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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate artwork

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We rank the Smash Bros. (and friends)

Every character, ordered from garbage to glorious

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may not be the actual “ultimate” (as in “final”) game in the series, but it certainly is the biggest to date. Its character count alone has swelled past six dozen, which is ... well, it’s a lot of characters. Enough that newcomers (and even seasoned pros) are likely to find themselves freezing up at the character select screen, trying to decide which of these tiny little portrait selections best represents their personal ethos.

Well, good news: I’ve ranked the entire Smash Ultimate cast for you. This is not a ranking of the best fighters in Smash, because ... well, honestly, Smash isn’t really the kind of game most people play as serious competition. Smash is a good-times party fighter where you have fun and show off your great taste. That makes this list far more useful, as it grades characters according to their value based on their gaming legacy. Making your fighter selection based on our pecking order is the way to be the coolest Smash kid at your party. Honest.

73. Mr. Game & Watch


Mr. Game & Watch is a fun fighter with plenty of old-school personality, but he also has never appeared in a game outside of Smash Bros. He’s not a real classic character, merely an amalgam of our collective memory of the Game & Watch handhelds. What a sham!

72. R.O.B.


Like Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B. has never appeared in an actual video game (unless you count stuff like cameos in WarioWare and Tomodachi Life). Rather, he was a costly, fragile peripheral that allowed you to play a whole two games. One of those games was Stack-Up, which is barely even qualifies as a game. R.O.B.’s legacy is a legacy of wasted money.

Ice Climbers artwork

71. Ice Climbers

(Ice Climber)

The original Ice Climber was a game about jumping in which the act of jumping itself wasn’t any fun. Meanwhile, the linked, tag-team fighting style Popo and Nana use in Smash Bros. is so complicated they had to sit out the last game because the 3DS couldn’t handle them.

70. Mii Fighter

(Various Wii and 3DS games)

The Mii characters — Brawler, Gunner, and Swordfighter — might be kind of neat if they actually let you use your personal Mii ... except that real, system-level Miis don’t exist on Switch. That is to say, these are fighters whose central concept (playing as yourself in Smash Bros.) no longer works, which means they have no reason to be here at all.

69. Chrom

(Fire Emblem series)

By Chrom! The Fire Emblem folks tend to all run together in Smash, but in this case, Chrom is literally just a combination of Roy and Ike. And who doesn’t love a character that only exists to pad out a roster? Besides “everyone,” that is.

68. Captain Falcon

(F-Zero series)

There hasn’t been a new F-Zero entry in 15 years, and Captain Falcon was pretty much just a guy who only appeared in the game’s manual anyway — which means he’s literally a Smash fighter whose only real claim to fame is being a Smash fighter. Sure, “FALCON PUUUNCH” memes were funny for a while, but that’s not precisely compelling character development, you know?

67. Bowser Jr.

(Mario series)

Cool trivia fact: No one outside of Nintendo actually likes Bowser Jr. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying.

Ike artwork

66. Ike

(Fire Emblem series)

A cloned version of fan-favorite Marth, Ike has no reason to exist in Smash. This is the kind of character who only shows up in a match when someone gets unlucky with a random fighter selection option.

65. Dark Samus

(Metroid Prime series)

Dark Samus isn’t so much a character as a plot device: A bunch of mutant Metroid ooze that borrowed Samus Aran’s form. She’s like a less interesting version of Metroid Fusion’s SA-X. A copy of a copy does not exactly make for a compelling character concept.

64. Dark Pit

(Kid Icarus series)

Dark Pit has one edge over Dark Samus: At least this evil alternate version of a beloved protagonist has a snarky personality. Still, he’s ultimately little more than a palette swap of a main character in a game where everyone already has multiple palette swaps as a standard feature.

63. Incineroar

(Pokémon series)

Incineroar’s initial form, Litten, is cute as a button! Alas, an evolved Incineroar simply serves to remind how pretty much every final Fire-type evolution since Blaziken has been tragically boring.

