The next downloadable character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be the protagonist from Microsoft’s Minecraft, Nintendo announced Thursday morning.
Like a few other Smash characters, the Minecraft character will be available in several different versions, to account for their nature as a character-created avatar. This includes Steve and Alex, the typical male and female Minecraft default characters, as well as the option to play as monsters like Zombies or Endermen.
Steve & Alex’s fighting style involves the use of traditional Minecraft tools like picks, swords, and bombs, as well as being able to place solid blocks throughout the fighting arena. While there isn’t much information available right now beyond what can be seen from the short reveal trailer (below), a more in-depth presentation on the characters is planned for Oct. 3 at 7:30 AM Pacific, in advance of this year’s Minecraft Live online show.
Minecraft is the most popular video game in the world. The news that Minecraft was getting into Smash is probably why Twitter crashed early this morning, as social media lit up over the reveal.
Initially created in 2009 by Swedish developer Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft is a notoriously open-ended creation game, where players are placed into a randomly-generated open world to harvest materials, dodge monsters, and build whatever they like. Persson later co-founded Mojang Specifications with Carl Mannneh and Jakob Porser to continue to develop Minecraft; in 2014, Mojang was acquired outright by Microsoft and rebranded as Mojang Studios.
This is only the second character in Smash Bros. Ultimate’s castto come from a Western studio, after Banjo & Kazooie’s debut in September of 2019. Notably, Banjo & Kazooie are also Microsoft-owned, as they were created by the British studio Rare, which Microsoft purchased in 2002.
The Minecraft character crossover is the first announcement of any kind about Smash DLC from Nintendo since June 22, following the debut of the previous character, Min Min from the Switch-exclusive brawler Arms. This is an unusual period of silence from the Smash team, but the game’s producer Masahiro Sakurai has noted before that due to COVID-19 restrictions in Japan, his team has largely been working from home for the last eight months or so. Most of Sakurai’s trademark presentations this year have been recorded from his living room.
According to Sakurai, the introduction of Steve/Alex forced the Smash team to have to rework many of the game’s background stages to account for the character’s ability to place blocks, which is unique among the cast. While Steve and Alex still use the trademark rectangular Minecraft models, which meant they didn’t require complicated animation or voice acting, designing their Smash versions to account for Minecraft‘s trademark construction abilities was a “massive challenge.”
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate debuted in December of 2019 as an exclusive title for the Nintendo Switch. While it’s slightly controversial to call it a fighting game in fan circles, as it eschews many of the typical features of the genre, it’s nonetheless considered to be the best-selling fighting game of all time, with over 19 million units sold as of June of 2020. As the Switch itself has sold around 63 million units at time of writing, this means that almost a full third of Switch owners also have a copy of Ultimate.
Steve & Alex, like other DLC characters in Smash, will be automatically downloaded on release to players who already own the second Fighter’s Pass. If they’re priced like previous characters, they’ll be available individually for $5.99, which will include a new background stage and some remixed music.