The debut game of every Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter, re-ranked

Smash Bros ranked

I hope this list doesn’t start a Brawl

Three years ago, just before the monumental launch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch, I gave myself the thankless task of trying to rank every fighter based on the game they originated from. It was not easy. In fact, it was a very dumb decision for me to make. Not only were there 59 different games I had to sort through, but I’m pretty sure half of them were just Pokémon and Fire Emblem titles, and who can honestly tell the difference between the games in those franchises?

I was pretty proud of that first list, but looking back at it, there were several placements I knew I got wrong. Thankfully, two season passes of characters are giving me another shot at creating the ultimate ranking for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. With Sora finally out in the wild and Masahiro Sakurai back frozen in carbonite until the next Smash Bros., now is the perfect time to revisit that original list and re-rank the games. This time, there are more than 90 characters from 72 different games represented. So strap in, sit tight, and get a notepad out; because you’re going to want to make notes on where I totally screwed up this time.

#72 Ball

The first time I made this list, I convinced myself to put Ice Climber at the very bottom of it. Don’t get me wrong, Ice Climber is not a good game. But, have you ever actually played Ball for the Game & Watch? It’s boring. Very, very boring. It’s pretty much the video game equivalent of a pinwheel: extremely basic with a novelty factor that wears off within seconds. On this re-ranked list, it takes its rightful place in the bottom spot.

Now, if Mr. Game & Watch’s first game had been Fire

Smash Bros ranked #71 Gyromite

Three years have passed since the first list and I still haven’t played Gyromite. Given the state of early video game preservation, I probably never will.

#70 Ice Climber

Okay, Popo and Nana. Consider this a courtesy placement. Your game sucks, but you’re so much fun to play in Smash Bros.

#69 Duck Hunt

Nice.

Smash Bros Ranked #68 Mario Bros.

Nintendo considers Luigi’s first appearance to be in the Mario Bros. arcade game. He actually appeared in the Mario Bros. Game & Watch several weeks before that. The arcade game is not that fun, so this spot on the list is based on the Game & Watch title, which is pretty decent from what I remember of Game and Watch Gallery 4 on the GBA.

#66 Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land would have been placed lower on the list for being such a strain on the eyes, but its soundtrack is sick.

#66 Street Fighter

Right before I sold it on eBay for a nice profit, I tried to play through the original Street Fighter in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection for Switch. Made it a full two rounds before I switched right back over to 3rd Strike.

#65 Fatal Fury

So Fatal Fury: King of Fighters was created by Takashi Nishiyama, who a few years earlier gave the world Street Fighter from Capcom. One of the main critiques of the original Street Fighter is that you can only play as either Ryu or Ken with the rest of the cast restricted to the CPU. For some reason, Fatal Fury only ups the number of playable characters by one (Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi), keeping the rest of the characters controlled by the CPU. No wonder Street Fighter II, which released several months prior, absolutely ate this game’s lunch. Thank God they turned things around for Fatal Fury 2.

#64 Kirby's Dream Land's

There are several games on this list I’m coming to with a fresh perspective having played them since I last ranked these titles. Kirby’s Dream Land is one such game, and while it’s easily the worst Kirby platformer, it’s still a pretty decent Game Boy game thanks to the adjustable difficulty.

#63 Kid Icarus

I still think Kid Icarus is absolutely ripe for a remake. Nintendo should hook up with one of these top-tier indie outlets to reimagine Pit’s first outing for modern audiences. Either that or add Eggplant Wizard to Smash. #EggplantWizard4Smash

#62 Dr. Mario

He takes a couple uppers, he downs a couple downers, but nothing compares to his blue and yellow, red pills.

#61 Sonic the Hedgehog

On the last list, I put Sonic the Hedgehog pretty high up because I didn’t want any guff from its fanbase. This time, there are much more annoying fans I have to worry about, so I have no qualms about pushing this hedgehog way back.

