Now that we, like Fiorentina and Serie A and all sports and life in general, are on indefinite hiatus, we’ve finally got a chance to catch up on all those excellent video games we’ve been meaning to play. For me, that means restarting Skyrim (a Khajit thief named Mittens Destroyer of Worlds) and a new career mode on FIFA 18. But more than anything, it means a return to the greatest game ever made: 1999’s Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo 64.
For those of you poor, benighted souls who aren’t initiated into humanity’s crowning achievement, it’s a fighting game that pits some of Nintendo’s most hallowed names against each other. The 12 characters you can play as are Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi of the Mario games; Donkey Kong of Donkey Kong fame; Samus from Metroid; Captain Falcon from F-Zero; Ness from Earthbound; Pokémon’s Pikachu and Jigglypuff; the eponymous Kirby; the Legend of Zelda’s Link; and Fox McCloud of Star Fox.
Naturally, this got me thinking about which members of the current Viola squad correspond to which Smash Bros characters. After playing a few rounds (my mains are Pikachu and Kirby, but DK is so much fun too), here are my conclusions.
The face of the franchise as the captain may seem a little bit too obvious, but bear with us. Pezze seems like the most basic player on the squad: a tough, rugged defender who’s not the quickest but has plenty of knockout power, particularly with his head. The facial hair doesn’t quite check out, but that’s what you get sometimes. More importantly, Germán seems like the kind of guy who brings his lunch pail to work and puts in a shift, no matter how weird things get around him; if that doesn’t sound like the world’s most famous plumber, well, we don’t know what else to say.
Signature move: ⬆️ + ️ is Mario’s powerful headbutt move that launches opponents up, up, and away. Given Pezzella’s record of crucial headers, this feels right.
Mario’s much-maligned brother is a little taller, a little thinner, and a little slower, which may seem to render this one off-base, particularly when compared to Pezzella’s Mario. However, just like Luigi, Cáceres is habitually underappreciated, versatile, and can be extremely frustrating to play against. While he may not quite have Mario’s solidity and aerial ability, his B attack (a green fireball) and his terrifying ping (➡️ or ⬅️ + ️) mean that once you actually run into him, you’re going to take him pretty seriously.
Signature move: ⬇️ + ️ is Luigi’s pommel-horse looking kick where he basically breakdances while he boots the crud out of you. Cáceres’ ability to time his sliding tackles is definitely reminiscent.
Yoshi is a niche character who’s really tough to figure out. Without the second jump that nearly every other player has, you don’t want to get him too close to the edge, as it’s tough for him to get back. While he’s got some power, he’s slow and a fairly large target. However, he’s extremely annoying to play against, as he can slither around attacks in what looks like a glitch, and has a ️ attack—reaching out with his tongue and turning opponents into helpless eggs—that can throw opponents off their rhythm. Just like Badelj, though, Yoshi needs the perfect situation to excel; if you’re not an expert with him, you’re going to lose every time.
Signature move: ⬆️ + ️ is how Yoshi launches eggs at people. While it takes the place of his second jump, you can control the trajectory and generally irritate the heck out of people with long-range bombardment. Even after his miserable display against Udinese, take a look at Badelj hitting those perfectly-weighted long-range passes and tell me that’s not right.
Donkey Kong=Bartłomiej Drągowski
Burly and powerful, DK is the most powerful character in the game. That, of course, comes with the tradeoff that he’s really, really slow. Given that Bart is cat-quick despite his heft, this may feel completely incorrect, but bear with us for a moment. DK’s got the best throw in the game (he can even pick up opponents and carry them) and boasts an outrageously powerful punch. Because of his size, everyone’s trying to take shots at him, especially from distance (nobody wants to get too close and risk catching those hands).
Signature move: ➡️ or ⬅️ + ️ is Donkey Kong’s spinning aerial punch that carries him halfway across the map. Take a look at Drągowski diving across the net and you’ll get it.
Samus is a funny character to play with. Despite her size, she’s not the most powerful fighter at close range, largely because she’s not very quick. However, if you give her a bit of time to charge up her energy gun, she can unleash absolute hell on you from distance. Even her throw—some sort of phalange—takes a minute to get going but has excellent range. Finally, Dušan is, like Samus, capable of taking a lot of physical punishment: look at how he wins fouls or rides challenges for half the pitch.
Signature move: hold ️ is how Samus charges up a massive and massively-powerful energy ball that can, in the hands of an experienced player, wreck opponents from across the map.
Captain Falcon=Nikola Milenković
Perhaps the tallest player in the game, the Captain brings a tantalizing combination of power and speed. Because he doesn’t have any ranged attacks, he’s at his best when he can stay very close to opponents, using his physical attributes to punish them and basically just pummel them into submission. While he’s not great at the edges of the game—not much of an ⬆️ + ️ means that he’s risky to use out wide—you can use him to overpower just about any character if you take it to them. That’s Nihola’s style to a tee.
