Pt. II: The Heavy-Hitters
Hold on there, slick. You’ve read the first part to this article, right? This one’s actually a two-parter, and you’re in the second part, if it hasn’t been made obvious. Before you start this one, I’d recommend reading the first. But hey, it’s your choice. But just in case you haven’t or don’t want to, we’ve talked about…
- Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion, the M-rated, kunai-wielding ninja from Hell with pyrokinesis and a reputation for murder / disembodiment / etc.
- Shovel Knight and Shantae, the indie heroes from their self-titled games that have earned the adoration of millions with their throwbacks to games of the past!
- Yo-kai Watch’s Jibanyan and Whisper, mascots of one of the newest crazes in gaming that rivals Pokémon madness.
- Tekken’s Heihachi, the antagonist / mascot of the top-selling fighting game franchise in history, with unique skills and attacks to bring to the table.
- Minecraft’s Steve, the avatar of the sandbox game that revolutionized gaming and became the second best-selling game of all time!
Now that we’ve gotten a few of the smaller characters out of the way, it’s time to talk about the big cheeses in gaming that aren’t already in the newest Smash Bros. title. These aren’t just third-parties from various companies, these are characters who have defined the industry and have been long-awaited to join the ensemble of Nintendo all-stars. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, may I present to you, the heavy hitters.
Banjo & Kazooie (Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie)
When people talk about the birth of the 3D platformer, one name rises above the others as a pinnacle of gaming in that era. With the success of the Super Nintendo’s exclusive Donkey Kong Country series, Rareware (at that point a second-party developer for Nintendo) began developing their own franchises once again for the gaming mogul’s newest console, the Nintendo 64. With this partnership came plenty of AAA titles, such as Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct, Goldeneye 007, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Yet, none came close to the reception and adoration of Rare’s greatest achievement on the N64, the Banjo-Kazooie duology. With tight controls, innovative gameplay and the legendary musical stylings of Grant Kirkhope, Banjo and Kazooie became important icons to Nintendo and the N64. That is, until the Microsoft buyout in the early 2000’s, where Rare’s IPs have remained mostly dormant to this day, except for a few cases such as the revival of Killer Instinct. There’s also the spiritual successor to Banjo in the form of the upcoming Yooka-Laylee, made by Playtonic, the same people behind Rare and their franchises during their prime.
So, they’ve had some good games and now are mostly dead, big whoop. A lot of 90’s mascots fell into obscurity too, like Earthworm Jim and Gex. Yet, many do agree that besides their close ties to Nintendo, Banjo and Kazooie’s moves and abilities are a perfect fit for the zany action of Smash. Both of their N64 titles give him a vast array of attacks, working in unison to fire egg projectiles, dash at foes, take to the skies, and more. Not to mention the wonderful dynamic between the two, with Banjo being the good-hearted yet simple-minded brawn, and Kazooie being the sarcastic, egotistical brain who usually ends up doing things herself. The wacky world and cast of Banjo-Kazooie make for a wonderful addition to Smash.
Of course, most people in the Smash speculation scene know all this already, as the pair have been among the most popular choices for Smash Bros. since before the release of Melee. In a company poll for “Smash Bros. 2”, Banjo and Kazooie made the top 10 (albeit in the #8 spot), in front of characters such as Marth, Diddy Kong, Meta Knight and Red the Pokemon Trainer! Yet, due to legal circumstances, we never saw the bear and bird appear in Melee, missing out right before their transfer to Microsoft. However, now that head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, Phil Spencer, has shown interest in seeing Banjo and Kazooie join the ever-growing roster of Smash, perhaps it’s not entirely out of the question to see these icons of 90’s gaming finally take a short trip back into the arms of Nintendo.
Banjo and Kazooie work together as a team, utilizing many of the wacky abilities they gained in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. They function more as an all-around fighter, with plenty of little quirks thrown in to help players learn about more advanced options while still staying simple to play, such as being able to hold their second jump to slow their descent, or stringing together certain inputs for a specific outcome!
