Call me old fashioned, but I always preferred Zelda and Sheik as a single fighter. This was the wonderful reality in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, but hardware limitations with 2014’s 3DS version led the characters to be split into two. Creator Masahiro Sakurai believed the change was beneficial despite being a byproduct of limitations — describing them paired as having the “drawback of ambiguous tactics”.
Sakurai’s comforting methodology however failed to account for my personal fun. I want the satisfaction of popping off a far-reaching Din’s Fire, before transforming into Sheik to pound foes with a side smash double kick. Sheik was always the strongest of the two, but divorced from Zelda, a level of flexibility was stripped from the fighter’s arsenal. Zelda’s speedy, acrobatic alter ego no longer a secret weapon to unsheathe between powerful magic attacks.
Thankfully, Sakurai’s stance on Smash ambiguity has seemingly changed in 2021. The fourth DLC character for Fighters Pass 2 marks the return of transforming scraps through Pyra and Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. In comparison to the fanfare around Minecraft’s Steve and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII, anticipation felt lukewarm — which is to be expected considering Xenoblade’s smaller audience. After a weekend of anime lady combat however, I’m here to declare Pyra and Mythra as one of the greatest fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The future is Mythra (Picture: Nintendo)
I should clarify, my hollering is mostly for Mythra. She’s designed as the speedy counterweight to Pyra’s power, who can rack up damage with sequenced combo attacks. Mythra’s biggest strength is how quickly she can cover distances. Her side special dashes and attacks over a huge space, which can double as an effective recovery. Her up special, which sword swipes into the air before shooting arrows downwards at an angle, similarly acts as both effective clearance and a way to deal damage to those just out of reach.
Pro players like Tyler “Marss” Martins and YouTuber MrDanish have showcased how this move can be useful for edge-guarding too. By repeatedly shooting arrows downwards and retreating to the ledge, you can overwhelm opponents to secure a KO.
Mythra solo would be a worthwhile addition to Ultimate, yet her pairing with Pyra offers the chance to surprise with brute, fire-thwacking force. She possesses some of the strongest smash attacks in Ultimate, which can wipe out foes even at low percentages. While many might play as one fighter over the other, highly skilled players will capitalise on both; like transforming mid-air to deliver a punishing blow with Pyra, before switching back for Mythra’s better recovery.
Pyra’s weaknesses become clear when she’s thrown into chaos. Many attacks, like her side special Blazing End, which throws her sword forward into a static spinning hellfire, leaves Pyra defenceless for a brief window.
There’s a lot of prolonged wind-up animations too, akin to Ganondorf, which make the character easy to dodge and counter. Some may be able to plough through by landing huge hits, but Mythra is far more adaptable, and enjoyable to play, in manic situations.
New characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are largely divided between creative, novelty mechanics (most impressively with Minecraft’s Steve) and traditional fighters with small quirks. Pyra and Mythra might not present anything particularly new, but by revising old tricks, they look set to become a flashy competitive darling once LAN events return.