The One-Winged Angel
This past week, The Game Awards hosted the latest character reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The opening trailer showed World of Light villain, the angelic Galeem, about to vaporize the cast. In an instant, a flash of light streaks across the creature, slicing it in two with a single swipe.
As soon as his figure appears where Galeem once appeared, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII plays. The familiar boss theme from Final Fantasy VII kicks in as the camera pans to the powerful swordsman who confronts the Smash cast and declares war on its fighters, especially one Cloud Strife.
Who is Sephiroth?
Sephiroth is the main villain of Final Fantasy VII. Formerly once considered the strongest SOLDIER alive, he became corrupt and chose instead to expunge the world. This powerful fighter was infused with the cells of the alien being, Jenova, giving him his incredible strength. However, upon learning the truth of Jenova in the library of Nibelheim, he went mad and sought a new path. Rather than fight as a hero, he chose to fulfill his role as Jenova’s heir and absorb the Planet’s Mako to attain godhood.
Sephiroth is intertwined with Cloud as an adversary. Sephiroth burned down Nibelheim, Cloud’s hometown, and in doing so, killed his mother and wounded his best friend, Tifa Lockheart. Cloud suffered an accident prior to Final Fantasy VII leaving his mind in a hazy state and, thus, prone to seizures. Oftentimes these came from Sephiroth tormenting him from within.
Even after Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth continues to torment Cloud. Most notably includes his appearance in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the movie sequel to the game, where he appears once again to battle his rival. Sephiroth has also squared off against Cloud’s friend and SOLDIER predecessor, Zack Fair, in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
Why is Sephiroth so important?
Final Fantasy VII left a supernova impact on the gaming scene. It was a revolutionary 3D Japanese RPG, for PlayStation, which released in 1997. The title featured exceptional CGI visuals and over 40 hours of gameplay across 3 discs. It was considered a masterpiece of its time and offered players a fantastic soundtrack, a memorable cast, and a story that would follow them for decades.
Sephiroth, being the main villain, quickly gained popularity for his strength and handsome looks. His exceptional sword prowess made him an extremely dangerous foe. This became apparent in titles, such as Kingdom Hearts, where he appears as a superboss who can end Sora in a single hit. In addition to Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth has also appeared in the fighting game spin-off, Dissidia: Final Fantasy.
Not only can Sephiroth wield his amazingly long Masamune katana with exceptional ease but he is also a capable practitioner of powerful black magic. Heartless Angel can instantly kill a character or reduce their HP to 1. He can also use attacks like Shadow Flare to deal heavy damage. His ultimate move, Supernova, deals heavy damage and can kill the opponent.
Sephiroth’s impact echoes Cloud’s impact in Super Smash Bros. 4 when his trailer was revealed five years ago. Both are iconic Final Fantasy characters and, through the course of over two decades and various series, Cloud and Sephiroth are destined to clash once again. This also adds to the relatively small pool of villains in the game as well.
Analyzing the Trailer
Galeem was the powerful angelic being who started World of Light by vaporizing everyone in the Smash Bros. universe with the exception of Kirby. This powerful foe was later fought twice in the World of Light storyline. Thought to be some kind of powerful angel, Sephiroth could simply one-shot the being and end its life in an instant. This speaks echoes for the kind of power Sephiroth wields which runs in line with his power in the story.
You could sum up his entrance like this.
The trailer makes allusions to several scenes in Final Fantasy VII. Cloud confronts him as Sephiroth says he shall “give Smash despair” while conjuring storm clouds. This is the first of several references to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
After his splash screen appears, Sephiroth is shown in flames and in the Ganon boss stage. This is a reference to the iconic scene where he burns down Nibelheim.
The trailer introduces a new stage, The Planet’s Core, the final dungeon in Final Fantasy VII. This is where Jenova is fought one last time before the final battle with Sephiroth. This was also the Final Fantasy VII stage in Dissidia.
Sephiroth is scene entering a dark portal as well as attempting to downward-stab Zelda. This is in reference to a particular scene at the end of FF7’s Disc 1. However, this is not the first time series creator, Masahiro Sakurai has had fun referencing this little scene.
Sephiroth appears on Termina Great Bay watching the Moon fall. This references Meteor which he summons to destroy the Planet. It also shows renders of him overpowering much of the Smash roster to include the powerful Umbra Witch, Bayonetta, who’s thought to be the strongest Smash character. The trailer comes near its end when Sephiroth nearly impales a hapless Mario.
Afterward, Cloud and Sephiroth duel once more with Cloud gaining a new Final Smash: Omnislash Ver. 5. This is how he defeated Sephiroth in Advent Children and is also one of his techniques in Dissidia. Whether this means Cloud will get buffs or not is, of course, yet to be determined.
The trailer ends as Cloud and Sephiroth recite a quote from the end of their battle in Advent Children.
How Sephiroth will play in Smash Bros.
Sephiroth wields the Masamune which is an ultra-long katana. This alone will already give him more range than Shulk, the swordsman who wields the laser-blade Monado. At a first glance, it seems that Sephiroth should be a slower character with exceptional range. However, given Sephiroth’s history in Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, that will likely not be the case.
His range will accompany almost certainly off-the-charts speed and strength. He uses magic attacks such as the previously mentioned Heartless Angel and appears to use a Counter as well. Sephiroth also demonstrated a form change where he will grow a singular wing. How this will affect his moveset remains to be seen.
There’s no telling what else he’s capable of. The trailer already showed him using a wall-cling with his sword which will add to his recovery abilities. In Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth was shown to be an exceptionally agile and powerful warrior. Plus, with his dense muscle, it’s entirely likely he will be a heavyweight character who can take a beating.
On that note, Sephiroth ends the trailer by transforming into Safer Sephiroth. In this form, he fought Cloud and his party in one last battle in Final Fantasy VII. Here, he unleashed his ultimate move, Supernova.
As a sword user myself, I’m all about Sephiroth entering Smash. I beat Final Fantasy VII back in the day and I’ve always been a fan of the game and Cloud. I’ve kept up with Advent Children and Crisis Core and whooped Sephiroth in the first two Kingdom Hearts games. I’m quite familiar with this fighter and I expect him to be a massive threat to the competitive meta.
I main Ike and I’ve used Cloud a bit myself in Smash. While I don’t see myself maining Sephiroth, I’m eager to try him once he comes out. Sephiroth had the best reveal trailer of any character I’ve seen so far and he looks absolutely lethal. Smash needs a villain and Sephiroth will deliver.
With that being said, Sephiroth will release later this month in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakurai will reveal an in-depth look at the character on December 17th. Stay tuned with us at AllCoolThings as we give you the latest on Sephiroth’s next showcase.
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