While Shovel Knight joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as an assist trophy is a step forward for indie game involvement in the popular fighting series, people are likely to wonder if he’ll become a fully playable character at some point. But what about other indie game characters?
Going a step further, here’s a speculative list of some indie game characters that would be fun to have challenge the likes of Mario and Link in the Super Smash Bros. series.
These characters were chosen for varying reasons like timeliness, diversity, history, and the sheer potential for a good time. If you haven’t experienced the games on this list, beware of spoilers!
Who: Feline college drop-out who stumbles upon a supernatural conspiracy in her small town.
Home Game: Night in the Woods by Infinite Fall and Secret Lab (2017)
Main Fighting Style: What Mae lacks in discipline she makes up for in a scrapper’s attitude and sheer tenacity. Main weapon of choice would be her bat. (In that respect she can even be a partial mirror—or echo fighter—of Ness when he uses his own bat.) Alternate attack would be a knife strike.
Final Smash Attack: After wrecking the Smash Ball item, Mae’s friends Bea, Gregg, and Angus will be summoned for a rock band battle session with her. Together they fight off the competition with the power of Music and Friendship, taking the form of literal music notes and sound waves that inflict damage and batter opponents around.
Who: Relic hunter and trapsmith on a journey with her grandfather to track down Aegis, an ancient weapon that plunged their world into war.
Home Game: Aegis Defenders by GUTS Department (2018)
Main Fighting Style: Clu specializes in long range combat and trapmaking. She can use either a crossbow or a blaster, and both can be charged, similar to other fighters like Samus and Mewtwo. Complementing that is her ability to lay down spike traps and bombs.
Final Smash Attack: Clu will end up summoning and merging with a giant Aegis, using the cannon in its head to do a sweeping blast around the stage.
Who: Aquatic leader of the Royal Guard in the monster kingdom trapped underground beneath the human world.
Home Game: Undertale by Toby Fox (2015)
Main Fighting Style: Strong, fast, and aggressive, Undyne is an unrelenting warrior. She is an expert spear user, wielding it with a variety of combos in close range, and throwing it for ranged combat.
Final Smash Attack: Filled with new determination, Undyne will don her Undying Armor, gaining temporary invulnerability along with a boost in power and speed.
Who: A young mountain climber who ends up facing various demons—both external and internal—during her treacherous ascent.
Home Game: Celeste by Matt Makes Games (2018)
Main Fighting Style: A speedster able to charge forward even faster, an ability that turns her hair blue when in use. This adds to her nature as a partial echo fighter of Sonic. She can bounce back projectiles with her backpack, and use strawberries to pull enemies in like a magnet, leaving them more vulnerable to attack.
Final Smash Attack: Her dark doppelganger, Part of Madeline, will split apart from her body to wreak havoc on the battlefield, and become her temporary partner in the fight. Part of Madeline will either deal direct damage to other fighters, or stun them, leaving them vulnerable to Madeline’s own assault.
Who: An intrepid knight who explores an insect kingdom in a state of forgotten decay.
Home Game: Hollow Knight by Team Cherry (2017)
Main Fighting Style: A nimble and agile warrior, Hollow Knight fights bravely with his bladed weapon, called a Nail in his world. He is able to charge forward with his blade–similar to Madeline–and can strike the ground to send out an offensive shock wave. Double jump will activate his Monarch Wings for greater maneuverability in the air. Like all versions of Link, Hollow Knight can whirl his blade around in a spinning attack.
Final Smash Attack: Hollow Knight will collapse unconscious while his Shade form awakens and decimates enemies.
Who: A young woman missing an arm and wielding a living sword, determined to find her family and willing to harvest the body parts of her monstrous enemies to do it.
Home Game: Severed by DrinkBox Studios (2016)
Main Fighting Style: Sasha may be the fastest with her sword on this roster, rapidly swiping back and forth. Sasha parallels Bayonetta in terms of sheer macabre and surreal factor, though isn’t even a partial echo fighter of her based on moveset alone. She bizarrely mirrors Kirby’s copy ability with a twist, able to switch her blade to one that mimics the look and power of the last enemy she smashes off the stage.
Final Smash Attack: Sasha will leap off the stage, but her presence is still felt as other competitors are now slashed repeatedly by an apparently invisible foe. When the move finishes, Sasha will return to the stage.
Otus and his Companions
Who: A mute and insecure avian humanoid tasked with defending his home against invading sky pirates.
Home Game: Owlboy by D-Pad Studio (2016)
Main Fighting Style: Otus takes care of movement on the battlefield, ranging from evasion to flying in close for an attack, but it’s his partner who actually deals physical blows.
A partial echo fighter of the Ice Climbers, Otus works with his partner, who by default is his best friend Geddy. But from the selection menu different partners can be picked as if they were alternate costumes—Alphonse the pirate and Twig the stick bug. All of Otus’ partners specialize in long range combat. Half of the duo can be smashed off the screen while the other remains, but the first to go will always be Otus’ partner. On his own, Otus can still fight with a spin attack, but he will be at a great disadvantage.