Smash Bros Ranked #60 Arms

Do you think Nintendo is actually going to continue the Arms franchise? Like, I know this first one didn’t reach the monster success other first-party games in the Switch catalog have seen, but it also wasn’t a bust (unless you were looking forward to that comic). I’d just hate to see this fun and interesting take on the fighting game genre end after just one attempt.

#59 Mega Man

Whar Mega Man 12?

#58 Fire Emblem

The success of the Switch has proven Sony ain’t the only company that can make stupid decisions when it’s riding high on huge sales. Case in point: limited-time games. I mean, think about it. Millions of people are going to unwrap a Switch next month, and none of them will be able to play the original Fire Emblem, which was localized for the very first time just last year with only a few months of availability on the eShop. What a stupid use of technology.

Smash Ranking #57 Wii Fit

What are the chances Wii Fit Trainer is getting replaced by the runner from Ring Fit Adventure in the next Smash?

Smash Ranking #56 Castlevania

Whip it. Whip it good!

Smash Ranking #55 Metroid

I cannot tell you what a nightmare it was playing through Metroid back in 1992 with a rented copy from the game store that didn’t come with a map. Seven-year-old CJ spent that weekend completely lost on Zebes.

Smash Ranking #54 Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong turned 40 this year. In Destructoid terms, that makes it exactly one Chris Moyse old.

Smash Ranking #53 Super Mario Land 2

If the tanooki suit can be brought back for modern Mario games, I don’t see why the bunny ears can’t be revived as well.

Smash Ranking #52 Pikmin

I love the idea that we got a franchise as good as Pikmin just because Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to see just how many objects the GameCube could animate at once. That’s like finding out George Lucas made Star Wars just because he wanted to see if he could create a believable robot suit.

Smash Ranking #51 Super Mario Bros.

I wonder what the world would look like if Super Mario Bros. failed and The Great Giana Sisters became the worldwide phenomenon that Mario is today. Would I be making a list of the best debut games for characters in Super Smash Sisters?

Smash Ranking #50 Star Fox

Playing Star Fox on my SNES Classic really highlights how easy it was to impress gamers at the dawn of the 3D era.

Smash Ranking #49 Pokemon Diamond/Pearl

Oh shit. I forgot I’m going to have to write about 25 different Pokémon games, aren’t I?

Smash Ranking #48 Fire Emblem Fates

Looking at it as objectively as possible, I’d wager Fire Emblem Fates is actually the best game in the series. It’s a phenomenal work of art with an engrossing story, outstanding battles, and so many bathhouses. Unfortunately, it was held back from perfection by the asinine decision to break it up into three different versions to try and squeeze the most money out of the Fire Emblem fanbase as possible. Hopefully, Fates‘ fracture form was a one-time experiment for Nintendo.

Smash Ranking #47 Wii Sports

I’ll be honest with you: I’d have no problem putting Wii Sports at #1 on this list. Bowling and boxing alone make it one of the best games ever created and it’s just a crying shame Nintendo has opted not to continue or evolve the series on Switch.

Smash Ranking #46 Pokemon Sun/Moon

Playing Pokémon Sun & Moon is like taking a Hawaiian vacation, but without any of that Kill Haole Day stuff.

Smash Ranking #45 Dragon Quest 4

This is what’s great about Sakurai. He could have easily just put the Hero from Dragon Quest XI in Smash Bros. and called it a day. But no. He had to go that extra step to make the alternate costumes for the fighter three completely different characters from the Dragon Quest franchise, including Solo Hero from Dragon Quest IV.  The game was first released for the NES as Dragon Warrior IV, but I didn’t get around to it until Square Enix and ArtePiazza remade it and its two sequels for Nintendo DS. A love affair for the series that started with Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime absolutely blossomed the moment I took control of Ragnar to go find those missing kids.

Smash Ranking #44 Pokemon X/Y

What do you think they’re going to call the eventual remakes of Pokémon X & Y? Pokémon XXXY?

Smash Ranking #43 Path of Radiance

I still like Ike!

