We’ll make this introduction brief, because this column itself is already going to be long as is: If someone, Master Hand, Nintendo or whomever canonically ‘organizes’ Smash brought all of the Smash Ultimate characters into one gigantic battlefield and told them all to fight until just one of them was left standing, who would win?
This is predictably a very contentious topic, given that it draws in a lot of people from all sorts of different fanbases who will relentlessly argue that their favorite character would rule the others.
View this, then, as a non-biased take on who would really hoist the crown at the end of the day.
To be clear: This will weigh every character’s canonical feats or, what they’ve achieved in their own standalone games outside of Smash. In addition, not every single individual character will get an analysis- a few will be selected from each tier.
So, let’s begin.
We will first start with the “lose immediately” category. A group of Smash Ultimate participants who don’t have good resumes for actual combat outside of just Smash. Some of these characters may have never actually fought anything, and might even lack the capability to do so at all. Alternatively, some may have fighting experience, but said experience is so laughably inferior to the rest of the cast that it hardly ends up mattering.
Take R.O.B for example — ROB isn’t even really a video game character at all technically, and outside of Smash, it got a brief little run as a play able Mario Kart racer well over a decade ago, that’s it. ROB simply doesn’t stand a chance.
The Duck Hunt Duo, Dr Mario, Steve, Villager and Isabella all come from games where fighting is either nonexistent or is very clearly secondary to the actual gameplay. The most they’d be able to do is maybe go and annoy someone a few tiers up before getting easily defeated somehow.
Touching base on the “Don’t have a chance” tier, as the list indicates, these characters would be vastly overshadowed by pretty much anyone higher than them. But they do have at least some experience in a setting similar to this, so they might make it more than about two minutes off of that alone.
Jigglypuff, Pikachu, Lucario and Greninja all come from Pokémon games where stats are a big deal. Where they come up short, in particular, is in their Defense and HP stats. In a chaotic battlefield where attacks and powers are being flown out in spades within mere seconds, these three will be taken down quite quickly by taking just a couple of powerful hits. They all have the capability to dodge slower moving attacks and can throw a few hits back, but they’ll inevitably run into a character like Meta Knight or Sonic and get overwhelmed trying to keep up, or a character like Bayonetta will straight up annihilate them.
Peach has done a couple of cool canonical things that would allow her to at least survive the first wave of absurdity. We know she can challenge her strong emotions into damaging attacks and general aggression, so she’s going to probably do some good damage to whoever the first person she comes across is. Thing is, she doesn’t have a good history with any sort of damage resistance, she isn’t wearing any armor, and so much like the aforementioned Pokémon, all it will take is some attacker at Peach’s blind side who will probably remove her easily enough.
The “make it a while” section mostly consists of professional level fighters who have significant experience in very demanding, hostile situations. It can also contain characters with a mild to moderate amount of impressive magical skill that could even be vaguely supernatural. Unfortunately, none of the characters in this tier boast god slaying, definitely superhuman capabilities, so they’re going to lose pretty badly to anyone in “borderline finalist” or above. They’ll still be decent threats on the battlefield for sure.
Put simply: Adult Link is the only one with the Master Sword, meaning both Young Link and Toon Link would be at substantial disadvantages in comparison. Realistically, Adult Link possesses a significant amount of experience the other two forms do not. They have a lot of raw talent and fighting prowess, but the two smaller Links will ultimately be let down by a lack of experience element as well as significantly powerful weaponry that would let them compete with higher tiered characters.
Incineroar ends up in this tier, above most of the other Pokémon. The reasoning is that Incineroar’s canon traits meet the demand of an all-out slaughterfest better than those of the other Pokémon. Incineroar has a lot more defensive talent between better stats and the Intimidate ability, which will let it perform better against fighters who have to approach it up close. Moreover, Incineroar has been a superstar in national doubles tournaments in Pokémon for the last five years- being that successful when there are multiple combatants is going to be useful experience in a battlefield with more than 80 other fighters for Incineroar to keep track of.
Shoto characters (characters who originated from platform fighters, namely Street Fighter, Fatal Fury and Tekken) fall under similar distinctions. Their origin source proves that they have the capability to withstand a good deal of pain, and they have strong relevant experiences. Much like Incineroar though, none of them are necessarily ‘supernatural’ per se, so they’re simply going to lose against finalist characters with godlike potential.
The “pose legitimate threat” sections depicts characters who would be able to competently fight anyone, even the finalists in some cases. They might lack the sheer potential to be considered ‘godlike’ but they’re going to be formidable presences on the battlefield; by the time they eventually go down, they’ll have probably taken someone else down themselves first, and will require a significant effort on whoever deals the death blow.
While most Fire Emblem characters have actually fought, and in some cases defeated godlike creatures, these feats came with either a ton of number-based support such as in Byleth’s, or the use of a limited time tool or power of some sort. Also do remember: we are assuming everyone on the battlefield has had equal time to prepare for the battle- either they were just dropped right in without any warning, or they were given just as much notice as everyone else. Assuming the former would probably be closer than the latter, Robin’s experience as a tactician is going to be slightly redundant as they’ll be getting pressed right into combat immediately.