Signature move: ️ is the iconic Falcon Punch. While we’ve never seen the Mountain throw hands at someone, it seems reasonable to assume that the results would be similar.
Unlike most other small players, Ness is also pretty slow. However, he’s got so many other tricks that he’s nearly impossible to stop when he’s on. Part of it is that his jumps aren’t linear but loop around, throwing off opponents’ timing completely and allowing him to sneak past hits you think are going to crunch him. Add to that his unexpected arsenal—a baseball bat with which he can whack the bejeezus out of you, a yoyo that lets him control the distance between him and opponents, a psychokinetic projection that lights everything on fire—and you get a character who’s equipped to wrong-foot opponents in so many ways.
Signature move: ⬇️ + ️ isn’t Ness’ most lethal trick, but it can irritate people more than any. It allows him to absorb enemy projectile attacks and reduce his own damage level. Basically, he bais you into attacking him and turns it to his own advantage. Watch Franck play rope-a-dope with AC Milan’s helpless defense and it makes perfect sense.
Small, cute, and wildly fast, Pikachu has all the attributes you associate with our handsome young Riccardo. While he’s not the most powerful attacker and, due to his tininess, is always at risk of suffering a knockout blow, he’s just too quick for most anyone to lay a finger on. None of his attacks are super strong, so he’s at his best dodging and swerving past opponents, tormenting them until they leave him an opening.
Signature move: ⬆️ + ️ is why Pikachu is nearly impossible to knock out, as it lets him change direction in the air and cover a lot of ground simultaneously. There’s no way to stop it; all you can do is hope to get in the right spot to deal with it.
The cute little ball of air is nearly impossible to master. Possessed of few useful attacks, slow across the ground, and presenting a tempting floating target, Jiggly is perhaps best suited to avoid the fray for as long as possible before picking a moment to descend and deliver the goods. More annoying than threatening, one of Jigglypuff’s trademark moves is to send opponents into a trance. While, in the hands of an expert, her aerial ability and knack for stringing together combos can make her a powerhouse, she’s the worst possible character for anyone who hasn’t logged dozens of hours mastering her bizarre qualities.Now look at Benassi vanish for 89 minutes and 56 seconds of a match but still score a brace.
Signature move: ⬇️ + ️ is called the Rest in the game manual but is colloquially known as the Ping for the distinctive noise that accompanies a successful attack. It’s super powerful and can drop in out of nowhere, but if it misses, leaves Jigglypuff completely helpless to defend against an attack.
Don’t let the cute little sphere fool you; he’s a menace to play against. Just like Tanino, he’ll effortlessly float past opponents or roll around their attacks before unleashing a distressingly quick and effective counterpunch. Too, Kirby’s iconic ability to take on new qualities mirrors Castrovilli’s trajectory this year, as he adds new talents on a seemingly weekly basis. Aerial power? Dinked balls in the final third? Nonchalant switches of play? The plasticity allows him to do pretty much everything in addition to his own innate talents.
Signature move: ➡️ or ⬅️ + Z is how Kirby dodges back and forth, back and forth, avoiding opponents before delivering a knockout blow. That kind of slipping around attacks before turning the tables is exactly how Castrovilli rolls his way out of tackles and into the open field.
He’s not fast. His limited jumping means that you don’t want to get close to the edge with him. He’s a big target. He’s basically not an athletic threat at all. But, just like Cutrone, Link can be lethal in the right hands. He’s at his best when he can sort of lurk off at the margins before finding an opening and delivering a knockout blow. While he’s not great in the buildup, his finishing moves are superb. Staying out of focus before landing a knockout finish is pretty much the modus operandi for any prototypical poacher, and that’s exactly what our Patrick is.
Signature move: ➡️ or ⬅️ + ️ is Link’s slightly ponderous but very powerful smash attack. You’ve got to time it right, sure, but when it hits, it hits.
Fox McCloud=Federico Chiesa
Probably Rocco Commisso’s favorite character because he is fast, fast, fast. Uses his speed to wipe out everyone, firing his blaster to discomfit opponents and then stringing together combos that leave them helpless to react against his pure pace. Nearly unstoppable once he’s got an opponent in space, whether that’s in the middle (where his powerful up-kick is lethal) or on the edge (where he’s fantastic at preventing opponents from regaining safety). And, if you’re feeling uncharitable, one of his weaknesses is that he falls very quickly too.
Signature move: ⬆️ + ️ is the up-kick. If Fox hits you with this, you’re going to go flying through the air and stay there, as he’ll just keep on relentlessly booting you farther upwards until you’re gone. That’s exactly what Fede does: he sets you up, then just burns past you again and again until you’re completely neutralized.
Feel free to add descriptions for Brawl, Melee, and SSB4; just know that the original Super Smash Bros. is the best one, and that not even your “Okay, boomer,” can change that.