Rivals of Aether Steam Workshop: The Good, the Bad, and the Memes
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Have you ever wanted a moth creature, Fox from Melee, Duane, and the former President to duke it out in Smash?! Well, guess what? It’s your lucky day! On September 18, Rivals of Aether, a Smash Bros. style game, added a Steam Workshop page. At the start, the workshop only had a few characters that were promoted for the release of the workshop. But soon the number of submissions would grow exponentially. Anyone with knowledge of game design could create and put whatever character they want into Rivals. Now, most of the submissions involve other well-known characters with sprites pulled from other games. There are a few original characters that seem to fit perfectly in Rivals which shows off the creator’s knowledge in video game design. And, of course, there are creators that just make joke characters to give us a quick laugh. Here we’ll be reviewing the best, the worst, and the funniest characters from the workshop.
The One Drawback
I want to start off with an issue I have with the Rival’s workshop which is the lack of quality control. I don’t mean that in terms of whether a character is good or bad, but in terms of their functionality. Many entries directly rip sprites from other games and refuse to give the character any moves. This will usually be shown with a white X appearing on a character meaning that character is incomplete. These are by far the most disappointing entries as you might find a character you like only to find out that they’re unplayable. A quick way to check if a character will function is to look at the reviews before downloading the character.
That’s right, someone made a full-fledge Barack Obama character for Rivals of Aether, and to my surprise, he’s fun to play. Obama is a fast character who has quick aerials and tilts that have a decent amount of distance to them. For his specials, Obama has a wide array of projectiles such as a grenade, a gun, and a sniper rifle. The creator is fully aware of this character’s meme status and indulges this in the animation. The number of funny details in each of Obama’s attacks and animations, such as using the American flag as a weapon or having an anime-like run animation, shows that a lot of thought went into making this character both a meme and a serious character. Obama’s move-set is well-balanced and plays smoothly which makes him a character I would seriously consider playing with over and over again. What I first thought of as a joke turned out to be a great character. I never thought I would ever say Obama is one of the best characters in a fighting game, but here we are.
You can now dance all over your friends with the unstoppable Duane! Now, this is a joke character. The Duane does what you expect- he dances in place. He barely takes any knockback and doesn’t have any attacks on the ground. However, if he attacks in the air, the opponent will immediately be destroyed, even at 0%. If you pick this character you are guaranteed to win. While this is fairly lazy, I do applaud the creator for being brave enough to create a character like this. Get this character if you want to troll your friends.
One of the most popular characters in the workshop, Mollo, is a moth that has a playstyle similar to Snake. Instead of planting bombs, Mollo can throw an array of four different bombs with his Smash attack and detonate them with his flare gun side special. Mollo has some great aerials as well, although he is meant to be played more strategically. Mollo can use the bombs for ledge traps and setups by pushing the bomb with his other attacks. You have to be careful, however, since Mollo can get hurt by his own bombs. The main drawback Mollo has is his lack of kill options with the only quick kill option being his uptilt. Mollo’s moth-like shape is used greatly in his character design. He has a sparking antenna that expresses his explosive techniques and bright wings that pop out during his up special. Mollo’s creator continues to update this character constantly, recently adding the ability to throw bombs in the air. Mollo is my favorite character from the workshop. I definitely wouldn’t be disappointed if this character was in Rivals of Aether.
Another popular original character from the workshop, this time resembling Little Mac, is Ash. She’s a cheetah boxer who has powerful attacks and high speed. Her smash attacks are strong but have really slow recovery which means that you have to rely on her extensive combos and high mobility to get kills. I love how her specials resemble those of other Smash Bros. characters but with a twist. For example, Ash’s side special is similar to Fox’s side special, but this time hitting a character near the end of the attack causes high knockback. Another example is Ash’s up special resembling Donkey Kong’s recover, but this time it can spike. Similar to Mollo, Ash is a unique, well-animated character that would make a good fit in Rivals of Aether.