Mario is going to be quite the tough cookie to eliminate. He has a very flexible skill set, including the ability to become a giant, grow wings, and use the environment around him to deal damage to attackers. Unfortunately, Mario still has very basic defensive qualities himself and is easily hurt and even killed by fairly mundane means, so he isn’t going to hold up against a character like Joker which could easily sponge his hits and strike back.
The “borderline finalists” section is exactly what it sounds like. These characters possess some stellar power which is often supernatural, divine or straight up godlike. These characters, in their own universes, are easily top dog and have the relevant experiences, resistances and general capabilities to go toe to toe with anyone.
Out of this list, Ike is the likeliest to fall first. He gets a leg up on other Fire Emblem characters for literally slaying a goddess without any sort of copious support or the use of something very temporary. Still, while he has a great deal of damage resistance, he is going to have a tough time dealing with other characters on this section with more flexible skill sets. Mewtwo and King Dedede, for example, don’t even really have to get up in his face to hurt him. And because Ike is strictly a swordsman, and isn’t particularly fleet footed, that means anyone in this section or above which poses a ranged threat is going to probably prevail against him.
Sonic and Meta Knight probably profile as the characters closest to being straight up finalists. Meta Knight is canonically crowned as the strongest warrior within an entire galaxy, while Sonic is equally hailed for possessing unrivaled foot speed. Both of these talents would serve them well and keep them going for quite awhile. They are flawed, however; Bayonetta can simply stop or slow down the very flow of time, so she won’t have any real issue with Sonic being able to run really fast. On the other hand, Ganondorf can’t be killed by Meta Knight’s Galaxia, so Meta Knight’s skill and prowess will do him no good in that particular matchup. Outside of these two specific instances, these two characters can probably go one-on-one with the others in the Finalist tier and conceivably even win.
Mewtwo’s going to be a force to be reckoned with out on the battlefield. It’s moveset from Pokémon games is nearly infinite and gives Mewtwo the flexibility to deal with anyone. Mewtwo’s offenses are also very potent, while it has excellent air and ground mobility. However, in this way, Mewtwo can sort of be summed up as a lesser version of Bayonetta or Joker- these are characters who have actual godlike power which transcends anything in any mainstream Pokémon game, allowing them to power trump Mewtwo very easily.
Now onto the finalists. As should be no surprise, these are the characters who should be favored to win this entire Battle Royale-esque mess. Because there are five of them, I want to cover them in order of how I think they’d fare in this last stand of sorts.
Shulk’s ability to read and react to the future on a whim meshes very well with his Monado Arts that grant him a Swiss Knife set of utilities he can use to fight pretty much anyone. However, in the face of characters who could snap their fingers and pretty much banish him (Bayonetta), characters who are basically immortal (Ganondorf) and characters who basically capture and tame gods like it’s nothing (Joker), Shulk’s talents are a little bit inferior. He is very flexible and has unmatched foresight, but his powers will simply come up short against characters who will be able to overwhelm him.
Ganondorf is pretty much invincible in this context. As long as he avoids Adult Link or even straight up defeats him quickly, nobody else will be able to kill him right? Well, not entirely, and even then there would be holes. For one, Kirby can just copy the Master Sword off of Link and kill Ganondorf that way. For another, even if he couldn’t be killed, his series of magics are fairly lacking compared to Joker, Bayonetta and Kirby and he wouldn’t pose enough of a threat to them to actually defeat them most of the time. Therefore, at best, Ganondorf would probably finish in second place.
Kirby, though appearing as a finalist, is probably one of the more overrated characters when these discussions come up. Kirby’s capacity to be threatening to this extent stems from his ability to pretty much copy the talents of whomever he’s fighting. However, when we get to the best of the best, there’s a bit of a catch; Bayonetta and Joker do not, in anyway, have to approach Kirby up close in order to damage him. Unlike other characters, those two also possess ranged talent which is straight up godlike, meaning they can basically wall out Kirby and eventually eliminate him. As far as damage resistances go, those that Kirby possess are fairly ordinary compared to the others in this section. As such, he will fall.
Joker’s mask grants him the ability to pretty much harness the power of his pick of the litter of a nigh-endless list of Gods from all sorts of cultures. In addition, Joker himself has slain two Gods. In terms of facing off with the others, Joker’s going to have some problems dealing with Ganondorf without a Master Sword, and outdueling Bayonetta will probably be pretty hard.
For as strong as Joker is, Bayonetta does something funnily similar to what Joker does, only she solicits the support of more blatantly terrifying godlike creatures which could be argued to fit the context of this enormous brawl slightly better. Bayonetta, much like in Smash 4, possess the unique capability of pretty much eliminating anyone on this list apart from maybe Ganondorf with the snap of a couple fingers and some exotic dance of some sort. With the ability to slay and tame actual Gods to boot and the experience that entails, Bayonetta will probably bring home the victory more often than not in this situation.