By Marshall Garvey
Welcome to the next installment of LTG’s Super Smash Bros. picks! After Terry’s mind-blowingly in-depth piece to get things rolling, my piece will be, to say the least, far less precise. While I’ve spent countless hours playing the N64 original and Brawl (hell, I even loved the Subspace Emissary), I’ve only had a casual acquaintance with the latest game in the series due to not owning a Wii U at the moment. Thus, I won’t be able to break my characters’ moves down to the littlest dash and tilt. I can only give you the basics on why they should be there, their moves and Final Smashes, taunts, stages, etc. So let’s dig in!
- Banjo and Kazooie
Who else could I possibly pick for my number one spot? Nobody defined the limitless possibilities of action and adventure during my childhood like these guys, every bit as much (if not more than) Link and Mario. They were the leading characters of two of the best N64 games ever made, with many still hoping for a next-gen third installment. They’re the poster image of perhaps the most relentlessly innovative third-party developer in the entire history of video games. Anyone who denies they don’t belong in Nintendo’s all-star franchise either has appallingly bad taste, or knows as much about gaming as I know about our government’s monetary policy.
As I noted in my Hall of Fame Review of their first game, there might not be a leading duo with such a fluid array of moves and attacks. Banjo and Kazooie can roll, jump, fly, punch, beak attack, and backflip, sometimes in one continuous motion. And that’s before getting to their armada of weapons, like shooting eggs (including Banjo using Kazooie as a “gun”), invincibility charges, fire and grenade eggs, fast-running shoes, and much else. Altogether, they’d have a moveset that would instantly recognizable and enjoyable for legions of Smash aficionados. Given this expansive set of moves and spells they receive from Bottles, Mumbo and Jamjars, it’s almost a chore to pick just one for their Final Smash. Perhaps they could summon Mumbo and have him turn them into one of their more overpowering forms. Or, to capture the magic of their flying moves, the smash could launch them into the air as if they’re on a flight pad. Then, the player aims them at their opponents, and launches them for a devastating Beak Bomb.
Just as tantalizing to consider would be their home stage. Going with the first game alone, you could blindfold yourself, throw a rock, and pick one just tailor-made for a round of Smash. Click Clock Wood could flow between the four seasons throughout the battle, while Treasure Trove Cove could teem with hazards like the crabs and Snacker the Shark. (Not to mention, a cameo from Captain Blubber!) Or perhaps the cool ancient vibes of Gobi’s Valley, with its exciting theme by Grant Kirkhope playing on loop? And for some holiday cheer, why not do battle on top of the giant snowman in Freezeezy Peak? Anything works, really. Just, you know, anything but Rusty Bucket Bay.
As for taunts, there are limitless possibilities. They could play the banjo and kazoo like they do in the opening animations of the first game, as well as their signature dance whenever they find a Jiggy or finish a goal. (Perhaps there could even be some choice character-specific insults from Kazooie, a la her exchanges with Bottles.) Ultimately, my beloved bear/bird tandem might not have won the recent fan vote, but the surge of support they received (including from Phil Spencer himself) warms my heart to know how prevalent they remain in the hearts and minds of so many gamers. If we’re lucky, perhaps their entry into the Smash Bros. franchise may still be on its way some day.
At first thought, this one might seem strange given the serious, mature aesthetic of the Elder Scrolls games as opposed to the basically all-age, upbeat appeal of Smash. Additionally, it has to be mentioned that Sheogorath is quite literally my favorite video game character of all-time, so one could reasonably assume I’m just trying to shoehorn him into this article for no other reason than pure fanboy obsession. But bear with me here: This could work! Granted, Sheogorath’s eccentricity is more dark than quirky. But his acerbic personality and unpredictability would make him a standout entry to the roster.