62. Dr. Mario

(Dr. Mario)

When did Dr. Mario have time to go to college for a doctorate, what with all the adventuring and plumbing he does? He didn’t. Do you really want to trust your health to someone with a mail-in diploma on his wall?

Shulk artwork

61. Shulk

(Xenoblade Chronicles series)

Sorry, Shulk. It’s nice that Nintendo is letting you rep Xenoblade, but I’m afraid I’m not really feelin’ it.

60. Zero Suit Samus

(Metroid series)

While this is actually Samus Aran (not an evil fake version of her like Dark Samus), she was only originally playable in this specific outfit during a brief stealth sequence that most people hate. Meanwhile, Samus’s skin-tight Zero Suit in Smash Bros. specifically works as demonstration of the questionable design decisions the series tends to subject its female characters to.

59. Piranha Plant

(Mario series)

Less a character than a hungry piece of scenery, Piranha Plant has no real personality or agency to speak of in the Mario games. But there’s a certain audacity to the decision to turn a potted plant into a combatant capable of going toe-to-toe with literal gods — you gotta respect that.

58. King K. Rool

(Donkey Kong Country series)

While he’s not an interesting or particularly well-designed villain, King K. Rool did play a key role in the Great Ape War. So when he fires a superlaser at the Kongs’ island as part of his Final Smash, you know this guy actually means business.

57. Ridley

(Metroid series)

Just because he’s become a meme doesn’t mean he’s actually worth playing as. Ridley shows up in game after game only to die, be reborn or patched up as a cyborg, then die all over again. He’s persistent, sure, but mostly he’s just a big target for Samus to shoot at.

Young Link artwork

56. Young Link

(The Legend of Zelda series)

In the Nintendo 64 Zelda games, Link’s younger self exists primarily to frustrate players who just want to play as adult Link. He get points for starring in cult favorite Majora’s Mask ... but then, would adult Link have even fallen for Skull Kid’s shenanigans in the first place? Absolutely not. Go back to school, little Link.

55. Pichu

(Pokémon series)

A cynical attempt to create a pokémon more popular than Pikachu, the most adorable and beloved of all pocket monsters. You took it too far, Pichu. You’re too cute.

54. Wolf O’Donnell

(Star Fox series)

Wolf is the Shadow the Hedgehog of the Star Fox universe: An edgier, angrier counterpart to the main character whose greatest legacy is that he’s largely been co-opted by the internet fan community to feature in saucy artwork.

53. Richter Belmont

(Castlevania series)

Richter might be the most stylish member of the vampire-hunting Belmont clan, but he’s also the biggest bozo of the bunch. Not only did he turn out to be far less capable of fighting evil than Maria, a nine-year-old in a pretty dress, he’s so weak-willed that a dead magician was able to control his mind. The profundity of this chump’s failings was so immense that the Belmont clan ducked out of the battle against Dracula for two centuries afterwards.

52. Lucina

(Fire Emblem series)

Another Marth clone, although unlike with Ike, Lucina’s outward resemblance to the Fire Emblem series’ most legendary hero is entirely deliberate and a key part of her schtick. That’s cool, but at the same time Lucina hails from the game at which Fire Emblem decided to become less about cunning combat tactics and more about courting the perfect digital waifu, which is a hefty cross for her to bear.

Rosalina & Luma artwork

51. Rosalina & Luma

(Mario series)

To quote Captain Kirk, sort of: “What does a goddess need with a fighting tournament?” Rosalina is basically the most powerful singular force in the cosmos, if Super Mario Galaxy is to be believed — a divine arbiter of existence who can reset all reality at will. You’d think she’d have better things to do than whallop on Bowser Jr. (for example, erasing him from existence entirely).

