Sephiroth in Smash Impressions – One Wing, All the Sauce
Sakurai has outdone himself with Sephiroth, the latest DLC character to be added to Smash as a part of Fighters Pass #2.
It’s hard to believe that it’s barely even been a week since Sephiroth was revealed to be the ninth DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at The Game Awards. The shocking reveal defied our expectations. More importantly, it assuaged fans’ fears that the last four picks for Fighter Pass #2 would be predictable.
Sporting Masamune, his trademark sword, and his one wing, Sephiroth, in all his anime villain-esque badassery, is a pure joy to play. While he may not offer the same competitive viability as other DLC characters like Joker, the iconic Final Fantasy villain’s appearance is beyond deserving. With him comes a great stage and some downright incredible music.
Much like just about every character in the game, especially the DLC fighters, Sephiroth’s moveset is a miracle. Entirely unique and yet somehow still perfectly-suited for Smash, his moveset draws from a number of his appearances that showcase Sakurai’s reverence for the source material that few could hope to rival.
Unlocking the character early feels like a special event in itself, even compared to other DLC characters. Players who own Challenger Pack 8 or the second Fighters Pass have the opportunity to challenge a computer-controlled Sephiroth CPU in a stamina battle on his stage, Northern Cave. From beginning to end, this event might be one of the coolest crossover events Smash has ever done.
It takes you to a different menu with Final Fantasy VII’s UI, sound effects and all. After choosing a difficulty to fight the One-Winged Angel on and selecting your character, you’ll be greeted with the opening notes of his song and your first glimpse of him on your screen. Much like unlocking the characters in the base game, all you need to do to unlock him is win. A message pops up on the screen after doing so with the option to share how quickly you defeated him with the world. After excitedly sharing it to Twitter, I rushed to play a few matches with my roommate.
I was not disappointed.
While it’d be redundant and frankly uninteresting to describe his every move in his kit, it’s safe to say that he isn’t only fun, but stylish as hell. He comes equipped with mostly slower moves and a few decent approach and zoning options. Thus, just about any combos or strings he can pull off are entirely dictated by how well you can read your opponent. That said, when his wing comes out, he gets a lot more deadly. His speed and attacks are all boosted, and some of his moves even have super armor on them. In the hands of a better player than myself, I could easily see him doing some serious damage in the competitive scene. Though, he won’t do well against faster rushdown characters like Joker, Roy, or Fox. In fact, for the time being, I’d say he’s on the same competitive level as Cloud; good, not great.
Sephiroth’s stage and music are just icing on the cake. While it might be distractingly dynamic for some, since the entire end of Final Fantasy VII is playing out in the background, Northern Cave is very pretty. The lighting emanating from the stage and its background contrast against the charcoal-grey stage, making for a dazzling locale with about as much flash and swagger as Sephiroth himself.
That said, like a few other stages in the game, visibility can be a serious issue here. Characters and projectiles that are black, grey, or somewhere in-between can get easily lost. Moves like Mii Brawler’s shotput or Snake’s grenades tend to disappear until they hit you. This isn’t the case for the whole stage all throughout its cycle, just at specific parts.
Of course, Ultimate isn’t Ultimate without an impressive library of music. This time around, Final Fantasy got the musical representation it deserved after the disappointing treatment it got for Cloud’s inclusion. A perfect blend of compositions from the original FFVII and Advent Children with a couple of new compositions of songs like ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII,’ this is exactly the shot in the arm that the FF music in Smash not only needed but deserved. In fact, some of the new remixes are my favorite versions of these songs that exist.
The aforementioned ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII’ is especially incredible, somehow fusing the recognizable Smash musical style with the original composition, delivering a swelling, epic tune that evolves and outshines what it once was.
Sadly, the only disappointing thing about Challenger Pack 8 is a glaring musical omission. While Sakurai did note that licensing music for Smash, specifically Final Fantasy music, is a challenge, it’s a serious disappointment that no music from Final Fantasy VII: Remake made it into the game. That game’s soundtrack is so dynamic, impressive, and reverent towards its source material to the point where it’s analogous to Smash’s ability to provide fanservice part and parcel with innovation.
That said, the fact that the most disappointing part of this Sephiroth DLC pack is that my personal game of the year didn’t get any recognition should say all it needs to; this DLC is incredible. On every level. From the special event-style boss fight to the stage, to the music to just playing one of the most iconic villains gaming has to offer, Sakurai continues to outdo himself. Even if he isn’t enough to get me to drop Samus, I can’t wait to hop back on the sticks and play him more.