Smash Ranked #43 Metroid Prime Echoes

It’s unclear if all those rumors about a Switch port of Metroid Prime Trilogy arriving before the release of Metroid Prime 4 are true, but given the reception of Metroid Dread, Nintendo should find a way to make it happen. And if it doesn’t, well, you can always buy my Wii copy from me on eBay. Starting bid: $1,000!

Smash Bros Ranked #41 Banjo-Kazooie

Thanks to Xbox Game Pass, I got to play Banjo-Kazooie for the very first time this year. And after getting through it, I now see why so many people were excited for and ultimately let down by Yooka-Laylee.

Smash Rank 40 Pokemon Red Blue

There was one kid at my high school who played Pokémon on his Game Boy Color. One day, a few weeks before the launch of the Game Boy Advance, I asked him if he was excited about playing the series on a more powerful handheld. He responded that Pokémon wouldn’t work on the Game Boy Advance because the GBA didn’t have an infrared port. Sadly, he was proven correct. Today, Pokémon only exists as a distant memory and not a series I’m going to have to write about two more times on this list.

Smash Bros Ranked #39 Animal Crossing

A few weeks ago I was going through my storage bins when I happened upon a box from my college days. I looked inside and was shocked to see that, after all this time, I still had the GameCube memory card that came with every new copy of Animal Crossing. It still worked too. Sadly, I must have cleared my AC data from it when I traded the game into GameStop.

Smash Bros Ranked #38 Kirby's Adventure

Is Meta Knight just Kirby’s Proto Man?

Smash Bros Ranked #37 Rondo of Blood

Right now there are four consoles hooked up to my living room television: Switch, PS5, Series S, and Wii U. Because nearly every game I love on the Wii U has been ported to Switch, the only reason I’m keeping it plugged in these days is to revisit all the great Virtual Console games I bought back in the days of the Wii, including Rondo of Blood.

Smash Bros Ranked #36 Dragon Quest 3

I cannot wait for Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake. It’ll just be nice to have a really good-looking version of this game on my Switch as opposed to the one that’s currently on my console with its abominable character sprites.

Smash Bros Ranked #35 Captain Falcon

Super Smash Bros. Ulitmate has sold more than 25 million copies. What percentage of those players do you think only know Captain Falcon as a fighting game character?

Smash Bros Ranked #34 Kingdom Hearts

Sora is Smash is just not the same without the screams of Goofy begging you to heal him every five minutes.

Smash Ranked 33 Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

This would be way higher on the list, but sadly, too much water.

Smash Bros Ranked #32 Bayonetta

I play Bayonetta for the articles.

Smash Bros Ranked #31 Star Fox 64

Star Fox 64 was the very first Nintendo 64 game to support the Rumble Pack. And 24 years later, the gaming world still has to deal with that tired-ass gimmick.

Smash Ranked 30 Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario 3D All-Stars may have been pretty lackluster as a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary, but it did give me a chance to replay Super Mario Sunshine for the first time since college and reevaluate what I thought of the game. Turns out, I’ve been a lot harder on it than I should have been because it’s pretty damn fun.

Smash Bros Ranked #29 Dragon Quest 11

Dragon Quest XI‘s weird road to the west proved to be well worth the wait no matter which console you ended up getting the game on. Still, it would have been nice for audiences outside of Japan to get their hands on that 3DS version.

Smash Bros Ranked #28 Xenoblade 2

Boy, there is a lot of plot in that picture above.

Smash Rank 27 Uprising

I don’t know what Sakurai is going to do now that he’s maybe totally done with Smash Bros., but I can tell you what I’d like for him to do: port Uprising to Switch so everyone who skipped it on the 3DS because of its control scheme can finally see what a brilliant game it is.

Smash Bros Ranked #26 Pikmin 3

We’re all still waiting for Pikmin 4, but getting Pikmin 3 Deluxe on Switch will make the wait a bit more bearable. It’s just so damn good.

Smash Bros Ranked #25 Splatoon

How this game didn’t spawn its own fashion line at H&M or UNIQLO I will never know.

