Everything you need to know about the Dragon Quest Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

It’s pretty safe to say Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most inclusive video game ever created, with characters from 34 different franchises represented already and more on the way. The most recent addition to the cast comes from one of the most popular game series in his home country of Japan, but for one reason or another Dragon Quest has never caught on overseas. Even though Dragon Quest is responsible for inspiring Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) such as Earthbound, Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and Fire Emblem, many gamers are unfamiliar with the venerable role-playing series.

While it’s not necessary to know how characters in Smash Bros. play in their home series, those who want to learn how to play as Dragon Quest’s Hero should know that the character comes from a long-running sword and sorcery franchise, and he’s equally adept with spells and his blade. The new character is simply listed as “Hero” in Smash’s roster because players can always give the protagonist of a Dragon Quest game any name they wish. Let’s take a look at his attacks and abilities as he makes his way to the battlefields of Smash Brothers.

Introducing Hero

The Hero from Dragon Quest is actually four different protagonists from the series’ long history. The default Hero is the protagonist of Dragon Quest XI, the most recent game in the franchise, which will be headed to the Switch in September. Three alternate costumes were also included, each of which represents a different game in the series. The protagonists of Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV, and Dragon Quest VIII function as alternate costumes for the Hero. While they all play the same, all four look quite distinct and even have different voice actors and armament.

The character was announced just over a month ago during Nintendo’s E3 presentation, and arrived in Smash last night following a presentation by series director Masahiro Sakurai. During the demonstration, Sakurai explained each of the Hero’s abilities and showed how each of them works.

Hero has a unique mechanic which isn’t shared by any other characters on the Smash Bros. roster. In addition to keeping an eye on his damage percentage, Hero has to manage his MP, or Magic points. He always starts with 100 MP, but many of his abilities drain this meter, with flashier and more powerful attacks costing more MP.

Attempting to use an ability without a sufficient number of MP will cause it to fail, but there are a few ways to restore this resource. MP will regenerate at a rate of about one per second whenever Hero is on the battlefield, and he can also earn more by attacking enemies with his sword. Every sword attack will restore MP to Hero equivalent to the damage percentage he inflicts on enemies. He’ll also get a full magic meter if he’s knocked offscreen and respawns, but this method should be avoided for obvious reasons.

Hero has a diverse moveset, and his attack animations were intentionally made more dynamic than some of the other swordfighters in the cast to help set him apart. The character can sometimes perform a critical hit when using a smash attack, and if these land they will deal extra damage and have increased launching power. He also has access to a wide array of offensive and support magic, each of which has a different MP cost associated with the abilities.

He’s a magic man

Hero uses Fire, Lightning, and Wind magic to augment his melee attacks, each of which can be charged for greater effect. Doing so will cost more of his MP though, so players will have to keep an eye on their magic meter so as not to overextend themselves. Hero also has a very interesting special attack which lets him choose from a list of semi-randomized abilities, each of which has its own MP cost. We’ll get to all of those a little later.

Hero’s shield isn’t just for looks, and he can use it to block projectiles as long as he’s facing the right direction. His forward tilt uses the shield to bash directly in front of him, and this can also block projectiles.

His standard special attack is a fire spell called Frizz which can be charged, similar to how Samus and Donkey Kong’s special attacks work. Casting it without charging will throw a weak fireball which costs 6 MP and is mostly useful for knocking back an enemy directly in front of you. Charging partway will change the attack to Frizzle and bump up the MP cost to 16. This is a much more effective attack, with better launching power. Charging it all the way will change it to Kafrizz, a devastating fire attack which costs 36 MP to cast. If a player wants to interrupt their charging partway, they can simply use their bubble shield to pause charging Kafrizz and resume later. When the attack is fully charged Hero’s shield hand will have a fiery effect, indicating he’s ready to unleash a massive fireball.

Side special attacks take the form of lightning spells which augment Hero’s sword strikes. The least of these is called Zap, which costs 8 MP and gives the sword greater reach. Charging his side special partway lets Hero cast Zapple for 18 MP. This attack triples Hero’s reach and has much more launching power. Charging up all the way unleashes Kazap, a lightning move comparable to Pikachu’s down special. This costs a whopping 42 MP, but hits all enemies around Hero and launches them away if they’re unlucky enough to be in range of the attack. Only the Frizz spells can hold their charge, and all others must be used as soon as the button is released.

Hero’s recovery moves take the form of wind magic, and like the others these can be charged for greater effect. His up special is called Woosh, which costs 5 MP and lets him hop up about twice his height. The upgraded version is Swoosh, which costs 9 MP and lets him jump three times his own height. The ultimate version of this spell is Kaswoosh. It costs 18 MP, but allows Hero to jump nearly six times his own height when fully charged. Each of these spells causes a small tornado wherever Hero triggers it, and these can blow enemies into the air or disrupt their recovery.

If he manages to grab a Smash Ball or charges a Final Smash, Hero will be able to use Gigaslash. This attack is similar to Mega Man’s Final Smash, briefly summoning other Dragon Quest protagonists to lend their power for a massively damaging sword strike. It has a fairly short range, but will consistently hit enemies who are above the Hero when it’s triggered.

