The new DLC fighter has brought controversy across the Smash Bros. competitive scene, but based on history, Hero has no reason to be banned.
Recently, the Hero from the Dragon Quest franchise was added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, making him the second of five characters to be put into the game as DLC after Persona 5‘s Joker. Since then, many members of the Smash community have shared their impressions of the character, with the big topic being whether or not he should be banned from competitive play. Leffen, a competitive Smash player (known more for Super Smash Bros. Melee) has made a petition to remove the character from tournament play. As of writing this article, the petition has over 2,500 signatures. Even in my own local scene, our tournament organizer already wants to ban the character.
If you don’t already know, Hero has a mechanic in his kit that is based heavily on RNG (Random Number Generator). While pressing down-B, a command list with four random skills will appear, and using one of these skills will consume some of the Hero’s MP bar. Each skill does something different: one skill can make an opponent fall asleep, another skill increases his movement speed. The thing that is really bringing up the discussion though is a skill called “Thwack.” Thwack has the potential to instantly kill an opposing character: the higher the percentage, the higher the chance it will kill them. If Thwack doesn’t kill, it does a very little amount of damage. There is also a weaker form of this move call Whack, where the chance of killing is even lower.
Understandably, this is a reason to think of the Hero as being “OP.” While I can see players’ frustrations with the character’s potential, I think it is ridiculous to think that Hero should be banned from competitive play altogether. However, this also isn’t the first time a Smash Bros character has been discussed on where or not to be banned in tournaments.
Back in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, there was an endless discussion as to whether or not Meta Knight should have been banned from the competitive scene. If you weren’t playing Meta Knight, you were shooting yourself in the foot. That’s how good the character was, but by the end of Brawl‘s serious competitive life, he was never banned. When it came to Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, players argued that Bayonetta should get the ax as well. I will shamelessly admit that I was one of those players.
When it came to Bayonetta, her general “bread and butter” combos could instantly lead to players’ deaths. Each character has their own form of go-to combos, but Bayonettas could KO other players with a significant amount of ease than all the other characters in the game. Due to this and her high-priority attacks, players who weren’t ranked in their specific regions were often beating top players. To me, that was a major red flag. Even after getting a nerf in later updates, Bayonetta was still the best character. Just like Meta Knight, she was never banned.
Both of these characters in their respective games thrived because of things that didn’t rely on any RNG factors like high-priority moves and great frame data. With that being the case, there is no reason to even consider Hero being ban worthy. He doesn’t have anything like that. Yes, he has the potential to kill you instantly, but you have to get the Thwack/Whack skill to pop up, hit your opponent with it, and then hope that it kills.
There are 21 skills that can possibly pop up on Hero’s command list. Considering both Thwack and Whack, there is less than a ten percent chance that either of those skills will appear. There are just way too many situational factors that topple over each other to justify taking action on the character. Even after all of these “if” scenarios, Hero can’t move when the command list is up: if he moves or gets hit, it goes away. This is just another step in making his max potential that much more unlikely. Additionally, there has been a character in the franchise since Melee that also has an RNG-based move, Mr. Game and Watch.
When playing as Mr. Game and Watch, if you press side-B he will attempt to hit an opponent with the Judgment hammer. Whether someone is hit or not, a random number between 1 and 9 will appear above him. Each number does something different if it makes contact with another player, whether that’s normal damage or a special effect like freezing or burning damage. If he hits a character with a 9, it does an abundant amount of damage and knockback, usually leading to their death. This is another RNG-based move just like Hero that is arguably easier to accomplish, but there is no outcry. If people in the community are going to critique Hero for RNG, I think it’s also worth considering some other characters on the current roster that have similar abilities.
Dragon Quest‘s Hero is a cool character: he has similarities to Link and Robin while still having his own unique style. The skills and MP bar mechanics are a cool experiment, and I’m looking forward to seeing pro Smash Bros. players show off Hero at a high level. The kit he has–even without the command list–is solid and he still feels like a core character. At the end of the day, regardless of my opinion, Hero is way too new to judge right now: there is hardly any competitive play with him (yet) to give a relative intelligent answer about his potential in Smash Bros. tournaments. There will surely be a portion of the competitive scene screaming into an abyss calling for banishment, but based on the history of the franchise’s community, I don’t think that will ever become reality.