In 2001, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros.: Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube. A direct sequel to the original Super Smash Bros., which had released only two years prior, Melee was a massive upgrade in terms of mechanics and scope. The game played much faster than its predecessor, and is still the competitive standard for fans of the series. More importantly for this blog series though, Melee more than doubled the size of the character roster, retaining everyone from the original game and adding new faces, bringing the total number of playable characters from 12 to 26.
The second installment of my beginner's guide to the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be focusing on the fourteen characters that were added to the crossover fighter for the first time in Melee. As with the previous installment, I'll briefly detail the origins of each character before recommending a game or two you can play that will help you get to know those heroes or villains outside of Super Smash Bros. For the record, I will be using the same numbering system for the roster that the game's official website uses. This means that this list will not be starting at #1, and I will also be grouping "echo fighters" with the original fighter they were based on, even if said echo fighter was introduced in a later game. So with that lengthy exposition out of the way, let's get started!
Princess Peach's first appearance was also the first ever side-scrolling platformer - Super Mario Bros. for the NES. Her role in the game was small as Mario's quest was to rescue her from the clutches of the evil Bowser. And frankly her role in many subsequent platformers is also pretty small, as Peach's greatest skill is getting herself kidnapped. Though that may be in part due to Nintendo's unwillingness to write a Mario platformer with a story that can't be summed up in one sentence.
That being said, there are a handful of main series Mario games in which Peach is playable, the most noteworthy of which is Super Mario Bros. 2. The original Super Mario Bros. was so popular it ended up getting a sequel in Japan just a year after it released, but Nintendo felt this follow-up was too difficult for Western audiences (and they were actually right), so they instead re-skinned another platformer and released it in the West as "Super Mario Bros. 2."
This game ended up having four playable characters, including Princess Peach, and each featured different physics and abilities. In Super Smash Bros., Peach has the ability to hover for great horizontal distances if you hold the jump button down, and this ability is ripped directly from Super Mario Bros. 2. In Smash Bros., Peach can also pull turnips out of the ground and toss them at opponents, and this too was pulled from Super Mario Bros. 2, as that game heavily revolves around defeating enemies by tossing vegetables and other items at enemies to defeat them.
Super Mario Bros. 2 the perfect game to play if you want to see where Peach's Smash Bros. moveset draws inspiration from. It's also a pretty fun platformer that you can replay with the other three characters for a different experience. It's downloadable on the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles, and is also one of the 30 games included in the NES Classic, which is getting a re-release on June 29th, 2018. Let's hope Nintendo is selling more than 4 of them this time...
Okay, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, this chump get into Smash over the lean, mean, sexy machine that is Waluigi. It's criminal. It's offensive. IT'S NOT OKAY DAMMIT. But our boi is just an assist trophy again and we have to accept that.
Anyway, Princess Daisy originally appeared in Super Mario Land, a Game Boy spin-off platformer that tasked Mario with rescuing her in a new kingdom called Sarasaland. After disappearing for 11 years, she reappeared in Mario Tennis on the N64 as a doubles partner for Peach. Since then, Daisy doesn't play much of a role in the Mario platformers, but frequently shows up to pad the roster for Mario Kart and Mario sports games. She does have her fans though, as she's much more enerjetic and tomboy-ish than the reserved and effeminate Princess Peach.
In Smash Bros., Daisy will be an "echo fighter" of Peach - her moveset will be virtually identical. So like Peach, her moveset will be partially inspired by the Mario sports games, as she utilizes tennis rackets and golf clubs in her smash attacks. Since the sports games are one of the few places you can find Daisy outside of Smash, they're a good place to familiarize yourself with her personality. If you're looking for a great place to start, at the time of writing, Mario Tennis Aces will soon release, and it looks pretty swell. It includes a story mode where Daisy will have a speaking role and looks like one of the most high quality tennis games Nintendo has put out in a while. If you want to familiarize yourself with Daisy outside of Smash, Aces may be a good place to start when it releases on the Switch next week.
