Sora joined Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on October 18, becoming the 89th (and, at long last, final) playable character on the roster, and wrapping up a two-year process of expanding the game’s pool of fighters. Though in a sense he is just another sword-wielding anime boy, I think I actually stand corrected. Sora in Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t that bad, despite my prior reservations about him.
It’s no secret that Smash Bros. Ultimate has an overabundance of not just Fire Emblem characters, but sword-wielding anime fighters in general. By my count, and including all of the echo fighters, the mash-up brawler has some 20 combatants that almost exclusively use blades in their arsenal of attacks. This makes up roughly 22% of the roster brandishing something stabby to do damage. Sure, Sora’s Keyblade isn’t sharp like Cloud’s Buster Sword, but the way the Kingdom Hearts protagonist uses it makes him a sword wielder through and through—and I refuse to be told otherwise.
In fact, Sora slashes and thrusts like only bladed fighters can, making him the epitome of an anime sword fighter. And yet, it would be wrong to dismiss the big-shoed hero as just a generic entry in the category of Smash sword fighters.
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Although he is a sword wielder, Sora doesn’t feel or play like other bladed characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate. (Sora’s also not from Fire Emblem, so he’s got that going for him.) He’s lighter than most sword combatants—with the exception of Sephiroth, weirdly—and has more combo potential than someone like Chrom or Yoshi. To be honest, Sora is actually quite deadly.
For one thing, Sora’s basic three-hit attack string can be performed on the ground or in the air, allowing him to mix up his combos and rack up insane damage. What makes this series of swipes deadlier, though, is the fact that the first attack has a gravitational pull that draws the opponent in. As long as the Keyblade’s tip connects, Sora is immediately dragging the enemy towards him. What you do after is limitless, especially with Sora’s lightness.
His weight is another differentiating factor. Again, Sora is lighter than most sword-wielding fighters in the game. As such, he essentially floats over everyone like Lucario, Mewtwo, or even Mr. Game & Watch. This can be a detriment, as heavier characters—such as Ganondorf or Snake—can easily launch him. But what could be perceived as a weakness is actually a strength, particularly because of his excellent recovery ability. I mean, his up special is basically Link’s Spin Attack, and he can use it in conjunction with Sonic Blade. Unless he’s at a high percentage, it’s pretty difficult to knock Sora out. His name does mean sky, and that’s where he’s terrifying.
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Still, he’s got the trappings of a sword-bearing anime boy: the spikey hair, the big Keyblade (which is a sword because “blade” is in the name), the counter. He totally fits the mold. But Sora’s distinct properties—his combo potential, his weight, etcetera—make him a sword-wielding anime boy that’s different enough to be dangerous. And you really don’t want to catch yourself off the stage against Sora; it’s pretty much curtains for you while he effortlessly floats back. I blame his big-ass parachute shorts for this.
None of this changes the fact that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does have way too many damn sword characters. Sora is just another addition to the cadre of bladed fighters that’s so numerous, it can be hard to see the real differences between them. But at the end of the day, sword wielder or not, Sora has quite a bit going for him. Maybe dismissing him as some generic anime sword boy was a misjudgment, and I will happily concede to that.