It wasn’t long ago that the last Smash Direct was shown, revealing the final roster. We’re less than a month away before having the full game to ourselves. However, select locations have the entire cast of characters playable. Thanks to Okay, Cool, I was able to go to Nintendo of Canada’s Holiday Party to try it for myself. So how did it fare?
For this demo, I prioritized Simon, King K. Rool, Isabelle, and Incineroar. They’re newcomers not available in the E3 build, and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to try them out. If you want to read about Inkling and Ridley, we wrote a piece about them at E3. Also worth noting, demos were three to four player matches, on random stages, and with items and Final Smash Meter on. This is by no means a technical analysis, but a general idea for how each plays.
The one character I was rooting to make it in. Simon has great range with his whip, but it’s also not as ridiculous as you might think. A lot of his moves (whip and specials) cover a lot of distance, but the trade-off is startup lag. In multiplayer it might not seem like a lot, but in one-on-one fights, I think it will make a big difference. The axe has the most startup lag of any of his moves, but useful as it aims high and in an arc motion which no one else has. To make up for startup lag he runs at a moderate pace, and his down tilt (slide) covers quite a bit of ground. Which can lead into a second attack on contact by pressing “A” again. The cross (side special) is also a good way to push back opponents. He mostly fights from a distance, but he still has some tools up close.
The King is slow, but he’s not the slowest (or at least it doesn’t feel like it, maybe because everyone’s gotten a speed boost in this iteration of Smash). His moves are strong but can also be unorthodox. For example, his up smash has him planking (standing up and then falling down). Normally when you use a smash attack you expect it to be a near instant response. But that 1-2s difference before hitting will take some getting used to. His back air is a bit slow but spikes if you can time it right and his crown can hit on the return flight (which actually won me a sudden death match). Not to mention his blunderbuss as well. One might also expect his down air to be a stall-then-fall attack like Sheik due to his size, but it’s not. He is still easy to pick up and play like most characters, but he does have some quirks, ones which can benefit both you and your opponents. Also, his Kirby hat doesn’t have a crazy eye, just his snout and crown.
While she isn’t an echo fighter of Villager, she does feel very similar; she’s Villager’s Luigi. Some of her moves are the same (aerials), some have different properties (heavier dash attack), and some are unique. Her forward smash is incredibly short to the point of only being useful at point blank range. The fishing rod is the most unique trait she has going compared to Villager and the roster. It’s an extremely long grab move that can catch people on the toss out or the reel in. Because she has such short range, this can be used to close that gap quickly. But, she can’t move while the rod is out, which leaves her open to punishment if you’re not careful. The move also acts as a tether recovery. I wasn’t fond of her because of her short range. However, unless you’re a Villager main, I don’t think this was the best setup to get a good feel for her anyway. So I won’t hold that against the character.
A character that has drawn so much ire from the community for what he’s not (a different Pokémon or fighter). But what actually is he? Incineroar is a quick fighter that does moderate damage. Overall he feels like the Pokémon version of Captain Falcon. If you wanted Blaziken, then you might like Incineroar. I’ll be honest, I would’ve preferred plenty of other Pokémon… that being said he was actually fun to play, so credit where credit’s due. Give him a chance. Something else to note, his recovery (Cross Chop) will catch onto ledges. So it’s not as dire as you may have thought, although it’s still not great for recovery. You can easily KO yourself if you can’t tell you’re facing the wrong direction. Luckily, you can use his side special without going into freefall. This allows you to change direction if you aren’t sure where you’re facing and lets you gain some horizontal distance in combination with his recovery.
Lastly, while not a character, I played with the Final Smash Meter on (mandatory) and it’s actually pretty fun. If you’re playing with items anyway, why not add even more craziness to it? After taking or giving damage, your meter will fill up and when it’s full you can unleash your attack. The difference compared to a Smash Ball is that these Final Smashes are pretty weak, so it isn’t an instant kill at low or mid percentages. Granted, with 4 (or more) players it doesn’t take too long for opponents to reach a percentage where the move would be lethal, but it’s not a free win button.
Final Smashes can only be executed one at a time, and it was fun that multiple people could use it at any given moment. Since everyone has access, in a way it’s more balanced than the normal Smash Ball which only rewards fast characters or hardcore players to obtain it. Items are catered to casual matches and new players aren’t going to have an easy time getting the Smash Ball. As odd as it may sound, I think Final Smash Meter will work best in stock matches instead of timed ones. There’s plenty of Final Smash’s that play a cutscene which stops everyone from playing for a few seconds. Depending on the matchups (especially newcomers), this can eat up a lot of time if everyone has to go through a cutscene.
While there may be fewer new characters this time around, the ones that have arrived are all fun to play. I can’t wait for the full game to learn their movesets more closely.