Bowser is Mario's arch-nemesis, a hulking, fire breathing turtle-like creature with an ego as big as the hulking, spiky shell on his back. One thing you can't fault the dude for his persistence - he's literally been defeated by Mario dozens and dozens of times but he just doesn't give up! Unfortunately, as the main villain of Mario games, Bowser typically doesn't show up in them until the very end. But if you want to play a game other than Smash starring the big baddie, look no further than Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
Bowser's Inside Story is an excellent turn based game for the Nintendo DS that bounces back and forth from the perspective of Mario and Luigi, who were miniaturized and inhaled into Bowser's bowels, and the brute himself. Players will alternate between playing as Mario and Luigi inside of Bowser's body, and navigating Bowser in the overworld. The game is genius in how the actions of one party can impact the other - for example Bowser drinking water can fill his gut for the bros to swim to a new era. But for the purpose of this blog, Bowser's Inside Story is the first game where players can assume control of the titular villain for a meaty chunk of a video game - well over half of it in fact. In playing Bower's Inside Story, you'd also get to utilize techniques Bowser's famous for in turn based combat, such as his fire breath, as well as come to appreciate just how hilarious the "King of Awesome" is when he's given a speaking role. Bowser's Inside Story is fairly easy to track down on the DS, but it's also being remade for the 3DS early next year.
15) Ice Climbers
The Ice Climbers inclusion in Melee and subsequent Smash games was outright bizarre; prior to this, their only appearance in a video game was the NES launch title Ice Climber, a title that achieved modest sales, but pretty much fell into obscurity until the Ice Climbers appearance in the prolific fighter revived them in the public eye.
The Ice Climbers are a strange fighter in Smash - they're technically two characters in one, which makes their attacks very strong. However, the pink parka dotting hero, Nana, can be killed separately from Popo, her blue donning partner, and her death makes Popo weaker. This strange mechanic is likely a reflection of the fact the original Ice Climber game featured simultaneous two player multiplayer, something it prided itself for at the time.
The original Ice Climber game was a vertical platfomer that players can tackle either by themselves or with a buddy, though it was a hybrid between competitive and cooperative play - players work together to scale vertical levels, but ultimately they are competing for a higher score. In all honestly Ice Climber is just... okay. It's mildly entertaining if you have a buddy who can stomach older games, but the controls have aged terribly, as after jumping you're extremely limited in your horizontal movement. It's an interesting oddity in Nintendo's history though, and can be downloaded from the Wii U or 3DS eShop. It's also one of the games included in the NES Classic, and will be a launch title for Nintendo's mysterious paid online subscription service for the Switch launching in September.
The Legend of Zelda series' first foray into 3D space with 1998's Ocarina of Time also brought with it a deeper approach to storytelling and the introduction of a number of now iconic characters. One of the most popular of those new faces is a member of the Sheikah tribe, a clan of ninjas that protects the world from the shadows, who was creatively named "Shiek."
After the hero Link screws the pooch and accidentally seals his soul for seven years, he wakes up in a dystopian version of the land he was knew. Disorientated and getting used to his now adult form, Sheik proves to be a valuable ally. Mysteriously appearing and disappearing to teach Link helpful tips and drop fancily worded advice about the flow of time, Sheik's identity is carefully guarded throughout the game. It's only revealed at the very end that she was actually the realm's princess, Zelda, in disguise to assist Link without drawing attention to herself.
Sheik's identity was a pretty sweet plot twist in 1998, but now it's about as well known as Luke Skywalker being Darth Vader's offspring. This is because Melee gave players the ability to switch between Zelda and Sheik mid-battle, each possessing differnet movesets, which pretty much ruined the surprise for anyone who had yet to play Ocarina of Time.
Still if you want to see Sheik's cool ninja skills outside of battle, the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time is the ideal place to do so, though he (she?) only pops up a few times in the story. But if you really want to see him (her?) be a badass, an alternative is Hyrule Warriors; this game is a spinoff of Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors series starring heroes and villains from The Legend of Zelda series, and Sheik is playable. It's basically a mindless button masher, but good, dumb, brainless fun, and it's a great way to play as Shiek outside of Super Smash Bros. It released for the Wii U but was ported to the 3DS and then ported again to the Switch, with the Switch version having the most content.
