Super Smash Bros character reveals have an infectious energy that supercharges everyone, even people who aren't fans of Nintendo's beloved fighting game series. If soft drink manufacturers ever find a way to bottle that hype, we'll be swinging from lamp posts and screaming about Simon Belmont at four in the morning.
For now, we must rely on big events like E3 and The Game Awards for our micro-sized injections of digital adrenaline. It's safer that way; reveals like Joker from Persona 5 peel at least a year off my life whenever they happen.
When Joker "infiltrated" The Game Awards to show off his Smash invite, Twitter lit up with about twenty million "We never saw it coming" cracks. Honestly though, we didn't see it coming. That's what makes the event so exciting. A "Persona 5 on Switch" announcement? Sure (and we're still waiting on that). "Joker in Smash?" Not in a million years. We heard whispers about Simon Belmont and Ridley before they arrived, and I'm still fifty-fifty on Geno from Super Mario RPG making the cut. Joker, though? I'm reelin' over here.
And I'm half ashamed of myself for being all "Huuuu-WHAAA?" over Joker's eventual arrival because when Cloud was unveiled as a Smash Bros Wii U fighter, I said to myself "That's it. Nintendo tore up the fence posts. Now anything is possible in Smash."
It's true; Cloud from Final Fantasy VII is still Smash's most surprising addition, more so than Joker. Persona's always been a PlayStation-centric property, which makes Joker's Nintendo debut surprising—but Persona 5 on Switch feels inevitable at this point, and Persona's parent series, Shin Megami Tensei, is definitely coming to Switch. Cloud's Smash invite isn't merely an instance of a PlayStation character making the jump to a Nintendo platform, though. It's a final olive branch exchanged between Square Enix and Nintendo; a concrete sign the two companies burned away any scar tissue remaining from the yawning rift that opened between them when Squaresoft turned its back in the N64.
Squaresoft's big '90s break-up with Nintendo is well-documented, but you really had to be there to observe the gashes and bruises they left on each other. Former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi sneered about RPG fans being loners who like to play depressing games (I feel so called out) and in North America, Sony's ads for Final Fantasy VII took well-aimed jabs at Nintendo's decision to stick to cartridges with the N64—the biggest reason Squaresoft broke ties with Nintendo in the first place. Square-Enix made up with Nintendo in the early Aughts with the advent of the Game Boy Advance, but I feel as if the crusted-over wounds of the companies' catfight didn't dissipate for good until Cloud walked into the Smash fray and muttered, "Never thought I'd see the day." That makes two of us, Cloud.
First Cloud, now Joker. Again, Atlus and Nintendo don't have '90s-style break-up drama between them, but I'm starting to feel like Smash is a neutral zone for game companies as well as game mascots. It's a Casablanca café of sorts where game companies' chosen champions bond through face-punching instead of coffee and gambling. Now we just need to find a way for world leaders to settle their politics and wars through Smash. Hey, Mr Sakurai—you're not busy, right?