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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC - First Year in Review

First Year in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Hello and welcome to our year in review of the DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Creator Masahiro Sakurai's latest title has brought forth over 70 characters from Nintendo's universes and beyond. Featuring iconic characters, like Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Simon and Richter Belmont from Castlevania, and King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country, the game's ever growing roster has expanded past its initial showing last December. With a slew of new characters joining the roster, we want to go over them and their impact over the year.
DLC 1 - Joker
With 65 characters in its base roster, Smash Ultimate has taken this year to expand its territories. After the initial inclusion of the Piranha Plant DLC, Nintendo showcased the Fighter Pass featuring 5 more characters to enter the fray. Originally revealed at The Game Awards 2018, Joker would enter the official roster several months later.
Joker, from Atlus' Persona 5, uses a "trickster" playstyle that has granted him a new Smash Bros. audience due to his zoning capabilities. Additionally, after filling his meter he could unleash Arsene, his persona, to deal out huge amounts of damage. Shortly after Joker's release he quickly garnered fantastic results for those playing as him, thanks largely to MKLeo. Currently known as the world's best Smash Ultimate player, MKLeo won Momocon, EVO, CEO, and Super Smash Con using Joker.

Included with Joker was the Mementos stage from Persona 5. This stage features animated character models of the Persona 5 supporting cast. It also features a blue and yellow theme reminiscent of Persona 3 and Persona 4, respectively. You can check out all the stage's music below.
My personal take
Persona 5 became one of my all-time favorite games after I beat it last year. It's a phenomenal JRPG that warrants its representation in Smash. Seeing Joker and the Phantom Thieves in this game made my heart swell. Also, believe it or not, Joker wasn't a giant surprise to me. In a way, Sakurai foreshadowed this possibility years ago with his favorable comments about the game.

With that said, I find him to be perhaps the best character in the game, largely due to MKLeo's ability to optimize his strengths. Arsene's buffs grant him incredible strength while Eiha/Eigaon is one of the most damaging and accurate projectiles in the game. His edgeguarding is also second to none, able to chase down players and attack several times before coming up. As good as he is, Joker is definitely not unbeatable. One thing I've always stood by is that none of the Ultimate top tiers ever felt as busted as the Smash 4 top tiers. I would argue he is at least the best character or Top 3 at worst in the current meta.
DLC 2 - Hero
Dragon Quest, Japan's most popular JRPG series for over 30 years, finally made its mark in Smash with the release of Hero. At E3 2019, Nintendo showcased Hero's trailer followed by a new trailer for Dragon Quest XI S for Nintendo Switch. The perfect marketing opportunity featured Smash's audience tuning into a commercial to learn more about the next character's new appearance.
Initially, Hero's release came with some controversy. His "RNG" factor allows him to kill with Thwack, the instant-kill magic spell, against an enemy at 0% sometimes. Plus, his Smash attacks inflict random critical strikes and the setups from his Down B move can stack buffs, causing early kills. It was enough for the Australian Smash scene to ban the character from competitive play.

Despite this, Hero has lacked any kind of noteworthy results in major tournaments. Outside of Salem's string of high placements at Thunder Smash and Port Priority, Hero's user base is as limited as his results. Hero came with four different costumes based on the protagonist's appearance from Dragon Quest XI, III, IV, and VIII. His stage, Yggdrasil's Altar, comes with several tracks from each of the represented games. Unfortunately, as with the case of another Square-Enix representative (Cloud from Final Fantasy), no remixes were provided. All music was ripped directly from the games. You can hear them below.
My personal take
Initially, I struggled with Hero. His aerials grant incredible reach and dole out tons of damage. Plus,  his good zoning capabilities of charging Frizz and Zap, the former being a chargeable projectile which can KO the opponent and the latter which can range from 25% damage to even a KO move, are fantastic.

Hero's Achilles' heel comes from his recovery. If he can't get Zoom in time, he's forced to mix up with Woosh offstage, which can be exploited due to its linear path. His combo game is also far from sterling, relying heavily on stray hits and projectiles for damage. However, someone great at spacing and zoning will make the best use of Hero's Tools with or without his Down B Command List. Utilizing buffs, like Acceleratle, Oomph, and Psych Up, are more critical than getting the occasional Thwack, Kathwack, or Kaboom. With that said, Hero is still far from optimized. It just depends on if you want to take a chance.
DLC 3 - Banjo-Kazooie
The long-awaited duo from the N64 era finally received their screen time at E3 2019. Showcased after the Hero's trailer, the bear and bird combo that many have clamored for was brought back in a big way.
As Banjo & Kazooie, players can enjoy a myriad of zoning options. Kazooie can fire eggs while, Banjo uses her as a firearm or makeshift club. They excel at playing keep-away and can even close the gap with the invincible Wonderwing technique. Banjo-Kazooie's positive tournament results stem largely from Tweek, who dropped the character soon after picking him up, taking 5th at Glitch 7. Several Japanese and international players have maintained solid results with the character, such as Raito, who mains Duck Hunt.