|Neutral Special: Breegull Blaster.||Banjo crouches as Kazooie sticks her head out of his backpack and fires a few low-damage eggs! Holding down the Special button sends out an egg on the other side (sound effects included!) to surprise foes, while pressing the Attack button orders Kazooie to peck away in CQC.|
|Side Special: Beak Bomb.||The duo take off in a powerful flying dash forwards, smacking into foes. Similar to Charizard’s Flare Blitz, but less powerful and no recoil damage.|
|Up Special: Flap Flip.||Kazooie, with Banjo secured tightly to his backpack, takes off with a massive leap, being able to perform a frontflip or backflip during the animation to change where they land.|
|Down Special: Beak Buster.||The two take to the air and curl up into a ball, crashing back down to the ground. This move is useful for breaking shields or just dealing a good amount of damage with low knockback.|
|Final Smash: The Mighty Jinjonator.||In the middle of the stage, a giant Jinjo statue rises up and bursts to reveal the Jinjonator. If anyone is caught in this burst, Banjo (and Kazooie) will hop onto the giant’s back as they perform a massive powerful dash forward, similar to Beast Ganon.|
Simon Belmont (Konami’s Castlevania)
Enter freely and of your own free will, because we’re dipping into the classics. Castlevania’s been around since the NES, comparable to Mega Man in that it’s become synonymous with the console. It’s adventure and exploration-centric gameplay have made the franchise a staple in gaming history, often copied but never truly replicated. Castlevania’s still around, but not nearly as much since the turn of the century, although there was a small resurgence for the DS. The minds behind Castlevania, Konami, are currently not in the best position with gamers popularity-wise, but their IPs still live on in the minds and hearts of many. So in a celebration of gaming, with titles like Final Fantasy, Mega Man, PAC-MAN and Super Mario being present, why not the original Vampire Killer himself, the Van Helsing of the video game world, Simon Belmont?
Simon’s been through a lot of redesigns throughout the years, but personally, I think he’d be better off resembling his classic brown-and-tan NES sprite, similar to how Mega Man came to be.
When people think of the Belmont lineage, there’s one weapon that stands out; The whip. We’ve never really seen a character use a whip before in Smash, or anything like it. Sure, Sheik’s old Side Special (Chain) in Melee / Brawl, but let’s be honest, that move was nigh impossible to do anything useful with. If Simon gets into Smash, he’s already got a unique weapon to use. Think Dhalsim from Street Fighter, if Dhalsim throws bottles of anointed water instead of Yoga Flame. Speaking of which, the sub-weapons from Castlevania really do lend nicely to Specials, don’t they? Bottles of holy water to create pillars of blue flame, arcing axe throws, a boomerang to hit far off foes, it all fits together pretty nicely. Plus, when push comes to shove, considering nearly every hunter in the Castlevania franchise is a Belmont, why not bring some moves from them for Simon? Considering he’s the classic Belmont, giving him skills and abilities from his family in the same vein as the Mother boys take from their respective party members would be a great way to represent Castlevania as a whole.
My only thought on how Simon couldn’t get in (besides the general attitude Konami seems to have about their franchises) is the religious undertones present throughout the franchise. And by “undertone”, I mean that Simon wields the Christian cross as his most powerful sub-weapon in the majority of the games. Yet, we’ve seen the Devil himself in Smash Bros. as an Assist Trophy, and Nintendo seems keen on keeping his game of origin, Devil World, as far away from us gun-toting Americans as possible, so perhaps Belmont can be toned down in the same manner as his Konami predecessor, Snake, and Bayonetta. All in all, Castlevania’s massive impact on gaming, the expansive repertoire of Simon and the following Belmonts lending to great moveset potential, and it’s sky-high recognition and popularity makes me think that this whip-wielding Hunter deserves a spot with the best.
Simon Belmont is a mid-range fighter similar to Marth, in that his sweetspot is a short distance away from him. Instead of swordplay, however, Belmont uses a leather whip that dishes out his justice from a distance. Alongside his “Vampire Killer”, Belmont also uses various sub-weapons to extend his reach, and makes most of his kills from a distance, making it important to know your footing and keep a close eye on how far away you are, lest you want to whiff and get punished.
|Neutral Special: Axe.||Simon lunges forward as he tosses a massive axe in an arc, hitting opponents with a surprisingly large amount of damage for a projectile! This baby starts slow but falls fast, making it great for edgeguards!|
|Side Special: Boomerang.||Simon tosses out the cross-shaped boomerang, which pierces opponents and passes through walls to hit twice! Simon doesn’t catch it, though, it zooms right past him when it returns, making it a useful way to protect both front and back!|
|Up Special: Whip Uppercut.||Simon leaps into the sky with a gutsy uppercut a la Richter Belmont, snapping foes back with his whip’s lash! While this seems like your everyday Dragon Punch recovery, the whip’s handle acts as a sweetspot, dragging the foe with Simon until he reaches the climax, knocking them to the side!|
|Down Special: Holy Water.||Simon tosses a bottle of anointed water (that’s holy water for all of you at home) in an arc onto the ground, igniting the earth with pillars of blue flame, similar to Ness’ PK Fire attack. Yet, this bottle can be caught by opponents or allies alike, making it important to be careful tossing this out.|
|Final Smash: Pieces of Dracula.||Simon pulls out multiple relics as they swarm together to form the Impaler himself, Count Dracula! Dracula unleashes multiple fiery attacks across the stage as the fighters continue on, until Simon delivers the final blow to ol’ Vlad, bathing the stage in white light as a final hit!|
Rayman (Ubisoft’s Rayman)
The limbless wonder of the Glade of Dreams, Rayman is fairly well-known in the Smash community already because he’s one of the only participants in this list to actually appear in the Smash Bros. franchise in some form. He, alongside his partners Globox and Princess Barbara, are collectible trophies in Smash Wii U, something no other third-party company can really say unless they’ve got a character already in-game. Alongside that is the impeccably crafted Rayman leak by Artsy Omni way back when, which took the internet by storm. So, the guy’s already got his feet wet in the metaphorical Smash Bros. pool, but why should this goofball get in over any of the aforementioned characters?
