If you're new to the Fire Emblem franchise (or perhaps never heard of it before Smash Bros), you probably were baffled when it was announced earlier in the year that Lucina, a major character in the newest installment to the series, Fire Emblem: Awakening, would be joining the chaos of the Nintendo battle royal on the 3DS and Wii U. Her overall reception by the community was reletively cold, and she hasn't been openly embraced as anything short of an outcast character to regulars. I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that most players do not see her as much more than a clone of Marth and a cash in on a relative title Nintendo made. I've heard people say Lucina was too confusing of a character to understand and that she wasn't really appealing because of this. That view is rather ironic because all of the confusion around her complexity really make her one of the greatest crafted characters, if not the greatest, in gaming.
This article is filled with Fire Emblem: Awakening spoilers. If you haven't played this game yet, go do it right now. Don't let me ruin the amazement. You won't regret it.
One of the things that has to be stated early is that the extensive detail put into the characters in Awakening leaves a rather open forum for impressions to be made as every play through of the game will leave you with differently developed characters and people whom they value more than others. To decide on one tale would be missing the point of the game. What one may experience from the body of work might differ from another. The best way to describe it would be excitingly artistic in design.
When you play every time, however, there will be one character who remains relatively the same. Lucina is so complex that her actual description in game defines her as enigmatic. To bring the full strength of her to light, it has to be seen in order of how it is experienced for the character. The very experiences she has in the game's story makes the other fighters in Smash pale in comparison.
There is no hiding it; Lucina has been through a hellish life full of disaster, despair, and crushing odds. Long before her birth, her aunt and queen of the land she is raised, Emmeryn, was tragically assassinated. This resulted in creating the first domino to fall, birthing her into a world of war and eventual doom. Her parents are murdered and she is thrown into leading a crumbling humanity to defense from the horrors of Grima, a huge dragon of crippling strengths. The hand dealt is devastating to the young woman, and every moment she fights with the deaths of her family and people on her shoulders. The biggest shock of it all is this all happens to Lucina before the events of Fire Emblem: Awakening (or technically after. Or during?).
The player isn't really introduced to Lucina in a traditional matter. Lissa, another one of her aunts, is about to be killed by a monster as woods are light aflame. In an epic fashion, a figure emerges and rescues her, claiming the name “Marth” (rather hilarious seeing as everyone calls her that in Smash anyways). For the first two acts of the game, Lucina isn't even known as Lucina. She's a tortured future teller who distances herself from everyone else and painfully wishes to spend time with her parents she loves dearly and lost awfully with the most convincing maturity. She even duels with her father at one point, which when you take a moment at the end of the journey, you realize just how daunting that must have been on her.
Truth be told, everything that needs to be said with Lucina's character can be best described in the most emotional and powerful moments of the game. Accidentally slipping out the word “Father” while talking to Chrom, Lucina leads the king back in private to confess who she actually is. It is revealed that to increase morale of her people in the ruined future, she donned the identity of Marth and fought desperately. Attempting to open up to her father, she says she is his daughter, but it initially is fruitless as he denies it all. As he realizes she has the same indistinguishable brand on her eye, every bit of weight on her shoulders is released. It's so powerful you have to see it yourself:
When Lucina wins a match in Smash, one of the things she proclaims is “Father...I won.” in a heartbreaking fashion. All she wants in life is to fight in her family name and represent the love she was brought up with to the fullest ability. Her self-doubt is subtle, but the name she fights with before hints at her yearning to be strong enough to fight. A blurb from her talk with Chrom in this scene hits home incredibly hard (almost as hard as that cutscene did):
“I prayed to the Hero-King for a small part of the strength he used to save the world. But I need this subterfuge no longer. I choose to fight as Lucina now. The name that reminds me of the strength in the man and woman who chose it.”
You just don't see character speech like that in most video games, especially not from Nintendo. If you choose the Avatar (AKA Robin) as her mother, Lucina tasks herself with the burden of ending her mother's life to save Chrom and the world as the Avatar turns on him and brings the end of the world in her future. It might be a pre-determined outcome, but the emotion is still high and the reactions by Lucina are gripping.
Nintendo has a way of crafting very appealing characters in their games to deliver the worlds. For example, the appeal of playing as Link in the Zelda franchise is that he is a silent protagonist and it is easiest used as a surrogate for the player to place themselves in the world of Hyrule. It's a safe way to ensure the player enjoys the narrative. In complete contrast, Fire Emblem: Awakening gambles high with doing fully realized characters and minute details. It isn't better projected than with the “Warrior From a Doomed Future” (I'd go as far as calling her the Princess From a Doomed Future).