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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Black Knight Finally Gets His Own Spirit Event

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - As himself, not as a Mii Swordfighter.

Over the weekend (and for some residual days after, including today), the Square Enix Japanese RPG Octopath Traveler is celebrating its Nintendo Switch two-year anniversary with a Spirit Event in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with four spirits based off its eight main characters.

Second Anniversary of OCTOPATH TRAVELER Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spirit Event artwork
Starting from the top left and then clockwise...
Olberic & Primrose as the Black Knight and red Bayonetta.
H'aanit & Ophilia as blonde Pit and Palutena. (They also have a small pet Wolf, not shown.)
Alfyn & Therion as black-coat Dr. Mario and black outfit Sheik.
Tressa & Cyrus as pink Villager girl and Robin.

Why am I bothering to write about a game I've never played (despite the free and extensive demo featuring Olberic and Primrose) getting new spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Because something very special happened: The Black Knight, previously recognised on KoopaTV (with a whole memorial article) as “an absolutely amazing soldier”, finally gets his time to shine in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Note that he appears in the artwork above!

It's true that Zelgius, the Black Knight's true identity, already has a spirit battle. It takes place on hazards-less Castle Siege, with no items, as a Stamina match with the Against the Dark Knight music theme. (In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance itself, it's referred to as Against the Black Knight.) Zelgius is represented by a bigger-than-usual Mii Swordfighter with the Black Knight's helmet and armour, with the special moves Gale Strike, Gale Stab, Stone Scabbard, and Blade Counter. However, the Mii Swordfighter mostly spams smash attacks that aren't interrupted by flinches due to super armour.

Zelgius Spirit Battle description vs. screen Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
This Mii is a loser, but for over a year and a half, has been the only Black Knight representation in the spirit battles.

However, to emphasise, the fight is against a Mii Swordfighter that is cosplaying as the Black Knight. Well, cosplaying as Zelgius in the Black Knight's armour. Even though the Black Knight is an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it doesn't appear in the fight. Worst yet, Zelgius is an upgradable spirit, becoming the Black Knight, but the Black Knight spirit has no corresponding battle. (The Black Knight spirit, by the way, has the immensely useful Armor Knight property.)

Not only does the Black Knight not appear as an Assist Trophy in his designated spirit battle, but he hasn't appeared as an Assist Trophy in anyone else's spirit battle, either. The Assist Trophy has been completely absent, which is quite irregular for Assist Trophies in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Until now:

Olberic & Primrose Spirit Battle description vs. screen Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
This is much more like it, as far as the Black Knight is concerned.

Compare to the current spirit event. It's Primrose (Bayonetta) with an automatic and persistent Black Knight (Olberic) Assist Trophy summon, declaring, “Here I go.” Unlike his normal Assist Trophy summon in ordinary Smash mode fights, the Black Knight will never declare “Know your place!” and warp away if enough time passes. He will stay until the end of the fight (you lose or Bayonetta is defeated) or until he is defeated. This is actually more accurate to his appearance in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, where you can go the whole game without beating the Black Knight.

Ike Black Knight Spirit Battle Primrose Olberic Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Assist Trophy
The Black Knight remains without having been defeated, but the battle is over.
That happens multiple times throughout Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, such as Chapters 11 and 24.
It can also happen in Chapter 27, as well as Chapter 3-7 in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.

Other details to note about the spirit event: It takes place on the Coliseum stage (hazards on) and has Worthy Rival Battle playing from Culdcept Revolt. (There are multiple songs that go by Worthy Rival in Culdcept Revolt, because for each motif there is a first half song when someone is under half of the required magic total to win the round, a second half song when someone is above half of the required magic total to win the round, and another song when two monsters are fighting. The one in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is track 33, with the fighting monsters. Culdcept music being featured in Super Smash Bros. is why I got Culdcept Revolt in the first place.) There are no items. The Black Knight appears after about two seconds or so. He is incredibly powerful and his sword swipes can knock you out even if you have high-defence spirits equipped with a lot of armour and weight. If you run away from him and try to take advantage of his low speed, he can warp around (a homage to his warp powder in the Fire Emblem games) and slash at you anyway.

Black Knight Assist Trophy falling jumping Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

It's fairly trivial to non-lethally get Bayonetta out of the way and have a one-on-one with the Black Knight. However, like all fightable Assist Trophies, the summoner of the Black Knight (in this case, Bayonetta) can KO their own Assist Trophy if the summoned fighter are in critical health, which is... strange.

The Black Knight Assist Trophy special zoom kill Ike Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ike being slain by the Black Knight as easily as the Black Knight killed Ike's father, Greil.
“Is that... all there is? No challenge? No...resistance?”

Fortunately, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate version 8.0.0 now allows for spirit battle rematches whenever you want. I suggest beating Bayonetta to clear the battle when you see it on the Spirit Board, and then try to replay the match with weak spirits or no spirits and play around with it. The Black Knight is one of the most fun Assist Trophies, and I'm glad we finally can fight with him as long as we want to.

Ike Aether Black Knight Assist Trophy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ike defeats the Black Knight with an Aether, which he can only do in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
because the Black Knight has Nihil in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.

One last note: You can't Final Smash (in my case, Ike's Great Aether, but also similar moves like Little Mac's Giga Mac) Assist Trophies like the Black Knight if your Final Smash only activates if a hitbox connects. You can, however, do things like Giga Bowser Punch. Shadow Mario Paint did nothing, however, and I don't know why!

The Black Knight Assist Trophy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate kill sparks flame Alondite
Right before this screenshot was taken, Ike tried activating Great Aether on the Black Knight. It failed.
(I guess he got his Nihil together.)
In return, the Black Knight destroyed Ike, and got this rather cool looking pose in the process.

You can certainly do that on his inferior Mii Swordfighter cosplayer, however.

Ike Great Aether Black Knight Mii Swordfighter Zelgius spirit Final Smash Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
This guy is a disgrace, so I'm happy that we can play with the real Black Knight whenever we want.
Though you know what would be even better? If the Black Knight was a playable character...!

Ludwig has spent quite a bit of time with this spirit event, if only just for this one spirit battle with Olberic & Primrose. Those two characters from Octopath Traveler are the two that comprise the Octopath Traveler demo, so maybe Ludwig should at least play through that sometime. By the way, Ludwig has beaten this spirit battle with no spirits equipped.

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