Clover comes from an Undertale fan game called Undertale Yellow. Clover is the perfect portrayal of a gunslinger character in a Smash Brothers game. Clover’s side tilts, aerials, and smash attacks have him attack by spinning or swinging his gun around. He’s got a whip as a side tilt, and his neutral special has the player timing a gun press to shoot from a gun. Clover has a unique mechanic where he plants a save point from Undertale with up special. The player can then decide whether to make it explode with down special or teleport to it with up special again. While I’ve never played Undertale Yellow, I can still feel the love and inspiration that Clover has received from the game. Just like how Smash Brothers made people play new games, Clover has made me want to play Undertale Yellow. A good deal for everyone.
100% Accurate Fox
Okay, those characters were nice and dandy, but what about a character for those Melee players. Well, 100% Accurate Fox has got you covered. Based on TerminalMontage, 100% Accurate Fox is a hilarious creation that seeks to create a character similar to Melee’s Fox while adding many traits that make him overpowered. For example, his side special can now combo into anything, his up air does an insane amount of knockback, his down special can be spammed in the air for a long time, and in general, all his moves have no lag. They even made his neutral attack a grab to make it more like Melee (you can’t normally grab in Rivals). Fox’s movement speed is also maxed out which has gotten me killed a few more times than I would like to admit. Another neat detail with Fox is that you can hear the clicks of the control stick or trigger in-game whenever you run or wavedash, again referencing TerminalMontage. 100% Accurate Fox is a hilarious inclusion that is unbalanced as hell, but a joy to play with nonetheless. Also 200% Accurate Falco is available and plays pretty similarly, but more like Falco from Melee.
When I saw Pokemon Ranger I didn’t know what to expect. How can you base a character off a game where you solely capture Pokémon to use later? Well, the result is a well-designed and unique character that is one of my favorites from the workshop. Pokemon Ranger doesn’t fight on his own. Instead, his attacks have him summoning various Pokémon that attack for him. For example, his up smash will summon a Charizard to shoot flames upward, his uptilt summons a Pichu to shock the opponent, and his up special allows him to fly on a Gliscor. Each move is based on some move from the games that the creator lays out in his Steam Workshop page. Similar to Shulk from Smash Ultimate, Pokemon Ranger’s neutral special allows him to receive a buff from one of the three legendary Pokemon (Suicune, Entei, Raikou). Suicune buffs mobility, Raikou gives extra hitstun to attacks, and Entei increases knockback. The only drawback I have with Pokemon Ranger is that you can’t wall jump after an up special (a mechanic that can be done with all Rivals of Aether characters) which limits the Ranger’s recovery immensely. Aside from that, Pokemon Ranger goes in the pile of fantastic characters that I wasn’t expecting to be great. A must pick for any Pokémon fan.
Created as an April Fools joke, Sandbert is the sandbag from Smash Brothers taking its revenge in Rivals of Aether! Sandbert was meant to be an overpowered character with quick, lag-less attacks and powerful moves. His special moves resemble Fox’s neutral, side, and down special. I believe his most overpowered move is his up special where Sandbert can drag its opponent across the stage for a ludicrous amount of time. When I was testing this character out with friends, the Sandbert player was able to three-stock his opponents by using up special. While Sandbert is meant to be a joke character, he’s also meant to help new people create their characters. One example is the Tetromino. The Tetromino is essentially the block from Tetris in a fighting game. Surprisingly, the Tetromino is well animated and uses the blocks from Tetris to perform various moves. The only thing unoriginal about it is the move-set, which is a direct copy of Sandbert. In the end, both these creations are meant to annoy and destroy your friends, and it does that job nicely.
Rivals of Aether Steam Workshop: The Good, the Bad, and the Memes
There are so many other wonderful creations in the Steam Workshop, but for now, I just wanted to show my favorites. Trust me, there are some really good ones out there, but I’ll leave that up to you to explore. On its own, Rivals of Aether is one of my favorite Smash clones. However, it hasn’t made it to the mainstream which is sad because Rivals deserves it. Hopefully, that will change. With so many great creations from the Steam Workshop, I firmly believe that this will make Rivals of Aether popular once again. As funny as it might be to laugh at Duane or Sandbert, it’s great to know that there are people willing to create well-designed characters for basically no pay. When I play characters like Mollo or Ash it makes me hopeful for the potential of the Steam workshop. Rivals of Aether may have a long way to go but I’ll be there supporting these amazing creators along the way.
If you’ve never heard of Rivals of Aether, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and you can now add virtually any character you want. It’s a good deal in my opinion.