Pokémon Trainer (SSBU)
Pokémon Trainer (ポケモントレーナー, Pokémon Trainer) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, confirmed on June 12th, 2018. Pokémon Trainer can use three interchangeable Pokémon in battle: Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard. Pokémon Trainer, unlike most characters, was not given a fighter number; instead, the Pokémon are given numbers. Squirtle is classified as fighter #33, Ivysaur is classified as fighter #34, and Charizard is classified as fighter #35.
In English, Billy Bob Thompson and Kate Bristol respectively voice the male and female Pokémon Trainers, the former replacing Michele Knotz from Brawl. In Japanese, they are voiced by Tomoe Hanba and Wakana Minami, respectively, with the former reprising her role as the male Pokémon Trainer from Brawl.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Pokémon Trainer must then be defeated on Pokémon Stadium.
As the only fighter in Ultimate to use the character-swap mechanic originally used by Sheik in Melee, Pokémon Trainer is arguably the most dynamic fighter in the game, yet also one of the most demanding. Unlike other multiple-entity fighters such as Rosalina & Luma and Banjo & Kazooie, the Trainer does not fight directly, instead acting as a commander for their three Pokémon: Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard, only one of whom can be present in battle at any given time and can be swapped out using Pokémon Change in that order. In the absence of a stamina mechanic, players may use any or all of the three Pokémon freely without fear of becoming less effective. However, forced switching remains, with the player automatically switching to the next Pokémon upon losing a stock.
Each of the three starters covers a different archetype: Squirtle is a fast combo-based lightweight, Ivysaur is a middleweight zoner, and Charizard is a heavyweight with raw kill power and surprisingly fast movement despite its slow moves. In most cases, the most basic gameplan is to build damage with Squirtle at low percents, use Ivysaur to outrange opponents and secure advantage state at medium percents, and net KOs and recover more easily with Charizard. However, the Pokémon Trainer's versatility allows for a multitude of different gameplans depending on the player's preference and the matchup. Pokémon Change has been significantly streamlined from Brawl and has been made significantly faster and can be used in the air. This allows for more effective switching in the heat of the moment so that the current Pokémon can be easily removed from the battle and replaced if it is in a situation where its weaknesses can be easily exploited. This also allows for recovery to be extended further; for example, using Ivysaur's Vine Whip to gain a small amount of vertical height, then switching and using Charizard's Flare Blitz and Fly to provide a very extensive recovery. As such, the Pokémon Trainer can adapt to any situation simply by choosing the right creature for the job, providing for a fighting style similar to 3-on-3 fighting games where the player chooses a team of interchangeable fighters that can be exchanged in an instant.
Despite the advantages provided by the Pokémon Trainer's central mechanic, they do not provide for an infallible fighter. Most notable is the very high learning curve required to master the whole party; all three Pokémon have their own matchups and optimal reactions to different situations, requiring a very high level of commitment to become familiar with each of the three, when to switch Pokémon, and what new situations can arise from switching, requiring commitment akin to having three mains at once in a game where even handling two mains can be overwhelming. Furthermore, each of the three Pokémon is slightly more specialized in their role than other fighters of their class, and therefore has more pronounced weaknesses; Squirtle lacks KO power and survivability, Ivysaur's recovery and disadvantage continue to be very poor, and Charizard is prone to combos and has mostly unsafe moves. Because Pokémon Change operates in a set order (unlike with Monado Arts) and cannot be continuously spammed due to its cooldown, players cannot always choose which Pokémon to use in which situation and can sometimes be rendered helpless in preventing the current Pokémon's weaknesses from being exploited. This is especially notable in matchups such as Pikachu and Mr. Game & Watch where two of the three Pokémon are at a disadvantage, resulting in strained efforts to use the one optimal Pokémon as much as possible while hiding the other two away.
Overall, the Pokémon Trainer is simultaneously one of the most adaptable, most unpredictable, and most challenging fighters to play in Ultimate, as the only fighter that allows the player to bring three completely different characters into battle outside of modes like Squad Strike. With the maligned stamina and type effectiveness mechanics being removed from Brawl, the Trainer allows for many different playstyles depending on the player's familiarity and comfort with each Pokémon and its matchups. While attempting to "solo main" one of the three Pokémon is possible, it is not recommended in most cases (outside of single-stock modes such as Squad Strike itself, ironically) as players are nonetheless forced to use all three during battle, even while waiting for the cooldown on Pokémon Change; for instance, attempting to "main" Charizard while having little knowledge of Squirtle and Ivysaur will allow opponents to exploit the brief windows where using Charizard is not possible. However, it is entirely possible to centralize a playstyle around one or two preferred Pokémon and to use the remaining teammate(s) to complement them, such as with Tweek (who prioritizes Squirtle) and Puppeh (who prioritizes Charizard). Overall, this iteration of the Pokémon Trainer is considered far superior to his Brawl incarnation and has achieved very notable results in competitive play, with the unique Pokémon Change mechanic and comparative lack of restrictions allowing for a very open-ended gameplan.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Due to being a low-tier in Brawl, Pokémon Trainer has been significantly buffed in the transition from Brawl. Notably, both the Stamina mechanic and type effectiveness have been completely removed, and Pokémon Change has been granted high utility due to the addition of aerial switching and significantly faster Pokémon switches. As such, switches between the three Pokémon have now become a unique advantage for the Pokémon Trainer alone rather than being a major mandatory commitment, and the Pokémon are now free to fight indefinitely without being limited by Stamina during battle. In addition, Ivysaur, who was previously the worst Pokémon in the party, has been greatly buffed, and the general changes to Ultimate's mechanics greatly benefit Ivysaur and Squirtle. Each of the Trainer's Pokémon is usable as its own character, but as in Brawl, usage of all three for different situations is optimal.
