Every time a new Super Smash Bros. character is revealed, fans are abuzz with excitement not just find out who the newcomer is, but also to see the new trailer for the character. According to series creator Masahiro Sakurai, he storyboards and directs all the trailers himself, leaning on his knowledge of the source material and comedic timing to produce short films showing a new character joining the series for the first time. So we figured, why not rank them?
For criteria, we’re largely looking at how entertaining and well-made the trailer itself is more than the surprise factor. While that surprise plays a small role in the context of the trailer, weighing it heavily would be more about ranking the character than the trailer itself. References to the games the characters come from are an obvious plus, especially if they’re deep cuts. It also helps if the trailer explains what’s unique about the character without having to outright state it in narration.
We’re not quite at the end of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate content, so this list will get updated as need be. We’ll start from the bottom of the list and work our way to the top.
During the development of DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, it does not seem like a lot of budget was allocated for the reveal trailers for post-launch characters. While pretty much every DLC character suffers a bit for this, Corrin probably had it the worst, as the reveal trailer repurposes the pivotal choice cutscene from Fire Emblem Fates, adds a text box, and then has some voiceover for the gameplay. Other trailers commit some of these same sins, Corrin’s unfortunately commits them all.
For whatever reason, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s sole bonus character did not get the same CG treatment every other newcomer (except Chrom, but he doesn’t count) for the game did. Instead, Piranha Plant got a trailer that was made entirely of in-game footage. It wins some points for the fakeout aspect wherein Mario approaches the venomous plant and it chomps him to reveal itself as a fighter, but it’s a pretty forgettable trailer for such a weird character.
Speaking of entries on this list where the weight of the character reveal is not proportional to the trailer given to it, Sonic in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was such a big reveal that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed it during a behind-closed-doors press event in Japan and it took literal seconds to hit the internet after it. The announcement premiered with a character trailer that tried to prove the enormity of Sonic and Mario together in a fighting game, but it was entirely gameplay and a little boring after the shock value wears off. I’ve always hoped they just give him a new reveal trailer for some made up reason.
As soon as it was announced that Bandai Namco would be the developer of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, fans figured Pac-Man was an inevitability for the spot on the roster. This trailer, which pays homage to a lot of Namco’s history, still ultimately feels a little flat. For a game where Bowser Jr. gets a major CG trailer, Pac-Man’s feels weirdly sedate and inexpensive. It does have a good bit where it establishes Pac-Man and Mr. Game & Watch as the OGs of the Smash Bros. series with a 1980 release, as opposed to Mario and Donkey Kong who debuted a year later.
I have little quarrel with Byleth as a character, but the exceedingly long trailer for the male & female versions of Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ professor more than wore out its welcome. Most DLC characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate try to break the rules of Smash Bros. in some way or another and Byleth’s unique use of different weapons depending on direction definitely fits there, but the explanation of it all felt overlong. I don’t necessarily come to Smash Bros. trailers to watch the talky parts of other games.
Much like Byleth, Isabelle’s trailer for Ultimate is almost entirely the talky parts of her game. I get it, that’s really what Animal Crossing is, but it’s largely Isabelle complaining about the mayor off being in Smash Bros. and then getting her own invite. It’s a cute little reveal that everyone assumed was going to be Animal Crossing Switch, but it doesn’t bear watching more than once. It does, however, get some bonus points for directly pairing with the immediate reveal of Animal Crossing: New Horizons right after.
Inkling/Smash Ultimate Reveal
The Splatoon Inkling is one of the most no-duh choices for a new character in the series, so it was not a shock with the squids appeared as part of the announcement of Ultimate. The larger issue is that, while the trailer was cool, it also didn’t really tell us much about what the Inklings were like in the game. The intro is identical to that of the first Splatoon, which is an intentionally neat deception, but it probably could have been more about them. The actual bits about a new Smash Bros. game were quite good, however.
Wii Fit Trainer
If we were judging solely based on shock, Wii Fit Trainer’s Wii U/3DS appearance would be in the top five. Her actual trailer, though, is mostly memorable for how short and to the point it is. There’s nothing particularly notable about it besides watching Mario, Link, and Kirby try their best to do Yoga and get slammed with a Warrior Posing Wii Fit Trainer. It’s on the lesser end of fine.
