Super Smash Bros., Nintendo's platform-based fighting game series, is a veritable who's who of gaming characters. While it's served as a pantheon for Nintendo's giants over the years, it's also helped to boost the profile of some of its lesser-known or niche characters, including Shulk.
In an interview with USgamer scheduled to run tomorrow, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition producer Shigekazu Yamada discussed the impact of Shulk being in Smash Bros. Though he debuted in the previous Super Smash Bros., his continued presence in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate did its part to raise awareness of the character.
"I think this design and the nature of the attacks themselves left a lasting impression on the audience," Yamada says. "On top of that, it seems like he's considered a strong playable character with good performance, so I'm happy about that too."
Shulk first debuted in Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS, which also included a stage based on Gaur Plain and an extensive list of Xenoblade Chronicles music. He is generally considered to be a mid-to-high tier character in Smash Bros., his trademark Monado blade being somewhat difficult to handle owing to its various arts, but also hard-hitting.
Super Smash Bros. has a long history of popularizing characters, from Marth to various Pokemon, and Shulk appears to be no different. It helped to keep Xenoblade Chronicles in the public eye even while Xenoblade Chronicles X floundered on the Wii U, contributing to the excitement around Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.
Ninendo's Genki Yokota, a co-producer on the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, further noted how the influx of interest from players who normally might not have tried Xenoblade Chronicles even led to a new mode. "I think getting to introduce the character of Shulk who typically don't play RPGs was huge," Yokota says. "That's why we added a 'Casual Mode,' so that people who aren't good at RPGs or have never played them before can enjoy the story."
The new version of Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Switch ended up being a solid remaster of the Wii classic, with a new epilogue and revamped graphics. Considering the Switch's enduring popularity, it's a big bump for an otherwise niche game. Much like how Marth and Roy brought interest to Fire Emblem for the western audience, maybe a few people gave a massive RPG like Xenoblade Chronicles a shot because they like playing Shulk in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Stay tuned for the rest of the interview with Nintendo and Monolith Soft when it runs on June 9.