Earlier this morning Nintendo revealed the final character to join the Smash Bros Ultimate roster. And it is none other than Sora from Kingdom Hearts!
The reception across the internet seems to be very positive. This holds true amongst my friends in the Smash Bros discord I am a part of. The director of Smash Bros – Masahiro Sakurai – did mention in the presentation; that Sora was the most requested character in the fighter ballot for Smash for Wii U. He mentioned that the reason why they never revealed the results. Mainly it was because most of the top picks were for 3rd party characters. And Nintendo didn’t want their fans to harass other companies. Overall this was the safest pick to end the DLC support for Smash Ultimate.
But bringing it back to the start, the presentation began with the Mii costume reveals. The reveal included Splatoon characters an Octoling wig, and a Judd hat. But the most exciting(?) reveal was Doom Slayer (AKA Doom Guy). What was more impressive was that they used a special development camera; This shows Doom Slayer fighting in the first person. Each of the Mii costumes will retail for 75 cents each and will be available on Oct. 18th.
Following that there was the actual reveal of Sora which you can watch here.
Next Sakurai gave a quick history lesson on Kingdom Hearts. Here we learned that Sora means sky in Japanese. And the name of Sakurai’s company – Sora Ltd. – is just a coincidence. The biggest thing to know is the first Kingdom Hearts game released in 2002. And is an action RPG series that revolves around the main protagonist Sora.
Next was a full breakdown of the character’s moves. Here I won’t be breaking down every move, instead, I’ll just mention some of the things that caught my eye. First, of which is, he seems to be the most “normal” DLC added. So every DLC character has a gimmick that makes them unique from the base roster and usually defies conventions. Examples include Joker having Arsene, Steve can mine and craft, Terry has a Go meter, and Kazuya has the most moves of any fighter. Here Sora seems to just fit in with the normal base roster with conventional character design.
That being said he does have some sprinkling on unique character design. That includes his neutral special and side special. Sora has 3 neutral specials that he can cycle through. There is a HUD element on the bottom of the screen where you can see which neutral special is next. The side special is a sliding slash attack that can be used up three times; and after the first side special is used, you can then angle the other two slashes in any direction.
More importantly, the side special can be used for recovery, even in conjunction with up special. Most up specials put characters in tumble and while that appears to be true for Sora, side special seems to be an exception. Finally, like most swordfighters, Sora has a counter for his down special. But, his counter stuns the opponent first before striking which is different from other fighters. Also, Sora’s counter can reflect projectiles but rather than sending them back to the opponent, Sora reflects projectiles behind him.
Another characteristic of Sora is that he has a high grounded jump and a high aerial jump. Paired with the fact that his character is floaty with high aerial mobility; and the aforementioned side and up specials, he can practically recover from anywhere. So to balance that they made him one of the lightest characters in the game. This means he can be launched to the blast zone at lower percentages than his heavier counterparts.
Next, we got to see Sora’s alternate costumes which take Sora’s designs from other games in his series. This includes his Kingdom Hearts 2, Kingdom Hearts 3D (Dream Drop Distance), and Kingdom Hearts 3 outfits. It should also be noted that in the character select screen, Sora’s pose changes between the alternate costumes.
Next, was the stage reveal which was Hollow Bastion. By all accounts, it seems to be a contender for a tournament legal stage. It is essentially Smashville but bigger. It looks to be about the size of Final destination with a middle platform that doesn’t move. The stage travels around a castle – Hollow Bastion – in the background. Once the game’s timer is running low, or if the stock count is down to one; then the background changes to one of seven character portraits. The portraits feature mainstay Kingdom Hearts characters such as Riku, Roxas, and Aqua
Following that, Sakurai showed Sora in action fighting Cloud and Sephiroth. This is very fitting considering that they were also in Kingdom Hearts. A nice little easter egg was added for Sora. When Sora wins a game, the game goes into a zoom-in/slow motion shot and fades to white which is reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts.
Next was the song list which Sakurai revealed nine tracks being added to the game. Unfortunately, none of them were rearrangements/re-recordings. Sakurai did throw Kingdom Hearts fans a bone by having the original composer of Kingdom Hearts re-arrange the song, Hand in Hand. It is the victory fanfare music for when Sora wins a game.
The wrap-up begins with some announcements. Sora is releasing on October 18th for $5.99 as an individual character. The Steve and Alex Amiibo are planned for release in spring 2022. The rest of the Fighter Pass 2 characters are also still planned to have the Amiibo release during 2022. All the Kingdom Hearts games are coming to the Nintendo Switch at a later date. The games include Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix, Kingdom Heart 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Kingdom Hearts 3. It is unknown at the present time if they will all be cloud versions of the game. Because Sakurai stated “With the cloud gaming feature, you can play all the way up through Kingdom Hearts 3”. Let’s just hope it’s only Kingdom Hearts 3; since it’s the latest game in the franchise which is probably the most graphically intensive.
A heartfelt goodbye:
Finally, Sakurai gave us a heartfelt goodbye. The most emotional part was when Sakurai gave the stats that they accrued during the development time. They did a similar thing for when Smash for Wii U ended its development. The stats include 89 fighters, 116 stages, 201 items, over 1100 songs, 1496 spirits, 140 Mii fighter costume sets, 2.2 billion hours played, the game launched 2 billion times, 11.7 billion offline battles, 7.8 billion online battles, & 90 billion KOs!
This would mark the end of active development for Smash Bros Ultimate. I’m sure we will get one or two more patches for buffs/nerfs for characters. But other than that this is truly the end. No more Sakurai directs, not gonna lie, but I was a bit in my feels when watching the presentation. It was the epitome of bittersweet. Sora was undoubtedly the best character to end the fighter pass on. Since he is appealing to both the west and the east. He is popular enough to be an exception to the rule about people hating when a sword character gets added to Smash. I was genuinely hoping for a Fighter Pass Vol. 3 but let’s be real here, Sakurai was too good to us and he needs a break.
You can find me on Twitter @chacalaca88 and my podcast is Ready Press Play where you can hear my thoughts on all things gaming, and now, Ready Press Play is on LV1 Gaming’s YouTube channel so subscribe there as well.