Ever since Solid Snake made his (still amazing) Smash Bros debut in the E3 2006 trailer for Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii, people have been full of opinions about which third-party characters should join the fight.
The cries have been relentless for better than a decade. "So-and-So for Smash!" has become a meme, though not every wild suggestion is made in the spirit of parody. There are cries for Superman, Goku, and my personal favorite, Reckless Wii Remote Silhouette Guy. There's no end to the requests and suggestions, really. Smash Bros series director Masahiro Sakurai probably feels like a mall Santa listening to an infinite parade of spoiled kids reading off their mile-long gift lists.
One request has been a mainstay since Nintendo opened the door for fighters outside their IP garden: Geno from 1996's Super Mario RPG. To this day, a whole lot of people hold their breaths while watching Smash character reveals, hoping for a glimpse of a sky-blue cape and scarlet curls topped by a lumpy hat. Time and again, they're disappointed.
Why Geno, though? Why do Smash fans cling to the hope this sentient wooden puppet created by Square Enix will beam back down from skies and do battle? Well, Geno might not be the most exciting RPG character, but he's well-equipped for a fight. He also—dare I say it—boasts more of an edge than most '90s-era Nintendo characters.
Let's break down Geno and study his parts under a bright light.
Who is Geno?
Geno is a playable character in Super Mario RPG, an SNES RPG made by Nintendo and Square Enix (then Squaresoft) shortly before the companies had a falling-out over Final Fantasy VII.
Geno's real form is a spirit. He's a guardian angel of sorts who joins Mario's efforts to take down Smithy and prevent further damage to the Star Road (in the Mario RPG universe, the destruction of the Star Road means no wishes can be granted).
Since he needs a corporeal form to fight, Geno possesses a young boy's doll. Though said doll has super-duper firing-fist action, Geno ultimately needs Mario's help to take down Bowyer, one of Smithy's generals. Geno then becomes a permanent part of the team, though he's rather quiet for most of the trip. When Smithy's finished off, Geno leaves his borrowed body behind and flies back to the heavens.
Why do People Want Geno in Super Smash Bros Ultimate?
People will tell you Geno is a good addition to the Smash roster because he commands a lot of firepower. They're not wrong. Geno favors finger-guns, hand-cannons, and he even dabbles in a bit of attack magic that's devastating if you use it correctly.
But people also want to see Geno in Smash Bros Ultimate because they simply think he's cool. Sure, he appears as a wooden puppet, but he's actually a cosmic spirit hitchhiking inside said wooden puppet. That is cool, even if Geno's personality and few lines of dialogue are stiffer than the material making up his mortal body.
Super Mario RPG is also a gateway RPG for a lot of folks. The familiarity of its cast combined with its clever combination of action and menu-based commands brought in people who previously took no interest in Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger. Geno's stoic nature probably made an impression. We never forget meeting our first "bad ass" JRPG character, especially when that character is a cosmic entity who has little to say for himself while the colorful characters of the Mario universe bounce around him.
Even though I was a seasoned JRPG veteran by the time I played Super Mario RPG (harrumph), I admit Geno's departure at the end of the game is sad. Though Geno frolics with the crew in spirit form for a minute, I never forgot the sight of Geno's shell lying, slumped, on the floor of Smithy's factory. As I pointed out in my analysis of Secret of Mana's ending last summer, a game doesn't need a lot of depth to effectively make you feel emotions. Just taking on the task of saving the world can make you feel close to any comrades accompanying you. Games are interesting that way.
In short, people want Geno in Smash Bros Ultimate because he's a powerhouse, but they also harbor a lot of warm feelings for the little dude. Geno's personality has just the right amount of chill; he doesn't push us away, but neither does he reveal all his secrets.
The Case for Putting Geno in Super Smash Bros Ultimate
I don't understand the cogs, wheels, and pulleys that keep Smash's roster in near-perfect balance, so pardon me while I plead Geno's case with the science and subtlety of a 12-year-old who just wants a character in the series because "THEY CAN DO KAMEHAMEHAS!".
Geno is a long-distance fighter with significant fire power. He can shoot rocket-fists, finger-guns, and even fire out of his elbow. His best weapon is the Star Gun, which sprays a double-beam of stardust at foes.
Geno is also adept at magic. He can summon beam weapons, send blades of light crashing down onto the battlefield, and buff his defenses (or buff his friends' defenses). His most devastating attack is the Geno Whirl, which can inflict critical damage on most non-boss enemies if it's timed right. In other words, Geno Whirl is an attack that's already a good sell for a Final Smash attack.
If Sakurai decided to indulge fans by putting Geno in Smash Ultimate, I don't doubt he'd be able to make Geno a fun—and potentially brutal—warrior. All that power packed into a small, lightweight body that'd probably be difficult to catch? Whew.
The Case for Leaving Geno Out of Super Smash Bros Ultimate
We already got the Mii Fighter Geno costume in Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS. Don't be greedy—all right, just kidding.
Frankly, I don't have a good reason for leaving Geno out of Super Smash Bros Ultimate beyond "He's a predictable entry." With all the fan service that courses through Smash Bros, it' the truly surprising reveals that make our day. Piranha Plant is a good example. Who the hell saw him coming?
Let me be honest, though. When Sakurai finally finishes Super Smash Bros Ultimate and commits himself to a desert island thousands of miles from any kind of Nintendo fan, I'll be a little disappointed if the roster is bereft of a wooden angel wrapped in a sky-blue cape. I've had my eye on the skies since Super Smash Bros Ultimate was announced, and I hope I catch the glimmer a falling star before too long.