Like a lot of the rest of the Wii U/3DS DLC, Bayonetta suffered for the decreased budget for newcomer trailers. The trailer did get Hellena Taylor as Bayonetta’s voice actress to record new lines about gunning for Pit and Palutena, referencing her disdain for angels and her penchant for wiping them all off the map. As the winner of the Smash Bros. character poll, it feels like the character just deserved a little bit more, you know?
Pyra & Mythra
The tag-team characters from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 joined Ultimate with a trailer made of in-game assets and narration from the source game. As she so often does, Pyra has disappeared and Rex, as he so often does in response, searches everywhere for her. The trailer has a bit of a running joke in that everyone is taking part except for Rex, but it’s largely a trailer just for Xenoblade fans and no one else.
This may be a controversial placement, but Joker’s trailer for Ultimate is great primarily for its shock value, and is not that interesting a trailer otherwise. The first DLC character for the game is mostly running over the thematic red background inexorably tied to Persona 5 as the voice cast talks about his solo mission to Smash Bros. There’s a small bit where Mario, Link, and others are briefly represented as cloudy-shadows, but overall there’s just not a lot to this trailer. The moment he turns the envelope to reveal the Smash logo is a top ten moment for sure, but it’s just that — a great moment.
Despite being one of the biggest third-party additions to Super Smash Bros., Cloud’s trailer is a lot of missed potential. It opens like the beginning of Final Fantasy VII and is absolutely jam packed with FFVII references throughout the whole trailer, but this is Cloud Strife being introduced in an entirely gameplay trailer. To be a character from a game that charged head first into the world of CG cutscenes and not get any for your fighting game reveal feels wrong somehow.
The son of the King of all Koopas makes his appearance in Smash Bros. for the first time in Wii U/3DS with a surprisingly good trailer. Not only does Bowser Jr.’s trailer explain everything about his clown car-based fighting style, it has connective tissue to Mega Man’s newcomer trailer, and has a neat mid-trailer surprise revealing all the Koopa Kids as alts.
Palutena & Dark Pit
The first of the shared character trailers on this list, Palutena’s trailer for Wii U/3DS was animated by anime studio Shaft, which was behind shows like Magical Madoka and Niseoki. It starts with Pit and Link in a fairly extended fight with Pit mostly getting pushed back until Palutena comes to save him. It gives a cool glimpse into what a Super Smash Bros. anime could be like, even though it’s never going to happen. As mentioned, it’s also a two-character trailer, with Dark Pit appearing in the final scene.
It’s entirely possible that Steve’s middle-of-the-road placement here is a factor of age, since I imagine that seeing Mario blown up by a creeper is an absolute circus of imagination for a segment of the audience. For me, though, the trailer had a lot to show and spent a long time showing it. Steve is a complicated character and the trailer had to wordlessly hint at all that complication. It also needed to show off every alt — Steve, Alex, Zombie, and Enderman — which made the entire thing feel way longer than it needed to. Fantastic music, though.
Ryu’s trailer for Wii U/3DS, despite suffering from the same problems as the other DLC trailers from that game, earns points for being a pitch-perfect recreation of the Super Street Fighter II intro. Sakurai, being the Street Fighter nerd that he is, spends a lot of the trailer showcasing all the various Street Fighter things that Ryu can do.
Having the notable title of being the only character trailer to air after the character itself was already known and unlockable in the released game, Duck Hunt is still a pretty neat video. The NES set of Smash Bros. characters as Mario, Link, Samus, and Pit, drag the dog and the duck into the 3D world to join Wii U/3DS. The trailer also reveals that it’s not just a duo character, but features an invisible third partner of Some Guy Using a Zapper On the TV Screen.
In one of the final appearances of late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the face of Nintendo engaged in a special effects-driven hand-to-hand fight with NOA President Reggie Fils-Aime. The two fought bitterly until they took it to the Wii U and fought using their Mii Fighter characters. The trailer also served as an introduction to the amiibo integration in the game, but it will probably always be best known for the live-action executive rumble.
