• Developer: Bandai Namco, Sora Ltd.
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Price: $24.99
  • Release date (final fighter): January 28th, 2020
  • Date reviewed: February 2nd, 2020
  • Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
  • Review code provided: No

The Fighters Pass is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s answer to today’s rampant DLC craze. Five brand new fighters (plus an… extra… one, but we’ll get to that later) to shake up the game and give fresh content to the already massive game. The hype leading up to each character’s release is greatly varied, but most people (including me) are very satisfied with the overall list. I’ll be rating each character individually based on gameplay, content, and how much they really deserved the spot, along with a final score for the entire Pass at the end, so strap in for a long one! Also, big disclaimer: This review is VERY opinionated. Everybody has different thoughts about these characters, so don’t get your pants in a twist if you disagree.

Piranha Plant: One of the most polarizing picks for the pass. Everybody freaked the fuck out when that reveal happened, and I was extremely excited to get our first piece of bonus content. He didn’t really *deserve* the spot per say, but he was a total bonus character that nobody had any idea we were getting, so it can be completely excused. After a long wait, he finally came out, and… he’s fine. Definitely a unique addition to the cast. You’ll notice a trend where for every character, people start labbing silly training mode combos the moment the character drops, and instantly declare they’re “broken.” This is almost never true. In Plant’s case, his insanely strong side special and down special definitely worried people, but overall he really didn’t affect things too much. He’s mostly a zoner, with strong projectiles and ranged attacks. He’s kinda fun to play, and his down special can hit some really funny things, but he’s so smug-looking you can’t help but hate him (in the good way). In conclusion, he’s definitely fun, but he’s the kind of character you only really pull out while messing around on late nights. 6.5/10

Joker: I can still remember the reveal on the night of The Game Awards when Joker was first revealed. I couldn’t watch the show that night, but afterwards I pulled up YouTube and saw the trailer in my recommended. I gave it a watch, and I said to myself: “Oh, that’s cool. I should play that game”. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan yet, but people on Twitter sure did seem to be happy! A little while later, I ended up playing the game for myself, and joined the hype train HARD. When that trailer dropped I was on call with a friend just absolutely screaming my head off. When the next day came, we played for hours on end just doing Joker dittos on Mementos till we got tired. He is FUN. He takes a while to get used to, but once it clicks, his moveset works. It works so well, in fact, that this is the one time people were right: He is busted! It’s not too terrible, but Arsene makes him extremely strong in every way. Joker has what is arguably the best counter in the entire game, being a total damage eater without Arsene, and both a counter and a reflector with Arsene. He’s fast, has good multi-hits, kills low with Arsene, has a great recovery… he’s really strong, dude! The stage he came with is a great pick both casually and competitively. Casually, the trains make for super fun wall bouncing ridiculousness. And it’s a great stage to play on omega or battlefield forms for the sweet Persona jams. It’s somewhat lacking in music, with only 11 tracks, but they span basically every Persona game, adding some much-appreciated variety. Overall, Joker was an excellent pick for a slot, and while he isn’t as popular as other characters, he managed to steal the hearts of Smash fans everywhere. 9/10

Hero: I think this was the first character where people were really unhappy with the addition. Dragon Quest has never been massive in the States like it is in Japan, so when that reveal happened, people were super underwhelmed (especially in comparison to the other character announced in the same direct, but that’s not important right now). After a long stretch of waiting and an endless onslaught of “hoes mad”, he finally had a trailer the day before release and was shown to have one of the most bonkers, RNG based movesets to ever grace the game. When we finally got our hands on him, he was absolutely one of the strangest additions to the game. His down special basically acts as about 15 different moves, with 4 of them being randomly selected per use. This luck-based gameplay was so crazy that Hero actually ended up being banned in competitive tournaments in Australia. However, while he may have caused big problems for the competitive community, he is undoubtedly the most fun addition to the game. He is crazy powerful, even with his non-menu related moves, which lets you hit some really funny things with minimal skill involved (lol). His stage is pretty much the best choice they could’ve made, though the music choice is somewhat lacking. The ability to play as the Heroes from DQ III, IV, and VIII is a nice addition, although they’re all just alternate skins (similar to the koopalings). In conclusion, Hero’s immense popularity in Japan and unique and fun moveset make him my personal favorite pick for the Fighters Pass. 10/10

