Nintendo announced Joker from the Persona series as the first fighter included in the Fighters Pass last December, but we didn’t know exactly when he’d join the battle. Well fans of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were treated to the surprise announcement last night that Joker is making his debut as a playable fighter today. But who the heck is Joker? If you only own a Switch (and thus haven’t been able to experience the joy that is Persona 5) then we’re here to give you a quick rundown on this character and just what the deal with Persona is. The announcement of Joker as a fighter as well as the recent tease of the upcoming Persona 5 S are both strong indicators Switch players may be able to see for themselves before too long. But who has that kind of time? If you have played both, then good job! You did it! For everyone else, here’s everything you need to know.
Who Are Joker And Arsene?
There’s a lot to sift through when dealing with a game and series as large as Persona, but the important details are that Joker is only the nickname of the game’s high-school student protagonist, Ren Amamiya (as you choose his name, this name only comes from the anime tie-in). Like any Persona game that came before, you must not only manage a stable of monstrous creatures that spawn from your heart – persona – but your stable of high school friends and responsibilities. When you take to the game’s dungeons, or palaces, you don a mask and adopt the Joker identity.
Joker and his friends all come together in this twisted, alternate world to expose people’s inner demons, and their squad is called the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. In the trailer we see Joker wearing his mask from his Phantom Thieves costume, but we also saw him dressed in his normal Shujin Academy attire. This means if Joker looks a little too cool for school, you can literally dress him in school-appropriate clothing.
The reveal also highlighted some of Joker’s more signature abilities from the RPG. Namely, Arsene. In Smash, Joker builds a meter as he fights that will eventually allow him to remove his mask and summon his original persona to fight alongside him and bolster his attacks. In Persona, your characters are essentially useless in battle until they awaken the power of these mystical beings, so it’s nice to see that represented in the combat.
What Are Joker’s Moves?
Outside of Arsene, Joker brings his knife and gun into battle as well. Persona 5’s combat added a gun into the mix that had you managing an ammo counter during the turn-based battles, but while the gun is present in Smash, it doesn’t seem like that exact mechanic is making the jump, thankfully. Appropriately though, Joker will be using Persona abilities, Tetrakarn and Makarakarn to reflect attacks when Arsene is present. In Persona those do exactly that: they reflect physical and magical attacks respectively. So, like any character on the SSBU roster, everything they do is in some way rooted in their character’s original abilities.
The video (below) gets into his full suite of moves in Smash, but he’s bringing over moves like Eiha (or the stronger Eigaon) which curses foes and inflicts some damage over time and Persona 5 finisher, All-Out Attack, brings the whole team together for Joker’s Final Smash.
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What’s Going On With Joker’s Stage?
Finally, the trailer showed off Joker’s dynamic new stage, Mementos. In the RPG, Mementos is the palace that represents the hearts of all the people. It isn’t specific to any one person, but people in general. It’s a great nod to Persona 5 players, as well as perfectly evoking the jazzy, gonzo style of Atlus’ game. What’s of particular note for fans of the Persona RPGs before Persona 5, the stage changes to be themed after either Persona 3’s Dark Hour, or 4’s Midnight Channel depending on the music that is playing.
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None of this is truly important to enjoy your time with a new Super Smash Bros. fighter, but it should provide a good framework to understand why he keeps summoning this ghostly force to fight with him.
Check out our review of Persona 5 or read our feature on the Top 100 RPGs Of All Time from issue 290 of Game Informer magazine where Persona 5 made number 19 and Persona 4 ranked at number 30.