The Pokemon-heavy trailer for Greninja doesn’t even start with the frog ninja itself. The first introduction is actually Charizard, who came to Wii U/3DS without the Pokemon Trainer behind it. Greninja only appears midway through the trailer with a sneak attack, which seems appropriate for a ninja. For Pokemon fans, this trailer’s a treat, with multiple Pokemon and Smash characters all duking it out in an empty valley.
Villager/Smash 4 Reveal
The first instance of an invite stamped with the Smash Bros. logo, Villager’s trailer is actually part of Wii U/3DS‘s overall reveal trailer. While his invite starts the reveal, Villager only appears midway through to ambush Mario in a boxing ring. Villager’s introduction is probably uplifted by the fact that the whole thing had to also show off two new games, but it’s still well-made.
One of the final trailers of Wii U/3DS, Shulk’s video went through apparent effort to be more bright and colorful than a lot of the usual character introductions. The Xenoblade Chronicles protagonist backslashes Bowser in a field, then uses his future sight to avoid a sneak attack from Marth and Link. It’s unlikely most Smash Bros. players knew who Shulk was already, but the trailer did a good job of showing off what he’s about without delving into overexplaining.
A rare animated entry into this list, Little Mac’s trailer is largely just about him training to join Smash. The entire thing is set to the dulcet tones of Doc just yelling at Mac to fight better, but it also has a good gag of Samus comparing her height to Mac’s and Mac not taking it well. The whole thing is visually pleasant to look at, even if there’s no real narrative to grab onto.
The first of the E3 2019 reveals, Hero’s trailer has some high points and some not-so-high points. The concept is earnestly Dragon Quest — the hero fighting off waves of darkness. It’s just a little overdone. If that were the entire trailer, it would probably be a lot lower on the list, but thankfully the mid-trailer twist propels in upward. As the Luminary is nearly defeated, Dragon Quest heroes from III, IV, and VIII all join the battle as alts and make the whole thing a lot more interesting and exciting.
The newcomer trailer for Rosalina/Luma actually might set the record for longest period of time where it’s not at all clear it’s a newcomer trailer. The video starts with Kirby flying through the air on a Warp Star and eventually reveals he’s above Rainbow Road from Mario Kart. Kirby spins out Mario and Donkey Kong’s karts before he himself is knocked off his star and crashes into the road. It’s shown that a Luma knocked him down and the two hang tight while everyone literally gawks at the star-shaped space baby until eventually Rosalina comes down and a newcomer screen drops a minute and a half into the trailer.
It doesn’t take long for Kazuya Mishima to get an introduction in his trailer as the sometimes protagonist, sometimes antagonist of the Tekken series repeatedly exorcises his childhood trauma by throwing Super Smash Bros. characters into a volcano. The trailer is incredibly one-note, but it hits that note perfectly, with Kazuya kicking off Min Min’s stretchy arm or yeeting Marth in one big motion. There’s probably more you could do with Kazuya, but nailing one idea is worth a thousand different ones.
The final trailer for base game Ultimate characters revealed both Ken and Incineroar at the same time. Ken himself is fighting Little Mac in the arena and eventually defeats him in a manner similar to the famous EVO Moment 37. After Ken demands more challengers, Incineroar comes flying over the top rope to challenge him. The two fire warriors go at it until the Pokemon eventually wins and is then annoyed by new challengers. This trailer is brisk, flashy, full of references, and shows why Smash’s weird crossover fights are a fundamental part of its appeal.
The chronologically first of three Fire Emblem character trailers, this one uses the same CG company that made Awakening’s CG cutscenes for entirely new content. Lucina finds herself losing in a fight to Captain Falcon and eventually has to be bailed out by Robin. While the trailer looks good, has a lot of well-choreographed action, and even has a funny joke at the end spiting Chrom, it also overexplains Robin’s abilities a little bit. Sakurai was not doing individual presentations for characters at this point, so that’s understandable, though.
While I said surprise was not be that large a factor for these, for Min Min’s introduction, the lack of surprise actually works in its favor. For whatever reason, Nintendo announced that the character would be from ARMS two months before actually revealing it was Min Min. That makes the trailer, where numerous ARMS characters are fighting over the invite, more interesting. Watching the trailer the first time, you legitimately don’t know which of the characters is going to grab it until Min Min makes the final play.
