Despite how you may feel about Byleth – Super Smash Bros’ latest DLC character – there’s no getting over the fact that a very vocal portion of the community cannot stand the sight of them.
It’s for that very reason – even though I do partially agree that there are far too many representatives of the Fire Emblem series – that I wanted Byleth to kick the door in and wow everyone with some slick moves for everyone to obsess over. Boy, what a let-down.
Until now, series creator Masahiro Sakurai seemed to be using Smash Bros Ultimate’s DLC characters as a means of testing the boundaries for what could and couldn’t be done in a Smash game. Terry Bogard became the first character to have separate front and back special moves, while Dragon Quest’s Hero opened up a whole can of worms with the command menu.
As if to pre-empt complaints of Byleth being ‘just another sword character’, Sakurai spent a fair amount of time in his most recent livestream detailing all the different weapons that Byleth has at their disposal – including a bow, lance, and even a whip.
It would’ve been intriguing then, in a similar style to the Pokémon Trainer, if Byleth could have cycled through these weapons on the fly, giving you an interchangeable play-style and forcing opponents to adapt throughout the match.
Implementing an element of strategy into Byleth’s moveset would’ve also been a greater homage to the gameplay of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which more than deserves to be represented in Smash and is an essential title in its own right for any Nintendo Switch owner.
What we have instead is a fairly standard character, one that is sure to find a home with some players but can’t quite shake the feeling of missed potential. It probably doesn’t help that Byleth’s announcement was quickly followed by the unveiling of a second Fighters Pack for Super Smash Ultimate (at present, the combined retail cost of both packs comes to a staggering £49.48 – more than the cost of the base game these days).
Something tells me that Sakurai isn’t finished with adding more Fire Emblem characters to Smash, my only hope is that we see something a tad more creative that helps to separate any new additions from the eight now featured in the roster – similar to how Robin’s limited-use magic attacks shook things up.
Or, you know, just add Master Chief and watch Twitter implode.