The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, often considered number three just after Mario and Pokemon. Yet despite the series size and popularity, it is in an odd place in terms of character representation in Smash. It saw a large jump between Smash 64 and Melee with four new characters and then went stagnant, only swapping Young Link out for Toon Link in Brawl. This has left many fans craving a new Zelda character but a problem here is that many of the series characters are one-off, and in the odd cases that aren’t those characters are already in Smash. Link, Zelda and Ganondorf are the three main stars of nearly every game in the series and all of them are in Smash, even in multiple forms. Notably these are also the three characters who have been in the series since the beginning (at least for Ganondorf in his Ganon form) but there is one more character from the original Zelda who is also just as recurring and has had a large presence in the series and that is Zelda’s protector, nanny and lady-in-waiting: Impa.
Who is Impa?
Impa is a recurring character in the Zelda series, debuting in the first game and then playing a major role in eight of the main series games and is referenced in a few more. She also got a starring role in the Zelda spin-off game Hyrule Warriors. In every game, Impa plays the role of Zelda’s aide and the leader of her own tribe of people, the sheikah. Sometimes she also becomes the sage of darkness (OoT & ALBW). Needless to say, she often plays a major role in Link’s adventure, usually as a person who sends Link on his quest or informs him of the state of the world and offers guidance.
Importance to Nintendo and her Series
While Impa isn’t one of the three main stars of the Zelda series she is recurring enough and important enough to be one of the headliners of the side-characters, alongside her fellow sages Darunia and Ruto as well as fan favourites Midna and Tingle. She was a major player in the classic series but after Aonuma took over as director her appearances began to dWindle. This was until Skyward Sword thrust her into the limelight with her most important role to date. Since then she has been a recurring character with the sheikah playing a major role in the latest Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. There aren’t any signs that her appearances will dWindle once again unless the series moves away from Hyrule and Zelda which seems unlikely, so she is likely to continue to be important.
Colours & Design
There has always been one major issue with Impa appearing in Smash in the past and that’s her appearance. While Impa has appeared in nine games so far, in only three of those appearances she has been young and able to fight (OoT, SS & HW). Most of the time, including her first appearance, she has been an old woman who is too weak for combat. If she is to get into Smash it would have to be her young form as it has the most moveset potential, but this is also the most infrequent. Thankfully, many of her young appearances have been recent which makes that form very relevant, and while it didn’t appear in Breath of the Wild there are many young sheikah that give us an idea of how she might’ve appeared.
Smash has never been afraid of making new designs for characters. We saw this with both Pit and Sheik in Brawl so there is no reason to think they wouldn’t do the same here. So, its time for us to give Impa a bit of a makeover. While most Zelda characters take their Twilight Princess appearance in Smash, this isn’t because its the latest game anymore but rather these forms are now their most iconic. So I don’t believe Impa needs to have a TP form like Sheik did at the time. Instead, it just needs to represent her and the sheikah and the best way to do this is to look at how her clan were designed in Breath of the Wild. This is what we came up with.
So, how did we come up with this design? Well we had three rules that we followed when designing this. First, any common traits found across Impa’s incarnations, both old and young, should be implemented here. This mainly gave us an idea of her general physique as well as facial features. Impa has frequently had the sheikah eye tattooed on her forehead, as well as a tear down one eye. Her Skyward Sword appearance also gave us a braid which was kept in Hyrule Warriors, so we kept it here as well. Speaking of hair, with the exception of Skyward Sword, the sheikah have always had white hair and so that had to stay.
The next rule was that her appearance should be inspired by Breath of the Wild. This is not only the latest game in the series but the one where the sheikah have had the biggest role. For the first time, there are actually lots of sheikah, including those on the enemy side who Link fights. It’s because of this that we can even make her a moveset that goes outside of the stereotypical ninja (the inspiration for Sheik) and so she wields the Sheikah Slate for specials, as well as the Windcleaver and Vicious Sickle for attacks. Colours and clothing are also from this game.
