In Sakurai I trust
I kinda still can’t believe it? Minecraft x Super Smash Bros. But it happened!
For years folks have speculated that one of the biggest games on the planet is a no-brainer for an appearance in Smash, exacerbated by the fact that Microsoft already teamed up with Nintendo for Banjo’s appearance.
But the inclusion of Minecraft feels like a watershed moment for Smash, and director Masahiro Sakurai and his team didn’t take the job lying down.
As a quick rundown of what the newest fighter adds to the table: you’re getting Steve and Alex, the “main characters” of Minecraft (with zombie and Enderman skins), as well as a new stage and seven music tracks. That’s $5.99, or as part of the $29.99 second Fighters [Season] Pass: which already hosted Min Min and still has four more DLC fighters to go.
The Minecraft fighter (which I’ll refer to as “Steve” from here on out) has a few tricks up their sleeve that will take some getting used to, namely the Crafting Table mechanic. Steve can slash away with his sword with the A button, but his B specials are really where he veers away from the rest of the crowd. In short, you’ll need to actually mine the level (the efficacy of which varies depending on the terrain) to gather resources and upgrade your tools at the table.
Steve can also place blocks to get around, glide with Elytra, create a minecart to ride in or smash into enemies with and craft TNT (which can be governed by a redstone fuse). It’s just advanced enough to feel like an homage without going overboard. Placing blocks is low key one of his best abilities, as he’s able to climb up to safety or screw up an enemy recovery by strategically laying down blocks near the edge. Micromanaging the durability of his items and his resources will be a thrill for some and a turnoff for others.
The stage (Minecraft World) has a lot more to it than meets the eye. Although it’s a bit small and likely won’t excite folks looking for bigger, more epic maps, it actually has six different biomes to choose from, all with different layouts. The background of the stage (like several DLCs before it) is particularly impressive, showcasing sprawling Minecraft vistas with a large attention to detail that fans will dig. Then there’s the whole cheat code mechanic so you can select a biome. Perfection.
I’ve liked pretty much every DLC addition so far for Smash Ultimate, but the Minecraft pack is something else. Steve might not be your first, second or even top 10 pick of who you might want to appear in Smash: but Sakurai and his team made it happen, going above and beyond in the process. You gotta respect it!
Even if you never play Steve, his addition to the game will be felt for some time and will draw new people in.
[These impressions are based on a copy of the DLC provided by the publisher.]