Talking Point: Mii, Myself and I - The Arguments For and Against Miis in Super Smash Bros.
Posted by Marc Zablotny
Are you talking to Mii?
Well, would you look at that, you're finally in Super Smash Bros., we're finally in Smash Bros. and — if you set your mind to it — Barack Obama is finally in Smash Bros.. In what many considered to be an inevitable announcement, Nintendo unveiled the Mii Fighter as a new combatant in the latest instalment of its all-star brawler, alongside Kid Icarus' Palutena and Bandai Namco's Pac-Man. Although by the look of their official artwork, the Miis don't exactly seem thrilled to have made the cut.
Their reveal trailer was undoubtedly one of the highlights of Nintendo's E3 events. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever expect to see Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata duke it out in an outrageous anime-style battle as part of an official Nintendo video. Not only that, but there's nothing quite like seeing the likes of Ice-T and Elijah Wood getting pseudo-official newcomer banners.
The Smash Bros. incarnation of the Miis has actually turned out to be rather intriguing. As one might expect they're customisable, but to the extent no one had really anticipated. They come in three varieties: the Mii Brawler, Mii Gunner and Mii Swordfighter, with their respective fighting styles being rather self explanatory. Each type has 12 different special moves which can be applied in different combinations, meaning our ingenious "Medieval John Locke from Lost" Mii Swordfighter could potentially play very differently to your Swordfighter based on one of the many ill-fated Game of Thrones characters. On top of that, Sakurai-san has teased a number of different outfits, including an American Football kit and a Tron-like jumpsuit. Nintendo appears to have gone all out.
Though the Miis are a far cry from the Wii Sports-based fighter we were expecting and their inclusion allows us to host countless celebrity deathmatches, there are some people out there who feared the prospect of the Mii Fighter and remain unhappy now that it's become a reality. Some have even gone on to claim that the Mii Fighters are the bane of the new Super Smash Bros. games, but why?
Firstly, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS already has Animal Crossing's Villager as a playable character. Villager and Miis are similar in that they both exist as avatars of the player — though the former isn't particularly customisable in appearance — so it arguably seems a little unnecessary to include two characters that serve that same design purpose. Surely the moveset and appearance customisation features applied to the Mii Fighter could have been reserved for Villager instead? Granted, we may have lost the ability to put our Mii selves and other comical celebrity/character designs into the game, but this way a lot of the customisation elements could remain and the Mii's place on the roster could have been freed up for not only one other Nintendo character — but possibly three — given how we've been led to believe each variation of the Mii Fighter is treated as a standalone character (this would be consistent with the game's treatment of previously combined characters such as Zelda and Sheik, who now have their own slots on the roster). Of course we can't say for sure that three Miis equate to three other Nintendo characters, but it may not be wrong to suggest a sizeable number of Smash Bros. fans out there would be willing to trade three Miis for just one other classic Nintendo character in a heartbeat.
The fact that each Mii Fighter has 12 different special moves sounds impressive at first, but when you start to dig a little deeper into it you might find yourself to be a little underwhelmed. From what we have seen so far, the moves the Miis possess are either heavily derived from other characters (for example, Mii Gunner appears to have Samus' charge shot and Mega Man's blaster attack) or profoundly generic. For a series that prides itself on the imaginative movesets it can create for such a huge variety of characters, it looks as if our virtual doppelgangers could be rather uninspired additions. It's a little bit of a sore point when you consider the possibility that the effort gone into creating all these different moves for the Mii Fighter could have been channelled into different newcomers.
Finally, it has also come to light that Mii Fighters cannot be used online 'against anyone'. The official reason for this is because of the potential for "bullying", which in reality probably means Nintendo isn't comfortable with the prospect of excessive 'Hitler vs. random opponent' matches being seen — just consider some of the weird and potentially offensive appearances of such Mii characters through the integration in Wii Sports Resort, which brought characters in from the Contest Channel unless you turned it off.
This online ban is problematic for both casual and competitive Smash Bros. players, though. For casual players, it means they can't show off their hilarious creations to the world, or see anyone else's. UK folks, want your Queen Elizabeth II Mii to beat the senses out of a Canadian's crudely made Justin Bieber Mii? Unless you know someone in Canada, that just isn't going to happen. It's a shame, given how appearance is the Mii's key feature. For competitive players, it essentially voids Mii Fighter as a viable fighter as they won't be able to hone their skills with the character beyond the 'with friends' or offline modes. Why would they invest the time in designing and perfecting a custom moveset when they can't test it on the world's supply of Smash Bros. players?
All in all, it can't be denied that the inclusion of Mii Fighters has polarised the Smash Bros. fanbase somewhat, though for those negatives there's certainly the perspective that it's ultimately a fun, charming inclusion. Nintendo has given us a great opportunity to play as ourselves and have definitely put in a lot of effort into making them stand out, of course, but there are certain aspects and wider implications to these three fighters that haven't sat well with some fans.
Where do you stand on the debate? Do you think claims that the Mii Fighters are the bane of SSB4 are hyperbole, or is there credibility to it?