50. King Dedede

(Kirby series)

Dedede’s not really such a bad fellow, honestly. He’s just a poor dumb dope who made the tragic mistake of coming between the galaxy-scale force of destruction that is Kirby and his snacks.

49. Lucas

(EarthBound series)

Lucas deserves credit for representing Mother 3, a game Nintendo has never bothered to release in English. That takes chutzpah! On the other hand, Nintendo has never bothered to release Mother 3 in English, so for most people playing Smash in Europe and America, he’s just some weird off-brand version of Ness.

48. Waluigi

(Mario series)

Just kidding. Waluigi will never be in Smash.

47. Diddy Kong

(Donkey Kong Country series)

Diddy Kong is really just the poor man’s Donkey Kong Jr. Sadly, Junior himself is said to have died in the Great Ape War, which means we’re stuck with this second banana. But we don’t have to like it.

Villager artwork

46. Villager

(Animal Crossing)

What are Animal Crossing villagers doing here? They should be out picking fruit or trading T-shirt designs with scatterbrained animals. They’re way out of their depth here, which leads us to believe they were probably forced into Smash’s deadly combat arena by that conniving late-capitalist creep Tom Nook. Go home, villagers! You’re too pure for this place!

45. Palutena

(Kid Icarus series)

Palutena is actually Greek mythic figure Pallas Athena, who you’d think would have better things to do with her time than beat on a poor weak mortal goofball like Villager. The Greeks were right: The gods really are jerks.

44. Robin

(Fire Emblem series)

Robin offers a cool nod to inclusivity, appearing in both male and female versions to better express the player’s self-identity. On the other hand, Robin is big nerd who attacks with books. You can’t win a no-holds-barred fighting tournament with math! This ain’t Final Fantasy Tactics, kid.

43. Pit

(Kid Icarus series)

If you’ve ever played Kid Icarus, you know that the most persistent cause of death in that game is protagonist Pit falling off the screen after missing (or falling through) a tiny platform. That is to say, this kid is named after his number-one leading cause of death. There’s something weird and grim about that, and we’re not entirely on board with it.

42. Jigglypuff

(Pokémon series)

Jigglypuff, a rotund, wide-eyed monster who likes to sing, seems like the most unlikely pokémon for inclusion in a manic fighting game this side of Trubbish. Then again, did you see that “realistic” Jigglypuff in the Detective Pikachu trailer? Presumably this combatant aims to win the battle by virtue of being straight-up nightmare fuel.

Fox McCloud artwork

41. Fox McCloud

(Star Fox series)

Fox (no items/Final Destination) has become an enduring symbol of how far Smash enthusiasts have to bend over backward to bring the series to something resembling acceptable balance by the standards of the fighting game community. That’s not really the character’s fault. But, it doesn’t change the fact that if you pick Fox as your main, you’re a cop.

40. Mewtwo

(Pokémon series)

Mewtwo has been coasting on his legacy for entirely too long. Sure, he was an exquisitely rare capture in Pokémon Generation 1, and yeah, he was super scary in that movie where he wanted to annihilate humanity. But what have you done for us lately, Mewtwo?

39. Wii Fit Trainer

(Wii Fit series)

Frankly, nothing this lady can do in Smash Bros. could be nearly as devastating as when she critiques your ability to maintain an even posture on a Wii Balance Board. She’s far more of a threat in her original game.

38. Corrin

(Fire Emblem series)

Another Fire Emblem fighter? Corrin is all decked out for serious combat, except they forgot their shoes. Quentin Tarantino would probably approve, but it’s hard to take a fighter seriously when you could take them entirely out of commission by accidentally spilling a box of Lego.

37. Little Mac

(Punch-Out!! series)

Little Mac has the rare distinction of having beaten Mike Tyson in a straight fight, which you have to respect. On the other hand, Marquis of Queensbury rules only go so far in the anything-goes world of Smash.

