword Alondite right through the man’s chest. Brutal! Ike’s quest to become more powerful than the Black Knight leads him to eventually claim Ragnell, sister blade to Alondite and Ike’s signature weapon in the Smash Bros games.
The Black Knight is an intimidating opponent to overcome in the FE games. First off, he’s a general, a class which has nigh-impenetrable defense as well as hitting power. Unlike most generals, the Black Knight is also pretty fast on his feet, able to keep pace with most opponents in spite of his heavy armor. His sword, Alondite, has a ranged option which allows him to send waves of slicing energy at distant foes, and because of this there’s really no safe option for attacking the Black Knight. Finally, his Luna technique allows him to completely ignore the armor of his opponents when it activates, nearly guaranteeing him a killing blow. He’d be an intimidating boss to have to face in Smash Bros!
Ultimately (ha!), the Black Knight sits at the bottom of this list for quite a few reasons. While I think he’s probably one of the most interesting Fire Emblem options because he isn’t a giant dragon (which we already have in Rathalos), his moveset would need some tweaking to give him attacks other than slashing close or slashing far away. He’s yet another boring sword character, and while he’s an intimidating opponent in the tactical RPG setting of Fire Emblem those abilities might not translate to a more action-packed title (his speed, for example, would probably not carry over). So while I like the Black Knight as a villain, there are better options out there and I’d love to see them make it in first.
#4: SEPHIROTH – FINAL FANTASY VII
No, I don’t just want Sephiroth for One Winged Angel…though seriously, that song would be great to Smash to. Realistically within the realm of Final Fantasy bosses, Sephiroth doesn’t rank high on my list. I find a bit boring and overhyped – yes, he kills Aerith, but to pretend that most of his predecessors don’t kill a significant story character before him is a little unfair. Perhaps it’s because Sephiroth already makes boss appearances in Kingdom Hearts, but I just kind of think he’s a boring option. Still, he’s got some reasons why he’s less boring than other options that are out there.
One trend we’re already seeing with bosses based on the Direct trailers is that they are big and slow. Rathalos is a dragon. Dracula is a tall magic dude who shoots fire and teleports. Can we get more boring and basic when it comes to bosses than that? No we can’t. Sephiroth, at least, offers something unique when it comes to villains because he has a larger variety of abilities than your typical final boss. He’s fast as hell, his weapon has huge range, and he has a wide variety of spells with all sorts of crippling effects. Variety is the spice of life and fighting games, and Sephiroth has a lot more variety to offer than many of the boss characters that I can imagine appearing in Smash Bros.
Sephiroth also offers the option of having multiple forms for his boss battle, something that you’re going to see as a theme in my suggestions. The cool thing about Sephiroth is his battle kind of reverses the typical JRPG final boss. Normally, you get the tame human form of the character and then when they almost die they turn into some crazy monstrous form with “unlimited power.” With Sephiroth, the monstrosity known as “Safer Sephiroth” comes first and then his human form follows after. From a gameplay perspective, Sephiroth’s human form is probably going to be faster and harder to hit, giving him more momentum and offensive pressure than Safer Sephiroth, so that change of pace would be really nice compared to some of the other boss battle possibilities.
#3: CALAMITY GANON – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
Remember how I said that various forms will be a theme here? I prefer nearly all of Ganondorf’s human forms to even the best form of monster Ganon, but Calamity Ganon is easily the coolest version of the villain’s less human side. Breath of the Wild gave us not only Calamity Ganon itself but also four different elemental versions, each with unique weapons and fighting style to bring to the table. And if we assume that you start with only the roster of the original Super Smash Bros at the beginning of the game, that means we have five different Zelda characters to unlock: Zelda, Sheik, Ganondorf, Young Link, and Toon Link. Five forms, five characters – it all works out pretty nicely.
If I had to narrow it down to only one form of Calamity Ganon to appear in the game, Thunderblight Ganon would absolutely be my choice. This form is wickedly fast, teleporting all about and moving in for quick, powerful slashes. It’s shield gives it a useful defensive option against your attacks, and when it unleashes its lightning magic it makes it very difficult to move around the arena. I struggled with Thunderblight Ganon the most out of the four elemental forms, and maybe even more than I struggled against Calamity Ganon itself. At the very least, I certainly died more often against it.
