After three wonderful years, the spectacular crossover of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming to an end. To some it’s an intense competitive fighting game, and to others it’s an activity with friends. It’s incredibly multifaceted, and that’s what makes it so special. This vibrant museum of video game history has introduced (and continues to introduce) me to series and characters that I’ve come to love, and wouldn’t have even known existed without Smash. In honor of the game that I’ve spent a bone-chilling amount of hours in, I decided to rank and review all of the game’s DLC fighters. I hope Masahiro Sakurai and the Smash Bros. team can finally take a break, because god damn do they deserve it.
- Byleth (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)
I was shocked at the Byleth reveal, because I could not for the life of me believe that Sakurai and the team added another Fire Emblem character to the roster. At this point in Ultimate‘s lifespan, they should change the game’s name to Fire Emblem Fighters or Swords: the Game, because this is ridiculous. Marth, Ike, Robin, Roy, Corrin, Lucina, Chrom, Byleth, and all the other sword characters were getting stale, but Byleth’s kit at least differentiates them from their sword-wielding contemporaries. The combination of her whip, bow, and heavy-hitting axe attack made her playstyle both fluid and intimidating — a good Byleth will have you sweating. Byleth is low on this list because she’s a pretty telegraphed and safe character to add from a series that has been so well represented in Smash since the Melee days.
- Min Min (ARMS)
Min Min’s announcement was exciting, because I thought Nintendo literally forgot about their sleeper fighting game ARMS, but they remembered! Her moveset unfortunately had none of the pizazz of the original game, feeling clunky and uninitiative which caused a lot of folks to move on from her shortly after release. Min Min’s addition was a miss, but a swing in the right direction. Her moves don’t translate well, but it’s very cool that the development team put her in the game.
- Kazuya (Tekken)
Tekken scares me. Last time I played I got bodied into another universe by a boxing dinosaur while I was flailing around as a kangaroo. The game is incredibly overwhelming to me because of the sheer breadth of options in every fight, and Kazuya casually brings that charcuterie board of kicks and punches into Ultimate. I thought those options would be equally as stressful in Smash Bros, but it actually makes each match more exciting. With his 30+ attacks he can reflect, dodge, stun, K.O., and more which gives some added pizzazz to duels that you don’t get from many other fighters.
- Joker (Persona 5)
I couldn’t believe it when they put this Persona teen in the game and gave him a gun. Joker’s abilities all pull from Persona 5 in smart ways, especially his Down B block into Arsene which has his other self stunt on enemies. Arsene makes Joker ridiculously strong, but it’s a good balance because when he’s on his own he is like a little fly ready to be swatted. Joker made it high on this list not because I like playing him, but because his music absolutely slaps. When Ultimate added him to the roster, he brought with him some of the smoothest tracks from Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5. Thank you for your service Joker. You did good, kid.
- Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
Do you remember when the One Winged Angel murdered Mario? I do and I won’t forget it. Sephiroth in Smash is really great, especially because they went all out and included two shirtless skins to showcase that he’s ready to square up no matter what. Even though we already had a Final Fantasy rep with Cloud Strife, Sephiroth’s pure evil vibes really stand out from others in the roster. His special moves, specifically Shadowflare and Gigaflare are extremely powerful tools that (if used properly) can have opponents trembling in a pool of fear and confusion. He is, unfortunately, another sword character, but I’m fine with that because his sword is comically long and leads to a character that plays around a lot with keeping distance while dishing out damage.
- Pyra / Mythra (Xenoblade Chronicles 2)
Not gonna lie I had no idea who the hell these characters were, since I haven’t played the JRPG series Xenoblade. But after playing many hours as them in Ultimate, I can safely report that this destructive duo can easily go toe to toe with any opponent. Pyra is my favorite of the two because she’s a small character with a surprising amount of forceful attacks. Each smash attack is meaty, and sends foes flying further than you’d expect. Her Neutral B and Side B are great damage dealers too, allowing you to punish anyone who underestimates you. I’m also a fan of Mythra because of how swift she is, in both movement and attacking. It’s a green blur when she’s running at you, safely racking up damage before switching to Pyra for the K.O. Even though their lore is lost on me, I’m happy this solid combo made it to Ultimate.
- Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
He boot too big for he gotdamn feet, but he still against all odds made it into Smash Bros. I don’t have any nostalgia for Kingdom Hearts, but I’ve been surrounded by its fans my whole life and I know how much this means to them. After a few sessions with Sora I can tell you he is a very cool, floaty little freak that is a great send off for Ultimate. Wielding the keyblade is nice, and when you jab combo, the opponents are locked in a pose/react cycle similar to when Link hits their Final Smash. There’s a lot of care that went into Sora’s creation, and it shows. Fans have been requesting him since Smash 4, which is wild, and he swiftly made it to the top of the request box over the years. The Smash team simply had to deliver. I’m digging Sora, and his inclusion here is motivating me to someday dive into the Kingdom Hearts rabbithole. He’s a cool guy, but his Mickey Mouse inspired costume is downright creepy. Why did they put that in? He looks like a haunted child.
- Hero (Dragon Quest)
Hero is the most controversial character addition in Smash history, due to his bonkers ability to pull from a random pool of 21 spells (multiple of which have the ability to instantly K.O. opponents). Oh yeah, he also randomly gets critical hits with his Smash attacks for some reason. This was the character I labbed the most after he dropped, and I remember the lobbies I hosted with friends were a full party of eight people, all on Hero. After tasting Hero’s heavenly RNG, other characters couldn’t even compare. Those matches remain crystal clear in my memory because they involved a lot of people standing still, reading spells from a menu and casting them out at insane speeds. It truly felt like a glimpse into another magical game about quick-drawing wizards, I loved it.
- Terry (Fatal Fury / The King of Fighters)
Terry is “dudes rock” incarnated. He’s a cool-ass dude who wants to fight — what could be better than that? I am famously four years old and had know idea who Terry was at all when his trailer revealed him, but I was immediately drawn by his rugged vibe. As a fighting game stan I really appreciated his advanced command inputs that pull from his original kit in The King of Fighters. There is nothing more fun than being high percent, desperately plugging in those button combinations to unleash a super special move during the heat of battle. A lot of anti-Smash heads dunk on the game for being too simple, or a party game, but characters like Terry simply power geyser that rhetoric into a trash can. One of Smash Ultimate‘s best traits is the ability to get me interested in video game series I either A) didn’t know or B) didn’t care about, and Terry’s addition to the game hyped me up for the upcoming The King of Fighters XV. I’m ready to go silly with my rookie Buster Wolf tech.
- Banjo and Kazooie (Banjo-Kazooie)
Two legends graced us with their presence, and Ultimate has been better ever since. Banjo and Kazooie are a duo similar to Duck Hunt, but they work more collaboratively than the latter. They are so close to being the perfect character, and if their recovery wasn’t garbage they would be there. The risk and reward features embedded into their kit are tasty. Their Side B only has five uses per stock, but it is almost instant and can K.O. at very low percentages. Banjo’s bomb move is also a great spacing tool that you can run, pick up, and throw at opponents like you’re in a Metal Gear game. They’re goofy and powerful and that feels right at home in Smash Bros. And who can’t love their silly lil faces!?
- Piranha Plant (Mario)
Out of all the villains, heroes, and supporting characters, they fully put a plant in the game. Just a random Piranha Plant. This is an unexpected wildcard that set the tone for Smash Ultimate‘s DLC, and made fans wonder “How weird will Nintendo get with these?” I picked up Piranha Plant instantly when it went live, and it swiftly became one of my main characters to play. Its eclectic kit of stretchy powers and unlimited spike balls fit right in with the fighting game’s cartoonish vibe. I can’t even count how many times I’ve hid in a poison breath cloud, charged up the Long-Stem Strike and got an easy K.O. Piranha is one of the best characters in Ultimate because everything about him makes your opponents mad, especially his little walk where he grows plant feet to catch some speed.
- Steve / Alex (Minecraft)
Minecraft Steve is my favourite type of character to be added to Smash. This well-constructed fighter from a non-Nintendo IP introduces unique mechanics. Steve’s block building and crafting were an inspired addition to the roster, and encouraged a lot of shocking plays in the competitive scene. I cannot stop thinking about when pro player Rockman stunted on his opponent and took the time to draw an F out of blocks before landing the final K.O. — just some brutal stuff. As a child I was a huge Minecraft freak, and I genuinely didn’t expect to ever see him in Smash. It’s a character that my friends and I joked about like it would never happen, yet here he is. Steve’s smash and tilt attacks are some of the most versatile The dude is a powerhouse of a trickster, and easily secures himself as the best DLC addition to Ultimate.