Banjo: Oh, Banjo. One of the most requested characters to ever be put in Smash Bros., he deserved the spot more than anyone else, being an absolute classic and loved character. The reveal had absolutely everybody going insane, and since he was announced right next to Hero, it was a really long wait. When his gameplay presentation finally came out, people were skeptical. He looked a lot less “out-there” than the rest of the DLC, and his side special looked problematic. So after he finally released, all of those things were entirely true. Some people really like Banjo, but I am not one of those people. He’s a zoner, with multiple projectiles, and he is just zero fun to play as or against. Especially when you take Wonderwing into account, an absurdly powerful move that makes you invincible in effect. While it has limited uses, they never really feel like they run out. It’s like Cloud limit if they could use it at literally any time. He’s slow and clunky and just not very enjoyable. His stage is fun, his music is great (especially the remixes), but the character itself just really doesn’t work for me. I’ll give him a higher score because of his deserved-ness, but I still don’t really like him as a whole. Definitely my least favorite of the Pass. 7/10

Terry: I am not a fan of fighting games. I really respect the people who play them, since they are really difficult, but it takes a lot of dedication to get good at them. Because of that, I had never heard of Fatal Fury or King of Fighters when Terry was announced, and I still know very little about them. With that said, when Terry was announced, people were NOT happy. He was already leaked ahead of time, and people were in denial for a while before he was revealed. NeoGeo may have had a big impact on the fighting game genre, but people who weren’t in the community really didn’t know anything about it. Unfortunately, he’s almost at the bottom of the list of actual deserved-ness to be in Smash. ALMOST. However, when Mr. Sakurai took an entire 45 minutes to talk about the history of NeoGeo and show us Terry’s moveset, I was sold. I always liked Ryu/Ken’s gameplay, and he seemed similar with some fun unique mechanics (like the first ever back special). So when I finally got my hands on him, I immediately fell in love. He feels so strong, and his inputs are immensely satisfying to pull off. His stage is a lot of fun to play on, especially casually with the breakable walls. He has by far the biggest music selection of the entire Pass, with a mind-blowing 50 tracks. Overall, Terry isn’t quite as deserving, but his super fun playstyle and unique stage make him one of the better DLC characters. 8/10

Byleth: I’ll just get it over with right now- I do not agree with Byleth in Smash at any capacity. No matter how good Three Houses is, Smash Bros. already had way too many similar looking Fire Emblem characters. We did NOT need another. After Terry’s release, we had an extreme dry spell of Smash news, so when Nintendo announced that we would get a presentation on a brand new character in the next few days, people went crazy with speculation. When Byleth was announced as the only first-party member of the entire Pass, there was outrage. Especially because that made them the eighth Fire Emblem character in Smash, which is probably twice as much than is really necessary. When they came out a few weeks later, they were received with an almost unanimous “meh”. They’re slow, they’re tank-y, and they’re sorta fun. Their moveset is super unbalanced and jank. They have some super strong moves and some with little application. Their stage is fine but very unremarkable, and probably the best part of their addition is the music they brought, which is unapologetically amazing. Byleth was an unwelcome addition that honestly brought little new to the roster and left many feeling unfulfilled with the end of the Fighters Pass. 7.5/10

Conclusion: To me, the Fighters Pass is difficult to give an official rating. There’s a saying in the community where every addition was somebody’s most wanted, and I do agree with that to an extent. I think what most needs to be said is that Mr. Sakurai delivered 5 (or technically 6) characters that were at worst solid and at best some of the greatest of the entire roster, and for that we really need to be thankful. And hey, if you didn’t like the selections this time around, there’s always next Pass right? Even with the least requested characters, even with the least fun characters, so much thought, care, and respect went into each and every character. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a true celebration of gaming, and the Fighters Pass continues to exemplify that.


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