Snake/Super Smash Bros. Brawl Reveal
Much like Villager, Snake’s reveal was tied inexorably to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer, shown behind closed doors at E3. Several characters were introduced with the new game, including Wario, Zero Suit Samus, and Metaknight, but Snake was the first real newcomer trailer ever in the series. It’s most likely also the “smallest” one, but Snake being invited to participate through a codec only to reveal that he’s already been hiding there is just so quintessentially Metal Gear.
Almost as if to make up for Cloud’s trailer, Sephiroth’s reveal is a love letter to Advent Children and the CG mania surrounding Final Fantasy VII. Unlike those waiting for an invite, Sephiroth simply appears in the sky having cut down the closest thing Smash Bros. lore has to a god with a single strike from his sword. Not even Bayonetta, herself a god-killer, is able to really stop him. The trailer ends with a pitch-perfect recreation of the climax of Advent Children with Mario being tossed at the screen having been almost impaled moments earlier.
After years of being told Samus’ space pirate rival was too big for Smash Bros., Ridley makes his appropriately eerie appearance with a CG trailer. Preceding his arrival, the purple dragon monster methodically kills Mario and Mega Man behind Samus’ back before eventually coming at her loud. He ends the trailer by blowing her up against her own ship, though she seems to emerge from the explosion without her Chozo armor on.
You can tell when Sakurai really likes a character because of how deep the cuts for the newcomer trailer can get. For Terry, the invite once again flies around to various characters, but in ways that will make any SNK fan smile ear-to-ear. Geese, for example, tries to make a flying leap for the envelope, but ends up falling from his tower in the same way he fell when Terry defeated him in Real Bout Fatal Fury. The envelope passes from character to character until it arrives at Terry’s feet.
A long-requested fan favorite, Mega Man appears in Smash as an immediate threat to all the other characters. At first he tries to fight Mario and the rest with his blaster and robot limbs, but when that doesn’t work, he busts out all the boss weapons in his arsenal. The trailer has great music, great visuals, and explains how Mega Man works without overnarrating the experience.
King K. Rool
Another poll-topper, King K. Rool’s trailer has an utterly unnecessary amount of deception that just makes the obvious eventuality of his reveal all the better. While Donkey and Diddy Kong are shocked to see the shadow of their nemesis outside their treehouse, it turned out to just be King DeDeDe playing a prank. He’s then immediately sideswiped by the real K. Rool, who battles with Donkey Kong in an amazing remix of Gangplank Galleon. The two clash fists, with Donkey Kong using his boxing glove from Punch Out!! for the Wii against K.Rool’s boxing glove.
Banjo & Kazooie
A sequel, of sorts, to the K. Rool trailer, the reveal of Banjo & Kazooie is almost identical to K. Rool’s appearance. This time, Duck Hunt presents to be the eponymous Rare duo and the pair laugh their head off when Donkey, Diddy, and K. Rool seem fooled. They’re soon stomped by Banjo & Kazooie, who Donkey and Diddy are jazzed to see and K. Rool seems like he really, really isn’t. The trailer ends with the N64 pair throwing K. Rool off a cliff and covering him with a boulder before posing for the camera, making for one of the most exciting newcomer trailers so far.
Simon & Richter Belmont
There’s a lot of qualities that go into a good Super Smash Bros. newcomer trailer: good visuals, a good reveal, character interaction, shows how the fighter works, multiple character reveals, references to the source material, great music, etc. While a lot of that list has some of those things, the Castlevania trailer revealing Simon and Richter Belmont has all of that. The CG trailer starts with Simon rescuing a Luigi who too clearly got in over his head and then fighting his way too Dracula. As Dracula proves to be a struggle for Simon, the younger Richter joins in and the two fight off the vampire lord together. It’s absolutely chock full of Castlevania references and in-jokes and two amazing remixes of Castlevania tracks. As an added bonus, this trailer also foreshadowed Luigi’s Mansion 3, by revealing the new vacuum design from that game before it was announced.