Smash Bros Ranked #24 Xenoblade Chronicles

Remember when this game was going to be called Monado: Beginning of the World? It’s probably for the best Monolith Soft opted for a name change. That original title sounds like some indie game you’d have trouble remembering five minutes after watching a trailer for it.

Smash Bros Ranked #23 New Leaf

Now that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all but complete, I think it’s safe to say that New Leaf is still the king of the franchise.

Smash Bros Ranked #22 Three Houses

I don’t think most Smash players were all that excited to see another character from Fire Emblem added to the game as a paid DLC character. Thankfully, even if you’re annoyed by Byleth the fighter, it’s pretty hard to hate the game they come from. Three Houses is just too damn good and one of these days I’m going to find time to play through the Expansion Pass.

Smash Bros Ranked #21 Donkey Kong Country

There are a lot of reasons one can hold Donkey Kong Country in high regard. It has great graphics, an amazing score, incredibly tight gameplay, and some of the best boss battles on the SNES. For me, it’s the level design that makes it stand out. With its myriad of secrets, Donkey Kong Country was the type of game that beckoned players to explore every nook and cranny of its stages, all for the chance to maybe discover a new bonus area that nobody on the playground knew about yet. Because of that design philosophy, I think I know the levels of Donkey Kong Country better than any other game I’ve played.

Smash Bros Ranked #20 Metal Gear

On the first ranking of these games, a couple of people were quick to point out how badly I fucked up the placement of Metal Gear, surmising that I must have based my decision on the NES version rather than the original for the MSX2. And you know what? They were right. Thankfully, I have a copy of that version of the game on my PlayStation Vita thanks to the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, and holy hell, it absolutely holds up today.

Smash Bros Ranked #19 Super Mario World

Super Mario World, or as it’s more commonly known around these parts, “Dinosaur Abuse Simulator.” Seriously, you spend the whole game smacking Yoshi in the back of the head and there’s one level where you have to send him to his death just to reach a moon piece. That’s effed up.

Smash Bros Ranked #18 Legend of Zelda

The recent release of the Nintendo Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda only reconfirms the greatness Miyamoto and company were able to capture with their very first outing in Hyrule.

Smash Bros Ranked #17 Mother 3

(Bernie Sanders voice) I am once again asking for your #LocalizeMother3

Smash Bros Ranked #16 Persona 5

What’s the absolute lowest I can list Persona 5 without its fans jumping down my throat?

Smash Bros Ranked #15 Minecraft

What’s the absolute funniest game to rank exactly one spot ahead of Persona 5?

Smash Ranked #14 Ocarina of Time

Did anyone else order one of those ocarinas from the back pages of Nintendo Power back in the day? I still have mine, along with the sheet music to play songs by The Beatles. Shame they couldn’t do that for the other Zelda instruments. I think that ocarina is lonely, tucked away in that drawer without its friends the Goddess Harp and the Spirit Flute.

Smash Bros Ranked #13 Earthbound

You know Frasier, Frederick would have enjoyed a nice, pristine copy of EarthBound much more than that stupid Living Brain thing you spend the whole episode looking for. Hell, he probably would have enjoyed the kitchen set, dollhouse, and three kinds of Barbies more too.

Smash Debut #12 Punch-Out

Now that Nintendo fully owns Next Level Games, surely we can get Punch-Out!! to come back as a regular series, right? I don’t think my life is complete without its lighthearted xenophobia.

Smash Bros Ranked #11 SM Galaxy

There is still no greater feeling in gaming than doing a running jump off a small planetoid in Super Mario Galaxy and watching that chubby little plumber slingshot around and around the rock until gravity pulls him back down. So much of this game is just fun for the sake of being fun, which is why I’ll never tire of playing it.

Smash Bros Ranked #10 Melee Roy

It’s crazy that after so many years of fighting tooth and nail to keep Smash Bros. away from the competitive scene, Nintendo is finally giving its blessing to the first officially licensed competitive Smash circuit with partner Panda Global. What’s even crazier is that Melee is going to be a part of it. I wonder what changed to make that happen?

