For those who aren’t keeping up with the latest in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (and it’s portable counterpart for the 3DS that I kind of forget exists half the time), the game has received two new downloadable characters in Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates, and Bayonetta from Bayonetta. You even get both the male/female versions of Corrin, as well as the Bayonetta 1 and Bayonetta 2 versions of Bayonetta, but that’s a bit beside the point—what I want to discuss are how these characters play and people’s reactions to them thus far.
Let’s start with Corrin, a character whose debut game hasn’t even come out in the West yet… so I guess that makes Smash his/her debut game for a lot of people.
Being a main character in the Fire Emblem series, Corrin (who I will henceforth use a male pronoun for as to keep things convenient and easy to read) uses a sword. It’s not as short as Roy’s or Marth’s or as long as Cloud’s but stands rather close to Ike’s range, and is the basis of a lot of his attacks, such as his tilts and aerials. Though I’m only a mediocre competitive player myself, in my humble opinion, these make some of his best moves: his fair (short for forward-air for those unfamiliar with the myriad of Smash terms) is a great quick move that can be chained into more fairs with the right timings and reads. Sure, it’s not true-combo material or the like, but combined with his up-air and neutral-air, it gives him at least some options for aerial combat.
His dair might be an option for guarding get-ups with the multiple hits, and can be used as a suicide gimmick if you’re up a stock, but doesn’t seem like a great move in general, which is common for dairs that move the character with them. Such moves are generally easier to read and react to, and create more vulnerability, which is why high-level players will only use them sparingly, and hesitate to do so.
Moving to his ground game, his smash-attacks all have somewhat weird hitboxes and none of them are particularly strong or have other notable qualities making them great in my opinion. They end up just serving as kill options for when you need them, like on a shield breaker or a hard read.
Corrin’s special attack is a paralyzing shot with an after-attack (for lack of a better name) but it’s hard to hit on anyone who knows it’s coming, and the after-attack makes it difficult to follow up. With some practice, however, I can see people using this at closer range, perhaps by b-reversing the move and surprising them, then following up with a charged after-attack or some other move. His side-B can be dangerous, leaving him vulnerable, but does have some uses for now, at least until people get used to dealing with him (he is new, after all…), so I have to see more of that before I judge it much, and his up-special/up-B is a solid recovery move with a hitbox, but you have to be careful about how you angle it and which direction it goes in. I’ve self-destructed multiple times thanks to not b-reversing the move or just kind of messing up with using it in general. As a kill-move, it can work, but it lacks the knockback of a move like Roy’s up-special, even if it does have what I believe is a slightly bigger hitbox towards the end.
All-in-all, Corrin is a solid character, but I don’t see enough strong points or exploitable elements to make them more than just a mid-level character for competitive play. Some people will likely enjoy and get good with him like anyone else, but his moveset really isn’t that innovative. He’s one of about 10 characters to have a counter move, so even if it’s powerful, players already know how to deal with those kinds of tactics in general. Speaking of counters… is Bayonetta’s down-special, “Witch Time”, a counter?
If you ask me, the answer is actually “no”, but that’s the great thing about opinions. I think it’s like a counter, but it’s actually very different, and is what I believe to be one of Bayonetta’s many unique assets.
To start, “Witch Time” isn’t an offensive move like most counters, it’s a defensive move. It slows down time, sure, but you have to actually act upon that, and as a result it’s not as guaranteed as a lot of counters. It’s useful in many cases, that’s for sure, but take the case where Bayonetta is mid-air and doesn’t have anymore jumps: it can be difficult to follow up with a meaningful attack after a mid-air use of Witch Time, whereas another character like Ike might just blow you away in one hit, on the spot.
You’ve also got to consider cases where the enemy is throwing out an active hitbox and said hitbox hits you after the Witch Time, or they somehow end up dodging and being invincible. I’ve also seen things like teching an attack while being slowed, so I’m sure there are other weird shenanigans. I just can’t pin down Witch Time as being any old counter. I mean, it’s also got a lot of combo potential in the right player.
This is basically a statement to be made of Bayonetta in general. Just do a quick search or two on YouTube or Twitter and you should be able to find a solid number of Bayonetta combos: you can chain several attacks thanks to all her aerials and her ability to use her up-special and side-special twice each. However, this doesn’t make her broken as a character. Thanks to something called “directional influence”, also known as “DI” for short, the opponent can basically worm their way out of combos by not just standing there and taking it, and there are often some opportunities to air-dodge or jump away, which can instantly stop a chain of attacks.
Since I think Bayonetta as a whole is actually a bit slower than some people expected and her grab range is nothing to brag about either, she’s really not the super-amazing character some people thought she would be. However, the potential is definitely there, and that’s what matters if you ask me. Practically all of her moves come with the ability to shoot bullets that deal extra damage, meaning as someone fighting her, you have to be very careful not to take a few percent every now and then—said percent will add up before you know it and could be a big game-changer. Of course, Witch Time still has huge potential and, while it’s possible to get out of her aerial combos, it’s still not a situation I’d necessarily want to be in.
Bayonetta also has a couple of spiking moves, namely her dair and down-smash (yes, her down-smash: it’s pretty awesome), so while they might not always be practical, that’s a plus for people who often just want to have fun like me. I mean, she looks good, she plays well, her stage looks cool, she comes from a great pair of games, she’s fun to play… whoops, is it that obvious I like her?
All-in-all, I think Corrin and Bayonetta make solid additions to the Super Smash Bros. roster, even if they’re not what a lot of people wanted to see. They both have their reasons for joining and they have enough uniqueness for people to play around with them for a while, especially Bayonetta with her gun attacks and… just… everything, really. I mean, Bayonetta is in Smash. Pretty sure people would laugh at that idea two years ago, maybe even one year ago.
How do you all feel about the new characters? Do you plan to pick up any of them as a main, for casual or competitive play? Personally, I already decided Bayonetta would be my new main for at least a while, but I’d like to keep learning more about Corrin too. I’ve really only scratched the surface of both of these characters and I’m sure even as we speak, people are scratching away at their surfaces themselves!