Besides the obvious head start into the world of Smash, Rayman’s an iconic character with a repertoire of good games on his resumé. Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends are arguably some of the best platformers to grace the gaming world, although a bit more obscure than your typical Mario games. It also gives Rayman a variety of unique abilities, such as his trademark helicopter hair, his far-reaching floating limbs, multiple costumes with various effects (including ones based off of Assassin’s Creed and Super Mario), and various weapons and tools he utilizes throughout his 20 years plus of adventures. Rayman’s also very animated and goofy, especially in the 2D style of his latest adventures on the Wii and Wii U, something we haven’t seen in Smash much. A character with long-ranged melee attacks, the ability to hover, and has all of the zany personality you’d expect from the Looney Tunes? The only thing truly against him is his more obscure nature compared to the other guest fighters, yet his trophy in Smash and the huge fan outcry from Artsy Omni’s Rayman leak proved that people actually do want to see him in Smash. Who would’ve guessed a guy with no arms and legs would become the icon he is today?
Rayman excels in close-quarters combat, with various chainable moves and combos… except his style isn’t as close-quarters. Rather, Rayman’s floating limbs give him a good-sized range to attack from. However, the further away his body is, the less powerful his fists become. His various tools, such as his helicopter hair and his wacky array of weaponry, allow him to close in on opponents in order to deliver the final blow!
|Neutral Special: Plunger Gun.||Rayman’s trusty Plunger Gun from the cult classic, Rayman: Raving Rabbids. Shooting plungers at walls give allies and foes alike springboards to jump off of, but when a fighter gets one to the face, their controls get temporarily inverted for an incredibly short period of time! Use this time to close in on your foes, but be warned, the plungers are slow coming out!|
|Side Special: LockJaw.||The LockJaw is a long-range metal claw that Rayman uses to grapple onto his foes and snatch them into his arms! This is a long-range grab that, upon hit, allows you not only pummel them, but perform any of your throws! Not to mention it latches onto walls and pulls Rayman towards them…|
|Up Special: Throttle Copter.||Rayman sports the Throttle Copter helmet from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc! These blades launch him into the sky, only for him to run out of juice and fall to his doom… if not for the fact his helicopter hair slows his descent.|
|Down Special: Lum Plum.||Rayman backs away in fear as a large plum is dropped in front of him, bouncing off of the ground. While it can be knocked around similar to Pac-Man’s Fire Hydrant to give Rayman a powerful long shot, Rayman can jump atop of it to ride and bounce it towards foes, and when that plum pops from an enemy attack, it bursts, knocking everyone a short distance away!|
|Final Smash: Rayman Legends.||Rayman calls upon his motley crew of friends, including Globox, Barbara, Murfy, Betilla the Fairy and the Teensies to rock out and unleash a massive musical attack all around them! Think Barbara the Bat’s Assist from Brawl, but bigger and badder!|
Crash Bandicoot (Activision’s Crash Bandicoot)
Out of all of the attempts to replicate the success of Mario and Sonic, none is more influential, in my opinion, than the marsupial with a ‘tude, Crash Bandicoot. Initially developed by Naughty Dog, and now owned by Activision Blizzard (the minds behind Skylanders, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Overwatch), Crash is one of the biggest mascots of the 90’s. Crash, meant to be the mascot of the PlayStation, actually became one of the biggest video game stars in the world, above competitors like Spyro and Croc, and soon found himself among the most recognizable characters in gaming, just as he was designed to be. Sadly, after the transfer to Activision and a few lackluster games in the modern era, Crash soon faded into obscurity, like many other video game stars, until recently, when he recently came back into the spotlight with three new remasters of the classic Crash Bandicoot trilogy, and a guest appearance as a Skylander figurine. The clamoring of the fans for a new mainline Crash game has been rampant since the initial downfall of the Crash franchise, and now that fellow PlayStation all-stars Ryu and Cloud have made it into the fray… Why not?
