Ultimate has a hefty roster of 80 playable characters (82 if you count Pokemon Trainer as three) drawn from a myriad of different gaming genres, platforms and series. From classic characters such as Mario and Link to less mainstream yet objectively brilliant choice characters such as Villager and Duck Hunt, there is a character for every player, and endless fun to be had in putting a smack-down on your fellow Smashers.
Each character is unique to a lesser or greater extent, and having played at least a little with each one, it’s fair to say that every single character brings something special to the stage. That said, we all will have our favourites, and just for fun, I thought I’d put together a little list of my own:
My favourite character, or at least, the one I’m best with and therefore enjoy playing the most is Ike. Granted, he’s neither the most powerful nor the fastest; he lacks the long range of Link and Samus, and he’s absent the magical prowess of Hero and Zelda, but, for me at least, he is a well-balanced character, analogous with the proverbial jack-of-all-trades.
He has decent power and speed, the latter in particular when his Quick Draw (Side + B) is utilised effectively, and his deceptively high weight class mean that he is far from the easiest to send soaring off-screen. Added to this, Ike, along with several other characters has the extremely handy ability to counter opponents’ attacks (Down + B).
If timed properly, Counter enables Ike to take opponents off-guard and turn their own moves against them, and this can be used to particularly devastating effect when facing off against Ultimate’s heavyweight contenders such as Bowser, King K. Rool and Ganondorf (my all-time favourite opponent).
Whilst not exclusive to Ike, his Counter is fast and powerful, and can change the tide of play when on the back-foot, whether facing off against a single opponent or sometimes, in what is an especially glorious and satisfying outcome, several at the same time!
One area in which Ike comes under criticism is his recovery. Admittedly, his is hardly exemplary when compared against other characters such as Peach and King K. Rool, though Ike is, in my view, able to cover most eventualities through a combination of his Aether (Up + B); a very fast vertical ascent, and his Quick Draw (Side + B), which, particularly when charged, can cover vast horizontal distances.
Fox was my favourite and most used Smash Bros. character right from the original Smash Bros.’s N64 debut, all the way up until the relatively recent release of Ultimate. Fox is an extremely well-rounded character, with his speed and agility, in particular, being head and shoulders above 90% of the other characters.
Fox is one of those characters whom, once mastered, is virtually untouchable, and as such, as his combos and surprise attacks deal out damage against his hapless opponents, his relatively low weight and power become less of a factor.
It doesn’t take much to send an opponent flying once their damage percentage has been relentlessly built to 100% + through an unrelenting barrage of kicks and quick-fire laser blasts. In addition to Fox’s blinding speed, he also has some respectable smash attacks, with his Up, Side and Down + A attacks surprisingly punchy.
Similarly to Ike, Fox has an ace in the hole in the form of his reflector attack (Down + B), which not only deals a little damage to any characters that are in close proximity as it fires up, but also reflects projectile attacks back at opponents, packed with a slight boost in terms of projectile speed and power.
Used properly, Fox’s reflector is enormously satisfying, with few tactics in Smash Bros. more enjoyable than sending a rocked or energy blast hurtling back into the face of the foolish Snake, Samus etc from whence it came!
In terms of recovery, Fox is upper class, to say the least, with his Fox Illusion (Side + B) and Fire Fox (Up + B) boasting impressive range, with the latter in particular being highly versatile as to which direction Fox blasts off in a train of fire.
What can I say about the beloved hero of Hyrule and his transition to a platforming super contender? As is traditional, Link utilises his sword, bombs and arrows to devastating effect, much to the disdain of those who find themselves squaring off against the Master Swordsman.
Link is an extremely well balanced character, and whilst his recovery and run speed leave something to be desired, this is more than atoned for by his savage melees and excellent ranged attacks, particularly so with the upgrade from his standard bombs in all preceding Smash Bros. games, to the tactically superior remote bombs which first appeared in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Link’s combination of brawling prowess and ranged supremacy make him an extremely versatile character, benefiting from the ability to vary tactics in accordance with the stage, enmity and damage percentage of any given contest.
