I have the utmost respect for Masahiro Sakurai. The man has dedicated his life to making Super Smash Bros. one of the best fighting game series of all time, and his work – particularly with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – speaks for itself. That being said, I have to believe that he got a little teary-eyed when he saw Tom & Jerry in Multiversus. Despite the blood, sweat, and tears he’s poured into that Smash roster, he’s never succeeded in making a fighter as good as Tom & Jerry. I wouldn’t be surprised if he announces his retirement right around the time Multiversus launches. Pack is up Sakurai, you’ve officially been outdone.
Please don’t send me any hate mail, I’m only kidding… mostly. Tom & Jerry wouldn’t exist without the legacy Sakurai created, so at least some of the credit for the characters’ brilliance still belongs to him. Settle down, everybody. Let me tell you what makes T & J the best.
Tom & Jerry is a fresh take on the partner, or duo fighter we’ve seen several times in Smash history. Rosalina & Luma and the Ice Climbers – and to a far lesser extent Banjo & Kazooie and Duckhunt – are two separate characters that are played as one. Rosalina & Luma are the best analogue for Tom & Jerry, since both duos have the ability to detach from each other and attack individually. They’re one of the more complex characters to play as in both of their respective games, but Tom & Jerry has a unique characteristic that makes it dramatically different from Rosalina & Luma. Tom & Jerry don’t fight together, they fight each other.
The first time I saw Tom & Jerry in action, it blew my mind, and I think you should see it too. In the clip above, notice how every move they do is designed to hurt each other, not the opponent. When Tom swings his tennis racket or Jerry fires corks from his wine bottle, they’re trying to hit one another – and any damage they do to their opponents is purely incidental. While the rest of the Multiversus fighters are giving it their all, Tom & Jerry are winning fights they don’t even know they’re in.
Tom & Jerry are the coolest fighting game characters of all time pic.twitter.com/Oi4KbEyRN1
— Your Buddy Eric Switzer (@EpicSwitzer) May 24, 2022
It’s a perfect theme for these characters and it’s executed flawlessly. For the most part it only comes through in the animations. When Tom charges up his tennis racket he’s looking down at Jerry, not his opponents, and when he swings Jerry ducks down to dodge the attack and the tennis racket hits whoever is close by. It’s the same with almost all of the tools in their arsenal. The frying pan, the hammer, the trash can lids, the ping pong paddle, and Tom’s lunges are all meant to be attacks against Jerry. Even their dodge is just Tom quickly scurrying to catch Jerry. If Jerry gets shot off the level or killed, Tom does the exact same moves until Jerry comes back. With Jerry dealt with Tom is finally free of distraction and able to handle the task at hand.
The execution of their design is clever, but it becomes genius once you understand how to use them when they’re detached. Tom can fire Jerry with a slingshot to hit enemies, but Jerry then stays put wherever he lands. From here you have a lot of options. Tom can keep firing his slingshot to pelt Jerry with tennis balls, which Jerry will serve back to him with his own tennis racket. Tom can then return those tennis balls back to Jerry – or towards any opponent – with his tennis racket. The effect is a deadly game of tennis right in the middle of the battle, with high-speed tennis balls flying back and forth between the cat and mouse. Jerry can also fire corks that hit enemies nearby, but Tom can serve those back with his tennis racket too for a powerful, close range projectile.
But wait, there’s more. Your teammate can pick up Jerry and carry him around. That doesn’t stop the feud though. Tom keeps firing tennis balls and Jerry will return them, even when he’s being carried. Jerry can still fire his corks while he’s mobile too. If you’re exceptionally well practiced, you can hit enemies out of the ring with Jerry’s corks while your teammate carries him around. Name a single Smash character with this much depth, I’ll wait.
The skill ceiling for Tom & Jerry is outrageously high. Not only are you running around dodging and attacking like every other character, but you’re also managing a second character and constantly reflecting projectiles back and forth between them. I can’t wait to see what kind of tricks better players than me will figure out, especially when you consider all the team synergies that exist. Tom & Jerry exemplifies Multiversus’ success in using Smash Bros. as a foundation and building something completely original from it. If there’s ever another Smash, the team behind it will need to step up their game.
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