Ken Masters artwork

36. Ken Masters

(Street Fighter series)

Ken’s claim to fame is that he’s the blonder, more handsome version of Ryu. In an ’80s flick, that would make him the villain; in a 2018 video game, he’s more pitiable than anything else. Have you seen his makeover for Street Fighter 5?

35. Greninja

(Pokémon series)

A frog ninja! That’s a pretty heady character concept. Too bad Greninja is just one of approximately 90 dozen Pokémon to appear in Smash and therefore is likely to be overlooked in favor of fandom darlings like, you know, Pikachu or Luvdisc or whatever.

34. Lucario

(Pokémon series)

With his fist-swinging, energy-ball-tossing style, Lucario is basically a furry combination of Little Mac and Ken Masters. He lands higher than they do in the Smash rankings, however, because unlike those other guys, Lucario’s strength is based entirely on the power of friendship. He warms hearts as he kicks butts.

33. Duck Hunt

(Duck Hunt)

The problem here is that “Duck Hunt” is not the name of a character — it’s the name of a game where these (evidently nameless) characters come from. Semantic dickering notwithstanding, though, the Duck Hunt gang’s presence is welcome ... but only when someone else plays as them. I have a lot of aggression to work out on that dog after all those years of him sneering at my lousy aim.

33. Ganondorf

(The Legend of Zelda series)

Yes, Ganon looked cool and scary in Ocarina of Time, but he’s more or less become a swarthier version of Mega Man’s Dr. Wily: A villain so overplayed he’s become practically comical. He keeps showing up to fight Link in reprises of the same basic final battle rather than leaving a little breathing space for a more interesting foe to arise and switch things up. What a pig.

32. Captain Olimar

(Pikmin series)

The good captain seems like an able and plucky little fighter, facing indomitable odds despite his diminutive stature. But then you start to notice that he doesn’t really fight, instead sending swarms of helpless, childlike worker drones to gather loot and do his dirty work him while remaining safely out of harm’s way. Olimar is a symbol of capitalism’s sheer monstrosity and therefore must be crushed.

Princess Daisy artwork

31. Princess Daisy

(Mario series)

Considering Daisy’s entire characterization boils down to “a princess who knows her own name,” she holds her own respectably in a Smash Bros. scrum. Behold, the power of a limited vocabulary!

30. Roy

(Fire Emblem series)

The only Roy we want to see in Smash is Roy Koopa Jr., the Koopaling. Who is this sad fraud supposed to be? He’s not even a turtle!

29. Bayonetta

(Bayonetta series)

The innocent punch-up whimsy of Smash Bros. hit adolescence in a hurry once Bayonetta joined the roster. She’s a lady who guns down divine beings and technically fights in the nude at all times, which puts her rather at odds with the likes of, say, Yoshi and Pichu. On the other hand, she has super-powered hair and her shoes double as guns, so despite the additional sex appeal she brings to Smash, she’s still every bit as ridiculous as the rest of the combatants here.

28. Yoshi

(Mario series)

Yoshi used to be cool, but then they taught him to talk. Now Mario’s rad, rideable dinosaur buddy speaks in bad, risible dinosaur babble, and he’s trapped forever in seemingly endless rehashes of Yoshi’s Island. I need some sort of offbeat side game in the style of Yoshi’s Safari or Yoshi’s Cookie to rehabilitate his image before I can learn to love this baby-talking buffoon again.

27. Falco Lombardi

(Star Fox series)

The most relatable of the Star Fox brood, Falco has zero patience for Slippy’s incompetent shrieking — and equally little respect for the way Fox invariably saves the little squawker from predicaments of his own making. You get the impression Falco ended up in Smash against his own better judgment, and you can’t help but respect such a well-developed sense of duty even as you sympathize with his frustrations.

Pokémon Trainers artwork

26. Pokémon Trainers

(Pokémon series)

On one hand, Pokémon trainers are kids who have lost their souls to a seedy practice of enslaving wild animals and forcing them to engage in cockfights until they lose consciousness. On the other hand, their captives are just the best. Squirtle, Charizard, and Ivysaur, all together in one? Sign us up for this exercise in animal cruelty.

