Ranking Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s New Character Introductions Over The Last 5 Years

Ranking Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s New Character Introductions Over The Last 5 Years
Gif: Nintendo / Namco / Square Enix / Kotaku / Shutterstock.

Game director Masahiro Sakurai has said there are no plans for a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sequel, despite claiming it might not totally end the series. Either way, we know Kingdom Hearts’ Sora was the crossover fighter’s last DLC, meaning no other newcomers are joining the roster. As disappointing as that sounds, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate houses 89 total characters to pick from, most of which have some kind of cinematic that introduced them to the game. Since the platform brawler might be the series’ last as far as we know, let’s look at the newcomers and rank their openings from worst to best. You might be surprised who takes this list’s top spot.

Inkling

It’s easy to see why Inkling’s introduction is the weakest among all the newcomers. The entire background is just white, with two Inklings trying to splatter each other while the theme song plays behind them. The main problem here is we don’t get to really know the Inklings in the same way other openings introduce us to the character, putting this one in last place.

Piranha Plant

The first DLC newcomer Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduced, Piranha Plant’s opening is meh. There’s no charm or pizazz. During the cutscene, all we see are characters like Luigi and Yoshi spinning with stars over their heads while Mario walks up to the plant, only to get knocked away after a brief exchange. It’s short and simple, which is rather effective, but this one is just straight-up boring when compared to the various other openings.

Banjo-Kazooie

This can be short. It’s basically King K. Rool’s intro but with Duck Hunt posing as Banjo-Kazooie instead of King Dedede masquerading as the crocodile. Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong, and King K. Rool are flabbergasted by this prank, then get hyped when the bear and bird duo land on Duck Hunt. Cool stuff, but we’ve seen this opening before so it’s old shit. Next.

Alex / Steve / Zombie / Enderman

We’ve seen Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introductions like this before, with a variety of characters fighting each other in-game before the newcomer gets introduced. This takes a slightly different approach to the concept, but the skeleton is the same, making it relatively unoriginal compared to other openings. And once Mario gets blasted away, the whole introduction is black until Steve from Minecraft digs his way to Mario, only to then leave him to get blown to bits by a creeper. Nintendo also smashes three other Minecraft characters into this one opening in an attempt to placate fans.

Terry Bogard

While it’s fine that Terry Bogard’s opening is rendered in a pixel art aesthetic similar to Fatal Fury, it’s not that inventive of an introduction if we’re being honest. A host of the game’s characters reaching for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate invitation is not new. Still, Fatal Fury antagonist Geese Howard apparently falling to his death after jumping off a skyscraper for the envelope is pretty funny, indicating anyone will do anything to get invited — even risking their own lives. Shame Mai Shiranui never got her chance to shine in Smash.

King K. Rool

This is a silly-arse opening that’s incredibly brief, which is why it falls so low. King Dedede’s prank on Diddy and Donkey Kong is funny, and I love seeing Dedede get the shit smacked out of him by King K. Rool. It signals the big crocodile as the apex predator. Still, King K. Rool’s introduction is short and reused later for Banjo-Kazooie’s introductory cinematic to the game, so it’s not that novel, especially when other openings are better.

Incineroar / Ken

I mean, it’s a cool opening, sure. Seeing Little Mac and Ken duking it out in the boxing arena in gorgeous 3D is exhilarating, like watching an actual MMA match or a fighting anime or something. Then there’s Incineroar, who shows up in the same introduction to fight fire with fire. It’s very cool, just not as cool as some other newcomer openings in Smash Ultimate. I do love Incineroar’s exhaustion at seeing other people line up to fight him, though.

Richter / Simon

It’s great seeing Dracula’s Castle from Castlevania rendered in 3D. There are all manner of spooky horrors in this introduction, from mummies to possessed busts, and even a skeleton Grim Reaper, which gets its jaw busted by Simon. This is also one of the few dual openings, with Richter coming to save Simon during a fight with Dracula. It’s very cool, albeit very dark, and mostly held up by Luigi, who gets his soul reaped and spooked.

The Hero

One of the longer openings here, The Hero’s introduction is a pretty emotional affair if you care about Link, who’s getting his arse whooped by dark versions of both Marth and Meta Knight before The Hero from Dragon Quest jumps in. The triumphant music and blaring horns really solidify The Hero living up to his name. He also gets pummelled by dark versions of tons of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters, but seeing various Heroes from the other Dragon Quest games come together is fanfare at its finest.