Like Link, Princess Zelda is subject to a curse where her spirit will be reincarnated time and time again to help put a stop to an evil that haunts her world. As such, she's appeared in almost every game in The Legend of Zelda series to date, and generally taken on a different appearance each time. Her look in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is largely inspired by how she appeared in some of the older, top down 2D Zelda games, most notably throwback 3DS title The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
Zelda's moveset in Smash predominantly revolves around wielding magic, but these abilities are actually ones Link, not her, used in Ocarina of Time. As such, I'd instead recommend playing A Link Between Worlds instead. It's a wonderful sequel to the beloved game A Link to the Past, and it features fluid top down exploration, combat, and the ability to explore its world at your own pace. If you enjoyed the freedom The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild provided, A Link Between Worlds is borderline its 2D equivalent. It's worth noting that Zelda doesn't pop up all too much in many of the Legend of Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds included, but she does play a pivotal role at the start of the this game and its final battle, so it's a great place to get to know her character regardless.
18) Dr. Mario
When I was a kid, I thought Dr. Mario was the equivalent of a Deviantart OC. He seemed like a lazy reskin of an existing character added to pad out the roster. And as far as Melee is concerned, that's kind of what he is, but Dr. Mario does actually exist outside of Smash.
Dr. Mario first appeared as the star of the 1990 title Dr. Mario, in which Mario impersonated being a doctor and hopped onto the box art of a color matching puzzle game that was capitalizing on the success of Tetris, all in order to sell more units by adding his recognizable visage. I make that sound really cynical, but Dr. Mario is actually a super fun game, even if it never quite reaches the endlessly addictive appeal of Tetris.
In Super Smash Bros., Dr. Mario controls very similarly to Mario with a few exceptions, such as shooting Megavitamins other than fireballs as his primary special move. In the Dr. Mario game, these Megavitamins fall down the screen and matching colors are arranged by the player to destroy deadly viruses and continue to the next stage. It's a simple premise, but it hides a surprising amount of depth, and its popularity means it's a game that's been ported to numerous Nintendo consoles.
The version of the game I recommend is Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure, available for download on the 3DS. It's by far the most feature rich of the Dr. Mario games, boasting almost every mode playable in its various predecessors. It's also a game perfectly suited to short bursts of fun on a handheld console, so if you're curious how Mario's career as a fraudulent doctor is going, this is the best game to start with.
When Pokemon Gold and Silver released in 2000 for the Game Boy Color, they offered a number of new mechanics that made it easier to raise and train the Pokemon of your dreams. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these additions was breeding. By stuffing two compatible Pokemon in a room and letting an old man watch, they could lay an egg that would hatch into a Pokemon whose stats were based on its parents. To incentivize breeding all kinds of different Pokemon, a number of new critters were added to the game known as "baby Pokemon."
"Baby Pokemon" were "newly discovered" younger forms of Pokemon introduced in the original Pokemon games. They were frankly rather weak, but enjoyed popularity around the turn of the century thanks to how bloody adorable they were. The most popular of all the baby Pokemon is undoubtedly Pichu, being the pre-evolved form of the series mascot, Pikachu. In Super Smash Bros., Pichu controls very similarly to Pikachu, but damages itself whenever it uses electricity. This is because he's not quite used to using his powers, a reflection of how weak baby Pokemon are in the core RPG series.
It's difficult to properly train a Pichu in a lot of Pokemon games since you generally have to breed a Pikachu to do so, but a recent exception are Pokemon Sun/Moon and their enhanced versions Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. These games allow you to catch a wild Pichu in an area known as Hau'oli City early in the game, so if you want to raise one of these adorable critters outside of Super Smash Bros., tracking down one of these 3DS games is your best bet.
Despite being an iconic character in the competitive scene of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Falco only plays a relatively small role in the series from which he originated, Star Fox. In these games, Falco is an ally of protagonist Fox, who accompanies him on his quest and assists him in the various aerial dogfights he gets wrapped up in. Falco is perhaps most well known for his cocky personality, as he can barely even thank Fox for saving his life without passing some kind of snarky remark.
Falco is generally an NPC in the Star Fox games, but if you really want to pilot an aircraft as him, Star Fox: Command is a pretty good game to choose. A DS game that can also be downloaded from the Wii U Virtual Console, Command blends the aerial combat of the main Star Fox series with strategic elements. It's a bit of a divisive game, but it does allow players to tackle a campaign as Fox's arrogant, avian companion. If it's not your cup of tea, you could always just boot up a more traditional Star Fox game like Star Fox 64 and sit back and enjoy Falco's scathing commentary.