25. Link

(The Legend of Zelda series)

Link has come along way from the 8-bit days, when he looked like he should be selling delicious fudge-covered elf cookies, but after all these years he’s still more of a symbol than a character. I know he likes glowing golden triangles and legendary swords, but beyond that Link is a cipher. What sort of music does he like? What are his favorite movies? I can’t even get a read on the kinds of food he prefers thanks to his tendency to devour everything indiscriminately in Breath of the Wild. He’s probably a great guy if you get to know him, but it’s hard to relate to a guy who never speaks for himself.

24. Marth

(Fire Emblem series)

The most legendary of Smash’s Fire Emblem heroes. If you’re going to play Smash as a muscular blue-clad knight with a big sword, it might as well be this one.

23. Mega Man

(Mega Man series)

We’re not really clear on how chucking razor-sharp Metal Blades jives with Mega Man’s Asimovian programming — shouldn’t the Laws of Robotics prevent him from launching fatal attacks at living people? Then again, most Smash Bros. brawlers are weirdos who probably don’t even register as human. Even if Mega Man’s presence here goes against his basic programming, it’s great to see him reunited with his old pals Simon and Pit, just like in the Captain N days.

22. Donkey Kong

(Mario series)

We’d love to play as Donkey Kong. This guy, though? He’s just the latter-day imposter version from Donkey Kong Country — the original DK’s son. (Or maybe grandson. We’ve never been clear on that point.) Getting stuck with this guy is kind of like going to a theater to watch a screening of From Russia With Love and being shown an episode of James Bond Jr. instead.

Mario artwork

21. Mario

(Mario series)

The default character. Mario’s fine. He fights. He jumps. He swings a hammer and can wear his Mario Maker costume. He’s completely average in every respect. Um ... you do know you can move the cursor around the character select screen with the controller, right?

20. Ryu

(Street Fighter series)

Ryu is the kind of character that appeals to the sad souls whose idea of an exciting snack is saltine crackers and milk. Yes, he’s the main guy from Street Fighter, but at this point something like 20 different Street Fighters fight in a variant of Ryu’s shotokan karate style, and nearly all of them have more interesting moves and stories than Ryu. Would you care for a dish of plain vanilla ice cream with your Dragon Punch, sir?

19. Sonic the Hedgehog

(Sonic series)

We’re long past the age in which Sonic appearing on a Nintendo system felt novel. These days, we’re simply reeling from everything that came after — the miserable Shadow the Hedgehogs and Sonic ’06s and Sonic Forces of the universe. Thankfully, the Sonic we see in Smash hearkens back to the golden days, when his games were all fun and interesting … the days before he mashed lips with an actual human lady. It’s almost enough to help you forget what’s happened to the Sonic games in the years since. Almost.

18. Solid Snake

(Metal Gear series)

The legendary super-soldier Solid Snake remains one of gaming’s greatest and most tragic figures. Among those tragedies is the fact that his outings on Nintendo platforms have all been absolute trash fires: The sloppy NES port of Metal Gear, the weird-as-hell Snake’s Revenge, and a godawful Metal Gear Solid remake called The Twin Snakes. Indeed, the shame of it all is so profound that Snake crawled into a box and snuck his way 10 slots lower down the list than I had originally assigned him, all on his own.

17. Cloud Strife

(Final Fantasy series)

As far as unlikely post-Final Fantasy 7 characterizations go, “Cloud Strife beats up a bunch of Nintendo mascots” still rings truer than the catatonic mope they wrote him as in Advent Children. In any case, Cloud remains the coolest dude from the PlayStation 1 era. Not that Smash Bros. has anything to do with PlayStation, but in the timeless words of Cloud’s pal Squall: “... Whatever.”

