Reminder: Sakurai Isn’t Using Smash to Advertise Nintendo — He’s Celebrating it.

Fanart by Shiba. Pixiv link:

Please note: the following is an opinion based article. You are allowed to disagree with me.

E3 will happen very soon. With everyone’s eyes are on the future of Nintendo (sorry no NX reveal!) I’m taking the opposite approach. I’m looking at the past of Smash to see how Sakurai has approached the series and what this means for the upcoming DLC.

One common misconception is that Smash was made/ is made to promote other Nintendo franchises. If it’s not a belief, then there are many bloggers, and even news sites which call for Nintendo to use Smash to promote their upcoming games. While this is a natural part of the game, I do not believe the promotion aspect has never been the sole reason to include stages, trophies or even characters. Instead, Sakurai is celebrating Nintendo’s rich history and it’s future.

Sakurai has explicitly said this. Most recently, he stated that characters from series that don’t have a future are not a priority. Many fans interpreted this as the sole reason that the Ice Climber’s were not included. However, I believe the Ice Climber’s were originally intended to be in Smash for (as they are the “retro rep”), but because of a variety of technical difficulties (SmashChu’s article) they didn’t make the cut. Instead, I think the comment is the reason we didn’t get Wolf and Lucas in the original game. Those series still needed some representation, but because at the time of “Smash For” inception, they both weren’t receiving new entries in their respective series, or Sakurai was unaware of the new Star Fox, they were low priority characters. Furthermore, both characters play more different than Lucina to Marth and Dark Pit to Pit, so they would have taken additional development time. It’s possible that Dark Pit was prioritized before Lucas and Wolf because assets from Kid Icarus: Uprising could be used, making development even easier.

It actually makes perfect sense for Nintendo to use Smash Brothers as a way to promote its lesser known franchises. Smash Brothers is a system seller, with Brawl selling over 12 million copies on the Wii, and the combined total of Smash for 3DS and Wii U are quickly approaching 10 million. The crossover aspect of Smash makes it ideal to showcase the different universes while still holding its appeal. However, this has never been the main focus on Smash. There are two examples that fans primarily use to show that Smash could really promote upcoming games. Roy and the Yoshi’s Woolly World stage. However, these two cases are rare exceptions, and were both last minute additions to the games.

Roy’s Our Boy:

Roys inclusion in Melee, along with Marth’s helped put Fire Emblem on the map for Western gamers. A long time fan of the series, Sakurai has a deep affinity for the series. Reportedly, he sung the theme song for Fire Emblem (Iwata Asks).

Fire Emblem was a series that was going to receive representation in Melee no matter what. It is the only non 64 series to receive a separate series category on the “If there was a Smash 2 poll” conducted by Sakurai before Melee’s announcement (for comparison’s sake Metroid was lumped together with the “Other Series”) The Fire Emblem series itself received support, but the characters weren’t individually highly requested.

Nearing the end of Melee’s development, Sakurai decided to add clones in order to beef up the roster. This is because Sakurai wanted to appease fans of other popular characters, and because a common complaint about 64 was it’s roster size (and lack of diversity).

Initially Sakurai was hesitant, but after playing through the prototype he decided that Roy was a worthy inclusion. His fire properties and inexperience as a swordsman stood out to Sakurai. Below, is a full translation of Roy’s Melee character page.

Essentially, Sakurai decided on Roy not only because of promotional purposes but because he saw a potential clone moveset with Roy, and he liked the character.

English translation of Roy’s page:

The protagonist from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (GBA) who is a clone character of Marth, joins the battle.

Roy, when compared to Marth, personifies “inexperience but has potential as sword user” and I wanted to add a young character.

He’s puts a lot of show into his actions, but his apparent weak points stand out.

It may look like he has the same moves as Marth, but he swings his sword slower.

At this point in time (January 2002), the game isn’t available for sale.

You can say that this is makes him stand out.Out of all of the characters included in Smash, Roy is the only one that is included before his own game is released.

But don’t worry.

Even if you are unfamiliar with the source game, you will quickly fall in love with the character after seeing his charm.

Since he is the opposite of Marth, Roy’s attacks are stronger near the base of the sword as oppose to the tip. So try getting dangerously close.

Also, his air attack ability has been lowered, and he falls quicker. He’s pretty bad at fighting in the air.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

The Woolly World stage is another component that is often used to show that Smash can be used for promotion. However, the development of the stage indicates that like Roy, it was also given low priority and was included late into development. The file names for the tracks indicate that it the stage and it’s first track for the stage was decided before Yoshi’s Woolly World received its’ official name. Furthermore, they are some of the last tracks listed. Yoshi’s New Island is actually listed last (which are tracks used on the Woolly World stage), and the trophy’s in the 3DS version were also last.


Furthermore, the stage was not included in the 50-Fact Extravaganza. Instead, it was included in the November 6th update. I believe that the stage was one of the last stages to be finished. Furthermore, the metallic textures for this stage are actually quite different from the actual stage further hinting that this stage was a last minute addition, or was overhauled.If Smash was just for promotional purposes, this this stage would have been a priority, and definitely mentioned in the 50-Facts Direct.

So What…?

This matters because it affects what stages and characters we will get likely as DLC. I see a lot of people claiming that Wolf and the Inkling’s will get in so the new Star Fox game or Splatoon will be better promoted. Instead, based on data mining done by shinyquagsire23, we found out that Roy and Ryu are incoming after Lucas. The common thread behind all three of these characters is that Sakurai is not interested in promoting upcoming releases. Wolf would have been a natural choice because of the upcoming game, and because of his worldwide support. I still believe Wolf is upcoming but that’s just because of his popularity, but not because he has a new game coming out. Lucas and Roy have huge amounts of support in Japan, and Ryu makes perfect sense as the next third party rep. Even though Street Fighter 5 is a PlayStation and PC exclusive, Sakurai has repeatedly shown that he’s not interested in promoting Nintendo–he’s celebrating it.

Roy’s Japanese Text:













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  1. Does Sakurai actually uses the term “clone”? Also, I think it would be more cool if you included the credit of the artist that did that fanart.

    1. As far as the source Japanese, Sakurai technically uses the term “model swap character.” However, general SG policy among the translators is that we translate “model swap character” as “clone character” because it’s easier for the general audience to understand, I think.

      Also, I’m not push, but I will add the artist to the header pic. Thanks for the heads up.

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