Tekken’s Kazuya Mishima arrives in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today, but after being revealed earlier this month, that’s already old news. Life moves pretty fast, and Tekken x Smash is already chippy wrapping. Yesterday, Masahiro Sakurai treated us to a reveal of Kazuya’s moveset, deliberately trolling everyone by suggesting the movement was “just like a fighting game,” but much more interesting was the addition of four more Mii Fighter costumes. In fact, while they consistently grab fewer headlines, the Mii Fighters are always more interesting additions to the game, and it’s strange how they’re so frequently ignored.
On a basic level, I get it. Actual fighters arrive with a whole cinematic trailer that captures not only their character and personality, but what they specifically bring to Smash in terms of moves, stages, music, and more. Gaming trailers could learn a lot from how Smash character reveals highlight everything important about the incumbent fighter, while also wedging in a memeable screenshot or two. We saw Joker and his Persona 5 buds stealing an invitation in their anime cutscene-style as the Phantom Thieves, Pyra playfully snatching Rex’s invitation away, and Sephiroth descending with a smirk to battle Cloud as The One-Winged Angel rang out. That’s before he killed Mario (unfortunately Mario later recovered from his injuries), while we also got some meme fodder in the form of Donkey and Diddy Kong’s excited eyeballs breaking the glass window as Banjo-Kazooie arrived and most recently, Kirby surviving being tossed into the volcano by Kazuya.
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The Smash reveals go hard, and that’s before the cosy fireside chats with Sakurai as he breaks down exactly how each character plays. Thanks to his conversational style and wholesome delivery, these too often provide memeable moments, like the suggestion that Smash is only for “good boys and girls,” which is why half-naked characters are either covered up or ineligible for the game.
Mii Fighter reveals on the other hand are just… there. Usually towards the end of Sakurai's demonstration, he'll mention some other stuff debuting alongside the latest DLC fighter, which tends to be Spirits, stages, soundtracks, and sMii Fighters. Look, I like alliteration, okay? Yesterday, the four fighters added to the game via Mii costumes were: Dante from Devil May Cry, Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia, the Dragonborn from Skyrim, and Shantae from, well, Shantae.
These are all interesting characters, and with the exception of Dante, none of them had a hope in hell of being a legitimate fighter. The Dragonborn was a rank outsider, since Skyrim is huge, but they seem so ill-fitting for a place in the full Smash roster, while Lloyd and Shantae had about as much chance of getting a Smash envelope as I did. This is why the Mii Fighters are such a fascinating concept: nobody is off the table. By opening with Persona 5 then bringing in characters from Arms, Fatal Fury, and the long-buried Banjo-Kazooie, it feels the Smash reveals are limitless, but we know that's not really true. There are still some barriers in place, with all the fighters either being from incredibly popular titles, from games Nintendo wants to promote, or both. Aside from games with character selections, they’re always protagonists too. Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard bucks this trend slightly, but Sakurai has made it clear Terry was a sentimental choice he made to get one of his old favourites into the crossover masterpiece.
Through the Mii Fighters, we've had Undertale, Assassin's Creed, Cuphead, Panel de Pon, Fallout, and even Nintendo Labo make their way into the game. Since these are just skins on the three basic Mii Fighter archetypes, we don't get to see the ToyCon in its full fighting glory – what would that even look like? – but the Mii Fighters help buff up the roster with much more variety than the fighters themselves. When there's 80 unique fighters with their own styles and approaches, it's no mean feat for the Mii Fighters to try and add even more depth, but they manage it every time yet are consistently overlooked. That's before you get into the fact that as well as adding new games in, the Mii Fighters are a great way to bring in more characters from a series that might already have a main fighter or two in the full roster. Waluigi, for example, might not be part of the Smash in the same way Wario, Luigi, and Mario are, but the Mii Fighters have given him a home.
The problem with Mii Fighters is that they feel like playing dress up. Smash lets you literally be Link or Sonic or Isabelle, but when it comes to Sans, even in the reality of the game, you're not Sans, you're just dressing up as him. But it's a video game – we're not really any of them. The closest we'll get to being any of the Smash characters is fixing a sink or hiding in a cardboard box. I get that the Mii Fighters don't have new moves or cinematics, and once you've learned a Mii Fighter, you know how to play them regardless of how they're dressed, but in terms of providing new depth and intrigue to the game's crossover element? Mii Fighters kill it every time. There will be much speculation in the next few weeks about who the final Smash fighter will be, but I’m more curious to see if the new Mii Fighters can end the final Fighter’s Pass with a bang.
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Not a full fighter, but close enough.
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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