Super Smash Bros.: Brawl released for the Wii in 2008 seven years after Melee's debut on the Gamecube, breaking the longest hiatus the series ever witnessed. However, for some, the wait proved to be disappointing; releasing at a time when Nintendo made its games simpler and more accessible to appeal to the casual gamers that flocked to the Wii in its early years, Brawl was a much slower paced game than its predecessor, much to the derision of the competitive Smash Bros. scene.
However, those who enjoy Smash Bros. as more of a casual experience greatly enjoyed what Brawl had to offer: many fans still agree it has the best heaping of single player content the series has featured so far (including a story mode starring the whole cast of fighters), and the best roster the series had seen to date. While some fan-favorites like Mewtwo and Roy were unfortunately cut, many long overdue fighters were added to the roster, and Brawl is also noteworthy for being the first Smash installment to feature playable third party fighters - that is, characters who weren't created and owned by Nintendo.
For the third installment of my beginner's guide to the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I will be focusing on the 16 characters (and the echo fighters based on them) who made their debut to the crossover fighter series in Brawl). For the sake of continuity, I will be continuing the numbering system reflected in the previous two blogs, as well as on the game's official website. Let's get cracking!
27) Meta Knight
In the realm of Super Smash Bros., Meta Knight is noteworthy for being one of the few fighters in the entire series that was actually banned from competitive tournaments for some time. The reason? He was OP. He was powerful, mercilessly fast, and his attacks flowed into one another too quickly for other characters to keep up. In a way, this isn't unlike how the character operates in his own series.
Meta Knight is a "frenemy" of sorts to Kirby. In early games where the character made an appearance, he was a frequent antagonist to the pink puffball, often challenging him to one-on-one duels, and even gifting the hero a sword so that it would be a fair fight. He was nefarious, but honorable. In more recent installments of the Kirby series however, Meta Knight has cooled his jets a bit, putting his plans for domination aside and often teaming up with Kirby to defeat larger threats. To this day, Meta Knight is a fan favorite character among series fans because in spite of his tiny stature, he's a formidable opponent with an air of mystery about him - even 25 years after his initial apperance, we still don't know what his deal is. Why does he look similar to Kirby underneath his mask? No one knows...
If you want to acquaint yourself with this mysterious swordsman outside of Smash Bros., Kirby Super Star is a great place to start. The game is broken up into several smaller campaigns, and one of them revolves around destroying the "Halberd" a warship Meta Knight uses to attempt to take over the land. This marks one of the few Kirby stories where Meta Knight is the main antgonist, and the player can witness a bunch of dialogue between him and his crew. If you plan on playing Super Star, consider tracking down the DS remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, as this game also contains a new bonus mode known as "Meta Knightmare Ultra" where players can speedrun a truncated version of the entire game as the suave swordsman. Alternatively, if you're looking to play a more modern release, consider Kirby: Planet Robobot. It's widely considered to be one of the best games in the series, and Meta Knight plays an important role in the story. As with Super Star, after beating the game, players can unlock "Meta Knightmare Returns," where once again they can take on a shortened version of the campaign while playing as Meta Knight himself.
Like the Ice Climbers, Pit was an obscure nobody from the NES era that Smash Bros. brought back from the grave and gave a redesign for a modern audience. Unlike the Ice Climbers however, Pit's appearance in Smash would help lead to his home series getting a new installment as a result.
Pit originally appeared in the NES vertical platformer Kid Icarus. An oxymoronic flightless angel and something of an underdog hero, Pit wielded a bow granted to him by the goddess Palutena and escaped the depths of the underworld, battling parodies of mythical Greek beasts and avoiding getting turned into an eggplant in an attempt to save his world. Kid Icarus was developed using the same engine as the original Metroid, but didn't perform as well as its sci-fi cousin, leading it to be almost entirely neglected for over two decades until Brawl gave the winged hero a redesign and introduced him to a new generation.
