Smash attacks with a chance to score a critical hit? A move that has a chance to instantly KO an opponent from any percentage? Yep, Dragon Quest’s Hero is definitely going to go down well with the Smash Bros. community… What in the name of Sakurai is this?
If you’ve been playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate online over the last week or so, you’ve surely noticed two things. Firstly, a new DLC character is absolutely darn everywhere. Secondly, that character is proving just a little bit troublesome. Dragon Quest’s Hero wasn’t all that inspiring a prospect as an addition to the Smash roster at first (oh, hey, a sword-user, we haven’t seen any of those in a hot minute), but it soon became clear that he’s packing something darn unique and darn powerful.
He’s A Sword-Fighter, Jim, But Not As We Know Them
Generally speaking, Hero is a bit of a Link-like sword fighter: lots of range on his normals, neat keep-away play with projectiles (what the heck is that Neutral-B? You could bring down a rampaging John Cena with that baby when it’s fully charged), powerful aerials that are rather slow and need to be carefully spaced... the thing that truly sets Hero apart, however, is his Down-Special.
Command Select, as the name implies, opens up a little menu of Dragon Quest spells for the player to pick from. There are only four available at a time, randomly taken from a total of 21. It’s like an RNG party, and Hero and his opponent(s) are invited along. There’s no cake or gifts, just the potential for a grim, humiliating and rage-inducing demise.
This special move, needless to say, is at the forefront of the complaints about the character. Possible spells Hero can utilize with Command Select include Heal (to lower a little of his damage), Kacrackle Slash (which will momentarily freeze opponents), Kaclang (Hero becomes immobile, metallic and invincible for a brief moment), Snooze (a projectile that puts opponents it hits to sleep), Bounce (automatically reflect projectiles for a brief period) and Acceleratle (Hero temporarily moves much faster).
The important thing to remember here is that the player isn’t free to just fire out these spells endlessly. Hero has an MP meter, which has to be carefully managed by the player. It slowly restores itself, and you gain back MP at a faster rate by attacking. The idea, then, is to balance using your powerful magical arsenal and your normal attacks.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Your recovery move is also a spell that costs MP, remember, and you don’t want to find yourself without any off-stage. Hearing the embarrassing little “not enough MP” jingle and plummeting to your doom is not the way forward, friends. So, on paper, that –combined with the random factor of getting the right spell for the right situation—is how Hero’s super strong abilities are balanced. Let’s back right the heck up and examine that claim, though.
A fully-charged Neutral B (Kafrizzle) deals huge damage and has great knockback for a projectile, but costs around half a full MP gauge to cast. Similarly, Magic Burst (another Command Selection spell) sets off a hugely damaging AoE explosion with great range, but depletes your entire gauge, dealing more damage the more meter you had when you used it.
The question is, is the price for using these incredibly strong options equal to their strength? If not, you’re looking at a situation similar to Cloud running around with a permanent limit break charge, or Joker permanently accompanied by his buddy Arsene. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but you see where we’re going with this.
That’s a tricky one to answer with Hero. Kafrizzle and Magic Burst are one thing, but what about Zoom? That’s a low cost for pretty well guaranteed recovery from absolutely anywhere (ceilings notwithstanding, as the mighty Sakurai himself noted). Thwack, too, costs very little for the chance to instantly KO your opponent (however low that chance may be, depending on damage percentage).
Hello RNG My Old Friend, I’ve Come To Whine On The Internet About You Again
It’s all about luck, and that’s exactly the key here. Hero is capable of some ridiculous things, there’s no denying that. Oomph (attack power raise for a limited time) and Psyche Up (your next attack will be buffed out the wazoo) are some of the main culprits here. You’ve probably already seen videos of lucky Psych Up-boosted critical hit smash attacks in action, and they are darn frightening to behold. It’s only natural to see those sorts of shenanigans in action and demand Sakurai and his cohorts’ spleens on a silver platter.
The thing is, though, you’ll see this sort of thing happen about as often as you see the Hero accidentally pick Kamikazee and vaporize themselves (another huge explosion, self-destruct), or Hocus Pocus (random negative or positive effects) shrink them rather than make them giant. Everything about Hero’s Command Select is wildly inconsistent.
The knee-jerk reaction was to howl for nerfs (if not entire impractical reworks), but it’s tough to say anything definitive for now. Remember when everybody thought King K. Rool –whose attacks take 7-10 working days to come out—was horribly OP? We’ve never seen a character like Hero in the series before, and he’s going to take some time to adjust to. Nevertheless, players are doing so already, and finding that speedy rushdown characters make it very difficult for Hero to manage that Command Select and make the best of it.
Yes, he has a huge range of options, but the more there is to cycle through, the less likely you are to find the specific one you need for that particular instant. If you’re finding yourself grabbing Zoom precisely when you needed it consistently and having the space to pull it off, you’re a luckier Hero than most of us.
That’s what it all comes down to in the end: luck. An RNG-based character like this is an awkward fit with competitive play, and that’s what the community’s struggling with at the moment. Perhaps Sakurai designed him as character for Smash Bros. as it’s “meant” to be played: a huge, colourful, explosion of ridiculousness, rather than a Fox-only, Final Destination sort of environment.
Will Hero be top tier? Will he be lower? Will he have a tier all his own? We’ll have to wait for the smoke from all those Kafrizzles and Kamikazees to clear before we can get a solid idea about that. In the meantime, he’s a whole lot of absurd fun to play.