OpinionVideo Games

A Challenger Approaches – An In-Depth Look at the Newcomers To Super Smash Bros. 4

Erik Fattrosso ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The roster of Super Smash Bros. 4 for 3DS is staggering, coming in with 48 playable fighters. Of those, 14 are completely new to the franchise. Let’s take a look at each of the newcomers and what they bring to the table.

Lucina

Lucina
Lucina. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Originally intended as a palette swap for Marth, she handles almost exactly the same as he does. Her special moves are all identical, as is her final smash where she dashes across the screen, instantly killing the first enemy in which she makes contact. The only real difference between them is that while Marth’s sword deals more damage with the tip, Lucina’s deals the same amount of damage no matter what part of the sword she hits the enemy.

Dark Pit

dark pit
Dark Pit. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

The second clone in the game, Dark Pit, is a clone of Pit. Like Lucina, he has very minimal differences to his origin. Each of his special moves is the same, but his final smash is different. It functions similarly to Zelda’s Light Arrow from Brawl, being a straight shot projectile that sends anyone hit flying off screen. His normal attacks deal more up front damage than Pit, but his launching capability is lower.

Little Mac

Little Mac. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Little Mac. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

A completely new character, Little Mac is best played on the ground. He’s incredibly quick and can deal out massive damage with his standard punches. His standard special is a charging punch. When released, he charges forward with a blazing punch with high knockback. His side special sends him into a leap forward with a downward punch. Useful for both damage and survivability, it can be one of Little Mac’s most helpful tools. His down special is a standard counter that has exceptional knockback, and his up special is an uppercut that, while doing good damage, isn’t all that helpful as for as recovery. In addition to his specials, he has a unique Power Meter that fills as he deals and receives damage. Once full, his standard special is replaced with a powerful uppercut that will generally result in a one hit knock out. His Final Smash transforms him into Giga Mac in which, similar in concept to Giga Bowser, he becomes larger, stronger, and resistant to knockback for the duration. As almost all of his moves are punches and other boxing moves, leaving the ground is a bad idea. He may very well be one of the strongest ground control characters in the game, but once his feet leave the ground he becomes almost defenseless.

Robin

Robin. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Robin. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Robin moves at a speed that is slightly slower than Marth of Lucina. She fights with both a sword and magic in her standard attacks and specials. Her standard special is a blast of thunder, which can be charged, resulting in a quicker, more devastating blast. Her side special is similar to Ness’ PK Fire. It shoots out a ball of fire that explodes into a small column of flame when it hits either the ground or an enemy. Her Up special propels her upwards while shooting down two attacks. This can be great for recovery and keeping the enemy off you while trying to make a quick escape. Robin’s down special serves as a close range grab, but rather than hit the enemy once grabbed, they are dealt damage over a brief period of time, while also healing Robin. Her Final Smash is a modified version of Ike’s. She swings her sword in a close range startup and, if she connects, sends her enemy high into the air where her and Chrom will team up to pound the enemy senseless. What makes Robin unique is her Durability system. She can only use different abilities a set number of times before it becomes unusable for a brief time. Each ability has a different number of allotted uses. For example, Thunder can be used much more frequently than Nosferatu, the health drain grab. This system also applies to her sword, which will be replaced with a much weaker sword for a brief time once broken. The abilities have a set “respawn” time, and they will all be refreshed upon Robin’s death. Robin can also be either a man or woman through costume selection. This is solely aesthetic and doesn’t impact gameplay at all.

Rosalina and Luma

Rosalina and Luma. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Rosalina and Luma. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

From Super Mario Galaxy comes Rosalina and her Luma partner. She functions similarly to the Ice Climbers in a world where the female Ice Climber wasn’t brain dead. Rosalina is a lightweight fighter that has a variety of close range attacks. Each of these attacks also gives the Luma an attack command. The Luma can be killed, just like the female Ice Climber, and will respawn several seconds later. Rosalina’s normal special is a charge attack that will send the Luma shooting forward. The longer the charge, the farther it will go. This deals damage and separates the Luma from Rosalina, allowing it to hit other enemies. Using the ability again will call the Luma back. Her side special has the Luma shoot out star bits in front of it, which do moderate damage. They will always come from the Luma, no matter where it is. Her down special is a shield that stops projectiles. If they’re items, they will be negated and dropped. Rosalina can then use these as her own. Enemy attack projectiles are just destroyed. Her final smash is Power Star. It creates a giant Power Star on the stage that grows in size over a few seconds, similar to Jigglypuff’s Final Smash. Unlike Jigglypuffs, this deals damage over time and explodes at the end, sending enemies flying. Separating the Luma from Rosalina can provide very exciting possibilities, especially in a 1v1 scenario. It’s possible to juggle an enemy back and forth between her and the Luma once you learn the character.