Shortly after the release of Brawl, Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai would take a break from the series to develop Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS, the first new installment in the Kid Icarus series in 21 years. Kid Icarus was re-imagined as a game that was one part on-rails shooter, one part-third person action game, as players alternated between temporarily being given the ability to fly and shoot enemies down in the sky, and brawling with foes on the ground. The game boasted an unconventional control scheme, but ultimately found a passionate fanbase due to its hilarious writing and an extremely flexible difficulty system that rewarded those who pushed themselves while avoiding punishing those looking for a more laid-back experience. The game could be rendered exactly how difficult you wanted it to be.
Much of Pit's moveset in Super Smash Bros., from the Upperdash Arm to the Guardian Orbitars, are based on the various weapons he wielded in Kid Icarus: Uprising, so that's the best game in the series to play if you want to learn about the origins of Pit's attacks outside of Smash. However, Uprising itself has a lot of references and inside jokes to the original NES Kid Icarus. It's not necessary to play the original to appreciate Uprising, but it does add to the experience. The first Kid Icarus is one of the included titles in the NES Classic, and is also available as a Virtual Console title on Wii U, and a "3D Classic" on 3DS. The last of the three versions is the most accessible, thanks to a built in save system and the extreme difficulty of the original release being softened a bit.
28e) Dark Pit
Dark Pit was a rather interesting addition to Super Smash Bros., as the character only played a minor role in one video game the aforementioned Kid Icarus: Uprising, before he showed up as a fighter in Smash Bros. He was likely a last minute inclusion to the roster, as he's essentially a palette swap to Pit with a mildly altered moveset, which is why he will be an "echo fighter" in Smash Bros. Ultimate.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Dark Pit is a clone of Pit who is as hilariously edgy as his creative name suggests. He shows up a handful of times over the course of the game to challenge Pit for the hell of it, and all the while the game even mocks how the edgelord is just a literal knockoff of Pit. However by the end of the game, Dark Pit begrudingly becomes an ally to his lighter counterpart, and players even get to play as Dark Pit for one level... though as in Smash, he pretty much controls identically to Pit. If you want to cut your toenails on this character's edge outside of Smash Bros., Uprising is pretty much your only recourse.
29) Zero Suit Samus
As we've established previously, Samus is kind of a badass, donning a Power Suit that lets her unleash all kinds of crazy ammunition from her arm cannon among other abilities. Which is why it was such an interesting twist on the series' gameplay to be separated from said suit temporarily in 2004's Metroid: Zero Mission.
A remake of the original NES Metroid, Zero Mission contained a wealth of new content, including an extended story - after Samus is successful in defeating her nemesis Mother Brain, right where the original game would end with her escaping the dangerous planet of Zebes, in Zero Mission her ship is instead shot down. In the ensuing crash, her power suit is heavily damaged, leaving Samus vulnerable for the first time in the series. Sporting her "Zero Suit" Samus was armed only with an emergency stun pistol and her natural athleticism as she seeked to repair her suit and escape the planet once more.
In Brawl, Samus' shed her power suit by using her final smash, allowing players to assume control of her Zero Suit form. Zero Suit Samus has since become a separate fighter altogether, sacrificing strength and range for a more nimble form perfectly suited to setting up comboes.
If you want to adventure as Samus in her Zero Suit form outside of Smash, Zero Mission and Other M are the only games where she appeared in this vulnerable state. And as I've said before, Other M gives me PTSD, so you're better off playing the vastly superior Zero Mission. If you're having trouble tracking down the GBA cartridge, you could always download it on the Wii U Virtual Console instead.
Wario marked his gaming debut in spin-off Game Boy platformer Super Mario Land 2, where the doppleganger stole Mario's castle (because apparently Mario owns a castle), forcing the plumber to take back his home. The Super Mario Land series would later slowly evolve into the Wario Land series, puzzle platfomers starring the more brutish, likely-smelly anti-hero as he utilizes his bulky form and non-existent wits to fulfill his numerous greedy desires. In all of these games, Wario's personality is the same - he's motivated purely by greed, and his selfish, slobbish mannerisms are the perfect foil to goodie-two-shoes Mario.
