When the Dragon Quest Hero Super Ultimate DLC was announced, the reaction was extremely mixed. The die-hard Dragon Quest fans that were thrilled that the protagonist of DQ11 was becoming Smash Ultimate DLC, but he was seen as yet another swordsman. Plus, later on in the same announcement video, the Dragon Quest Hero got one-upped by Nintendo revealing that they had finally come to a deal with Microsoft to allow Banjo and Kazooie to appear in the series, finally granting the wish of millions of players that loved the Rare platforming mascot. However, now that the character is out and able to be played, he has not only proven himself to be one of the most unique characters in the game, but the best DLC fighter yet.
A common complaint thrown towards many of the Fire Emblem inclusions was that all the sword-wielding characters played too similarly, and that is true to a certain extent. There are enough differences for hardcore players to know how different their strategies can be, but they share many moves and are seen as a wasted character slot by many. It’s important to remember the player base for Smash is primarily casual as it’s a party game and the competitive scene is a small fraction of the overall opinion. However, even those completely sick of sword characters will have to admit that Hero is a different beast altogether.
This is primarily due to the fact that the Dragon Quest Hero also wields magical abilities. So, while a lot of his smash attacks and melee maneuvers use his sword in a similar manner to the Fire Emblem cast members, his special moves are completely different. In fact, he even has a unique mana system that takes inspiration from the command menus seen in the role-playing game series he is from that gives him an unprecedented number of special attacks (around 30 in total).
Thankfully the newest Smash Ultimate DLC isn’t yet another swordsman
The mana point casting system is really what makes the Dragon Quest Hero so much fun to play and experiment with. Throughout the battle, either by just standing around or damaging foes, the character will constantly see his number of MP available raise. Some of his special attacks use it, such as his recovery special casting either Woosh, Swoosh, or Kaswoosh, but spells are primarily selected by his down special. This brings up a command list with four random spells that vary from explosive bolts to a self-destruction attack and the ability to inflict buffs on yourself or enemies.
The variety here is totally unprecedented in Smash Bros. as the series has always had a low number of overall maneuvers for characters compared to other fighting games. That sort of accessibility has always been one of its greatest strengths, and while the Hero isn’t non-accessible, he is certainly more complex and breaks many of the game’s rules. Individual strategies can go from using snooze to put enemies to sleep and then delivering a powerful blow once they’re down to casting buffs on yourself to automatically reflect projectiles and up the power of your melee attacks. If you can come up with a strategy, then you can probably implement it here because his list of abilities is remarkably inventive.
However, the four commands that appear on random are one limiting factor that makes the Dragon Quest Hero interesting to play as. You can’t pick your favorites to show up and that means that if you’re trying to employ a specific strategy, then the randomness won’t always play in your favor. Instead, players that are able to quickly adapt and pick the spells that will work in that moment will have the most success. It’s also a give and take with the mana usage as players don’t want to use all of their mana on costly spells because they won’t be able to cast Woosh and recover from being knocked around the stage. Every Smash Ultimate DLC addition has been great so far, but Hero makes players completely rethink how they play in a way that the rest don’t require you to.
Dragon Quest Hero is a great value as Smash Ultimate DLC
The Dragon Quest Hero isn’t just the protagonist from Echoes of an Elusive Age either. There are also three completely different looking characters from The Seeds of Salvation, Chapters of the Chosen, and Journey of the Cursed King. These are some of the most beloved games in the series, and all the rest of the protagonists show up for the character’s Final Smash attack. It’s not just a great love letter to one of the most significant Japanese game series of all-time, but it is a great value as they could’ve been easily sold as additional skins but come free of charge.
His other special attacks all have variants that depend on how much mana the player has and how long they charge the attack, which is also another unique attribute. For example, his side attack can be quick lightning moves like Zap, but if he holds it all the way then he’ll do a wide-range spinning attack called Kazap. It’s not just different power levels as each maneuver has their use during a fight, it’s just a matter of the player knowing all of the nuance and being able to discern when to use each one. More than any other character in Smash, this is a thinking person’s character.
Not everyone is going to love playing as the Dragon Quest Hero, but that is exactly why he’s a fantastic addition as Smash Ultimate DLC. He’s the most unique character to be added to Nintendo’s marquee fighting game and his mana system is a great mixture of planned chaos. Even the best strategies can backfire when the right spells aren’t popping up, and that makes every fight with the character an exciting one.