The last rule we had was the hardest. She had to stand out from Sheik. Arguably Sheik represents the sheikah race as well, even if it’s only visually. Her outfit was the inspiration for the sheikah combat outfit in Breath of the Wild, meaning if Impa just wore that she would look too similar. To counter this she has a unique outfit that combines the casual wear of the sheikah with their attack clothes. Her hair is also done up in the top knot style that her granddaughter Paya has. In fact Paya helped a lot for this as they are in the same family and she is the right age for how Impa would be, just not the right temperament.
With these three rules in play we came up with this design and we think it would fit in well with Smash. Her stance and animations will also be different from Sheik to reflect how the sheikah fight in this game, courtesy of the Yiga clan. I will talk about that more below though. Before then let’s discuss her alternate colours. The default set uses the sheikah battle armour with the casual sheikah jacket over the top. It’s kind of like she was suddenly thrust into battle without preparation! The second colour is based on the Yiga clan with a black undersuit and red jacket. Her third colour is based on the colour of the champions. Blue was a specific colour given to all of Zelda’s champions and is also worn by Zelda herself, as well as her father. As the leader of the sheikah she is kind of like their champion and so this colour reflects that. Her fourth colour is based on her design from the Oracle games. Her fifth colour is more original. The silver jacket is based on her armour in Ocarina of Time but the gold trousers are made to compliment the jacket rather than be a reference. Sixth is based on Sheik, more so her Ocarina colours which had elements of purple. Seventh is the one everyone would expect, based on her Skyward Sword outfit and her final colour is based on her A Link Between Worlds colour scheme, the last mainline game she was in before Breath of the Wild.
How Would She Play?
So finally onto the gameplay. I’m going to keep this section a bit short because her design was the bigger obstacle to Sheik’s inclusion. But first, here are some statistics.
- Can they crawl: Yes
- Can they wall jump: Yes
- How many jumps do they have: 2
- Is there any exclusive abilities they have*: Extended grab
- Weight Class: D+
- Height Class: B+
- Speed Class: B+
- Are they mirrored when they face left: No
Move Name & Action
|Entrance||Impa teleports in using the same magic as the sheikah in Breath of the Wild. She appears cross-legged in the air, like the monks, but quickly gets onto her feet and assumes a battle stance.|
Her idle stance is similar to that of the Yiga Footsoldier due to her default weapon being the Vicious Sickle.
|Idle 2||Impa stands up straight and pulls out the sheikah slate. She presses the screen a few times before putting it back.|
|Idle 3||Impa spins the Vicious Sickle in her hand a few times before gripping it a making a wide stance with her arms.|
|Walking||Impa cautiously walks forward while keeping up her stance.|
|Running||Impa runs forward in a typical Ninja way with one arm over her the lower part of her face.|
|Jump||Impa jumps up with her arms out, keeping up her pose.|
|Falling Animation/Damage||Impa falls back in the same way the Yiga do when knocked down.|
|Shield||Impa covers her face with her weapon hand.|
|Neutral/Jabs||Impa does three strikes with the vicious sickle.|
|F-Tilt||Impa does a wide swing in front of her with the vicious sickle.|
|Up-Tilt||Impa does something like an uppercut with her sickle hand.|
|D-Tilt||Impa swings low-down in front of her with the sickle.|
|Dash Attack||Impa does a hard slash in front of her with her arms spread out.|
|Up Smash||Impa does a slice above her, launches a small metal bomb that explodes and then does another slice back over her head.|
|Down Smash||Impa does a spin low to the ground, stabbing at both sides.|
|Forward Smash||Impa does a three attack combo, similar to Sheik.|
|N-air||Impa spins two small metal balls around her.|
|F-air||Impa kicks in front of her.|
|B-air||Impa kicks behind her.|
|U-air||Impa lobs a metal ball above herself that explodes|
|D-air||Impa strikes down with the vicious sickle and then spins around when he hits the floor.|
