Ishiguro “Raito” Tetsuya is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s best Duck Hunt player in the world and has been having an incredible year. But his run at Mainstage might have been halted by another top player Saleem “Salem” Young, in part, due to his inability to read Hero’s menus.
Raito opted for Duck Hunt in the first two rounds of today’s match against Salem but switched to Banjo Kazooie for the third round after an 0-2 start. After losing the third round of the match, Raito tweeted that he had no measures against Hero and couldn’t read the character’s menus.
Hero has a unique ability in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate where his Down Special brings up a menu below the stage that shows four random spells, each of which have different effects. The spells are in English, so those who are unable to read the language may struggle with preparing for more than 20 special moves.
Raito can speak English and plays in a lot of tournaments across Europe and North America, but it is difficult for him to read the language. Because of this, it was much harder for him to react when Salem used Hero’s Down Special. Rialto’s difficulty with the language wasn’t the only reason for why he lost the match, of course, but it could have played a major role.
It gave Raito’s Duck Hunt essentially no time to react to a thrown Kaboom or Sizzles, which would lead into big combos or free damage. And, unfortunately for those unable to read English, there is no way to work around this language barrier at the moment.
Some members of the Smash community are blaming Salem for abusing the language barrier, but even he admits he forgot there could be potential issues with him picking Hero because Raito speaks English.
“I forgot about the English issue and Raito speaks English,” Salem wrote. “So I very much didn’t think about that, along with that because he spoke English I thought he knew the spells names.”
Raito was quick to downplay the issue. “English is a universal language, and I was bad because I didn’t study properly,” Rialto wrote.
Smash Ultimate is an International game with players attending tournaments from dozens of tournaments, so a character that gives players an advantage based on the language they can read has become a heated debate in the community. It is not a cut and dry process to learn the words once since you have to be able to see them and react in an instant when they pop up on the menu.
If Hero were to be banned, this would be the biggest mark against the character rather than RNG or claims that he is “broken.” He is almost universally viewed as a high-tier character instead of a top-tier that has multiple aspects making him unfair.
A simple fix would be Nintendo adding in symbols for each move so players can memorize them rather than relying on actual English words. But because this is something that isn’t a problem in most fighting games, there isn’t an easy answer.