Palutena

Palutena. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Palutena. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Palutena, from Kid Icarus fame, is a larger character who has a variety of close quarters and ranged attacks. Her standard special is a lock on ability that shoots several small lasers at the target. Her Side special is a pretty standard reflector shield that will send projectiles back in the direction they’re coming from. Her down special is a counter, similar to most of the Fire Emblem characters, and her up special is a recovery move in the same sense as Zelda’s. The one spot where Palutena makes herself different from existing fighters is in her smash attacks. Most are pretty standard, but her up smash can be charged to extend pretty high up. This attack gives her more range on the smash than most, if not all, other fighters, and can be used to harass as well as to knock people straight off the top of the stage. Her final smash summons a black hole that will draw enemies inside, and after a few seconds, a giant laser will blast through the black hole, sending enemies flying.

Greninja

Greninja. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Greninja. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Greninja is Pokemon X/Y’s representative this time around. He is a very fast fighter that incorporates water into many of his attacks. Three of his specials are used almost exclusively for defense purposes, making him a more thoughtful fighter. His standard special is a water shuriken. It can be charged to deal more damage, but it moves slower. It’s relatively spammable, and is his only ranged attack. His up special is recovery similar to Pikachu’s in that you can change direction mid jump. His side special is a teleport. It can be charged to send Greninja farther in the destination of his choosing and he can move while charging. His down special is a standard counter. Most of his damage comes from his normal and smash attacks. They all go off really quickly and the smashes have a pretty wide range-his up smash can easily hit characters on either side of him. Playing Greninja well is dependent on knowing when to engage and when to take on a more defensive style.

Duck Hunt Dog

Duck Hunt Dog. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Duck Hunt Dog. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Playing Duck Hunt Dog is unique because your character doesn’t control most of the abilities you use. You play as the dog, with the duck riding his back, and they deliver all of your standard and smash attacks. Having the duck doesn’t change the way the dog plays, the moves are just based around both of them there. They’re together and can’t be killed separately. The normal special is the can shot. The dog throws a can, and reactivating the ability will have it shot from off screen and pushed higher in the air (just like in Duck Hunt Dog). The dog can move freely while the can is in the air, and it explodes when it hits the ground of an enemy. The side special is the clay disc, where the dog throws out a clay disk, and reactivating the ability causes it to get shot from off screen (again, just like Duck Hunt Dog). Both the disc and the gunshots deal low damage to opponents. The down special summons in an 8-bit gunman who will shoot once in the direction the dog was facing. This also deals low damage. The up special is a standard recovery move. His final smash calls in a flock of 8-bit ducks. If it hits an enemy they will be brought into an 8-bit firefight, dealing a bit of damage and ending with a knockback. Success with Duck Hunt Dog is dependent on your ability to simultaneously control the dog and the trajectory of your various abilities. Keeping track of your cans and disks can get difficult in the middle of a fight, but mastering it will catch enemies off guard.

Bowser Jr.

Bowser Jr. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Bowser Jr. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Bowser Jr. is reminiscent of Tron Bonne in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Rather than directly fight, he instead controls his Junior Clown Car. He is one of the heaviest characters in the game, but he’s also relatively quick. One of his standout attacks is his stand attack, which can be chained for a flurry of punches using the boxing gloves on the car adding up damage quickly. His standard special is a charged shot that fires a cannonball, which deals a fair bit of damage with a good deal of knockback. The longer it is charged, the farther it’ll fly before dropping to the ground. His side special transforms his Clown Car into a kart that functions similar to Wario’s bike. His up special has Bowser Jr. ejecting himself upwards out of the car for a vertical leap. It’s used primarily as a recovery move, and the Clown Car deals damage upon hitting the ground. As soon as he reaches the ground, he gets another Car. His down special creates a mechakoopa that drives along the ground. Upon reaching an enemy, it will knock them back and explode. It’ll explode after a given amount of time if it doesn’t hit anyone and it can be picked up and thrown by enemies. His final smash has him turn into Shadow Mario and paint a giant X on the screen. Any enemies in the X will be dealt damage and the X will remain obscuring the screen for several seconds after. Bowser Jr.’s smash attacks are exceptionally strong and if used in conjunction with his specials, he can be a force to be reckoned.

Mega Man

Mega Man. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Mega Man. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Mega Man is an interesting character in that all of his moves are abilities from the main Mega Man series. What that means largely is two things- 1.If you’re a fan of the franchise, playing Mega Man will make all of your wildest dreams come true, and 2.Mega Man is the only character who’s standard attack is ranged. Rather than having any punches or kicks, Mega Mans standard attack, and side smash, are his standard pellet shooter. The standard is a single shot while the smash is a charge shot. His normal special is the Metal Blade, which throws a spinning blade forward towards enemies. There can only be one on screen at a time, and enemies can pick up the blades after they’re thrown. His side special is the Crash Bomb. This is essentially the sticky bomb. It sticks to the first person you hit and will be transferred to a different character if they make contact with each other. After a brief time, it explodes, dealing moderate damage. His down special is Leaf Shield. This creates a spinning shield around Mega Man that blocks projectiles and can be shot forward, damaging enemies.   His Up special summons Rush as a springboard. He remains on the field for a brief time and other players can also use him. Mega Man’s Final Smash shoots forward a black hole bomb. If it connects, anyone who gets caught will be fired upon by Fan Service (It’s literally a line of every Mega Man), and knocked back. He plays as a pretty standard character. He’s only really unique in the sheer amount of fan service present, going so far as to have him explode into yellow circles upon death instead of flying off the screen.

