Master Hand vs. Polygon Man

        The Super Smash Bros. series is one of my favorite fighting games. Where other fighting games have a somewhat orderly structure, in that there’s a reason the characters are there, a story, and a rigid structure of how combat goes. Super Smash Bros lacks this in that the characters can move freely on their many varied arenas, using not only their own abilities but items littering the area and obstacles.
        There is no real reason for the characters to fight other than the player says so, and, barring Brawl, no real story to speak of. However, a few things are clear from what we see- that Master Hand, the final boss of the Classic Mode, is essentially the creator of the playable characters and their environments. As for why he fights them, that’s a bit more dubious, but one can make assumptions.
        It seems likely to me that the hand is simply testing his creations, given he isn’t a extremely difficult battle, and is very likely holding back a far more tremendous power than he displays. Despite his evil laugh, it seems to me that Master Hand does indeed care a good deal about his creations, and play-fights them for entertainment, and to see them grow. This also explains why, when beaten, he doesn’t explode or anything, but rather sinks out of sight.
        Speaking of the battle itself, Master Hand, being, well, a giant hand, he will use many moves that reflect this, such as swatting at you across the battlefield, ‘walking’ on two fingers across it to trample you, punching, poking, smashing his hand flat down on you like a bug, and odder tricks, such as shooting off like a plane and ramming into you from the background, and firing rockets from his fingers.
        I also should note in the first game he borrowed a lot of sound effects and tricks from the various games that make up Smash Bros. For instance, when he ‘walks’ across the stage it makes a Screw Attack sound, and his finger ‘gun’ fires out Bullet Bills. Once he is beaten, the character is reduced back into a toy on a table, and the point of view pulls back until a door is heard shutting. Presumably the person whose hand just got beat up didn’t like this much.
        However, despite that, the second game occurred. Why? Perhaps the master behind the hand changed how he views these toys, and decided to play with them again. What is clear is that Master Hand is definitely at his toughest in the first game, despite him having the least moves, because he doesn’t hover in one spot and his moves are more damaging. For instance, the plane attack in future games doesn’t hurt you when he ‘lands’, but here it does, not to mention the hand being I think bigger, and the stage smaller than in future installments. While he has more moves later on, they do not make him stronger, persay. For instance, his laser move will not hit you a all if you’re directly under him, and it leaves him wide open to attacks.
        I view this weakening of the boss as Master Hand being more lenient to his creations, seeing the character less as an antagonist and more as a playmate. The character is still put on a shelf afterward, but they are put in a group with the others, not left limp on a table. Master Hand is showing more respect for his playthings, and not necessarily leaving. In place of his previous difficulty, he’s brought in new challenges, such as the new Adventure Mode, culminating with a fierce battle with Giga Bowser, and if one does well enough in reaching Master Hand, they will also face his counterpart, Crazy Hand, who has new moves to show of his own, and the two can team up for some attacks.
        He gives the character who dares face him even more challenges in the fourth installment, where in if the difficulty is high enough he will transform into the terrible Master Core, a shape-shifting mass that faces you in various forms, such as a giant, a fanged beast, a duplicate of yourself, floating blades, even a giant fortress. But… once all of these are beaten, he changes into a small orb that sits plainly in the middle of the area. It will not attack you. All that is left to do is smash it off screen and claim your victory.
        But even if he conceding defeat, Master Core will still blast you away if you take too long about it. Even in the end, he views as a test, a challenge. You beat me, so finish the job. Oh, you can’t? Fine, have fun dying. In a way, the silent hand has grown from a malevolent figure that tosses his playthings aside, angry that he lost, to a more mature figure that tests his creations and enjoys watching them thrive, and when he is well and truly beaten, he faces it with dignity.
        So that’s that for Master Hand, but there is someone else I’d like to talk about. While Smash Bros. brings together many of Nintendo’s stars for battle, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale does the same for the Sony’s various characters.
        The story is a bit different from Smash Bros, for a start. Where there the characters are toys brought to life by Master Hand’s power, here the characters seem to be the genuine article, their worlds and themselves all smashed together by the final boss, Polygon Man. Polygon Man first appeared as the Playstation’s mascot, but was rejected, and faded into obscurity.
        Now it seems he has reappeared, being all of these games and characters together to establish himself as their ruler, their god, even. His goal may be simply to wipe out everyone else out of anger at his being rejected, thinking that if he destroys the others, then there will be no one left to fill that mascot role but himself.
        In terms of battle, while Master Hand only laughs, Polygon Hand does talk throughout the fight, and even their fighting styles seem to be complete opposites. Whereas Master Hand does have minions, they face you before your duel with him, and he faces you head on. Polygon Man, on the other hand, sends out minions at the start of his battle and periodically throughout. He himself periodically transforms into a creature, such as a giant hydra, to attack you from the background.
        When his all his current minions are destroyed, he will enter the arena himself to try and crush you underneath him. This gives you a chance to strike, and after taking some damage, he flees to the background to start up the cycle once more. First one minion, then two, then three. On the third attack on him, he will be destroyed, wondering how this could have happened, for none have beaten him before now.
        Throughout the fight, as I said, he does talk. He comments on how your fights are only delaying the inevitable, how he is all-powerful and unstoppable. Personally, it seems to me that he is trying to make himself believe these things, because it is rapidly becoming clear that is not the case. In fact, as he takes damage it shows with clear bits of him coming off, and energy seeping out of the wounds.
        As for when he beats you, when you lose a life he states that it’s “Another for the dust bin of history.” That is, he’s relegating the defeated to the past, which is exactly what happened to himself. And if you lose all your lives? He will mock you, the player, before transforming the character into another of his polygonal minions, a mindless servant to his will.
        He also has several quotes that weren’t used in the game, such as pointing out that he came before all the other characters, that he is their better, and many, many quotes expressing the utter futility of their battle with him. “For you, a final test. For me, a fleeting distraction.” “Awww, a glimmer of hope, waiting to be extinguished.” “Can you be sure of anything but your own doom?” and so on. There are also some of him expressing fear of the character, saying that their harming him is impossible, or even begging them to stay away from him.
        While he does have one good thing to say about character, complementing them once they reach the final phase of the battle, but beyond that, they are children trying to battle their superior in his eyes, and will be put in their place.
        He is not their creator like Master Hand, but instead their predecessor, seeking to replace them. He has god-like power, and an ego to match, viewing those facing him as insects, potential minions, and amusements. Where Master Hand has learned to take defeat gracefully, even when unleashing his full power as Master Core, Polygon Man refuses to accept his loss and faces it with utter disbelief and refusal to accept it. “This is not the end! None can exist without me! I shall return!”
        Not only are they opposites in their methods, a silent fighter versus a talking commander of minions, but they are opposites in intent and personality. Master Hand fights for the enjoyment of it, and to give his creations a challenge. Polygon Man fights for supremacy, to reduce all others to his servants and playthings. One is a benevolent if firm master, while the other is a vengeful and arrogant man.

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