Super Smash Bros Ultimate is currently one of the most popular games. It’s tough to talk about Switch without bringing up the iconic fighting series. Seeing characters from countless IPs battle it out is something extraordinary. With the inclusion of Banjo and Kazooie, my mind has been on a Smash Bros style game for Xbox. After all, PlayStation attempted (and in my opinion) succeeded in cloning Smash Bros with PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Despite not many people talking about it, I spent hours fighting against friends with iconic Sony characters. Both Sony and Nintendo have mascot brawlers, and I wonder why Xbox doesn’t have one yet.
Recently, my friend and I started playing Killer Instinct again. Originally launching alongside Xbox One and developed by Double Helix, the fighting game reboot went through multiple seasons and another development team. When Iron Galaxy took over in season 2, the studio tweaked fighters, created a story, and designed new modes. After season 3 (the final season), Killer Instinct became a complete package that every fighting fan should own. It’s on Game Pass and was a part of Games With Gold a few months ago. While Microsoft owns the Killer Instinct IP, season three brought in Xbox characters that fans would be familiar with. General Raam from Gears of War, Arbiter from the Halo franchise, and Rash from Battletoads all entered the roster.
Utilize the IP
It’s fascinating to see Xbox characters that people know interact with Killer Instinct fighters. The way that each of them controls is wholly different and feels like they came straight from the IP they’re from. General Raam uses melee and Kryll, Arbiter uses a carbine and plasma grenades, while Rash uses the wrecking ball, ship from the endless tunnel, and large boot. Each of their move-sets feels genuine to their universe.
With characters from Gears, Halo, and Battletoads mixing together seamlessly, it makes me crave a fighting game with iconic Xbox characters. It doesn’t need to be gritty like Killer Instinct, but a studio like Iron Galaxy is perfect for the task. The team has an in-depth understanding of the fighting genre. They know how to balance fighters, tweak what is needed, the studio can make a masterfully fluid fighting experience unlike any other. Killer Instinct may not be in any major tournaments, but it is one of the best fighters currently available.
What kind of fighter? Here are some ideas
While the obvious choice for an Xbox mascot fighter would be to emulate Smash Bros, I would advise against that. Iron Galaxy are masters in the 1v1 fighting style, and I think they should stick with that. Killer Instinct harkens back to a time when 2D fighters were all the rage. Sure, Mortal Kombat 11 and Injustice 2 adopt that formula, the use of fighting variations and interactable items take away from the pure fighting nature that classics provided. Killer Instinct is a modern experience that feels very old-school, and I think an Xbox fighter could benefit from that. I prefer an Xbox mascot game in this format because tournaments like EVO may find it more appealing to show to the general public.
If the studio really wanted to make a more accessible game, emulating Power Stone could generate good results. It’s a 3D arena fighter that put players in a full arena full of items to throw and use as weapons. Unlike Smash Bros, players have to deplete the opponent’s health meter to win. It’s a hectic game that has become a cult classic over the years. It seems more feasible to have characters like Master Chief, Marcus Fenix, Ori, Banjo, Conker, Agents, Kameo, and others enter the battlefield.
Xbox needs to enter the ring with the help of Iron Galaxy
Since Phil Spencer took the reins at Xbox, the brand has been rebounding from a terrible launch. The company purchased plenty of studios, and new exclusives are on the horizon. One thing that Xbox doesn’t have is a game featuring many of its iconic IPs interacting with each other. Smash Bros is a force to be reckoned with, and Xbox could have a hit on its hands as well. It just needs the right studio to undertake the task. Microsoft has trusted Iron Galaxy in the past, and I think it’s a smart move to hand them the keys to an exclusive again.
Microsoft is in an interesting position to make a huge mark with the next generation. Imagine a fighting game mixing all of the brands iconic characters into one experience. It’s a formula that has proven successful for other companies in the past. It’s said that imitation is the best form of flattery, and I think that Xbox taking a page from Nintendo and Sony is something that can work well for them in the long run. As an Xbox fan, I’ve dreamed of seeing my favorite characters interacting with each other. Iron Galaxy would be the perfect studio to make that a reality.