This fusion of malice and machine is one of the more compelling bosses I think could make it into Smash Bros, but I think there are a couple of reasons why there are more interesting choices. One of my biggest complaints about Breath of the Wild is how having all four dungeon bosses be various forms of Ganon made the dungeons feel less special. In previous Zelda titles, the uniqueness of each dungeon’s boss was a huge selling point, and non-final bosses such as Stallord (Twilight Princess), Twinrova (Ocarina of Time), and Helmaroc (Wind Waker) create memorable experiences in those games. I’d like to see more of those types of bosses in the games but feel like they are less likely, so they didn’t make the list.
#2: KAMEK – YOSHI’S ISLAND
Nintendo has a long history with unique characters, and some of those characters have bosses that at first glance may not seem like the “coolest” inclusions in a fighting game. However, I think it’s important to include those types of characters in the boss mode, and for me the most obvious choice for the villain of a less popular character is Bowser’s underling Kamek, the main antagonist of the Yoshi’s Island games.
Kamek’s main jam is showing up during other boss battles and sprinkling his magic on the bad guys to make them bigger and more powerful. I think this could be a great hook for the boss mode in Smash Ultimate. It could even justify the transformations of certain characters who are already in the game. Maybe when you’re trying to unlock Ganondorf, you meet his normal in-game form but Kamek turns him into Calamity Ganon. The same thing could happen to Bowser to facilitate his transformation into the deadly Giga Bowser. Of course, I think it’d be fun too to face actual bosses from Yoshi’s Island, like Burt the Bashful and his goofy striped pants.
The main thing that keeps me from having Kamek in the number one slot is that, by himself, his boss fight would probably be a bit lackluster. He’s more interesting to me as a plot device than as an actual boss, so while he justifies some compelling transformations for other characters and could factor into the game’s boss mode in an interesting way, there’s still one boss I would be more excited to see in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. My number one choice for a boss to be incorporated into Smash Ultimate is:
#1: BLUE – POKEMON RED AND BLUE
The original Pokemon rival and champion himself, Blue is easily my favorite rival and one of my favorite champions in the whole series. Unlike modern rivals, who are really more like friendly playmates, Blue kept you on your toes and challenged you to be your best. He always seemed to be one step ahead of you, and that was never more true than when you defeated Lance the Dragon Master and found out that there was one other person you needed to take down before becoming the Pokemon League champion.
Like Pokemon Trainer in the game’s playable roster, Blue wouldn’t fight directly. Instead, he would have his full team of six Pokemon and be able to switch between them, giving you six boss fights for the price of one. In the original Red and Blue, Blue’s team changed based on the starter you chose, but I think it would be most interesting to use the Pokemon that he uses in place of the starters since the starters are already represented on the roster. This would give him Alakazam, Rhydon, Pidgeot, Exeggutor, Gyarados, and Arcanine as his Pokemon team, a pretty good balance of enemy types that would have a variety of moves to bring against you.
I love the idea of having to face multiple rotating bosses with variety of fighting styles. Rhydon, for example, would be slow but powerful, able to resist hits easily and deliver deadly blows that would send you flying. Pidgeot’s flight capabilities would make it an evasive target, particular for characters like Little Mac who have a poor aerial game. Gyarados could use moves like Dive and Waterfall to move around the arena in unique ways, constantly changing locations and forcing you to try new tactics. Alakazam could be frail up close but absolutely deadly at range, and use its psychic powers and teleportation to create distance. As a grass Pokemon, Exeggutor could keep itself alive with healing moves that kept its percentage low, forcing the player to fight defensively against moves like Giga Drain or Dream Eater but offensively when it uses something like Synthesis or Ingrain. Finally, since Arcanine is a versatile Pokemon with both physical and special attacks as well as offensive and defensive options, it could serve as the final form with a balance of all the advantages that the other team members offer.
So there you have it, adventurers, my list of the top five bosses I’d want to see in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. What do you think of my list? I’m sure everyone reading has their own bosses they’d love to see in the game, so let me know in the comments what character you want to see in Smash Ultimate’s boss mode – if indeed that’s what the mystery mode is! If you’re curious about my other thoughts on Smash Ultimate, including other options for single player modes, click on the Smash Five category in the sidebar to your right to see all of my top fives lists concerning this exciting title.