Rating Super Smash Bros Ultimate Newcomers: Were They Worthy?

Super Smash Bros Ultimate has surpassed its five year anniversary, and has since become the defining factor of what makes a video game character iconic. Each and every one of the characters added to the roster of any game in the Super Smash Bros series is a celebration of that character’s history, and is- or at least should be- celebrated by fans.

Not all Super Smash Bros characters are created equal, however- and I’m not talking about viability in-game, nor am I talking about the quality of work put into the character by the development team. Some characters are simply better additions than others. Some characters feel more “healthy-” did they truly add to the Super Smash Bros. experience and allow people to engage in more positive online discourse? Some characters earned their place in the roster.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s large roster ended up putting a strain on the amount of new fighters added to the fray in the base game. However, Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s two Fighters Pass DLC additions added a whopping eleven more characters to the mix, most of them being third party additions that nobody in their wildest dreams could’ve predicted. It was the point where Super Smash Bros went from representing Nintendo’s icons to gaming icons as a whole.

I’m going to be taking a closer look at the new additions in retrospect, and decide if they were good additions or not, starting with the new additions that weren’t part of the DLC releases. Did they represent Nintendo and/or gaming well? Did they leave an overall positive impact on the game? Did they make a character that was at least fun to play? Maybe. Another thing to keep in mind is the fanbase’s climate at the time of the release. For instance, was the character previously wanted by the fanbase and what was the general reception to their addition.

Inkling – Splatoon Series:
Now this is how you do a reveal trailer for a new entry. Inkling was probably the most-obvious pick for the next Super Smash Bros. considering the first Splatoon game released a year after the previous entry in the Super Smash Bros series. New Super Smash Bros game reveal aside, this trailer was handled quite nicely, mimicking the original Splatoon’s reveal trailer from way back in 2014. It’s also cute to see how both the Super Smash Bros reveals for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U acted as fakeouts for Animal Crossing and Splatoon respectively. Inkling’s moveset is a great representation of the Splatoon series’ gameplay, and they were overall the next logical step in Nintendo’s first party representation as well as just a good addition in general.

Daisy – Super Mario Series:
A crowd-pleasing addition. Daisy was one of those obvious fan picks that would act as a clone character- which would officially be dubbed an “Echo Fighter-” for Peach. It’s not the most creative pick, but a satisfying one nonetheless.

Ridley – Metroid Series:
Ridley was probably the most-wanted character from a Nintendo franchise. Ridley always struggled to find a place in Super Smash Bros due to the -let’s be honest- lame reason of being “too big.” Meanwhile, characters like Olimar and Kirby were so small they had to be sized up, so why couldn’t Ridley shrink down to size fit for Super Smash Bros? Ridley’s addition was perfectly executed. The trailer itself knew exactly what fans wanted, and that title of “Ridley: Hits the big time!” makes it apparent that this addition was a love letter to fans. Ridley’s moveset is a great mix of utilizing his repulsive yet cool character design, as well as classic Metroid references. He brings this oppressive atmosphere to any match, which is a fitting characteristic for Ridley himself. Ridley’s been waiting patiently in the shadows ever since fans thought he’d be in Super Smash Bros Melee due to a misleading cutscene, but when the chance came, he took it with all the grace of a purple demonic space pirate.

Simon and Richter – Castlevania Series:
Another fan favorite, and our “retro pick” for this entry of Super Smash Bros much like Duck Hunt, R.O.B., and Mr. Game & Watch before them. While Richter may be a little more of a deep cut compared to Simon, Simon is easily a gaming icon and a great third party pick. They’re fluid but they also remind you of the difficulty of the Castlevania games. You love to see a character that plays just like they did in the source material. Also, Simon and Richter had one of the best, or at least most memorable reveal trailers to date.

Dark Samus – Metroid Prime Series
I’m starting to notice a theme with these Echo Fighters being good crowd pleasers but not much else. Dark Samus is a pretty obvious choice with an awesome character design, but adds some much-needed Metroid Series bulk to the roster, and seeing a representative for Metroid Prime is pretty neat.

Chrom – Fire Emblem Awakening
Unnecessary but inoffensive. Fire Emblem’s conquest of the Super Smash Bros roster continued with Chrom, a character who already appeared in the Final Smash of a previous Fire Emblem Awakening representative, Robin. It’s nice to finally see him get his own spot, but I thought fans would’ve gotten over the fact that he wasn’t his own character by now. Maybe Chrom wouldn’t have seemed as unnecessary if it weren’t for some no-name like Corrin being added in Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. It’s cute that he’s got a spot, but were we really missing him that much?

King K. Rool – Donkey Kong Series
A fun moveset that comes with a character filled with personality, as well as giving Donkey Kong a much-needed rival in Super Smash Bros, King K. Rool is a great addition. He looks great with the crisp, clean upgrade from his Super Nintendo appearance, and it’s great to see King K. Rool being lumped in shoulder-to-shoulder with other classic Nintendo villains.

Isabelle – Animal Crossing Series
Cute, but did she really need to be her own character?

Ken – Street Fighter Series
Feels a little too much like a fan pick for me, almost as if Ken is a modification of Ryu, just with the higher level of quality you’d expect from Masahiro Sakurai’s team of developers. Is Ken iconic to Street Fighter? Sure. But gaming as a whole? I’m not so sure. The 2D fighting game representatives are always unique implementations, but they always feel a bit sluggish, and Ken continues this trend.

Incineroar – Pokemon Series
A fine choice considering the 7th generation of Pokemon games released in between Super Smash Bros Ultimate and the previous Super Smash Bros entry, but Incineroar should not have been the final new fighter in the base game to be revealed. It’s hard to say who I’d make the final reveal. Capping off the new announcements with Ridley would’ve been cathartic, but I think his placement as the first new character revealed after the big E3 2019 trailer for the game was too perfect. Maybe the fact that I’m talking about a completely different character should speak for the quality of Incineroar’s addition.

Piranha Plant – Super Mario Series
The Super Mario series takes up a reasonable amount of space in the Super Smash Bros roster, and yet fans were still begging for more additions like Waluigi or Geno. Waluigi? What kind of moveset would that inspire? That’s right. Nothing. Geno? That sad old puppet hasn’t been relevant since the 90’s. The correct answer for another Super Mario character was never a character, but a thing. The audacity of an emotionless enemy from the Super Mario games being added to one of the biggest crossover game series of all time makes Piranha Plant just so hard to hate. Such a creative moveset, mixing in all of the tidbits of lore from the Super Mario series and different variations of other Piranha Plants from the series a fan could ever dream of. Despite me calling him “emotionless” earlier, they really nailed Piranha Plant’s likeness in those character animations. Piranha Plant is the ultimate underdog. He’s one of the most easily-avoidable enemies in the source games- and probably not even that iconic compared to the likes of Goombas or Koopa Troopas, let alone other Super Mario mainstays- and that’s why fans love him. Is Piranha Plant a gaming icon? No. Is Piranha Plant a Super Mario icon? Debatable, but sure. But is he a Super Smash Bros icon? Absolutely yes.

There’s one thing I’ve noticed with these base game additions, and it’s that they’re some real crowd-pleasers. Fan favorites that people have always seen as possible additions, and that’s something you really love to see. It’s relatively quaint compared to the oddball additions introduced in the Fighter’s Pass, which was definitely more focussed on gaming icons (and Fire Emblem), but at the time, reveals like Ridley or King K. Rool were mind-blowing. I think that’s a good way of thinking about it. The newcomers for the base Super Smash Bros Ultimate game were all about giving fans what they wanted, but little did those fans know that the newcomers of their wildest dreams were on the way.