I greeted Pyra and Mythra’s announcement last month with a big sigh. Ugh, more sword fighters? It’s my preferred class in Smash Bros. Ultimate, but even I was beginning to get sick of them. After a couple hours with the new duo, however, I’m pleased to announce my initial skepticism was misplaced. Pyra and Mythra aren’t just great overall additions to the existing roster: they’re also now two of my favorite sword mains.
Pyra hits like a hammer while Mythra dishes out death by a thousand cuts. It’s a very basic synergy with complex and high-level repercussions. The most important thing though is that both fighters feel terrific to play. They transform back and forth like Zelda and Sheik, but with more subtle distinctions between their attacks and movement. For the older Smash heads out there, it feels a bit like getting a character who can transform from the heavy-hitting Ike to the fleet-footed fencer Marth, except with more style and more versatile abilities.
As a JRPG nerd I’ve always had a soft spot for the Xeno-spin-offs, and while it feels a bit lopsided to now have three characters from that niche series in Nintendo’s big platform fighter, Pyra and Mythra earn their spots with some of the more visually satisfying move sets in the game. Pyra’s sword throw mixes the tactile feel of Link’s boomerang with the knockback of Young Link’s fire arrows. Mythra’s side-ways sword flurry attack doubles as a recovery move, while her up special finishes with a small wave of laser blasts. Certain moves in Smash Ultimate are so good you just want to do them whenever you can, even if it’s a bad idea tactically. Pyra and Mythra both have them.
In some ways both feel like very traditional Smash fighters, but their detailed animations and the added flair of their fantasy sci-fi source material makes them feel like worthwhile, fresh additions to a game that already has over 80 characters. Their transformations, while taking up the down special slot in their arsenal, are also a lot fun to manage, even if I find myself preferring Pyra overall. Mythra can be easier to combo with and rack up damage quickly, but sometimes all I want to do is smash people with Pyra’s big fire sword. Her side smash attack simply owns.
I spent Smash Bros. 64 and Melee playing almost nothing but Link and Young Link, and while I’ve since branched out into the rest of the roster, they remain two of my go-tos. As much as I appreciate the ambition of adding Minecraft characters or the weirdness of making Piranha Plant a thing, in the end I always go back to my standards. So far, Pyra and Mythra are the first two DLC fighters in Smash Bros. Ultimate that I actually find myself joyfully abandoning my old favorites for. They’re powerful and also just a lot of fun, without requiring you to learn completely new mechanics.
A big part of why the pair won me over so fast was how each of their archetypal sword moves has some extra flourishes associated with it. Another is that sentient anthropomorphized weapon artifacts (Xenoblade is a weird series) are just more interesting to me than Fire Emblem’s slate of cape-wearing musketeers. The latest fighter pack also adds the new Cloud Sea of Alrest stage, which is excellent, and 16 tracks from Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s wonderful soundtrack. It even brings new spirits, including a final transformation for the existing Rex one. As an overall package it’s one of the most distinct and memorable additions to Smash Bros. Ultimate in a good while.