After sinking some time into Super Smash Bros Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch, I resurfaced with a philosophical question: Did Smash series director Masahiro Sakurai push his underlings hard enough to warp their senses of humor, or were they all born a little twisted and Smash is just the perfect outlet for their hijinks?
Either way, Smash Bros Ultimate is an exquisite gallery of visual humor. By completing "Challenges" (i.e. getting Achievements) you unlock pictures that use the game's characters as models in dioramas. Some pictures just show off the characters in dynamic poses, but many relay jokes. For example, one of the first pictures I unlocked shows Roy from Fire Emblem pushing Roy from the Super Mario Bros series off a ledge. There can be only one.
World of Light, Smash Bros Ultimate's single-player adventure mode that sends you on a mission to rescue Smash's possessed roster, is where you'll find the game's purest comedy gold. You're forced into hundreds of fights with imitation Smash characters, each of whom is powered by a wayward "Spirit" acting against its will. When you win a battle, you win the right to use that freed Spirit to help you with future fights.
The Smash Bros Ultimate team clearly put some thought into some Spirits' power. For example, when I unlocked the Arcanine Spirit (because of course I unlocked the Arcanine Spirit), I gained the ability to start each battle with the Hot Curry item. In other words, if I equip Arcanine, I can start a battle breathing fire—or "using Flamethrower," if you want to keep it in a Pokémon context.
You might struggle to make the connection between some Spirits and their powers, though. Maybe you're not too familiar with a game's lore, and the "joke" sails over you as a result. Maybe the Smash team had to reach for a very thin connection (there are a huge number of Spirits to collect, after all). Or maybe you assume Nintendo won't cross certain lines because it's still a company that largely makes games for children.
That's fair, and it's what most people assume. When word got out about the Paz Andrade Spirit that lets you start a fight with a Bob-Omb item equipped, people figured it's just a dark Photoshop job. It ain't. The Paz Andrade Bob-Omb Spirit is legit, and its existence is twiii-sted.
I just realized how effed up this is. Well played Smash Bros? pic.twitter.com/mTI3O1dZH9— Kat Bailey (@The_Katbot) December 11, 2018
"Wait, the who? The what?"
Paz Ortega Andrade is a character from the Metal Gear Solid series. Long story short, she's infamous for having a bomb implanted in her nether regions, probably her vagina. She dies in Metal Gear Solid V after the bomb detonates. Woof. God knows what's waiting for us if representation from Death Stranding makes it into some future iteration of Smash.
Need some sunny Smash humor to chase off the Bob-Omb Blues? Don't count on Palutena. Her goddess powers are fueled by Pit's misery, but she'll employ her tinder-dry sense of humor to inflict hurt on anyone in her personal radius.
WHAT THE HELL, PALUTENA?! pic.twitter.com/U0cKT0Po8Y— Thomas Rockyowitz (@Rockyowitz) December 11, 2018
Thankfully, there are some amazing examples of humor in Smash Bros Ultimate that aren't hidden under dark, dark layers. Here's an unlockable image of Cloud holding Zelda the same way he holds Aeris' body in Final Fantasy VII. Okay, that's still dark, but it's not "Girl with a bomb in her va-jay-jay" or "Pit's Pokémon are all dead" dark.
Then there's this picture of Bowser whisking away Mario, presumably for purposes related to holy matrimony. I know about sixteen dozen people who "ship it."
I'll level with you: I don't know what to make of this Pokémon picture. At this point, I'm willing to believe Smash Ultimate's developers think the idea of children distributing opiates to Pokémon is funny. You know what? They're not wrong.
As someone whose sense of humor has been described as "Not OK" since the age of six or so, I appreciate how the Smash Ultimate team clearly used the game as an outlet during its long and grueling development. I'm still a tad worried, though. I don't know who decided to arm three of Nintendo's best-known women with The Bomb and set them in the middle of a busy shopping district, but I hope they receive the hugs they clearly need.