Marth is perhaps most well known among competitive Smash players for his "tipping" ability - the tip of his sword deals more damage than the rest of his blade, rewarding strategic placement. This is perhaps a reflection of the Fire Emblem series Marth is a protagonist in.
Fire Emblem refers to a series of strategy RPGs where players move units across a grid to defeat foes, being mindful of elements like which weapons are effective against what foes and how enemies may retaliate to the player's decisions. They've very thoughtful and strategic experiences, but for much of the series' lifespan, the games were never localized outside of Japan. Heck, when Melee came out in the States, very few people recognized Marth other than being "the Japanese sword guy." However, Marth's appearance in Smash among other things boosted the series' popularity in the West, leading to later entries getting localized for us.
Fire Emblem is unique in that almost every game starts a brand new protagonist set in a different time period in a different corner of the universe's expansive world. Marth happens to be the protagonist of the first Fire Emblem game and one of its sequels, but these two installments were never localized for the West. The first Fire Emblem game however, was remade as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon for the Nintendo DS, and this remake released internationally.
If you want to get to know Marth as a character outside of Super Smash Bros. and you're in the West, Shadow Dragon is your only recourse. It's not the best Fire Emblem game, but it's decent enough and lets you experience Marth's heroics. If you can't track down a physical copy of the DS game, it can be downloaded from the Wii U Virtual Console.
In Super Smash Bros. Lucina's moveset is almost identical to Marth's, which is fitting since she is actually a distant descendant of the original Fire Emblem protagonist. Her first appearance was in the 3DS installment Fire Emblem: Awakening, which was also the first Fire Emblem game in the West to sell exceptionally well, making the series a much more substantial IP in Nintendo's roster, and actually saving the series from the brink of death. It helps that Awakening is one of the easiest games in the Fire Emblem series, making it a great starting point for new players that want to get into the series and know its characters (and perhaps also explaining why Lucina was designed to be easier to control than Marth in Smash).
In Awakening, Lucina can be recruited around the halfway point of the game. It's difficult to say much more than that without spoiling her role in the game, but her appearance in Awakening has helped her become one of the more popular characters in the entire Fire Emblem series. It's a great game to pick up if you want to familiarize yourself with Lucina outside of Smash, but another great option is Fire Emblem Warriors. Like Hyrule Warriors, this game is a button masher starring characters from the newer Fire Emblem games, Lucina included. If more action packed experiences are up your alley, Hyrule Warrios isn't a bad choice. It's available on both the Switch and the New 3DS.
22) Young Link
As stated earlier, Link is a character who has been reincarnated time and time again throughout The Legend of Zelda series, and it's often in the form of a child or a young adult. This particular Smash Bros. fighter is based on the hero's younger incarnations, in particular his youthful form from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
In Ocarina of Time, Link utilized the power of the Master Sword to travel back and forth between time, switching between his childhood and young adult years, and he could use different weapons and abilities in each form. In Smash Bros., Young Link is a slightly weaker, but faster version of Link, perhaps a reflection of the fact that in Ocarina of Time, Link sacrificed strength when he returned to his child form.
There are numerous Legend of Zelda games starring a younger link, but the 3DS remake Ocarina of Time 3D is a great game to pick up to acquiant yourself with the version of the hero seen in Smash Bros. If you enjoy it, you should absolutely consider playing its sequel, Majora's Mask, which also stars Young Link and received an excellent 3DS remake. Majora's Mask is a much different game from its predecessor, utilizing the same engine but featuring a more melancholy story and superb side content.
The heroes Link and Zelda are reincarnated time and time again to save their land from an ancient evil, and this evil most often manifests itself as a pig monster named Ganon. However, sometimes that beast's hatred burns so bright it is reincarnated in human form as Ganondorf. The main villain of three Legend of Zelda games, Ganondorf first appeared in Ocarina of Time and proved to be more cunning than Ganon, retaining his hatred for the land of Hyrule but boasting the intelligence of a human. Ganondorf's appearance in Ultimate is based on his look in Ocarina of Time.