Wario later got another series of his own in the form of the Warioware games, bizarre "microgame" collections where players must complete a barrage of five second gameplay experiences in which they quickly have to figure out what the objective is and press buttons or tap the touch screen to execute it. These objectives range from everything from using the D-pad to prevent someone from being squished, to pressing A with good timing to help someone pick their nose. They're insanely weird and trippy short bursts of gameplay perfectly suited for handhelds in the years before mobile gaming was a thing.
The best game in the series is WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, a surreal gameplay experience about Wario and his buddies trying to make a quick buck by creating various video games, before Wario then proceeds to be a massive dick and steal all the profits. If you can't find the GBA cartridge, it's also available as a download on the Wii U eShop. Alternatively if you're patient or in no rush to pick noses, you could wait until Warioware Gold arrives on the 3DS this August. Details on the game are still pretty slim, but it's promised to be a compilation of some of the best microgames in the series, so that could be promising. The story is as of yet unknown, but it probably revolves around Wario being an asshole to his friends.
Snake holds the distinction of being the first playable third party character in a Super Smash Bros. game. Heck, not only is Snake a non-Nintendo character, but his ties to Nintendo consoles are limited in general; he's widely seen as a Playstation icon, but Masahrio Sakurai's friendship with Metal Gear's creator Hideo Kojima helped the sneaky super soldier slide his way into Super Smash Bros.
Metal Gear is a bit of a tricky series to get into - the games boast incredibly complex and convoluted storylines; just to breach the surface, "Snake" as he appears in Smash Bros. is only one character sporting the name in the Metal Gear franchise. The Snake in Smash Bros. goes by the nickname "Solid Snake," but there are separate characters known as Liquid Snake, Solidus Snake, Naked Snake, Punished "Venom Snake" and so on... the series has a bonkers narrative, so it's important you jump in from the start in order to make heads or tails of it.
The Metal Gear series got its start with two games exclusive to the Japanese MSX computers, and aside from a poorly adapated NES port of the first title, the franchise wouldn't make its way westward until 1998's groundbreaking Metal Gear Solid. Released for the Playstation, Metal Gear Solid wowed gamers with an intricate story that combined over the top stealth shenanigans with sillier moments and immersive stealth gameplay. It hasn't aged well in some categories, but it's still a fun romp to play through today. Moreover, this is the game from which Snake's appearance and moveset in Smash most strongly pulls from.
Despite the series' convoluted story, Metal Gear Solid is a great game to jump into the series' universe with, as it even packs in plot summaries for the MSX games. It can be downloaded from the PSN store on PS3.
Ike is a man's man. He's one of the most popular protagonists in the Fire Emblem series because unlike most of its protagonists, who are effeminate and graceful princes and the like, Ike is a testosterone filled mercenary. He's a rough and tough dude - in Smash Bros., he wields his two-handed blade Ragnell with just one hand, proof of the immense strength he wields. Ike is not however, a meathead. On the contrary, Ike is quite open-minded and kind hearted, and these characteristics are why his fanbase is rather large.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ike has alternate costumes based on the two games he was a protagonist in, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. The problem that lies before those that might want to better acquaint themselves with Ike however, is that neither game is easy to track down these days. Neither of the two games Ike has starred in have been re-released. Used copies of Gamecube game Path of Radiance sell for around $100 on the Internet, and used copies of Wii follow-up Radiant Dawn aren't much cheaper. They're generally considered some of the better Fire Emblem games by series fans, but it's up to you to decide if the price is worth it to rub elbows with this lovable hunk of a protagonist outside of Super Smash Bros.
33-35) Pokemon Trainer
Pokemon Trainer is personally one of my favorite characters in the entire Smash Bros. series because his moveset perfectly replicates what the core gameplay of his original series is life. As established previously, in Pokemon, you don't actually play as the Pokemon themselves as you do in Smash Bros. Rather, you control a human Pokemon trainer who issues orders to his Pokemon partners in battle. Similarly in Super Smash Bros., you'll play as a pokemon trainer who possesses three Pokemon whom you can command - Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard.
