Xander Mobus might be the most important addition to this year’s Super Smash Bros., yet nobody’s talking about him. His character is unlocked the moment you put the game into your 3DS or Wii U, and he’s been featured in many of Nintendo’s promotional materials. Yet Xander Mobus will never get his own character trailer. Most gamers won’t even know his name.
See, like Jeff Manning, Dean Harrington, and Pat Cashman before him, Mobus provides the booming, over-the-top voice that gives Super Smash Bros. its big-fight feel. As announcer (as well as Master and Crazy Hand, as per tradition), Mobus has one of the most important jobs of the entire cast. Thankfully, as the 3DS version proves, he’s more than up to the challenge.
As members of the NeoGAF forum learned this weekend, Mobus is also a pretty cool guy. Late Saturday night, user Feep (who is, not coincidentally, Mobus’ roommate) posted nine recordings of Mobus reciting popular NeoGAF catchphrases in full-on announcer mode. For anyone who’s ever wanted to hear the Smash Bros. announcer yell “BANNED!” or “Florida Man!” it’s a dream come true.
It’s not the first time that Mobus has used his newfound stardom for comedic purposes, and while he may never be a household name, he’s quickly establishing a reputation as a talented voiceover artist. In addition to Smash Bros., Mobus also provided voice work for Microsoft Studios’ critically acclaimed Dust: An Elysian Tail. In interviews, he’s affable and funny. As a gamer and self-proclaimed “nerd,” it’s safe to say that he gets it.
Mobus enters the gaming industry at an interesting time for actors. As time goes on, gamers are paying more and more attention to the performers who bring life to digital characters. Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, regularly hosts autograph signings at video game and pop-culture conventions. The performances of people like Troy Baker and Nolan North are so popular that their presence in games is sometimes used as a selling point.
At the same time, Hollywood is starting to view video games as a legitimate alternative to film and television. Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey anchors Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s single player campaign, while last year’s Beyond: Two Souls featured riveting performances from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts now gives out awards for video game acting. The line between digital and traditional performers is starting to blur; eventually, the entertainment industry may not even make a distinction.
Will Mobus ever reach the heights of Spacey, Defoe, or Nolan North? Nobody knows. But with a key role in one of this holiday season’s biggest games, he’s certainly off to a great start.
Super Smash Bros. comes out for the Wii U on November 21. It’s currently available for the Nintendo 3DS.