Crash is unique in that the entirety of his games mainly consist around one objective… breaking boxes and spinning. Crash has also always been an in-your-face kind of guy, so seeing him in Smash would most likely translate to a rushdown with rapid / jerky movement and attacks. Not to mention his spinning attacks, and using the aforementioned boxes. But that’s not all that the bandicoot has up his sleeve, oh no. He’s also used bazookas, jet packs, Avatar-esque mind links with monsters, and a magical mask to grant him invincibility! This crazy critter’s packing heat and then some! As an added bonus, the idea of finally setting the rivalry of Mario, Sonic and Crash would be a dream to many children of the console wars. Overall, in my humble (but totally open to constructive criticism) opinion, I think Crash would be the best new addition to the guest fighters… if not for one final guest fighter. But let’s face it, you already know who it is.
Crash is a rushdown-style character with quick movements and a light frame, as expected of a character in that archetype. However, Crash has a unique way of controlling the stage, with various boxes to use to make the opponent play your game. With the right set-ups, you’ll be able to extend combos and kill foes in a snap!
|Neutral Special: Wumpa Bazooka.||Crash leans forward and whips out a massive bazooka, firing up to three rounds of slow-moving Wumpa fruit depending on the amount of times pressed. These little fruits may not do much damage, but they have massive hitstun and shieldstun, giving you a chance to capitalize on the hit!|
|Side Special: Crash Tornado.||Crash enters his classic spin attack, but it can be manipulated to move back and forth quickly in order to ensnare foes. With little end knockback on the final hit, it’s a perfect combo starter. Not to mention, it’s also pretty useful for recovery.|
|Up Special: Bounce Box.||A Bounce Box appears directly underneath Crash, launching him upwards. This box, upon hitting a foe, actually forces them into a small jump, similar to Pac-Man’s trampoline, but has no limit on it’s usage, but rather until a period of time is done. This means Crash (or anybody else) can pick up the box and force opponents into a different situation entirely!|
|Down Special: Blast Box.||Crash performs an aerial kick, sending a Blast Box sliding across the stage. This box has a limited time of 5 seconds before exploding, no matter who’s nearby. Not to mention, it can be carried and thrown as well. Choose your actions wisely.|
|Final Smash: The Mighty Aku Aku.||Aku Aku begins to spin around Crash as the two join, resulting in Crash wearing the mask. In this form, Crash is invincible, and damages foes just by walking into them! He also gains a tremendous speed and attack boost, but only for a short time.|
Solid Snake (Konami’s Metal Gear Solid)
Sorry to keep you waiting. Yeah, yeah, he’s already been in Brawl, but that’s the main reason why he’s at the top. Snake was one of the best characters to come out of Brawl, with his trap-based fighting style and comedically clashing his gritty appearance with the light-hearted worlds of Nintendo. Hideo Kojima’s golden goose, the Metal Gear Solid franchise, has made multiple appearances in lists of the “Greatest Games of All Time”, kick-started the stealth genre, and made Snake arguably one of the most iconic figures in gaming. It’s a shame that Konami is currently being… well, Konami, and have been keeping their IPs close to home for thrilling developments such as pachinko machines, but I digress. Besides being a personal request from Kojima, why is Snake (in my opinion) the most valuable third-party character to add into Smash?
It’s because not only was he a veteran, but rather because he’s a huge hand in Smash’s history. He was the first guest fighter to appear, in the very first trailer for Brawl. The only character who’s arguably matched the shock and hype that came from his reveal would be Cloud, and that’s stretching it. People want Snake back, more than nearly any other character. While people constantly talk about veterans such as Wolf and Ice Climbers, they speak with a certainty that they’ll appear again at some point, whether it be because they simply weren’t able to implement them on time, or the fan outcry will get them in. Snake doesn’t have that distinction, because it’s commonly speculated that Snake wasn’t cut for time, but was never there in the first place due to Konami supposedly not allowing it. Of course, that’s just that; speculation to fill in the gaps of info we don’t know. Irregardless of the actions of Konami, the rallying for Snake during the Smash Ballot was admirable enough to gain traction and become one of the most noticeable fanbases out there. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but Snake is the guest fighter I want to see the most return in a future Smash Bros. title.
(You all know his moves from Brawl or can find them online, I shouldn’t need to type it up.)
So, there you have it. Ten (well, eleven) guest fighters that should appear in a future installment of Smash to fight alongside the best. Once again, you can find me on Twitter, Reddit, or Smashboards if you want to contact me or anything, but for now, I have to sign off. Considering my love for creative writing, this was actually my first article ever, so thank you very much for reading! Yes, you specifically! Nobody else!