Villager

Villager. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Villager. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

The Villager from Animal Crossing is a pretty unique character in that several of his abilities are completely original. First off is his standard special, “Pocket”. When the villager is holding an item, he can use this ability to store it until later. He can hold on to items for about 15 seconds and can take them out at any time during that period. He can also use the ability to catch projectiles. If timed correctly, he will literally pocket projectiles coming at him. These can be launched back by reactivating the ability, doing almost double damage. His side special is a rocket. Tapping the button will shoot it straight, but holding it will have the Villager get onto it. It’s incredibly useful for recovery, as it covers quite a bit of horizontal distance, and does more damage to enemies when it’s being ridden. His Up special is a standard recovery with a twist. He flies upwards using two balloons, but these can be popped by enemies, causing him to fall helplessly. Because of that, it can be more reliable to use the rocket to recover depending on the situation. His down special may be the most complicated ability in the game. It has three different phases that must be completed in order. First, the Villager plants a seed. This can only be done on relatively flat ground. Secondly, he waters the seed. This causes it to sprout into a large tree that does damage when it grows. After placing the seed, but before watering it, the Villager can activate the ability to use the watering can, which acts like a smaller version of Mario’s FLUDD. The final phase is chopping the tree down. The tree will remain on the field for a fair bit of time and can be chopped by reactivating the ability. During this phase the Villager has an axe that can be used either to attack enemies or chop the tree. After a few chops, the tree will fall, dealing massive damage to anyone caught in it. Enemies can also destroy the tree by hitting it enough, removing the damage aspect. His Final Smash is a close range attack that has Tom Nook build a house around anyone caught in it. This does a fair bit of damage and ends with a large knockback. The Villager can be a very technical character and learning how to use both Pocket and his tree are vital to achieving victory with him.

Pac-Man

Pac-Man. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Pac-Man. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

Pac-Man is almost as fan service heavy as Mega Man is, and he has his own unique traits. His standard special cycles through various 8-bit fruits. Each fruit has slightly different traits and can be thrown at enemies. There can only be one on screen at a time, so it can’t be spammed. His side special creates an 8-bit power pellet a little bit away from him. The direction of it can be changed slightly with the control stick. Pac-Man then eats the pellets created, damaging enemies that he runs into. His down special creates a fire hydrant (No one gets it either) that will fall to the ground, dealing damage. Once placed, it will shoot out jets of water that push enemies back. It can be destroyed after being hit several times. His Final Smash transforms him into a Giant 8-bit Pac Man that chomps up enemies like ghosts. The last thing that really makes Pac-Man unique is his dashing attack. Each character has an attack they can use while sprinting, like Link’s leaping slash. Pac-Man’s is unique because it doesn’t hinder his movement. He will turn into round Pac-Man, chomp forward, and then continue running. This move is great for juggling opponents, as well as closing space.

Wii Fit Trainer

Wii Fit Trainer. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Wii Fit Trainer. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

The trainer from Wii Fit may not seem like a Smash fighter, but she (or he, the male trainer is a variant costume) can hold her own just fine. Her standard attacks are all various yoga forms, and they pack a pretty hefty punch. Her standard special is a normal charge projectile. If charged fully, it will also heal the character for a small amount.   Her side special head butts a soccer ball forward. The ball deals moderate damage and coming into contact with the Trainer’s head also deals slight damage, but the ball does have a high knockback. Her up special is a standard vertical recovery. Her down special is unique in that it’s a buff. On activation, a large circle appears around the Trainer that closes in towards a smaller pink circle. If released as the circles meet, the Trainer will be granted an attack increase and healed slightly. Using the move again too quickly will have the circle move much slower. Her Final Smash is almost identical to Mario’s, except yoga figures are shot instead of fireballs. The Wii Fit Trainer has both a male and female variant, and for the most part plays like a pretty standard character. The hardest part to playing this character correctly is fully realizing that the yoga poses actually do quite a bit of damage.

Shulk

Shulk. Photo Credit: Nintendo.
Shulk. Photo Credit: Nintendo.

From Xenoblade Chronicles, Shulk may be one of the most technical fighters in the game largely due to his standard special. Activating it will change his current pose, each of which grants him buffs and nerfs. The five different arts are Jump, Speed, Shield, Buster, and Smash. Each of these lowers the value of the others when activated. A careful choice of which pose to use at any given time is vital to success. His up special is a recovery move almost identical to Marth’s, the only difference is that it can be reactivated in the air for a second use. His down special is a standard counter, but the more frequently it is used, the smaller the counterattack window is open. His side special is a leaping slash with high knockback. This move has higher damage, and an even greater knockback if you strike an opponent from behind. His final smash is similar to Link’s. It does a bit of damage, culminating in a final strike with high knockback. The main feature of Shulk is his poses, and using them correctly isn’t something to be underestimated

And there you have it! There’s an absolutely huge roster available in Smash Bros. for 3DS that just scratches the surface. There are plenty of returning characters not even mentioned. The best way to learn how to play a character is to do just that and play them, but hopefully you have a better understanding of all the new mechanics these characters introduce.

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