Each Pokemon game stars a different trainer with a different design, and the male and female Pokemon trainers in Ultimate are based directly on trainers Red and Leaf from Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions, superb remakes of the original Pokemon Red and Blue for the Game Boy Advance.
However, it's worth noting that Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander (the latter two of which evolve into Ivysaur and Charizard as they grow stronger) are "starter Pokemon" - in the Pokemon games, players are only allowed to choose one to start their journey with and cannot obtain the other two wihout trading criters with a friend. If you want to role play Smash Bros.' Pokemon Trainer and obtain all three of these critters by yourself, a better recourse is Pokemon Yellow Version, which can be downloaded from the 3DS Virtual Console. Unlike other Pokemon games, you can obtain Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur in one playthrough in this game, as they are gifts that NPCs will grant you at certain points in the game.
Ultimately, you can really pick any Pokemon game and end up getting to play as a pokemon trainer, but if you want to wield the critters Smash's incarnation of the character does, these particular games are your best bet.
36) Diddy Kong
Many of the members of Donkey Kong's extended "family" are big, burly apes, but others, like his nephew (not son!), Diddy Kong are smaller and more agile. Diddy originally appeared in Donkey Kong's first 2D platforming outing, Donkey Kong Country, in which Diddy popularized himself by being a smaller and speedier alternative to his uncle. He became so popular in fact, that when it came time for Donkey Kong Country 2 to release, Diddy replaced Donkey as the protagonist, partnering up with his girlfriend Dixie Kong instead.
Diddy Kong would go on to also be playable in 3D collect-a'-thon Donkey Kong 64, in which he wielded a popgun that shoots peanuts at enemies and a jetpack made of rocket barrels, both of which are two of his staple moves in Super Smash Bros. While developer Rare would go on to leave Nintendo for supposedly greener pastures at Microsoft, their creation, Diddy Kong, and all the games he starred in would remain property of Nintendo.
Since many of Diddy Kong's moves originate from Donkey Kong 64, I recommend that as a place to familiarize yourself with the athletic ape outside of Super Smash Bros. It's downloadable on the Wii U Virtual Console, but if the thought of collecting a bunch of random crap in 3D space doesn't excite you, consider Diddy's Kong Quest instead. It's downloadable from the Wii U and New 3DS' Virtual Consoles and is widely regarded to be one of the best 2D platformers of the SNES era.
Lucas has the saddest fate of any character on the Smash Bros. roster. He is the protagonist of the final installment of the Mother trilogy (though players don't get to fill his shoes until several hours into the game!). Mother 3 retains much of the quirky and silly dialogue of its predecessors, but takes on a much more serious tone, taking place in a post-apocalyptic world and tackling themes of motherhood and grief - Lucas' own mom is murdered early in the story, and the young boy's struggles to accept this are a crucial part of the narrative.
Mother 3 holds a very special spot in the hearts of many a gamer, but what makes Lucas' tale even sadder is that Mother 3 was never localized outside of Japan. Nintendo is clearly aware of the demand for the game to be officially released in the West but they haven't yet taken any steps to make these wishes a reality. Lucas hasn't starred in any spin-offs either, so if you want to experience his tragic tale and utilize his psychic powers outside of Smash, your only recourse is joining fans in yelling at Nintendoon the Internet in vain to localize his adventure.
Sonic's appearance on the roster of a Nintendo fighting game is something 90's kids probably would've never dreamt of until it became a reality in Super Smash Bros.: Brawl. As Nintendo's first real competitor in the home video game console market, SEGA relied heavily on their mascot Sonic, whose platformers promised much speedier and exciting gameplay than his plumbing peers could. While many agree Nintendo ultimately "won" the console war in the 90's, SEGA held their own thanks to the quality and success of the Sonic platformers on the SEGA Genesis.
Fast-forward a few years and Sonic is now largely seen as a fad or a meme by many after dozens of lackluster and outright bad platformers, but the brightside is that relations between Nintendo and SEGA have cooled enough for the latter to let their mascot show up in Smash to settle some playground duels over who would win in a fight between Mario and Sonic.
