Smash Speculation: Shiftry

The amount of Pokémon characters in Smash Bros rises by two in each incarnation. The first game had two, Melee had four, and Brawl (technically) had six. So far, only four are confirmed for Smash 4, and I’m assuming that Jigglypuff isn’t getting the boot, so there must be one more hiding just in the shadows…

~ Shiftry ~

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In Brawl, the Pokémon Trainer character was actually three different fighters that switched off: Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard. They were of water-, grass-, and fire-types. Charizard is now a solo character, and Greninja has stepped up to the plate to represent water-type pokémon. That leaves an empty slot for a grass-type to fill.

Get it? Leaves?

Now, this is all just speculation (duh) based on trends in both series. And there are tons of grass-type pokémon to choose from. Grass is one of the most prolific pokémon types, in fact. So I picked one. There aren’t many grass-types that i’m overly fond of, and my favourite (Pumpkaboo) isn’t quite grassy enough to fit the spot.

Shiftry really isn’t either, but at least it has some visible leaves on it. Though Shiftry isn’t very popular. A quick bit of research shows that Shiftry is competitively viable, but there are plenty of better choices. Shiftry has only ever been on my team in a Pokémon game once, and even then I only raised it for one very specific fight, but I got to like the little guy.

Shiftry is a combination grass- and dark-type pokémon, and looks like a tengu. These traits would reflect in its moveset. It would probably be fairly quick, but i likely wouldn’t hit too hard, and wouldn’t have many moves that are good for launching. It would probably dart around a lot, and it looks like it should have a pretty good air game. Its leafy… arms? fans? would be its main weapons, but I can see it working in some kicks and maybe even a heatbutt.

That said, I don’t think that Shiftry is the kind of fighter that would have very interesting smash attacks. They’d probably just be stronger variations of its standard attacks. A big swipe with its arms for forward, a crouching spin with its arms outstretched for down, and maybe that heatbutt would be up. See, pretty standard stuff.

What would be fun is if its Early Bird ability was factored in, and it would only succumb to sleep attacks for half as long as any other fighter would. You could also conceivably use the Pickpocket ability, which would give Shiftry a chance of stealing an item that an opponent is holding when Shiftry attacks them. Its third potential ability, Chlorophyll, gives a speed boost in sunny weather, but that might be too situational to work into Smash.

It’s specials would be based on its moves from the Pokémon games, just like all the other pokémon fighters. Its neutral special would be the dark-type Payback. Yet another special that could be filed under counterattacks, Payback would leave Shiftry immobile for a second as it charges an attack. If it’s hit before attacking, Payback does double damage and launches the enemy. Otherwise it would just be a fairly standard hit. Payback can only be interrupted by throws.

Forward special is Feint Attack. Shiftry zips behind its opponent and attacks for moderate damage. This attack can’t be evaded with a dodge, but it can still be blocked. It’s really either this or some kind of grassy projectile like Seed Bomb or Razor Leaf. I was thinking maybe Solar Beam, with the caveat of it decreasing Shiftry’s attack power for a few seconds after being used, but I’m not sure I like that, or that it really fits the character.

I wanted to give Shiftry something really unique, so I suggest that its down special would be Grassy Terrain, which sprouts grass all over the ground in a certain area around Shiftry. When standing in said grass, Shiftry’s damage percentage slowly decreases and it gets an attack power boost. This might be too much of a boon though, and I’m not sure whether it could be balanced well. The healing rate would have to be pretty low, and only one Grassy Terrain could be laid down at a time. It’s not like a Shiftry player could just run around and turn the entire stage to grass. I don’t know how long the grass would persist, either. Maybe somewhere between five and ten seconds?

Lastly, Shiftry’s up special is Leaf Tornado. If used while standing, the tornado forms around Shiftry and then moves forward a few body lengths before dissipating. In the air though, it forms around Shiftry and lifts the pokémon upwards. Coming in contact with the tornado causes damage in either scenario, but it’ll catch anyone it hits if it’s moving horizontally and drag them along until it vanishes. Nothing really special here, but it’s functional and has different uses depending on the situation.

I thought long and hard about Shiftry’s final smash, and the obvious answer is Solar Beam. But I don’t want to use Solar Beam. Instead, I choose Leaf Storm. With this move, a large sphere of leaves whirl around Shiftry and increase its movement speed, and crashing into foes will cause damage. When you come in contact with another fighter, you can mash the attack button to grab them with the leaves and cause continuous damage, with the stipulation that you’re immobile while doing so.

I’m sure you’re still wondering why Smash needs a grass-type pokémon. Short answer: it doesn’t. But fire, water, and grass have an important relationship in the Pokémon series, and it would just be super weird for Smash Bros to only represent two of the three. Shiftry is my personal favourite for the spot, but only because Abomasnow and Pumpkaboo wouldn’t really fit into a hyperactive fighting game as well.

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