Everyone is a bit miffed right now about the DLC fighter Byleth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Of course, Masahiro Sakurai is allowed to do whatever he wants with his game, considering he already gave us so much in Ultimate, but people are mad. Fans are all wondering why Nintendo would give us so many crazy third party characters and then end the fighter pass with another Fire Emblem character. It feels out of place and really underwhelming, especially considering the hype leading up to it. I was very hyped thinking about who the final fighter would be, whether it’d be Waluigi, or Master Chief, or Geno. But instead, we got an EIGHTH Fire Emblem character. That’s ridiculous considering how niche the series is (depending on the game and region). There are a couple reasons why they must’ve done this.
First of all, Sakurai seems to love Fire Emblem, (and by extension, RPGs in general). This is supported by the way he talks about Fire Emblem during directs and the amount of characters from the series that he has added to Smash. He probably has some nostalgia for the series considering how much he knows about it. Obviously it’s okay to like whatever you want, and it seems like the DLC characters were based on series that he likes; but Byleth should have been an earlier character, especially considering how disappointed people were after hyping up the fifth and final fighter. If he was released earlier, then it would have been less of a letdown.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (where Byleth comes from) was also released halfway through 2019, which was hugely popular. When Three Houses came out, it attracted a lot of new people to the Fire Emblem series; so it does make sense that Sakurai would want to capitalize on that and make Byleth be the last fighter pass character. It was a good idea on paper, but I don’t think that Sakurai anticipated the reaction that would occur after having so many Fire Emblem characters in the game already. Whether he likes it or not, Fire Emblem is not a classic hit series, and it doesn’t deserve nearly the same amount of character slots as Mario or Pokemon. The Legend of Zelda series is much more beloved, yet it has THREE less characters in Smash than Fire Emblem. I personally think that Byleth is a unique and very fun to play Smash Bros. character, so I don’t mind his inclusion by any means; but they could’ve released him in the middle of the DLC pack or something like that, and not at the very end when everyone was super hyped.
Post-Release: How does he actually play?
After not being that excited for Byleth in general (I forgot when he was coming out), I am pleasantly surprised to find that he is actually my favorite character in the Fighter Pass, or at least the most fun to play. He isn’t great on the tier lists (because of how slow and punishable his moves are), but the character is so much fun to play. His moves may be slow, but they are super powerful. Both of his spikes have huge hitboxes and are pretty satisfying to hit, and they are STRONG. At one point when I was playing with my friends, I was killed at 20% with one spike. That does happen with other spikes in the game, but Byleth’s spikes send the other fighter down really far; and his recovery spike can even help you grapple off of another player if you are about to fall off of the stage. His smash attacks are great as well, even though they are—once again—slow. His down smash is really great for edge guarding, and his up smash doesn’t look strong, but it is—it can kill you pretty easily. His special attacks are my favorite moves. His bow and arrow can kill very early, but it takes a really long time to charge; his side B attack can help with keeping his distance from the other player; and his down B is like Ganondorf’s Warlock Punch, except you can turn it around way easier and it has a better hitbox. It is nice and feels really satisfying when you do hit someone with it.
Now that Byleth is released, I am glad that he came out, and I’m having so much fun playing as him. I do think that, in the future, I will try to be more open minded about what characters Sakurai wants to put in the game. He tries his best to make us happy, and if he wants to put a Fire Emblem character in the game, then that’s fine; but he needs to space them out better so the game isn’t overfilled with them. Moving past all of this controversy though, I’m excited to see what the second batch of DLC fighters will be, and I’m really looking forward to the future of the greatest fighting game out there.