Much of Sonic's moveset, like his various roll attacks, are derived from the way the character controlled in the Genesis platformers. And the best of the bunch is widely believed to be Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Since most Sonic games that released after the 90's are generally quite bad, I think Sonic the Hedeghog 2 is a great starting point for the series to get to know the "blue blur" outside of Smash. Just be very wary of moving on to the 3D platformers afterwards. And whatever you do, don't ever look up fanart for the series. Trust me on this.
39) King Dedede
King Dedede is one of Kirby's greatest foes, but he's not actually such a bad guy. He's the self-professed "king" of Dream Land, but most of his plots just amount to stupid shenanigans like stealing all the food in the kingdom for himself before Kirby ends up walloping him. This big penguin like creature looks imposing but he's often the first boss Kirby fights in his series before moving on to bigger threats.
Fans generally enjoy Dedede's dopey mannerisms, and if you want to see them for yourself the DS remake of Kirby Super Star, Kirby Super Star Ultra is a great place to do so. The game boasts a bonus campaign absent from the original release called "Revenge of the King." Based heavily on the Revenge of Meta Knight campaign, this brief adventure entails Kirby journeying to defeat a Dedede who is seriously sick of losing and not messing around this time. It does a good job giving the dope a personality since you get to witness dialogue between he and his minions, and is also the original of the "Masked Dedede" final smash the character will have in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Alternatively if you're looking for a more modern release, 3DS platformer Kirby: Triple Deluxe features Dedede heavily in the story, and after beating the game, players unlock Dedede Tour, which lets them replay the game playing entirely as Dedede and utilizing his brute strength firsthand.
Pikmin is one of the newer IPs represented on the Smash roster and the fact its first installment came out in 2001 is a bit telling of how frequently Nintendo whips up new franchises. That being said, Pikmin is a brilliantly creative series and its core gameplay premise is reflected beautifully in Smash.
The Pikmin games are strategy titles in which players fill the shoes of a space captain, typically Olimar, who finds themselves stranded on an alien planet. The problem is that though these captains are intelligent, they are often woefully weak, completely unable to defend thesmelves against threats. Luckily, they encounter adorable and friendly plant-animal hybrid creatures known as Pikmin, and are able to utilize their strength and abilities to meet their objectives and escape the planet. Pikmin are generally not too strong in fewer numbers, but by amassing many of them, there's little the captain can't accomplish if he strategizes properly and issues orders carefully.
Similarly in Super Smash Bros., Captain Olimar is embarrassingly weak by himself, unable to even perform smash attacks on his own. However, his Pikmin partners grant him increased strength and as their numbers grow, so does this fighter as a viable threat. In Smash Bros., Olimar mostly wields five types of Pikmin - red, blue, yellow, purple, and white, each with their own distinct properties. The latter two only appear in Pikmin 2, so that is the game I recommend playing if you want to adventure with Olimar outside of Smash.
Pikmin 2 is also the most beginner friendly entry in the Pikmin trilogy - unlike its predecessor and successor, it doesn't have a hard time limit. The player's objective is to collect treasures with the aid of the Pikmin and pay off debt (in a story that hits disturbingly close to home for many an adult gamer), but players have all the time in the world to do so, making it a stressful experience only for speedrunners. Pikmin 2 can be downloaded on the Wii U, and if you enjoy it, this is the same console where you can download and play the other two games in the trilogy. Just be aware Olimar only plays a small role in the third installment.
Lucario is one of the few Pokemon playable in Smash that isn't among the original 151 Pokemon; it's native to the Sinnoh region, first debuting in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS. Lucario has gone on to become one of the most prolific Pokemon of the DS era thanks to its appearance in anime film Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, its spot on the Super Smash Bros. roster, and furry degenerates on Deviantart.
In Smash Bros., Lucario's most noteworthy trait is his use of "aura" - by utilizing this spiritual energy, Lucario can actually make himself stronger the more he takes damage. Sadly, he can't actually utilize this ability in game, and the ideas is based more heavily on the critter's appearance in the aforementioned anime film.
