- Related Games:
- Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Gamers have a deserved reputation of being hard to please, so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when there was outrage surrounding the inclusion of Piranha Plant as a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character. Even though he was free of charge to anyone that bought the game new early on, players were disappointed that he was taking up a roster space that a more traditional character could have had. While it’s true that Piranha Plant certainly did not top any personal dream rosters, he’s an impressive inclusion once you get your hands on him.
In a way, Piranha Plant winds up representing everything that is special about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While the platform fighter is seen as a crossover event, it’s more about being a celebration of all things Nintendo. So, when seen in that lens, the inclusion of the potted plant makes all the sense in the world. The Japanese console manufacturer is always trying new things, pulling off weird experiments, and doing the unexpected. Piranha Plant is the perfect way to represent that in the game.
Detail packed in beneath every leaf and tooth
One thing that makes Piranha Plant feel special in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is its fantastic move set. Unlike someone like Punch-Out‘s Little Mac, whose fighting style can be easily predicted by fans, nobody knew how a potted plant would translate to the game. This gave Nintendo all the freedom in the world and they used it while also staying true to its character. The little touches, such as the Piranha Plant automatically biting opponents that jump on it while crouched, are hilarious, and the various specials are all fun to use. The up special, called the Piranhacopter, is a particular highlight as it sees the plant take flight by spinning its leaves. It’s such an unexpected move when you first see it, but then you’re reminded of the jumping Piranha Plants from Super Mario World.
Beyond being a blast to play, it’s also a wonderful reminder that there is a lot more depth to Piranha Plant than one would initially think. The fictional plant has a 30 or so year history inside of gaming and that has led to there being over 60 separate subspecies. This meticulous level of detail and research can be seen all throughout the character’s moves, with the main design being based upon the Super Mario Bros. 3 version of the plant.
However, its poison breath special sees it transform into a Putrid Piranha from Paper Mario. Another variation is seen when using its side smash attack, as it becomes a spiny Piranha Plant from Super Mario Galaxy 2. Another cool touch is that the costumes for the character alternate between pots and pipes. This incredible level of detail demonstrates that just as much work and research went into creating this character as everyone else in the fighting game.
Of course, one of the most obvious references comes in the form of Piranha Plant’s Final Smash attack, as it summons none other than the famous Petey Piranha. The former Super Mario Sunshine boss is massive, and one of the few times we get to see one of the plants not being housed in a pipe or pot. It’s a great inclusion from one of Nintendo’s most underappreciated platformers and one that is particularly useful in-game. Petey is able to trap two fighters in cages and then dish out some major damage, practically guaranteeing some knockout victories for the player during the process.
One of the best stories in Classic Mode
But, weirdly enough, the game also tells a good tale with the potted chomper. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s Classic Mode is a surprisingly good way to tell a story and Piranha Plant continues that trend. These aren’t always immediately clear to the player, but there’s always a neat theme to the opponents. Nothing is random in this mode, and every single aspect has a reason for being there.
Called “New Bloom,” Piranha Plant’s Classic Mode is a brilliant rebuttal to all of the criticism it received upon its reveal. So, in order to get revenge, the series of bouts see the plant taking out the newcomers that were introduced in the game. Fan favorites like King K. Rool and Simon Belmont get thrown to the curb by the underdog that fans didn’t even want to see included. It’s a wonderful way to not only prove that he belongs, as those that play the character long enough to finish Classic Mode will surely start to enjoy his move set, but also serves as an important reminder that you should not judge a book by its cover.
It all finishes up in a hilarious looking boss battle against Monster Hunter‘s Rathalos. On one side, you have a gigantic dragon that is feared by even the most veteran of bounty hunters. On the other side, you have a plant sitting innocently in a pot. The difference couldn’t be more pronounced, but once again, the underdog defies expectation (if you’re any good at the game, at least) and winds up victorious.
It also doesn’t get much more Nintendo than to take a character from the original Super Mario Bros., which is probably its most famous game. One of the reasons why I first fell in love with Smash Bros. was due to how it gave new spins on characters I was familiar with. Who expected Captain Falcon to get out of his car and start being a total badass? Not me! I’d argue that the series is at its best when it is helping add to the series that it is borrowing from, and Piranha Plant is a great example of the developer doing just that.