Final Smash Attack: Geddy, Alphonse, and Twig will shoot a combined blast together, slamming their opponents toward Otus, who will deliver a final spinning strike. This will only work when close to enemies, and will miss entirely if they are too far away.
Juan Aguacate and Tostada
Who: Juan, a farmer-turned-wrestler, and Tostada, guardian of the mask he wears, are both luchadores on a quest to save El Presidente’s daughter from a rogue skeleton’s plot to rule both the living and the dead. (Juan is actually already playable as a fighter in another game, Brawlout by indie studio Angry Mob Games, and battles alongside another indie-made-fighter, the titular Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter.)
Home Game: Guacamelee! and Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition by DrinkBox Studios (2013, 2014)
Main Fighting Style: Supremely physical combatants and a partial echo fighter of the Ice Climbers, these two work in tandem. One is controlled by the player, while the other is controlled by the computer following the player’s lead. Who the player controls is based on which costume option is selected from the menu. If only one of them is knocked out, the player can continue fighting, but severely weakened.
Final Smash Attack: The two luchadores call in a favor from Diablo—in their debt after they helped defeat the rogue skeleton that tried to usurp him—and he turns their opponents into chickens, making them easier targets for Juan and Tostada to smash off the stage.
Who: And the shovel wielding warrior himself, searching for his beloved while challenging the Enchantress’ bid for dominion over the land. (Though an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros., Shovel Knight will be a playable fighter in developer Dan Fornace’s indie fighter Rivals of Aether, and according to Polygon, he will have appeared in 21 games outside his own.)
Home Game: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove by Yacht Club Games (2014)
Main Fighting Style: Bashing and literally bouncing off opponents with his shovel blade. He can strike his weapon into the ground, sending out volatile sparks toward his enemies. On certain stages he can also literally dig into the ground and throw dirt into his opponent’s face. Shovel Knight can also charge up his attack for a stronger slash with his shovel blade.
Final Smash Attack: Shield Knight, Plague Knight, Specter Knight, and King Knight will be summoned to fight at Shovel Knight’s side, adding the power of a shield, potions-turned-bombs, scythe, and scepter to a shovel blade’s might. This is another move that will only work when near an opponent, and holds the risk of missing the target.
So far this speculative list has focused on Nindies, or indies available through Nintendo on the Switch and Wii U. Now it’s time to propose an indie character as a parallel to other third-party fighters outside of Nintendo, like Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Who: A figure clad in deep red robes and a scarf that can literally grow in length, they journey toward a mountain in the distance, discovering ancient secrets and dangers along the way.
Home Game: Journey by thatgamecompany (2012)
Wait, what?: On one hand, this is essentially the antithesis of Journey itself, given its relatively peaceful tone. The game’s developer even made an amusing April Fools’ Day video joking about this character in any sort of competitive fighting situation.
But on the other hand, it could simply be fun in a unique way, and would not be the first time Super Smash Bros. threw caution to the wind and created fighter versions of peaceful game characters, like the Villager from Animal Crossing and Wii Fit Trainer.
Main Fighting Style: The Traveler fights with a more flowing and balletic style, standing out from other competitors. The character is highly skilled in speed and evasion, capable of an insane double jump and mastery of the air comparable to Kirby.
Traveler takes a page out of Inkling’s playbook, with their scarf serving as a charging meter. A scarf at its full length will leave the Traveler at their most mobile, with speed and flexibility maxed out. The scarf will deplete with every action, and will need time to grow back to return Traveler to full mobility. When the scarf is at its shortest, Traveler is also at their slowest.
Final Smash Attack: Their robes change color from red to white, gaining invulnerability while also summoning giant serpentine guardians to aid in the fight. If opponents can stay out of the guardians’ searchlights, they can potentially avoid an attack—but the guardians’ searchlights are constantly and quickly roving around the stage, making them difficult to escape.
Honorable mentions: Drifter (Hyper Light Drifter), Body of Cells (Dead Cells), Chef (Overcooked), Meat Boy (Super Meat Boy), Yoku (Yoku’s Island Express)
This list has ranged from likely-impossible-but-it’s-fun-to-imagine options, to possibilities that may have an actual shot. This list is also just one opinion, and is not meant to be taken as anything definitive.
Super Smash Bros. may or may not eventually have playable indie fighters. But until then there’s also developer Dark Screen Games’ Bounty Battle, a crossover brawler featuring only indie characters set to release on January 1, 2019.
Any other indie characters you would like to fight as, or think would fit the Super Smash Bros. series? More non-Nindie fighters? Different ideas for movesets? Even ideas for new indie-based stages that could be added to Nintendo’s popular fighting series? Anything else? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.