#9 Wind Waker

Saiiiiiiiiiiiiling takes me awayyyyyyyyyyyy to where I’ve always heard it could be…

#8 Tekken

Tekken was one of the very first games my brother and I rented for our PlayStation back in 1995. For years, we’d used fighting games like Street Fighter II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters to satisfy that bloodlust brothers naturally have between them, beating each other up in games rather than in real life where bruises and broken bones would lead to punishment. Once we got the PlayStation in our house, we knew we had to take competitive nature to the third dimension. He would always pick Marshall Law. I’d always go with King. Even though we kind of hated each other at the time, I cherish those memories of us throwing down on King George Island.

#7 Gold Silver Crystal

It turns out, I made a slight error on the original list. When putting together the images for it, I used the picture of the female Pokémon Trainer for the Pokémon RedBlue entry. But you couldn’t play as a female in the original Pokémon games. While there were plans to include a female option in RedBlueGreenGold, and Silver, it wasn’t until Crystal released that players were actually able to choose the gender of their trainer. Because I’m too exhausted from doing all this to add Crystal as its own entry, I’m shoving it in here with Gold & Silver, which remain two of the finest games in the entire series.

#6 Awakening

I don’t know what’s in store for the next Super Smash Bros. game, but I think there is one thing we all can agree on: fewer Fire Emblem characters. Or, at the very least, just pull them all from the same game so I don’t have to write about five frickin’ Fire Emblems the next time I do this list. Spoiler Alert: I’m never doing a list like this again. I mean, now I know why Brett never updated his buttplug ranking with each new amiibo.

#5 Zero Mission

Following the release of Metroid Dread, I decided to go back through and play the entire Metroid saga before diving into what will be the final chapter in that tale. I always knew Metroid: Zero Mission was a great game, what I didn’t realize is just how perfectly designed it is. Its clockwork execution is flawless. Easily the best purchase I’ve made on my Wii U, this game alone is reason enough for me to keep that console around until it dies on me.

#4 FF7

I think I’m running out of words at this point, so Final Fantasy VII good.

#3 SMB3

Sakurai and his team did an amazing job with the introduction videos they created for each combatant in Smash Ultimate and Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. They absolutely capture the spirit of this fighter, and while they don’t totally make up for the loss of all those great story-mode cutscenes we had in Brawl, they’re worth rewatching again and again. In fact, I have a compilation of those trailers running on my television anytime I’m cleaning my apartment. They’re all wonderful, but the introduction for Bowser Jr., when you slowly realize he’s about to be joined by the Koopalings, is my favorite moment in any of those videos. That sequence is burned into my memory, right alongside all the wonderful moments I spent playing through this absolute masterpiece of a platformer.

#2 Pac-Man

I’m just saying if this were Ms. Pac-Man, it wouldn’t be settling for the runners-up spot.

Smash Bros Ranked #1 DQ8

Admittedly, there are several games that could easily take the number one position on this list because, as you’ve hopefully already seen, many Smash competitors got their start in some of the greatest games of the all-time. Pac-Man is still a GOAT, as are Super Mario Bros. 3Final Fantasy VIISuper Mario Bros., and Wii Sports. But I have to hand it to Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. This game changed the course of history for the Dragon Quest franchise in the west. It was the first entry in the series to reach a sizeable audience outside of Japan, with its excellent voice acting, wonderful art direction, enjoyable characters, and thrilling sense of adventure. Without the success of Dragon Quest VIII, the landscape for western DQ fans might look very different today. So yeah, it’s great. In fact, it’s greater than great. It’s the greatest debut game of any Smash fighter. Period.

*****

So, there you have it. The definitive ranking of every debut game for each Smash competitor. The last time I made this list, I said it was non-binding, something I made just for fun and also to test out my Photoshop skills. This time though, it’s legit. This is an official Smash Bros ranked list. I mean look, I even got the Nintendo Seal of Quality for it:

Seal of Quality

That still means something, right?

CJ Andriessen
Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games.