Despite some noteworthy buffs, Pokémon Trainer has also received some nerfs. While the removal of type effectiveness slightly benefits Charizard and greatly benefits Ivysaur, it also greatly hinders Squirtle. Additionally, while Pokémon Change has been greatly improved, it has also received a few new disadvantages as there is now a timer which prevents switching for a couple of seconds (although there are ways to work around this) and it no longer resets stale move negation, effectively weakening the next Pokémon. Squirtle has also been considerably nerfed, and Ivysaur and Charizard have received some nerfs as well.
Nevertheless, Pokémon Trainer has become a significantly more effective character than in Brawl. Despite still having a high learning curve, Pokémon Trainer has a great player base, especially compared to Brawl. While initially overshadowed by widely-acknowledged top-tier characters such as Peach and Lucina, players such as Wishes, Tweek, Puppeh, Pandarian, and Leffen have been able to take advantage of the Trainer's ability to use three different character archetypes in battle and Ivysaur's overall potency as a character in its own right to obtain significant results.
Although Pokemon Trainer does not receive direct changes from game updates, some changes listed resolve mostly game breaking bugs in the game.
Pokémon Trainer is a three-in-one character who battles using three Pokémon: Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard. As the fourth and "main" entity of the character group, the Trainer stays in the background and does not directly participate in the battle. Only one Pokémon is active at once, and all three of them have different movesets and abilities.
It is possible to change which Pokémon the Pokémon Trainer starts with at the beginning of a match. On the character select screen, Pokémon Trainer has the starting Pokémon's portrait to the upper-right of the portrait. If the Y button is pressed, or if the Pokémon's portrait is hovered over and selected, the starting Pokémon is toggled to the next one. The default starting Pokémon is Squirtle, which can be toggled to Ivysaur, then Charizard, then back to Squirtle.
Pokémon Change involves the Pokémon Trainer recalling the currently active Pokémon and sending out the next one to replace it. The order that the Pokémon are changed in is the same as toggling on the character select screen: Squirtle changes to Ivysaur, Ivysaur to Charizard, and Charizard to Squirtle.
Triple Finish is a combination attack for which the Pokémon Trainer temporarily brings out all three Pokémon to attack simultaneously. The attack covers a large range and does damage to opponents caught in it. Once the move is over, the two inactive Pokémon are recalled.
While not directly controllable, the Pokémon Trainer can be seen standing in the background of the stage, commanding the Pokémon and reacting to the Pokémon's situation. There are various animations and voice lines that differ for the male and female Pokémon Trainers.
The Pokémon Trainer is able to move around somewhat on most stages, running toward the current Pokémon if it is far enough away, and will also turn to face the position of the Pokémon at most times. On some stages, the Pokémon Trainer stands on a special platform in the background rather than standing on a part of the stage's background. On these stages, the Pokémon Trainer can not move around but will still turn to face the Pokémon.
Pokémon Trainer does not appear in the background during battles with five or more players, in Squad Strike's Tag Team mode, or on Custom Stages, but can still be heard shouting commands. The Poké Ball and its energy effects can be seen traveling towards the foreground, implying that the Pokémon Trainer is in the foreground, outside of the camera's view. This also happens in certain single-player and co-op modes.
The Pokémon Trainer reacts to various situations and inputs:
Pokémon Trainer sends out the starting Pokémon from its Poké Ball while saying "Go!" and the Pokémon's name; the female Trainer winks and smiles while doing so.
The male Trainer can say "You all did great!" (よくやったな、みんな！, Good job, everyone!), while the female Trainer can say "Everyone did great!" (みなさんは素晴らしい！, All of you did great!). They will either say a non-specific line, or a Pokemon-specific line. In Team Battles, if there is more than two players on the winning team, the Pokémon will not be present, but this does not affect the Trainer's lines. The male and female Trainers also have variations in their own pose depending on the gender of the Trainer, similarly to the Inklings.
