Super Smash Bros. is a series that has changed so much over the years, from the first addition of third-party fighters in Brawl to Spirit Boards and more in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nothing gets players quite as excited as the announcement of new fighters though, and because such a focus is placed on new fighters, other add-ons that would otherwise be exciting tend to cause more disappointment. Concepts like Mii Fighter costumes and even Assist Trophies might be cool in theory, but in practice, it's hard to ignore the fact that Nintendo intentionally decided to make these characters part of their popular fighting game but opted to not make them playable. I get video game design is hard, and coding a new fighter takes countless hours to balance and design a moveset, and also that Masahiro Sakurai is one of the hardest-working game developers in the industry. But even with all this in mind, the reality is that Mii Fighter outfits are not the compromise that Nintendo once thought they were.
Mii Fighter Costumes: A Disappointment from the Beginning
When Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS was released in 2014, it introduced a wide range of characters and improved on many of the aspects of Super Smash Bros. Brawl that much of the community didn't enjoy. It was also the first Smash Bros. game to introduce paid DLC with the inclusion of Mewtwo (who you were able to download for free if you purchased both versions of the game) and the first wave of Mii Fighter costumes.
If you bought the Mii Fighter costumes on their own in the United States, it'd cost you $6 for one version of the game, or just over $9 if you wanted them available on both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Or, you can purchase the costumes individually if there are specific ones you had your eye on. That's for Wave 1. There were six total waves of Mii Fighter costumes for the Wii U and 3DS era, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has now had over ten waves of Mii Fighter costumes released. These are in addition to the Fighter DLC Packs, making Smash Ultimate one of the more expensive titles on the Nintendo Switch if you want all of the content.
When a Mii Fighter outfit is announced, Nintendo isn't just saying they're adding content to the game, they're also announcing what they're NOT adding to the game. With limited exceptions, like the Mega Man and Link costumes, Nintendo generally confirms new fighters who won't be joining the fray when they get announced as a Mii Fighter outfit or an Assist Trophy. Some of the most highly anticipated fighters like Skull Kid, Knuckles, Tails, Dante, and most recently Doomguy, have all been officially delisted as official fighters by coming to the game as Mii Fighter costumes. This isn't to say that they won't one day come to a Super Smash Bros. game -- even the Inklings from Splatoon originated as Mii Fighter Costumes on the Wii U and 3DS before being added to the official roster in the following game -- but it does water down what impact these characters could have had. Now Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has many, many, many available fighters, some with multiple forms. How many is truly enough? The sad fact is if Mii Fighter outfits didn't exist, it's likely more people would be satisfied with the final roster. Sometimes it's better to have never had a chance at a thing at all than to get so close but know it was taken away.
Are Mii Fighter Costumes Worth the Price of Paid Smash Bros. DLC?
Paying for cosmetics in games is nothing new, it's just a trend that Nintendo has embraced a little too wholeheartedly. Nintendo charges a premium every step of the way, whether it's the infamous Switch tax on the eShop or the fact that their games rarely go on sale when competitors' AAA titles can often be found in a $10 bin a year or two after release. There was a time when Nintendo online services and DLC were free updates that were accessible to everyone. Now nearly everything has a price tag, from the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack for Online to the new Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise DLC. Mii Fighter costumes are no different, but is it worth the investment?
This is obviously up to personal preference. I like to have complete collections of my games, buying up any DLC that may be available so I can fully enjoy the experience in its entirety. And that would have been true for Mii Fighter costumes, until I realized that in just the first couple waves for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS I had paid almost half as much as the original game cost just on additional content. From that point forward I only bought additional fighters, and not the Mii Fighter outfits (I did, however, get the Inkling outfits before they were confirmed fighters, as Splatoon remains one of my all-time favorite Nintendo franchises).
Are Mii Fighter costumes worth the price? I personally don't think so. With a new fighter, you're getting a whole new way to play the game, a considered and balanced character that changes up the battlefield in new ways. The Mii Fighters have the same basic move set that can only be customized so much, adding a cosmetic over them doesn't change the game enough to be worth it in my mind. Some costumes are better than others, like the Doom Slayer making you actually look like that character, but it's still a far cry from the excitement of actually adding a playable fighter to the game.
Mii Fighter Costumes vs. Fighters vs. Assist Trophies
One of the brilliant things about Super Smash Bros. is that it can be played in so many different ways. The competitive scene may prefer no items or assists, but countless players around the globe love to change up every match to be a little different. This can make other elements of the game like Assist Trophies more fun, but it still comes across as a weak compromise compared to adding actual fighters to the game.
This is one of those cases where less might actually be more. I mentioned earlier how it's better to not realize you're missing out on something. Any time a character is announced as an Assist Trophy or a Mii Fighter Costume, it leaves legions of fans disappointed that their favorite characters won't actually be playable. No matter what ability an Assist Trophy adds or how detailed a Mii Fighter outfit might look, it doesn't have the same tangible gravitas as actually moving through a stage as that character. That being said, the newest Super Smash Bros. on Switch has given us more than most fans likely anticipated.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Still the Best Entry in the Series
Do you remember the incredible hype surrounding the first couple Super Smash Bros. Ultimate reveal trailers? First, there was the teaser at the end of a Nintendo Direct that confirmed Inklings from Splatoon would be joining the game, and then later at E3, we got the extended reveal that proudly announced Everyone Is Here. Dozens and dozens of fighters, plus two DLC packages of additional fighters, all coming to a single game. Not to mention countless updates and continued support that has lasted for years. Despite my gripes with characters being passed over as a fighter to be added to the game in a less meaningful way, it's still clear that Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best entry in the series.
Every Smash Bros. game has been held back by its limitations. The original on Nintendo 64 had a small roster of characters and slow frame rates. Super Smash Bros. Melee is still well-loved among the community but lacked many of the key fighters we know today. Smash Bros. Brawl might be most well-known for the modders who took the game and turned it into something else entirely, and the Wii U and 3DS iterations now come across as the template for what Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would eventually become. Personally, there's no place I'd rather play a Smash Bros. game than on Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo, and particularly Sakurai, has given Smash Bros. fans so much over the years. It's true that fans will always ask for more, but with fighters being the crown jewel of this franchise, Nintendo is just shooting themselves in the foot when they announce a character or franchise and have them set to one of their lower tiers that aren't actually playable. I know designing new fighters is difficult and it's time-consuming, but also, modders have been adding new fighters to hacked versions of Smash Bros. for years. Despite how much Nintendo has done for us, I'm still confident that they can do better. If not in this game then hopefully in the next iteration, whatever that may look like.
Which Super Smash Bros. fighter is your favorite? Are you a fan of the Mii Fighter costumes or do you wish more resources were dedicated to coding new fighters? Let us know in the comments!