Given Sheogorath is a tad more obscure than most choices, a short explanation might be in order. In the Elder Scrolls series, he’s the Daedric Prince of Madness, with the power to spread pure chaos and manipulate others into doing insane acts. He has cat-like eyes, speaks in a maniacal Scottish accent, has a kickass sidekick named Haskill he can summon at any moment, and can both praise you and threaten to murder you within the course of one conversation. Sample line: “I’m so happy, I could just tear out your intestines and strangle you with them!” To put it mildly, there’s no other gaming character quite like him. He’s a true original, which, after all, any Smash combatant ought to be in the first place.
Perhaps the best part of adding Sheogorath to the party would be his home stage: the Shivering Isles, the land he rules in Oblivion. Given the land is split in two to reflect his extreme personality, the stage could switch between both parts (as well as his palace) in a manner similar to the Castle Siege from Brawl. His Final Smash, meanwhile, is easy. He would cast a spell, and whoever gets hit by it is immediately transported to the spot high above his death pit. And it’s quite a fall!
And the taunts….oh man, the tauning potential of the Prince of Madness is unparalleled. Part of why I absolutely love this character is his insane dialogue. In particular, I can’t shake the image of him knocking a character into a star KO, and as they sail into the distance, quipping, “Ta! Come visit again, or I’ll pluck out your eyes!” His victory quote, meanwhile….well, you know:
Realistically, Sheogorath just doesn’t gel stylistically with Smash, even though he probably wouldn’t make it more violent than it already is. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’d be one badass hellraiser, and one that would bring a fresh dose of pure madness to the already hectic shenanigans of each battle.
Outside of the Street Fighter, Sonic and Mario franchises, there’s arguably no lineup of characters as lovable and with as pervasive a presence in gaming culture as the nine combatants of Team Fortress 2. From SFM videos to fan art to Garry’s Mod, the Norman Rockwell-esque visages of Spy, Medic, Engineer and the rest of the gang are almost universally recognizable. Best of all, the game itself is a rare phenomenon of enduring popularity, going stronger than ever eight years after its initial release. Given all of these factors, the idea of a TF2 character throwing his hat into the Smash Bros. ring is actually pretty plausible. The only challenge is picking just one, as each character has equally potent, varied skill sets that could translate to a fighting game dynamic pretty easily. And when it comes to taunts, there might not be another game chock full of delicious putdowns and barbs as TF2. Who wouldn’t love to hear Heavy call Link, Captain Falcon and Pikachu babies in his growling Russian accent?
Given the fast-paced, smash-and-grab blitz of the gameplay, I ultimately have to go with Scout. First, his core attribute is his blinding speed, which can make him hard to hit. Second, he’s known for his ability to double jump, which would give him strong defense in battle. His arsenal of basic moves would include his shotgun, baseball bat, pistol, frying pan, and other eclectic weapons. Any one of TF2’s highly detailed levels would be a pitch-perfect Smash stage, with Gravelpit being the likely choice. Or perhaps the Halloween or Mann vs. Machine stages, so as to provide unique hazards. (Regardless of which one, I’d imagine the rest of the TF2 lineup could make cameos in the background.) For the Final Smash, I envision one called “Batter Up!” In it, Scout hits a baseball at his opponents. Who ever gets hit by it is frozen, allowing Scout to walk up to them, bring his bat back, and unleash a powerful swing that instantly knocks them off the stage.
As for the taunting side of the equation, well, Scout would put the rest of the lineup to shame. “I am OWNING you!” “Whoo hoo hooooo!” “I’m runnin’ circles around ya!” “Bonk!” All while he does his horse dance, claps his hands, does the conga, plays a guitar solo, etc. Of course, nothing would get under your friends’ skin like hearing “Need a dispenser here!” five thousand times during a match. I imagine it would be enough to get Scout banned from Smash tournaments much like Meta Knight and Sonic.
So I know I should insert a funny, obscure choice for my troll character. Something really smart-ass, some totally insular reference that only a few people get, or something so obviously wrong that everyone would get it. But believe it or not, I’d like to be serious and take this moment to give this spot to someone who really needs it, as I think he deserves to be in a game after all he’s been through.
He’s a wounded member of the U.S. Marine Corps. He needs our support.
AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!!!!!!!!!!!
(For those who don’t get the joke, watch this right now.)