A slime approaches! Command?

Hero’s down special locks him in place for a moment, a tribute to the turn-based nature of battles in his home series. Using this move brings up a command list containing four random commands from a pool of 17. He’ll perform whatever action is chosen from the list, and each ability has its own specific MP cost. If the player decides not to use any of these commands, they can cancel the attack by shielding.

  • Oomph costs 16 MP, and will raise Hero’s attack power for a few seconds.
  • Psyche Up costs 14 MP and makes Hero’s next attack stronger. This is different from Oomph because it only affects one attack, but it will remain available until Hero connects with an opponent.
  • Bounce costs 14 MP and reflects spells and projectiles aimed at Hero, similar to Fox’s Deflector. Reflected attacks increase in power exponentially with each bounce.
  • Heal costs 7 MP. Using it will restore 11% from Hero’s damage taken.
  • Flame Slash costs 12 MP and adds a wide flame effect to Hero’s next melee attack.
  • Kacrackle Slash costs 11 MP. It adds ice to Hero’s attack and can freeze opponents for a moment.
  • Acceleratle costs 13 MP and vastly increases Hero’s speed, similar to Shulk’s speed Monado power. It’s easy to run off the stage by mistake when using this ability, so be careful not to self-destruct by mistake.
  • Kaboom costs 37 MP and causes a large explosion in front of the Hero. This can be deadly when fired into a crowd but may be too slow for 1v1 battles.
  • Snooze costs 16 MP and causes the sleep status effect in a line in front of the Hero. Great for setting up heavy damage from slower abilities.
  • Hatchet Man costs 15 MP. It’s a very short range attack, but is guaranteed to be a critical hit when it connects.
  • Thwack costs 30 MP, and can destroy an opponent outright if their damage percentage is high enough. It’s sort of a spell version of the Death’s Scythe item.
  • Zoom costs 8 MP and allows recovery from anywhere, but can fail if there’s a ceiling to bonk your head against.
  • Kaclang costs 6 MP. This spell temporarily makes Hero invincible, but he can’t move for the duration.
  • Metal Slash costs 6 MP. It’s a highly conditional spell which will instantly KO metal opponents (including other Hero players affected by Kaclang or any wearing a Metal Cap item).
  • Hocus Pocus only costs 4 MP, but it’s completely random. It will cause a status effect which can be beneficial or detrimental to the Hero. If you’re willing to roll the dice, Hocus Pocus may be what you’re looking for.
  • Magic Burst uses all of Hero’s remaining MP to attack, dealing more damage and affecting a wider area the more MP are used. Using this spell with low MP doesn’t do much.
  • Finally, Kamikazee costs just 1 MP. Inspired by the Bomb enemies in Dragon Quest, this will cause Hero to self-destruct but allow him to cause massive damage on his way out. This is inadvisable unless you think you can take out multiple enemies by triggering the ability.

Smash 4.0

Of course, Hero isn’t the only new addition to Smash Bros. Ultimate. The character comes with a new stage, new music, and several other bonus items, in addition to some changes to how the game is played.

Hero comes with a brand new stage called Yggdrasil’s Altar. This battleground is based on Dragon Quest XI’s world of Erdrea, and includes several elements introduced in the most recent title. The stage passes by a flying whale called Cetacea, and the main platform features several slimes and the six orbs which power it. Yocchi (noodle-armed ghosts) appear whenever a secondary platform appears, and occasionally a platform with a treasure chest will show up. Opening it can get you an item, but it might also be a Mimic enemy who you’ll have to defeat to earn the item.

Eight new songs were included with the Hero, good news for anyone who enjoys Dragon Quest’s orchestrated soundtracks. Each of the four protagonists represented brought two songs along from their home game: it’s a lot better treatment than Cloud got when he visited from Final Fantasy 7.

Several Dragon Quest themed Mii fighter costumes were added, but aren’t included in the Fighter’s Pass. Veronica from Dragon Quest XI, Erdrick from Dragon Quest III, Martial Artist costumes, and a wobbly slime hat are available for $.75 each. The Hero pack containing the new character and stage can be purchased as part of the Fighters pass or a la carte for $5.99.

Several changes were made to help balance Smash Ultimate and give players a few more options.

  • A time limit was added to Final Smash attacks, and they can potentially expire if not used in time. A meter on the character’s heads up display will show how much time is left before a Final Smash expires.
  • A new Very Easy setting was added to the adventure mode, which should allow even the youngest players to complete the story.
  • Players can now predict the winner during spectator mode. Correctly predicting the winner will net you some bonus items, and there’s no penalty for guessing wrong.
  • A new online tourney mode was added, and players will be able to join over the coming months. These tourneys will have rules set by Nintendo and will be available to anyone with a Nintendo Online subscription.
  • Some quality of life features were added to the camera and playback functions. You can now add still images in the middle of a video playback, and now have the option to consecutively play videos.
  • Finally, new amiibo are now supported including Pichu, Isabelle, and the Pokémon Trainer.

You can watch the full presentation below.