If you want to catch and train a Lucario in a proper Pokemon title, you're in luck as the creature's popularity has made it regularly available in newer games. If you want to train one in the Sinnoh titles where Lucario debuted, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum Versions, travel to Iron Island when you gain the ability to about 3/4th the way through the game. Complete the sidequest here, hatch the egg you're given as a gift, and evolve the Riolu that hatches from the egg into your own Lucario. Alternatively if you want to catch one earlier, consider playing Pokemon Black 2/White 2 Versions on the Nintendo DS instead, as you can catch a Riolu early in the game with ease at the Floccesy Ranch area. And if that's still too much work for you, try out 3DS titles Pokemon X/Y version, as a Lucario is outright given to you around a third the way through the game as a gift, so you can't miss getting one.
R.O.B. isn't just the biggest oddity in the Super Smash Bros. roster. He's a bizzare relic in the world of video games as a whole. R.O.B. isn't actually a video game character but rather an accessory or toy that was bundled with some versions of early models of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
As a toy, R.O.B. could interact with software, albeit only two games were made that he was compatible with - Gyromite, and Stack-Up. And frankly, they both really sucked. The poor reception to the toy meant R.O.B. was discontinued pretty quickly, and like a lot of Nintendo gimmicks, was doomed to obscurity.
R.O.B. was revived to be a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros., in which he uses attacks based loosely on Gyromite and Stack-Up. However, R.O.B. has also made plenty of cameos in other Nintendo games through the years, including being the final unlockable character in Mario Kart DS. If you're desperate to play as this peripheral for whatever reason outside of Smash, this portable racer is your best bet. It's downloadable on the Wii U Virtual Console.
43) Toon Link
The basic premise of The Legend of Zelda series - protagonists Link and Zelda being reincarnated time and time again to defeat a reocurring evil force - is one that critics claim is used to recycle similar narratives. But to put an optimistic spin on it, it also gives leeway for Nintendo to shake the status quo with the same characters if they want to. One particularly noteworthy example of this is 2003's beloved Legend of Zelda installment, The Wind Waker.
The first 3D Zelda game after the N64 era, The Wind Waker was unveiled to derision among core gamers for adopting a cel-shaded aesthetic they felt looked too "kiddy" and lame in comparison to the moodier, darker visuals of the N64 titles. Since then, the fanbase has pretty much performed a 180, praising The Wind Waker for an art style that has proved to be timeless and full of life, and its peers, which aimed for realism and have since failed to stand the test of time.
"Toon Link" as he's called in Smash, is the third incarnation of the elven hero playable in Smash, and this pint-sized fighter is based on how Link appeared in The Wind Waker, taking on a more cartoonish and expressive form. The Wind Waker, in my humble opinion, is one of the best games in the series by far, so it's absolutely worth playing if you want to fall in love with this adorable hero outside of Super Smash Bros. The game received an HD remake on Wii U that I personally have issues with due to my nostalgia boner for the original game, but it overall improves on many of the mechanics and is easier to find a copy of.
Wolf is a character that had something of a delayed debut - he was originally planned to appear as an antagonist to Fox in the SNES sequel to the original Star Fox game, but this game ended up getting cancelled late in development, meaning the character wouldn't see the light of day until Star Fox 64.
Wolf, a mercenary employed by Star Fox's enemy Andross, relentlessly hunts down the Star Fox crew over the course of Star Fox 64 and subsequent games. He isn't the most fleshed out villain around, but the persistent way he hunts the player isn't unlike a wolf hunting a fox in real life, which has helped him find his fans. His apperance in Smash Bros. is based on his look in Star Fox Zero, but as I've said previously, that game's abysmal control scheme means you're probably better off playing the superb 3DS remake of Star Fox 64 instead.
Another installment down! Brawl is actually one of my favorite Super Smash Bros. games and introduced several of my "mains," so this was a particularly fun one to write. I'm about 2/3 the way done with the roster, so I hope you look forward to the penultimate installment, where I discuss the origins of the fighters introduced in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS!