Super Smash Bros has always been a team of all-stars – a crew of the most recognizable figures in all of video game culture. I mean, stop and think about it for second: Pacman, Mario, and Sonic are in (*deep breaths*) the same video game. Nobody would’ve thought that was remotely possible twenty years ago! And yet, here we are: the largest roster in a fighting game, comprising the biggest cross-over event in entertainment history (Well, maybe except for Pixels, if you want to count that).
Every time a Super Smash Bros-themed Nintendo Directs roll around, the expectations for new character reveals ahead of time. With there already being such an astonishing roster of recognizable characters, people expect only the best from Sakurai and Nintendo – they expect character reveals of video game mascots such as Banjo-Kazooie, Alucard, and Geno. And when supposed “leaks” seem to confirm fan-favorite picks, the pre-conceived expectations are even stronger.
Well, unmerited presuppositions lead to disappointment – that’s exactly what happened in the last Super Smash Bros Direct.
In last week’s Direct, Nintendo unveiled a couple of characters that were expected from previous leaks: Ken and Incineroar. Reception to both was very positive – I don’t think you’ll find anyone who is actively against Ken being in Smash. But the main reason people took issue with the final Smash Ultimate direct was a single character: Piranha Plant. “What’s wrong with this plant?” you might ask. On the surface, it seems like a decent enough character! It has a wide range of attacks, from a spiky ball it spits out to a wide-reaching vine-extension. It has some seriously fast ground mobility, a powerful spike, a dramatic final smash – overall, Piranha seems like a great fighter! So why do people take issue with him?
As I said earlier, Smash Brothers has been a collection of the most recognizable video game characters since the nineties. The way many see it, Piranha Plant doesn’t belong in that category of “all-star” status, therefore, he shouldn’t be allowed in the game. I believe that Shesez, coordinator of the YouTube series “Boundary Break”, voices this side of the argument very well:
I think Pirahnna Plant is a clear indication that most fans of smash bros are just excited to see a new character they can recognize.
Where as i fall into a minority where I dont like the idea of a generic character no one asked for in a game about video game all stars
— Shesez🎦 (@BoundaryBreak) November 1, 2018
The Other Side
So, what’s the other side of the argument? Let me state it as best as I can.
I believe that the Smash Brothers roster, while it does contain a group of very famous video game figures, is still an incredibly inclusive list. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are many characters on the current list that aren’t “all-stars”, so to speak. Say what you will about the quality of Xenoblade Chronicles, but it never sold more than a million copies on Wii, and barely hit 500,000 on 3DS. Shulk isn’t exactly a video game icon. Or what about R.O.B.? While it’s great to have him as an addition now, before his reveal in Super Smash Bros Brawl, it was impossible to believe that the NES add-on toy could have so much fame in the 21st century. The same goes for Mr. Game and Watch. And of course, the most infamous example: is Fire Emblem well-recognized enough to merit 8 fighters in Smash Ultimate? That’s a tenth of the roster!
But now that these somewhat-less-important characters are “in”, I’m glad that they’re here. In my humble opinion, every single fighter in Smash Brothers is a mainstay now. In Smash, even the “little guys” like Shulk and ROB have a chance to stand loud and proud next to such legends as Mario and Link. And with Ultimate specifically, Nintendo is leaning into that inclusivity even more. literally every single fighter from the franchise’s history is going to be playable from day one – even the ones that were kicked out of the club before.
The Most Open Fighter
Inclusivity is Ultimate’s motto – that’s why Piranha Plant is such an awesome character! It’s unexpected, uninvited, and unappreciated, but the Smash scene is still going to be all the sillier and better because of it. Sure, it may be not be a “character” in the traditional sense – it isn’t THE Piranha Plant, it’s just A piranha plant. But who cares?! I say the more the better, and the sillier and more unexpected the picks are, the more diverse the roster is, and the better the game is.
So please, Nintendo, block out all the Waluigi fan-boys and Shadow mourners – listen to me and develop more characters like Piranha Plant! Give us more baddies and “non-characters” like Bokoblins, Toads, Shy Guys, and Waddle Dees. Throw a Gordo in while you’re at it, or maybe one of the creepy realistic people from Mario Odyssey. Why not have a Deku Baba as an echo fighter for Piranha Plant? Or the nose hair-picking guy from Warioware? Just do it all! The Smash roster will be all the better for it.
For more on Smash Bros, be sure to check our list of Ultimate’s top 5 character reveals.