Oddly enough, much of Ganondorf's moveset in Smash Bros. is inspired by Captain Falcon of all characters, just with a bit of a dark magic spin. If you want to get to know this baddie a bit in his home series, Ocarina of Time 3D is a great place to start, seeing as his look in Ultimate is pulled straight from that game. However, as the title's main villain, Ganondorf only pops up a few times over the course of your adventure. If you want to spend more quality time with the villain, consider picking up Hyrule Warriors. The main campaign lets you play as Ganondorf for a few chapters and kick the asses of the forces of good, and it's damn fun to play the bad guy for a change.
To this day, Mewtwo is one of the most popular Pokemon among series fans due to his disturbing backstory. Mewtwo was born of a failed attempt by scientists to clone a Pokemon named Mew. The final lifeform ended up with a different appearance and a bone to pick with mankind for the horrific way he was brought into the world. Much of how gamers perceive Mewtwo's personality was based on the anime film Pokemon: The First Movie where Mewtwo seeks his revenge against humanity. However, Mewtwo's appearance in the Pokemon games proper is a bit more subdued... he mostly spends his time sulking in cave waiting to be captured by the player.
Mewtwo is a "legendary Pokemon" a term meaning there is only one of his kind in the whole world and if players miss their chance to catch it, they're out of luck. An "ultimate lifeform" of sorts, Mewtwo cannot be captured in the Pokemon games he appears in until after players have beaten the whole game. His two most prolific appearances are the original Pokemon games, and Pokemon X/Y versions on the 3DS. If you want to appreciate just how powerful Mewtwo is, I recommend playing Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow version as he is an absolute beast to hunt down and capture here, making doing so feel like a real accomplishment (unless you cheat and use an infallible Master Ball). Alternatively, you can play the newer releases, Pokemon X and Y, where Mewtwo appears once more as a post-game challenge, but is much easier to catch. The plus side is you can Mega Evolve Mewtwo in these games, which is his final smash in Super Smash Bros.!
Unfortunately for fans of this fiery swordsman, Roy is one of two Smash Bros. fighters who have never starred in a video game that was officially released in the West. Roy is the protagonist of the sixth Fire Emblem game, The Binding Blade, and he was largely added to Melee to promote The Binding Blade's upcoming release in Japan. Interestingly enough, Roy is actually not a particularly popular character among Fire Emblem fans due to having some of the worst stats of any protagonist in the series. However, he's remained popular among Smash fans regardless due to his flashy and fiery sword techniques.
If you want to get to know Roy outside of Smash in the West, your only recourses are to download the second "Champions of Yore" DLC map for Fire Emblem: Awakening, where players can recruit a spirit molded in Roy's likeness (who sadly has no dialogue once the DLC is over), or the seventh Fire Emblem game for the Game Boy Advance (and Wii U Virtual Console). This game, simply titled Fire Emblem is a prequel to The Binding Blade starring Roy's father, Eliwood, and Roy does play a small role in the game's epilogue.
26) Mr. Game & Watch
Mr. Game & Watch is one of the strangest additions to the Smash roster, as he technically didn't exist prior to Smash at all. Mr. Game & Watch is essentially a character of Sakurai's creation whose monochromatic, flat appearance and moveset are heavily inspired by a line of hardware Nintendo produced in the 80's and early 90's known as the "Game & Watch" systems.
Before the NES was even a thing, Nintendo published these little handheld units, which contained a tiny minigame to play on an LCD screen, and a watch, making them fun little timesinks for those on the go. Each one of Mr. Game & Watch's many attacks, from shooting enemies with bacon to slapping them with a turtle are based on a different Game & Watch unit, and the total amount of them is pretty dizzying. A great place to familiarize yourself with these many games is the Game & Watch Gallery series.
Released on the various Game Boy systems, the Game & Watch Gallery series were compilations of Game & Watch games that also included modernized versions of the classics featuring improved visuals, new gameplay mechanics and starred Mario characters. They're all fun history lessons, and unlocking bonuses and new games by achieving high scores was a blast. Game & Watch Gallery 1-3 are downloadable on the 3DS eShop, and 4 is available on the Wii U eShop.
Whew, another installment down! I aim to make this series as entertaining as it is exhaustive, so I hope you enjoyed getting to know some of these characters a bit better. Stay tuned for the next installment of this blog series, where I delve into the history of the heroes and villains introduced in the follow-up game, Super Smash Bros.: Brawl!