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Persona 5's Joker stole his invitation to join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but who is he and why are so many excited about his inclusion?

Well it's me of course

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • December 12, 2018 at 12:48 p.m. PST • Comments: 28

Super Smash Bros. has been giving us unexpected third-party characters for over a decade now since Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear's Solid Snake were first revealed to be in 2008's Brawl, and they certainly haven't stopped since.

The latest character announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate continues the aforementioned trend by adding a fighter who has only appeared in a spin-off game on a Nintendo console and hails from a developer with no representation in the franchise

Joker from Persona 5 was announced to be the first DLC character for Smash Ultimate's Fighter Pass, but who is he, where does he come from and why was he an important announcement to many fans of both series? Well, let's dig into all of that.

This stylish masked thief, named Akira Kurusu in the manga adaptation and Ren Amamiya in the anime, is the main protagonist of Persona 5 which is an RPG franchise from the developer / publisher Atlus.

The Persona games themselves feature entirely new casts for every numbered entry like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, but the series itself is actually a spin-off of Atlus' long-running Megami Tensei franchise which started on Nintendo's first Famicom system in 1987.

Persona as its own franchise has essentially exploded in popularity over the past decade thanks to its last three main installments to the point where they've received their own fighting games with Persona 4 Arena along with other spin-offs including a rhythm game. That's enough background on the series for now, so let's get into the character of Joker after the jump where minor story spoilers for Persona 5 will follow.

Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #1 Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #2 Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #3 Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #4 Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #5 Joker from Persona 5 announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate image #6
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Who is Joker?

Joker, as we'll call him for the rest of this article due to his lack of a consistent canon name, was a typical high school student in Japan before he was falsely accused of assaulting a corrupt man in power who was trying to force a woman into his car.

Our hero was expelled from his school and shunned by his own parents after he was charged with the crime. Joker then had to live under the guardianship of a seemingly reluctant Sojiro Sakura, who let Joker stay in the spare room of his cafe under the condition he would not cause any trouble.

As he starts his new school life at Shujin Academy, Joker finds a mysterious app on his phone that he attempts to delete multiple times to no avail. This Metaverse Navigator App eventually activates while on his way to school with another student named Ryuji Sakamoto, and it leads them to essentially an alternate dimension where people's true nature and dark intentions can be revealed or physically manifested.

Once inside the alternate version of Shujin, Joker and Ryuji are captured by their gym teacher, who has done some messed up stuff, dressed as a king with armed guards. Before the pair are executed for entering his castle, a voice calls out to Joker, and he awakens to his Persona abilities.

Video courtesy of Sleepy Maribo.

The protagonist gains his rad new costume and can now summon the Persona Arsene, designed after the fictional thief Arsène Lupin, as a physical manifestation of his psyche that can battle his enemies though Joker also has the unique ability to control and switch through multiple Personas — almost like Pokemon.

Throughout the rest of the game, other characters like Ryuji unlock their Persona abilities, and they form a party with the intention of using the Metaverse to make corrupt or evil adults have a change of heart and confess their crimes in the real world.

This group becomes known as the Phantom Thieves that steal people's 'hearts' which gains them notoriety by the public but also law enforcement.

What is Persona?

Persona is a turn-based RPG series that was first released by Atlus on the original PlayStation and has since gone on to have five main, numbered entries plus almost as many if not more spin-off titles.

The standard gameplay functions something like a mix between classic Final Fantasy and Pokemon, as players control a party of characters to take out foes though elemental weaknesses are present to add an extra layer of depth to battles.

Possibly more important than the gameplay to many is the story and narrative which are the essentially the focus of most titles in the series, as character development and growth is put up front and takes up a bulk of the play time.

As the main character, you meet a wide variety of people with some in your party and many who are not who help you along your journey. Spending time with friends, family and lovers in these newer titles actually power up your ability to use and make new Personas plus it unlocks new abilities for your crew — so speed running the game as an anti-social teenager is will not make for a very good experience.

It's like the classic 'power of friendship' trope, except it feels more genuine and well thought out with tons of emotional investment usually put into your 60-100 hours of play time, which makes the endings all the more bittersweet.

Video courtesy of Meristation.

This series — and especially Persona 5 — also have a sense for visual flare which is often times a weakness of many other games in the genre with dynamic battles, amazingly varied soundtracks and even awesome menus that keep things feeling fresh during the extremely long games.

Why is Joker important to Smash Bros?

Joker's reveal at The Game Awards brought excitement from the die-hard Persona fans and even those who only tangentially recognize him partially because he was such a surprise pick that almost nobody had on their radar for guest characters.

His inclusion opens up the door for any number of other potential fighters who may have been thought impossible before due to the fact that Joker has only appeared on a Nintendo system once with the recently released spin-off Persona Q 2 — though there are rumors circulating the internet right now that P5 proper is on its way to the Switch in the near future.

The design of Joker and Arsene has also quickly become iconic to those in its circles since their first reveals long before the game was actually released thanks in part to their edge and introduction of awesome looking battle costumes for characters in Persona 5.

Transposing him from a turn-based RPG into a game like Smash does also allow both teams to approach the character from a new perspective with references to his old moves becoming translated into action-oriented gameplay. Plus we're also going to get a stage and music from the series which will also be a very welcome addition.

Persona 5 is definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in RPGs — yet has not tried it. Joker's inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may have felt a little out of place at first, though that's what makes it special like Snake's initial reveal — especially to someone who has cosplayed as Joker on multiple occasions.

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