Shiek artwork

16. Sheik

(The Legend of Zelda series)

Sheik is Princess Zelda as a ninja. That’s an extremely good idea for a character, and it doesn’t hurt that Sheik is stylish as all get-out, too. We’re fans ...

15. Princess Zelda

(The Legend of Zelda series)

… that said, nothing says “Girl Power” like Zelda brawling as herself rather than pretending to be a teenage ninja boy. Sure, her ornate dress and elbow-length silk gloves seem poorly suited for a brutal dust-up, but that just makes her ability to hold her own all the more impressive. Nothing but respect for the true ruler of Hyrule.

14. Ness

(EarthBound series)

A schoolboy armed with a baseball bat might seem profoundly out of his depth in an over-the-top fracas like Smash Bros., but Ness also brings phenomenal psychic powers to the fight. Like the cult favorite game he stars in, it’s easy to underestimate this kid. You know how you felt when you realized you passed up the chance to buy a new copy of EarthBound for $20 back in the day and now it’s worth 50 times that much? That’s exactly how you feel when someone gets the best of you with Ness.

13. Inkling

(Splatoon series)

Is it a kid? A squid? Either (or neither) way, the Inkling is the rising new star in Nintendo’s pantheon. This is the character old people select when they want to prove they’re “hip” and “with it.” It’s fine, old timer. Don’t strain yourself. No one will make fun of you for sticking with Mario like the fuddy-duddy you are.

12. Simon Belmont

(Castlevania series)

The last man standing from gaming’s Conan the Barbarian knockoff trend of the ’80s, Simon Belmont is a beefy chunk of vampire-killing holy warrior who battles the satanic undead with the power of an enchanted whip ... and with the power of mad gains. More importantly, Simon brings with him the absolute best musical additions to an already overstuffed soundtrack, and that makes him a hero by any standard.

Isabelle artwork

11. Isabelle

(Animal Crossing series)

Playing as Isabelle is almost cheating. The most lovable, loyal, hard-working character in the Nintendo pantheon, Isabelle can’t be defeated. After all, who in the world would try to hurt Isabelle? After everything she does to keep your town clear of weeds and the way she bends town ordinances to work with your personal schedule? Only a horrible monster, that’s who.

10. Wario

(Mario series)

Wario may have begun as the fat, evil version of Mario, but over time he’s defined himself as something far more interesting. Sure, he’s greedy, but it’s not as if Mario didn’t star in New Super Mario Bros. 2, a game about single-handedly accumulating the wealth of the entire Mushroom Kingdom. Wario’s great because his maniacal lust for gold has led him to become Nintendo’s greatest and most creative entrepreneur. And if his dietary habits and personal hygiene leave a little something to be desired, well, nobody’s perfect.

9. Meta Knight

(Kirby series)

Meta Knight may or may not be an evil version of Kirby, but it seems pretty clear that he’s the lone sane man (or lone sane pink blob-thing hiding behind an iron mask) in Dreamland. He suffers Kirby’s mindless appetites and King Dedede’s imbecilic schemes with relative grace. Who can blame him if he’s a little antisocial after all of that?

8. Bowser

(Mario series)

Bowser’s a bad guy, but is he actually evil? Despite his offspring being such an obnoxious little twerp, Bowser does his best to be a great dad, which speaks to a surprising amount of tenderness beneath that gruff, megalomaniacal exterior. He also has pretty dapper personal style, with a love for snazzy threads and slick vintage automobiles. And he’s been more than willing to team up with his nemesis Mario when circumstances warrant, which suggests he’s pragmatic rather than hateful. Granted, Bowser’s tendency to kidnap princesses certainly isn’t the best look in this more enlightened age, but even that seems to be more of a symbolic compulsion than anything else. There’s more to Bowser than meets the eye, and of all the fighters on the Smash roster, his appearance in these games seems almost like a therapeutic journey of self-discovery. We’re right there with ya, big guy.