During Squirtle's victory poses, the male Trainer might say "Good job, Squirtle!" (よくやったな、ゼニガメ！ This translates to "Good job, Squirtle!"), while the female Trainer can say "We did it, Squirtle!" (やったね、ゼニガメ！ This translates to "We did it, Squirtle!").
During Ivysaur's victory poses, both Trainers can say "Way to go, Ivysaur!" In Japanese, the male Trainer says がんばったな、フシギソウ！, while the female Trainer says がんばったね、フシギソウ！, both of which translate to "You did great, Ivysaur!"
During Charizard's victory poses, the Pokémon Trainer might say "You did it, Charizard!" (リザードン, みなさんは素晴らしい！, This translates to "Charizard, you're the best!"), while the female Trainer can say "You're amazing, Charizard!" (すごいね、リザードン！, This translates to "Amazing, Charizard!").
In competitive play
Perception on the Pokémon Trainer was very positive before release. The changes to the character's infamously counter-intuitive mechanics, specifically the removal of Stamina and type effectiveness, alongside the significantly faster switch time for Pokémon Change, had players excited for the character's return since Brawl. On release, the Pokémon Trainer was a very rare sight in the young competitive metagame, as the character's learning curve initially discouraged many potential players. Despite players such as Leffen, Ned, and Pandarian expressing interest in Pokémon Trainer early on, results were sporadic, with only Demitus slightly missing Top 8 at Midwest Mayhem Ultimate. Furthermore, prior to version 4.0.0, the Trainer's playstyle had some detractors due to Ivysaur being overtuned compared to its teammates while Charizard was considered a very lackluster character, leading to optimal play requiring unbalanced use of the three Pokémon and a more predictable and exploitable gameplan.
Three months after release, the Pokémon Trainer began taking notable results thanks to the efforts of Leffen, with his 17th place placing at GENESIS 6 and an upset against WaDi cementing him as the best Pokémon Trainer player at the time. Despite Leffen dropping the character for a short period, citing an overreliance on gimmicks, other players began to exploit the Trainer's multiple strengths and overall potential. As a result, the Pokémon Trainer began appearing more often in tournament play, with Wishes and Pandarian taking in strong tournament results.
The Trainer's results have significantly improved as the metagame progressed, with players achieving impressive placings. Players like Puppeh took 5th at CEO 2019, and most notably, Tweek, who had an impressive streak at many national tournaments, scored 1st at Low Tier City 7, 2nd at EVO 2019, and 3rd at Super Smash Con 2019. These results caused the team-based fighter to become impressively popular for a time, up until the start of 2020.
While the Pokémon Trainer has had an inconsistent first year due to being dropped for other characters by numerous players, overall results and representation have been excellent, with Pandarian, Ned, and HIKARU being listed on the Fall 2019 PGRU. While more commonly used as a co-main by players such as Tweek as of 2020, the Pokémon Trainer is regarded extremely highly by players and considered a viable pick in tournament play, having accumulated results comparable to other top-tier characters.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
Classic Mode: The Future Champion
Pokémon Trainer's route refers to the player's goal of becoming the Pokémon Champion in the Pokémon games. Like in Pikachu's route, the opponents are all Pokémon and all rounds are on Pokémon stages. Each round will start with the Pokémon chosen on the character select screen regardless of which one was active at the end of the previous round.
Note: Items are disabled in every round.
Completing Classic Mode as Pokémon Trainer has Main Theme - Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue (Brawl) accompanying the credits that roll every time the player finishes a Classic route, with the selected Pokémon playable during the credits minigame rather than the actual Trainer.
Role in World of Light
The male Pokémon Trainer was among the fighters summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, the Pokémon Trainer was present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed its beams of light. Working together with Bowser and his Fire Breath, he sent out Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard in an attempt to fight back against the beams with Triple Finish, to no avail. All four were vaporized and placed under Galeem's imprisonment along with the rest of the fighters (excluding Kirby).
The male Pokémon Trainer can be found at the southeast near the maze that resembles Pac-Maze. Defeating him also allows access to all of his Pokémon as well as his female counterpart.
While Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard's Fighter Spirits are obtained by completing Classic Mode as Pokémon Trainer, the Spirits for the Trainers themselves are only available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Pokémon Trainer in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As Fighter Spirits, they cannot be used in Spirit Battles and are purely aesthetic. Unlike most fighters, the Spirits for Pokémon Trainer only use their artwork from Ultimate, rather than also having alternative artwork from a previous appearance.
Only the starting Pokémon is shown on the character selection screen; it can be changed by pressing Y or by hovering the cursor over it and selecting it. Each of Pokémon Trainer's alternate costumes references a protagonist from the first seven generations of the Pokémon games.
Character Showcase Video