Banjo & Kazooie's stage takes place on Spiral Mountain. It features numerous background characters from the first game and several arranged tracks from the titles. Among the included tracks is a remix of Spiral Mountain's theme, composed by original series composer Grant Kirkhope!
My personal take
It takes a Rare hand to optimize Banjo & Kazooie. Much like Hero, Banjo relies heavily on zoning and spaced attacks using the disjointed hitboxes of Kazooie. Unlike Hero, however, Banjo's scope of close-ranged attacks is a bit more limited. This duo prefers to stay in the back to setup traps with eggs and egg grenades. With a 107 weight, Banjo can survive a long time. He also has two airhops, a side recovery, and a vertical recovery. The side recovery itself - Wonderwing - is invincible and almost assures a safe recovery so long as you have the feathers to supply it.

I've faced players who can make fighting him a nightmare. Pinpointing Banjo's weaknesses comes down to staying on him and not giving him the chance to plot out traps. Despite having some of the safest aerials in the game, Wonderwing can also be his own undoing due to it being heavily punishable on whiff. Wonderwing is a double-edged sword that can turn the tide of battle, for or against you, quickly.
DLC 4 - Terry Bogard
After the release of Banjo-Kazooie, most of the highly demanded characters have been added to the game. With that said, Sakurai revealed Terry Bogard to the world in fall 2019.
Terry is the protagonist of Fatal Fury, a fighting game series that played rival to Capcom's Street Fighter in the 90's. Much like Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Terry's playstyle in Smash features input commands. He faces towards his opponent at all times and can even use a "backwards" Side Special.

Riddles, known for his high placement of Ken and Richter in past tournaments, began maining Terry after the character came out. In doing so, he placed 33rd at 2GG Kongo Saga. Additionally, Sandstorm placed 25th at DreamHack Atlanta. As the newest DLC character, Terry's meta is far from optimized. More players, such as RoninX, continue to stream and help develop more techniques for the character.

Terry's inclusion is more than just an SNK fighting game franchise that was more popular in Japan and Mexico than America. Terry's story goes well beyond that. Sakurai's own 45 minute video showcasing the character revealed some of the deepest secrets of the Smash series and his own design choices.

SNK's impact on Super Smash Bros.
Spot-dodging, spot-dodge attack, rolling, countering, and even parrying all came from Ar of Fighting, Fatal Fury, and The King of Fighters series. Art of Fighting predates Super Street Fighter II with the ability to use a "super move." Also, 3v3 Squad Strike mode also pays homage to King of Fighters' similar system.

The King of Fighters Stadium stage features a dozen animated character models of characters from the KOF series. The music selection is by far the largest out of the DLC characters, which includes an immense number of remixes. The amount of mutual love shared by Sakurai and SNK goes completely unprecedented beyond anyone's expectations. 
For an interesting look at how much Sakurai was influenced by SNK's games and how it affected Smash, please also check out his look at Terry here. Sakurai goes into great detail about the SNK connections to Smash Bros.
My personal take
As someone who loves using brawler type characters, Terry ended up being far and away my favorite DLC character. I love fighting games and I love his input based moves. He's a heavyweight striker that boasts incredibly damage building off specials canceled out of his normal moves.

Unfortunately, Terry struggles heavily with sword and zoner characters. Anyone who can out camp Terry and punish him makes life rough for Terry players. Riddles released a matchup chart recently showing who is and isn't a good counter for Terry.

Terry's release comes only one month prior to this article's writing so there is still a lot to learn about Terry. With Smash Ultimate being over a year old now, his meta is only just starting to develop. While his weaknesses are apparent to players, his strengths also give him massive boosts to bring the battle back into his favor. 
DLC 5 - ???
Unlike in 2018, this year's Game Awards show did not feature a new character. Given the consistency of Nintendo's schedule for showcasing games, expect a Nintendo Direct in either January or February of next year with a new fighter being featured.

Speculation has run rampant over the possible choices of the last character DLC. It could be Sora from Kingdom Hearts, Geno from Super Mario RPG, or even Rayman. With quite a few heavily demanded characters still not in the game, it's literally anyone's guess as to who the next fighter could be.

Even after the final character is revealed, Nintendo has already announced a Fighter Pass 2. So, once the final character in this current pack is revealed, expect the hype to begin anew! Which character do you enjoy playing as most in Smash? Let us know in the comments below!

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