|Grab: Magnesis||Impa pulls out the Sheikah Slate and grabs opponents with the pink magnesis ability. This has reach like the hookshot but unlike long grapples it can’t latch onto ledges.|
|Pummel||Impa pulls the opponent near so she can grab them and then smacks an opponent with the vicious sickle.|
|F-throw||Impa pushes forward with the magnesis ability and flings opponents.|
|B-throw||Impa flings opponents over her head and behind her.|
|U-throw||Impa flings opponents up into the air.|
|D-throw||Impa drags opponents across the floor, doing damage to them.|
|Neutral Special 1: Windcleaver||Impa charges up this attack in the same manner as Yiga Blade Master. The sword strike itself isn’t strong but sends out a wave projectile whose size and distance is determined by the charge.|
|Neutral Special 2: Eightfold Blade||Impa charges up this attack in the same manner as the Yiga Blade Master. The charge time is much quicker for this attack but no projectile is given. Comparable to Marth’s Shield Breaker in Melee.|
|Neutral Special 3: Eightfold Longblade||Impa charges up this attack in the same manner as Yiga Blade Master. This attack is the strongest of the three N. Specials however it has no projectile and the charge up time is between the other two. It has a longer reach than the regular Eightfold Blade.|
|Side Special 1: Cryonis||Impa launches a flashing square along the ground as long as the button is held down. When the button is let go of a block of ice shoots up from the ground launching foes skyward.|
|Side Special 2: Cryonis Blast||This time instead of a block of ice there is an explosion of ice. This does damage and has a chance of freezing opponents caught in its center.|
|Side Special 3: Cryonis Spike||This time the block of ice is a spike and does a lot of stabbing damage. However, there is no freezing effect and the launch is a lot less.|
|Up Special 1: Teleport||Impa disappears and reappears further away in the direction pushed. It works like Sheik’s teleport but aesthetically follows that of the Yiga.|
|Up Special 2: Teleport Strike||This time there is a build-up before Impa can teleport, represented by a circle of talismans appearing behind her. However, when she appears again she automatically strikes all around herself, hurting any opponents.|
|Up Special 3: Teleport Blast||This time there is a small explosion when she reappears that damages foes. The build-up is the same as the first special but the distance travelled is a lot shorter.|
|Down Special 1: Remote Bomb||Impa pulls out a square bomb. This bomb can be thrown and picked up again like Link’s, however, it won’t detonate until the player presses the button again. Like Snake’s C4 but not sticky.|
|Down Special 2: Remote Bomb (Round)||This time the bomb is circular like Link’s and can roll about. It still requires additional input before it explodes, however.|
|Down Special 3: Sticky Bomb||This bomb is exactly like Snakes as it can’t be picked back up.|
|Final Smash: Stasis +||Impa sends out a yellow laser flash from the sheikah slate in a straight line. This freezes anyone in stasis for 8 seconds and allows Impa to wail on them. The damage output is the same as normal however each consecutive hit increases the knockback opponents receive.|
|Up Taunt||Impa goes into a floating meditative stance as seen by the monks in the game.|
|Side Taunt||Impa makes a ninja sign with one hand and grasps the handle of her sword with another in a battle ready stance, before returning to her normal stance.|
|Down Taunt||Impa pulls out a Banana and eats it. Has a very low chance of healing about 2%.|
|Victory animation 1||Impa runs from the back to the front and then crouches down with her fist into the ground. Making a ninja pose.|
|Victory animation 2||Impa goes into a floating meditation pose like the sheikah monks, making a hand symbol.|
|Victory animation 3||Impa slices the area in front of her with the Windcleaver .|
Impa’s victory theme is the same as the rest of the Zelda cast.
And that does it for this dream smasher. A new Zelda character is highly requested but the options are a bit limited. I would rather avoid having another version of Link or Zelda so Impa would be a great addition in my opinion. But what do you all think, both about a new Zelda rep and this moveset? Let me know in the comments below!