Byleth

While there are still too many Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Byleth’s introduction is captivating. It oscillates between a couple of different art styles, transplanting us to both the Fire Emblem and Smash Bros. universes, which is cool to see. It’s a shame Byleth is a silent protagonist, as they don’t seem to have much agency here, but seeing Sothis convince Byleth to join is a hype moment for Fire Emblem fans. Can’t say every Smash Bros. fan had the same reaction to the reveal, though.

Mythra / Pyra

Yes, there are also too many sword characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Seeing Mythra/Pyra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 join the roster didn’t feel that impressive, but the opening is still funny on account of Rex being denied the invitation. What makes this introduction fascinating is the world-building, with Rex looking all over Alrest for her, only to be told she’s leaving to participate in Smash. I love moments like this in these openings, as we get to know the series’ characters and their reaction to the invitation.

Joker

Points do go to Joker for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s most stylish opening. The fact that Nintendo used Persona 5‘s art style to render various scenes in Joker’s introduction is striking. But then there’s also dialogue from the Phantom Thieves, which puts you right in Persona 5‘s world. I also love Joker stealing King K. Rool’s crown at the end. It’s great.

Ridley

Ridley may not be a DLC character, as he’s unlockable by completing Classic Mode, but he’s still a newcomer to the franchise, so he’s on the list. He’s also a little closer to the top on account of his ominous opening, which sees Ridley straight-up murdering both Mario and Mega Man before revealing himself to his nemesis, Samus Aran, in some dimly-lit facility. It’s a frightening introduction, with chilling music and a piercing screech to boot. I guess that it didn’t really matter much that he was supposedly too big, since Sakurai very easily added Ridley in after hyping him up for years.

Sephiroth

So, I’m a little biased toward Sephiroth on account of Final Fantasy VII being one of my favourite video games ever. While much of his Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduction looks like scenes ripped from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, I just love the white-haired villain’s ruthlessness. I mean, he shows up preparing to blow the game to bits and is hot while doing it. The fact that the opening ends with Cloud omnislashing Sephiroth before he transforms into Safer-Sephiroth, a callback to Final Fantasy VII, also makes my heart sing. And to put the cherry on top, he’s also one of the few Smash characters to have an optional boss fight. It’s clear the attention to detail Nintendo put in here.

Min Min

Perhaps the coolest rendered opening in terms of art style alone, Min Min’s introduction is a damn fun time, just like the fighting game she hails from, Arms. I love Kirby inhaling ramen like a vacuum cleaner, while Min Min secretly dips out of the ramen house she’s seemingly employed at to claim the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate invitation for herself after battling every other Arms character for it. It’s funny and visually striking, making it one of the more entertaining openings Smash Bros. has had in a long time.

Kazuya Mishima

This has got to be the funniest opening. Maybe that’s morbid, since Tekken’s Kazuya Mishima tosses every defeated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter into a volcano, effectively killing them. But something about that is comical. I mean it’s one after the other: Ganondorf, Captain Falcon, Pit, even Min Min (whose stretchy arm gets wrapped around his ankle). It’s lustful in the exact way Kazuya is. The best part? Kazuya checks the cliffside, wondering if he’s thrown Kirby into the volcano, only for the pink balloon to float back up. You can’t kill Kirby. It’s an impossibility, so give up.

Sora

The last character added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s roster, Kingdom HeartsSora has an emotional introduction, particularly for series fans. It feels like quintessential Kingdom Hearts, with the keyblade unlocking a door that transports Sora to Smash. It also gushes finale as Sora flies above all the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighters while a “Simple and Clean” orchestral instrumental plays in the background. Mario and Sora shaking hands is a beautiful conclusion for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, considering the hurdles Sakurai had to overcome for that moment.

Isabelle

Perhaps one of the longest intros here, Isabelle’s opening is too cute. We get to see her roaming around an office, tending to tasks while contemplating the idea of mayorship since the Villager is preoccupied with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What I love most about this, besides her shock at getting an invitation, is how intimately we get to know Isabelle. Here’s a Shih Tzu that’s adorable, personable, respectable, and tidy. What’s not to like about everyone’s favourite Animal Crossing character?

Many of these openings are cool in isolation, but a few of them leave a lot to be desired in their totality. Still, with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate coming to an end, and the series as a whole seemingly wrapping up, it’s nice to reminisce over who was added to the crossover brawler and what that introduction looked like. So, here’s to Masahiro Sakurai and his talented development team for putting together one helluva game. Now, can someone please tell Sakurai to retire and take a damn break already?

 

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