Link’s arrows are of particularly long range and surprisingly powerful. Particularly effective when used in conjunction with his remote bombs and boomerang, Link is able to punish opponents from afar, often gaining a competitive advantage in terms of damage dealt before his opponents even have a chance to get in close enough to strike.
Even once opponents have managed to close the distance, they are in for a rough ride in dealing with Link’s powerful sword strikes; his Spin Attack (Up + B) and Down Smash (Down + A) in particular both quickly striking either side of him, making them difficult to avoid.
Banjo & Kazooie
There was much hype and excitement in the run-up to Banjo & Kazooie’s release as a combined DLC, and it was always the case that unless the character turned out to be a bitter disappointment, they were all but guaranteed to become a firm favourite of mine. The nostalgia of the N64’s Banjo Kazooie is just too much.
Banjo & Kazooie make an excellent team, delivering fast combos such as Claw Swipe / Rat-a-Tat Rap (Neutral A, A, A…) and powerful smash attacks such as Breegull Bash (Side + A). As well as Banjo and Kazooie’s strong hand-to-hand combat, the character also benefits from projectile attacks which make use of the blue eggs many of us will remember from the Banjo Kazooie franchise; Egg Firing (B or Hold B) and Rear Egg (Down + B).
Banjo & Kazooie is also reasonably fast, with Kazooie taking control when a situation calls for a faster pace. For a skinny bird carrying a large bear on her back, Kazooie manages to hit a respectable running speed. This, combined with good aerial speed and a strong aerial move-set make for a formidable character, and that’s before we even consider Banjo and Kazooie’s controversial Wonderwing (Side + B) which, again, hails from the joyous Banjo Kazooie for N64.
Each use of Wonderwing sees Banjo and Kazooie make use of one of five golden feathers per stock, with Kazooie enveloping the duo in wide-spread wings as they charge towards their opponents whilst shielded by a wall of invulnerability, granted them by the golden feather.
This is a very fast and powerful attack, and with the added bonus of being able to avoid taking damage whilst it is in use (other than from a well timed throw / grab), it is an extremely effective tool in Banjo & Kazooie’s arsenal of moves.
Last but certainly not least is the one and only princess of Hyrule. Zelda is one badass heroine, possessing a fighting prowess matched by very few characters on the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster. Zelda allows for a far more supernatural approach to combat, with much of her move-set based around magical attacks and teleportation.
Zelda is surprisingly hardy, being able to take more of a pounding than many other characters, a trait complemented by her strong recovery in the form of her Farore’s Wind (Up + B), which sees her teleport away and then reappear again some distance away in whichever direction the analogue stick is aimed. For enemies that get too close to Zelda at the disappearing and reappearing points, they will be damaged by the magic enveloping her.
Zelda also has at her disposal a highly effective projectile in the form of her Din’s Fire (Side + B), which sees her emit a fast-moving ball of fiery magic, the trajectory of which can be manipulated with the analogue stick until it reaches its mark, at which point releasing B will cause the fiery projectile to explode and deal damage to those in proximity.
The princess is also by no means lacking in attack power and damage builders. Her Phantom Slash (Down + B) sees an armour clad phantom knight appearing on the battlefield and leaping – sword at the ready – towards any enemies unfortunate enough to find themselves in Zelda’s path, before striking mercilessly at them and sending them flying through the air.
Zelda’s Up Smash (Up +A) and Side Smash (Side + A) can also pack a wallop, particularly when charged, and if timed right, her aerial Lightning Kick can send enemies hurtling off stage.
Lastly, Zelda’s Nayru’s Love (B) can be great for getting out of tight spots and interrupting opponents’ combos, whilst also serving to reflect projectiles, sending them rebounding back to their origin with an added boost in both speed and power.
So, that’s it… my top-five pick. It’s fair to say that even with Ike, the character that would be thought of as my main, my Smash prowess has much to be desired, with ample room for improvement.
That said, it really is one of my all-time favourite games, and always has me coming back for more. All characters are ultimately fun to play with, and in the right hands, each can make their way stylishly to victory, tier lists be damned.
We at Total Gaming Addicts, as well as myself personally, would love to hear what you think of these characters, and which would be your top five.
See you on the Battlefield!