7. Toon Link

(The Legend of Zelda series)

Another version of Link? Yes, but this one is also the single most expressive fighter on the Smash roster. You really feel the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat when this little refugee from a Rankin-Bass cartoon hams it up in battle. Plus, Toon Link’s continued popularity is a pointed “take that” to everyone who’s ever flipped out when a Zelda game has emphasized dynamic visuals over “mature” stoicism, and that’s swell.

Samus Aran artwork

6. Samus Aran

(Metroid series)

Samus was Nintendo’s original heroine — well, unless you count the Mach Rider, or Bubbles from Clu-Clu Land, or ... well, anyway, she’s a very tough and strong lady who regularly saves the galaxy from a plague of deadly space parasites despite being trapped in some abysmally written scripts. Although her unfortunately passive turn in Metroid Fusion and Other M has dinged her rep a bit (to say nothing of that weird cameo in Federation Force), she’s still by far the toughest lady in Nintendo’s stable of characters.

5. Pikachu

(Pokémon series)

Yeah, Pikachu is overplayed and overhyped, and there are hundreds of more interesting Pokémon Nintendo could draw on for Smash. But I’m putting this little rat way up here in the rankings on a provisional basis, working from the assumption that a real-fur Detective Pikachu with Ryan Reynolds’ voice will become available as DLC following launch to sustain our nightmares for years to come.

4. Princess Peach

(Mario series)

Underestimate Princess Peach at your own peril. After decades of being kidnapped by despotic turtles, she’s become quite the cunning warrior in her own right. Although the responsibilities of regency often leave her vulnerable to Bowser’s schemes — after all, she’s got a kingdom to look out for, and that takes up quite a lot of a girl’s free time — she swings a mean Toad when push comes to shove. Princess Peach has far more important things she should be doing besides wading among the commoners in Smash, but she never makes the others feel like they’re beneath her. Truly, the very picture of graciousness.

3. Kirby

(Kirby series)

There’s no denying the fact that Smash Bros. plays favorites with Kirby. After all, Smash director Masahiro Sakurai enjoyed his first big break in gaming with the Kirby series. You can understand if Kirby gets treated maybe a little better than, say, Ike. But you know what’s really great about Kirby? His games always look and play great. He’s probably the single most consistent character in the Nintendo mascot lineup; unlike Link and Mario, there’s not a single Wand of Gamelon or Mario’s Time Machine lurking in his closet. And his “copy power” makes him unpredictably fun to play as in Smash — it’s such a great idea that Mario swiped it for Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey.

2. Pac-Man

(Pac-Man series)

The true O.G. of Smash Bros., Pac-Man participates in these whippersnappers’ comical fisticuff matches with the patience and good grace of an elder who understands his era is past but feels no scorn for those who have taken his place. He’s the ultimate good sport, there to lend the whole affair a little extra gravitas and unconcerned with the outcome. So long as everyone’s having a good time, Pac-Man feels content that his involvement in Smash is time well spent.

Luigi artwork

1. Luigi

(Mario series)

Simply put, Luigi is the most important figure in this entire fighting franchise. Mario may be the face of Smash, but without Luigi, “Super Smash Bros.” is just “Super Smash.” Luigi is the Avis of the Nintendo universe: He’s number two, so he tries harder.

Mario always gets the glory; Luigi always gets the garbage. He’s doomed to play second fiddle to Mario — cursed with wonky jump physics, burdened with thankless game premises like rescuing his brother from haunted mansions, and forever scorned even by the Toads and Bowsers of his universe.

But all of that just goes to demonstrate the perpetual uphill struggle that is Luigi’s life, which makes his importance in Smash Bros. all the more impressive. In my Smash-loving heart, it’s always the Year of Luigi.

Update (Dec. 4): This story originally referenced Mewtwo selling Pokéball controllers, which was incorrect. We have cut the reference.

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