Saturday, June 23, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Echo Estimations

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces a new label for clone characters: "Echo Fighters". They don't get their own number on the roster and are placed right next to their original counterparts.

Not all clones are Echo Fighters, however, where it's currently a little bit fuzzy, what counts as an Echo and what doesn't. The most notable exception is Dr. Mario, who used to be in the same clone corner as Lucina and Dark Pit on the character select screens of both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, but who isn't labeled as an Echo Fighter in Ultimate for some reason. This is probably, because his moves and stats are different from Mario's, even featuring entirely different Specials. So, this would mean that an Echo is only an Echo, if the moves work mostly the same, except for apparently the Final Smash.

Anyway, this new branding worked wonders and people, who used to be against clone characters are now asking for them... So, let's take a look at a list of characters, who could become potential Echo Fighters or who you see often requested as Echo Fighters, and let's discuss them:

  • Dark Samus (Samus)
  • Dixie Kong (Diddy Kong)
  • Dry Bowser (Bowser)
  • Funky Kong (Donkey Kong)
  • Impa (Sheik)
  • Hilda (Zelda)
  • Isabelle (Villager)
  • Jeanne (Bayonetta)
  • Ken Masters (Ryu)
  • Octoling (Inkling)
  • Ribbon Girl (Spring Man)
  • Shadow (Sonic)

Well, the developers shouldn't squeeze characters into the Echo role just to have them playable. And Dark Samus is probably a good example of this. While it might feel right to have her as an Echo of Samus in the game, her Phazon-powered moves are ultimately quite different, which should put her in the semi-clone category. The Assist Trophy already showcased some of her potential as a fighter and it would be a step backwards to have Dark Samus finally playable, but with the same moves as Samus... It really depends, how different Echo Fighters ultimately can be. If the three homing Phazon Orbs could be a replacement for the Missiles, she might as well be one. But then it would be questionable, why certain characters don't count as Echo Fighters.

Dixie Kong is another example, where she probably should become more unique, if she's getting into the game. However, apparently Diddy Kong doesn't use his tail attack in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate any longer, which is curious, because Dixie Kong doesn't have a tail... And originally both characters were planned as a duo for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where only Diddy made the cut in the end. So, there might be a chance that Dixie becomes an Echo Fighter of her boyfriend, but in the very least she should use her hair twirl instead of the rocket barrels, which would already make her quite different.

Dry Bowser could work as an alt skin as well, but he's often his own character in the various Mario Sports games and he would be an interesting Echo candidate, where he's like a lighter variant of Bowser. But as an alt he would still be fine.

Funky Kong has gained some popularity with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, where he's even playable for the first time in the Switch version. He could become an Echo of Donkey Kong, but his iconic surfboard needs to be represented in some form, even if it's just as a taunt. It could also be used for some of the attacks.

Impa is a suggestion that you see quite often, mainly because the Zelda series hasn't seen a new representative in a long time and she is one of the few recurring characters left. But since Impa isn't that big of a deal, having her Skyward Sword incarnation as a full clone of Sheik seems to be the only solution for some. But to be honest, this feels rather "off" and it probably would be better not to have her at all (yet), instead of forcing her in the game like this. So far all the Echo Fighters feel and look similar to the original character, which wouldn't be the case with Impa, especially with her Skyward Sword version, which was a rather tall character.

Hilda on the other hand would be my personal favorite, who feels like a no-brainer with Zelda's new Kamigami no Triforce design. She would match her perfectly as an Echo fighter:

While she also could be just an alt skin, this would be wasted potential. It's still doubtful that the Zelda series will get any actual newcomer this time around, since they already brought Young Link back and refined most of the character designs, but Hilda as an Echo would be easy to make and a good representation of A Link Between Worlds. She could even use her scepter for some of the attacks, which Zelda does by hand. And the Phantom could be replaced by a Lorulean soldier. The Final Smash could also involve those dark tentacles that she summons for the "sealing move" or even Yuga sealing your opponent in a painting.

Isabelle is popular enough and even starred in Mario Kart 8 as a playable character next to the Villager. Ultimately she probably wouldn't be too different from him, but they could try to make her more unique, instead of an Echo Fighter...
Jeanne is basically already a clone of Bayonetta in the original games, where she has different attributes, but overall plays the same. If that's not the definition of an Echo Fighter, then I don't know what it is.

The same goes for Ken Masters, who is essentially the original clone. Street Fighter practically invented clone fighters with Ryu and Ken back in 1987 and having Ken as an Echo of Ryu would be a nice nod to that. Of course the moveset should be altered so that Ken really feels like Ken and not like a Ryu skin.

Splatoon 2 currently got the "Octo Expansion" DLC, where Octolings became playable as an alternative to Inklings. They are mostly the same, so it would make sense to add them later to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as Echo Fighters (maybe even as free DLC).

Last but not least, Ribbon Girl is stretching things (pun intended), because we don't even have Spring Man in the game yet. There's a possibility, however, where Ribbon Girl could become an Echo focused on more aerial play. But with the different "ARMS" in ARMS she would also have semi-clone potential, so she doesn't necessarily need to end up as an Echo. There's also Springtron, but he could simply be an alt of Spring Man.

Update: another candidate would be Shadow for Sonic, but similar to Isabelle we would lose a special Assist Trophy just to gain another clone character. But he has his fans and it's quite obvious, how Knuckles now got introduced as a new Assist Trophy with no sign of Shadow yet. This would also open the way for more 3rd party Echo Fighters like Ken and Jeanne.

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